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Chapter 2 The Art of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Water and waterways made agriculture and a settled way of life possible. Tribes came together and formed the.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter 2 The Art of Mesopotamia and Egypt. Water and waterways made agriculture and a settled way of life possible. Tribes came together and formed the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter 2 The Art of Mesopotamia and Egypt

2 Water and waterways made agriculture and a settled way of life possible. Tribes came together and formed the first cities close to the great rivers.

3 The important trade of metalworking evolved in Mesopotamia about 1,000 years before it did in Europe.

4 Similarities between the Egyptian and Mesopotamian cultures: Agriculture was the basis of wealth Kingship became the dominant form of government People worshiped many gods The rulers closely identified with the gods Society became complex and hierarchical

5 Because of the growing complexity of society, writing developed… first with pictographs, and then into complex cuneiform or hieroglyphic signs.

6 A powerful cluster of cities in the south of Mesopotamia became known as Sumer. They are credited with many “firsts” including the wagon wheel and the plow, and developing the cuneiform system of writing.

7 The most imposing architecture of Sumer were the ziggurats…stepped pyramidal structures with a temple or shrine on the top. Temple complexes stood in the center of each city.

8 Such temples were known as “the offering table of heaven” or “the waiting room of the gods”, but we know nothing of the rituals performed in them.

9 Sculpture done during this period was associated with religion. Large statues in temples were objects of devotion.

10 Small votive figures were placed in shrines. An inscription might read “one who offers prayers”.

11 Page 42 Artists became accomplished in many arts: music, oral storytelling (which became literature), sculpture and architecture. An example of their skill is a Bull lyre-a kind of harp- from a royal tomb. Its medium is wood, gold, lapis lazuli, and shell.

12 The iconography of the sound box panel is illustrating the Epic of Gilgamesh. (page 43) The Epic of Gilgamesh is a 3,000 line epic poem written 700 years after the harp was decorated. We can analyze the iconography of Sumerian works of art because of written clay tablets and decorated seals found in Sumer.


14 Cylinder seals secured and identified documents and signified property ownership.

15  Stele of Naramsin c. 2254-2218 BCE Stele of Hammurabi  c. 1792-1750 BCE

16 The word “stele” means an upright stone slab. Though often used to tell a story, the Stele of Hammurabi was used to record laws and penalties. At the top of the stele, Hammurabi is shown confronting the sun god, patron of law and justice.

17 At the same time that city-states began to develop in Sumer, a rich civilization in the Nile valley of Egypt also began to develop. Upper and lower Egypt were unified around 3150 BCE, and Egypt was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BCE.

18 Palette of Narmer, c. 3150-3125 BCE. Slate, height 25”. Egyptian Museum, Cairo

19 Egyptian history is divided into three periods: Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom. After Alexander conquered Egypt, there were 15 Greek rulers named Ptolemy. Rome conquered Egypt in 31 BCE, and Cleopatra became the last Ptolemaic ruler.

20 In the OLD KINGDOM, the mastaba was the first step in the development of the pyramid. These structures tended to be grouped together in a necropolis-literally a city of the dead-at the edge of the desert, on the west bank of the Nile.

21 This pyramid is King Djoser’s stepped pyramid, designed by Imhotep, in the necropolis of Saqqara. It differs from the ziggurat in materials used and its purpose. 1.Made of stone, not mud brick 2.No ramps 3.It protects a tomb, is not a temple

22 Egypt’s most famous funerary structures are the three great pyramids at Giza. The oldest and largest of the three was the tomb of King Khufu, and was originally the height of a modern 48-story sky scraper.

23 Khafra wears the traditional royal costume: a short kilt, a false beard symbolic of kingship, a linen headdress with the cobra symbol of the sun god, Ra. Symbols of united Egypt, the lotus and papyrus decorate the throne. Page 51

24 In three dimensional sculpture, Egyptians were capable of carving lifelike figures. Nevertheless, a rigidly frontal concept continued to control sculpted forms… they did not want to make something with fragile arms and legs, and the stone they used was very hard. The figure conveys a strong sense of dignity, calm, and above all, permanence

25 This double portrait was found in a funerary temple. The figures are carved from a single block and are joined by the queens symbolic gesture of embrace. The king is depicted according to cultural and political ideals…as an athletic, youthful figure with one foot extended and his arms straight at his sides with fists clenched. The queen takes a smaller step forward beside him.

