Ancient Egypt Picture Gallery

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Isis

Mural of the Goddess Isis from c. 1380-1335 B.C.
Mural of the Goddess Isis from c. 1380-1335 B.C. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia

The land of the Nile, sphinxes, hieroglyphs, pyramids, and famously cursed archaeologists exhuming mummies from painted and gilded sarcophagi, ancient Egypt fuels the imagination. Spanning thousands, yes, literally, thousands of years, Egypt was a durable society with rulers viewed as the intermediary between the gods and mere mortals. When one of these pharaohs, Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), devoted himself solely to only one god, Aten, he stirred things up but also launched the period of the Amarna pharaohs whose most famous representative is King Tut and whose most beautiful queen was Nefertiti. When Alexander the Great died, his successors built a city in Egypt named Alexandria that became the lasting cultural center of the ancient Mediterranean world.

Here are photographs and artworks giving a glimpse of ancient Egypt.

Isis was the great goddess of ancient Egypt. Her worship spread to most of the Mediterranean-centered world and Demeter came to be associated with Isis.

Isis was the great Egyptian goddess, wife of Osiris, mother of Horus, sister of Osiris, Set, and Nephthys, and daughter of Geb and Nut, who was worshiped all over Egypt and elsewhere. She searched for her husband's body, retrieved and reassembled Osiris, taking on the role of goddess of the dead.

The name of Isis may mean 'throne'. She sometimes wears cow horns and a sun disk.

The Oxford Classical Dictionary says she is: "equated with the snake goddess Renenutet, the goddess of the harvest, she is ‘mistress of life’; as magician and protector, as in the Graeco-Egyptian magical papyri, she is ‘mistress of heaven’...."

02
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Akhenaten and Nefertiti

A house altar showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their Daughters in limestone. Amarna period.
A house altar showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their Daughters in limestone. From the Amarna period, c. 1350 B.C. Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, Inv. 14145. Public Domain. Courtesy Andreas Praefcke at Wikimedia.

Akhenaten and Nefertiti in limestone.

A house altar showing Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their Daughters in limestone. From the Amarna period, c. 1350 B.C. Ägyptisches Museum Berlin, Inv. 14145.

Akhenaten was the famous heretic king who moved the capital of the royal family from Thebes to Amarna and worshiped the sun god Aten (Aton). The new religion often considered monotheistic, featured the royal couple, Akhenaten, and Nefertiti (the beauty known to the world from the Berlin bust), in place of other gods in a triad of divinities.

03
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Daughters of Akhenaten

Two daughters of Akhenaten, Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure, c. 1375-1358 B.C
Two daughters of Akhenaten, Nofernoferuaton and Nofernoferure, c. 1375-1358 B.C. Public Domain. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:%C3%84gyptischer_Maler_um_1360_v._Chr._002.jpg

Two daughters of Akhenaten were Neferneferuaten Tasherit, possibly born in his regnal year 8 and Neferneferure, in year 9. They were both daughters of Nefertiti. The younger daughter died young and the older may have served as pharaoh, dying before Tutankhamen took over. Nefertiti disappeared suddenly and mysteriously and what happened in the succession of the pharaoh is likewise unclear.

Akhenaten was the famous heretic king who moved the capital of the royal family from Thebes to Amarna and worshiped the sun god Aten (Aton). The new religion often considered monotheistic, featured the royal couple in place of other gods in a triad of divinities.

04
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Narmer Palette

Narmer Palette
Photo of a Facsimile of the Narmer Palette From the Royal Ontario Museum, in Toronto, Canada. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

The Narmer Palette is a shield-shaped slab of gray stone, about 64 cm long, in relief, that is thought to represent the unification of Egypt because Pharaoh Narmer (aka Menes) is shown on two sides of the palette wearing different crowns, the white crown of Upper Egypt on the obverse and the red crown of Lower Egypt on the reverse. The Narmer Palette is thought to date from about 3150 B.C. See more about the Narmer Palette.

05
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Giza Pyramids

Giza Pyramids
Giza Pyramids. Michal Charvat. http://egypt.travel-photo.org/cairo/pyramids-in-giza-after-closing-hours.html

The pyramids in this photo are located at Giza.

