Ancient Egyptian culture, which developed along the Nile River in northeast Africa more than 5,000 years ago, left us some of the most recognizable works of art from antiquity. These two galleries contain works of art once made for Egyptian royalty and the upper and middle classes.

While the objects reflect the Egyptian aesthetic for crisp line and geometric simplicity, they were not created as “art” in the modern sense. There was no word for art in the ancient Egyptian language. Instead, these objects served functional or ritual purposes in everyday life, temple worship, or funerary practices.

The ancient Egyptians believed that a statue could house the spirit of the deceased, a figure of a servant could perform physical labor for the deceased in the afterlife, and painted images of food and drink could provide nourishment for eternity.