DQ2: The Egyptians had a generally optimistic view of life. How do the arts of their civilization reveal this? Use at least one example to illustrate your points. What other features of this culture does the art reveal?
In contrast to the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians believed that earthly life was just the preparation for the long existence of a soul in the realm of the dead. Therefore, a huge role in the religious vision of the Egyptians was played by the funerary cult, the most distinctive feature of which was a concern for preserving the dead body (the craft of balsamation) and providing the soul with decent housing conditions, food and other items needed for its future life. These beliefs obviously stimulated the development of architecture for constructing tombs (or “houses of eternity”¯), as well as sculpture and monumental painting for placing the images of the deceased inside the tombs, which served for sake of possible reunion of body and soul in the afterlife. For example, according to the ancient Egyptians, the funeral portrait statues were the personification of “Ka”¯ (twin-soul), and therefore, artists challenged themselves for reaching maximum similarity, and at the time, expressing their ideas about the perfect nature. On a whole, architecture of tombs and temples associated with the afterlife cult and pharaohs’ deification, finally took a leading position in the culture of Egypt, further contributing to the development of the other arts (reliefs, painting, sculpture, applied art) complementing each other and forming a unified and inseparable synthesis of Egyptian art.