The Great Pyramid of Khufu (or Cheops as the pharaoh was called by the Greeks) was built at Giza around 2560 B.C, taking about twenty years to complete. It was to serve as the final resting place of the sarcophagus of Pharaoh Khufu. Archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie investigated the Great Pyramid in 1880. The great sphinx is located at Giza, as well. The Great Pyramid of Giza was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world and is the only one of the 7 wonders still visible today. The pyramids were built during the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

Besides the Great Pyramid of Khufu are two smaller ones for pharaohs Khafre (Chephren) and Menkaure (Mykerinos), taken together, the Great Pyramids. There are also lesser pyramids, temples, and the Great Sphinx in the vicinity

06
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Map of the Nile Delta

Map of the Nile Delta
Map of the Nile Delta. Perry-Castañeda Library Historical Atlas by William R. Shepherd http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/

Delta, the triangular 4th letter of the Greek alphabet, is the name for a triangular alluvial tract of land with multiple mouths of rivers, like the Nile, that empty into another body, like the Mediterranean. The Nile Delta is particularly large, extending about 160 km from Cairo to the sea, had seven branches, and made Lower Egypt a fertile agricultural region with its annual floods. Alexandria, home of the famous library, and capital of ancient Egypt from the time of the Ptolemies is in the Delta region. The Bible refers to the Delta areas as the land of Goshen.

07
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Horus and Hatshepsut

Pharaoh Hatshepsut making an offering to Horus.
Pharaoh Hatshepsut making an offering to Horus. Clipart.com

The pharaoh was believed to be the embodiment of the god Horus. Her Hatshepsut makes an offering to the falcon-headed god.

Profile of Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut is one of the most famous queens of Egypt who also ruled as pharaoh. She was the 5th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty.

Hatshepsut's nephew and stepson, Thutmose III, was in line for the throne of Egypt, but he was still young, and so Hatshepsut, starting out as regent, took over. She ordered expeditions to the land of Punt and had a temple built in the Valley of the Kings. After her death, her name was erased and her tomb destroyed. The mummy of Hatshepsut may have been found out of place in KV 60.

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Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut. Clipart.com

Hatshepsut is one of the most famous queens of Egypt who also ruled as pharaoh. She was the 5th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Her mummy may have been in KV 60.

Although a Middle Kingdom female pharaoh, Sobekneferu/Neferusobek, had ruled before Hatshepsut, being a woman was an obstacle, so Hatshepsut dressed as a man. Hatshepsut lived in the 15th century B.C. and ruled in the early part of the 18th Dynasty in Egypt. Hatshepsut was pharaoh or king of Egypt for about 15-20 years. The dating is uncertain. Josephus, quoting Manetho (the father of Egyptian history), says her reign lasted about 22 years. Before becoming pharaoh, Hatshepsut had been Thutmose II's Great Royal Wife.

09
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Moses and Pharaoh

Moses in front of Pharaoh by Haydar Hatemi, Persian Artist.
Moses in front of Pharaoh by Haydar Hatemi, Persian Artist. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Old Testament tells the story of Moses, a Hebrew who lived in Egypt, and his relationship with the Egyptian pharaoh. Although the identity of the pharaoh is not known for sure, Ramses the Great or his successor Merneptah are popular choices. It was after this scene that the Biblical 10 Plagues afflicted the Egyptians and led the pharaoh to let Moses lead his Hebrew followers out of Egypt.

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Ramses II the Great

Ramses II
Ramses II. Clipart.com

The poem about Ozymandias is about Pharaoh Ramses (Ramesses) II. Ramses was a long-ruling pharaoh during whose reign Egypt was at its peak.

Of all the pharaohs of Egypt, none (except perhaps the unnamed “Pharoah” of the Old Testament — and they may be one in the same) is more famed than Ramses. The third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II was an architect and military leader who ruled Egypt at the height of its empire, during the period known as the New Kingdom. Ramses led military campaigns to restore Egyptian territory and fought the Libyans and Hittites. His visage stared from monumental statues at Abu Simbel and his own mortuary complex, the Ramesseum in Thebes.  Nefertari was Ramses' most famous Great Royal Wife; the pharaoh had more than 100 children According to the historian Manetho, Ramses ruled for 66 years. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings.

