Portal:Ancient Egypt

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THE ANCIENT EGYPT PORTAL

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Golden funeral mask of king Tutankhamun, a symbol for many of ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of eastern North Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. The civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh, and it developed over the next two millennia. Ancient Egypt reached its pinnacle during the New Kingdom, after which it entered a period of slow decline. Egypt was conquered by a succession of foreign powers in this late period, and the rule of the pharaohs officially ended in 31 BC when the early Roman Empire conquered Egypt and made it a province.

Egypt has left a lasting legacy for all to see. Its art and architecture has been widely copied, and its antiquities have been carried off to the far corners of the world. Egypt's monumental ruins have inspired the imaginations of travelers and writers for centuries. A newfound respect for antiquities and excavations in the early modern period led to the scientific investigation of Egyptian civilization and a greater appreciation of its cultural legacy for the earth.

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The Nefertiti Bust is a 3300-year-old painted limestone bust of Nefertiti, the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh Akhenaten and is one of the most copied works of ancient Egypt. Due to the bust, Nefertiti has become one of the most famous women from the ancient world as well as an icon of female beauty. It is believed to have been crafted in 1345 BC by the sculptor Thutmose.

A German archeological team led by Ludwig Borchardt discovered the Nefertiti bust in 1912 in Thutmose's workshop in Amarna, Egypt. It has been kept at several locations in Germany since its discovery, including a salt mine in Merkers-Kieselbach, the Dahlem museum (then in West Berlin), the Egyptian Museum in Charlottenburg and the Altes Museum. It is currently on display at the Neues Museum, Berlin, where it was displayed before World War II.

The Nefertiti bust has become a cultural symbol of Berlin, Germany as well as of ancient Egypt. It has also been the subject of an intense argument between Egypt and Germany over the Egyptian demands for its repatriation. It was dragged into controversies over the Body of Nerfertiti art exhibition and also by allegations regarding its authenticity.


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Gebel el-Arak knife

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Karnacs2.jpg
Credit: David Roberts RA, artist and Haghe, Louis, 1806-1885, lithographer

Karnak: "Dromos or first court of the temple" colored lithograph of Karnak.

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Statue of Akhenaten in the early Amarna style

Akhenaten was a Pharaoh of the Eighteenth dynasty of Egypt, ruled for 17 years and died in 1336 BC or 1334 BC. He is especially noted for abandoning traditional Egyptian polytheism and introducing worship centered on the Aten, which is sometimes described as monotheistic or henotheistic. An early inscription likens him to the sun as compared to stars, and later official language avoids calling the Aten a god, giving the solar deity a status above mere gods.

Akhenaten tried to bring about a departure from traditional religion, yet in the end it would not be accepted. After his death, traditional religious practice was gradually restored, and when some dozen years later rulers without clear rights of succession from the Eighteenth Dynasty founded a new dynasty, they discredited Akhenaten and his immediate successors, referring to Akhenaten himself as 'the enemy' in archival records.[1]

He was all but lost from history until the discovery, in the 19th century, of Amarna, the site of Akhetaten, the city he built for the Aten. Early excavations at Amarna by Flinders Petrie sparked interest in the enigmatic pharaoh, which increased with the discovery in the Valley of the Kings, at Luxor, of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, who has been proved to be Akhenaten's son according to DNA testing in 2010 by Dr Zahi Hawaas, Cairo. Akhenaten remains an interesting figure, as does his Queen, Nefertiti. Their modern interest comes partly from his connection with Tutankhamun, partly from the unique style and high quality of the pictorial arts he patronized, and partly from ongoing interest in the religion he attempted to establish.

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References

  1. ^ Trigger et al. (2001), pp.186-7

Ancient News

January 2011: Archaeologists discovered a tomb - KV64 - in the Valley of the Kings. The coffin found in the tomb contained an intact mummy of Nehmes Bastet, a temple singer during Egypt's 22nd Dynasty.(1)


November 2010: The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt says archaeologists have unearthed 12 more sphinx statues along the ancient avenue connecting Luxor and Karnak temples.(2)


April 2010: A new 19th Dynasty tomb in Tell el-Maskhuta is discovered. The tomb belongs to a noble named Ken-Amun


March 2010: A new translation of the Philae Victory Stele reveals the name of Augustus in cartouches.


March 2010: More statues of Amenhotep III are found at Kom el-Hettan.


March 2010: The ruins of the pyramid of Queen Behenu are discovered.

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