African Artifacts by Civilization

African Artifacts by Civilization

Egypt's Late PeriodNew KingdomMiddle KingdomIntermediate KingdompredynasticNubianEarly DynasticMeroe

Top Ten Nubian Artifacts

Top Ten Nubian Artifacts

       Ancient kingdom of Nubia in today’s northern Sudan whose rulers conquered southern Egyptin the 8th century BC and established a capital at Napata. From around 730 to 671 BC they ruled over entire Egypt after King Piankhi conquered the rest of Egypt. He had been Cushite ruler since around 751 BC. His son and the second king of the 25th dynasty, Taharka, lost against the Assyrians in 671 but continued to rule until 664 BC. In the 6th century BC the Cushites were forced to move their capital to Meroe where the kingdom flourished until around 350 AD when it was defeated and overrun by the Ethiopians.

  1. Golden Winged Isis Pectoral (538-519 BC)

           Napatan Period, reign of Amaninatakelebte, about 538-519 B.C., Sudan, Nubia, (Nuri), Gold, Width: 16.8 cm (6 5/8 in.) Chased gold pectoral representing the winged goddess Isis, shown kneeling with wings outstretched. In her right hand, she holds an ankh, the symbol for “life”; in her left hand she holds what may be the hieroglyph for a sail, the symbol for the breath of life. On her head is a throne, the hieroglyph for her name. From Nuri, Pyramid 10. 1916: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1920: assigned to the MFA by the division of finds with the Sudanese government.
    Links: Top 100 Golden Artifacts, Top Ten Egyptian Gods,
  2. Hathor Headed Crystal Pendant (747-716 BC)

           Napatan Period, reign of Piye, 747-716 B.C., Gold; rock crystal, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Crystal ball, surmounted by gold head of Hathor crowned with disc and horns. The ball is bored vertically and has a gold disc at the base on which it stands. Ring at back of head. Base loose. From El-Kurru, Tum 1. 1918-19: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1921: assigned to the MFA by the division of finds with the Sudanese government.
    Links:
  3. Nubian Royal Crown

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Crowns,
  4. Nubian Statues

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  5. Bracelet with Image of Hathor (100 BC)

           Meroitic Period, about 100 B.C., Sudan, Nubia, (Gebel Barkal) Gold, enamel, Height x length: 1.8 x 12.5 cm (11/16 x 4 15/16 in.), Hinged bracelet of gold with enamel decoration showing a seated figure of the goddess Hathor and geometrical pattern; two hinges; loop on each end., From Gebel Barkal, Pyramid VIII April 1916: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1920: assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan.
    Links: Top Ten Ancient Bracelets, Top Ten Pieces of Ancient Jewelry,
  6. Amulet of a Winged Goddess (700-250 BC)

           Napatan Period, 700-250 B.C., Faience, Blue glazed faience. Steatopagous winged female figure wearing horn-disc-feather crown and with a crowned uraeus over each arm. The back bears a debased hieroglyphic inscription. From El-Kurru, tomb Ku. 51.1919: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition, March 1919; 1924: assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan.
    Links: Top Ten Amulets,
  7. Red Granite Sphinx

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Sphinx Statues,
  8. Painting

    Description:
    Links:
  9. Head of God Imseti from Canopic Jar of King Tanutamani (664-653 BC)

           This canopic jar head of the god Imseti is from the Napatan Period (664-653 BC) and contained the remnants of the King Tanutamani. It was found in the El-Kurru Pyramid in the Sudan in 1919 by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition and belonged to the Nubian Empire, (el-Kurru). It is made of alabaster and measures 17.7 cm (6 15/16 in.) in height. The piece currently resides with the Sudanese government.
    Links: Top Ten Canopic Jars,
  10. Ear Stud with Kneeling Hathor (30-170 AD)

