The Egyptian Revival: Ancient Egypt as the Inspiration for Design Motifs in the West

James Stevens Curl
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Most simply, the meaning of the tablet was not known.

The rituals of the cult of Isis were largely a mystery as in Greek or Roman times there was a great deal of secrecy surrounding the cult. The book contained no explanations therefore, because none were available.

But there was more to it than this: the mystery the tablet presented was part of the appeal of the book. It was engraved and published for a learned audience interested in the Renaissance culture of emblematic art, philosophy, and writing saturated with layers of meaning.

Egyptian revival decorative arts

From the time of the ancient Greeks it was believed that Egypt possessed ancient wisdom[12]. There was a hermetic belief in the Renaissance that the ancient Egyptians held lost knowledge of God and that divine mysteries were depicted through each element of hieroglyphic imagery. One needed only to decipher it to regain that knowledge.

Customer Reviews The Egyptian Revival: Ancient Egypt as the Inspiration for Design Motifs in the West (): James Stevens Curl: Books. Download Citation on ResearchGate | The Egyptian revival: Ancient Egypt as the inspiration for design motifs in the west | In this beautifully illustrated and.

All those interested in hieroglyphs came to see it and wrote about it. Just as the Romans who made the Bembine tablet experienced Egyptomania, so too did the Renaissance scholars who rediscovered it. Egypt was relatively inaccessible in the Renaissance and, as in ancient Roman times, the city of Rome became the focal point for revived Egyptomania.

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The excavation of ancient Rome provided plentiful Egyptian and Egyptianized artefacts for scholars to examine. The ancient Egyptian civilisation was examined through these artefacts and through the eyes of ancient Greek and Roman writers. Popes, the new emperors of the Roman domain, raised the obelisks from the ruins of civilisation in key locations throughout the city.

Just like the Roman Emperors before them, popes used these bastions of ancient civilisation to symbolise their own power. The meaning of the hieroglyphs on the obelisks and artefacts such as the Bembine tablet teased just beyond reach.

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The secrecy surrounding the cult of Isis led to the belief that ancient Egyptian priests depicted divine knowledge in these symbols. The Bembine tablet became a central object for those who believed in an ancient lost knowledge.

Some studied it to regain the lost knowledge of how to read hieroglyphs — others believed in a profound divine mystery hidden in the images. The Bembine tablet influenced the re-emergence of mystery cults such as the Roscrucian Brotherhood, the Freemasons and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn.

Even after hieroglyphs were finally deciphered these cults maintained the belief that the ancient Egyptians were enlightened and their script contained esoteric knowledge of God revealed only to the initiated[13]. Text by Neasa McGarrigle, B. TCD , M. Oxon ; Candidate for Ph.

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About James Stevens Curl. James Stevens Curl. Having graduated in Architecture at Oxford, he went on to study Town Planning, and wrote his Dissertation under the direction of the German architect, Arthur Korn.

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In addition to the more overtly Egyptian-influenced forms, there were also geometric patterns and references to organic and plant forms Showing Lighting and Sound. As Managing Partner and founder, he is responsible for the conceptual and strategic development of Decimononic. Walmart Services.

He worked for a number of years as an architect, with an especial interest in historic buildings and conservation, until he became a full-time academic in , having already published perceptive articles and books which began to establish his reputation for impeccable scholarship, a fine prose-style, and penetrating insights. In this comprehensively illustrated and closely argued book, a completely updated and much expanded third edition of earlier versions, the numerous revivals of the Egyptian style from Antiquity to the present day are described, drawing on a wealth of sources.

It analyses the remarkable and persistent influence of Ancient Egyptian culture on the West, developing the argument that the civilisation of Ancient Egypt is central, rather than peripheral, to the evolution of much Western architecture, art, design, and religion. The persistence of Egyptian motifs in design from Graeco-Roman Antiquity, through the Mediaeval, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Classical periods, is charted, and the rise of Egyptology in the nineteenth century, twentieth-century manifestations of Egyptianisms prompted by the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb, and various aspects of Egyptianising tendencies in the Art-Deco style and afterwards are all traced.

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Most startling of all, the book argues that Christianity owes as much, and probably more, to the Nile as to the Jordan. The author is careful to point out that this is not a comprehensive catalogue, but there cannot be many examples that he has missed in this tour de force The lure of ancient Egypt has proved compelling for many European generations.