Egyptian Art History (Old Kingdom through Assyria)

Old Kingdom

Dynasties 3-4

King Huni's Pyramid at Medum

2560 BCE

Completed by Sneferu, one of the first attempts at monumental pyramid building

Bent Pyramid of Sneferu at Dashur

2560 BCE

Perhaps started unstable, changes angles about midway up the pyramid, another first attempt at pyramid building

Prince Rahotep and Wife Nofret

2550 BCE

Non-royal funerary staute (one of the best preserved), limestone, found in Medum, painted, eyes inlaid with with crystalline, man dark and woman light, woman fully clothed by breasts exposed, wears jewelry and wig, imitate royals with more artistic expression, little intimacy between them. Look up to gods

Bust of Prince Ankh-haf

2530 BCE

Exclusive to Old Kingdom, plastered limestone, son-in-law of Khufu, dark for male but not idealized, folds around the eyes and hairline-> eternal youth not universally appreciated, wisdom perhaps?,1.0&wid=568&cell=568,427&cvt=jpeg

Seated Statue of Hemiunu

2530 BCE

Limestone, Dyn IV, oversee-er of the pyramid buildings (non-royal), not ideally represented like kings -> some body fat and face with creases. Non royal representation more realistic, artists had more flexibility.

Dwarf Seneb and Family

2530 BCE

Dyn IV, limestone from Giza, non-royal funerary monument, smaller than wife but clever representation seems like same height, wife holds on to him, children smaller (represented as nude, shaved head, finger on mouth)

Statue of Ranofer

2530 BCE

Saqqara, Dyn IV, limestone, quintessential OK Egyptian statue, formal, stiff, leg forward with ideal body, molded with stone (Greeks would take the concept from Egypt and put their own spin on it)

Giza Pyramids

2530 BCE - 2460 BCE

Khufu (biggest), Khephren (middle) and Mycerinas/Menkaure (smallest).
Dynasty Four, had stone covering originally, wanted to be elevated to the Gods, far beyond the function of a burial chamber, showed the king's power, completed perhaps to keep people busy during flood season, arranged in cardinal directions

Reserve Heads

2500 BCE

Exclusive to Old Kingdom, limestone, found it tombs, perhaps in case the body destroyed, head tilted upwards, has portrait like qualities.
Compare to Jericho skulls?

Sphinx at Giza

2500 BCE

Probably made with leftover stone, face of Kephren with a lion's body (would've had a nose and beard), Looks out to the East to the rising sun, King as lion god Ruty- protect the temple

Pyramid Complex at Giza

2500 BCE

After death, brought over to the W. Nile, put into the Valley temple where they were mummified, then funeral happened at the mortuary temple
Buried inside of the pyramid and not below

Statue of Mycerinus and Wife, Mycerinus Triad

2460 BCE

Dynasty Four, made of slate
W/ Wife: King a little in front of her, step forward, wife hanging onto king for support, little intimacy or interaction between them, idealized bodies, part of the rock- permanence, head up slightly, ideal face w/ royal headdress, wife discretely clothed and very feminine

Triad: W/ Hawthore and local deity, slate, wears the white Crown, holding hands with the goddess, together the three of them rule Egypt, frontal view--> very stiff, both women very feminine. Depictions aspire to kingship but do retain elements of portraiture

Statue of King Mycerinas

2460 BCE

Made of diorite, wears the traditional headdress and beard, God Horus stood behind, throne has lions and the symbol of a unified Egypt, is not separate from the stone- permanent which ties into idea behind statue

Wooden Statue of Ka-aper

2450 BCE

Dyn V, plastered wood, fat body w/ receding hairline, incredibly lifelike, so much so that people thought it was a real person when first found

Relief from Ti's Tomb

2400 BCE

Dyn V, Saqqara, depicts the ideal life of Ti, in the reeds (marshes=untamed wilderness), full of animals/plants/activity, Ti the largest, very active in the hippo hunt, symbol of conquering nature

Relief from Mereuka Tomb

2300 BCE

Dyn VI, limestone, similar scene to Ti's Tomb, hippo hunting/trying to control the forces of nature, reeds encompass the background (very much in nature)

