The Stability of Ancient Egypt: Flood and Sun - 59-208-201-f10

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The Stability of Ancient Egypt: Flood and Sun
Ancient Egyptian civilization
• Developed gradually from 5,000 BCE to 3,000 BCE along the
Nile
• There were two independent Egypts: Upper and Lower Egypt
• Egyptian history is said to begin when Upper and Lower Egypt
were united by Narmer, the king of Upper Egypt
• There were about 30 dynasties in ancient Egypt
• Life was unusually secure in ancient Egypt – why?
Ancient Egyptian civilization
• Developed gradually from 5,000 BCE to 3,000 BCE along the
Nile
• There were two independent Egypts: Upper and Lower Egypt
• Egyptian history is said to begin when Upper and Lower Egypt
were united by Narmer, the king of Upper Egypt
• There were about 30 dynasties in ancient Egypt
• Life was unusually secure in ancient Egypt – why?
– Fertility of the Nile Valley, thanks to the nutrients deposited each year
with flooding
– Surrounding inhospitable deserts eliminated fear of invasion
• The stability of ancient Egypt and the highly centralized
government is reflected in the monumental architecture of
the pyramids
Stepped Pyramid of Zoser,
Saqqara, Egypt (2600 BCE)
-early pyramid, typically stepped
-dates from the first dynasty
Ziggurat of Ur
Egyptian art and culture
• With few exceptions, Egyptian art was remarkably consistent
in style over 3 millennia – unquestioning acceptance of
convention
• Sense of order and continuity pervades ancient Egyptian life
and art
• Hieroglyphics developed before 3000 BCE
Like Sumerian, hieroglyphics
represented complete ideas rather
than individual units of sound (not
phonetic)
The meaning of hieroglyphics
was unknown until the Rosetta
Stone was found and
deciphered. The three
languages (ancient Egyptian
hieroglyphics, the late Egyptian
‘Demotic’ language, and ancient
Greek) on the stone tell the
same thing, allowing us to
‘decode’ ancient Egyptian
hieroglyphics.
Religion
• Polytheistic (many gods and goddesses with various talents
and connections to the natural world)
• Humans could, through offerings and sacrifice, influence the
gods and goddesses
• Most important gods and goddesses related to cosmic forces
(sun, earth, sky, air and water) as well as the Nile itself
• Gods and goddesses took animal forms that were associated
with particular cosmic forces (sun = falcon headed man
wearing a sun disc crown, joy and love = cow, which is
associated with these qualities)
Hathor, Goddess of joy and love,
wearing a cow crown
Horus, god of the sun – head of a
falcon and sun disc crown
Mastaba, earliest burial places of
Old Kingdom nobility
-oriented in cardinal directions
-plan is believed to be based on
house plans, as the mastaba was a
tomb for the soul
Architecture in ancient Egypt – the Old Kingdom
• The Old Kingdom can be considered the glory days of ancient
Egyptian architecture: massive and ambitious mega-projects
galore
• Egypt lacked timber, although they did import some from
elsewhere in Africa, Lebanon, etc.
• Most buildings (even the pharaoh’s home) were made of
reeds (lotus and papyrus) which were bundled together and
matted with mud and clay or mud bricks
• Softer stone such as limestone and sandstone was available
from nearby quarries
• Harder stones were obtained from further away and had to
be transported
the Old Kingdom
Examples of soft stone and hard stone
Sandstone – lighter, more workable stone
Granite – dense, heavy stone
the Old Kingdom
Stepped pyramid of King Zoser,
2600 BCE (3rd Dynasty)
-built in Saqqara on the west side
of the Nile
-the stepped pyramid is basically a
stack of mastabas
-built by Imhotep an astronomer/
writer/priest/physician, and King
Zoser’s architect
-came to be deified as the god of
medicine and science
Mastaba, earliest burial places of
Old Kingdom nobility
-oriented in cardinal directions
-plan is believed to be based on
house plans, as the mastaba was a
tomb for the soul
Imhotep
Great Pyramids, Giza
the Old Kingdom
-located on the west bank of the Nile in what is now Cairo
-the west bank of the Nile was used for burials and was associated with death – why?
-pyramids were built in the Fourth Dynasty, Old Kingdom
the Old Kingdom
The Pyramids: massive project, huge expense
why bother?
Pyramids evolved to be an important part of their system of
beliefs:
• The pharaoh was considered divine and it was believed he or
she would return to the gods after death – the pyramid form
was meant to soar to heaven and the pharaoh was believed
to scale its sides to join the sun god, Ra
• Triangular shape of the pyramids may symbolize the falling
rays of the sun
• Satisfied the Egyptian cultural craving for permanence and the
pyramid is one of the most stable geometrical forms
Constructing the pyramids:
http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=lasCXujNPfs&feature=fvw
the Old Kingdom
• The four sides of the pyramids faced the cardinal directions
(north, south, east, west)
• The blocks of limestone used to create the pyramids came
from the east side of the Nile and were floated to the west
side on barges
• The largest and oldest pyramid, Cheops, used 2.3 million
blocks, averaging 2.5 tons in weight! Phenomenal feat of
engineering to assemble them
• Inside the pyramids: corridors and rooms where the body of
the pharaoh was placed along with food and possessions that
would accompany him to the afterlife
• The pyramids were once covered in polished white limestone
the Old Kingdom
The limestone was
taken off during the
medieval pyramid
when many
beautiful mosques
were built in Cairo
Sultan Hassan Mosque,
Cairo
the Old Kingdom
Book of the Dead
• Always the expectation that there was life after death – this
belief influenced all aspects of ancient Egyptian culture
• The Book of the Dead explains what the dead had to
experience before reaching the ‘Field of Reeds’ or eternal
state
• What are some of the parallels between what Ancient
Egyptians believed and Christian belief?