           Meroitic Period, A.D. 30-170, Gold, enamel, Diameter: 4.1 cm (1 5/8 in.), The kneeling winged goddess wears a feathered garment that leaves the torso exposed. The breasts are supported by her hands, and the double crown surmounts the vulture diadem. As on the stela of Amanikhabale (cat. 290), a bundle of plants behind the goddess reaches up to the crown. The reverse bears a mirror-image representation. The decoration of the rim is identical to the stud in cat. 373. (Sudan catalogue) Gold. In center kneeling winged female figure with crown, from which hangs a tassel; surrounded by enamel inlay. Outer edge decorated with flowers and buds. From Meroe, Tomb Beg. W 127. February, 1922: excavated by the Harvard University-Museum of Fine Arts Expedition; 1924: assigned to the MFA by the government of the Sudan.
    Links:
  11. Nubian Sculptures

    Description:
    Links: http://egyptsites.wordpress.com/2009/01/31/the-nubian-museum/,
  12. Bonus: Paintings Depicting Nubians

    Description:
    Links: Paintings, Top 100 African Paintings,
  13. Bonus: Tiles Depicting Nubians

           This tiles which were found in the tomb of Seti depict Nubians and illustrate the attire worn by the people of the Nubian Empire.
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  14. Bonus: Two Nubian Ambassadors

    Description:
    Links:
  15. Bonus: Relief Depicting Nubian Slaves

           This relief found at the Great Temple, Abu Simbel, Egypt depicts Nubian slaves.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  16. Bonus: Nubian Archers

           Nubian archers found in the tomb of Mesehti, a prince from the region of Assiut from the Middle Dynasty around 2,000 BC.
    Links:
  17. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts,

Top Ten Meroe Artifacts

Top Ten Meroe Artifacts

       Meroë is an ancient city on the east bank of the Nile about 6 km north-east of the Kabushiya station near Shendi, Sudan, approximately 200 km north-east of Khartoum. Near the site are a group of villages called Bagrawiyah. This city was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The Kushitic Kingdom of Meroë gave its name to the Island of Meroë, which was the modern region of Butana, a region bounded by the Nile (from the Atbarah River to Khartoum), the Atbarah, and the Blue Nile. The city of Meroë was on the edge of Butana and there were two other Meroitic cities in Butana, Musawwarat es-Sufra, and Naqa. The site of the city of Meroë is marked by more than 200 pyramids in three groups, of which many are in ruins. They are identified as Nubian pyramids because of their distinctive size and proportions.

  1. Wall of Meroe Pyramid Chapel Amanitenmomide

    Description:
    Links: Pyramids, Top Ten African Pyramids, Top Ten Egyptian Pyramids,
  2. Sudan Meroe Pyramids Ornament

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieveshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sudan_Meroe_Pyramids_Ornament_30sep2005.jpg,
  3. Statue Depicting Queen Shanakdakhete of Meroe

           Statue of Queen Shanakdakhete (170-150 BCE) ruling queen of Kush, and a male member of her family giving her royal power. Her name is carved in a ruined temple where the earliest inscriptions in Meroitic hieroglyphic writing are found. Her pyramid at Meroe is one of the largest ever built for a Kushite ruler. It has a unique chapel with two rooms and two pylons. The chapel is among the most elaborately carved of any known. The scenes in the chapel show military campaigns to the south and the capture of numerous cattle and prisoners.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top Ten Queens, http://wysinger.homestead.com/shanadakhete.html,
  4. Bajrawiya Relief

           This relief is located in Bajrawiya, on the Pyramids of Meroe, now the Sudan in northeast Africa.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves,
  5. Red Sandstone Relief from the Pyramid Chapel of Queen Shanakdakhete

           This wall comes from one of the small steep-sided pyramids with chapels in which the rulers were buried. It was probably that of Queen Shanakdakhete, the first female ruler. She appears here enthroned with a prince and protected by a winged Isis. In front of her are rows of offering bearers and also scenes of rituals including the judgment of the queen before Osiris. The term ‘Kush’ or ‘Kushite’ refers to the Nubian ruling powers, who were buried at el-Kurru, Nuri, Gebel Barkal and Meroe. The royal cemetery at Meroe has been given the name ‘Meroitic’ signifying the later stages of rule by the Kushite kings. The Meroitic script has been deciphered, but the language is still not fully understood. This relief now resides in the British Museum.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Queens, http://wysinger.homestead.com/shanadakhete.html,
  6. Mounted Female Warrior Vessel

