No great civilization continues to speak to us like that of ancient Egypt. But what is it about this ancient civilization that still captures our imaginations? What made Egypt special, allowing it to grow, in Professor Bob Brier's words, "from a scattering of villages across the Nile to the greatest power the world had ever seen"?
Ancient Egyptian civilization is so grand that our minds sometimes have difficulty adjusting to it. Consider time. Ancient Egyptian civilization lasted 3,000 years, longer than any other on the planet. When the young pharaoh Tutankhamen ruled Egypt, the pyramids of Giza had already been standing well over 1,000 years. When Cleopatra came to power, Tutankhamen had been in his tomb more than 1,000 years.
The graphic art of ancient Egypt is very familiar to us, since it was so widely used. We find extraordinary graphic representations on sarcophagi, papyrus scrolls, the walls of tombs and other buildings. They are testimony to a lasting taste for "the art of the contour", and allow us to understand this ancient civilization like no other. The figure we know less about is the artist himself, the scribe. It was he who was the source of these representations; he who, with a simple stroke of a reed pen or paint brush, gave birth to the entire art of Egypt. Respecting precise codes, the scribe’s skills remained unchanged for more than three millennia. They sketched people, signs, plants, animals and geometric figures with a rare visual poetry, like a writer, a scientist, a sociologist or an artist. In this film, we will discover who these scribes really were, and their importance for the society of the Pharaohs. From Saqqara to the Valley of Kings and the abundant collections of European museums, the most beautiful works will be examined, along with the secrets behind their production.