Private tomb reliefs of the late period from Lower Egypt
This study considers the relief decoration of private tombs in Lower Egypt in the period 664-332 BC. The basis for analysis is a chronologically arranged descriptive catalogue, which includes both isolated blocks in museum collections and tombs whose location is known. The present condition of the relief and its content are described in detail there. Texts are considered where they provide infotmation on provenance and dating, and hand-copies are provided. Each piece is illustrated in the plate volume. Enough of the material can be dated by textual evidence to provide a solid framework for stylistic ordering of the remainder. The resulting chronology has important implications, dividing the period into two major phases, covering the seventh and sixth centuries, and the fourth century, separated by a hiatus in production of tomb reliefs. The chronology proposed eliminates the possibility that either Greeks or Persians exercised any significant influence on Egyptian art before the very end of the period. Instead, native tradition emerges as the primary inspiration for Late Period artists. Two sources stand out. The first is the Old-Middle Kingdom tomb repertory (archaism), the second is the New Kingdom tradition carried on in the minor arts, a source largely-ignored hitherto. These were not slavishly copied, but adapted and "modernized" to suit the taste of the time. The independence and creativity of Late Period artists is emphasized. A discussion of stylistic development in light of the dating system is given, and several themes are analyzed in detail as illustrations of the larger issues raised.