New ideas on ancient Egypt

This evocative image of Amenemhat III depicts the son of Senwosret II in a similar style and with a similar emphasis on what seems to modern viewers as personality or soulfulness. It would have originally been painted. Anna-Marie Kellen/Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

This evocative image of Amenemhat III depicts the son of Senwosret II in a similar style and with a similar emphasis on what seems to modern viewers as personality or soulfulness. It would have originally been painted. Anna-Marie Kellen/Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen)

Here is a review of “Ancient Egypt Transformed,” by Philip Kennicott from The Washington Post, January 8, 2016.

This gold-covered fish pendant was probably worn as a hair ornament. It is about an inch-and-a-half long, yet detailed enough that the species can be identified: Synodontis batensoda. Anna-Marie Kellen/Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland)

This gold-covered fish pendant was probably worn as a hair ornament. It is about an inch-and-a-half long, yet detailed enough that the species can be identified: Synodontis batensoda. Anna-Marie Kellen/Trustees of the National Museums of Scotland)

Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II, an 11th Dynasty king, is credited with reunifying Egypt and establishing the Middle Kingdom. This statue, in a deliberately archaic style, is actually pieced together from two similar works that once stood at the king’s temple at Deir el-Bahri. Metropolitan Museum of Art)

Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II, an 11th Dynasty king, is credited with reunifying Egypt and establishing the Middle Kingdom. This statue, in a deliberately archaic style, is actually pieced together from two similar works that once stood at the king’s temple at Deir el-Bahri. Metropolitan Museum of Art)

By the middle of the 12th Dynasty, Egyptian kings such as Senwosret III were being depicted with strongly individual features, including marks of age and care. It was a remarkable development within a tradition that previously presented idealized images of the ruler, young, and often with a gentle or enigmatic smile. Anna-Marie Kellen/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)

By the middle of the 12th Dynasty, Egyptian kings such as Senwosret III were being depicted with strongly individual features, including marks of age and care. It was a remarkable development within a tradition that previously presented idealized images of the ruler, young, and often with a gentle or enigmatic smile. Anna-Marie Kellen/Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art)

5 thoughts on “New ideas on ancient Egypt

  1. Margaret Sandner-Gialamas

    It’s certainly interesting to see the level of detail that the Ancient Egyptians put in their works of art. Especially when you look at the development of Ancient Greek and Ancient Roman art, happening at around the same time, and see that they struggled for years to get to that same level of realistic, intricately detailed busts and human figures. In fact, I would argue that the Greeks/Romans never really got quite around to perfecting realism, and that these Ancient Egyptian works had them beat in that department.

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  2. Elisha Ayer

    It is interesting to see the changes in culture, as seen in the old, middle, and new kingdoms of Egypt. From a historical standpoint it is important to not such changes as it gives away so much about the changing views the ancient Egyptians had. This article was a great insight on not only the changes over time with art and position, but the article also mentions the changes in material used as time passed which was really interesting.

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  3. Bailey Johnson

    I have always had a burning love for ancient Egyptian art and culture. These works of art show how intricate, lively and detailed the ancient Egyptians really were. Since these photographs show the old, middle and new kingdoms it is evident to see a transition and growth between each time period. These changes can draw a clear representation of what was happening during that time period whether it was economically, socially, or climate related. Art can be a gateway to learning history and landscapes. For example, the picture of the fish shows that this fish was prominent during the ancient time period and if it is still in the location were that artifact was found, we can trace and see an evolution or change that would not have been discovered before.

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  4. Claire Ross

    It seems to me that some people have a difficult time thinking “outside” of their own culture. The idea that “change” in art or culture can be measured by some imperial ruler is absurd. I like that this exhibit highlights the change that DID happen in Egyptian art, and recognizes that the design features which might seem insignificant to us, were vital to the Egyptians. It is fascinating to me to ponder what these changes really meant to those making them, and what symbolic meaning sis finished piece of art hold for the viewer? For example, the shift towards realism in depicting the pharaoh, was this a political tactic or simply a shift in conventions of representation. Perhaps it was a blend of both. It will always be frustrating to me that I cannot read a piece of art from the past as easily as ancient people did.

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  5. Eli Hanisian

    It is interesting how the Egyptians approached art in society and culture, as compared to other civilizations. While many other civilizations have a gradual shift in style and human depiction, Egyptian art changed very rapidly in accordance with societal, cultural, and political events. We see this strongly in the depiction of Emperors with shifts away from idealism towards realism (and vice versa), and in a more precise sense, the styles and methods used in depicting the faces and emotions of Emperors. This focus on art and the fluidity of artistic styles helps define Egypt as one of the greatest empires of its time.

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