26 Although NOT found in the Giza pyramids, paintings and relief sculpture was often found in the tombs of wealthy people. In these tomb paintings, people with lower rank could be depicted more realistically. People of high rank had to be presented in a more formal way.

27 In Ti Watching a Hippopotamus Hunt, we see the dead man, Ti, going about the duties and pleasures of his earthly life. The hunt for the Hippopotamus was more than just sport. The animals tended to wander into fields and destroy crops. Also, the companions of Seth, the god of darkness, disguised themselves as Hippo’s. So, this art work also tells the story of the triumph of good over evil.

28 At the end of the Old Kingdom, Egypt was split into Upper and Lower Egypt again. When reunited, the Middle Kingdom began. Provincial governors took over more of the control of Egypt: -defense of borders -control of water -agricultural wealth and trade.

29 Head of Senusret III, Dynasty 12, c. 1836-1898 BCE. Yellow quartzite. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City Missouri. In the Middle Kingdom, art begins to show some human emotions in portraiture. Senusret III was a dynamic king who did much to further the united Egypt in the word. He is portrayed here as a man wise in the ways if the world, but lonely, saddened, and burdened by his responsibilities.

30 In contrast, this very formal and unemotional funerary stele shows a family all in white linen and green jewelry, sitting by a table heaped with very unrealistic food heaped on it!

31 We don’t know how the Egyptians viewed the artist. But we do know that the desire for clarity was present in all Egyptian art, even the jewelry, as is shown in this funerary pectoral.

32 Here, there are two coiled cobras of the sun god Ra, and two Horus god falcons supporting a cartouche (an oval tablet enclosing the hieroglyphs of the kings name). The cobras wear the ankh, symbol of life, and the figure holds the symbol for “millions of years”.

33 During the New Kingdom, Egypt prospered both politically and economically. It was during this time that the kings began to call themselves “pharaoh”, which means “great house”. It was also during this time that some large building projects were done. Funerary temple of Hatshepsut, Deir el-Bahri. C. 1478-1458 BCE

34 During the reign of Akhenaton, many large temples were built. The largest remaining are the temples at Luxor and Karnak. The veneration of the traditional Egyptian deities was interrupted briefly during the reign of the unusual ruler Amenhotep IV. This king founded a new religion founded on the belief in one god.

35 The life giving sun disk was the one god, Aten. Amenhotep changed his name to Akhenaten (One Who is Effective on Behalf of Aten) During the reign of Akhenaten, he emphasized the principle of “divine truth”. This influenced Egyptian art to become more realistic.

36 This sunken relief of Akhenaten exemplifies the new style. In this relaxed pose, the King and Queen are playing with their children, and the unusual physical characteristics of the King are revealed. Note the sun.

37 Akhenaten was actively supported by his wife, Queen Nefertiti, and his mother Queen Tiy When Akhenaten died, his new religion only lasted a few years.

38 The tomb of King Tutankhamun, found in 1922, was the first untouched Egyptian tomb found in modern times. The kings body lay inside three nested coffins inside the sarcophagus. The inner most coffin was solid gold.

39 Judgment Before Osiris, illustration from the Book of the Dead, c. 1285 BCE. Painted papyrus. The British Museum, London. Families would commission artists to paint scrolls that had magical spells or texts to help the dead survive the tests they would go through to get to the afterlife.

40 In this scroll, a man named Hunefer is being led through the trials to the afterlife. To the far left Hunefer is being led by Anubis to the place where his heart will be weighed against a feather. Then, we see Hunefer with the god Horus before the throne of Osiris. In the top register, we see Hunefer kneeling before the gods of Heliopolis, a sacred city of the sun-god Ra.

41 Egypt's Late Period saw the country and its artists in the service of foreigners. The Ptolemies regained control of Egypt after Alexander the Great died in 323 BCE. In 30 BCE, when the last Egyptian ruler, Cleopatra VII, died, the Romans added Egypt to it’s empire. In this Sphinx of Taharqo, we see how the different cultures adapted Egyptian styles of art and sculpture.

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