Prehistoric to Archaic Egypt
"What is the creature that walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three in the evening?"
"There are two sisters: one gives birth to the other and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?"
Great Sphinx, Gizeh, Fourth Dynasty, ca. 2520 - 2494 BCE. Sandstone, 65' X 240'.








































Egypt existed 3,000 years under relatively
unchallenged self-rule
  • Well protected by its geography
  • Nile River Valley provided hospitable weather patterns
  • Stability of Nile River flooding encouraged development of rich, unified culture
  • Stone was plentiful and easily transported via the Nile
In Comparison to Ancient Mesopotamia:
  • Fewer artifacts survive from Mesopotamia
  • Trade was essential to Mesopotamians
    • Allowing and encouraging conflict and invasion
    • Impractical and impossible to protect from outside invaders and influences
  • City-States in Mesopotamia unable to unify











"In the beginning, Egyptian legends attested, floodwaters engulfed the world. Nothing stirred amid that dark and dismal expanse. Then, miraculously, a lotus blossom surfaced and opened its petals to give birth to the sun. Rising from the blossom like a golden bird, the sun subdued the waters and coaxed life from the emerging land. Ever after, when the Nile receded and the growing season began, people gave thanks to the sun god Re and to his earthly counterpart, the pharaoh, who claimed divine powers and kept the country fruitful." – What Life Was Like Along the Banks of the Nile
Painting of a Garden from the Tomb of Nebamun, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1400 - 1350 BCE. Fresco secco.











Sargon I's grandson, Narim - Sin commemorates an actual military victory over the Lullibi under the watchful celestial bodies of Ishtar and Shamash
The god, Shamash is conceived in human form, sitting on a stylized mountain as Hammurabi receives his wisdom.
Victory Stele of Narim Sin

Victory stele of Naram-Sin, Susa, Iran,
2254 – 2218 BCE. Stone, height 6' 6".

Upper part of stele inscribed with the Law Code of Hammurabi, c. 1780 BCE, height of relief 28".










"The sun god Ra shaped himself out of the waters of chaos, or unformed matter, and emerged sealed atop a mound of sand hardened by his own rays. By spitting (or ejaculating) he then created the gods of wetness and dryness, Tefnut and Shu, who in turn begat the male Geb (Earth) and the female Nut (sky). Geb and Nut produced two sons, Osiris and Seth, and two daughters, the goddessess Isis and Nephtys.
The Greenfield Papyrus, Book of the Dead of Nestanebetisheru,
c. 950 BCE - 930 BCE.
Geb is shown as a semi-recumbent figure stretching out his limbs while the elongated body of Nut arches above him. Her feet touch the ground at the eastern horizon and her fingers at the western horizon. She is supported by Shu, god of the atmosphere, who is aided in his task by two ram-headed deities. Nestanebisheru herself kneels at the right, raising her hands in adoration; her 'ba'-spirit imitates her gesture.












Osiris flanked by Horus and Isis

Taking Isis as his wife, Osiris became king of Egypt. His envious brother, Seth promptly killed Osiris, hacked his body to pieces and snatched the throne for himself. Isis and her sister, Nephtys, gathered up the scattered remains of Osiris and with the help of the god Anubus (represented by a Jackal) they patched him back together. Despite her husband's mutilated condition, Isis conceived a son - Horus... who defeated Seth and became king of the earth, while Osiris retired to the underworld as overseer of the realm of the dead." - Marilyn Stokstad, Art History

Osiris flanked by Horus and Isis, c. 1069 - 404 BCE. Jewelery pendenant, gold and lapis lazuli, 9 cm.











Ancient Egyptian Dynasties
Predynastic Period (First & Second Dynasties)
ca. 4500 - 3150 BCE
Early Dynastic or Archaic Period
ca. 3150 - 2575 BCE
The Old Kingdom (Third to Eighth Dynasties)
ca. 2575 - 2213 BCE
First Intermediate Period (Ninth to 11th)
ca. 2213 - 2061 BCE
The Middle Kingdom (11th to 13th Dynasties)
ca. 2061 - 1668 BCE
Second Intermediate Period (14th to 17th)
ca. 1668 - 1560 BCE
The New Kingdom (18th to 20th Dynasties)
ca. 1560 - 1069 BCE
Third Intermediate Period (21st to 24th)
ca. 1069 - 767 BCE
Late Period (25th & 26th Dynasties)
ca. 767 - 525 BCE

Persian Period (27th to 30th)

ca. 525 - 332 BCE

Greek Period (Macedonian Kings & Ptolemaic Dynasty)

ca. 332 - 30 BCE

Roman Period

ca. 30 BCE - 395 CE
Isis Nursing Horus, Late Period 664 - 332 BCE.











Predynastic Period


Palette of King Narmer
Palette of King Narmer
First known depiction of a historical figure identified by name
Pictographs at top spell “Narmer”

Horizontal fish = nar

Vertical chisel = mer
Enclosed by two heads of Hathor
other Predynastic Egyptian palettes
Back side of the Palette of King Narmer, c. 3000 - 2920 BCE. Slate, height 25".











map of upper and lower Egypt
crowns of Egypt
Crowns of Egypt - a) White Crown of Upper Egypt (the South), b) Red Crown of Lower Egypt (the North),
c) Double Crown of Unified Egypt











  • Narmer wears crown of Upper Egypt
  • Seizes enemy by hair, prepares to club him
  • Two slain enemies lie in lower register
  • Small, rectangular shape near fallen man's head represents citadel
  • Scene repeated by human-armed falcon capturing man-headed plant
  • Falcon symbol of Horus = sky god, and protector of king
  • Human head grows with papyrus
Back side of the Palette of King Narmer. ca. 3000 - 2920 BCE. Slate, height 25".











Palette of King Narmer front
  • Narmer wears crown of Lower Egypt
  • Reviews bodies of slain warriors
    • Bodies of enemies seen from above with heads between their feet
  • Scene repeated symbolically in bottom bull scene
    • Bull = king knocking down citadel
    • Narmer depicted on both sides with bull’s tail tied around waist
  • Long-necked, intertwined snake-lions restrained by attendants
    • May relate to similar Mesopotamian symbols which unite the male and female symbols of fertility
    • Symbolize unification of Egypt
Front side of the Palette of King Narmer. ca. 3000 - 2920 BCE. Slate, height 25".











Portrait Panel of Hesy-ra
Portrait Panel of Hesy-ra, Third Dynasty, ca. 2600 BCE. Wood, height 45".

Old Kingdom Standard Grid -
Egyptian Canon of Proportions











Nebamun hunting fowl

Nebamun hunting fowl, from the tomb of Nebamun, Thebes, 18th Dynasty, ca. 1400 BCE.
Fresco secco, 2' 8" high.





















Judgement of Osiris

The Weighing of the Heart and the Judgement of Osiris, from the Book of the Dead of Hunerer,
1285 BCE. Painted papyrus, height 15 5/8".











King Ramses I mummy
Eye of Horus
Mummified remains, ca. 1185 BCE.