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ARH 101

Egyptian Art
3000 B.C.- 1000 B.C.

Farming communities formed along the Nile

during the Neolithic period - before 7000 B.C.
The Geography of Egypt
During this time, Egypt was divided into two
parts: Upper Egypt (the southern part) and
Lower Egypt (the northern part). Ancient Egypt
didn’t truly become the power it is known
today until the two parts joined together to
become the Egyptian kingdom.
Palette of King
3150-3125 bce
Slate. 25”

The First Dynasty: King Narmer

If you take a look at the art from King Narmer’s reign, you’ll see some interesting similarities between the art of his time and the
Sumerians. This slate tablet, The Palette of King Narmer, seems like an evolution of the Code of Hamurabi. Both tell a story, but while
the Hamurabi’s stele speaks of code and laws, King Narmer’s palette tells a story of war and victory.
By putting Egyptian gods in half human/half animal form around himself on the Palette, it is likely King Narmer believed they brought
him good luck and helped him to win the battle. In addition, King Narmer depicted animals around himself to give the effect of him
being part god.
Portrait panel of Hesy-ra,
Saqqara, wood, 45" h,
(Dynasty III, Old
Kingdom), c. 2,660 B.C.
All of these tombs mark a significant change in construction from those of the
Predynastic Period when tombs were simple oval or rectangular graves. Now the body
lies in a wooden coffin with a separate chamber for grave goods, and both rest-beneath
a mud-brick superstructure consisting of a flat roof and vertical walls. Attached to the
exterior is a simple emplacement or small chapel used for the cult of the dead. This new
type of tomb is called a mastaba, a modern Arabic word meaning, "bench."
The step pyramid of King Djoser.
The step pyramid of King Djoser (2628-2609
BC) at Saqqara, just south of Cairo, is the
oldest pyramid in Egypt.
The area was originally intended to be smaller (green) with a single mastaba tomb (blue).
It was extended to 530 by 270 m and enclosed by a thick 6 m high stonewall. Notably is
the underground galleries (orange) which probably were at place when the pyramid
complex was built.
Most of the structures were unique and had no precedent in Egypt or
elsewhere in the world at the time with its vast quantity of architectural
Stone cutting as such was by no means new to the Egyptians who had
made huge tunneling jobs and walls earlier (see king Khasekhemwy of
dynasty two), but making buildings in stone in such dimensions had
never been made before. Chief architects, prime minister, pharaoh's
physician and poet were among the many skills and titles of the genius
behind this - Imhotep. Later in history he was the only human to be
taken up among the gods in Egypt and he was venerated for thousands
of years into the Roman era 2,5 millennia after his death. Stone scul-
pturing and pillars imitating flowers from nature were among his
inventions that the world now saw for the first time.
Engaged Papyrus Columns in the courtyard of
the Palace of the North
The Pyramid of Menkaure( 2533-2515), Khafre (2570-2544), and Khufu (2601-2528)
2600-2500 bce
The Great Sphinx at
Giza, 4th dynasty.
2570-2544 bce
Sandstone height 65’
King Khafre Seated. Giza;
Fourth Dynasty, reign of
Khafre (2520–2494 B.C.E.).
47 1/4 in.

Twenty-three lifesize seated statues of

Khafre were placed about the large
pillared hall in the valley temple. While
most were found in fragmentary
condition, this statue is largely
complete. The king sits on a backless
throne with the sema-tawi, an emblem
of unification that combines the
hieroglyph sema ("union") with the
symbols for the two lands of Egypt—
papyrus for the north and a flower for
the south.
King Menkaure and a Queen.
Giza; Fourth Dynasty, reign of
Menkaure (ca. 2490–2472
B.C.E.). Graywacke; H. 54 3/4

Youthful vigor characterizes the figure of the king as

he strides forward, protectively embraced by the
queen. His head is turned slightly to the right, while
the queen's face is fully frontal, as if she were
presenting him to the world and endowing him with
confidence and strength. While scholars may have
gone too far in suggesting that this dominating
female is a goddess, it is possible that we see not the
king's consort but his mother. Such an image would
have served as a potent guarantee of Menkaure's
rebirth after death. Paint was applied, as seen in the
traces of red on the king's ears, and sheet gold may
once have covered the woman's wig and the king's
headdress. For the first time in Egyptian art, both
royal heads are not images of idealized royalty but
portraits of specific holders of the offices. The king's
bulbous eyes, hanging flesh on the cheeks, and
drooping lower lip are unmistakably features of an
individual, as are the queen's long full neck and small
mouth. While the king's body is ideally youthful and
Prince Rahotep with his
wife Princess Nefert, 4th
2580 bce
Painted limestone
47 ¼”
Seated Scribe. From the tomb of
Kai, Saqqara. Dynasty 5, ca. 2494-
2345 BCE. Old Kingdom. Painted

This is a sculpture that was

placed in the tomb of Kai. This
is not an idealized sculpture,
due to the not so favorable
physique. So this is what Kai’s
scribe most probably looked
like in real life. Many pharohs
had their servants with them
(whether respresentations or
the actual servants
themselves) to have them
continue to be their servants
in the afterlife.