           Vessel, found at Meroë, made in the shape of a mounted female warrior by the Athenian Greek potter Sotades about 425 BC. It was found in the pyramid chapel of a Meroitic prince, who may have died about 50 years later.
    Links: Top Ten Warriors, Top Ten Female Warriors, http://www.dignubia.org/maps/timeline/bce-0330a.htm,
  7. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, http://www.flickr.com/photos/vithassan/3650889577/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meroe,

Top Ten Kingdom of Benin Artifacts

Top Ten Kingdom of Benin Artifacts

The Benin Empire (1440–1897) was a pre-colonial African state in what is now modern Nigeria. It should not be confused with the modern-day country called Benin, formerly called Dahomey.

  1. Edo Ivory Mask

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks,
  2. Relief

    Description:
    Links:
  3. The Oba of Benin with attendants and Europeans

           The Oba of Benin, or Omo N’Oba, is the oba or king of the Edo people, and formerly the Benin Kingdom from 1180 until 1897. ‘Oba’ means king or ruler. The Edo or Benin homeland (not to be confused with the modern day country of the Republic of Benin, which was formerly known as Dahomey) has and continues to be most significantly populated by the Edo, also known as the Bini or Benin ethnic group. The title of ‘oba’ was created by Oba Eweka the Great, the kingdom’s first ‘Oba.’ The current capital is Benin City in modern day Nigeria. In 1897, the British ‘Punitive Expedition’ sacked Benin City and exiled Oba Ovonramwen, taking control of the area in order to establish the British colony of Nigeria. The expedition was mounted to avenge the killing of an official British delegation in 1896. The expedition consisted of indigenous soldiers and British officers. To cover the cost of the expedition, the Benin royal art was auctioned off by the British. The Oba was captured and eventually exiled until his death in 1914. The present Oba, Erediauwa I, is the 39th Oba of the dynasty.
    Links:
  4. Benin Kings

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Kings,
  5. Warrior Flanked by Two Shieldbearers

    Description:
    Links:
  6. Benin Instrument

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Instruments, Top Ten Historical Instruments,
  7. Baoule Anklet

    Description:
    Links:
  8. Igbo Ukwu Bust (9th Century)

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Busts,
  9. Benin Sword

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Swords, Top Ten Weapons,
  10. Edo Salt Cellar

    Description:
    Links:
  11. Links: Artifacts, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin_bronzes, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benin_art,

Top Ten Late Period Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten Late Period Egyptian Artifacts

  

       The Late Period of Ancient Egypt refers to the last flowering of native Egyptian rulers after the Third Intermediate Period from the 26th Saite Dynasty into Persian conquests and ended with the conquest by Alexander the Great. It ran from 664 BC until 332 BC. It is often regarded as the last gasp of a once great culture, where the power of Egypt had diminished.

  1. Sarcophagus

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Sarcophagi,
  2. Facade of Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt (1st century BC)

    Description:
    Links: Temples, Top Ten African Temples, Top Ten Egyptian Temples,
  3. Egyptian Funerary Mask

           This funerary mask dates back to the 13th dynasty in Egypt and marks the last dynasty of a native born Egyptian as pharaoh.
    Links: Top 100 Masks,
  4. Coffin

    Description:
    Links:
  5. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, Top 100 Egyptian Artifactshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Late_Period_of_Egypthttp://egypttourinfo.com/ancient-egypt-late-period.html,

Recommendations for Expeditions in Egypt

Top Ten New Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten New Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

       The New Kingdom, sometimes referred to as the Egyptian Empire, is the period in ancient Egyptian history between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC, covering the 18th, 19th, and 20th Dynasties of Egypt. The New Kingdom (1570–1070 BC) followed the Second Intermediate Period and was succeeded by the Third Intermediate Period. It was Egypt’s most prosperous time and marked the zenith of its power. The eighteenth Dynasty contained some of Egypt’s most famous Pharaohs including the great Ramesses II, Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun. Queen Hatsheput concentrated on expanding Egypt’s external trade, sending a commercial expedition to the land of Punt. Thutmose III (“the Napoleon of Egypt”) expanded Egypt’s army and wielded it with great success to consolidate the empire created by his predecessors. This resulted in a peak in Egypt’s power and wealth during the reign of Amenhotep III.