the Old Kingdom
Book of the Dead
• Always the expectation that there was life after death – this
belief influenced all aspects of ancient Egyptian culture
• The Book of the Dead explains what the dead had to
experience before reaching the ‘Field of Reeds’ or eternal
state
• What are some of the parallels between what Ancient
Egyptians believed and Christian belief?
– Life after death
– Judgment day, on which you are judged on what you did in life
– If judged favorably, the decease will join other souls in a realm of
peace and joy (heaven?)
– The concept of ka or soul – the indestructible essence of each person
Sculpture
• Depiction of humans:
– Bodies are slim and athletic, rather rigid
– Clothes are thin and cling to the body
– The king wears a false beard and headdress
to symbolize rank
– Statues of humans were built to last for
eternity in case the mummy was destroyed
– A set of standard poses was established in
the Old Kingdom and went unchanged for
3,000 years! Being innovative was not the
goal.
1. Sitting on a block
2. Standing with one foot forward (arms
often rigid against the body) but do not
appear to be walking
3. Sitting cross-legged on the floor
4. Kneeling on both knees (rare)
the Old Kingdom
Sculpture
• Depiction of humans:
– Bodies are slim and athletic, rather rigid
– Clothes are thin and cling to the body
– The king wears a false beard and headdress
to symbolize rank
– Statues of humans were built to last for
eternity in case the mummy was destroyed
– A set of standard poses was established in
the Old Kingdom and went unchanged for
3,000 years! Being innovative was not the
goal.
1. Sitting on a block
2. Standing with one foot forward (arms
often rigid against the body) but do not
appear to be walking
3. Sitting cross-legged on the floor
4. Kneeling on both knees (rare)
the Old Kingdom
Sculpture
• Depiction of humans:
– Bodies are slim and athletic, rather rigid
– Clothes are thin and cling to the body
– The king wears a false beard and headdress
to symbolize rank
– Statues of humans were built to last for
eternity in case the mummy was destroyed
– A set of standard poses was established in
the Old Kingdom and went unchanged for
3,000 years! Being innovative was not the
goal.
1. Sitting on a block
2. Standing with one foot forward (arms
often rigid against the body) but do not
appear to be walking
3. Sitting cross-legged on the floor
4. Kneeling on both knees (rare)
the Old Kingdom
Sculpture
• Depiction of humans:
– Bodies are slim and athletic, rather rigid
– Clothes are thin and cling to the body
– The king wears a false beard and headdress
to symbolize rank
– Statues of humans were built to last for
eternity in case the mummy was destroyed
– A set of standard poses was established in
the Old Kingdom and went unchanged for
3,000 years! Being innovative was not the
goal.
1. Sitting on a block
2. Standing with one foot forward (arms
often rigid against the body) but do not
appear to be walking
3. Sitting cross-legged on the floor
4. Kneeling on both knees (rare)
the Old Kingdom
Sculpture
• Depiction of humans:
– Bodies are slim and athletic, rather rigid
– Clothes are thin and cling to the body
– The king wears a false beard and headdress
to symbolize rank
– Statues of humans were built to last for
eternity in case the mummy was destroyed
– A set of standard poses was established in
the Old Kingdom and went unchanged for
3,000 years! Being innovative was not the
goal.
1. Sitting on a block
2. Standing with one foot forward (arms
often rigid against the body) but do not
appear to be walking
3. Sitting cross-legged on the floor
4. Kneeling on both knees (rare)
the Old Kingdom
the Old Kingdom
Relief Sculpture and painting
• Tightly linked as reliefs were
often painted
• Clarity in storytelling was
prioritized, rather than
naturalistic representation
• Big humans = high status
• Depictions of humans in relief
and painting combines frontal
and profile views
• Tomb paintings depict daily life
were not meant to be viewed
except by the soul or ka
• Topics generally focused on
military exploits
The Middle Kingdom
• Period of political upheaval
• Egypt once again divided into
Upper and Lower Egypt – no leader
could unite Egypt as Narmer had
1000 years earlier
• Egypt finally united by Mentuhotep
II but most power lay in the hands
of governors, not the king
• Paintings now featured domestic
and farm life
• Stone architecture imitates
bundled reed and clay architecture
The Middle Kingdom
• Period of political upheaval
• Egypt once again divided into
Upper and Lower Egypt – no leader
could unite Egypt as Narmer had
1000 years earlier
• Egypt finally united by Mentuhotep
II but most power lay in the hands
of governors, not the king
• Paintings now featured domestic
and farm life
• Stone architecture imitates
bundled reed and clay architecture
the New Kingdom
New Kingdom
• a tribe from the Eastern
Mediterranean called the
Hyksos conquered Egypt,
bringing with them the horse
drawn carriage and bronze
weapons
• Egyptians then utilized these
tools to re-unite the country
for another 1,000 years, until
Egypt was conquered by Persia
in 525 BCE
• The new capital of Egypt in the
New Kingdom was Thebes,
where much religious and
political architecture was built
• Art was produced not only for
religious purposes but to show
off wealth and sophistication
the New Kingdom
Architecture in the New Kingdom
• No more pyramids for burials – Egyptians now realized they
attracted too many thieves
• Royalty and nobility were now buried in chambers hollowed out
from the cliffs on the west bank of the Nile in the Valley of Kings
• While the Old Kingdom was the era of pyramids, the New
Kingdom was the era of temples
the New Kingdom
Architecture in the New Kingdom continued….
