In the modern world, at least since the Age of Enlightenment, people have been fascinated by the glory of the civilization of Ancient Egypt. Their fascination usually stems from museum exhibitions, and the treasures they marvel at are artistic representations from a civilization that triumphed over 4,000 years ago. The artwork that has lasted these thousands of years is usually a special type. Rather than dealing with personal glorification, a large portion of the Egyptian art that has been preserved focuses on the religious aspects of that society, and the hopes of an after-life. Just as important, however, is the Nile river. Like in ancient times, the Nile symbolizes both life and death for Egypt, and figures prominently in both ancient and modern art and religious thought, even though they are dissimilar in ideology. This is important, because it allows the modern historian to trace a particular development within the social milieu of a societal organization (Baines 4-8).
This paper will focus on the religious beliefs and views of death that have been recorded and preserved in the art of the Ancient Egyptians. It will begin with a short overview of Egyptian Civilization, turn to an analysis of Ancient Egyptian religion and views on death, and conclude with an assessment of Egyptian art, and the role that art played in the religiosity of the ancients.
The ancient history of Egypt is usually divided into six major eras: The archaic period (3100-2770 BC), the Old Kingdom (2770-2200 BC), the first intermediate period (2200-2050 BC), the Middle Kingdom (2050-1786 BC), the second intermediate period (1786-1560 BC), and the New Kingdom (1560-1087 BC). Of course, these dates are all approximate, and reflect certain political, economic, and social stigma that have been discovered and categorized in the modern period (El-Mahdy, introductory historical overview).
For the modern world, the organization and culture of the Ol...