Walk Like an Egyptian
Artistic license was hardly an accepted idea in ancient Egypt. For roughly 3,000 years, style conventions for rendering the human body were based on persistent tradition. However, these conventions were altered briefly during the 14th century Amarna Period under the ruler Akhenaten. The purpose of this activity is to explore the traditional style conventions for Egypt and the surprising style aberrations that occurred during Akhenaten’s time.
Here is what you are to do for this assignment:
First, begin by searching the book or the Internet for two free-standing figures, two paintings, or two reliefs from ancient Egypt. Carefully examine and study the pair.
As you are doing so, take note of the style qualities that were Egyptian conventions for 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, or relief figures. Compare the two for style similarities they share. Remember to concentrate on style, not subject similarities in your descriptions.
Then, in a substantial paragraph, discuss the style qualities the pair share and describe the style conventions as you see them.
How are humans rendered, and does the social status of the figure make a difference in the portrayal?
Your next step is to introduce one work produced during the time of Akhenaten. Analyze your sample for style.
Discuss, in one paragraph, how artistic conventions were altered during the reign of King Akhenaten. Address what you feel may be an explanation for this deviation from traditional style.
Your initial post should be at least 250 words and must substantively integrate the assigned readings from the module with proper APA (Links to an external site.) style formatting.
Module 2: Module Notes: Ancient Egypt: Cities of the Dead and Dynasties of Gold
Concurrent with the groups of Mesopotamia was neighboring Egypt. In this module, we will explore how unchanging tradition seemed to define the culture of ancient Egypt, and how proscribed conventions created persistent art styles for roughly three millennia. Ideas of the afterlife and funerary preparations will also be explored.
Welcome to ancient Egypt. Here we find a culture where tradition reigned supreme. Life along the Nile was organized according to a divine plan established by an array of gods and overseen by the king, who was himself divine. Art celebrated the gods and god-king. Much of the art of ancient Egypt was funerary, put to the purpose of helping the king, members of the royal family and high-ranking officials into that life of immortality. The tombs, their contents, as well as temples dedicated to gods and kings were built to endure, just as the deities would endure through eternity. Aside from physical solidity, Egyptian art was changeless in its style conventions, formulas of representation that would last for 3,000 years.
Ancient Egyptian history is divided into three major periods: Old Kingdom (3,000-2181 BCE), Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE) and New Kingdom (1550-1069 BCE). Old Kingdom Egypt is the period of gargantuan tombs, which show a traceable evolution of form through the period. These are solid structures meant to glorify the deceased, as well as provide protection for the king’s belongings and his mummified remains. In the Slideshow are two types of Egyptian tombs from the Old Kingdom, a mastaba tomb and a stepped pyramid.
Old Kingdom Egypt also set into place the style conventions that would be so long lasting. In your readings, note the formula for Egyptian figures that artists were expected to follow, especially when rendering the deceased or anyone of high rank. Menkaure and a Queen is a sculpture that exhibits the look for standing figures.
The Middle Kingdom presents another period of strong artistic enterprise that continued the established conventions. During this period, tombs, such as those at Beni Hassan, became much more discreet, carved into hillsides and covered over to prevent theft. Separate mortuary temples commemorated these kings.
The New Kingdom was an imperial period for the Egyptians, when they extended their borders into Mesopotamia and southward into the Sudan. This is a period of great wealth which was lavished on mortuary temples, extensive pylon temples and extravagant burials, such as that of Tutankamun. Conventions in art remained in place, aside from one moment of eccentricity. This moment occurred during the reign of Akhenaten, who allowed startlingly expressive exaggeration in his royal portraits.
These main points should help guide your reading and provide a broad base for your discussion posts and essay.
Now that you have completed the module readings, please move to the next learning activity, Cities of the Dead.
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