Did ancient Greek art originate from Egyptian sources?

(ORDO NEWS) — It easily falls into the “conspiracies” category, but that doesn’t mean it’s not an interesting story.

We are all taught that empires rise and fall, and that every new beginning comes from the end of some other beginning. Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt were no exception. It was 1336 BC, and the Egyptian pharaoh Akhenaten (Akhenaton) had just died.

Akhenaten was a strange pharaoh who shook many of the most important foundations of ancient Egyptian culture. First, Akhenaten was a monotheist. He only believed in Aten, a sun god similar to Ra, a fact that causes some scholars to debate whether he is the founding father of Judaism.

Akhenaten was also a romantic, endowing his wife, the famous beauty Nefertiti, with an unusual, exalted status. He also may have had a strange syndrome or disability that he passed on to his children… which may have led to the early death of his son, Tutankhamun or King Tut.

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One of the strangest things about Akhenaten was that he changed the approach to art in those ancient times. He abandoned the rigid rules that had kept the art stable for 3,000 years. The images became more naturalistic, especially plants, animals and commoners. They had a sense of movement and action.

Royals were also portrayed in a different way. Instead of depicting the pharaoh as god-like, motionless and eternal, artists began to create his tender images.

He is depicted playing with his daughters under the rays of Aten and showing tenderness to his wife. The lines surrounding the king are soft and curved. The hard straight lines of previous pharaohs are banished.

But then Akhenaten died, the man who is considered “the first man in history.”

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Akhenaten and Queen Nefertiti

At first, the changes took place gradually, but in the end all the reforms came to naught and returned to the old, traditional way of life. The time called the “Amarna period” has come to an end.

But what happened to those artists who just got a taste of creative freedom? The return to regulation meant the end of artistic liberalism. Did they stay in Egypt after the return to the middle level? Or perhaps they went north to the Mediterranean?

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Egyptian and Greek

Around this time, we begin to observe, for example, the appearance of Etruscan hieroglyphs on the land of the Minoans, a pre-Greek civilization.

Eventually, around 750 BC, we come to the “archaic” early Greek art.

This period is characterized by statues that are free-standing, frontal and massive. They wear a strange, so-called archaic smile.

One leg is put forward, fists are clenched. There are three types of figures: a standing naked youth (kouros), a standing draped girl (kore), and a seated woman. All the different types of sculpture emphasize and generalize the main features of the human figure.

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Now these Greek statues are very similar to the ancient Egyptian ones

Of course, there are many holes in this story of runaway sculptors who brought an artistic renaissance and revolution to Ancient Greece. Time periods, for example, strongly contradict each other.

It is hard to imagine that this new artistic approach would last for 500 years. Ancient Greek kouros are also more like traditional ancient Egyptian art than the unique Akhenaten style.

Why did statues similar to ancient Egyptians begin to appear in ancient Greece? Maybe it’s just a coincidence?

We, unfortunately, do not know. There are many other possible explanations, such as the Persian Achaemenid Empire, which was founded in the 6th century BC by Cyrus the Great.

This vast empire, which spanned about 8 million kilometers and stretched across three continents, was to unite Egypt and northern Greece, Macedonia, under one umbrella.

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The Persian Achaemenid Empire also established infrastructure such as a network of roads, a postal system, and an official language throughout its territory. It even had a bureaucratic administration centralized under the emperor, as well as a large, professional army and civil services.

Perhaps the famous Egyptian memorials traveled along these newfound roads to the nascent shores of Greece. After all, it was during this period that the first archaic sculptures began to appear.

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Or maybe not. History is not an exact science. Points that seem important can only stand out in hindsight, and connections between them are weakened by improbability. We only know that early Greek art from this point on becomes even more interesting.


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