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Art of Ancient Egypt

ASAG Journal

Ancient Egyptian art is characterized by its highly stylized and symbolic forms. It often depicted gods, pharaohs, and important events in a flat, two-dimensional style with frontal and profile views. The art focused on conveying a message rather than depicting reality, using symbols like hieroglyphs and colors to communicate ideas. Materials commonly used included stone, wood, paint, and gold leaf. Artworks often served religious, political, or funerary purposes, and were valued for their ability to bring life and continuity to the afterlife.

Ancient Egyptian Papyrus from the Book of the Dead

ASAG Journal

July 16, 2020

Ancient Egyptian Papyrus from the Book of the Dead of Hunefer (Hw-nfr). The main vignette illustrates the ceremonies carried out at the entrance of the tomb on the day of burial.
Cultures/periods: 19th Dynasty
Production date: 1285 BC
Location: The British Museum


Opening of the mouth ceremony
Priests of Anubis, the guide of the dead and the god of tombs and embalming, perform the opening of the mouth ritual. Extract from the Papyrus of Hunefer, a 19th-Dynasty Book of the Dead (c.1300 BCE)
Hunefer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Coffin of Ramesses the Great

ASAG Journal

July 23, 2020

Coffin of Ramesses the Great:
A cedar wood coffin case of the pharaoh Ramesses II (ruled 1279-1213 BC). Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt 🇪🇬

Originally Ramesses II was buried in the tomb KV7 in the Valley of the Kings, but because of looting, priests later transferred the body to a holding area, re-wrapped it, and placed it inside the tomb of queen Ahmose Inhapy. Seventy-two hours later it was again moved, to the tomb of the high priest Pinedjem II. All of this is recorded in hieroglyphics on the linen covering the body of the coffin of Ramesses II. His mummy was eventually discovered in TT320 inside an ordinary wooden coffin and is now in Cairo's Egyptian Museum.


Coffin of Ramesses II
A cedar wood coffin case of the pharaoh Ramesses II (r. ca. 1279-1213 BC). Now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. CG 61020 Photograph: Louis Mazzatenta, National Geographic Creative.

A painter's palette from Ancient Egypt


ASAG Journal

May 12, 2020


Painter's Palette Inscribed with the Name of Amenhotep III, ca. 1390-1352 BCE
(Photo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art [Public Domain])

Artist rendition of ancient Egypt


ASAG Journal

December 4, 2022

Here we see a wonderful image depicting life near the pyramids, 4,600 years ago. If you look closely, you can see temple structures, fisherman wheeling in their catch of the day, and commodities transported by boat. In his artwork, the artist has done an incredible job of capturing the atmosphere of ancient Egypt.


Age Of Pyramids illustration by artist Gabriel Nagypal
Courtesy of: @gabriel_nagypal [IG]

Akhenaten, glass inlay


ASAG Journal

September 7, 2022

Akhenaten, Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty blue glass inlay, c.1336-1353 BCE.

'The reign of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten (either 1353–1336 BC or 1351–1334 BC) witnessed a number of changes in ancient Egypt. One of the most significant saw the shift of the capital from Thebes to Armana. In the establishment of an entirely new city, artists also dramatically changed the way in which they depicted the human form. The formal and idealised image of the human body was dropped to depict humans in a somewhat exaggerated manner. In what has come to be known of as Armana style within ancient Egyptian art, human figures were given thin limbs, sagging bellies, sumptuous lips, long oval eyes, and high cheekbones. And these are the very formal qualities we see so beautifully captured in the opaque, turquoise glass portrait of Akhenaten (above). The long neck, exaggerated lips, high cheekbone, and long, slanted eye are not only typical of the way in which Akhenaten was portrayed by artists in this period, it is typical of art from Armana. As an inlay it would have been set within another object. Another well known artefact of the Armana style is Nefertiti’s bust, now in the Neues Museum in Berlin.' (Dowson, T., Archaeology Travel, 2023)

'This turquoise glass inlay preserves the image of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who ruled during Egypt’s Eighteenth Dynasty. The pharaoh is shown in profile to the left, and his facial characteristics are subtly modeled in the glass to depict high cheekbones, fleshy lips, and a long neck. The eyebrow and eye are recessed and were likely once filled with another material or colored glass inlays of contrasting colors. There is also a slight depression on the earlobe, perhaps to indicate the location of an ear stud. Circular bubbles can be seen in the glass, and some encrustation remains in the facial crevices and eyebrow recess. The inlay was once part of a larger composition that depicted the full figure of the pharaoh. Inlays like this were used to decorate pieces of jewelry, furniture or for relief sculpture. They were inset into carefully carved cavities, and formed parts of highly colorful figural compositions in which parts or the entire figure were made of separate glass elements. The best surviving examples of glass inlays from this period are found in the artifacts preserved in the tomb of Tutankhamen, the son of Akhenaten. Akhenaten was considered a heretic by the Egyptian priestly caste because he was a monotheist; he rejected the full pantheon of the Egyptian gods and worshipped only Aten, the light of the sun disk. (His name means “spirit of Aten.”) The pharaoh moved the Egyptian capital from Thebes to the site of Amarna, where an entire city rose from the sands. The city was gradually abandoned after his death, and was rediscovered by British archaeologist Flinders Petrie in the early 20th century. The works of art created during the reign of Akhenaten broke the long-standing traditional style of Egyptian art which was idealized and severely formal. Human figures were always shown in the same manner, with few individualizing elements. The works of the Amarna period, while often called “naturalistic,” are instead also highly stylized in that the human form seems to be an exaggeration, with sagging bellies, thin arms and legs, sumptuous lips, long oval eyes, and high, carefully carved cheekbones. These physical characteristics are present in the inlay. The long neck, high cheekbone, full lips and long, slanted eye are typical of portraits of the ruling family in the Amarna style.' (Corning Museum of Glass, 2002)

Dowson (2023)
Corning Museum of Glass (2002)



A stylized glass portrait of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten.
© Corning Museum of Glass

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