  1. King Tutankhamen’s Burial Chamber and Gold Mask (1320 BC)

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Masks, Top 100 Busts, Top Ten Pharaohs,
  2. King Tutankhamen’s Throne

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Thrones,
  3. Colossal Enthroned Ramses II (1,279-1,212 BC)

           This 67 foot colossal statue of Ramses II is located in Ab Simbel at the entrance to the temple of Amun.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures, Top Ten Tallest Sculptures,
  4. Amarna Steele (1350 BC)

           This relief is known as the Amarna Stele and was created around 1350 BC in Armana, Egypt.
    Links: Top Ten Stelae, Top Ten African Stelae, Top Ten Egyptian Stelae, Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  5. Statue of Ramesses II

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Pharaohs, Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  6. King Tutankhamen Statues

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Pharaohs, Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  7. Turin King List – Turin Royal Canon

           The Turin King List also known as the Turin Royal Canon, is a unique papyrus, written in hieratic, currently in the Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum) at Turin, to which it owes its modern name. The text dates to Ramesses II and mentions the names of all Egyptian rulers preceded by the register of gods that, as it was believed, ruled over Egypt before the Pharaonic era.
    Links: Top Ten Egyptian Texts, http://www.crystalinks.com/turincanon.html,
  8. Statue of Tuthmosis III

            Thutmose III, meaning Thoth is born, was the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. During the first 22 years of Thutmose’s reign he was co-regent with his stepmother, Hatshepsut, who was named the pharaoh. While he is shown first on surviving monuments, both were assigned the usual royal names and insignia and neither is given any obvious seniority over the other. He served as the head of her armies. After her death and his later rise to being the pharaoh of the kingdom, he created the largest empire Egypt had ever seen; no fewer than seventeen campaigns were conducted, and he conquered from Niya in North Syria to the fourth waterfall of the Nile in Nubia. Officially, Thutmose III ruled Egypt for almost 54 years, and his reign is usually dated from April 24, 1479 BC to March 11, 1425 BC; however, this includes the 22 years he was co-regent to Hatshepsut—his stepmother and aunt. During the final two years of his reign, he appointed his son-and successor-Amenhotep II, as his junior co-regent. When Thutmose III died, he was buried in the Valley of the Kings as were the rest of the kings from this period in Egypt.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuthmosis_III,
  9. Tutankhamen Pendant with Wadjet

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Symbols,
  10. Scarab Pendant

    Description:
    Links:
  11. Sphinx

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Sphinx Statues,
  12. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, Top 100 Egyptian Artifactshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Kingdom_of_Egypt,

Recommendations for Expeditions in Egypt

Top Ten Second Intermediate Period Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten Second Intermediate Period Egyptian Artifacts

       The Second Intermediate Period marks a period when Ancient Egypt fell into disarray for a second time, between the end of the Middle Kingdom and the start of the New Kingdom. It is best known as the period when the Hyksos made their appearance in Egypt and whose reign comprised the Fifteenth dynasties.

  1. The Statue of Ramesses II

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Pharaohs, Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures
  2. Gilded Wooden Sarcophagus of Egyptian Queen Ahhotep I (16th Century BC)

    Ahhotep II was an Ancient Egyptian queen, and likely the Great Royal Wife of Pharaoh Kamose.
    Links: Top  Ten Sarcophagi, Top Ten Queenshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahhotep_II,
  3. Relief

    Description:
    Links:
  4. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, Top 100 Egyptian Artifactshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Intermediate_Period_of_Egypt, http://www.ancientegypt101.com/2009/05/second-intermediate-period.html,

Recommendations for Expeditions in Egypt

Top Ten Middle Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten Middle Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

       The Middle Kingdom of Egypt is the period in the history of ancient Egypt stretching from the establishment of the Eleventh Dynasty to the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty, between 2055 BC and 1650 BC, although some writers include the Thirteenth and Fourteenth dynasties in the Second Intermediate Period. During this period, the funerary cult of Osiris rose to dominate Egyptian popular religion. The period comprises two phases, the 11th Dynasty, which ruled from Thebes and the 12th Dynasty onwards which was centered around el-Lisht. These two dynasties were originally considered to be the full extent of this unified kingdom, but historians now consider the 13th Dynasty to at least partially belong to the Middle Kingdom.

