Category

Egyptian

Abu Simbel, Dendur, and Jackie Kennedy

Temple of Rameses II, ca. 1290-1224 BCE. Abu Simbel, Egypt. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Temple of Rameses II, ca. 1290-1224 BCE. Abu Simbel, Egypt. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

Earlier this month, I explored with my students how new meanings and associations with the Temple of Rameses II have been created in recent decades, largely due to the removal of this temple from its original site. In the 1960s, this ancient Egyptian temple fell under threat due to the creation of the Aswan High Dam. Engineers knew that the dam’s resulting reservoir (which is called Lake Nasser today) would submerge this temple under water.

Teams from across the world came together to help figure out a way to preserve the Temple of Rameses II and its neighboring site, the Temple of Hathor. The different proposals and projects are covered well in a “Monster Moves” documentary. Ultimately, the proposal made by Egyptian engineers was accepted, and it was decided that the temple would be cut down and transported on land to another site located 65 meters higher and 200 meters away from the water.

Transportation of the Temple of Rameses II colossal statues. Image from Forskning & Framsteg 1967, Issue 3, p. 16. Image courtesy Wikipedia

Transportation of the Temple of Rameses II colossal statues. Image from Forskning & Framsteg 1967, Issue 3, p. 16. Image courtesy Wikipedia

It was estimated that this project would cost $32 million, with the US, Egypt, and UNESCO splitting the bill evenly. In the end, the project ended up costing more than $40 million altogether. Preparations began to move the structure in 1963, and then the structure was moved between 1964-1968. My students and I discussed how this project ended up being one of international collaboration, which is significant during the 1960s since there were so many political conflicts that were dividing people from one another: the Vietnam War, the construction of the Berlin Wall, and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

One other political event in the United States that took place during this time was the assassination of President John F. Kennedy,  Jr. Interestingly, JFK lobbied to help preserve historic sites in Egypt due to the threat of the Aswan High Dam: on April 7, 1961, JFK sent a letter to Congress, recommending that the United States participate in this UNESCO-led campaign. Unfortunately, JFK did not see the completion of the relocation of the Abu Simbel temples. He was assassinated on November 22, 1963, just six days after the contract was signed between the Egyptian government and the firms that were selected to help with the move.

Although JFK didn’t live to see this project completed, his wife Jackie Kennedy did. In fact, it is probably more significant that Jackie lived through the completion of this project: she was a driving force to have American support for the relocation of the Abu Simbel temples, after she was alerted about this campaign by Luther Gulick. She personally wrote to JFK and appealed to him, saying, “It is the major temple of the Nile – 13th century B.C. It would be like letting the Parthenon be flooded. . . . Abu Simbel is the greatest. Nothing will ever be found to equal it.”It is Jackie Kennedy’s initial appeal to JFK which ultimately impacted Congress’s decision to support this relocation.

Jackie Kennedy Riding a Camel in Egypt, March 28, 1964

Jackie Kennedy Riding a Camel in Egypt, March 28, 1974

In gratitude for Jackie Kennedy’s role in helping to preserve the Abu Simbel site, the President of Egypt, Gamal Abdel-Nasser, presented Jackie Kennedy with an ivory sculpture of an ancient Egyptian barge. In addition, the President of Egypt wanted to give a gift to the people of the United States, in order to show appreciation for the help given at Abu Simbel. The Temple of Dendur was selected as a gift. Similar to the Abu Simbel sites, this monument also had to be deconstructed and relocated due to the Aswan High Dam. It was offered to the United States in 1965. Jacqueline Kennedy hoped that the Temple of Dendur would be housed in Washington, DC, in order “to remind people that feelings of the spirit are what prevent wars.”2 The Smithsonian in DC even proposed to house the temple on the Potomac River, but this proved problematic for preservation. In fact, many other museums vied for the opportunity to house this structure (which resulted in what journalists called the “Dendur Derby“), but ultimately the Metropolitan Museum of Art was chosen for the temple’s location in 1967.

Temple of Dendur, c. 15 BC. Dendur, Egypt. Located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image courtesy Wikipedia via Jean-Christophe BENOIST

Temple of Dendur, c. 15 BC. Dendur, Egypt. Located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Image courtesy Wikipedia via Jean-Christophe BENOIST

So, now the next time I think of Abu Simbel or visit the Temple of Dendur at the Met, I’m going to think of Jackie Kennedy! The more I learn about Jackie Kennedy and her support of the arts, the more I am impressed with her. For example, she ensured that numerous artists were invited to her husband’s inaugural speech as president, as a way to showcase the Administration’s intentions to support the arts. I think that her involvement with Abu Simbel helps to fulfill this aim of the Administration too, through supporting global art and the preservation of historical art.

