Around 5000 B.C. hunters settled in the area of the Nile River. The Egyptian civilization emerged more than 3000 years prior to the Christian date of the birth of Christ.
Ancient Egyptian civilization can be separated into three periods: Old Kingdom 2686 – 2050 B.C. Middle Kingdom 2050-1800 B.C. New Kingdom 1570-332 B.C.
In 332 B.C., a Greek from Macedon (northern ancient Greece) conquered Egypt bringing the New Kingdom to a close. His name was Alexander III, or you may have heard of him as Alexander the Great.
The Giza Plateau Originally the pyramids were pure white. The surface of the pyramids were covered with a smooth layer of white limestone. The Great Pyramid (the largest in the middle) also was adorned with a golden tip or captial.
Step Pyramid of King Zoser (2681-2662 B.C.) The pre-curser to smooth sided pyramids were stepped pyramids, not unlike the Ziggurats of Mesopotamia. These structures were used as tombs for the Pharaohs. The form evolved from one large rectangular shape to several of diminishing size stacked on top of one another.
The Great Pyramid (Pyramid of Khufu) These are the most famous pyramids on the Giza Plateau. The largest is the Pyramid of Khufu, also known as the Great Pyramid. What purpose did pyramids serve? – How were they built? – What is inside?
Inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu The inside of the pyramids were not spacious. There were only a few small rooms connected by narrow passageways. The King’s chamber housed the sarcophagus ( a stone coffin) of the pharaoh.
Why such difficult to get to tombs? Egyptian religion placed utmost importance on the resurrection of the soul (or the Ka) in the afterlife. If a body was lost or destroyed, the Ka would spend eternity wandering aimlessly. Inside the Kings Chamber of the Great Pyramid Great Pyramid Video
No one knows for sure exactly how the pyramids were built. However, modern science has given us a lot of possible explanations. Short Video Long Video 45min.
Valley of the Kings New Kingdom pharaohs were entombed into the rock cliffs along the west bank of the Nile. Temples were built into the cliff walls with the actual tombs constructed deeper into the rock.
Temple of Amonat Karnak The massive stone columns reached 70 feet high. The entry to the Great Hall was beyond the courtyard. The temple was used for worship of Amon, the chief god of Thebes (capital of Egypt during the Middle and New Kingdoms).
Video Reconstruction The Great Sphinx The head is most likely a 4th dynasty pharaoh on the body of a lion. It is the oldest monolithic sculpture known (meaning carved from one stone) Common belief is that it was built during the Old Kingdom, some believe that it is much older than that. No one knows for sure.
Portrait of Khafre Carved from one solid piece of diorite (a hard stone) As with most depictions of Egyptian people, the body is stiff but the face has more life-like expression. The fist once held some symbol, probably denoting his high office. The throne was inscribed with symbols proclaiming Khafre as king of Upper and Lower Egypt.
Much of the artwork from the Middle Kingdom was destroyed by the invading Hyskos. The portrait fragment of King Sesostris illustrates a sensitivity to expression of facial features. How would you describe the expression on the portrait? What assumptions can be made about the expression and the Middle Kingdom?
New Kingdom sculpture Pharaoh Amenhotep IV Queen Nefertiti These portraits show more true to life personality and physical representation of the subject compared to sculptures of the Old Kingdom.
Notice that 2 dimensional Egyptian depictions of people show unnatural poses. The head, arms, legs, and feet are all in profile. The shoulders and eye are seen from the front. Why?
Rules of Egyptian art Egyptian artists followed a strict set of rules for images based on their concerns with the afterlife. Each body part had to be shown from a recognizable view because images of the dead served as substitutes for their bodies. If parts were cropped or unrecognizable, the dead would be deformed in the afterlife.
Tomb paintings of the New Kingdom replaced the need to entomb the pharaohs servants and slaves at upon his death that was customary in the Old Kingdom Elaborate tomb paintings covered the walls and usually told a story relating to the deceased or an event in their life. Notice the sizes of the people. Why do you think they are different? Hieroglyphics (picture writing) helped to tell the story being depicted.