  1. Coffin

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Tombs,
  2. Statue of Pharaoh Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Pharaohs, http://wayzom.com/2009/12/10/middle-kingdom-pharaohs/,
  3. Wooden Coffin

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Sarcophagi, Top Ten Tombs,
  4. Winged Scarab

           Stunning inlay of precious stones in cloissons of gold. A winged scarab made of lapis lazulli, malachite, turqoise and a carnelian sun.
    Links: Top Ten Beetles,
  5. Colossal Statue of Mentuhotep II (2051–2000 BC)

           Mentuhotep II Nebhepetre was the fifth king of Dynasty 11. Ruling from Thebes and building on the efforts of his predecessors, he succeeded in reuniting Egypt under one king. In place of the large courtyard tombs of his ancestors, he built a combination mortuary temple and tomb on a large platform against the cliffs in Deir el-Bahri at Thebes.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures, Top Ten Tallest Sculptures, https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/kqae/ho_26.3.29.htm,
  6. Relief of Horus and Seth
    Seth and Horus adoring Ramesses
    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African RelievesTop Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  7. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  8. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African RelievesTop Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  9. Gold Collar of Princess Khnumet

           This beautiful gold collar necklace belonged to Princess Khnumet who reigned during the 12th dynasty Middle Kingdom. The necklace currently resides in the Egyptian Museum of Antiquities in Cairo.
    Links: Top 100 Gold Artifacts, 
  10. Middle Kingdom Burial Objects

           These artifacts are typical of the objects that were buried with the upper class of Egypt during the Middle Kingdom, and include such things as model scenes, statues, sandals, pottery jars with food and drink, and a canopic chest.
    Links:
  11. Wesekh Collar Faience

    Description:
    Links:
  12. Links: Artifacts, Top Ten African Artifacts, Top Ten Egyptian Artifacts, Museums and Galleries, Top Ten African Museums, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_Kingdom_of_Egypt,

Recommendations for Expeditions in Egypt

Top Ten First Intermediate Period Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten First Intermediate Period Egyptian Artifacts

       The First Intermediate Period, often described as a “dark period” in ancient Egyptian history, spanned approximately 100 years, from ca. 2181-2055 BC, after the end of the Old Kingdom. It included the seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth, and part of the eleventh dynasties. Very little monumental evidence survives from this period, especially towards the beginning of the era. The First Intermediate Period was a dynamic time in history where rule of Egypt was roughly divided between two competing power bases. One of those bases resided at Heracleopolis in Lower Egypt, a city just south of the Faiyum region. The other resided at Thebes in Upper Egypt. It is believed that during this time, the temples were pillaged and violated, their existing artwork was vandalized, and the statues of kings were broken or destroyed as a result of this alleged political chaos. These two kingdoms would eventually come into conflict, with the Theban kings conquering the north, resulting in reunification of Egypt under a single ruler during the second part of the eleventh dynasty.

  1. King Psusennes I

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Golden Artifacts, Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures, Top Ten Pharaohs, Top 100 Symbols,
  2. Sarcophagus

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Sarcophagi, 
  3. Golden Statues

    Description:
    Links: Top 100 Golden Artifacts,
  4. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African RelievesTop Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  5. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African RelievesTop Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  6. Stele of Intef and Shenetsetji

           This sunk limestone relief of Intef and Shenetsetji, amazingly still has color preserved on the figures. The stele depicts a man standing with his wife facing right towards a small group of offerings. The man is wearing a pointed kilt and three necklaces, and holds a staff and scepter. The woman wears a long, straight dress, collar, and wig without a lappet , and holds her husband’s hand. The text  on the stele reads “Am offering which [the king] gives, (and) Anubis (and) Osiris, lord of Busiris in all his beautiful places: invocation offerings of bread and beer for the hereditary noble, count, overseer of the temple and master of secrets of the god’s sealer in the at-Hnkt, the venerated Intef. His wife, his beloved, the priestess of Hathor and sole royal ornament, Shenetsetji.”
    Links: Top Ten Stelae, Top Ten African Stelae, Top Ten Egyptian Stelae, http://www.mfa.org/collections/search_art.asp?recview=true&id=146115,
  7. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African RelievesTop Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  8. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, Top 100 Egyptian Artifactshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Intermediate_Period_of_Egypt,

