hum 111 week 2 discussion

“Egyptian Love Poetry and Mummies” Please respond to the following, using sources under the Explore heading as the basis of your response:From the samples of Egyptian love poetry, identify one (1) or two (2) lines that you especially enjoy or find interesting, and compare this poetry to some aspect of modern life. Next, describe two (2) aspects of Egyptian mummification and the early Egyptians’ beliefs related to mummification that you find surprising or intriguing. These funerary practices were driven by certain Egyptian ideas of the afterlife; compare these to modern beliefs and practices.ExploreEgyptChapter 3 (pp. 86-8), Egyptian musicEgyptian love poetry at and; as in the Old Testament’s “Song of Solomon,” the terms “brother” and “sister” are terms of affection and do not refer to a biological relationshipChapter 3 (pp. 74-5, 86, 89-91), Egyptian mummification and beliefs about afterlifeEgyptian mummification and burial at Michael Carlos Museum at explains mummification at this discussion post about 1-2 paragraphs.

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The Stability
of Ancient Egypt
Flood and Sun
3.1 Describe how the idea of cyclical return shaped Egyptian civilization.
3.2 Analyze how religious beliefs are reflected in the funerary art and architecture of the Old Kingdom.
3.3 Compare and contrast Middle Kingdom art and literature to that of the Old Kingdom.
3.4 Characterize New Kingdom worship of Amun and contrast it to the major transformation of
Egyptian tradition under the rule of Akhenaten.
3.5 Discuss Egypt’s relations with its African neighbors to the south and with the Mediterranean
powers to the north during the Late Period.
an you see anything?” “Yes, wonderful things!” English archeologist Howard Carter was peering into
a chamber of a tomb that had been sealed for over
3,000 years. On November 26, 1922, he had pried loose a
stone from the wall and inserted a candle through the hole.
“At first I could see nothing,” he later wrote, “… 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. For
the moment I was struck dumb with amazement, and when
Lord Carnarvon [Carter’s financial supporter] … inquired
… ‘Can you see anything?’ It was all I could do to get out
the words ‘Yes, wonderful things.’”
The tomb was that of Tutankhamun, and among the
most spectacular of the “wonderful things” Carter and Carnarvon would find inside was a coffin consisting of three
separate coffins placed one inside the other. These were in
turn encased in a quartzite sarcophagus, a rectangular stone
coffin that was encased in four gilded, boxlike wooden
shrines, also nestled one inside the other. Inside the innermost coffin, itself made of solid gold, a gold funerary mask
had been placed over the upper body of the young king’s
mummified body (Fig. 3.1). As news of Carter’s discovery
leaked out, the world press could hardly contain its enthusiasm. “This has been, perhaps, the most extraordinary day
in the whole history of Egyptian excavation,” The Times of
London wired The New York Times on February 18, 1922,
the day that the sealed door to the burial chamber was
finally opened. “Whatever one may have guessed or imagined of the secret of Tut-ankh-Amen’s tomb, they [sic]
surely cannot have dreamed the truth that is now revealed.
The entrance today was made into the sealed chamber of
the tomb of Tut-ankh-Amen, and yet another door opened
beyond that. No eyes have seen the King, but to practical
certainty we know that he lies there close at hand in all his
original state, undisturbed.” It would be another year until
the quartzite lid to Tutankhamun’s coffin, weighing nearly
1.25 tons, was hoisted off, and yet another nine months
before the inner coffins were removed to reveal the king’s
body. Carter’s discovery revealed the wealth that defined
the Egyptian kingship, as well as the elaborate rituals surrounding the burial of the king himself.
The Egyptian kingship was deeply connected to the lifeblood and heart of Egyptian culture, the Nile River. Like
Fig. 3.1 Funerary mask of Tutankhamun. Dynasty 18, ca. 1327 bce. Gold inlaid with glass and
semiprecious stones, height 211/4”. Egyptian Museum, Cairo. So many items of extraordinary value were found
in Tutankhamun’s tomb—furniture, perfumes, chariots, weapons, jewelry, clothing, utensils, cups, and on and
on—that it took Carter ten years to empty it and inventory its contents.
Listen to the chapter audio on MyArtsLab
M03_P0066-0095_CH03.indd 67
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the Tigris and Euphrates in Mesopotamia, the Nile could
be said to have made Egypt possible. The river begins in
central eastern Africa, one tributary in the mountains of
Ethiopia and another at Lake Victoria in Uganda, from
which it flows north for nearly 4,000 miles. Egyptian civilization developed along the last 750 miles of the river’s
banks, extending from the granite cliffs at Aswan, north to
the Mediterranean Sea (see Map 3.1).
