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The Egyptian Influence on Greek Art

Egyptian influences on Greek art emerged in the archaic period.
Sphenks at Giza Egypt image by TekinT from Fotolia.com

Egyptian influence on Greek art emerged in the 7th century B.C., according to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Heilbrunn Timeline. The resulting naturalism replaced the more geometric style which dominated Greek art prior to that time.


The emergence of successful trading stations in the Nile delta coupled with continued Greek colonization to the east resulted in an increase of contact with eastern art and tradition. This exposure to Egyptian art influenced the poses and posture of figural art in Greece.


Egyptian artists inspired their Greek counterparts to experiment with different methods of making art. Metalwork, gem cutting and ivory carving emerged as a result of Egyptian modeling.


Certain motifs appeared in Greek art during the early archaic period, including the lotus and certain amalgamation animals--fanciful beasts including the sphinx, so closely identified with Egypt, and griffin. The appearance of spiral-like palmettes in Greek ceiling design can be traced to Egyptian origin.


The lotus pattern in Greek decorative art originates with the classical Egyptian upright lotus lily with calyx leaves. Decorating tombs and altars in Egypt, the lotus became a popular design for column capitals in Greece.


Greek ceramics became more ornate and naturalistic under Egyptian influence. The geometric patterns of old were replaced with friezes, battle scenes, animal figures and birds.

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