Visual History of the World

(CONTENTS)
 

 


HISTORY OF CIVILIZATION & CULTURE

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
Photography
Classical Music
Literature and Philosophy

Visual History of the World
Prehistory
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.
 



 

 


From the
Book of the Dead:

"I open the channels, in heaven as on Earth.
Because I amyour loving son Osiris!
I have become spirit, sublimated, made holy,
and withpowerful chants armored...
Gods of the immeasurable sky.
Godly spirits! All of you, look at me!
I have completed my journey and appear before you."
 

 


The Book of the Dead

Book of the Dead is the common name for ancient Egyptian funerary texts known as The Book of Coming or Going Forth By Day. The name "Book of the Dead" was the invention of the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, who published a selection of some texts in 1842.

The Books were text initially carved on the exterior of the deceased person's sarcophagus, but was later written on papyrus now known as scrolls and buried inside the sarcophagus with the deceased, presumably so that it would be both portable and close at hand. Other texts often accompanied the primary texts including the hypocephalus (meaning 'under the head') which was a primer version of the full text.

Books of the Dead constituted as a collection of spells, charms, passwords, numbers and magical formulas for the use of the deceased in the afterlife. This described many of the basic tenets of Egyptian mythology.

They were intended to guide the dead through the various trials that they would encounter before reaching the underworld. Knowledge of the appropriate spells was considered essential to achieving happiness after death. Spells or enchantments vary in distinctive ways between the texts of differing "mummies" or sarcophagi, depending on the prominence and other class factors of the deceased.

Books of the Dead were usually illustrated with pictures showing the tests to which the deceased would be subjected. The most important was the weighing of the heart of the dead person against Ma'at, or Truth (carried out by Anubis). The heart of the dead was weighed against a feather, and if the heart was not weighed down with sin (if it was lighter than the feather) he was allowed to go on. The god Thoth would record the results and the monster Ammit would wait nearby to eat the heart should it prove unworthy.

The earliest known versions date from the 16th century BC during the 18th Dynasty (ca. 1580 BC�1350 BC). It partly incorporated two previous collections of Egyptian religious literature, known as the Coffin Texts (ca. 2000 BC) and the Pyramid Texts (ca. 2600 BC-2300 BC), both of which were eventually superseded by the Book of the Dead.

The text was often individualized for the deceased person - so no two copies contain the same text - however, "book" versions are generally categorized into four main divisions - the Heliopolitan version, which was edited by the priests of the college of Annu (used from the 5th to the 11th dynasty and on walls of tombs until about 200); the Theban version, which contained hieroglyphics only (20th to the 28th dynasty); a hieroglyphic and hieratic character version, closely related to the Theban version, which had no fixed order of chapters (used mainly in the 20th dynasty); and the Saite version which has strict order (used after the 26th dynasty).

It is notable, that the Book of the Dead for Scribe Ani, the Papyrus of Ani, was originally 78 Ft, and was separated into 37 sheets at appropriate chapter and topical divisions.

 


Illustration from the Book of the Dead, ca. twelfth century B.C.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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