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Relief Representation of a Battle Scene

The walls of New Kingdom temples frequently show the king triumphing over Egypt's enemies. Such reliefs either depict idealized versions of actual historical events or serve as propaganda warning foreigners of the inevitable destruction that would follow acts of hostility against Egypt. Symbolically, these scenes represent the victory of Egyptian universal order over the forces of chaos living in foreign lands. In such battle scenes, the Egyptian army, as the defender of Ma'at, is invariably arranged in orderly groupings while the enemy scatters in disarray.

This block has recently been identified as coming from a monumental wall relief commemorating a military victory in Syria by King Tutankhamun. On the accompanying reconstruction of the entire scene, we see a fundamental convention of Egyptian art: relative size implying relative importance. The king, who coordinates all attempts to preserve Ma 'at, is far larger than his chariot forces, infantry, and fan-bearers. Note how the Syrians lie in a confused mass under the ordered charge of the Egyptian chariots.


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