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ARTH304: African Art

Unit 3: The Nile Valley   The longevity and extensive remains of ancient Egypt – a Hellenized (Greek) name for the region of Kemet – make the area crucial to the understanding of many world cultures, including those of Africa south of the Sahara, which was not always the vast desert that it is today and so did not always necessarily impede trade with regions to the south. This unit will discuss how Egyptian art emphasized the notion of the king as an extension of the divine. Egyptian religion was polytheistic, and focused on a pantheon that included composite human/animal deities. While these two Egyptian notions (divine kingship and polytheism) would prove common in later cultures throughout Africa, the ancient Egyptians’ quest for monumental permanence did not. The seat of power in Egypt shifted over time. Starting in the Northern delta, royal complexes gradually moved South into Nubia, in the modern nation of Sudan, which Egyptians settled by the end of the Dynastic period in the late first millennium BCE. From there, power shifted eastward to Abyssinia – modern Ethiopia – into the Christian period.

Unit 3 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 18.5 hours to complete:

☐    Subunit 3.1: 10 hours

☐    Subunit 3.2: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 3.3: 5 hours

Unit3 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to: - demonstrate an understanding of the basic chronology of ancient Nile Valley civilizations; - analyze the basic aesthetics and subject matter of ancient Egyptian art using stylistic and technical terms; - analyze the importance of materials in relation to religious beliefs in Egyptian Art; and - examine the legacy of Christianity in the region.

3.1 Ancient Egypt   - Web Media: Wikimedia’s “Maps of Ancient Egypt” Link: Wikimedia’s “Maps of Ancient Egypt” (HTML)

 Instructions: Use these maps as a basis for understanding the
geography of ancient Egypt.  

 Terms of Use: This resource is licensed under a [Creative Commons
Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
License](http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/). It is
attributed to Wikimedia, and the original version can be found
[here](http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Maps_of_Ancient_Egypt).
  • Reading: Tour Egypt: “Pre-Dynastic Egypt (5,500-3,100 BC)” Link: Tour Egypt: “Pre-Dynastic Egypt (5,500-3,100 BC)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read through this history of pre-dynastic Egypt, which ended with the development of dynasties and the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art: “Female Figure” Link: Brooklyn Museum’s Egyptian, Classical, Ancient Near Eastern Art: “Female Figure” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read the brief history of this figure, which was created in the tradition of early female goddesses from pre-dynastic Egypt around 3500 BCE. Be sure to watch the brief video at the bottom of the page, in which the curator discusses the significance of this object.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: American Historical Association: Jeff Kinard’s Images of Power: Art as an Historiographic Tool: “Palette of King Narmer” Link: American Historical Association: Jeff Kinard’s Images of Power: Art as an Historiographic Tool: “Palette of King Narmer” (HTML)

    Instructions: The Palette of King Narmer is one of the earliest representations of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and emphasizes the unity of Upper and Lower Egypt. Click on the links to examine the front and back of the palette to understand the symbolism and importance of its message.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Catherine H. Roehrig’s “Egypt in the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2150 BC)” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Catherine H. Roehrig’s “Egypt in the Old Kingdom (ca. 2649–2150 BC)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which discusses the early dynastic period in ancient Egypt that established a way of life that remained in place for nearly 3000 years. Click through the 6 works at the top of the page. These demonstrate the period’s rigid artistic style. You should note that in general, specialists in Egyptian studies (Egyptologists) categorize periods through specific dynasties. More broadly, however, “Old Kingdom,” “Middle Kingdom,” and “New Kingdom” are used to discuss the periods spanning from 3000-1000 BCE.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The Encyclopedia of Art: “Sculpture of Ancient Egypt” Link: The Encyclopedia of Art: “Sculpture of Ancient Egypt” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this extensive article about ancient Egyptian sculpture. In particular, note the terms in the section on relief techniques entitled “Egyptian Relief Sculpture”.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The British Museum: “The ‘Opening of the Mouth’ Ritual” Link: The British Museum: “The ‘Opening of the Mouth' Ritual” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this brief article on the significance of this ritual, which was performed to ensure immortality. Be sure to explore the three related objects and understand how they visually represented this process.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Christopher L.E.C. Witcomb’s Art History Resources: “Menkaure and His Queen” Link: Christopher L.E.C. Witcomb’s Art History Resources: “Menkaure and His Queen” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read through each of the four sections on this webpage. Pay special attention to how the design of the sculpture serves several roles, including an assurance of immortality, and how it reiterates gender roles in ancient Egyptian society.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: The Pyramids at Giza” Link: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: The Pyramids at Giza” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which discusses the royal necropolis at Giza (Gizeh). Built during the Old Kingdom period, this complex features the largest pyramids in existence.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: Valley of the Kings” Link: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: Valley of the Kings” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which introduces the New Kingdom period, when royal funerary temples became grandiose and tombs were built into cliffs to better shield them from looters.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: Temples for Gods and Kings” Link: CultureFocus.com: “Egypt: Temples for Gods and Kings” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which introduces the New Kingdom period, when royal funerary temples became grandiose and tombs were built into cliffs to better shield them from looters.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Public Broadcasting Service’s NOVA Online Adventure: “Pyramids” Link: Public Broadcasting Service’s NOVA Online Adventure: “Pyramids” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore this supplemental source for additional information on the Egyptian pyramids.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: National Geographic: “The Pyramids at Gaza”

