Good morning, there is another good group of documentaries getting posted lately. I have looked into pacing guides for the history curriculum during the school year just to give me a timeline on when things are taught. Boy, I feel like things have changed from when I was taking history classes in middle school and high school. However, the guides I have found are a big help and as I prepare for 2024 blogs, I will have to keep these guides in mind to help teachers plan for the school year. This documentary is called the Scribes of Ancient Egypt. The run time for this documentary is 52:09.
Who created the art of Ancient Egypt? This story explores the craftspeople and the scribes who created ancient Egypt art. For almost 3,000 years the Egyptian civilization endured. It was centered on the Nile. Over the decades more and more discoveries have been made about the Egyptian civilization. Every discovery shows people who loved art and were interested in creating art. Where did these artists and craftspeople get their inspiration for their art?
The first stop in discovering the Egyptian Scribes are the graves of Ancient Egyptians. The funerary chapels hint at the love of art. Drawings cover the walls of the funerary chapels and the tombs. The art was created according to specific rites and rules. The tomb of an official is explored. He was a priest and chief butcher in the palace. The images in the tomb show active scenes from his life. Images had to have text with them because it allowed the image to live. Importantly, images allowed the deceased to exist and would allow him to survive in the afterlife.
The ancient Egyptians were observers of nature. Artists carefully crafted the animals and plants around them. You can tell species apart in their drawings. Art was performative. One example brought up during this section was the depiction of vipers. Vipers are deadly and can cause great harm. Drawing vipers make them real. In Egyptian art, vipers were always depicted with a knife in the head to prevent the image from doing serious damage in the afterlife.
Egyptians had conventions when it came to art and these conventions never changed over the years. For example, Egyptians always drew faces in profile. The face in the profile was always more expressive in profile and the frontal eye was prominent in the face. Art had to be readable. Art had to be unambiguous. Egyptian images were static because they wanted to aim for continuity.
A second tomb is explored, and this tomb is a little different. Instead of being left offerings in the funerary temple, offerings were painted on the tomb wall. These offerings were to feed the deceased in the afterlife. The mummies had papyrus with chapters of the book of the dead in their wrapping. The Book of Dead would accompany the deceased in the afterlife to help guide their way.
Writing and Drawing were taught together. Scribes were skilled in both. They could carefully lay out a text and stretch out words to fit a document. Some professional designers decorated the tombs as well and they learned to write as well. Designers not only painted the tombs but they were expected to write the dedications. However, they did not know the grammar rules that the scribes did. There were different types of scribes. Scribes worked for the government and helped the government collect taxes. Some scribes wrote wisdom texts and these were texts that governed society as a whole. Scribes who knew how to write were the elite and the designers were just below them.
Another tomb is looked at and this was the tomb of the cupbearer to the Pharoah. The tomb was unfinished. This tomb shows how different scribes did their work. Some drew first and then painted. One set up a grid showing the person to be painted. There were no fixed rules according to the person working on the tomb. What else can we learn about the scribes of Ancient Egypt? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
On the heels of the Mummy Forensics episode where the ancient Egyptians tried to prevent one person’s entrance into the afterlife, this film provides additional context to Egyptian art. This documentary is very old school, it is a straight-up informative documentary. It was well done and well put together. This would be more appropriate for an art class because of the emphasis on art.
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