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EGYPTIAN

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 372 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE Although structures discovered in Chaldaea, at Tello and Nippur, seeming to date back to the fifth millennium B.C., suggest that the earlier settlements of mankind were in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates, north of the Persian Gulf, it is to Egypt that we must turn for the most ancient records of monumental architecture (see also EGYPT: Art and Archaeology). The proximity of the ranges of hills (the Arabian and Libyan chains) to the Nile, and the facilities which that river afforded for the transport of the material quarried in them, enabled the Egyptians at a very early period to reproduce in stone those structures in unburnt brick to which we have already referred. Although the great founder of the first Egyptian monarchy is reputed to be Menes, the Thinite who traditionally founded the capital at Memphis, he was preceded, according to Flinders Petrie, by an earlier invading race coming from the south, who established a monarchy at This near Abydos, having entered the country by the Kosseir road from the Red Sea; and this may account for the early tradition that it was the Ethiopians who founded the earliest dynastic race, " Ethiopians " being a wide term which may embrace several races. Egyptian architecture is usually described under the principal periods in which it was developed. They are as follows ':—(A) the Memphite kingdom, whose capital was at Memphis, south-west of Cairo, the Royal Domain extending south some 30 to 40 m.; (B) the first Theban kingdom with Thebes as the capital ; this covers three dynasties. Then follows an interregnum of five dynasties, when the invasion of the Hyksos took place ; this was architecturally unproductive. On the expulsion of the Hyksos there followed (C) the second Theban kingdom, consisting of three dynasties, under whose reign the finest temples were erected throughout the country. After 1102 followed six dynasties (1102—525 B.C.), with capitals at Sais, Tanis and Bubastis, when the decadence of art and power took place. Then followed the Persian invasion, 525–331 B.C., which was destructive instead of being reproductive. On the defeat of the Persians by Alexander the Great, and after his death in 323 B.C., was founded (D) the Ptolemaic kingdom, with Alexandria as the capital. A great revival of art then took place, which to a certain extent was carried on under the Roman occupation from 27 B.C., and lasted about 300 years. With the exception of a small temple, found by Petrie in front of the. temple of Medum, and the so-called " Temple of the Sphinx," the only monuments remaining of the Memphite kingdom are the Pyramids, which were built by the kings as their tombs, and the mastabas, in which the members of the royal family and of the priests and chiefs were buried. The mastaba (Arabic for " bench ") was a tomb, oblong in plan, with battering side and a flat roof, containing various chambers, of which the. principal were (1) the Chapel for offerings, (2) the Serdab, in which the Ka or double of the deceased was deposited, and (3) the well, always excavated in the rock, in which the mummy was placed. The three best-known pyramids are those situated about 7 M. south-west of Cairo, which were built by the second, third and fourth kings of the fourth dynasty,—Khufu (c. 3969–3908 B.C.), Khafra (c. 3908–3845 B.C.), and Menkaura (c. 3845–3784 B.C.), who are better known as Cheops, Cephren and Mycerinus. The first of these is the largest and most remarkable in its construction and setting out. The pyramid of Cephren was slightly smaller, and that of Mycerinus still more so, compensated for by a casing in granite. The dimensions and other details are given in the article PYRAMIDS. From the purely architectural point of view they are the least impressive of masses, and their immense size is not realized until on a close approach. The temple of the Sphinx, attributed to Cephren, is T-shaped in plan, with two rows of square piers down the vertical and one row down the cross portion. These carried a flat roof of stone. The temple is remarkable for the splendid finish given to the granite piers, and to the alabaster slabs which cased the rock in which it had .been partially excavated (but see EGYPT: History, I.). The Serapeum at Sakkara, in which the sacred bulls were embalmed and buried, the tomb of Ti (a fifth dynasty courtier), and the tombs of the kings and queens of Thebes, have no special architectural features which call for description here. We pass on to the first Theban kingdom, the eighth king of which, Nebhepre Menthotp III., built the temple