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ARTH 110 ART APPRECIATION M5 Discussion - Artistic Styles of Mesopotamia and Egypt

Updated: Aug 19, 2022

Part 1

One could argue that the stiff and geometric figures of Mesopotamia and Egypt were meant to symbolize the intellects, emotions, and social positions of the individuals they represented. For example, Egyptian pharaohs (kings) were often depicted as "superhuman" and divine—having perfect bodies and minds. They were represented as symmetrical, ridged, and solid figures that reflected physical and intellectual "perfection."

Yet, this is only one of many possible explanations for the Mesopotamian and Egyptian tendency towards stylizing human forms.

In 200 words or more, write a discussion board thread that provides YOUR hypothesis as to why the ancient Mesopotamians and/or Egyptians preferred more stylized human figures over natural and anatomically-correct figures.

There are no right or wrong answers here. Your job it to make an argument in favor of YOUR hypothesis.

When composing your post, you must make sure you cite at least two examples of Mesopotamian and/or Egyptian art from your textbook.

I feel possible reasons for Egyptian and Mesopotamian art being more stylized is religion and a very stylized ideal of how the cultures wanted to look and it was "perfected" in their art. My reasoning for this is if you look at passages in the book you can gather and build upon hierarchical scale to show importance of the subject or subjects. So the larger size the more important, higher status,and powerful said subject is. Also in connection with hierarchical scale throughout time and seen in all art in different periods typically figures you see as strong and powerful usually have sharper features, and a taller and can be seen as strict or stiff both physically and in religion and ruling. You can also gather from the text on the pyramids in relation to religion. That is "The sides of each pyramid are precisely the same length and all are placed precisely at the cardinal points, revealing the Egyptians’ mastery of engineering and mathematics." The possibility that their drawings and stylization may also be based on something similar to mathematics kind of like the Greek golden ratio for their art. "One theory is that the pyramids themselves may also have been seen to represent Re; for when the sun could be seen at the apex of a pyramid, the pyramid glistened and reflected the light of the sun.

According to this theory, the corners of the pyramid extended the rays of the sun, and thus symbolically represented a ladder for the pharaoh to ascend to the afterlife. The funerary temples of these three pharaohs were placed on the east side of the pyramids, to symbolize that, just as the sun rises again in the east, they would be reborn into the afterlife." "He seems to sit stiffly, as if attached to his throne. Egyptian sculptures portrayed people with gracefully proportioned bodies, but they only subtly suggested movement, in this case by showing one hand clenched in a fist. To signify the pharaoh’s importance, the powerful sky god Horus, symbolized as a falcon, perches on the throne behind his head. In Egyptian belief, Khafre’s statue provides a place for his ka to rest during the afterlife. In fact, in Egyptian writing, “sculptor” translates as “he who keeps alive.” This including paintings and sculptors like Standard of Ur, c. 2600–2400 BCE. (a: top) War and (b: bottom) Peace.

Wood inlaid with shell, lapis lazuli, and red limestone, 77⁄8 × 181 British Museum, London, England, Khafre with the falcon god Horus embracing the back of his head, c. 2500 BCE. Diorite, height 5'61 ⁄8 ". Cairo Museum, Egypt, and Fowling scene, from the tomb of Nebamun, Thebes, Egypt, 18th Dynasty, c. 1350 BCE. Painted plaster, 385⁄8 × 83 ⁄4 ". British Museum, London, England. In all these pieces you can view religious symbols and shapes. Also on my point of stylizing the art to show what the Egyptians wanted to look like or idealized most pharaohs in Egypt were overweight. "Egyptian art commonly depicts pharaohs as being trim and statuesque, but this was most likely not the case. The Egyptian diet of beer, wine, bread and honey was high in sugar, and studies show that it may have done a number on royal waistlines. Examinations of mummies have indicated that many Egyptian rulers were unhealthy and overweight, and even suffered from diabetes. A notable example is the legendary Queen Hatshepsut, who lived in the 15th century B.C. While her sarcophagus depicts her as slender and athletic, historians believe she was actually obese and balding." Art throughout history has depicted the bodily ideals of that society and Egypt is no exception.

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