Art of Ancient Egypt

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For nearly 3,000 years since around 3,100 BC, Egypt held a polytheistic (multiple gods) belief system. Their sun god (variously called Amon, Re (Ra), or Aten), was considered greater than other Egyptian deity. Equally important was the Nile River. Which was Egypt's primary source of it's deep sense of order. Because of the regularity of the sun's daily cycle and the Nile's annual overflow, ancient Egyptians felt security.

Because of the sun's regular cycle of rising and setting, the ancient Egyptians perceived both the inevitability of death and the promise of birth. "The Hymn to the Aten," a song of praise probably accompanied rituals of renewal honoring Egypt's pharaoh, the divinely appointed representatives of the sun god. Depictions of such rituals have been found on the walls of Egyptian temples and tombs showing the pharaoh receiving the gift of immortality (in the form of the ankh, symbolizing "life") from Amon. In visual arts and poetry, the sun is exalted as the source of heat and light, and also as the proactive life force, the "creator of seed." The Hymn shows the optimism and security that the Egyptians felt. (Fiero, 19)

The Egyptians identified the Nile River with Osirus, ruler of the underworld and god of the dead. (Fiero, 20) According the Egyptian myth, Osirus was slain and restored to life by his wife Isis, Queen of Heaven. The myth vividly describes the idea of resurrection that was central to the ancient Egyptian belief system. There were more than 2,000 local gods and goddesses that made up the Egyptian pantheon. (Fiero, 21)

Local rulers governed the Neolithic villages along the Nile River until about 3150 BC, when they were united under the authority Egypt's first pharaoh, Narmer (aka Menes). This important event of having unity of lower and upper Egypt is commemorated on a 2 foot high slate object known as the Palette of Narmer. Narmer's conquest initiated...
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