Why does ancient Egypt’s particular art style make everything look flat?

In 1986, The Bangles sang about “all the old tomb paintings”, where the figures they describe “walk like an Egyptian”. Although he was neither an art historian nor an Egyptologist, singer-songwriter Liam Sternberg was referring to one of the most prominent features of ancient egyptian visual art – the depiction of people, animals, and objects on a flat, two-dimensional plane. Why did the ancient Egyptians do this? And is ancient Egypt the only culture to create art in this style?

Drawing any object in three dimensions requires a specific perspective to create the illusion of perspective on a flat surface. Drawing an object in two dimensions (height and width) requires the artist to depict only one surface of that object. And highlighting just one surface, it turns out, has its advantages.

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