1 Caroline Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy: Historic Conversations on Life with John F. Kennedy (Hachette Books, 2011). Available online HERE. 

2 Ibid.

— 2 Comments

The Status and Social Climate of Ancient Artists

Sculptors Carving a Colossal Royal Statue, from the Tomb of Rekhmire, ca. 1504-1425 BCE

Nina de Garis Davies, 20th century facsimile drawing of “Sculptors at Work,” from the Tomb of Rekhmire, original of ca. 1479-1425 BCE

Right now I am teaching a course that explores what is means to be an artist, in terms of how society defines artists, the societal status of artists, and how artists define themselves. The scope of the class focuses on Renaissance art up until World War Two, but the theme of this class has also made me personally think lately about ancient artists. I thought I would jot down a smattering of things that interest me about the role and societal situation for artists in ancient times. I realize that this post isn’t a comprehensive discussion by any means, and I would love to know other thoughts on this topic in the comments.

Egypt

The word “artist” and its connotations today didn’t exist in ancient times. Instead, in ancient countries like Egypt, artists were thought of more as artisans or craftsman. However, such artisans and craftsmen were still given some status and recognition at times. In the New Kingdom, artisans who decorated and carved the royal tombs were given the designation “servant in the Place of Truth.”

I personally like how there are a lot of artisans that are highlighted in tomb carvings throughout ancient Egyptian history. Some of my favorites include images from the Tomb of Rekhmire, in which sculptors who are working to carve royal statues (see detail at the top of this post) as well as a sphinx (see a full image HERE). Another favorite image is a relief depicting two sculptors working on a statue, from the mastaba of Kaemrehu, Saqqara (see below). In some cases, these images of artisans are included to explain the role of the tomb owner. For example, Rekhmire was a governor whose duties included overseeing the efforts of various craftsmen.

Relief depicting two sculptors carving a statue, from the mastaba of Kaemrehu, Saqqara, Old Kingdom, c.2325 BC. Painted limestone.

Relief depicting two sculptors carving a statue, from the a, Old Kingdom, c.2325 BC. Painted limestone.

Ancient Near Eastern Art

I recently learned that there were special words in the ancient Near East to designate someone who was skilled in crafts. The Sumerians used the word ummia (meaning “specialist”), and soon after the Akkadians adopted a similar word for craft workers, specialists and artisans: ummanu.1 Similar to the later craft traditions in the medieval and Renaissance eras, ancient near Eastern craftsmen were trained as apprentices. In time, these apprentices could reach the status of a journeyman or a master.2

Interestingly, there were instances in the ancient Near East in which artists were expected to deny that they had any part in the creation of the work. In 1st-millenium texts from Nineveh and Babylon, it is recorded that in the “Washing of the Mouth” ceremony, which endowed certain works of divinely-inspired images with a salmu (a personhood), artists undertook a ritual to swear “their lack of participation in the image’s creation and attributing it instead to the gods.”3

Ancient Greece

Foundry Painter, "A Bronze Foundry," 490-480 BCE. Red-figure decoration on a kylix from Vulci, Italy.

Foundry Painter, “A Bronze Foundry,” 490-480 BCE. Red-figure decoration on a kylix from Vulci, Italy.

For the most part, Greek artists were not held in extremely high regard, which led the Roman philosopher Seneca to write, “One venerates the divine images, one may pray and sacrifice to them, yet one despises the sculptors who made them.”

However, there were a few artists who were able to establish somewhat of a reputation and achieve renown (I’m particularly thinking of Phidias and Praxiteles). One way that Greek artists vied for status amongst each other was through competitions (such as the competition to create an Amazon warrior for the temple of Artemis).