    Link: National Geographic: “The Pyramids at Gaza” (HTML)

    Instructions: Explore this supplemental source for additional information on Egyptian Pyramids.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Catherine H. Roehrig’s “Egypt in the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1070 BC)” Link: Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Catherine H. Roehrig’s “Egypt in the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1070 BC)” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read about the New Kingdom period in ancient Egypt, which re-established the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt and led to the third era of Egyptian culture. Explore the 14 works linked at the top of the page. These works demonstrate the artistic style of this period.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “Sculpture Types” Link: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “Sculpture Types” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which discusses several types of ancient Egyptian sculpture.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “Nefertiti” Link: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “Nefertiti” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read about the renowned bust of Nefertiti.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Tour Egypt: “Amarna Period of King Akhenaten in Egypt” Link: Tour Egypt: “Amarna Period of King Akhenaten in Egypt” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which discusses the history of the Amarna period. This period marked a significant change in Egyptian cultural practices that manifested in contemporary works of art. Be sure to click on the embedded links and explore the associated artwork.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above

  • Reading: The Field Museum: “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” Link: The Field Museum: “Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs” (HTML)

    Instructions: Although Tutankhamun was a minor figure in Ancient Egyptian history, the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in 1922 has made him world-famous. Read through these first five sections of the website, focusing on the “Religion in Tut’s Time” and “Daily Life in Tut’s World” under the “Story of King Tut” section. If you are interested, you may wish to explore the rest of the website in greater detail.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.2 The Kingdom of Kush and Ancient Nubia   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Sudan, 1000 BC–1 AD” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Sudan, 1000 BC–1 AD” (HTML)

 Instructions: Click on each of the links under “Works of Art” to
read about objects of ancient Kush.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Ibrahim Omer’s Ancient Sudan – Nubia: “Introduction, Remarks on Kushite Temples, Religion, and Burial” Link: Ibrahim Omer’s Ancient Sudan – Nubia: “Introduction, Remarks on Kushite Temples, Religion, and Burial” (HTML)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read this introduction. After you have finished, read the “Remarks on Kushite Temples” section under the “Art History” link, and read all of the “Religion” and “Burial” subunits. Keep in mind that this region’s elite carried on the Egyptian dynastic tradition. Kushite civilization is generally discussed in three periods, named for cities that were successive centers of power: Kerma, Napata, and Meroe.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: Myra Wysinger’s “Ancient Sudan (a.k.a. Kush & Nubia): City of Meroe”

    Link: Myra Wysinger’s “Ancient Sudan (a.k.a. Kush & Nubia): City of Meroe” (HTML)

    Instructions: Click on the link above explore the images and descriptions on this page. If you are interested, you may wish to explore this webpage in greater detail.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “The Ancient Sudan” Link: Egyptian Museum and Papyrus Collection Berlin: “The Ancient Sudan” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read about this selection of objects of art from ancient Kush.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: The New York Times: John Noble Wilford’s “Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile” Link: The New York Times: John Noble Wilford’s “Scholars Race to Recover a Lost Kingdom on the Nile” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this article, which highlights recent Kushite archaeological finds.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

3.3 Ethiopia and Coptic Egypt   - Web Media: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition: “Coptic Christianity” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Byzantium and Islam: Age of Transition: “Coptic Christianity” (HTML)

 Instructions: Read through the introductory text on Coptic Egypt
then explore the associated images. Note the distinct
characteristics of the Coptic style of artwork.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: Wikipedia’s “Obelisk of Axum”

    Link: Wikipedia’s “Obelisk of Axum” (PDF)

    Instructions: Read the article, which discusses the largest surviving stele of Axum and provides insight into its cultural background.

    Terms of Use: The article above is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike 3.0 License. It is attributed to Wikipedia, and the original version of this article can be found here.

  • Reading: Holly and David Hayes’ Sacred Destinations: “Lalibela” Link: Holly and David Hayes’ Sacred Destinations: “Lalibela” (HTML)

    Instructions: Read this webpage, which discusses the region’s unique rock-cut churches.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: YouTube: Archaeosoup Productions’ “In Focus: The Lalibela Churches”

    Link: YouTube: Archaeosoup Productions’ “In Focus: The Lalibela Churches” (YouTube)

    Instructions: Watch this video, which provides additional information about the churches of Lalibela and explores several sites.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Web Media: World Heritage Tour: “Debre Berhan, Gondar, Ethiopia” The Saylor Foundation does not yet have materials for this portion of the course. If you are interested in contributing your content to fill this gap or aware of a resource that could be used here, please submit it here.

    Submit Materials