Why does the distinctive art style of ancient Egypt make everything look flat?

In 1986, The Bangles sang about “all the old tomb paintings” where the figures they depict “walk like Egyptians”. Although he was neither an art historian nor an Egyptologist, lyricist Liam Sternberg had in mind one of the most notable features of ancient egyptian visual art — depicting people, animals, and objects on a flat, two-dimensional plane. Why did the ancient Egyptians do this? And was ancient Egypt the only culture to create art in this style?

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

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