Wall Decorations Essay

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The decoration applied to the walls and ceilings of the royal tombs provided far more than a colourful patina, for the artists were in effect making an eternal world for the deceased king. The exigencies of tombs curtailed and hurried burials may have thwarted this goal on many occasions, but what the artists did achieve stands nonetheless among the greatest art of the ancient world.

The process by which these decorations were achieved is quite well understood. In some cases, though not all, draughtsmen laid out the representations using grids made by measuring rods and paint-covered strings snapped against the walls. The images and inscriptions were then applied in red paint outlines which were corrected as necessary in black. The care
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This model of the afterlife at first represented the underworld alone, but later the heavens also, and thus the complete cosmos. The main themes of this decorative programme have been linked to the three successive dynasties which utilized the royal valley: the journey of the sun beneath the earth (18th dynasty); a divided emphasis on the journey of the sun in the heavens and the importance of Osiris and various earth gods in the netherworld (19th dynasty); and a combined stress on the sun’s path through both the earth and heavens (20th dynasty).

This gradual change of focus may be seen in the varying choices and locations in the tombs of the funerary books, or in the descriptions of scenes from them. In the early 18th dynasty, only the burial chamber received decoration – this taking the form of an unrolled papyrus of the Book of the Amduat, accurate in shape, colour and inscriptional style – but, from the time of Tuthmosis III, various deities were also shown on the walls of the antechamber and the well. In the 19th dynasty, decoration was carried into all parts of the tomb, and the idea that the axis of the tomb represented the sun’s east-west journey into the tomb (and its west-east

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