ObeliskTimeline of Art
,

Ancient Egypt

Super power of all super powers.

Egyptian art and culture are so large in both time and artifacts that it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. For over 3100 years egypt was a super power (not counting the Neolithic and Pre-Dynastic cultures from 6000-3200 b.c.e). The Nile river, its delta and the Arabian Desert were a natural barrier from unwanted invaders, creating a buffer that allowed the Egyptian culture to thrive politically, religiously and artistically with very little outside influence. Belief systems and art changed very little, and grew incredibly deep over that time, leaving one of the world’s most rich, unique cultures ever to inhabit the planet.

From the time of Narmer, the first ruler to unify the kingdoms of upper and lower Egypt, to the the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great 2,800 years later, Egypt created an art and language that perfectly expressed its religion and politics, which in turn motivated the construction of several of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. From the pyramids of Giza to the tombs in the Valley of the Kings — the Egyptian belief in the afterlife led to a preservation of their culture that is still revealing treasures to this day. Some archaeologists claim that only a quarter of the artifacts and buildings have been uncovered in the Arabian Desert and the Nile River Delta. To put that in perspective, America is only 240 years old, times that by 13 and you get Egypt. To say theirs is a wealth of history is an understatement.

Alexander the great conquered Egypt in 332 BC, then the eventual rule of Rome after the fall of the last Ptolemaic (greek ruler of egypt) ruler, Cleopatra. The Egyptian language and culture began to die out. For over 2,000 years Hieroglyphics, the written Egyptian language, was considered undecipherable. It was not until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in Rosetta Egypt in 1799 by the French that we had our first clue. The Rosetta Stone includes three identical languages: Hieroglyphics, Egyptian Demotic and Greek, of which the Greek was the clue that allowed for Hieroglyphics to be deciphered. One of the great surprises was that Hieroglyphics was both a pictorial language and a tonal language. Each image makes up a sound in the egyptian alphabet, allowing egyptian writers to play with both image and words at the same time. Unraveling the mystery of Hieroglyphics allowed historians to step into the shoes of the ancient Egyptian culture — which is now richly documented and explored.


...


Got questions, comments or corrections about Ancient Egypt? Join the conversation in the Obelisk chat room, and if you enjoy content like this, consider becoming a member to unlock exclusive essays, downloadables, and discounts at the Obelisk Store.

Reed Enger, "Ancient Egypt, Super power of all super powers.," in Obelisk Art History, Published September 27, 2015; last modified July 20, 2019, http://arthistoryproject.com/timeline/the-ancient-world/egypt/.

Read More
Gebel el-Arak Knife, Ancient Egypt

Gebel el-Arak Knife

3200 BCE
Palette of Narmer, Ancient Egypt

Palette of Narmer

3100 BCE
Pyramid of Djoser, Ancient Egypt

Pyramid of Djoser

Imhotep, 2667 BCE-2648 BCE
Giza Pyramid Complex, Ancient Egypt

Giza Pyramid Complex

Hemiunu, 2560 BCE-2540 BCE
Great Sphinx of Giza, Ancient Egypt

Great Sphinx of Giza

2500 BCE
Model of Egyptian Nile Boat, Ancient Egypt

Model of Egyptian Nile Boat

2160 BCE-2130 BCE

I am one of those gods, the Powers who effect the triumph of Osiris over his adversaries on the day of the Weighing of the Words : I am thy kinsman, Osiris.

The Book of the Dead

1550 BCE
Head of Man with Bows, Ancient Egypt

Head of Man with Bows

1479 BCE
Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, Ancient Egypt

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

Senenmut, 1479 BCE-1458 BCE
Egyptian Vessel, Ancient Egypt

Egyptian Vessel

1400 BCE
Luxor Temple, Ancient Egypt

Luxor Temple

1800 BCE-1400 BCE
Akhenaton Bust, Ancient Egypt

Akhenaton Bust

1355 BCE
Akhenaten and Nefertiti, Ancient Egypt

Akhenaten and Nefertiti

1352 BCE
Bust of Nefertiti, Ancient Egypt

Bust of Nefertiti

1340 BCE
Canopic Jars, Ancient Egypt

Canopic Jars

900 BCE
Aafenmut Canopic Jars, Ancient Egypt

Aafenmut Canopic Jars

712 BCE-664 BCE
Falcon of Horus, Ancient Egypt

Falcon of Horus

663 BCE
Isis Nursing Horus, Ancient Egypt

Isis Nursing Horus

663 BCE
Isis and Horus, Ancient Egypt

Isis and Horus

640 BCE
Horus Falcon, Ancient Egypt

Horus Falcon

250 BCE
The Rosetta Stone, Ancient Egypt

The Rosetta Stone

196 BCE

The gods have given him health, victory and power, and all other good things, and he and his children shall retain the kingship for all time.

The Rosetta Stone, Translation of the Greek Section

196 BCE
Sculpture of Cleopatra, Ancient Egypt

Sculpture of Cleopatra

100 BCE
Next Movement
Mesopotamia, Ancient World

Mesopotamia

Poetry, war, and the invention of law

3500 BCE-1000 BCE

Obelisk uses cookies to measure site usage, helping us understand our readers' interests and improve the site. By continuing to browse this site you agree to the use of cookies. Cookie Policy