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"Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World" Review: An intercultural journey begins



Los Angeles

An imposing basalt sarcophagus from around 600 BC. in a gallery of the new exhibition "Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World" of the J. Paul Getty Museum. The former inhabitant of the Steinsarg is referred to as Wahibreemakhet, the "Royal Sealer", made some Egyptian pride, with etchings of falcon heads, winged gods and a head of pharaonic gravity. Also inscribed are the names of the parents of the Royal Sealer: Alexikles and Zenodote. He was apparently Greek or the child of Greek immigrants; He rose in the courtroom high enough to commission this impressive testimony of his earthly success and life after death.

Beyond the Nile: Egypt and the Classical World

J. Paul Getty Museum
Until September 9

This is probably also the biblical Joseph, whose career as an Israelite immigrant was similar. We think of ancient civilizations as something monolithic, freestanding and opaque. But as we can see, these cultures have often been heavily influenced by others. Sometimes the effect is small ̵

1; the excellent catalog notes that the 13th century BC. Temple of Ramesses II is decorated with graffiti from the sixth century BC. Carved. Greek mercenaries. And sometimes the effect is profound – as in the development of Greek sculpture (to which we will return).

This exhibition makes it difficult to imagine Egypt, Greece and Rome as completely different realms. It also undermines the current "awakened" orthodoxy that "cultural appropriation" is a distinctive Western, colonial, and current phenomenon. Such appropriation is a misnomer; Interaction and transformation are what really happens.

The exhibition includes more than 200 artefacts from more than 2000 years – from the Bronze Age to the Roman Empire – from the main museums. She's also the first Sally in an ambitious Getty project, The Classical World in Context,

Timothy Potts,

The director of Getty, announces that a multi-year series of exhibitions will pursue the interactions of the classical world with other cultures. Persia will come to Egypt, then Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Levant, Central and South Asia, and the Eurasian steppes.

The curators mister. Potts along with Jeffrey Spier, the Getty Senior Curator of Antiques, and

Sara E. Cole.

a curatorial assistant – has made this company a good start. Their report begins in the Bronze Age, when trade between Egypt and the Minoan cultures in Crete led to a lasting exchange. Egyptian stone vessels were found in Minoan palaces. Recently, Egyptian bullfight scenes such as the Minoan Civilization have been discovered. A fragment of the "London Medical Papyrus" from the late 2nd millennium BC This is a collection of medical and magical sayings, some in foreign languages, transcribed in italic Egyptian script. From a later period (1295-1069 BC), an extraordinary Egyptian wooden ship model resembles an Aegean galley with a painted base, which – as the exhibition reports – describes Homer's description of "black-hulled" ships.

Influences became more sophisticated in later centuries, when Egypt reappeared from a mysterious catastrophe that occurred after 1200 BC. Chr. Mediterranean cultures haunted. The classical Greek world then took shape. Before the late 7th century BC We were told that the Greeks had no sculptural tradition. But human figures in Egypt became an inspiration. Here we see a B.C. Egyptian priest next to a sculptural heir: a B.C. Greek naked man.

The 332 BC The conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great intensified the mixture, as the Greek Ptolemaic dynasty assumed Egyptian gods and vestments, while Greek culture established an Egyptian presence that extended into the 20th century. The intertwined cultures even led to a new god, Serapis, a Greek transformation of Osiris. A gallery of weirdly shaped portraits shows the aesthetic achievements that accompany these confrontations and hugs.

Another type of influence came after the Roman conquest. The Egyptian written language was forgotten, while the incantations of Egypt formed a Roman romance. A wonderful mosaic near Rome shows the Nile as an exotic kingdom. A Pompeian fresco from the first century gives the Nile a wild character, as the Europeans later introduced it to the New World. A fourth century B.C. The hieroglyphic tablet was found in a temple of Isis in Pompeii, although it had nothing to do with Isis and probably, as we are told, could not even be understood. When Emperor Hadrian went to Egypt in 130-131, his lover Antinous drowned in the Nile; Hadrian then turned him into a god and demonstrated a literal idolatry by populating his imperial villa with statues of Antinous in Egyptian costume.

The exhibition ends with a notable example of the syncretistic character of the classical world: a bust of a Greek version of an Egyptian god (Serapis) made for the distant empires of the Roman Empire. It was discovered in 1954 in the City of London.


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