Pepy II w/ Mother

2230 BCE

Alabaster, Dyn VI (By this time the OK is coming to an end as the power of the pharaoh is starting to diminish), mother looks much more powerful (hard to tell where power rests), Pepy II depicted as mini adult, frontal view from two sides, little intimacy between the two, much like Triad of Mycerinus

Middle Kingdom

Attitude change in Egypt, right after the first intermediate period, Dyn XI-XII, 2050-1780 BCE

Statue of King Sesostris III

2000 BCE

Dyn XII, stone, wears dual crown, not ideal - downcast eyes/facial lines (represents the Middle Kingdom's increasing preference towards a fair, compassionate and thoughtful pharaoh who cared about his people), reflects wisdom, "verism"

Sphinx of Amenemhat III

2000 BCE

Successor of Sesostris, sphinx more lion like than human, face part of the animal, much more integrated, acted as a protector

New Kingdom

Time of outward interaction with other nations, Egypt much more vulnerable to these influences

Tomb of Nahkt

1400 BCE

Nahkt largest, color conventions hold, new fashion style that reflects New Kingdom, making offerings, things depicted to be able to be seen, doing everyday work/agriculture

Next scene: hunting in the marshes, trying to control nature, marshes are erotic, untamed. Gender segregation, wife has cone on head--> offers sensory experience. Humans dominant over reeds

Hatshepsut's Funerary Temple at Dier-el-Bahri

1400 BCE

Fits in with the natural landscape, the body is in a different location so this could be used as a public space --> propaganda-like images to justify the queenship. Tiered terraces that rise as you enter the temple. Temple dedicated to Amun-Re exclusively. Imitates Middle Kingdom design. Designed by Semnut, influential in many of the temples decisions. Courtyard filled with many different trees, Edenic.

Temple of Amun at Karnak- Interior

1400 BCE

Hyopstyle Hall- lined with massive columns that had hieroglyphs of Pharaohs engaged with gods in religious activity. Capitals evoke the lotus plant as some are flowers and some are buds. Clerestory to let light in. Tried to imitate the marshes before the sanctuary. As you walked through the elevation got steadily steeper.

Sphinx of Hatshepsut

1400 BCE

Dyn XVIII, granite, lion image of the Queen- royal connotations, protector, cartouche on chest, looks masculine but her cartouche identifies her as a woman (reinvents herself, looks manly but retains femininity, will do this for her reign)

Seated Statue of Hatshepsut

1400 BCE

Dyn XVIII, limestone at Dier el Bahri, wears sheath dress, has breasts (not completely masculine), Dawns the pharonic headdress and is in similar pose to other royals before her.

Temple of Amun at Karnack -Exterior

1400 BCE

Dyn XVIII Largest temple in Egypt- main temple created, temples would be added on to it in the future, exterior a billboard for pharaoh's accomplishments (outside contained war/hunting imagery, inside contained religious) pylons acted as mountains w/ sunset. Separates chaos of outside from inside

Rekmire's Tomb paintings

1400 BCE

Vizier, Dyn XVIII, depict a host of different people/animals, many different types of people bringing tribute to Egypt (shows how New Kingdom opened up), everyday actions like mud brick making (not a high class activity, given to racial inferior), start to see stereotypes for people but still aspect of portraiture,

Hatshepsut's Punt Expedition

1400 BCE

Reflects the New Kingdom's idea of looking outward (whether by force or curiosity). Show the expanse of the empire. Shown giving Egyptians gifts (dominant). Depicted differently than Egyptians, especially the Queen of Punt who is depicted ugly and fat (bad/good?) trading exotic items

Colossi of Memnon- Amenhotep III

1350 BCE

60ft tall at Thebes, guard the temple at the Valley of the Kings, size over quality, has symbol of Egyptian unification on the throne, king himself protector

Statue of Amenhotep III

1350 BCE

Wears the white crown, molded into head. Start to see bigger lips and elongated eyes. Also wears red crown and blue crown (war crown, first time really seen). These contain the same stylistic changes

Nebamun's Tomb

1300 BCE

XVIII, mixed perspective, both aerial and profile views, more important to see everything than depict realistically. Sycamore goddess on top right inviting Nebamun into temple, no humans depicted.

Banquet Scene: Elites on top separated by gener, musicians/slaves on the bottom, artists have more freedom in expression because they are not royals, movement and interaction (much more so than Old Kingdom), sensory images as well add to the experience.