Ancient Rome

Although Romans loved to copy ancient Greek art, they held somewhat of a similar attitude toward artists as their Greek counterparts. In fact, Roman writers commented that even great Greek sculptors like Phidias could not escape their disdain.5

In the latter part of the Roman Republic, we know that artists banded together to form collegia, which are associations that are similar to the guild system that existed in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Just like this later guild system both helped and hindered the status of medieval and Renaissance artists, collegia also experienced government sanction and restriction.6

Conclusion

I thought I’d share two of my favorite paintings that are dedicated to ancient artists, although they were created in the 19th century by Lawrence Alma Tadema. I think that these paintings are a little bit more indicative of 19th century taste (particularly in the painting of Phidias, who shows off his Parthenon frieze to his friends as if they are at the opening reception of a gallery), but I still think they are fun.

Lawrence Alma Tadema, Phidias Showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends, 1868. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Lawrence Alma Tadema, Phidias Showing the Frieze of the Parthenon to his Friends, 1868. Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, "Sculptors in Ancient Rome," 1877. Private collection, image courtesy of WikiArt

Lawrence Alma-Tadema, “Sculptors in Ancient Rome,” 1877. Private collection, image courtesy of WikiArt

Do you know of other depictions of ancient artists, either from ancient or modern times?

1 Don Nardo, Arts and Literature in Ancient Mesopotamia, (Farmington Hills, MI: Lucent Books, 2009), 12.

2 Ibid., 14.

3 Marian Feldman, “The Lives of Mesopotamian Monuments: Knowledge as Cultural BIography,” in Dialogues in Art History, From Mesopotamian to Modern by Elizabeth Cropper, ed., (New Haven: Yale University Press), 48.

4 Emma Barker, Nick Webb, and Kim Woods, The Changing Status of the Artist (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999), 12.

5 Ibid.

6 Britannica Encyclopedia, “Guild.” Available online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/248614/guild. Accessed January 11, 2015.

 

— 2 Comments

Ancient Egyptians and Greeks: Left Foot Forward!

Metropolitan Kouros, c. 590-580 BC. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Last fall, when I taught about the Archaic Period in ancient Greece, a student pointed out that many of the kouroi figures were standing with their left foot forward. We discussed how Egyptian figures often are striding forward with their left foot as well, and perhaps the Greeks simply adopted this composition due to compositional balance. But my student pressed, “But why the left foot? Was the left foot itself important for some type of reason?”

Menkaure and Queen (perhaps his wife Khamerernebty II), 2490-2472 BCE. Graywacke with traces of red and black paint, height 54.5″ (142.3 cm). Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

I have puzzled over this student’s question for several months, particularly as to whether there is significance with the advancing left foot in Egyptian culture, and whether that same type of significance would have carried into Greek culture. We can see that a large number of Egyptian statues, including male and female figures, adopted the “left foot forward” stance; Menkaure and his Queen (shown above), the colossal statue of Queen Tuya (Vatican Museum), Karomama (Louvre), and wooden tomb statue of Tjeti (British Museum) are just a few of the many examples that exist. Some sources argue that Egyptian females are typically represented with both feet together, but I am increasingly wary of that generalization.1

Did the left foot hold special significance for the Egyptians, since this convention appears throughout ancient Egyptian history? I haven’t come to a conclusive answer by any means, but I have come across a few ideas. One idea was presented to me through Twitter: Ma Magdalena Ziegler (@ZiZiChan) wrote to me that for the Egyptians, the “left side is where the heart resides & it’s the house of will, emotions & consciousness, the center of life itself.” A similar idea was presented in an online forum on Egypt, where writer Al Waze-look King wrote, “The real meaning behind the position of the statue [with the advancing left leg] is esoteric. The left side of your body is where the heart is. The Egyptians believed you stepped with the left foot to trod out evil so the heart could proceed.” Another online forum (which actually is dedicated to Freemasons) claims that the left foot is represent the power of Isis, a fertility goddess who is associated with life and new beginnings.

Apart from these online exchanges, I haven’t come across any published scholarship to support these ideas, let alone any direct historical document that connects this idea to Egyptian sculpture itself. (If anyone knows of scholarship that supports these ideas or presents an alternative view, please let me know!) Regardless, though, I do think that the question of the left foot needs to be taken further when it comes to Egyptian influence on archaic Greek sculpture. The connection between Egyptian sculpture and ancient kouroi/korai has long been established by scholars.2 Scholars even argue that some kouroi (specifically the Metropolitan Kouros, shown at the top of this post) was based off of the Egyptian canon of proportions.3

Kouroi examples, culminating with the Kritios Boy from the Early Classical period. Note that the “Piraeus Apollo” is a “transitional sculpture” that is different from the others, since his right foot advancing.

