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

In 1986, the band The Bangles sang about “all the old paintings on the tombs” of the figures depicted “walking like an Egyptian.” Though neither an art historian nor an Egyptologist, songwriter Liam Sternberg referred to one of the most striking characteristics of ancient egyptian Fine arts – 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 that created art in this style?

Drawing any object in three dimensions requires a certain angle of view to create the illusion of perspective on a flat surface. To draw an object in two dimensions (height and width), the artist only needs to render one surface of that object. And it turns out that just highlighting one surface has its perks.

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