Amarna Period

Akenaten moves capital to Tel-el-Amarna, monotheism

Bust of Nefertiti

1350 BCE - 1334 BCE

Limestone, iconic Egyptian image. Has long neck and Amarna features but is represented beautifully and elegantly. Young, temporal, wears a crown (not typical other than Amarna)

Sunken Relief of Akenaten

1350 BCE - 1334 BCE

Large eyes, lips, chin, exaggerated/disproportionate. Aged lines on the face, departure from earlier idealism, further elaborated the changes from the father.

In statue, carries crook and flail, very thin face

Akenaten and Family

1350 BCE - 1334 BCE

Limestone, sunken relief of Akenaten and family, lots of intimacy, Amarna bodies, eye to eye with wife who also wears a crown. Kids are playing. Sense of time with the scarves in the wind. Aten's rays are touching the king and his family. Wear sandals, cushion indented- very Amarna. Covers the symbol of the unification sign

Statue of Woman (probably Nefertiti)

1350 BCE - 1334 BCE

Red quartzite. Similar body type to the king, very curvaceous and feminine, decidedly different than representations before, wrapped in thin sheath dress

Statue of Akenaten

1350 BCE - 1330 BCE

Statue of the king, weird body type -very feminine with large hips, small shoulders. (Reading suggests that it could be a result of the monotheistic god that does not have a gender, thus king wanted to represent himself like that.) Holds crook and flail and wears pharaonic headdress.

New Kingdom Post-Amarna

War Chest from Tutankhamon's Tomb

1300 BCE

Wooden, inlaid with stone, many sides that depict scenes of war/hunting, vertical registers, Tut always the largest. Wars against Africans, Asiatics. Lion, ostrich and deer hunts to control the forces of nature. Much like Narum-Sin in scale. King very much engaged in the action

Tutankhamon's Tomb

1300 BCE

End of the XVIII Dyn, discovered by Howard Carter in the 1920's, one of the best preserved tombs there were, burial chamber was where body was kept, contained a granite/golden sarcophagi guarded by 4 deities

On the golden coffin holds flail and crook, curved beard of Osiris, lips and eyes very Amarna-like

Tutankhamon's Coronation Throne

1300 BCE

Wood, plated with gold, lungs on the bottom that would've been filled with the papyrus and lotus (unification of Egypt), the back of the chair has a golden, Amarna like relief. Tut and Queen together in Amarna style, eye-to-eye, intimate. Both wear a crown but the queen is subservient to the king as he receives from her, scarves blowing in the wind, sash over the symbol of U and L Egypt

Tutankhamon and Osiris on Wall Paintings

1300 BCE

Painting of Osiris and Tut, Osiris wears white crown with feathers, hands on head represent the soul, Tut embraces him with Ka behind him (spirit, wears curved beard of Osiris), Osiris wrapped as if he were a mummy, bodies are very much Amarna style

On other panel, opening of the mouth ceremony (life giving) performed by Ay, the successor of Tutankhamon (could have been a murder conspiracy), ox leg sits on the table symbol of power, AY wears the Blue Crown of Egypt and is represented as the son of Tut to legitimize power. On far left is the sky goddess-->protective

Ramsses II Monument at Abu Simbel

1280 BCE - 1212 BCE

Dyn XIX, architect asiatic, monumental statues of RII, oriented with the equinox to let light in and shine on the sanctuary, served as propaganda for Southern Egypt. Smaller figures depicted on legs, center is the statue of Horus-Re, two frieze: underneath captured enemies and above baboon decoration

Inside, reliefs of RII in battle, monumental statues of RII as Osiris, sanctuary in back has three gods with Ramsses. Only right 3 get illuminated, underworld god stays dark.

Ramsses II as child

1279 BCE - 1212 BCE

Limestone relief and statue, adheres to child conventions of finger in the mouth and shaved head. Amarna like in cushion and posture in the relief, Cartouche with name.
On statue surrounded by the God Horus.