But did the ancient Greeks adopt the “left foot forward” stance for similar reasons as the Egyptians, if Egyptians had symbolic reasoning in the first place? Unsurprisingly, I suppose, I haven’t found a conclusive answer either. If anything, the evidence that I found is contradictory to my Egyptian ideas and a little bit too late historically to coincide with many of the archaic kouroi: Aristotle (writing in the Late Classical period), wrote that the right side of the body was the naturally stronger and more active than the left!4

Archaeologist and art historian Gisela Richter, who published technical analyses on the kouroi and korai, notes the tradition of the advancing left foot in several types of kouroi and korai.5 However, Richter is quite silent as to the reasoning of compositional stance, only suggest that an evolving interest in naturalism and the artist’s desire to suggest “the asymmetry of the two sides of the figure” led to the forward placement of the left leg.6

The Euthydikos Kore, c. 480 BC. Acropolis Museum, Athens. Image via Wikipedia, courtesy of Dorieo

When I started to write this post, I hoped to come up with specific ideas and reasons behind the leg positions of the kouroi and korai. Instead, I hope this post will serve more as a forum and generator of ideas as to the stances of these statues. If you have any ideas as to why left leg was positioned as advancing in either Egyptian or Greek sculpture, please share!

Korai examples, ranging from c. 640 BCE to c. 480 BCE. Several of these korai have their feet placed close together. The exception is the c. 500 BCE kore, who has an advancing left leg

I also may also never find a reason as to why some korai are depicted with their legs together (see above). Is there an “active male” vs. “passive female” being expressed through some of these works of art? I’d love to learn what others think on this topic, too.

1 For example, more “left foot forward” female statues can be seen in Gisela M. A. Richter, Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens (London: Phaidon, 1968), Plate I.

2 Ibid., p. 4. See also Gisela M. A. Richter, Kouroi: Archaic Greek Youths: A Study of the Development of the Kouros Type in Greek Sculpture (London: Phaidon, 1960), p. 2.

3 For some discussion on the Metropolitan Kouros, see http://academic.reed.edu/humanities/110tech/kouroi2.html. For a more comprehensive analysis of kouroi proportions, see Eleanor Guralnick, “The Proportions of Kouroi” in The American Journal of Archaeology 82, no. 4 (1978): 461-472. Article available online here: http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/504635?uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21104058982547

4 Geoffrey Earnest Richard Lloyd, Methods and Problems in Greek Science: Selected Papers (Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1991), p. 44. Source available online here: http://books.google.com/books?id=zCg4AAAAIAAJ&lpg=PA43&ots=BnHcQOB55o&dq=greek%20left%20side%20of%20body&pg=PA44#v=onepage&q&f=false

5 See Richter, Korai: Archaic Greek Maidens, p. 4. See also Richter, Kouroi: Archaic Greek Youths, p. 25. It should also be noted that several Greek korai are depicted with their feet together.

6 Richter, Kouroi: Archaic Greek Youths, p. 2-5, 21.

— 15 Comments

Marshes in Ancient Egyptian Art

Marsh Scene, Tomb of Menna, 1924, facsimile of original from ca. 1400-1352 BC, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Tonight I stumbled across some interesting information which has caused me to think more deeply about the reason why marsh scenes sometimes appear in Egyptian tomb imagery. To be honest, when I previously have considered these types of scenes (the most famous one being the “Fowling Scene” from the Tomb of Nebamun, shown below), I have usually thought more about the act of hunting than the marsh setting itself. Perhaps I’ve taken marshes for granted in Egyptian culture, since I know that they are located along the Nile. However, the marsh setting has a lot of symbolic associations in ancient Egyptian culture and mythology, most notably with life and resurrection.

There are several reasons why marshes are connected with life and resurrection in Egyptian culture. In the creation mythology for the ancient Egyptians, life was first formed out of the primeval waters of chaos (Nun), creating a primeval marsh and mound of fertile earth (the latter is sometimes referred to as the benben, due to the benben stone at Heliopolis which represented this primeval mound). Marshes, therefore, were a reference to creation and life. In the case of the two images that I have included in this post, the tomb owners Menna and Nebamun draw parallels between their hope for rebirth in the afterlife and the original birth of the world by depicting themselves within a marsh.

