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Article

Algiers  

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[Arab. al-Jizā’ir; ‘the islands’]

Capital and largest city in Algeria, located on the west side of a bay opening onto the Mediterranean Sea. The site was already settled in Phoenician times, as shown by a hoard of Punic coins found near the port in 1940. The ruins of the Roman settlement known as Icosium are said to have existed until the 10th century when the Zirid family ruler Buluggin (reg 972–84) founded the Muslim town. Medieval geographers called it jazā’ir banī mazghannā, the islands of the Bani Mazghanna, after a local tribe of Sanhaja Berbers who lived in the region. At the end of the 12th century Almoravid rulers erected a mosque there (see Islamic art, §II, 5(iv)(c)), which preserves a fine wooden minbar and a minaret added in the 14th century. In the 15th century many refugees fleeing the Christian conquest of Spain settled in the city and established themselves as corsairs. Incorporated into the Ottoman empire, it became an important naval base, often enjoying relative independence from Istanbul under the Barbary pirates who made piracy the major industry. The city was repeatedly bombarded by European powers, until the French captured it in ...

Article

Karl-Heinz Golzio

[al-Murābiṭūn]

Islamic dynasty that ruled parts of the Sahara, Morocco, Algeria and Spain from 1056 to 1147. The Sanhaja Berber chief Yahya ibn Ibrahim, on returning from a pilgrimage to Mecca, founded a reform movement intended to strengthen orthodoxy among the Saharan Berbers, who were only superficially Islamisized, but according to many Arab historiographers they adhered to Kharijite doctrine. With the support of the Malikite jurist Ibn Yasin and the Lamtuna Berber chiefs Yahya ibn ‛Umar and his brother Abu Bakr, a fortress for a Muslim brotherhood (Arab. ribāṭ) was established on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River. The fortress soon became a centre for the tribes living nearby, and the increasing power of those who lived there (al-murābiṭūn) led to the submission of all the Sanhaja tribes. Their renewal of Islam showed strong ascetic trends along with a simple piety that resulted in a holy war against the corrupt culture and errant Muslims of the Maghrib. In ...

Article

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 ...

Article

[anc. Akhetaten]

Site of an Egyptian city of the mid-14th century bc, on the eastern bank of the Nile, c. 90 km north of Asyut. The site, which has given its name to the Amarna style of art, was chosen by the 18th Dynasty king Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) for his new capital, which temporarily replaced Memphis and Thebes as the nucleus of the Egyptian empire. It was dedicated to the solar god Aten, thus its ancient name Akhetaten (‘Horizon of the Aten’), whose cult was intended to replace worship of the traditional Egyptian pantheon. The city was occupied for no more than 25 years, from the fifth year of Akhenaten’s reign until some time in the reign of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc). Because of this relatively brief period of occupation and the lack of prior and subsequent settlement, the site is a rare example of ancient Egyptian urban ...

Article

(b Athribis, nr Benha, c. 1440 bc; d c. 1350 bc).

Ancient Egyptian architect and patron. Amenhotpe rose to prominence in his home town during the reign of Amenophis III (reg c. 1391–c. 1353 bc) as a royal scribe and chief of the priests of the local god Khentekhtai. About 1390 bc he moved to the royal court at Thebes and was rapidly promoted by Amenophis III to the position of chief royal architect, responsible for the whole process of temple construction, from quarrying to the sculpting of relief decoration, as well as the commissioning of royal statues. The full list of buildings for which Amenhotpe was architect is not known, but he certainly supervised the construction of a huge temple at Soleb near the second cataract of the Nile in Lower Nubia, where several of the reliefs depict him standing alongside the King during the temple consecration ceremony. He also built two tombs and a mortuary temple for himself on the west bank at Thebes (...

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

[Nebmaatre]

(reg c. 1391–c. 1353 bc). Egyptian ruler and patron. He reigned in the late 18th Dynasty (c. 1540–c. 1292 bc), a time of great national peace and prosperity. Amenophis III was a prolific builder: it was during his reign that Amenhotpe, the greatest Egyptian architect since Imhotep, rose to a position of power and influence as ‘Overseer of all the King’s Works’.

