The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 1 Egypt and Babylonia to 1580 B.C.

Apr 26, 2013 by

cambridgeThe Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 1 Egypt and Babylonia to 1580 B.C. was originally published in 1923 and previously out of print. This is a great find for history buffs who would like to read the original book as it was first printed. This is an exact reproduction taken from an original copy of the book, and a great read for those of us who love history of all kinds!

a few lines from the book:

“The hieroglyphic writing naturally had to become conventionalized early. if it was to be generally used. Under the first two dynasties we often find strange Signs, of meaning unknown to use and familiar hieroglyphic birds and beasts appear in unfamiliar guise and posture. The tradition did not become fixed before the 3rd Dynasty. And no doubt the fact of the fixation of the scripture writing contributed not a little to that of the bigger pictures. The Egyptian never wholly dissociated writing from painting, and if the little pictures of words were fixed In shape, why not representations of things on the large scale, or even in the round?

Nevertheless there was always room for the exercise of individual judgment in the use of the conventionalization; fashion might affect it to some extent, and with the lapse of time modifications of course crept in. The tradition of portraiture that we have already seen in the archaic period was always continued. On one view, it was necessary for religious reasons. The dead man would more certainly live again in the underworld if his portrait-statue were like him. In the face, that is ; the trunk, the hands and the feet did not matter, they were wholly conventional. So the Egyptians throughout their art history were the greatest masters of portraiture of the ancient world. The Babylonian and Assyrian artists made no attempt to produce real portraits of their sitters.

Even in the best period of Sumerian art (in the time of Judea) it can hardly be maintained that they did so. Religion did not require it, and there was no need to give the statue of a dedicator of a temple his real physiognomy in life. Under the Pyramid-kings we find Egyptian portraiture already true and faithful to individual character. The famous statues of Khafre and Menkaure at Cairo are great examples, and there are many such portraits of lesser men of the time in our museums. At the end of the period a degenerative process set in, though the copper statues of Pepi and his son (p. 291) are evidently good portraits But with the restoration of stable political conditions tinder the Xlth Dynasty, the old mastery reasserted itself, and we have in the royal portraiture of this time work even superior to that of the Pyramid-builders.”

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