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The Exodus of the Hebrews, Moses and the Pharaohs



Part VI


12th Dynasty Middle Kingdom Art is Hyksos Art



Even without written records, changes in culture are often recognized in changes in art. There are dramatic changes in the styles and content of Egyptian art from the Old Kingdom to the Middle Kingdom, and then again in the New Kingdom.


The selective artefacts available depend upon the sites chosen for excavations:

||......A hiatus in Egyptological research also resulted from a lack of attention to the life of ordinary people, a defect of archaeological research that has only recently been addressed. The Asiatic communities were farmers, artisans and traders, headed by local chieftains. No massive monuments were erected in their villages for future tourists to gawk at, no hedonistic sculptures were produced for museums to vie over, nor were the chieftains entombed with golden artifacts for future collectors to salivate over.

"It is no wonder that the present state of studies of ancient Egyptian civilization is enormously one-sided," declared Manfred Bietak, excavator of Qantir, the site on which the biblical city of Avaris was identified. "In Egypt, temple sites and cemeteries have been chosen as objects of excavation and study because they yield more museum objects and, with their imposing architecture and representations of fine arts, are far more likely to impress the trustees of institutions than the decayed mud-brick architecture of town sites with their tons of potsherds.”......|| Egypt and the Semites by Samuel Kurinsky; 1994.


 There are still sufficient examples of art to indicate that the peaceful pastoral and cultural activity scenes of the Middle Kingdom art replaced the Old Kingdom depictions of kings vanquishing their enemies. The following image of a serving woman indicates the multicoloured striped clothing of the Asiatics.




Statue of a serving woman from Middle Kingdom Egypt.




Another interesting difference is the more realistic and emotional characterization of the statues of the Pharaohs, instead of the imposing idealized God-like representations of the Old Kingdom, these Middle Kingdom statues were more human and expressive.  The human expression complimented the Osiris cult, which did not restrict life in the next world to the Pharaoh only. Any who worshipped Osiris were able to gain status in this world and the next, and so a narrow kind of "egalitarianism" evolved for those who would worship Osiris.


In the art of the New Kingdom, the kings were once again idealized and represented as God kings like those of the Old Kingdom. At the same time the deity Amun-Re, which was a combination of two ancient Gods in the form of supreme deity or King of the Gods, replaced the Osiris cult. The new appropriation of Amun-Re gave him the status of the King of Gods personified as a man on a throne with a beard, and also raised the Pharaoh to God-King status whom non other could match. (One significant exception to the New Kingdom art was the expressive art of the reign of Arkenaten which was accompanied by a brief change in religious orientation. But this was crushed and obliterated by the Theban powerbase when Arkenaten died. He was considered a heretic in the eyes of the Egyptian Hegemony and his name and memory were obliterated from history until he was rediscovered in the mid 19th century.)

retrieved 1 Oct, 07

||With the collapse of the Old Kingdom about 2160 BC, there was also a big change in art styles. The carved reliefs of the Old Kingdom continue, still with the background all carved away. But the subject matter is different: in the Middle Kingdom instead of Pharaohs crushing their enemies, you get quiet scenes from daily life. Here you see a boy driving donkeys to thresh out the grain on the top register and on the bottom men winnowing the threshed grain. Over their heads, hieroglyphs explain what they are doing. The style of three-dimensional sculpture also changed in the Middle Kingdom. Pharaohs no longer look so serious and strong; now they look more boyish and eager, less like gods and more like people....||


Funerary Mask Painted on Stucco and Linen


Funerary Mask


Period: Middle Kingdom




From the extract below we have archaeological evidence that the rulers of the Middle Kingdom existed at the same time as the so called 2nd Intermediate era, the Asiatic influence in the culture of the Middle Kingdom is preserved in the artforms and the depictions of the Pharaohs whose identities are unmistakably those of the Middle Kingdom, supporting the evidence that Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom have been mixed up with the fable of the domination of the Hyksos:

retrieved 1 Oct, 07

|| .....In the nineteenth century, the discovery of a number of statues at Tanis, the modern San el-Hagar in the east of the Delta, surprised art historians by their unusual forms and facial features.

Their features and artistic style had not been known in Egypt earlier. The unusual appearance of the statues convinced the archaeologists that these sculptures could be attributed to the Hyksos rulers who had built their residence at Avaris, the modern Tell el-Dabaa, in the vicinity of San el-Hagar.

These statues did not have the familiar and traditional idealistic forms and features known in the Old Kingdom and the first half of the New Kingdom. The statues found at Tanis had strange facial features, such as aged and tired faces with high cheekbones and wrinkled cheeks, pouted mouths, and large ears.

Sphinxes were also discovered with lions' manes instead of the usual nemes royal headdress, known from the Great Sphinx at Giza. These sculptures also featured a kind of archaic wig and beard.

Closer examination of the names and features revealed that the original owners of these sculptures were kings of the Twelfth Dynasty, namely Senusert III and Amenemhat III. The statues had been usurped, or taken as their own, by later kings........... These later kings had carved their names on the statues in the places of the original owners' names.||




Black Granite Bust of Amenemhat III


Upper Part of a Statue of Amenemhet III in Priestly Dress

Location: Fayoum, Crocodilopolis (Mit Fares)
Excavation: Excavations of 1862

Period: 12th Dynasty, Reign of Amenemhet III (1844-1797 bce) Revised time (1593-1546 bce)


The wigged style headress of the bust of the Pharaoh replaces the usual nemes, this style of wigged headdress is also depicted on the woman’s head below.



Head of a Female Wooden Statue


Head of a Female Statue


Location: Lisht, Area of the Pyramid of Amenemhet I
Excavation: Metropolitan Museum of Art Excavations of 1907
Period: 12th Dynasty, Reign of Amenemhet I (1991-1962 bce) Revised time 1682-1711 bce



The apparent misidentification of Middle Kingdom art as Hyksos art really indicates that the two were not separate periods. The style and content reflect the same themes and values that identifies the two as being the same.




All Oahspe references are from the Standard Edition Oahspe of 2007





The Exodus Part VII - The Co-existence of Egyptian and Asiatic Religions

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