Throughout Egyptian history the official costume was conventionalized, and the latest kings and even the Roman emperors are arrayed like their predecessors of the IVth Dynasty.
It has usually been assumed that the incised inscriptions, being the more conventionalized, are all of later date than those in relief; but comparison of Egyptian inscriptions, wherein both incised and cameo characters coexisted back to very early times, suggests that this assumption is not necessarily correct.
Some bear figures of the conventionalized sacred tree with worshippers, similar to Babylonian designs.
With these may be named the demon lantern-bearers, so perfect in the grotesque treatment of the diabolical heads and the accurate anatomical forms of the sturdy body and limbs; the colossal temple guardians of the great gate of Tdai-ji, by Unkei and Kwaikei (11th century), somewhat conventionalized, but still bearing evidence of direct study from nature, and inspired with intense energy of action; and the smaller but more accurately modelled temple guardians in the Saikondo, Nara, which almost compare with the fighting gladiator in their realization of menacing strength.
Previous to Professor Friedrich Delitzsch's masterly work on the origin of the most ancient Babylonian system of writing,' no one had correctly understood the facts regarding the beginnings of the cuneiform system, which is now generally recognized as having been originally a pure picture writing which later developed into a conventionalized ideographic and syllabic sign-list.