Recommendations for Expeditions in Egypt

Top Ten Old Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

Top Ten Old Kingdom Egyptian Artifacts

        The Old Kingdom is the name given to the period in the 3rd millennium BC when Egypt attained its first continuous peak of civilization in complexity and achievement – the first of three so-called “Kingdom” periods, which mark the high points of civilization in the lower Nile Valley (the others being Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom). The term itself was coined by 19th century historians and the distinction between the Old Kingdom and the Early Dynastic Period is not one which would have been recognized by Ancient Egyptians. Not only was the last king of the Early Dynastic Period related to the first two kings of the Old Kingdom, but the ‘capital,’ the royal residence, remained at Ineb-Hedg, the Ancient Egyptian name for Memphis. The basic justification for a separation between the two periods is the revolutionary change in architecture accompanied by the effects on Egyptian society and economy of large-scale building projects. The Old Kingdom is most commonly regarded as the period from the Third Dynasty through to the 6th Dynasty (2686 BC – 2181 BC). Many Egyptologists also include the Memphite Seventh and Eighth Dynasties in the Old Kingdom as a continuation of the administration centralized at Memphis. While the Old Kingdom was a period of internal security and prosperity, it was followed by a period of disunity and relative cultural decline referred to by Egyptologists as the First Intermediate Period. During the Old Kingdom, the king of Egypt (not called the Pharaoh until the New Kingdom) became a living god, who ruled absolutely and could demand the services and wealth of his subjects. The numerous references to the Old Kingdom kings as pharaohs in this article stems from the ubiquitous use of the term “pharaoh” to describe any and all Ancient Egyptian Kings. Under King Djoser, the first king of the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, the royal capital of Egypt was moved to Memphis, where Djoser established his court. A new era of building was initiated at Saqqara under his reign. King Djoser’s architect, Imhotep is credited with the development of building with stone and with the conception of the new architectural form—the Step Pyramid. Indeed, the Old Kingdom is perhaps best known for the large number of pyramids constructed at this time as pharaonic burial places. For this reason, the Old Kingdom is frequently referred to as “the Age of the Pyramids.”

  1. The Sphinx

    Description:
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top Ten Sphinx Statues,
  2. The Sphinx of Tanis

           The sphinx of Tanis joins to a lion’s body and a head carved in the likeness of the sovereign, thus symbolizing the majesty of the pharaohs. Here the monarch wears the royal headdress-nemsit-ornamented with ureus, or sacred cobra, but free of the frontal band. Three kings, Apophis, Mineptah, the son of Ramses II, and Osorkon, would subsequently inscribe their names (an act Egyptians called “usurpation”) upon the rose granite of the sphinx, whose nobility and power incontestably mark it as a work of the Old Kingdom.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures, Top Ten Sphinx Statues,
  3. Trinity of King Menkaure with Goddess Hathor and the Goddess Diospolis Parva (2,680-2,565 BC)

           This statue depicts the trinity of King Menkaure (Mycerinus) with the Goddess Hathor (left), and the goddess of the nome of Diospolis Parva (right). This 4th dynasty statue is carved in green slate and stands 37.25”. It currently resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  4. Seated Scribe

           The sculpture of the Seated Scribe is one of most important examples of ancient Egyptian art. It represents a figure of a seated scribe at work. The sculpture was discovered at Saqqara in 1850 and dated to the period of 4th Dynasty, 2,620-2,500 BC. It is currently part of a permanent collection of Egyptian antiquities in Louvre Museum in Paris.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seated_Scribe,
  5. Statue of Memi and Sabu (2,575–2,465 BC)

