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Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...


Dominic Montserrat

[Antinoë; now el-Sheikh Ibada]

Egyptian site 75 km north of Asyut. The town was officially founded by the Emperor Hadrian in October ad 130 to commemorate his favourite, Antinous, who had been drowned there. However, there was a Late Predynastic (c. 3000 bc) cemetery on the site and Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) built a temple there using decorated blocks and columns from buildings at Tell el-Amarna. The Roman town was designed on a grid plan and boasted an amphitheatre and hippodrome, a temple to the deified Antinous and a colonnaded main street with a triumphal arch: the last, now destroyed, was still standing when Edmé Jomard (1777–1862) visited and drew the site in 1803. The necropolis of Antinoöpolis has yielded important Roman artefacts, particularly illustrated papyri, textiles (e.g. Lyon, Mus. Hist. Tissus, 28.927 and encaustic mummy portraits of distinctive shape and technique. The last were produced by a local school of artists and often embellished with gilded wreaths and stucco jewellery before being bound into the mummy wrappings (e.g. Detroit, MI, Inst. A., 25.2); their style and iconography blends Egyptian and Hellenistic elements. Brick tombs of the 6th century ...



M. S. Drower

[anc. Gr. Hermonthis; Copt. Ermont]

City in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile, some 10 km south of Luxor. It was at first called Iunu-Shema (Egyp.: ‘the southern Heliopolis’) and Iunu-Montu (Egyp.: ‘Heliopolis of the war-god Montu’), from which subsequent names derive. It was the capital of the fourth nome (administrative province) of Upper Egypt throughout the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), until the rise of the city of Thebes. Armant was the original home of the Mentuhotpe family, the founders of the 11th Dynasty. Preliminary excavations in the town area (1935–7) uncovered stone relief blocks of many periods; a few delicate reliefs of the 11th Dynasty show Sankhkare Mentuhotpe III in the company of Montu and his consorts the goddesses Iuniyt and Teneniyt. Some lower courses of a New Kingdom temple were uncovered, including the base of an 18th Dynasty Pylon bearing a depiction of a lively procession of Nubian captives headed by a rhinoceros. A granite stele, found near by, records various exploits, such as the capture of a rhinoceros by Tuthmosis III....



Edda Bresciani

[anc. Egyp. Abu, Swenet; Copt. Sawan; Gr. Syene]

Egyptian city at the northern end of the first Nile cataract, c. 900 km south of Cairo. The modern town chiefly stretches along the eastern bank of a sandstone valley, which also contains numerous islands formed by the granite outcrops of the cataract; its ancient monuments are found on both the east and west banks and on some of the islands.

In ancient times Aswan was a garrison town marking the traditional boundary between Egypt and Nubia; as such it served as the capital of the first nome (province) of Egypt and the seat of its governors. The town’s wealth was generated by its position on an important trade route between the Nile Valley and the African lands to the south and by its granite quarries, which provided the material for countless ancient monuments. The islands of the cataract enjoyed religious status as the mythological source of the annual Nile inundation, while the Temple of Isis at ...



Diana Magee

[Assiut; anc. Djauty, Gr. Lycopolis, Arab. Siūt]

Capital city of the 13th Upper Egyptian nome (administrative province), situated on the west bank of the Nile at the end of the caravan route from the el-Kharga oasis. The ancient town, with its temple dedicated to Wepwawet, the local canine deity, probably lies under the modern one. The necropolis was excavated by Emile Chassinat in 1903. The most important periods at Asyut were the Herakleopolitan (c. 2130–c. 1970 bc), when Asyut supported the northern kings against Thebes, and the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc), although two Ramesside tombs have also been found.

The rock-cut tombs of the Herakleopolitan nomarchs are single-chambered, containing biographical inscriptions describing campaigns against the south. The Middle Kingdom tomb of Hepdjefa I, famous for its texts of contracts with funerary priests, introduced a new type: a series of chambers leading to a central shrine at the rear. The scanty remains of the reliefs indicate that a school of fine craftsmen was established in the Herakleopolitan period, producing good, formal work at a time when other provincial art was eccentric. A scene of soldiers in the tomb of ...



