10 Most Iconic Pieces of Art in Ancient Egypt

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Ancient Egyptians were far ahead of other civilizations in the areas of art, science and technological innovations - as is evident from the remnants and relics of their edifices, texts, and artifacts. Their artworks reflect profound influences of religious motifs, and mythology; which were integral parts of their lives. The intricacy and brilliance of ancient Egyptian artwork leaves historians as well as travelers gasping for words. From the marvels of engineering achieved through the Egyptian pyramids to the exquisite ornaments they made, Egyptian art relics have no parallel. Their craftsmanship is proven by the fact that some of these art forms have withstood the test of time and lasted over 3,000 years. 

Listed below are the ten most iconic ancient art forms of Egypt that can leave you amazed:

1. Throne of Tutankhamun

Perhaps no other ruler of ancient Egypt was as enigmatic as Tutankhamun. The ‘boy king’ as he was called had his coronation at the tender age of nine and died mysteriously at 19 years. He left behind a vast empire and loads of wealth. The golden throne was found in 1922 by Howard Carter, the British archeologist who located his tomb. The amazing throne was intact even after 3,000 years, showing the excellent craftsmanship of the Egyptians. It was adorned with glass and precious stones and deemed as a fine instance of Amarna Period art. The amazing thing is the glaze of the metal was intact even after 3,000 years when it was excavated.

2. The Egyptian Book of the Dead

A noted ancient Egyptian funerary text, The Egyptian Book of the Dead was used till 50 BC from around 1550 BC. The book was replete with funerary texts, depicting the deep belief in the concept of afterlife and images of ancient Egyptian Gods. There was no single book, and many copies have been found. One copy can be seen in the British Museum. The ancient texts contain many rituals related to the afterlife that the Egyptians believed would help the deceased persons sail through the phases after death. 

3. The Golden Tree of Life 

The ideologies and beliefs of the ancient Egyptians can be understood by observing their painting and sculptures, as it is. One such notable painting is The Golden Tree of Life. The ancient papyrus painting has deep symbolism. In this painting, the birds placed on the tree symbolize various stages of life. The birds face East except one that faces West as it symbolizes the end of life. It is deemed as one of the best works about Egypt. 

4. The Bust of Nefertiti

Another Royal Egyptian family member whose identity was shrouded in mystery is Nefertiti. The bust of Nefertiti was possibly created sometime in 1340 BC. It weighs almost 20 kg and made from one piece of limestone. While some historians believe she was a queen, others contradict that view. The bust is remarkably well made, and her facial features are accurately depicted in it. The craftsmen used gypsum stucco and gemstones in making the bust.

5. Canopic Jars

The Canopic jars were made by ancient Egyptians to preserve the body organs of the deceased persons. Each organ was kept in a separate container. These jars were mostly made with limestone. 

6. Egyptian Papyrus

Not many are aware of it, but the word paper was coined from papyrus. It was a plant grown in the delta of the Nile River. The papyrus paper that was used extensively by the ancient Egyptians for painting and writing was made from its pith. These papyrus copies have withstood tests of time, much like the other relics of art. It is through the analysis of these Papyrus writings or paintings that the scholars and historians have decoded nuances of ancient Egyptian civilization. 

7. The Statue of Khufu

The enticing statue of Khufu was created in 26 BC. It is an ivory statue of the famous Egyptian monarch made with amazing craftsmanship. It is only 7.5 cm high, but stands as evidence of the monarch’s two-decade-long reign. The statue was discovered by noted Egyptologist Flinders Petrie in 1903 at the necropolis of Abydos, near the Temple of Osiris. The statue is now kept in the Cairo Museum. This discovery convinced historians about the identity of the builder of the Great Pyramid of Giza, who happened to be the son of Queen Hetepheres.

8. Statue of Cleopatra VII Philopator

The most enigmatic female ruler to ascend the throne in ancient Egypt, Cleopatra still amazes. Many theories exist regarding her origin and reign, and a number of them are contradictory. However, the statue of Cleopatra is a stunning example of Egyptian art. The carefully crafted statue looks stunning and bears the stamp of Egyptian craftsmanship. Cleopatra had a Macedonian origin and true to her genes; she was known for causing many deaths in the family for capturing the throne. The queen’s face is carved in typical Greco-Roman style. The three cobras on the head of the queen make it look somewhat menacing.

9. Tomb of Senenmut’s Astronomical Ceiling

Senenmut was a noted architect in ancient Egypt who created the tomb complex of Pharaoh Hatshepsut. However, his tomb was no less spectacular. The ceiling of his tomb has an amazing depiction of the galaxy. The map is divided into the twin hemispheres. The northern hemisphere depicts the Egyptian lunar cycles along with well-known constellations while its southern segment shows stars and planets visible to human eyes. The intriguing thing in the artwork is the absence of Mars in the constellation. 

10. Thutmose III Statue

Among the few found statues of ancient Egyptian kings, the statue of Thutmose III is a major one, and it is said to be an artistic masterpiece. Thutmose III was the Eighteenth Dynasty’s sixth Pharaoh. The statue reflects the aura of a powerful monarch with a resemblance to his stepmother Hatshepsut, to whom he was quite antagonistic. This statue is now kept in the Luxor Museum.


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