Many Egyptians believed that when it came to a death of their Pharaoh, they would have to bury the Pharaoh deep inside the Pyramid. The ancient Egyptian literature dates back to the Old Kingdom, in the third millennium BC. Religious literature is best known for its hymns to and its mortuary texts. The oldest extant Egyptian literature is the Pyramid Texts: the mythology and rituals carved around the tombs of rulers. The later, secular literature of ancient Egypt includes the 'wisdom texts', forms of philosophical instruction. The Instruction of Ptahhotep, for example, is a collation of moral proverbs by an Egto (the middle of the second millennium BC) seem to have been drawn from an elite administrative class, and were celebrated and revered into the New Kingdom (to the end of the second millennium). In time, the Pyramid Texts became Coffin Texts (perhaps after the end of the Old Kingdom), and finally, the mortuary literature produced its masterpiece, the Book of the Dead, during the New Kingdom.
The Middle Kingdom was the golden age of Egyptian literature. Some notable texts include the Tale of Neferty, the Instructions of Amenemhat I, the Tale of Sinuhe, the Story of the Shipwrecked Sailor and the Story of the Eloquent Peasant. Instructions became a popular literary genre of the New Kingdom, taking the form of advice on proper behavior. The Story of Wenamun and the Instruction of Any are well-known examples from this period.
During the Greco-Roman period (332 BC − AD 639), Egyptian literature was translated into other languages, and Greco-Roman literature fused with native art into a new style of writing. From this period comes the Rosetta Stone, which became the key to unlocking the mysteries of Egyptian writing to modern scholarship. The great city of Alexandria boasted its famous Library of almost half a million handwritten books during the third century BC. Alexandria's center of learning also produced the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, the Septuagint.
Akhenaten, Dweller in Truth, a 1985 novel by Nobel Literature Laureate Naguib Mahfouz.
Drep During the first few centuries of the Christian era, Egypt was the ultimate source of a great deal of ascetic literature in the Coptic language. Egyptian monasteries translated many Greek and Syriac words, which are now only extant in Coptic. Under Islam, Egypt continued to be a great source of literary endeavor, now in the Arabic language. In 970, al-Azhar University was founded in Cairo, which to this day remains the most important center of Sunni Islamic learning. In 12th-century Egypt, the Jewish Talmudic scholar Maimonides produced his most important work.
In contemporary times, Egyptian novelists and poets were among the last to experiment with modern styles of Arabic-language literature, and the forms they developed have been widely imitated. The first modern Egyptian novel Zaynab by Muhammad Husayn Haykal was published in 1913 in the Egyptian vernacular. Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz was the first Arabic-language writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Many Egyptian books and films are available throughout the Middle East. Other prominent Egyptian writers include Nawal El Saadawi, well known for her feminist works and activism, and Alifa Rifaat who also writes about women and tradition. Vernacular poetry is said to be the most popular literary genre amongst Egyptians, represented most significantly by Bayram el-Tunsi, Ahmed Fouad Negm (Fagumi), Salah Jaheen and Abdel Rahman el-Abnudi.
Egyptian art in antiquity
The Egyptians were one of the first major civilizations to codify design elements in art. The wall painting done in the service of the Pharaohs followed a rigid code of visual rules and meanings. Early Egyptian art is characterized by the absence of linear perspective, which results in a seemingly flat space. These artists tended to create images based on what they knew, and not as much on what they saw. Objects in these artworks generally do not decrease in size as they increase in distance and there is little shading to indicate depth. Sometimes, distance is indicated through the use of tiered space, where more distant objects are drawn higher above the nearby objects, but in the same scale and with no overlapping of forms. People and objects are almost always drawn in profile.
Painting achieved its greats height in Dynasty XVII during the reigns of Tuthmose IV and Amenhotep III. The Fragmentary panel of the Lady Thepu, on the right, dates from the time of the latter king.
Early Egyptian artists did have a system for maintaining dimensions within artwork. They used a grid system that allowed them to create a smaller version of the artwork, and then scale up the design based upon proportional representation in a larger grid.
Egyptian art in modern times
Modern and contemporary Egyptian art can be as diverse as any works in the world art scene. Some well-known names include Mahmoud Mokhtar, Abdel Hadi Al Gazzar, Farouk Hosny, Gazbia Sirry, Kamal Amin, Hussein El Gebaly, Sawsan Amer and many others. Many artists in Egypt have taken on modern media such as digital art and this has been the theme of many exhibitions in Cairo in recent times. There has also been a tendency to use the World Wide Web as an alternative outlet for artists and there is a strong Art-focused internet community on groups that have found origin in Egypt.
Languages of Egypt
Arabic is currently Egypt's official language, it came to Egypt in the 7th century, it's the formal and official language of the state which is used by the government and newspapers. Meanwhile the Egyptian Arabic dialect or Masri (Masry) is the official spoken language of the people. Of the many varieties of Arabic language, the Egyptian dialect is the most widely spoken and the most understood, due to the big influence of Egyptian cinema and the Egyptian media throughout the Arabic-speaking world. Today many foreign students tend to learn it throughout Egyptian songs and movies, and the dialect is being labelled as one of the easiest and fastest to learn. Egypt's position in the heart of the Arabic speaking world has made it the centre of culture and its widespread dialect has had a huge influence on almost all neighbouring dialects, having so many Egyptian sayings in their daily lives.
The Egyptian language, which formed a separate branch among the family of Afro-Asiatic languages, was among the first written languages and is known from the hieroglyphic inscriptions preserved on monuments and sheets of papyrus. The Coptic language, the most recent stage of Egyptian written in mainly Greek alphabet with 7 demotic letters, is today the liturgical language of the Coptic Orthodox Church.
In the lower Nile Valley, southern Egypt, around Kom Ombo and Aswan, there are about 300,000 speakers of Nubian languages, mainly Nobiin, but also Kenuzi-Dongola. Berber language is represented by Siwi, spoken by about 20,000 around the Siwa Oasis of Western Egypt.
Music in Egypt
Egyptian music is a rich mixture of indigenous Egyptian and Western influences.
As early as 4000 BC, ancient Egyptians were playing harps and flutes, as well as two indigenous instruments: the ney and the oud. However, there is a little notation of Egyptian music before the 7th century AD, when Egypt became part of the Muslim world. Percussion and vocal music became important at this time and has remained an important part of Egyptian music today.
Contemporary Egyptian music traces its beginnings to the creative work of luminaries such as Abdu-l Hamuli, Almaz, Sayed Mikkawi, and Mahmud Osman, who were all patronized by Khedive Ismail and who influenced the later work of Sayed Darwish, Umm Kulthum, Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim Hafez and other Egyptian music giants.
From the 1970s onwards, Egyptian pop music has become increasingly important in Egyptian culture, particularly among the large youth population of Egypt. Egyptian folk music is also popular, played during weddings and other festivities. In the last quarter of the 20th century, Egyptian music was a way to communicate social and class issues.
About 75% of Egypt's population is Muslim, with a Sunni majority. About 22% of the population is Coptic Christian; other religions and other forms of Christianity comprise the remaining three percent. Sunni Islam sees Egypt as an important part of its religion due to not only Quranic verses mentioning the country, but also due to the Al-Azhar University, one of the earliest of the world universities, and the longest functioning. It was created as a school for religion studies and works.