Link Of Materialism And Spiritualism In The Cultures Of Antiquity

1134 words - 5 pages

As long as man has inhabited earth he has strived to express himself for any number of reasons. Yet over thousands of years the enduring theme of these expressions has been the desire to explain our own existence. This is especially evident when considering the early Egyptian and Sumerian societies. Beginning with cave paintings in France around 15,000 BC and leading up to the grandeur of the great pyramids the cultures of antiquity demonstrate belief in a connection in the material and spiritual worlds. This connection is evident in the study of that period’s architecture, art, and literature.

Since before the beginning of what we know as recorded history mankind has strived to improve on the architectural achievements of generations past. From towering skyscrapers to churches and cathedrals so breathtakingly beautiful and painstakingly crafted they seem to have fallen to Earth from heaven itself, we as a people continually amaze ourselves with our ability to construct buildings and monuments. With all of our modern day glory however we will be hard pressed to ever match the magnifigance of the great pyramids of ancient Egypt. Using only crude tools Egyptians managed to construct some of the most awe inspiring architectural feats imaginable. The sheer magnitude of these undertakings is the greatest testament of their people’s love and ceaseless devotion not only to their rulers but especially to the gods who created and preserved them. The pyramids were in essence nothing more than grand burial tombs for the pharaohs of the fourth dynasty but their spiritual significance reaches far deeper than just a huge grave, rather they acted as the pharaoh’s earthly connection to the sky. The first tombs of the ancient Egyptians were nothing more than bodies wrapped in cloth and covered in stones. Later, small clay pyramid-like structures were built called Mastabas. Mastabas were an improvement on the primitive burials in that they protected the body from the elements and could be decorated with paintings and filled with other adornments to ease the transition from mortal life into the afterlife. Around 2500 BC Mastabas gave way to the great pyramids of Geiza (modern day Cairo). When one looks on these immense structures reaching heights of 481 feet it is easy to make the connection between the architecture of ancient cultures and their spiritual beliefs.

Art has always played an integral part in our lives. For thousands of years man has articulated himself with paintings and sculpture for a myriad of reasons. The most prevalent and universal of all artistic motivation however would be that of spirituality and religion. Mankind’s struggle to explain the mysteries of our origins and the idea of a higher power has led artists of centuries past to produce astounding tributes to their god(s). The earliest examples of this can be found around 15,000 BC when the inherent human need for self-expression resulted in the earliest forms of visual art. Paintings...

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