           Pair statues, usually depicting a husband and wife, were frequently placed in a serdab, the hidden statue chamber often found in non-royal tomb chapels of the Old Kingdom. The Egyptians believed that the spirit of the deceased could use such a statue as a home and enter it in order to benefit from gifts of food that were brought to the offering chapel of the tomb. The inscription on the front of this statue identifies these individuals as the Royal Acquaintance Memi and Sabu. Although the text does not specify a relationship, they were probably husband and wife, as is common for pair statues where a relationship is recorded. The pose is unusual because Memi is returning Sabu’s embrace by draping his arm around her shoulders. This restricting gesture may account for the fact that he stands with his feet together, rather than striding forward in the normal masculine pose. Until recently, this statue was dated to Dynasty 5, but the figures have many features in common with Fourth Dynasty statues found in the non-royal cemeteries surrounding the Great Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) at Giza. In addition, the pose has only two known parallels, both from Giza and both datable to Dynasty 4.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures, https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ho/02/afe/ho_48.111.htm,
  6. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  7. Rahotep and Nofret

           These statues of Rahotep and his wife Nofret date from the Old Kingdom and contain some of the oldest texts on this website. They were discovered in 1871 at Meidum near the pyramid of the 4th Dynasty King Sneferu (ca. 2625 – 2585 BCE). It is possible that Rahotep was Sneferu’s son. The statues are made of painted limestone, about 122 cm high, which makes the images of Rahotep and Nofret basically life-sized. The paint is amazingly fresh and bright. The eyes of the statues are made of inlaid crystal, which frightened the first workers to open the tomb. Rahotep’s neat moustache and close-cropped hair give him a very modern look. This style of adornment apparently did not survive into later ages. Nofret wears a wig, and if you look closely at her hairline, you can see her natural hair peeking out from under it. There are six lines of text around Rahotep’s statue, arranged in three columns on each side. The text is read from top to bottom, right to left. The last column in each group is the same, so I have written it only once. Beginning with the text on the left side of the statue (over Rahotep’s right shoulder), the hieroglyphs read Great One of Buto, Overseer of Transporters, Overseer of the Army, Controller of Archers, King’s Son of his own body, Rahotep. The text on the right reads Great One of the Seers of Heliopolis Unique One of the Great Ones of the Hall Hewer of the Ames mace Eldest2 of the Palace1 Unique One of the Great Ones at the Place of the Beer Measurers.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African SculpturesTop 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  8. Standing Figure from Saqqara (2,498-2,345 BC)

           This standing statue from Saqqara is made out of stone and dates back to the 5th dynasty. It is currently located in the Cairo Museum.
    Links: Sculptures, Top 100 African Sculptures, Top 100 Egyptian Sculptures,
  9. Painting

    Description:

    Links: Top 100 Paintings,
  10. Relief from the Tomb of Thenti (2,524-2,400 BC)

           This is a wall fragment from Tomb of Thenti, which dates to the 5th Dynasty.
    Links: Top Ten Tombs,
  11. Relief

    Description:
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves,
  12. Hieroglyphics

    Description:
    Links: Top Ten Examples of Ancient Writing,
  13. Portrait Panel of Hesy-ra, Saqqara (2,660 BC)

           This third dynasty wood panel portrait of Hesy-ra was found at Saqqara and stands 45”. It currently resides in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.
    Links:
  14. Archer Relief (2551–2494 BC)

           This relief depicts a battle scene in which two rows of archers, one group standing, the other kneeling in front, are shown ready to fire. In the detail illustrated here, the beautifully carved head and shoulders of one archer are partially obscured by the left forearm and right hand of a second man who is drawing a bow. His fingers steady an arrow in the bowstring while his thumb and forefinger clutch two more arrows, which he can flick quickly into place.
    Links: Relieves and Petroglyphs, Top Ten African Relieves, Top Ten Egyptian Relieves, Top Ten Archers, Top Ten Bowshttps://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/oking/ho_22.1.23.htm,
  15. Links: Artifacts, Top 100 African Artifacts, Top Ten Egyptian Artifacts, Pyramids, Top Ten Egyptian Pyramidshttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Kingdom_of_Egypt,

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