Treasures of Ancient Egypt

The Birth of Art

Series 1 - Episode 1 The Birth of Art



Eighteen months ago, art critic Alastair Sooke took us on an enthralling exploration of the wonders of Roman art, from the pioneering portraitists of the Republic to the masterpieces of the wider Empire such as the Mildenhall Treasure. Now he’s heading further east, and further back in time, to look at the art that developed in Egypt over 4,000 years ago, seen through the prism of 30 key works.

In the first episode of a visually stunning three-part series, he examines the first creative endeavours of the people who settled along the banks of the life-giving Nile, skilled artisans whose work was infused with their religious belief. Thanks to Tutankhamun, we’re all familiar with what we imagine Egyptian art to be, but its foundations go back further than you’d imagine, with the surprisingly early development of a sophisticated canon of representation.


Alastair Sooke tells the story of Ancient Egyptian art through 30 masterpieces. He treks across the Sahara and travels along the Nile to find the rarely seen pieces crafted by the country's earliest inhabitants, and explores how the works often reflected people's religion. He is also joined by contemporary artists who are confounded by the technical skills of the craftsmen.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Alastair Sooke
Director Tim Dunn
Executive Producer Franny Moyle
Producer Tim Dunn