Review Prior to Writing


hephren (Khafre) mastaba during excavation with its upper half visible, Giza, c.2500 BCE Wikimedia Commons, public domain. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Stepped Pyramid of King Djoser, Saqqara, 2630-2575. Author: Dennis Jarvis.  Creative Commons 2.0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Menkaure and a Queen, 2490-2472, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.  Author: unknown.  Photo by Jen.  Creative Commons 3.0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Rock-cut tomb, Beni Hassan, 1938-1756 BCE.  Author: Kurohito.  Creative Commons 3.0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..

Head of Akhenaten, c. 1353-1336, Alexandria National Museum. Creative Commons 3.0 (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..


Welcome to ancient Egypt. Here we find a culture where tradition reigned supreme. Life along the Nile was organized according to a divine plan established by an array of gods and overseen by the king, who was himself divine. Art celebrated the gods and god-king. Much of the art of ancient Egypt was funerary, put to the purpose of helping the king, members of the royal family and high-ranking officials into that life of immortality. The tombs, their contents, as well as temples dedicated to gods and kings were built to endure, just as the deities would endure through eternity. Aside from physical solidity, Egyptian art was changeless in its style conventions, formulas of representation that would last for 3,000 years.

Ancient Egyptian history is divided into three major periods: Old Kingdom (3,000-2181 BCE), Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BCE) and New Kingdom (1550-1069 BCE). Old Kingdom Egypt is the period of gargantuan tombs, which show a traceable evolution of form through the period. These are solid structures meant to glorify the deceased, as well as provide protection for the king’s belongings and his mummified remains. In the Slideshow are two types of Egyptian tombs from the Old Kingdom, a mastaba tomb and a stepped pyramid.

Old Kingdom Egypt also set into place the style conventions that would be so long lasting. In your readings, note the formula for Egyptian figures that artists were expected to follow, especially when rendering the deceased or anyone of high rank. Menkaure and a Queen is a sculpture that exhibits the look for standing figures.

The Middle Kingdom presents another period of strong artistic enterprise that continued the established conventions. During this period, tombs, such as those at Beni Hassan, became much more discreet, carved into hillsides and covered over to prevent theft. Separate mortuary temples commemorated these kings.

The New Kingdom was an imperial period for the Egyptians, when they extended their borders into Mesopotamia and southward into the Sudan. This is a period of great wealth which was lavished on mortuary temples, extensive pylon temples and extravagant burials, such as that of Tutankamun. Conventions in art remained in place, aside from one moment of eccentricity. This moment occurred during the reign of Akhenaten, who allowed startlingly expressive exaggeration in his royal portraits.

These main points should help guide your reading and provide a broad base for your discussion posts and essay.

Now that you have completed the module readings, please move to the next learning activity, Cities of the Dead.

  Watch the following segment on “Religious Cults and the Afterlife (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.” [Video, 05:56 minutes] from the film “Ancient Egypt.” From your readings, the film, and any optional outside research, compose a short essay (two pages of double-spaced text) regarding Egyptian burial, which integrates art into religious practices. For examples of tombs, use one of the Great Pyramids of Old Kingdom Egypt, and also the tomb of Tutankhamen of New Kingdom Egypt. Consider the religious conception of afterlife for the ancient Egyptians. What material preparations were necessary for the deceased in terms of tomb structure and contents? Address the following in your essay: Why did the dead need material goods and mummification? Consider how the differing tombs were designed to protect the deceased. What types of objects were buried with Tutankhamen’s mummy? Describe a few items to convey the wealth and artistry of these objects. Essay Writing Requirements: Double-space Two pages or 500+ words Follow the APA style. Proofread: Be sure to check your work and correct any spelling or grammatical errors before you post it. Submit the essay to the assignment dropbox. Tutoring help is available through Smarthinking (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. Grammar assistance is available using the Online Writing Lab (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (OWL). Submit the paper by the due date.

Compose your work in a .doc or .docx file type using a word processor (such as Microsoft Word, etc.) and save it frequently to your computer. For those assignments that are not written essays and require uploading images or PowerPoint slides, please follow uploading guidelines provided by your instructor.