Although Amenophis III constructed numerous temples, from Memphis and Bubastis in the north of Egypt to Soleb and Sedeinga in the south (see Nubia, §III), only a small number of these have survived. His mortuary temple, built in fine white limestone on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, must have been one of the most impressive buildings of the time, but it was systematically dismantled in the 19th Dynasty (c. 1292–c. 1190 bc). Only a few items of sculpture and stelae have been preserved from it, notably the celebrated ‘...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Claude Vandersleyen

[Amenemhet III; Nymaatre]

Egyptian ruler. Both architecture and sculpture have survived from his reign in the 12th Dynasty (for chronological chart of Egyptian kings see Egypt, ancient, fig.). He built two pyramids, one at Dahshur and the other at Hawara in the Faiyum region, where is also a small temple, finished by Ammenemes III’s successor, Ammenemes IV; the reliefs in this temple have not been published in detail. Some reliefs of Ammenemes III were also found at Abydos (Philadelphia, U. PA, Mus.); they display little of the quality and interest of the reliefs of his predecessor, Sesostris III.

There are more than 50 statues and heads of Ammenemes III, easily identifiable because of his distinctive physiognomy. As with the statues of Sesostris III, they appear to correspond to various ages of the King; however, this progression is probably complicated by wider variations of style and dimensions. The characteristic traits of these heads are large eyes (always serious and impassive), exceptionally large ears and a nose that is far less prominent than that of Sesostris III and hooks back into the face after the bump of the nasal bone. His mouth has thick, curled lips, the corners of which turn up to end against fleshy protuberances. The cheek-bones are very high and wide and are cut by a wrinkle leaving the inside corner of the eye at an angle of 45°....

Article

Ankh  

Gordon Campbell

Article

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 ...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl later 4th century bc–early 3rd).

Greek painter. Born in Egypt, Antiphilos was a pupil of Ktesidemos. Although none of his works survives, he painted both large and small pictures and was famous for the facility of his technique (Quintilian: Principles of Oratory XII.x.6). Pliny (Natural History XXXV.114, 138) listed many of his pictures, which included portraits (Philip II and Alexander the Great with the Goddess Athena, in Rome in Pliny’s day; Alexander the Great as a Boy, also taken to Rome; and Ptolemy I of Egypt Hunting) and mythological subjects (Hesione; Dionysos; Hippolytos Terrified of the Bull; and Cadmus and Europa), all of which were in Rome in Pliny’s day. He also painted genre pictures: A Boy Blowing a Fire, a painting much admired for the reflections cast about the room and on the boy’s face, and Women Spinning Wool. The Egyptian city of Alexandria was an artistic centre famous for the depiction of comic figures and grotesques in several media. In that context, Antiphilos contributed a picture of a man called ...

Article

Armant  

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....

Article

S. J. Vernoit

[Arab. Al-fann wa’l-ḥurriyya]

Egyptian group of Surrealist writers, artists and intellectuals founded on 9 January 1939 by the poet Georges Hunain (1914–73). The group included the Egyptian painters Ramsis Yunan (1914–66), Fu’ad Kamil (1919–73) and Kamil al-Talamsani (1917–72). Inspired by the work of André Breton, whom Hunain met in Paris in 1936, the aim of the group was to defend freedom in art by stressing the liberating role of the individual imagination. On 22 December 1938 Hunain and his colleagues signed a manifesto entitled ‘Vive l’Art Dégénéré’, which protested against Fascism, particularly Hitler’s claim that modern art was degenerate. The manifesto was followed by further writings, conferences and debates. Artists from the group exhibited work in June 1939 at the premises of Art and Freedom at 28 Shari‛ al-Madabigh in Cairo. In January 1940 the magazine al-Ta ṭawwur was launched, which presented ideas behind modern art to an Egyptian audience. This was followed in ...

Article

Aswan  

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 ...

Article

Asyut  

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 ...

