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Free course

Art and life in ancient Egypt

Free statement of participation on completion
Art and life in ancient Egypt

Around 1350 BC, the Egyptian grain accountant Nebamun commissioned the walls of his tomb-chapel to be painted with scenes depicting his afterlife, and the world in which he lived. Nebamun worked in the temple of Amun at Karnak during the reign of Amenhotep III (c. 1390-1352 BC). Amenhotep was one of the most important kings of the 18th Dynasty, one of the high points of Egyptian wealth, but his reign preceded a period of dramatic upheaval in Egyptian society. In 1820 eleven pieces were removed from the walls of the tomb-chapel, location now unknown, and were acquired by the British Museum, where they are now iconic masterpieces of the collection.

This free course explores the history and meaning of these paintings.

This course has been produced by the Open University in collaboration with the British Museum.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • understand the place of the paintings in the context of Egyptian history and European art
  • answer the question 'What do the paintings say about the social structures and belief systems?'
  • discuss wine, partially clad dancers, ox-meat and fishing and fowling in the marshes – is this an idealised account, or life as it really was?
  • consider who painted these scenes and how and the role artists had in society.

First Published: 16/06/2014

Updated: 04/02/2020

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