Nearly every year, torrential rains caused the river to
rise dramatically. Most years, from July to November, the
Egyptians could count on the Nile flooding their land.
When the river receded, deep deposits of fertile silt covered the valley floor. Fields would then be tilled, and crops
planted and tended. If the flooding was either too great
or too minor, especially over a period of years, famine
could result. The cycle of flood and sun made Egypt one
of the most productive cultures in the ancient world and
one of the most stable. For 3,000 years, from 3100 bce
until the defeat of Mark Antony and Cleopatra by the
Roman general Octavian in 31 bce, Egypt’s institutions and
culture remained remarkably unchanged. Its stability contrasted sharply with the conflicts and shifts in power that
occurred in Mesopotamia. The constancy and achievements of Egypt’s culture are the subject of this chapter.
How does the idea of cyclical return
inform Egyptian culture?
As a result of the Nile’s annual floods, Egypt called itself
Kemet, meaning “Black Land.” In Upper Egypt, from
Aswan to the Delta, the black, fertile deposits of the river
covered an extremely narrow strip of land. Surrounding
the river’s alluvial plain was the “Red Land,” the desert
of the PAST
Mediterranean Sea
e Delta
See Andy Goldsworthy,
Sandwork, Sand Sculpture, Time
Machine, installation at the
British Museum, 1994, at
Muqaffam Hills
y u
F a
r t
s e
D e
(Tell el-Amarna)
Modern town or city
Archeological site
Deir el-Bahri
Valley of the Kings
100 km
100 miles
Map 3.1 Nile River basin with archeological sites in relation to present-day Cairo. The broad expanse
of the Lower Nile Delta was crisscrossed by canals, allowing for easy transport of produce and supplies.
68 PART ONE The Ancient World and the Classical Past
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­Fig. 3.2 Nebamun Hunting Birds, from the tomb of Nebamun, Thebes. Dynasty 18, ca. 1400 bce. Fresco on dry
plaster, height approx. 2’8″. © The Trustees of the British Museum. The fish and the birds, and the cat, are completely
realistic, but this is not a realistic scene. It is a conventional representation of the deceased, in this case Nebamun,
spearing fish or hunting fowl, almost obligatory for the decoration of a tomb. The pigments were applied directly to a
dry wall, a technique that has come to be known as fresco secco, dry fresco. Such paintings are extremely fragile and
susceptible to moisture damage, but Egypt’s arid climate has preserved them.
Watch a Students on Site video about the tomb of Nebamun on MyArtsLab
environment that could not support life, but where rich
deposits of minerals and stone could be mined and quarried. Lower Egypt consists of the Delta itself, which today
begins some 13 miles north of Giza, the site of the largest
pyramids, across the river from what is present-day Cairo.
But in ancient times, it began 18 miles south of Giza, near
the city of Memphis.
In this land of plenty, great farms flourished, and wildlife
abounded in the marshes. In fact, the Egyptians linked the
marsh to the creation of the world and represented it that
way in the famous hunting scene that decorates the tomb of
Nebamun at Thebes (Fig. 3.2). Nebamun is about to hurl a
snake-shaped throwing stick into a flock of birds as his wife
and daughter look on. The painting is a sort of visual pun,
referring directly to sexual procreation. The verb “to launch
a throwing stick” also means “to ejaculate,” and the word
for “throwing stick” itself, to “create.” The ­hieroglyphs
written between Nebamun and his wife translate as “enjoying oneself, viewing the beautiful, … at the place of constant renewal of life.”
Scholars divide Egyptian history into three main periods
of achievement. Almost all of the conventions of Egyptian art were established during the first period, the Old
Kingdom. During the Middle Kingdom, the “classical” literary
language that would survive through the remainder of
Egyptian history was first produced. The New Kingdom was
a period of prosperity that saw a renewed interest in art
and architecture. During each of these periods, successive
­dynasties—or royal houses—brought peace and stability to
the country. Between them were “Intermediate Periods” of
relative instability (see Context, page 70).