Ramses III Reliefs from Funerary Temple

1175 BCE

Dyn XX (Egypt undergoes a shakeup, probably climactic), located at Medinet Habu, naval battle vs the 'Sea People' (not restricted to sea), very confused scene, no registers--> mass of people (perhaps a better way to communicate the story?). Egyptians have stripped hats while the enemies have helemets

Canaanite/Philistine Coffins

1175 BCE

Shows the assimilation of Egypt to other cultures, copied many things that were Egyptian, from the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age, anthropomorphic coffin made to look like a human. Made with less precious materials than the Egyptian ones and had their own flavors


City of Jerusalem

1000 BCE

Established by King David Late Bronze/Early Iron Age, Israelites worship only one god, perhaps to separate them from the past. Supposedly four underground rivers fuel the city (Zimri-Lin -like scene), Came out of the Canaanite people, Built the city on the highest point they could find, much like the idea of the ziggurat in this way.

Temple of Soloman

968 BCE

Made of limestone, gold, ceder. Looked very Near Eastern with a Long Room plan. Elevated as you walked up. Restricted temple, only the elite could go to the back. Interior mirrored an artificial paradise. Alter on the outside for normal people. In the back the Arch of the Covenant which was guarded by Cherubim sphinxes. According to legend, Yahweh could barely fit into the temple, as seen by the giant footprints in a comparable temple


War-like people, consolidated the power of Mesopotamia into a great empire that lasted about 200 years

Ashurnasirpal's Throne Room Reliefs

883 BCE

Nimrud, Northwest Palace, alabaster:
War scene: Ashurnasirpal the largest, vertical perspective with a sense of depth/space. No registers. Sought to inspire/deter enemies. L-->R, order to chaos. sense of place and landscape. Cuneiform writing to describe the scene.

Lion Hunting Scene: Sought to control the forces of nature. Lions very well depicted, element of suspense because the King is in danger but shows his courage and strength. Next scene shows libation given to the dead lions. Many different attendants including son (Shalmanesser III) who wears the royal headband and helmet, has beard

Scene with Sacred Tree: Ashurnasirpal depicted twice, standing around sacred tree, symbol of fertility perhaps associated with an Ishtar-like goddess. In the center is the sun disk (Ashur). Intentionally not made as a real tree

Lamassu Statue

883 BCE

Limestone. Protector of the palace, wears a horned crown--> Mesopotamian symbol of divinity, human head with bull and lions body (symbols of royalty/power). Has 5 legs so that it can be seen as having four from all angles

Statue of Ashurnasirpal II

883 BCE - 859 BCE

Limestone statue, sits on a red base, large beard and carries weaponry to show a war people, not a particularly naturalistic representation of the king but represented to be a king (Winter, compare to Gudah), exaggerated, supernatural. Assyrians did not consider themselves a divinity

Statue of Shalmanesser III

859 BCE - 824 BCE

In Nimrud, son of Ashurnasirpal II, had a harder time than father due to palace discontent, conducted campaigns to offset this, depicted much like father but more costume, bigger beard. However, still not much portraiture, rather portrait of a king

Black Obelisk from Nimrud and Judah Scene

825 BCE

6ft tall, 5 bands of decoration, each band represents a specific campaign, exotic things. Much like the Uruk Vase.

On one band, Assyrians receiving from Israeli King Jehu. Jehu dressed differently than Assyrians (hat, robes, shoes). Giving offerings to Shalmanesser III. Judah did not resist Assyrians, gave into them

Ashurbanipal Reliefs in Palace at Ninevah

650 BCE

Alabaster reliefs
Lion hunting: lions depicted very naturalistically, can be seen in their forms, their pain and suffering is very evident (perhaps to show fear for king or feel bad for the animals). Negative space around the lions reinforces this notion, as opposed to filled battle scenes. King looks brave and noble by engaging with them

Vs. Elamites: organized similar to the Sennacherib reliefs. Confused array of figures represented, landscape scene, composition hard to follow but can see the story of Teuman's capture (ID'd by hairline) Eventually he is taken as captive and beheaded for the King

King/Queen relaxing- depiction of the Queen very rare for the Assyrians. Outside, lounging (Amarna like in this way), feasting/drinking, Teuman's head is in a tree, both the King and Queen have been defaced, Meenat present (sign of Hawthor)

Sennacherib's Siege of Lachish

650 BCE

At palace at Ninevah, chaotic scene with no registers, not much literature (has epigraphs). New type of narrative-->synchronist where many parts are shown at the same time. Lachish people defend the tower while the Assyrians attack. The composition is completely filled with objects