• A comparison of the polychrome geometric patterns painted on Egyptian “palace façades” / false doors with potential counterparts in Mesopotamia

    Lloyd Graham (see profile)
    Ancient Near East, Assyriologists, Egyptology
    Egypt, History, Ancient, Art, Egyptian, Egyptology, Iraq, Civilization, Ancient, Middle East, Archaeology
    Item Type:
    Early Dynastic mastaba, Egyptian archaism, Egyptian frescoes, palace facade, Tell Uqair, Ancient Egypt, Egyptian art, Mesopotamia, Near Eastern archaeology
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    In 1st Dynasty Egypt (ca. 3000 BCE), mudbrick architecture may have been influenced by existing Mesopotamian practices such as the complex niching of monumental façades. From the 1st to 3rd Dynasties, the niches of some mudbrick mastabas at Saqqara were painted with brightly-coloured geometric designs in a clear imitation of woven reed matting. The possibility that this too might have drawn inspiration from Mesopotamian precedents is raised by the observation of similar geometric frescoes at the Painted Temple in Tell Uqair near Baghdad, a Late Uruk structure (ca. 3400-3100 BCE) that predates the proposed timing of Mesopotamian influence on Egyptian architecture (Jemdet Nasr, ca. 3100-2900 BCE). However, detailed scrutiny favours the idea that the Egyptian polychrome panels were an indigenous development. Panels mimicking reed mats, animal skins and wooden lattices probably proved popular on royal and religious mudbrick façades in Early Dynastic Egypt because they emulated archaic indigenous “woven” shelters such as the per-nu and per-wer shrines. As with Mesopotamian cone mosaics – another labour-intensive technique that seems to have mimicked textile patterns – the scope of such panels became limited over time to focal points in the architecture. In Egyptian tombs, the adornment of key walls and funerary equipment with colourful and complex geometric false door / palace façade composites (Prunkscheintüren) continued at least into the Middle Kingdom, and the template persisted in memorial temple decoration until at least the late New Kingdom.
    Additional tags: False door, mudbrick architecture; mudbrick niching; Prunkscheintur; Prunkscheintür; Ornate False Door, Hesyre; Painted Temple; Mesopotamian frescoes; cone mosaics.
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    Last Updated:
    4 years ago
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