While relief carving was used during the New Kingdom principally for the decoration of religious structures, the art of painting came to dominate the decoration of private tombs. The necropolis at Thebes is a rich source of information on the slowly changing artistic tradition as well as of vivid illustrations of life at the time.
The medium of painting made possible a wider range of expression than sculpture, allowing the artist to create colorful tableaus of life on the Nile. Officials are shown inspecting the exotic tribute brought to Egypt from all parts of the known world. The crafts of the royal workshops are depicted in meticulous detail, illustrating the production of all manner of objects, from massive sculptures to delicate jewelry. Funerary rites are illustrated from the procession to the tomb to the final prayers for the spirit. One of the standard elements in Theban tomb painting, known as early as the Old Kingdom, is a representation of the deceased hunting and fishing in the papyrus marshes, pastimes he would have wanted to enjoy throughout eternity.
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