Ancient Egypt: c. 3100 – 30 B.C.E.

Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for more than 3000 years and showed an incredible amount of continuity. This consistency was closely related to a fundamental belief that depictions had an impact beyond the image itself. For example, tomb scenes of the deceased receiving food, or temple scenes of the king performing perfect rituals for the gods, were functionally causing those things to occur in the divine realm. Egypt’s impact on later cultures was immense. You could say that Egypt provided the building blocks for Greek and Roman culture, and, through them, influenced all of the Western tradition. Today, Egyptian imagery, concepts, and perspectives are found everywhere; you will find them in architectural forms, on money, and in our day to day lives.

amulet grid
These magic knives, also known as apotropaic (that is, acting to ward off evil) wands, were one of the devices used to help people in childbirth.

Apotropaic wand

userwer grid
The unfinished decoration of this stela is particularly interesting: the lower part is still covered with the grid used for ensuring that the proportions of the figures were correct

Stela of the sculptor Userwer

tjeti grid
Tjeti is shown in the classic pose of a standing official, holding a staff and a scepter, yet he is naked—a way of portraying tomb owners which only occurred during the second half of the Old Kingdom.

Wooden tomb statue of Tjeti