Egypt Archaeology and Arts

By | January 3, 2022

In the last decade numerous excavations determined by the need to provide precise elements of evaluation to random finds have rarely significantly modified the panorama of Egyptian civilization. Other companies, on the other hand, of wider scope, gathering homogeneous and safe material sometimes have unexpectedly opened new problems with the sensational discovery; but they always ended up giving elements for the revision (positive or negative) of the old positions. The most important archaeological missions engaged in long-term works are those of Saqqārah, el-Gīzah, Heluān, Tuna (Egyptian), Deir el-Medīnēh, Tod, Medamud, Tani (French), Medīnet Maadi and Antinoe (Italian), of Ermupoli (German), of Edfu (French-Polish), of Thebes (American and Egyptian): during the war many suspended the works, some of which had already started.

Due to the very nature of Egyptian civilization and the way in which its study was set up, it is rare that the finds have a purely archaeological interest: they always reflect in some way more strictly historical or religious factors, which find their figurative expression in the monuments. and epigraphic. But even in the strictly artistic field, the new monuments and the new arrangements are anything but indifferent.

The vast activity in the Memphite region (Heluān, Saqqārah, el-Gīzah) has led to the discovery of some funeral complexes that date back to I din. (about 3200 BC) and that reopen the problem of the location of the tombs of the kings of the time that until now used to be placed in Abydos: their names in fact also appear in these tombs. The architecture, in unfired bricks, presents a certain number of technical solutions different from those known up to now; but it is clear that the little that remains of that epoch means that every new discovery adds something without it being possible for this to speak of a real change in our knowledge. More noteworthy is the discovery in one of these tombs (Hemaka) of the largest archaic furnishings that have come down to us. The main problem of

The complex was reconstituted with the assumption that for the first time there is a transfer in stone of wooden structural modules; but recently it has been thought that the architect’s inspiration should rather be sought in the votive models of buildings, here reconstructed with a singular deformation. Certainly the elegant and flexible style of this architecture, very far from that of the period immediately following onwards, remains a fundamental case in the history of Egyptian art and closes the archaic period of the history of that country as a fully completed work (about 2778 a. C.). For Egypt culture and traditions, please check

The Memphite period proper was enriched with a considerable number of monuments; but perhaps more important than the new material discoveries are the studies dedicated by H. Junker and GA Reisner to their very long excavations in the necropolis of el-Gīzah. The depth of cultural interests makes the work of the former precious, while that of the latter insists especially on the technical elements of the individual constructions and of the urban planning of the necropolis. The figurative arts of the ancient kingdom also had an extensive illustration in terms of realia by Smith, parallel in a sense to that of Reisner on architecture.

The situation is quite different for the first Theban period (about 2000-1785 BC). The Italian excavations at Medīnet Maadi have brought to light a small temple from the end of that era, set in a Ptolemaic building. Ancient restorations perhaps distort the plant in some particular; but it seems that one can imagine a portal that opens into a courtyard, the bottom of which consists of a two-column portico. Behind is the sanctuary with three niches.

There are the classical elements of the later Egyptian temple (pylon, courtyard, hypostyle, sanctuary), but conceived in a human meter, with extreme elegance and simplicity. This is the only temple of the Middle Kingdom that has reached us on its foundations; but in Karnak it was possible to reconstruct an early peripertal pavilion which had been destroyed in ancient times and the material of which had been used to fill one of the pillars of the temple of Ammon. The building, which offers an architectural scheme known for later eras, consists of a room surrounded by a corridor with pillars on a plinth which is accessed by means of ramps, and offers in the happy proportions and in the elegance of the lines and decoration a parallel to the temple of Medīnet Maadi. In the light of these discoveries, the remains of a temple of the time found in Medamud can be better evaluated. They cover a singular, slightly older building, with curved corridors and isolated rooms, in which architectural concerns have clearly given way to cultural ones.

For the XVIII dyn. the increasingly numerous fragments of reliefs from the time of Eḫnaton (about 1375 BC) which are extracted from later temples of Thebes, Antinoe, Ermupoli and which indicate a very large area of ​​influence of the Amarnian style should be noted. For the new empire, the continuation of the work of the American mission in Medīnet Habu (which is publishing that temple with extreme richness and abundance of elements) is of great importance, as well as the French excavations at Tani which, bringing to light monuments of great figurative importance, reopen the problem of local sculpture schools. Also in Tani the inviolate tombs of Osorkon II, of Šešonq, of Psusenne I, of Amenemope were discovered. If they cannot rival that of Tutanchamun for the richness and importance of the works provided,

Alongside these investigations, the scientific activity of archaeologists took place: numerous essays and works tend to tackle single problems, trying to arrange the documentation. Alongside the technical problem, it is interesting to note in other writings a tendency to interpret Egyptian archeology as a function of the history of culture, waiting to be able to move on to a true history of art; and in others an opening towards comparative interests, also understood as the history of the culture of the classical East. The difficulty of elaborating the immense material available (common to all branches of Egyptology) could perhaps be faced with the compilation of an archaeological file, which is currently being presented on an international level.

Egypt culture and traditions