Early Life

Ramses’ father was the pharaoh Seti I. Both ruled Egypt following the disastrous Amarna period of pharaoh Akhenaten, a brief period of dramatic cultural and religious upheaval that saw the Egyptian Empire lose land and treasure. Ramses was named Prince Regent at age 14, and took power shortly thereafter, in 1279 B.C.

Military Campaigns    

Ramses led a decisive naval victory of a host of marauders known as the Sea People or Shardana (likely Anatolians) early in his reign. He also took back territory in Nubia and Canaan that was lost during Akhenaten’s tenure.

The Battle of Kadesh

Ramses fought the famous chariot Battle at Kadesh against the Hittites in what is now Syria. The engagement, contested over a number of years, was one of the reasons why he moved the Egyptian capital from Thebes to Pi-Ramses. From that city, Ramses oversaw a military machine that was aimed at the Hittites and their land.

The outcome of this relatively well-recorded battle is unclear. It may have been a draw. Ramses retreated, but saved his army. Inscriptions -- at Abydos, Temple of Luxor, Karnak, Abu Simbel and the Ramesseum -- are from an Egyptian perspective. There are only bits of writing from the Hittites, including correspondence between Ramses and the Hittite leader Hattusili III, but the Hittites also claimed victory. In 1251 B.C., after repeated stalemate in the Levant, Ramses and Hattusili signed a peace treaty, the first on record. The document was rendered in both Egyptian hieroglyphics and Hittite cuneiform.

Death of Ramses

The pharaoh lived to a remarkable 90 years old. He had outlived his queen, most of his children, and nearly all of the subjects who saw him crowned. Nine more pharaohs would take his name. He was the greatest ruler of the New Kingdom, which would come to an end soon after his death.

The melancholy nature of Ramses’ might and its twilight is captured in the famous Romantic poem by Shelley, Ozymandias, which was the Greek name for Ramses.

OZYMANDIAS

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1819)

11
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Mummy

Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt.
Pharaoh Ramses II of Egypt. www.cts.edu/ImageLibrary/Images/July%2012/rammumy.jpg Image Library of Christian Theological Seminary. PD Image Library of Christian Theological Seminary

Ramses was the third pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty. He is the greatest of the Egyptian pharaohs and may have been the pharaoh of the Biblical Moses. According to the historian Manetho, Ramses ruled for 66 years. He was buried in the Valley of the Kings. Nefertari was Ramses' most famous Great Royal Wife. Ramses fought the famous Battle at Kadesh against the Hittites in what is now Syria.

Here's the mummified body of Ramses II.

12
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Nefertari

Wallpainting of Queen Nefertari, c. 1298-1235 B.C.
Wallpainting of Queen Nefertari, c. 1298-1235 B.C. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Nefertari was the Great Royal Wife of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses the Great.

Nefertari's tomb, QV66, is in the Valley of the Queens. A temple was built for her at Abu Simbel, as well. This beautiful painting from her tomb wall shows a royal name, which you can tell even without reading hieroglyphs because there is a cartouche in the painting. The cartouche is oblong with a linear base. It was used to contain a royal name.

13
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Abu Simbel Greater Temple

Abu Simbel Greater Temple
Abu Simbel Greater Temple. Travel Photo © - Michal Charvat http://egypt.travel-photo.org/abu-simbel/abu-simbel-temple.html

Ramses II built two temples at Abu Simbel, one for himself and one to honor his Great Royal Wife Nefertari. The statues are of Ramses.

Abu Simbel is a major Egyptian tourist attraction near Aswan, the site of the famous Egyptian dam. In 1813, Swiss explorer J. L. Burckhardt first brought the sand-covered temples at Abu Simbel to the attention of the West. There two rock-carved sandstone temples were salvaged and rebuilt in the 1960s when the Aswan dam was constructed.

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Abu Simbel Lesser Temple

Abu Simbel Lesser Temple
Abu Simbel Lesser Temple. Travel Photo © - Michal Charvat http://egypt.travel-photo.org/abu-simbel/abu-simbel-temple.html

Ramses II built two temples at Abu Simbel, one for himself and one to honor his Great Royal Wife Nefertari.

