Visual History of the World




From Prehistoric to Romanesque  Art
Gothic Art
Renaissance  Art
Baroque and Rococo Art
The Art of Asia
Neoclassicism, Romanticism  Art
Art Styles in 19th century
Art of the 20th century
Artists that Changed the World
Design and Posters
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
First Empires
The Ancient World
The Middle Ages
The Early Modern Period
The Modern Era
The World Wars and Interwar Period
The Contemporary World

Dictionary of Art and Artists


First Empires

ca. 7000 B.C. - 200 A.D.


The Middle East was the cradle of mankind's first advanced civilizations. In Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, which extends in an arc from the north of the Arabian Peninsula east through Palestine to Mesopotamia, the first state structures emerged in parallel with the further development of animal husbandry, agriculture, trade, and writing. The first great empires, such as those of the Egyptian pharaohs, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Persians, evolved at the beginning of the third millennium B.C., out of small communities usually clustered around a city. Similar development also occurred on the Indian subcontinent and in China, where quite distinct early advanced civilizations took shape as well.


The golden mask of Tutankhamun, a jewel of ancient Egyptian artwork,
 showing the pharaoh in a ceremonial robe decorated with the heraldic animals, the vulture and cobra, ca. 1340 B.C.


see also:

The Art of the Ancient Kingdoms

Egyptian religion (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Egyptian Goddess (Encyclopaedia Britannica)

Illustration from the Book of the Dead


Ancient Egypt

CA. 29OO-332 B.C.


The New Kingdom II: The Amarna Period 1379-1320 ..

Amenhotep IV introduced a form of monotheism and banned older cults. He thereby incurred the wrath of the priests, who feared losing their influence in Egypt.

The veneration of the sun disk, the Aten, was already common at the pharaoh's court under Amenhotep III. The new pharaoh, Amenhotep IV (1379-1362 B.C.), banned all other cults. He took the name 3 Akhenaton ("He who is of service to Aten") and founded a new capital city, Akhetnaton ("Horizon of the Aten"), on the plains of Tell el-Amarna in central Egypt.

In doing this, he deprived Amun-Re priesthood in Thebes of its power. Under Akhenaton, a new, more 4 naturalistic art style became popular. In the twelfth year of his reign, however, his zeal for reform let up.

Nefertiti, who until then had appeared as his equal and "great royal wife," disappeared and was replaced by the Mitanni princess Kiya. A reason for this could have been the growing threat from the Hittites, which had caused Egypt and Mitanni to ally.
Soon after Akhcnaton's death, the old cults were restored. Attempts were made to annihilate memory of the "Heretic King."

Both of the succeeding pha-raohs married 1 daughter of Akhenaton and Nefertiti to ensure dynastic continuity. The second of them, the young Tutankh-aten, changed his name to Tutankhamun in the course of a return to orthodoxy. He was otherwise politically insignificant. The generals had steadily increased their power through continual clashes with the Hittites. Follow ing Tutankhamun's death, military leaders usurped the throne. One of them, Ramses I. established a new dynasty about 1320 B.C.

3 Portrait of Akhenaton, ca. 1355 B.C.

Portrait of Akhenaton


Akhenaten depicted as a sphinx at Amarna (now in the Kestner Museum)



1 Daughters of Nefertiti and Akhenaton in front of Aten's sun disk, relief, ca. 1355 B.C.

2 Nefertiti drives though the capital, drawing, 20th century

Relief of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenpaaten
who ruled for eleven years, here depicted on the back
of a king's throne, ca. 1340 B.C.



From Akhenaton's Longer Hymn to Aton

"Thy dawning is beautiful in the horizon of heaven,
living Aton, Beginning of life!
When Thou risest in the eastern horizon of heaven,
Thou fittest every land with Thy beauty;...
For Thou art beautiful, great, glittering...
When Thou settest in the western horizon of heaven,
The world is in darkness like the dead___
Darkness reigns,
The world is in silence.
He that made them has gone to rest in His horizon.
Bright is the earth, when Thou risest in the horizon,
When Thou shinest as Aton by day.
The darkness is banished
When Thou sendest forth Thy rays..."



Scene from the tomb of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun


Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his Queen


Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his Queen


Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his Queen


Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamun and his Queen


of Tutankhamun



The Curse of King Tutankhamun

The discovery of the almost undamaged tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 was the greatest archaeological sensation of the 20th century. But soon many of those involved in the excavation died under mysterious circumstances, and the legend of the "curse of King Tutunkhamun" was born. Today it is believed that the deaths were caused by rare bacteria, fungi, or viruses that were conserved in the burial chamber.




Mask of Tutankhamun's mummy,
the popular icon for ancient Egypt at The Egyptian Museum

Tutankhamun coffinette


Golden statues of Egyptian


King's throne

Relief of Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenpaaten who ruled for eleven years,
here depicted on the back of a king's throne, ca. 1340 B.C.


Inlaid throne 


Pendant from Tutankhamun's tomb


Tutenkhamun's Tomb at the Valley of the Kings near Luxor. 



Tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings


Howard Carter (May 9, 1874 - March 2, 1939) was an English archaeologist and Egyptologist. He is most famous as the discoverer of KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, Luxor, Egypt. Howard Carter was born in 1874 in Kensington, London, the youngest son of eight children. His father, Samuel Carter, was an artist. His mother was Martha Joyce (Sands) Carter. Carter grew up in Swaffham, in northern Norfolk, and had no formal education. His father trained him in the fundamentals of drawing and painting. Carter began work in 1891, at the age of 17, copying inscriptions and paintings in Egypt. He worked on the excavation of Beni Hasan, the gravesite of the princes of Middle Egypt, c. 2000 BC. Later he came under the tutelage of William Flinders Petrie.He is also famous for finding the remains of Queen Hatshepsut tomb in Deir el Babri. In 1899, at the age of 25, Carter was offered a position working for the Egyptian Antiquities Service, from which he resigned as a result of a dispute between Egyptian site guards and a group of drunken French tourists in 1905.

Howard Carter broke through the second plaster block and made
one of the discoveries of the century, the tomb of King Tutankhamun.



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