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Surveying Western Art

            Egypt marked the passage of time with kings and dynasties as evidenced in Egyptian art. Egyptian monumental art began on a large scale with Pharaonic rule, originating when King Narmer (Menes) united Upper and Lower Egypt. Egyptian kings were considered gods and were depicted as such in art of the time as is seen in the Palette of Narmer. King Narmer is the largest figure with his head and legs in profile view, and his eye and upper torso in frontal view (Adams, p.47-48). The history of Egypt has been divided by modern scholars into Predynastic Period (5450-3100 B.C.) Early Dynastic Period (3100-2649 B.C.), followed by the Old Kingdom (2649-2150 B.C.), Middle Kingdom (1991-1700 B.C.), New Kingdom (1550-1070 B.C.) and the Late Dynastic Period (688-332 B.C.). These periods included "intermediate periods" (2143-1991 B.C., 1699-1641 B.C., and 1070-660 B.C.) of anarchy and foreign domination (Adams, p.47). The art of the Predynastic period consisted mainly of painted pottery and figurines, ivory carvings, slate cosmetic palettes, and finely worked flint weapons (http:/infoplease.lycos.com/ce6/ent/A0857914.html). During the later part of the Dynastic period, sculptors began to carve monolithic figures of the gods from limestone, such as the Min at Coptos. Remarkable Mesopotamian motifs and craftsmanship began to appear on stone bowls and vases. (http://infoplease.lycos.com/ce6/ent/A0857914.html).
             During the Old Kingdom period, the Pharaoh's power was expressed in the pyramid in which he was buried. Egyptians believed that the next life had to be provided for in every detail. Tombs were decorated with depictions of the deceased at his funerary meal, activities of the estate and countryside, and the anything necessary to sustain the spirit. Religious beliefs of the period held that a happy life after death existence depended on the continuation of all phases of the earthly life of the deceased. The most impressive pyramids were built in Cairo at Giza, on the West Bank of the Nile.

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