According to extrareference, Egyptian art was mostly functional. Its beginnings are related to the concept of the hereafter: the belief in survival after death under certain conditions. Already in the Neolithic Age of the 4th millennium BC The deceased were given gifts with them: colorfully decorated ceramic vessels, stone make-up pallets, evidence of the oldest relief art and sculptures made of clay or bones (human and animal figures). The prehistoric pottery represents a high point of Egyptian pottery art, the decoration was incised and filled with white, initially geometric ornamentation, in the Negade culture I animals, dance and hunting representations, in level II ships, natural elements and others. (red on a light background). At the beginning of building with bricks and stones there were grave structures from the latest prehistory.
Early and Old Kingdom (around 3000–2191 BC): Even in the early days of Egyptian history, art found its own, unmistakable style. Rules were established that would last for 3,000 years; the representations were structured with the help of the base line, register, canon of proportions and scale of significance of the figures. Writing and image formed a unit; The presentation mostly included inscriptions that often included elements of the presentation in the “reading”. When depicting people, animals and objects, the Egyptians made it important to reproduce all essential parts and views in their typical form without abbreviation (without perspective); composite structures emerged that the eye does not perceive in nature, such as the simultaneous representation of a person in frontal view (upper body, eye) and profile (arms, legs, face).
Stone was hardly used in early architecture; the preferred material was adobe. Representative tombs were built in the royal cemeteries of Abydos and Saqqara. The place of worship at the grave is marked by two stone steles bearing the king’s name. The make-up palettes and the painted ceramics typical of prehistory disappeared with the beginning of the 1st Dynasty (around 3007 BC). The first statuettes of gods, kings, officials and animals made of stone were created in sculpture; wood, ivory and metal (copper) were also processed.
The beginning of the Old Kingdom is marked by the first royal tomb in pyramid shape, the step pyramid of Djoser in Saqqara, the center of a 545 × 280 m large, all-stone complex. At the same time one went over to the life-size stone sculpture (grave statue of Djoser ) and to the decoration of grave or cult rooms with reliefs. Since King Sneferu (around 2614 to 2575 v. Chr.) Then pyramids were built in its classical form as religious buildings, including an Talbau, the causeway and the mortuary temple belonged. The monumental architecture reached its climax with the huge pyramids of the kings Cheops (almost 147 m high), Chephren and Mykerinos in Giza; here and with the associated cult buildings, large, completely smooth and undivided areas characterize the overall picture. An official cemetery was built around these royal buildings, the graves of which now also received massive stone superstructures (mastaba).
Sculpture, relief and painting were found almost exclusively in the area of the graves and their cult facilities as well as in the heavily damaged solar sanctuaries of the 5th Dynasty (around 2479–2322 BC). The statue served the continued life of man in the hereafter and therefore depicted him as he was seen in terms of his timeless nature and social function, regardless of age, movement, activity and all coincidences of the moment. Men and women were distinguished by their traditional costume as well as by different basic positions and painting (men reddish brown, women yellow). Since a timeless ideal age was assumed, there are no portraits of children or old people, portraits at all, although z. B. the “replacement heads” (representation of only the head of a dead person with an unexplained function) of the 4th Dynasty are made very realistically. The type of statue of the writer in his characteristic posture with crossed legs testifies to the high social rank of a prominent profession; the stylized obesity suggests wealth and leisure.
The private graves that arose during the 5th and 6th dynasties show ever more richly designed decorations: columns and capitals (plant capitals) are brightly painted. The relief is dominated by cheerful colors and carries this worldly abundance of life into the world of the grave. B. in the tomb of Ti in Saqqara. In the 6th dynasty, true tomb palaces were built, such as that of the vizier Mereruka in Sakkara with 32 rooms. Family groups became popular in sculpture, along with servant figures who, due to their pure functionality, were depicted in a wide variety of activities; they should provide for the deceased in the afterlife and spare him his own work. Late Old Kingdom sculpture, relief, and painting favored excessively slim proportions; the painting emerged more strongly than the relief. The cabaret made cylinder seals from sometimes precious materials, but the decoration was limited to the title and name of the king or his official.