Abu Simbel is a major Egyptian tourist attraction near Aswan, the site of the famous Egyptian dam. In 1813, Swiss explorer J. L. Burckhardt first brought the sand-covered temples at Abu Simbel to the attention of the West. There two rock-carved sandstone temples were salvaged and rebuilt in the 1960s when the Aswan dam was constructed.

15
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Sphinx

The Sphinx in front of the Pyramid of Chephren
The Sphinx in front of the Pyramid of Chephren. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

The Egyptian sphinx is a desert statue with a lion body and the head of another creature, especially human.

The sphinx is carved from limestone left over from the pyramid of the Egyptian pharaoh Cheops. The man's face is thought to be that of the pharaoh. The sphinx measures about 50 meters in length and 22 in height. It is located in Giza.

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Mummy

Ramses VI at Cairo Museum, Egypt.
Ramses VI at Cairo Museum, Egypt. Patrick Landmann/Cairo Museum/Getty Images

Mummy of Ramses VI, at Cairo Museum, Egypt. The photo shows how badly an ancient mummy was handled at the turn of the 20th century.

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Twosret and Setnakhte Tomb

Entrance to the Tomb of Twosret and Setnakhte; 19th-20th Dynasties
Entrance to the Tomb of Twosret and Setnakhte; 19th-20th Dynasties. PD Courtesy of Sebi/Wikipedia

Nobles and pharaohs of the New Kingdom from the 18th to 20th dynasties built tombs in the Valley of the Kings, on the Nile's West Bank across from Thebes.

18
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Library of Alexandria

Inscription Referring to the Alexandrian library, A.D. 56.
Inscription Referring to the Alexandrian library, A.D. 56. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

This inscription refers to the library as Alexandria Bibliothecea.

"There is no ancient account of the foundation of the Library," argues American classical scholar Roger S. Bagnall, but that doesn't stop historians from putting together a probable, but gap-filled account. Ptolemy Soter, the successor of Alexander the Great who had control of Egypt, probably started the world-famous Library of Alexandria. In the city where Ptolemy buried Alexander, he started a library that his son completed. (His son may also have been responsible for initiating the project. We just don't know.) Not only was the Library of Alexandria the repository of all the most important written works -- whose numbers may have been wildly exaggerated if Bagnall's reckoning is accurate -- but illustrious scholars, like Eratosthenes and Callimachus, worked, and scribes hand-copied books in its associated Museum/Mouseion. The temple to Serapis known as the Serapeum may have housed some of the materials.

Scholars at the Library of Alexandria, paid by the Ptolemies and then Caesars, worked under a president or priest. Both Museum and Library were near the palace, but exactly where is not known. Other buildings included a dining hall, a covered area for walks, and a lecture hall. A geographer from the turn of the eras, Strabo, writes the following about Alexandria and its educational complex:

And the city contains most beautiful public precincts and also the royal palaces, which constitute one-fourth or even one-third of the whole circuit of the city; for just as each of the kings, from love of splendour, was wont to add some adornment to the public monuments, so also he would invest himself at his own expense with a residence, in addition to those already built, so that now, to quote the words of the poet, "there is building upon building." All, however, are connected with one another and the harbour, even those that lie outside the harbour. The Museum is also a part of the royal palaces; it has a public walk, an Exedra with seats, and a large house, in which is the common mess-hall of the men of learning who share the Museum. This group of men not only hold property in common, but also have a priest in charge of the Museum, who formerly was appointed by the kings, but is now appointed by Caesar.

In Mesopotamia, the fire was a friend of the written word, since it baked the clay of the cuneiform tablets. In Egypt, it was a different story. Their papyrus was the principal writing surface. The scrolls were destroyed when the Library burned.

In 48 B.C., Caesar's troops burned a collection of books. Some believe this was the Library of Alexandria, but the devastating fire in the Library of Alexandria could have been somewhat later. Bagnall describes this as like a murder mystery -- and a very popular one at that -- with a number of suspects. Besides Caesar, there were the Alexandria-damaging emperors Caracalla, Diocletian, and Aurelian. Religious sites offer up the monks in 391 who destroyed the Serapeum, where there may have been a second Alexandrian library, and Amr, the Arab conqueror of Egypt, in A.D. 642.