M. Bietak

[now Tell el-Dab‛a, eastern Delta, Egypt]

Ancient capital of Egypt that flourished during the Hyksos period (c. 1640–c. 1530 bc). The Greek name ‘Avaris’ derives from an ancient Egyptian name meaning ‘royal fortified settlement of the district’. The northern part of Tell el-Dab‛a was at first occupied by the town of Rowaty in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc). Avaris itself was founded c. 1720 bc as the capital of a local Delta kingdom independent of the ruling 13th Dynasty. The community was at that time largely of Syrian origin, employed originally by the Egyptian navy and treasury. A local Asiatic dynasty took control of Avaris and continued the existing cult of the god Seth. During the subsequent Hyksos rule (15th Dynasty, c. 1640–c. 1532 bc) Egypt was governed by monarchs of Asiatic origin. According to a late tradition of Flavius Josephus, Avaris was strongly fortified, and Egyptian sources suggest that it served as the ...



John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Ta-senet, Gr. Latopolis.]

Egyptian city c. 55 km south of Luxor on the Nile. Inhabited since ancient times, Esna remains important as the terminus of one of the main caravan routes between Egypt and the Sudan, and as a centre of textile production. The only ancient building to survive is part of the Greco-Roman Temple of Khnum, but Deir Manayus wa Shuhada (the ‘Monastery of the Martyrs’), a 4th-century ad Coptic foundation, lies 6 km to the south-west, and the Ottoman mosque of el-Amri in the town centre retains a brick-built minaret of the Fatimid period (ad 969–1171).

The Temple of Khnum, now reduced to its hypostyle hall, formed the core of a complex including a quay (in situ) and a processional approach (untraced); this was related to four further complexes (almost entirely lost) in the region. The earlier, inner part of the temple is represented by its front wall, which was incorporated into the hall and now forms its rear wall. It has carved relief decoration dating to the reigns of Ptolemy VI Philometor (...


Peter French

[Arab. Tall al-Fara‛īn; anc. Egyp. Pr-Wadjit; Copt. Puoto; Gr. Buto.]

Ancient Egyptian city in the western Delta that flourished during the Predynastic and Saite periods. The ancient Egyptian name of the city was Pr-Wadjit (‘House of Wadjit’), and its principal deities were Wadjit, the snake-goddess, and Horus, the falcon-god. More commonly known as Buto, the site was a sacred place of great iconographic importance.

British excavations (1964–9) revealed a major temple, probably dating from the Saite period (664–525 bc). Egyptian excavations (1987–8) have also uncovered stelae and statues dating to the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc) and the Late Period (c. 750–332 bc), in the area around the temple. Grants of land were made to the temple according to an early Ptolemaic stele, later reused in a Cairo mosque. Apart from a hoard of bronze hawks (Cairo, Egyptian Mus.), few other objects of artistic importance have been found, due to the wet climate, the salty soil and the fact that surface remains are of an industrial city of the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Since ...



Dominic Montserrat

[anc. Egyp. Ineb hedj]

Egyptian governorate just west of Cairo, site of a major royal necropolis of the Old Kingdom capital of Memphis. The necropolis, containing the 4th Dynasty (c. 2575–c. 2465 bc) pyramid complexes of Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus (see Pyramid, §1) and their associated satellite burials, is divided by a broad wadi into two areas: the higher plateau, with the pyramid complexes, Great Sphinx and mastaba fields, and other private tombs on an escarpment to the south-west. Although Giza’s period of greatest importance was during the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), the site underwent revivals in the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc) and the Saite period (c. 664–525 bc). Most of the tombs were robbed in antiquity, and much of the original casing of the monuments has been quarried away, considerably altering their appearance. In the late 20th century the site has come under threat from rising ground water, which is slowly destroying the monuments....


Ancient Egyptian site on the east bank of the Nile, c. 30 km south of el-Minya. A Greco-Roman redevelopment of the pharaonic town of Khmun, it is now marked by a mound of ruins c. 1.5 km in diameter, adjacent to the modern settlement of el-Ashmunein. The town was occupied from the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc) to the Coptic period (4th–7th century ad). In pharaonic times it was a nome capital and the chief cult centre of Thoth, god of writing and wisdom. Thoth was later identified with Hermes, hence the Greco-Roman name of the city; its earlier name of Khmun means ‘City of the Eight’ and refers to the eight gods who figured in the local creation myths.

In the centre of the town was a large Temple of Thoth, constructed in the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), principally in the reigns of ...



