Ancient Egyptian Art Fact Sheet
This fact sheet covers key items students should memorize about ancient Egyptian art in order to pass the assessment.
1. Definition: Ancient Egyptian art refers to the style of painting, sculpture, crafts, and architecture developed by the civilization in the lower Nile Valley from 5000 BC to 300 AD.
2. Purpose: Much of the surviving art comes from tombs and monuments, suggesting its primary purpose was to preserve the values and legacy of the deceased for the afterlife.
3. Characteristics: Ancient Egyptian art is known for its distinctive figures, characterized by hierarchical proportions – meaning gods or political figures appear much larger than other figures. Figures are typically presented in a composite perspective, with heads and legs in profile, but torsos facing forward.
4. Hieroglyphs: The ancient Egyptian writing system, hieroglyphs, was often incorporated into the art. Hieroglyphs were used to represent sounds, concepts, and actions and were integral in decorating monuments and documents.
5. Colors: Color held symbolic meaning for the Egyptians. They commonly used six colors in their artworks: red (for chaos and disorder), black (for death and night), white (for purity), yellow (for eternity), blue (for the sky and water), and green (for fertility and rebirth).
6. Materials: Materials used in artwork included stone, wood, ceramics, and papyrus. Precious metals and semi-precious stones were used in jewelry and for decorating tombs and monuments of the royalty and nobility.
7. Famous Works:
- The Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza: Iconic architectural feats, these monuments were built as tombs and spiritual gateways for pharaohs.
- The Bust of Nefertiti: This sculpture is renowned for its grace and beauty. It was created by the sculptor Thutmose around 1345 BC.
- Tomb Paintings in the Valley of the Kings: These tombs house elaborate paintings depicting the journey of the pharaohs to the afterlife.
- Tutankhamun's Funeral Mask: This mask is a masterwork of Egyptian goldsmithing and lapidary art.
8. Dynastic Periods: Ancient Egyptian art is divided into several periods, including the Old Kingdom (2700-2200 BC), Middle Kingdom (2050-1650 BC), New Kingdom (1550-1050 BC), and the Late Period (664-332 BC).
9. Preservation: Many artworks have been remarkably well preserved due to Egypt's dry climate, providing invaluable insights into this ancient civilization.
10. Influence: Ancient Egyptian art has had a significant influence on other cultures and artistic traditions, and its iconic aesthetic remains recognizable and influential even today.