ANCIENT EGYPTIAN CIVILIZATION

 

Featuring much more political unity and protection from natural disasters than Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt reached an amazingly high level of civilization and cultural achievement very early in its history, but consequently became more stagnant and resistant to change later on.

 

Herodotus, Greek historian/writer, 5th c. b.c.:  Egypt was "the gift of the *Nile."

 

*Pharaoh:  The title of the (divine) kings of Egypt (New Kingdom period)

 

*Differences from Mesopotamia:  stability, unity, certainty, no city life per se for centuries; shows up in myths, ethics.

 

*Hieroglyphics:  Egyptian writing, partially alphabetic, partially pictographic.

 

Upper and Lower Egypt unified by Menes (Narmer) c. 3100 b.c.

 

*Pyramids:  Tombs for the kings.

 

*Sphinx:  Carved from stone, body of lion, face of Pharaoh Khafre (c. fl. 2869 b.c.)

 

The conventions of Egyptian art:  perspective ignored, figures scaled to size of importance in society, rigid standard portrayal of body parts (3D on 2D surface).

 

*Hyksos:  Foreign conquerors of Egypt ("rulers of foreign lands"), Syrio-Palestinians.  Second Intermediate period (1780-1550 b.c.)

 

Exodus of Israel under Moses (during reign of Ramses II, c. 1290 b.c. vs. Amenhotep II, c. 1445-6 b.c.)

 

Post and lintel construction, different from arch.

 

Amenhotep IV (r. 1379-1362 b.c.), also named *Akhenaten:  Religious reforms, move towards monotheism (worship of Aten), attacked old priesthood of Amon-Re.

 

Amarna style:  More realistic, portrays pharaoh more humbly, features sun-disk (represents Aten).

 

*Tutankhamen (r. 1347-1338 b.c.), "King Tut."  Minor king, only ruled nine years, died as teenager, but only tomb found reasonably intact.