Egyptian Art Topic Paper

1027 words - 4 pages

When getting into the Ancient Egyptian culture one thing you are sure to notice is that symbols and symbolism was a huge part of life for these people. Soon after you realize this you will start to notice that the meanings behind the symbols are not always obvious. To make it even more complicated sometimes one symbol will have two or more different meanings, and the different meanings can sometimes contradict themselves completely. For example, to the Egyptians the crocodile could symbolize not only death and destruction but also solar oriented life and regeneration, because both appear to be true aspects of the creature's observed and mythical nature. Despite its fearsome and destructive aspect, the crocodile faces the morning sun as though in adoration, and it also hunts fish, the mythological enemies of the sun (Watson 2). Now you can see how trying to figure out these symbols and their meanings on your own could be confusing. This paper is going to focus on the sun and what it symbolized in Ancient Egypt during two different time periods, the Old Kingdom period and the Tel el Armana period.First we will look at what the sun meant to the Egyptians during the period known as the Old Kingdom. At the beginning of the 4th Dynasty the Great Pyramids of Giza were beginning to be constructed. Many studies that have been done show that the Pyramids of Giza were overflowing with many different symbols and symbolism. The sun is certainly one of them.During the Old Kingdom the Egyptians were polytheist, believing in many different gods and deities. While still paying homage to all their other gods the Egyptians held the sun in very high regard. At this time to the Egyptians the sun was known as a god named Ra or Re. All of the Egyptian kings were thought to be the sons of Ra. This is one of the theories behind why the mysterious pyramids were so large (the largest one when completed was 480 ft tall). The site where the pyramids were built was also carefully planned to follow the sun's east-west path (Stokstad 62). When the sun is above the very top of the pyramid it looks like the suns rays coming down to the earth. When the kings that had these massive pyramids built for them died, their bodies and all of their important worldly possessions were laid in this giant tomb and when the king was ready he could climb up the sides of the pyramid like a ramp to be with his sun god father Ra and become a god himself.During the time of the Old Kingdom the sun god had many different symbols. Some examples are, a round disk usually golden or red in color, a Sphinx body with different people's heads, or the Eye of Ra, which was a picture of a lined, decorated eye that was thought to be the actual missing eye of the god Ra. During this time any kind of sculpture, relief, painting or image would have one of these symbols incorporated, as well as other...

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