Article

Ann Bomann

[anc. Egyp. Hwt-hery-ib; now Tell Atrib]

Site in Egypt, just north-west of Benha in the Nile Delta. The capital of the 10th nome administrative province of Lower Egypt, the town’s religious name, Kemwer (the ‘Great Black One’), was applied to the original local god (personified as a bull), the nome and the city itself. Subsequently the major deity was Khentekhtai, at first represented as a crocodile and additionally, from the 12th Dynasty (c. 1938–c. 1756 bc), as a falcon; mummified falcons dating from the Late Period (c.750–332 bc) have been found. The heart of Osiris was believed to be buried at Athribis, and Isis, Hathor, Sekhmet and Khwit, the major goddess after the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), also had cults there. It was also the birthplace of Amenhotpe, son of Hapu, royal architect to Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). Apart from partial soundings and occasional discoveries by the Napoleonic expedition (...

Article

Willemijn Stokvis

(b Constantine, Algeria, Jan 23, 1913; d Paris, Feb 12, 1960).

French painter, lithographer and writer. The Jewish intellectual milieu in which he grew up led to his interest in philosophy and religion, and from 1930 to 1934 he studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. While in Paris, however, he was confronted with modern painting for the first time, and his interest in poetry was awakened. Recognizing a means of expressing his interest in magical phenomena, in 1941 he began to paint and write poetry. His activity in the Résistance and his Jewish ancestry led to his arrest in 1942; by pleading insanity he was able to save himself but was confined to the Sainte Anne asylum, where he wrote poetry and painted. In the autumn of 1944, shortly after leaving the asylum, his first and only collection of poems, Le Sang profond, was published, and he exhibited drawings at the Galerie Arc en Ciel.

During the immediate post-war years Atlan’s work was well received in Paris. He had a one-man show in ...

Article

Avaris  

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 ...

Article

Ayyubid  

Islamic dynasty that ruled 1169–1252 in Egypt, 1180s–1260 in Syria and south-east Anatolia, and 1174–1229 in the Yemen, with minor branches continuing until the end of the 15th century. The Ayyubids were the Kurdish clan brought to power in 1169 by Salah al-Din (Saladin; reg 1169–93) and his nephew Shirkuh when they occupied Egypt on behalf of the Zangid family ruler of Damascus, Nur al-Din (reg 1146–74). Shirkuh soon died, and Salah al-Din became master of Egypt. He ended the Shi‛ite Fatimid dynasty of Egypt in 1171 and brought Aleppo and Damascus under his control in 1183 and 1186. Salah al-Din is best known in both East and West as a tireless foe of the crusaders, and for his liberation of Jerusalem in 1187. The Ayyubid lands were governed by leading members of his family. The sultan ruling in Cairo was paramount, and Damascus was the second capital, but Ayyubid possessions extended to the Yemen and into Anatolia. The counter-crusade continued throughout the Ayyubid period; notable is the failed treaty between al-Malik al-Kamil (...

Article

Paul T. Nicholson

[al-Badāri]

Site in Egypt on the east bank of the Nile, where a predynastic cemetery and settlement were meticulously excavated and recorded by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1922–5. They uncovered some 650 prehistoric pit graves and associated artefacts, which formed the basis for the definition of the so-called Badarian period (c. 6000/5500–c. 4000 bc). The Badarian graves were shallow and roughly oval, with sides sloping towards the base, probably originally roofed with sticks or matting. The deceased were each laid in a loose foetal or sleeping position, with their faces looking west, and there is no evidence of any deliberate attempt to preserve the bodies.

Most distinctive among the associated artefacts is the fine pottery, consisting of three types of thin-walled, handmade vessels: ‘Polished Red’, ‘Polished Black’ and ‘Black-topped Polished Red or Brown’. Some of this pottery had a ripple-burnished surface, created either by rubbing a rounded pebble over the leather-hard clay or by combing ripples into the wet clay and then burnishing when leather-hard. The manner of production of the black-topped ware remains a matter of debate. The shapes of the pots were usually simple and mostly bowls....