Egypt’s continuous cultural tradition—lasting over 3,000
years—is history’s clearest example of how peace and prosperity go hand in hand with cultural stability. As opposed
to the warring cultures of Mesopotamia, where city-state
vied with city-state and empire with successive empire,
Egyptian culture was predicated on unity. It was a theocracy, a state ruled by a god or by the god’s representative
—in this case a king (and very occasionally a queen), who
ruled as the living representative of the sun god, Re. Egypt’s
government was indistinguishable from its religion, and its
religion manifested itself in nature, in the flow of the Nile,
the heat of the sun, and in the journey of the sun through
the day and night and through the seasons. In the last judgment of the soul after death, Egyptians believed that the
heart was weighed to determine whether it was “found
CHAPTER 3 The Stability of Ancient Egypt 69
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Major Periods of Ancient Egyptian History
The dates of the periods of Egyptian history, as well as the
kingships within them, should be regarded as approximate. Each
king numbered his own regnal years, and insufficient information about the reign of each king results in dates that sometimes
vary, especially in the earlier periods, by as much as 100 years.
Although there is general consensus on the duration of most
individual reigns and dynasties, there is none concerning starting and ending points.
5500–2972 bce
Predynastic Period No formal dynasties
Reign of Narmer and unification of Upper and Lower Egypt
2972–2647 bce
Early Dynastic Period Dynasties 1–2
A unified Egypt ruled from Memphis
2647–2124 bce
Old Kingdom Dynasties 3–8
The stepped pyramid at Saqqara in Dynasty 3; Pyramids at
Giza in Dynasty 4
2124–2040 bce
First Intermediate Period Dynasties 9–10
Egypt divided between a Northern power center at Hierakonpolis and a Southern one at Thebes
2040–1648 bce
Middle Kingdom Dynasties 11–16
Reunification of Upper and Lower Egypt
1648–1540 bce
Second Intermediate Period Dynasty 17
Syro-Palestinian invaders, the Hyksos, hold Lower Egypt and
much of Upper Egypt until the Thebans defeat them
1540–1069 bce
New Kingdom Dynasties 18–20
Reunification of Egypt; an extended period of prosperity and
artistic excellence
1069–715 bce
Third Intermediate Period Dynasties 21–24
More political volatility
715–332 bce
Late Period Dynasties 25–31
Foreign invasions, beginning with the Kushites from the south
and ending with Alexander the Great from the north
true by trial of the Great Balance.” Balance in all things—
in nature, in ­social life, in art, and in rule—this was the
constant aim of the individual, the state, and, Egyptians
believed, the gods.
Whereas in Mesopotamia the flood was largely a destructive force (recall the flood in the Epic of Gilgamesh; see
Chapter 2), in Egypt it had a more complex meaning. It
could, indeed, be destructive, sometimes rising so high that
great devastation resulted. But without it, the Egyptians
knew, their culture could not endure. So, in Egyptian art
and culture, a more complex way of thinking about nature,
and about life itself, developed. Every aspect of Egyptian
life is countered by an opposite and equal force, which
contradicts and negates it, and every act of negation gives
rise to its opposite again. As a result, events are cyclical, as
abundance is born of devastation and devastation closely
follows abundance. Likewise, just as the floods brought the
Nile Valley back to life each year, the Egyptians believed
that rebirth necessarily followed death. So their religion,
which played a large part in their lives, reflected the cycle
of the river itself.
Egyptian Religion: Cyclical Harmony
The religion of ancient Egypt, like that of Mesopotamia,
was polytheistic, consisting of many gods and goddesses who
were associated with natural forces and realms (see Context,
page 71). When represented, gods and goddesses have
human bodies and human or animal heads, and wear crowns
or other headgear that identifies them by their attributes.
The religion reflected an ordered universe in which the
stars and planets, the various gods, and basic human activities were thought to be part of a grand and harmonious
design. A person who did not disrupt this harmony did not
fear death because his or her spirit would live on forever.
At the heart of this religion were creation stories that
explained how the gods and the world came into being.
Chief among the Egyptian gods was Re, god of the sun.
According to these stories, at the beginning of time, the
Nile created a great mound of silt, out of which Re was
born. It was understood that Re had a close personal relationship with the king, who was considered the son of Re.
But the king could also identify closely with other gods.
The king was simultaneously believed to be the personification of the sky god, Horus, and was identified with deities associated with places like Thebes or Memphis when
his power resided in those cities. Though not a full-fledged
god, the king was netjer nefer, literally, a “junior god.” That
made him the representative of the people to the gods,
whom he contacted through statues of divine beings placed
in all temples. Through these statues, Egyptians believed,
the gods manifested themselves on earth. Not only did the
70 PART ONE The Ancient World and the Classical Past
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orderly functioning of social and political events depend
upon the king’s successful communication with the gods,
but so did events of nature—the ebb and flow of the river
chief among them.
