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Irene Bald Romano

Image of a divinity that served in antiquity as a focal-point for worship and cult rituals. Most cult statues were housed in temples or shrines, although outdoor worship of images is also attested. Although aniconic worship (i.e. of a non-anthropomorphic symbol of a deity such as a rock or pillar) is known in Near Eastern, Greek and Roman cults, most deities by the late 2nd millennium bc were worshipped in an anthropomorphic form and were, as such, earthly substitutes or humanized manifestations of the presence of a deity.

Anthropomorphic cult statues are well attested in the Ancient Near East, Anatolia, the Levant and Egypt. Near Eastern cuneiform records going back at least to the 2nd millennium bc indicate that Mesopotamian cult images were made of wood and opulently clad in tiaras, robes and jewellery. The garments of the statue were ceremonially changed, and ritual meals were served up to the cult image. Specific attributes and attire aided identity. From ...

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Rupert Featherstone

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Muller  

Rupert Featherstone

Stone or glass implement with a flat base, used to grind paints by hand on a hard flat surface or slab. Mullers and slabs of hard stone are first recorded in ancient Egypt. Large glass mullers were used for the commercial preparation of paints until the 19th century. Pigments could be ground on their own for use in fresco or aqueous media or ground in oil for later use....

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Sphinx  

F. J. E. Boddens-Hosang and Carole d’Albiac

Type of statue and art form, first found in the early 3rd millennium bc in Egypt and the Ancient Near East, in the form of a mythical animal usually with a human head (see fig.). The sphinx (Gr.: ‘strangler’) could be male or female, and the female version was often shown with breasts. Lion sphinxes were the most numerous, but there were also many examples in the form of bulls or horses. Occasionally they were depicted with various other attributes such as wings, bulls’ horns or snakes’ tails. Throughout Egypt and the Near East the sphinx was seen as a guardian; its role diversified in the ancient Greek world, where it often took on a more sinister aspect.

In Egypt the earliest sphinxes appeared c. 2600–c. 2500 bc. They could be ram-headed (criosphinx), hawk-headed (hieracosphinx) or human-headed (androsphinx). Several examples have human hands instead of paws (...

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Trophy  

Luca Leoncini

Dedication of the remains of a defeated enemy, usually on or near the battlefield. This custom was practised by the Egyptians and the Sumerians as well as other peoples of the Mediterranean region and the Ancient Near East. Except in the case of some Egyptian and Mesopotamian monuments celebrating important victories, however, it was never accompanied by any special artistic production in these areas. In Greece and Rome, however, the artistic commemoration of a victorious battle became very popular.

The first trophy documented with certainty is Greek: the trophy of the Aiginetans in the Temple of Aphaia, celebrating their victory over Samos (520 bc). Trophies were mentioned with increasing frequency throughout the 5th century bc, but they became less popular in the 4th century bc and the Hellenistic age (323–31 bc). Among some of the Greeks, however, including the Spartans and the Macedonians, the custom of dedicating everything that remained on the battlefield to the gods remained for some time. For the rest of the Greeks the trophy was at once a symbol of victory, an ex-voto and a warning to the enemy. Two types of trophies are known. In the first and more common type the enemy’s arms were suspended from a post or cross, arranged as they had been worn by the soldier. This ‘anthropomorphic trophy’ was commonly connected with the figure of Victory. The second type, the ‘cumulus trophy’, was a stack of arms often placed on a pile of stones; the earliest form of trophy appears to have been a simple cone of stones. The array of enemy arms displayed in the two types symbolized the dedication of the defeated who had worn them to the gods who had given the victory. The first example of Victories connected with trophies was possibly the one on the balustrade of the ...