Ancient Egypt: Old, Middle, and New Kingdom
I. Thesis: Ancient Egyptians were the basis for many western traditions. Their
influences are noticeable
in art, architecture, and religion.
II. The Old Kingdom
A. Zoser, the first pharaoh.
1. built the famed Step Pyramid
2. brought unity to Egypt
D. Downfall of the Old Kingdom
III. The Middle Kingdom
B. Middle Kingdom religion
1. Myth of Osiris
2. Similarties between the myth of Osiris and Christian beliefs C. Middle Kingdom art
D. Downfall of the Middle Kingdom
IV. The New Kingdom
A. Valley of the Kings
B. Shift in religion
C. New art form, naturalistic
D. Downfall of the New Kingdom
The ancient Egyptians are considered among many to be the civilization upon which much of the western world's views and attitudes are based. Everything from religion, to architecture, to art has been handed down, generation by generation, to us in the present day. Although many of the ancient Egyptians' traditions have been modified or altered, the majority of their core principles remains constant. Yet, despite the ancient Egyptians' conservative nature, there were some changes within the infrastructure of their society. Throughout the ages known as the Old Kingdom, Middle Kingdom, and New Kingdom, there has been alterations to their religion, art, and architecture. Internal forces, as well as outside influences, have molded ancient Egyptian civilization. This paper will attempt to determine these forces which changed the Egyptians. Modifications of Egyptian life were subtle, but noticeable and significant nonetheless. Art, architecture, and religion will be the focus of this paper. Let us begin at the beginning, with the Old Kingdom.
The Old Kingdom began in the year 2700 B.C. and ended 2200 B.C. The pharaohs, or kings, of this time include the third through the sixth dynasty, beginning with Djoser and ending with Pepi II. Djoser, who ruled from 2700 B.C. to 2650 B.C., changed his name to the more commonly known Zoser. It was Zoser who made the famed Step Pyramid, the first pyramid to be constructed.
Pyramids were erected for the pharaoh in the belief that it would serve as a stairway to the heavens, and allow the divine pharaoh to reach the Milky Way, or the Nile river in the sky. The pharaoh's afterlife was extremely dependent on a proper burial, as were the afterlives of those who served him; therefore, it was imperative that the pyramids be erected. These pyramids could not have been built through coercion or slavery, for such an architectural feat could only have been accomplished by a labor force of 70,000, and there is no possible way for a small group of rulers to force the people to labor day in and day out without some kind of reward in the afterlife.
Previously, no such architectural feat had ever been dreamed of, let alone actually thought out and complete. The properties of stone, massiveness, strength, and durability, had not even be contemplated by masons and architects, yet under the guidance of Imhotep, the royal architect of the pharaoh Zoser, this magnificent structure was erected (David 14). It is of little wonder why the Greeks, when they listed the seven wonders of the world, placed the great Step Pyramid at the top.
By the fourth dynasty, the pharaohs were buried in true pyramids, that is, all sides were flat planes meeting at some certain point, and the angle of each corner was 52 degrees. The three built at Gizeh, for Cheops, Chephren, and Mycenrinus, were the peak of achievement of this field. The pyramids were of better architecture, more advanced design, and longer durability; however, by the fifth dynasty, the pyramids were significantly smaller and the construction...
Bibliography: Breasted, James Henry, History of Egypt. New York: Charles Scribner 's Son 's,
David, A. Rosalie, The Egyptian Kingdoms. New York: Peter Bedrick Books, 1975.
Wilson, John A., The Burden of Egypt. Chicago & London: The University of
Chicago Press, 1951.
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