References

Theodore Johannes Haarhoff and Nigel Guy Wilson "Museum" The Oxford Classical Dictionary.

"Alexandria: Library of Dreams," by Roger S. Bagnall; Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 146, No. 4 (Dec., 2002), pp. 348-362.

"Literary Alexandria," by John Rodenbeck The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 42, No. 4, Egypt (Winter, 2001/2002), pp. 524-572.

"Culture and Power in Ptolemaic Egypt: The Museum and Library of Alexandria," by Andrew Erskine; Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 42, No. 1 (Apr. 1995), pp. 38-48.

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Cleopatra

Cleopatra Bust from Altes Museum in Berlin, Germany.
Cleopatra Bust from Altes Museum in Berlin, Germany. Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Cleopatra VII, pharaoh of Egypt, is the legendary femme fatale who charmed Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

20
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Scarab

Carved Soapstone Scarab Amulet - c. 550 B.C.
Carved Steatite Scarab Amulet - c. 550 B.C. PD Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Collections of Egyptian artifacts usually include carved beetle amulets known as scarabs. The specific beetle the scarab amulets represent is dung beetles, whose botanical name is Scarabaeus sacer. Scarabs are links to the Egyptian god Khepri, god of the rising son. Most amulets were funerary. Scarabs have been found carved or cut from the bone, ivory, stone, Egyptian faience, and precious metals.

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Sarcophagus of King Tut

Sarcophagus of King Tut
Sarcophagus of King Tut. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Sarcophagus means flesh-eater and refers to the case in which the mummy was placed. this is the ornate sarcophagus of King Tut.

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Canopic Jar

Canopic Jar for King Tut
Canopic Jar for King Tut. Scott Olson/Getty Images

Canopic jars are Egyptian funerary furniture made of a variety of materials, including alabaster, bronze, wood, and pottery. Each of the 4 Canopic jars in a set is different, containing only the prescribed organ and dedicated to a specific son of Horus.

23
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Egyptian Queen Nefertiti

3,400-year-old bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti.
3,400-year-old bust of Egyptian Queen Nefertiti. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Nefertiti was the beautiful wife of the heretic king Akhenaten was known throughout the world from the blue-headdressed Berlin bust.

Nefertiti, which means "a beautiful woman has come" (aka Neferneferuaten) was the queen of Egypt and wife of the pharaoh Akhenaten/Akhenaton. Earlier, before his religious change, Nefertiti's husband was known as Amenhotep IV. He ruled from the middle of the 14th century B.C.

Akhenaten was the famous heretic king who moved the capital of the royal family from Thebes to Amarna and worshiped the sun god Aten (Aton). The new religion often considered monotheistic, featured the royal couple, Akhenaten, and Nefertiti, in place of other gods in a triad of divinities.

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Hatshepsut from Deir al-Bahri, Egypt

Statue of Hatshepsut. Deir al-Bahri, Egypt
Statue of Hatshepsut. Deir al-Bahri, Egypt. CC Flickr User ninahale.

Hatshepsut is one of the most famous queens of Egypt who also ruled as pharaoh. She was the 5th pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Her mummy may have been in KV 60. Although a Middle Kingdom female pharaoh, Sobekneferu/Neferusobek, had ruled before Hatshepsut, being a woman was an obstacle, so Hatshepsut dressed as a man.

25
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Dual Stela of Hatsheput and Thutmose III

Dual Stela of Hatsheput and Thutmose III
Dual Stela of Hatsheput and Thutmose III. CC Flickr User Sebastian Bergmann.

Dated from the co-regency of Hatshepsut and her son-in-law (and successor) Thutmose III from the early 18th dynasty of Egypt. Hatshepsut stands in front of Thutmose.

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Gill, N.S. "Ancient Egypt Picture Gallery." ThoughtCo, Apr. 12, 2017, thoughtco.com/ancient-egypt-photo-gallery-4122668. Gill, N.S. (2017, April 12). Ancient Egypt Picture Gallery. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ancient-egypt-photo-gallery-4122668 Gill, N.S. "Ancient Egypt Picture Gallery." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ancient-egypt-photo-gallery-4122668 (accessed November 20, 2017).