• Queen Hatshepsut was
buried separately from her
temple (a New Kingdom
development)
• Her temple had a stone roof,
requiring many columns to
hold it up – columns could
only be as far apart as the
length of a stone lintel
• terraces once had gardens
• Sculptures were used lavishly
and the walls were carved in
low relief and painted
• Chambers are dedicated to
herself and to gods: cowheaded goddess, Hathor; god
of embalming and protector
of the dead, Anubis
the New Kingdom
Architecture in the New Kingdom continued….
• Temples at Luxor – major building
center for temples
• Domestic architecture – most of
what we know about Egyptian
culture is from the nobility, who
left the most traces
– Everyday houses have also been
excavated so we know the typical
layout of homes
– Nobles homes featured gardens,
pools, grape arbors
– All homes made of mud brick and
reeds, even the king’s
Mud brick and bundled reed homes – artist’s representation
the New Kingdom
Sculpture in the New Kingdom
• Stylistic continuity with Old
Kingdom
• Four seated statues of
Ramses II, dedicated
apparently to the Sun God (65
feet high), look nearly
identical with Old Kingdom
sculpture
• Ramses II temple nearly
destroyed by the flooding for
the Aswan dam
Amenhotep / Akhenaten and Nefertiti
Religious Revolution: Amenhotep becomes Akhenaten
• Amenhotep believed the sun was the source of all life
• He abolished the pantheon of Egyptian gods and established a
monotheistic religion to the sun disk ‘Aten’, which he
worshipped exclusively
• He was so dedicated to Aten that he changed his name to
Akhenaten (“the shining spirit of Aten”)
• He shifted the capital from Thebes to el-Amarna
• All of these changes ended when King Tutankhaten assumed
the throne
the New Kingdom
Reliefs and painting in the New Kingdom
• Very similar to that found in the Old and Middle kingdoms,
although there were some innovations:
the New Kingdom
Reliefs and painting in the New Kingdom
• Very similar to that found in the Old and Middle kingdoms,
although there were some innovations:
the New Kingdom
Reliefs and painting in the New Kingdom
• Very similar to that found in the Old and Middle kingdoms,
although there were some innovations:
Religious Revolution: Amenhotep becomes Akhenaten
• How did Amenhotep’s religion
differ from Egyptian religion in
general?
Religious Revolution: Amenhotep becomes Akhenaten
• Amenhotep believed the sun was
the source of all life
• He abolished the pantheon of
Egyptian gods and established a
monotheistic religion to the sun
disk ‘Aten’, which he worshipped
exclusively
• He was so dedicated to Aten that
he changed his name to
Akhenaten (“the shining spirit of
Aten”)
• He shifted the capital from Thebes
to el-Amarna
• All of these changes ended when
King Tutankhaten assumed the
throne
Monumental Royal Sculpture:
-intended to preserve and guarantee
the king’s existence after death
-materials for funerary images was
made of the hardest stone – granite,
rather than sandstone or limestone
-idealized physics for royalty only
Sculpture for the everyday
-lesser, non-royal figures depicted
more naturally, not idealized types
-
the New Kingdom
Reliefs and painting in the New Kingdom
• Very similar to that found in the Old and Middle kingdoms,
although there were some innovations
Why would such paintings be included in tombs?
Father knows best? Advice from an Akkadian and
Egyptian father
*see instructive literature on page 47 and page 102
King Tutankhamun
-only royal tomb in ancient Egypt to have
escaped looters
King Tut’s tomb discovered:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQY7bvsjpg
c
King Tut’s mystery
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=beFJc9ewL
XQ
Egypt in the popular imagination
• The topic of many films
• The pseudo-discipline, ‘Egyptology’
• The addition on the Louvre in Paris, by the architect I. M. Pei
(1988)
• Architecture in the Victorian-era
Egypt in the popular imagination
• The topic of many films
• The pseudo-discipline, ‘Egyptology’
• The addition on the Louvre in Paris, by the architect I. M. Pei
(1988)
• Architecture in the Victorian-era
Egypt in the popular imagination
• http://news.discovery.com/archaeology/camb
yses-army-remains-sahara.html

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