The Metternich Stela

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What is art? In an attempt to embody all of its characteristics, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia defines art as the product or process of deliberately arranging symbolic elements in a way that influences and affects the senses, emotions, and/or intellect.[1] The Metternich Stela, an ancient work of art located in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, corresponds aptly to that definition. The Stela was carefully carved out of a stone called graywacke with mythological depictions to protect Egyptians against scorpions and snakes—two of the most dangerous threats of ancient Egypt. It was deliberately created between 360 and 343 BC by Egyptians as a spiritual symbol to tame their fears. Through its visual analysis, historical background, and association with other works of art, the Metternich Stela validates itself as a suitable component of art through the element of religion. At first look, the Metternich Stela is a tall piece of graywacke stone that is attached to a rectangular brick on the bottom and is oval in shape on the top. A little above the middle of the stele, is an image. The image shows a being of great importance in the center—a deity of some sort. This god-like being holds a scorpion, a snake, and a feline animal in each hand and is stepping on a crocodile. The beings around him, one on the right and two on the left, are facing towards him with offerings, while standing on snakes. One can tell that the being in the center is a deity since he is bigger in size than the other characters, has a decorative headpiece, is obeyed by the others, and was carved in a deeper relief than the others (almost seeming three dimensional). The main deity has his left leg forward to show movement and stability of his stepping on the crocodile. Although this is similar to Roman sculpture, the main deity lacks contrapposto because his knee is not adequately bent and his left hip does not stick out to show balance. The animals in the image seem to be tamed since three of...
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