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Cover of Middle Kingdom Egypt

Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom

Oppenheim, Adela, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, and Kei Yamamoto
400 pages
407 illustrations
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The Middle Kingdom (ca. 2030–1650 B.C.) was a transformational period in ancient Egypt, during which older artistic conventions, cultural principles, religious beliefs, and political systems were revived and reimagined. Ancient Egypt Transformed presents a comprehensive picture of the art of the Middle Kingdom, arguably the least known of Egypt’s three kingdoms and yet one that saw the creation of powerful, compelling works rendered with great subtlety and sensitivity.

The book brings together nearly 300 diverse works— including sculpture, relief decoration, stelae, jewelry, coffins, funerary objects, and personal possessions from the world’s leading collections of Egyptian art. Essays on architecture, statuary, tomb and temple relief decoration, and stele explore how Middle Kingdom artists adapted forms and iconography of the Old Kingdom, using existing conventions to create strikingly original works. Twelve lavishly illustrated chapters, each with a scholarly essay and entries on related objects, begin with discussions of the distinctive art that arose in the south during the early Middle Kingdom, the artistic developments that followed the return to Egypt’s traditional capital in the north, and the renewed construction of pyramid complexes. Thematic chapters devoted to the pharaoh, royal women, the court, and the vital role of family explore art created for different strata of Egyptian society, while others provide insight into Egypt’s expanding relations with foreign lands and the themes of Middle Kingdom literature. The era’s religious beliefs and practices, such as the pilgrimage to Abydos, are revealed through magnificent objects created for tombs, chapels, and temples. Finally, the book discusses Middle Kingdom archaeological sites, including excavations undertaken by the Metropolitan Museum over a number of decades.

Written by an international team of respected Egyptologists and Middle Kingdom specialists, the text provides recent scholarship and fresh insights, making the book an authoritative resource.

Relief showing procession of offering bearers, Limestone, paint
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.
Guardian Figure, Cedar wood, plaster, paint
ca. 1919–1885 B.C.
Shrine for Anubis fetish (Imiut), Wood, paint
ca. 1919–1885 B.C.
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Statuette of Wah, Cedar, plaster, paint, linen
ca. 1981–1975 B.C.
Stela of the Gatekeeper Maati, Limestone
ca. 2051–2030 B.C.
Relief of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II and the Goddess Hathor, Limestone, paint
ca. 2010–2000 B.C.
Statue of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep II in the Jubilee Garment, Sandstone, paint
ca. 2051–2000 B.C.
Stela of the Overseer of the Fortress Intef, Limestone
ca. 2000–1988 B.C.
Lintel of Amenemhat I and Deities, Limestone, paint
ca. 1981–1952 B.C.
Relief block with the names of Amenemhat I and Senwosret I, Limestone
ca. 1962–1952 B.C.
Relief block with the names of Amenemhat I and Senwosret I, Limestone
ca. 1962–1952 B.C.
Plaque from a Foundation Deposit of Senwosret I, Travertine (Egyptian alabaster)
ca. 1961–1917 B.C.
Seated Statue of the Steward Sehetepibreankh, Limestone
ca. 1919–1885 B.C.
Face of Senwosret III, Red quartzite
ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Senwosret III as a Sphinx, Gneiss
ca. 1878–1840 B.C.
Head of a King, Quartzite
ca. 1802–1749 B.C.
Relief of offering bearers carrying boxes, Limestone, paint
ca. 2051–2030 B.C.
Pair of clappers, Hippopotamus ivory
ca. 1900–1640 B.C.
Paddle Doll, Wood, mud, linen string, paint
ca. 2030–1802 B.C.
Showing 20 of 137

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Oppenheim, Adela, Dorothea Arnold, Dieter Arnold, Kei Yamamoto, and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), eds. 2015. Ancient Egypt Transformed: The Middle Kingdom. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.