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Art and life in ancient Egypt
Art and life in ancient Egypt

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5 Decoding the Nebamun paintings

The full meaning of the Nebamun paintings is probably inaccessible to us today. One thing that is certain, however, is that they are every bit as much concerned with eternity and with the afterlife, with the projection of an ideal of harmony, plenty and order, as are the more usual, more ‘static’, types of ancient Egyptian tomb decoration. But when we look at some of their details (see Figure 9 for example), and particularly at the relatively informal way they have been painted we may be encouraged to think that here we also have a glimpse of ‘the painting of ancient life’.

Details from the Nebamun paintings
© Trustees of the British Museum
Figure 9 Details from the Nebamun paintings (EA 37984, EA 37978, EA 37982, EA 37976)