Additionally, marshes were also significant in Egyptian mythology because Isis helped to prepared her husband Osiris’s body for resurrection by hiding his coffin in a marsh.1 Later, Osiris’s evil brother Seth stumbled upon the casket and tore Osiris’s corpse into various pieces (the number of pieces vary in accounts, ranging from fourteen to forty-two). Isis searched for each of the pieces and buried each at the place where it was found.2 Later, Osiris resurrects: the dismembered body comes together to form the first mummy.

Fowling Scene, Tomb of Nebamun, ca. 1400-1350 BC. British Museum

There are many other elements within marshes that also have symbolic associations with life and resurrection, most notably the papyrus and lotus plants. In both of these images, Menna and Nebamun hunt birds that are found in a thicket of papyrus. The thicket of papyrus also might be a reference to the mother-goddess Hathor, who sometimes appeared as a cow in a similar thicket of papyrus (see one such example from the Papyrus of Ani).3 Hathor, who is associated with motherhood and fertility (among other things) reinforces the symbolic associations between papyrus, the marsh, and life in this context.

Detail images of family members holding lotus blossoms from tomb of Menna (left) and tomb of Nebamun (right)

In both of these scenes, the family members of Menna and Nebamun hold lotus blossoms in their hands. The lotus has several associations with death and rebirth. For example, the lotus blossom sinks underwater at night, only to reemerge out of the water and bloom during the day. It was also believed that a giant lotus blossom came out of the primeval waters of Nun, out of which emerged the sun-god. The Book of the Dead also included a spell to transform someone into a lotus, which would ensure the promise of rebirth to the deceased.4

Do you know of any other symbolic associations with marshes in Egyptian culture? Do you know of any other Egyptian fowling scenes that are set in marshes? I know that marsh imagery also appears in other contexts as well, such as the Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. There, the capitals of the columns are decorated with lotus and papyrus blossoms. Considering the number of columns that appear in that vast hall, I’m sure that ancient Egyptians within that space felt very much like they were in a marsh thicket. Within that sacred space, I imagine that the symbolic associations with the marsh would have been very clearly understood.

POSTSCRIPT: There are a few more things that I want to add about these two hunting scenes, just so I can remember them in the future!

  • “The act of throwing a throwstick in ancient Egyptian is qema, for the Egyptians this would recall the word qema meaning ‘to create’ or ‘to beget.’ In the same way the word for spearing fish is set, which resembles another word seti meaning ‘to impregnate.’ Through these puns the actions of the tomb owner can be read as having meanings appropriate to rebirth.”5 I think it is interesting to note that both Menna and Nebamun’s powerful poses recall the similar raised arm of Narmer in the Palette of Narmer, which was created about 1,650 years before!
  • The wild birds in these scenes represent chaos. By hunting these birds, the male figure is restoring order. In this sense, the men are equating themselves with Osiris. Unsurprisingly, fowling is one of the activities of Osiris, who triumphed over chaos by defeating his evil brother Seth.
  • Both Menna and Nebamun are shown as youthful, energetic figures. This suggests that both men hope to have a similar, youthful forms in the eternities. I’ve always associated youthful idealism with the Greeks up until this point, but I can see that youth was also favored by the Egyptians too. Could it be that the Greeks were influenced by Egyptian thought in this regard?

1 Mark Getlein, Living with Art, 10th edition (New York: Mc-Graw HIll, 2013), 331.

2 For more information on the Osiris and Isis mythology, see Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson, The Princeton Dictionary of Ancient Egypt (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 238-239.

3 Gay Robertson, Women in Ancient Egypt (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1993), 188. Text available online here: http://books.google.com/books?id=UTSA88SVHCMC&lpg=PA188&ots=lC2k15W4SO&dq=symbolism%20of%20marsh%20%22ancient%20egypt%22&pg=PA188#v=onepage&q&f=false

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

— 4 Comments

Cats in Ancient Egyptian Art

Detail of cat from the hunting scene (fowling scene) from the tomb of Nebamun, Thebes, Egypt, 18th dynasty, ca. 1400-1350 BCE.