Nigel Strudwick

[anc. Egyp. Gebtu; now Qift, Egypt]

Capital city of the 5th nome of Upper Egypt that was occupied throughout the dynastic period (c. 2925–30 bc). Koptos is situated approximately 40 km north of Luxor, near the entrance to the Wadi Hammamat and Wadi Gasus. The site grew in importance because it was the town from which expeditions, bound for the Red Sea and the quarries and gold mines in the wadis, usually set out. The god of Koptos was the fertility deity Min, symbolized by the lettuce and usually represented as a standing ithyphallic figure.

The town, first excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1893–4, included monuments of many periods; the surviving remains, however, consist principally of three temples, in the north, south and middle of the town. The northern temple is that of Min and Isis, a Ptolemaic (c. 260 bc) construction overlying a temple of Tuthmosis III (reg c. 1479–...



Robert S. Bianchi

[now Tall al-Rub‛a and Tall Timay; Tell el-Rub‛a and Tell Timay]

Egyptian city in the Nile Delta, which flourished from at least the Old Kingdom (2575–c. 2150 bc) to the Christian era (c. ad 800). The site, which was first excavated by François Mariette in 1860, consists of two contiguous mounds. To the north is Tall al-Rub‛a, the site of the capital of Egypt in the 29th Dynasty (399–380 bc), and to the south Tall Timay (Gr. Thmuis), the site of an ancient settlement, which superseded that of Tall al-Rub‛a during the Roman period (30 bcad 395). The principal deity of Mendes was Banebdjed, usually represented as a ram or a ram-headed man. Numerous stone sarcophagi of the sacred ram abound in the north-western part of Tall al-Rub‛a. Banebdjed, Hatmehyt the dolphin-goddess (worshipped at Mendes in Predynastic times) and their child, Harpocrates, formed a group of deities known as the Mendesian triad....


Robert S. Bianchi

[now Kawm al-Gi‛eif]

City in ancient Egypt that flourished during the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc) in the north-western Delta. Discussions about the links between the Aegean and Egypt during the late orientalizing and Archaic periods of Greece focus erroneously on Naukratis, which was not occupied by the Egyptians before the 7th century bc. Tradition maintains that Psammetichus I (reg 664–610 bc) introduced the eastern Greeks into Egypt as a resident class of foreign mercenaries in the service of the pharaoh. Before Amasis (reg 570–526 bc), Naukratis was allegedly the only trading post in the whole of Egypt in which an alien merchant might conduct business. It is best regarded as an Egyptian establishment of no earlier than the 26th Dynasty (rather than as a Greek foundation in the literal sense) in which alien merchants from eastern Greece were obliged to reside. During the course of the 4th century ...



Nigel Strudwick

[anc. Zau; now Sā al-Hagar]

Capital city of Egypt in the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc). Situated in the western Delta, on the right bank of the Rosetta branch of the Nile, the site has never been systematically excavated. When visited by Jean-François Champollion in the early 19th century, enough remained for a plan to be drawn. He noted three cemeteries, one of which was enclosed by a wall and may have been that of the Saite kings. Inside this area was probably also the temple of Neith, the principal deity of Sais. In 1860 Auguste Mariette searched for the ruins of Sais, but it seems that he found nothing worth excavating at Sā al-Hagar.

The importance of the site and of the goddess Neith goes back to the beginning of Egyptian history. A representation of a small temple to the goddess, identified by her emblem of a pair of crossed arrows, is depicted on an ivory label discovered in the tomb of King ...



D. A. Aston

[anc. Djane; now Ṣān al-Ḥagar, Egypt]

Capital city of Egypt in the Third Intermediate Period (c. 1075–c. 750 bc). The main architectural feature of the city is the Temple of Amun, surrounded by mud-brick enclosure walls. The site, in the north-eastern Nile Delta, was excavated by Auguste Mariette (1830–60), Flinders Petrie (1883–6) and Pierre Montet (1929–51).

Between 1939 and 1945 Montet uncovered several subterranean royal tombs within the precincts of the Temple of Amun. These tombs were built of limestone and granite and engraved with mythological scenes on their interior walls. They are famous for the grave goods found inside them, which are now in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo. The burials of Psusennes I, Amenemope, Wendjebawendjed, Shoshenq II, Takelot I, Osorkon III and Harnakht reveal a high standard of elegant and artistic workmanship characteristic of the Third Intermediate Period. Foremost among these are the silver coffins and gold masks of Psusennes I and Shoshenq II and the gold, silver and bronze cult vessels of Psusennes and Amenemope (Cairo, Egyp. Mus.)....