Like the king, all the other Egyptian gods descend from
Re, as if part of a family. As we have said, many can be traced
back to local deities of predynastic times who later assumed
greater significance at a given place—at Thebes, for instance,
the trinity of Osiris, Horus, and Isis gained a special significance. Osiris, ruler of the underworld and god of the dead,
was at first a local deity in the eastern Delta. According to
myth, he was murdered by his wicked brother Seth, god of
storms and violence, who chopped his brother into pieces
and threw them into the Nile. But Osiris’s wife and sister,
Isis, the goddess of fertility, collected what parts she could
find, put the god back together, and restored him to life.
Osiris was therefore identified with the Nile itself, with its
annual flood and renewal. The child of Osiris and Isis was
Horus, who defeated Seth and became the mythical first
king of Egypt. The actual, living king was considered the
earthly manifestation of Horus (as well as the son of Re).
When the living king died, he became Osiris, and his son took
the throne as Horus. Thus, even the kingship was cyclical.
At Memphis, the triad of Ptah, Sakhmet, and Nefertum
held sway. A stone inscription at Memphis describes Ptah as
the supreme artisan and creator of all things (Reading 3.1):
Some of the Principal Egyptian Gods
A Horus, son of Osiris, a sky god closely linked with the
king; pictured as a hawk, or hawk-headed man.
B Seth, enemy of Horus and Osiris, god of storms; pictured
as an unidentifiable creature (some believe a wild
donkey), or a man with this animal’s head.
C Thoth, a moon deity and god of writing, counting, and
wisdom; pictured as an ibis, or ibis-headed man, often
with a crescent moon on his head.
D Khnum, originally the god of the source of the Nile,
pictured as a bull who shaped men out of clay on his
potter’s wheel; later, god of pottery.
E Hathor, goddess of love, birth, and death; pictured as a
woman with cow horns and a sun disk on her head.
F Sobek, the crocodile god, associated both with the
fertility of the Nile, and, because of the ferocity of the
crocodile, with the army’s power and strength.
G Re, the sun god in his many forms; pictured as a hawkheaded man with a sun disk on his head.
R EAD IN G 3 .1
from Memphis, “This It Is Said of Ptah”
(ca. 2300 bce)
This it is said of Ptah: “He who made all and created
the gods.” And he is Ta-tenen, who gave birth to the
gods, and from whom every thing came forth, foods,
provisions, divine offerings, all good things. This it is
recognized and understood that he is the mightiest of
the gods. Thus Ptah was satisfied a­ fter he had made all
things and all divine words.
He gave birth to the gods, He made the towns,
He established the nomes [provinces],
He placed the gods in their shrines,
He settled their offerings,
He established their shrines,
He made their bodies according to their wishes,
Thus the gods entered into their bodies,
Of every wood, every stone, every clay,
Every thing that grows upon him
In which they came to be.
Sekhmet is Ptah’s female companion. Depicted as a lioness, she served as protector of the king in peace and war.
She is also the mother of Nefertum, a beautiful young man
whose name means “perfection,” small statues of whom
were often carried by Egyptians for good luck.
The cyclical movement through opposing forces, embodied in stories such as that of Osiris and Isis, is one of the
earliest instances of a system of religious and philosophic
thought that survives even in contemporary thought. Life
and death, flood and sun, even desert and oasis were part
of a larger harmony of nature, one that was predictable in
both the diurnal cycle of day and night but also in its seasonal patterns of repetition. A good deity like Osiris was
necessarily balanced by a bad deity like Seth. The fertile
Nile Valley was balanced by the harsh desert surrounding
it. The narrow reaches of the upper Nile were balanced by
the broad marshes of the Delta. All things were predicated
upon the return of their opposite, which negates them, but
which in the process completes the whole and regenerates
the cycle of being and becoming once again.
Pictorial Formulas in Egyptian Art
This sense of duality, of opposites, informs even the earliest Egyptian artifacts, such as the Palette of Narmer,
found at Hierakonpolis, in Upper Egypt (see Closer Look,
pages 72–73). A palette is technically an everyday object
used for grinding pigments and making body- or eye-paint.
CHAPTER 3 The Stability of Ancient Egypt 71
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he Egyptians created a style of writing very different
from that of their northern neighbors in Mesopotamia. It consists of hieroglyphs, “writing of the gods,”
from the Greek hieros, meaning “holy,” and gluphein, “to
engrave.” Although the number of signs increased over the
centuries from about 700 to nearly 5,000, the system of symbolic communication underwent almost no major changes
from its advent in the fourth millennium bce until 395 ce,
when Egypt was conquered by the Roman Empire. It consists of three kinds of signs: pictograms, or stylized drawings
that represent objects or beings, which can be combined to
express ideas; phonograms, which are pictograms used to
represent soun …
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