About 2150 BCE, Egyptians revolted against their pharaohs and there was a period of localized rule. This period, called the First Intermediate period, lasted for a little over a hundred years.
A pharaoh reunited Egypt under one government again about 2040 BCE. This reunification was called the Middle Kingdom.
This period was less secure and more turbulent than the Old Kingdom.
Fragmentary head of Senusret III
Notice how his face is more expressive than seated statue of Khafre or Menkaure from the Old Kingdom.
Notice his eyebrows, the outline of his mouth, and his expression
He fought four brutal military campaigns against the Nubians, a group of people south of Egypt. Senusret III never fully gained control of Nubia but he did push the southern border farther south than anyone before him.
Why do you think the portrait sculptures of the Middle Kingdom showed more individuality and emotion than Old Kingdom portrait sculptures?
Egyptian officials of the Middle Kingdom continued the practice of equipping their tombs with statues to house the ka of the tomb owner and to provide a focal point for the offering cult. Highly ranked officials also dedicated statues of themselves at sanctuaries of gods and deified ancestors. Following the experimental and idiosyncratic interlude of the First Intermediate Period, sculptors once again produced large-scale stone statues, returning to the basic forms and poses established in the Old Kingdom.
PYLON – sloping towers or gateways flanking the entrance to the temple (like the front wall of the temple) 146 feet high, 50 feet thick!) Most commoners could never go beyond this point.
Courtyard – farthest point nobles could venture into the temple on special holidays
HYPOSTYLE HALL – a hall with a roof supported by a row of columns
Supported by POST-AND-LINTEL CONSTRUCTION
CLERESTORY – row of windows in the upper part of a wall in a hypostyle hall.
Columns decorated with sunken reliefs. Keeps regular outline of the column. Emphasized as message-bearing surfaces, not architectural element.
Sanctuary – only the pharaoh and the priests could enter. Here the priests washed the god’s statue every morning and clothed it with a new garment. Twice every day they provided it with tempting meals.
QUEEN/PHARAOH HATSHEPSUT (1479-1458 BCE)
Daughter of Thutmose I and wife and half-sister of Thutmose II
When Thutmose II died, his twelve-year old son, Thutmose III was too young to rule
Around 1479 BCE, Hatshepsut became a regent for her stepson/nephew but soon exerted her right to succeed her father and rule Egypt
First great female monarch whose name was recorded
Her strong character and political acumen (mental skill and sharpness) contributed to her success
Changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaton (follower of Aton)
Moved the capital from Thebes to Tell-el-Amarna. Built a glorious new city their dedicated to Aton.
Challenged the power of the priests. Akhenaton ordered the religious cults that worshipped the cat-god, the crocodile god, the baboon-god, and all other gods to shut down their temples and worship only Aton.
How did Egypt react to such drastic changes?
Meant to last for eternity
Function was to embody the ka of a royal person
Rigid, formal posture – arms at sides, fists clenched, left leg forward, little or no emotion, looking out into eternity
Perfect physique – no deformities, fitting for a person of importance
Akhenaton’s tomb has been identified, but only recently have archaeologists identified his mummy. It seems that later rulers attempted to eradicate traces of this time period.
Tutankhamen (r. 1333-123 BCE)
Life and times
The son of Akhenaton and young woman (possibly Akhenaton’s other wife Kiya).
Kiya died in the 12th year of Akhenaton’s reign, the same year that King Tut was born. It is possible she was his mother and died in childbirth. King Tut permitted his nurse to construct an opulent tomb for herself next to his. Maybe, she became a mother figure.
Guided by relatives to move the capital back to Thebes
Changed his name from Tut Ankh Aton to Tut Ankh Amen – Why?
Reinstated the worship of Amen as the top god
Died when he was 18 or 19 (reason why is still uncertain). Had a painful deformity of the foot and broke is leg later (could have fallen while walking or from his chariot) – Could have died of an infection
Is now Egypt’s most famous pharaoh but why?
The Valley of the Kings
Opposite Luxor, 400 miles south of modern Cairo
Five miles west of the Nile
NOTE: Luxor is a modern city that encompasses the ancient city of Thebes. The temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor (ancient) are also within the limits of modern Luxor. On the opposite (western) shore of the Nile are the West Bank Necropolis which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.
Lord Carnavon – Carter’s wealthy patron
Five futile years of searching
“The glint of gold” (November 26, 1922)
At first I could see nothing…but presently as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold – everywhere the glint of gold.”
The Treasures of King Tut’s Tomb
The treasures of Tutankhamon are located in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Let’s look at some of the most famous objects.
Over 5,000 objects
A lotus flower surmounted by a King Tut’s head (being born into the afterlife)
Alexander the Great of Macedon invaded Egypt and was proclaimed a god. His general Ptolemy took Egypt after Alexander’s death and established the Ptolemaic line. Cleopatra and her brother were the last pharaohs of the Ptolemaic line.
Romans conquered Egypt under Octavian (Caesar Augustus) when they defeated Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s forces at the Battle of Actium
Egypt style and architecture still remained prominent in the Roman Empire (many obelisks were taken to decorate the Roman Empire
Pylon Temple of Horus, 237 -47 BCE. Sunken reliefs show Horus and Hathor witnessing Ptolymy XIII bashing undersize enemies.
Consistency of Egyptian Art
Mentuemhet from Karnak, Egypt
Rich and powerful man who was mayor of Thebes during the 26th Dynasty
Notice his stiff, upright stance, compact pose, little space between limbs, one foot striding forward, frontality of the pose.