Ancient Egypt - Through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
From Egypt, Memphite Region
Ancient Egypt - FAQ's
- Ancient Egyptians loved board games.
- Egyptian pharaohs were often overweight.
- A Pharaoh never let his hair be seen that is why we see him pictured always wearing those elaborate gold headdresses.
- Both Egyptian men and Egyptian women wore makeup.
- Egyptian children didn't wear any clothes until they were in their teens.
- The pharaoh Ramses had eight wives and one hundred concubines.
- Excavated skeletons show that the builders of the pyramids were actually Egyptians.
- King Tut may have been killed by a hippopotamus.
Pharaohs, the Nile River Valley, pyramids, slaves, hieroglyphics, all things we associate with Ancient Egypt. What about the art in Ancient Egypt? Stone and wood were used to carve statues, beautiful reliefs are found which, according to Wikipedia, were used to depict victories in battles, royal decrees, and religious scenes. How many archaeologists have uncovered elaborate Egyptian tombs? Speaking of tombs what about the amazing mummification techniques?
We know so much and yet so little about Ancient Egypt. Discoveries have shown that women in Ancient Egypt had more tattoos than men. Although not the earliest tattoos ever found, statues, drawings and mummies identified tattoos on the thighs of women in Ancient Egypt.
In Ancient Egypt the sun was supreme. In an article in the New York Times about cats in Ancient Egypt, it states that the sun was "a natural and spiritual force of tremendous power." The sun god was Ra and it was believed that Ra created the first divine couple. Pharaoh was believed to be a direct descendant of Ra. "Oh Sun, thou hast made the heavens that thou may rise therein." - Akhenaten's Hymn...Akhenanten was a pharaoh who ruled for seventeen years. He tried to change the religion in Egypt from one worshiping many gods to one worshiping one god. Oh, and his queen was Nefertiti.
Are you interested yet?
What about the inventions of the Egyptians? Things like the lock and key, wigs, makeup and toothpaste.
Just like today, the father was the provider in an Egyptian family. The mother stayed home to care for the children, well almost like today. The children began helping their parents in the fields at around age four or began their training as craftsman. Not an unfamiliar situation but I believe the earliest age for working children that I have seen. In researching this piece I found the reason boys shaved their heads and had one braid was to avoid lice!
Egypt gave birth to what later would become known as 'Western Civilization,' long before the greatness of Greece and Rome.— John Henrik Clarke
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City
The museum commissioned expeditions, made purchases, and received bequests, all of which have provided an extensive display of Ancient Egypt. Amazingly the expeditions began back in 1906.
I've always been interested in Ancient Egypt, possibly from watching "The Mummy" and possibly from all of the artifacts that have been excavated.
When I visited the Museum I was totally amazed at the display and artifacts. I felt like I was in Egypt, without the sand of course. Looking at the tiniest artifacts and canopic jars was just amazing. Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians to store the internal organs that were removed from the body during mummification. It was believed these organs could be used in the after life. They (organs) were also removed to avoid contaminating the dead body and causing it to well, rot. The stoppers on the jars were often fashioned after the heads of one of the four funeral deities, the four sons of Horus; one guided the lungs, one the liver, one the stomach and upper intestines and the fourth the lower intestines. These jars were also buried with the deceased.
I could write an entire piece just about the Egyptian burial practices including mummification but that wouldn't fit in here.
The Egyptians were really amazing and wise beyond our comprehension. The exhibits at the Metropolitan bring these artifacts to us. How fortunate we are that we can see Ancient Egypt right in the heart of New York City.
Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.....Egyptian Proverb
The Temple of Dendur
A monument built by Emperor Augustus around 15 B.C. It was a small temple in lower Nubia and was given to the US as a gift from Egypt in appreciation of all of the US efforts to save Egyptian artifacts of all sizes. The temple was brought to the Metropolitan and reconstructed. To continue with its authenticity a pond was fabricated to "resemble" the Nile and the slanted windows added a touch of mysticism with the the lovely light.
Temple of Dendur Exhibit
All photos are the property of Tillsontitan
Pictured below are two sphinx of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut with the body of a lion and wearing a beard and a nemes headcloth. The first sphinx was shattered back in Egypt but restored by the museum and brought here for display. This granite sphinx weighs more than seven tons! It is said to be one of six sphinx that stood in Hatshepsut's mortuary temple at Deir el-Bahri. (It amazes me how a team could take a smashed sphinx and reconstruct it to look so perfect.)
There are many depictions of Hatshepsut throughout the museum. The smaller sphiinx depicts a younger Hatshepsut. There is also a statue and probably more that I did not photograph.
Hatshepsut was a young female king! Though she shared her reign with Thutmose III, she was a female king. After ruling as king for a while she took the title of pharaoh. The country prospered and there were many accomplishments under her reign. New information about Hatshepsut has been found in the last fifty years. Here again is a great subject for an entire hub!
Sphinx of HatshepsutClick thumbnail to view full-size
Metropolitan Museum of Art - Hours and Prices
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More Beauty at the MetropolitanClick thumbnail to view full-size
Egyptian Art and Paintings
Most of the surviving Egyptian art came from inside of tombs and the survival is attributed to the dry climate of Egypt. There was much symbolism in art paintings, and the colors used weren't quite what we'd consider true to form. The size of the people portrayed was used to indicate their importance. It is believed many paintings were painted inside tombs to make a pleasant afterlife for the tomb's inhabitant.
Art of course is more than paintings and much of what has been found of Ancient Egypt is pure art. The statues, the sphinx, the paintings, even the clothing is beyond what one would expect in an ancient land.
More Artifacts from the Metropolitan Museum of ArtClick thumbnail to view full-size
Ancient Egypt Lives
Ancient Egypt lives on in the preservation of its artifacts here at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but there are other museums throughout the world that also uphold Egypt's past. The largest collections include (in descending order):
- The Grand Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt
- British Museum, London, UK
- Ägyptisches Museum, Neues Museum, Berlin, Germany
- Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London, UK
- Musée du Louvre, Paris, France
There are many more and to my surprise on that list ranking the museums with the most artifacts, the Metropolitan Museum is listed as number twelve! So there are many museums and many artifacts to be seen. I hope you are able to find one of the great museums showing these amazing glimpses into what was once Egypt and enjoy a trip into the past.
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Facts Gathered From
Facts in this article were gathered from various sources including;
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Collection Online
- New York Times, Hatshepsut: From Queen to Pharaoh,at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- Wikipedia, Art of Ancient Egypt
- Visual Arts, Egyptian Sculpture
- Daydream Tourist, Egyptian Blue Faience
- Crystal Links, Ancient Egyptian Art, Painting, Sculpture
- Golden Proverbs, Egyptian Quotes
- Wikipedia, List of museums of Egyptian antiquities
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