was used in ancient Egypt from the Predy-nastic erathrough the Roman period. It enhanced almost every surface inEgyptian art: tomb and temple walls;mud-brick structures such as palaces, domestic shrines, and houses;sculpture and relief; coffins, sarcophagi, and cartonnage; cosmeticobjects, furniture, leather, linen, os-traca, papyri, pottery and tombmodels. Painting added detail to carved, sculpted, and moldedimages and in the case of Qat surfaces, created the form and designitself. The color of paint identified, and codified with its symbolicvalue, information about the image. Specific styles, techniques,representational types, and ateliers are revealed in painted imagesand scenes, which were crafted in response to the political, social,and religious demands of their time. Any discussion of paintingmust of course be limited, given the wide range of surfaces thatcarried painted decoration in ancient Egypt. For our purposes, ageneral study of painting will be followed by a chronologicalsurvey of Hat painting with figural decoration, focusing on thelargest category of painting, that on tomb walls.
.Typology and Techniques.
The Egyptian palette wascomposed of white
number of other colors wereformed by mixing the above colors to form blue-red
gray-blue, brown, and pink, among others. In the Old Kingdom, thebasic palette consisted of black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, andgray. By the Middle Kingdom, red tones were expanded to formbrown and pink; and later in the New Kingdom, additional shadesof blue, yellow, and red were added. This palette continued throughthe remainder of Egyptian painting, becoming more pastel in thePtolemaic and Roman periods.In painting, color had a symbolic and classificatory meaning tothe ancient Egyptians. Black, the color of the fertile earth,symbolized fertility, renewal, and the underworld. Red symbolizedfire, blood, the desert, and chaos;it was the skin color of the male figure in art. Yellow was a solarcolor connoting the sun, the flesh and bones of the gods; it was theskin tone of the female figure in art. White implied purity; green,growth, vigor, and resurrection. Blue, associated with water and theheavens, was frequently found in the bodies, beards, and wigs of deities;in the post-Amama period it became associated with the skin colorof Amun-re.The colors came from naturally occurring substances. Whitecame from calcium carbonate (whiting) or calcium sulphate(gypsum). Huntite white was first employed during the MiddleKingdom and became more common in the New Kingdom, when itwas used as a contrast to whitewash or as a base to bring out theluminosity of the overlaid pigments. Black was carbon fromcharcoal or deposited soot. Ochers, ranging from yellow to red todark brown, originated from naturally occurring iron oxides.Beginning in the Middle Kingdom, yellow was also obtained fromorpiment, which appeared as bright yellow. A lighter yellow wasderived from jarosite. Realgar red was used in the New Kingdomand appeared as a bright orange-red. Introduced in the fifthdynasty, the color blue was composed originally of azurite (coppercarbonate) from the Sinai and Eastern Desert; later it was manufac-tured from a frit compound of heated quartz, lime, and alkalis(natron or plant ash), ground malachite, and calcium carbonate.Green was made of naturally occurring powdered malachite or amixture of malachite and calcium carbonate. Sometimes ocheryellow was mixed with a blue frit to produce green. Varnish (treeresin or beeswax) was also added or applied to color. Varnish, firstused in the Predynastic period in tomb painting; was also appliedon vessels, coffins, minor art objects, and statuary eyes.To make those minerals and compounds suitable forapplication, they were first ground into a powder. Natural gum,derived from indigenous trees such as the acacia or from glue, wascombined with the colored particles. The pigment was then appliedwith a brush to stone, wood, plaster, linen, papyrus, leather, clay,or a wall prepared with gypsum plaster, which had been allowed todry before receiving paint, in a technique known as tempera. Insome cases, rapid execution or heavily trodden areas necessitatedapplying paint to a wet plaster surface, as can be seen on some of the royal palace floors at Tell el-Amama during the reign of Amenhotpe IV in the eighteenth dynasty. In the case of tomb wallsof poor-quality stone, the wall received a mixture of Nile mud andhacked straw, sometimes reinforced with limestone chips, to createa level surface, which was finished with several layers of gypsumplaster and smoothed before painting. Walls