Ancient Egypt in the LOUVRE, Part 3

What Egyptians Ate

DSCN1432This display shows some of the typical fruits, grains and seeds the Egyptians cultivated and used daily. There are quite a few nuts, barley and flax.

Tepemankh’s Banquet Menu

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I saw this fascinating bas-releif describing the menu for an actual banquet held by the noble man, Tepemankh. It was such a memorable feast that it was engraved onto the wall of his tomb Unfortunately a lot of the names are local delicacies, pastries and cakes that have no modern equivalent. So we will never know half of the wonderful foods on this elaborate menu.

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Producing the Food

DSCN1433Beer was an essential staple in the Egyptian diet. Some scientists speculate that drinking beer daily might have helped prevent disease in the ancient land. The beer making process requires all water to be boiled. Making it safer for general consumption that regular pond or well water. Here we have a clay sculpture of the beer making process.

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Bread was another major staple in most of the ancient Mediterranean world. And still is, to this day. On the left here we have a bas relief depicting two men making bread. One is preparing the dough in a big mixing bowl and the other is watching the bread baking in molds, ready to remove it from the ovens.

Agriculture

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Here we can see the kinds of tools ancient Egyptians used to plow their fields.

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We can see a clay and wood model of the techniques they used. This also shows that the Egyptians had domesticated animals as well.

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Here is another example of the domestication of animals. On this painted wall fragment we can see a heard of Ibex like goats, and their herders, probably leading them to the slaughter actually.

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On this bas-releif we can see a succession of workers carrying the the fruits of the harvest, palms and fruits, as well as some fowl, geese or ducks of some kind.

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Here is a bas-releif of a group of women harvesting either reeds, the main component of papyrus or cotton to later be woven into linen. Not all Egyptian crops were food based.

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On this fragment of painted wall we can see how the men harvested wheat. Also on the bottom register, they are replanting and plowing the field once more. I’m not entirely sure just what is happening in the top register. There’s a cow, and men carrying some kind of reed cages. It’s a bit of a mystery.

Hunting

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Hunting also contributed to the Egyptian menu. On the left we can see a wall painting with three registers, on the top a cow is being butchered, on bottom two we can see a cortege of Egyptians carrying all kinds of different foods, grains fish and fowl birds.

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Just like the photo here, representing a ceremonial parade of women carrying food from the harvests and hunts to the temples. They are carrying fowl and grain.

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We can see ancient quivers and arrows. It’s not visible on the photo but the metal quiver is engraved with a hunting scene of an Egyptian on a chariot letting arrows loose on some kind of gazelle or antelope. The wooden shafts of the arrows actually survived as well. I love how the Egyptians decorated their everyday items. They had a developed sense and love for the aesthetic.

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Here are some daggers and axes. Some or the more elaborate ones were probably reserved for ceremonial uses but we can imagine very similar tools being used during hunting excursions.

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Ancient Egypt in the LOUVRE, Part 1

While in Paris I was on a secret mission for my art history class back home. I was to find an ancient civilization and do a project relating to their art. There was never any question about which Ancient Culture I would choose to do this project on. For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with Ancient Egypt. But I wanted to find an uncommon approach to this culture, and so I wanted to stay away from any funerary art and not focus on the extensive mortuary culture. Luckily, the Louvre offered great inspiration. Walking through the ancient Egyptian section of the museum, I was surprised to find preserved furniture, baskets and fabrics. It’s a miracle that fragments of these have still survived today. It sparked my interest and I wanted to learn more about the regular everyday life of these people. I saw many beautiful objects that gave a glimpse of what ancient Egyptian life was like. So in this presentation I would like to show pictures of some of these items and share a few of my own thoughts. (By the way I took all the pictures myself so some are a bit blurry and there were a few reflections too.)

Life on the River Nile

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The Nile was of great importance to the Egyptians. It flooded the fields, leaving behind fertile silt, making agriculture flourish. But it was also the main transportation and communication route. This wonderfully preserved model boat was quite impressive to see,  the delicate ties and trellis survived over two millennia.

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Another aspect of the Nile river was the wealth of fish it offered. In the left picture, we see a bas-releif of an Egyptian casting the nets. We can also see an ancient net. It is not a reconstructed piece, but an actual 3,000 net and hooks found in a tomb. The fact that something so fragile survived truly impressed me.

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Here, on the right, is a splendid painted bas-releif. It’s a little tricky to see, especially with the reflection of the glass. But here is a scene with a plethora of fish and aquatic animals in the process of being fished. The colors made this piece quite interesting, despite the damage.