When visiting the British Museum about two weeks ago, I was prompted a few times to think about cats in ancient Egypt. For one thing, I noticed a detail in the fresco fowling scene from the tomb of Nebamun that I had never noticed before. The cat that is included in the scene, whose head is partially damaged, has been given a golden eye by the artist. The text panel near the fresco explained that the although cats were family pets for the Egyptians, in this context the cat “could also represent the Sun-god [Ra or Re] hunting the enemies of light and order. His unusual gilded eye hints at the religious meanings of this scene.”1

Ra, in the form of a Great Cat, slays the snake-god Apep. Thebes, wall painting from the tomb of Inher-kha, c. 1164-1157. Image courtesy Wikipedia.

It is unsurprising to me that cats could be associated with Ra, the sun-god. In ancient Egypt, domesticated cats were useful for getting rid of vermin, like rats, mice and snakes (especially cobras). Since the sun-god Ra was the greatest enemy of Apep (Apophis), the evil cobra-god of darkness, it makes since to me that cats would be associated with Ra. The wall painting from the tomb of Inher-kha, which shows the sun-god battling Apep, is from the New Kingdom, which is considered to be the time period in which “the cat achieved full apotheosis” in funerary texts and contexts.2 The story of Ra battling Apep is found in the Litany of Ra, which explains how Apep attacked the solar boat as it passed through the sky during the night. Ra overcame Apep, which allowed the sun to continue its journey and be reborn at dawn.

However, Ra was not the only deity associated with cats in ancient Egypt. At the British Museum I also saw the so-called Gayer-Anderson bronze cat on display in another area of the museum. The museum label for the bronze cat explained that this cat was probably associated with the goddess Bastet, the cat-goddess. The British Museum also owns a bronze statuette of the cat-goddess Bastet, although I didn’t find this statue on display during my recent visit. Cats were important to the cult of Bastet, and were bred on an industrial scale by the first millenium BC.

Bronze figure of the cat-headed goddess Bastet, Late Period or Ptolemaic Period, c. 664-30 BC. Image courtesy of the British Museum

Bastet is a mother-goddess with protective and maternal attributes, as shown in the bronze statuette of the cat goddess with four kittens at her feet. Even Bastet’s name, which means “she-of-the-ointment-jar”, suggests a soothing character on part of the goddess.3 Bastet’s associations with ointment also connect her protective qualities to health: she provides protection from contagious diseases. I wonder if ancient Egyptians ever made the association with how their domestic cats fought vermin (that carry disease), which is similar to how the goddess Bastet protected people from contagious diseases.

Detail of sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose's cat, limestone, sarcophagus height 64 cm, New Kindgom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III. Image courtesy Wikipedia via Larazoni.

Due to these associations with gods and their usefulness to Egyptians, domestic cats were treated well. In fact, Egyptian cats were mummified since predynastic times.4 Extensive cat burials have been found at a few sites, including about 300,000 cats at the Temple of Per-Bast, the site of the goddess Bastet. Last summer I remember seeing the small, rectangular sarcophagus of the cat of Prince Thutmose (see above) at a King Tut exhibition.5 The British Museum also has an interesting anthropomorphic coffin of cat. Although some domestic cats may not have had been revered themselves as sacred deities, these pets certainly held a high place of regard within their Egyptian families.6

Do you have a favorite depiction of a cat in ancient Egyptian art? Do you know of other religious or cultural associations for ancient Egyptian cats?

1 Museum label for “Nebamun hunting in the marshes,” London, British Museum, August 13, 2013.

2 Ian Shaw and Paul Nicholson, The Princeton Dictionary of Ancient Egypt, 2nd ed., s.v. “Cat.” (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2008), p. 70.

3 Bastet is seen to be in opposition to the aggressive lioness-headed goddess Sekhmet. See “Bronze figure of the cat-headed goddess Bastet,” from http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/aes/b/bronze_figure_of_bastet.aspx. Accessed August 26, 2013.

4 Shaw and Nicholson, p. 70.

5 The sarcophagus of Prince Thutmose’s cat refers to the cat as an Osiris, which indicates that the cat “would be able to reach the netherworld and be judged in the Hall of Truth there.” See Zahi Hawass, Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs (Washington, D.C.: The National Geographic Society, 2008), p. 122.

6 Bob Brier, Egyptian Mummies: Unraveling the Secrets of an Ancient Art (New York: William Morrow, 1994), p. 215. Citation found here: http://iweb.tntech.edu/jneapolitan/egypt.html

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This blog focuses on making Western art history accessible and interesting to all types of audiences: art historians, students, and anyone else who is curious about art. Alberti’s Window is maintained by Monica Bowen, an art historian and professor.