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Sttelas In Ancient Egypt

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In Ancient Egypt, stelas are either stone or wooden slabs used as a means of presenting a monument, usually for funerary purposes. They were also used as markers between territories. Stelas usually feature some sort of decoration and are carved in relief, either raised or sunken. Paint also was incorporated in some of these stelas and often featured hieroglyphics detailing the scene. In Egypt these stelas were primarily used as funerary ornaments, very much resembling tombstones. Looking from the first dynasty on, stelas changed throughout the dynasties in Egypt including their shapes, kind of decorations, and their inscriptions. Initially used as tombstones, these stelas were placed outside of the tombs to name the tomb owner and acted as a marker for offerings. Stelas were also used as a way of portraying gods and used for prayer purposes. We also see stelas used as a way of commemorating conquests. For my paper I will be looking specifically at the use of stelas for funerary purposes and how they changed throughout the dynasties. In Egyptian religion, death was not seen as the final stage. Egyptians only referred to death as the rest period before revival. We gain a glimpse into what was believed to be the after life through inscriptions such as the Book of the Dead. Although terrifying tales, it contained information that the deceased could use to protect themselves. Stelas were first employed just to perpetuate the name of the deceased but through time became more and more decorated. The first royal stelas simply inscribed the kings name in the serekh and was placed inside of niches within their tombs. The first stelas were erected in the Upper Egyptian funerary complexes at Abydos and were large slabs of rectangular stone,... ... middle of paper ... ...ed accomplishments, probably to aid in the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony. Another use was to mark territories. Some of the most famous stelas were created after Akhenaten named Amarna the new capital of Egypt. The king erected fifteen stelas in which he explained why he chose Amarna as the new capital as well as defining his power as a ruler. In conclusion we see how integral a part stelas played within Egypt’s history. Like many other Egyptian art forms, its function and use changed over time but some styles revived themselves throughout the years. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of the largest collections of Egyptian art and although crowded on the day I went, it was nice to be able to see some of the things in practice. It was also interesting to note the resourcefulness of the Ancient Egyptians and how art forms reappeared after somewhat of a hiatus.
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