Egyptian Art and Architecture, the buildings, paintings, sculpture, and allied arts of ancient Egypt, from prehistoric to its conquest by the Romans in 30 BC. Egypt had the longest unified history of any civilization in the ancient Mediterranean, extending with few interruptions from about 3000 BC through the 4th century AD. The nature of the country, fertilized and united by the Nile, and its semi-isolation from outside cultural influences, produced an artistic style that changed little during this long period. Art in all its forms was devoted principally to the service of the king (the pharaoh), who was considered a god on earth, the state, and religion. From early times a belief in a life after death dictated that the dead be buried with material goods to ensure well-being for eternity. The regular patterns of nature—the annual flooding of the Nile, the cycle of the seasons, and the progress of the sun that brought day and night—were considered gifts of the gods for the people of Egypt. Egyptian thought, morality, and culture were rooted in a deep respect for order and balance. Change and novelty were not considered important in themselves; as a consequence Egyptian art was based on tradition and was to a certain extent unvarying. Manners of representation and artistic forms were worked out early in Egyptian history and were used for more than 3000 years. To the modern viewer this may seem to have resulted in a stiff and static art; the basic intention of Egyptian art, however, was not to create an image of things as they look to the eye, but rather to represent the essence of a person or object for eternity.
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