Art History 101: Ancient Egypt

- Egypt's Old Kingdom (Dynasties 3-6, ca. 2649-2150 B.C.) was one of the most dynamic periods in the development of Egyptian art. During this period, artists learned to express their culture's worldview; creating, for the first time, images and forms that endured for generations.

Although much of their artistic effort was centered on preserving life after death, Egyptians also surrounded themselves with beautiful objects to enhance their lives in this world, producing elegant jewelry, finely carved and inlaid furniture, and cosmetic vessels and implements in a wide variety of materials.

The Old Kingdom was also a period of political stability and economic prosperity, during which great tombs were built for Egyptian Kings in the form of pyramids.
The Pyramids of Giza are the greatest architectural achievement of the time and include three pyramid structures and the Great Sphinx monument, but we picture them all incorrectly!

The Pyramids were originally covered with casing stones (made of highly polished limestone). These casing stones reflected the sun's light and made the pyramid shine like a jewel.  Marcus Antonius, a Roman politician and general, described the Great Pyramid more than 2,000 years ago as "shining like a precious jewel" while being visible from 100 miles. 

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