lately discovered on the south side of the temple at Deir-el-Bahri, of which it is the prototype. It was a sepulchial temple, and being built on rising ground was approached by flights of steps. In the centre was a solid mass of masonry which, it is thought by some authorities, was crowned by a pyramid. This was surrounded by a double portico with square piers in the outer range, and octagonal piers in the inner range, there being a wall between the two ranges. The earliest tombs in which the column (q.v.) appears, as an architectural feature, are those at Beni Hasan, attributed to the period of Senwosri (formerly read Usertesen) I., the second king of the twelfth dynasty. These are carved in"the solid rock. There are two i For the various chronological systems proposed see EGYPT: Chronology. tyypes, the Polygonal column, sometimes in error called the Protodoric, which was cut in t'Ze rock in imitation of a wooden column, and a second variety known as the Lotus column, which is employed inside, supporting the rock-cut roof, but having such slender pro-portions as to suggest that it was copied from the posts of a porch, round which the Lotus plant had been tied. The culminating period of the Egyptian style begins with the kings of the eighteenth dynasty, their principal capital being Thebes, described by Herodotus as the " City with the Hundred Gates "; and although the execution of the masonry is inferior to that of the older dynasties, the grandeur of the conception of their temples, and the wealth displayed in their realization entitle Thebes to the most important position in the history of the Egyptian style, especially as the temples there grouped on both sides of the river exceed in number and dimensions the whole of the other temples throughout Egypt. This to a certain extent may possibly be due to the distance of Thebes from the Mediterranean, which has contributed to their preservation from invaders. We have already referred to the probable origin of the peculiar batter or raking side given to the walls of the pylons and temples, with the Torus moulding surrounding the same and crowned with the cavetto cornice. What, however, is more remarkable is the fact that, once accepted as an important and characteristic feature, it should never have been departed from, and that down to and during the Roman occupation the same batter is found in all the temples, though constructively there was no necessity for it. The strict adherence to tradition may possibly account for this, but it has resulted in a magnificent repose possessed by these structures, which seem built to last till eternity.'' An avenue with sphinxes on both sides forms the approach to the temple. These avenues were sometimes of considerable length, as in the case of that reaching from Karnak to Luxor, which is 11- m. long. The leading features of the temple (see fig. 1) were:—(A) The pylon, consisting of two pyramidal masses of masonry crowned with a cavetto cornice, united in the centre by an immense doorway, in front of which on either side were seated figures of the king and obelisks. (B) A great open court surrounded by peristyles on two or three sides. (C) A great hall with a range of columns down the centre on either side, forming what in European architecture would be known as nave and aisles, with additional aisles on each side; these had columns of less height than those first mentioned, so as to allow of a clerestory, lighting the central avenue. (D) Smaller halls with their flat roofs carried by columns. And finally (E) the sanctuary, with passage round giving access to the halls occupied by the priest. Broadly speaking, the temples bear considerable resemblance to one another (see TEMPLE), except O a 0 in dimensions. There is one im- portant distinction, however, to be O O drawn between the Theban temples D FIG. I.—Planofthe O and those built under the Ptolemaic Templeof Chons. rule. In these latter-the halls are C7 - not enclosed between pylons, but A, Pylon, left open on the side of the entrance B, Great court. " court with screens in between the C, Hall of columns, columns, the hall being lighted from D, Priest's hall. above the screens. The temples of E, Sanctuary. Edfu, Esna and Dendera are thus arranged. The great temple of Karnak (fig. 2) differs from the type just described, in that it was the work of many successive monarchs. Thus.the sanctuary, built in granite, and the surrounding chambers, were erected by Senwosri (Usertesen) I. of the twelfth dynasty. In front of this, on the west side, pylons were added by Tethmosis (Thothmes, Tahutmes) I. (1541–1516), enclosing a hall, in the walls of which were Osirid figures. In front of this a third pylon was added, which Seti (Sethos) I. utilized as one of the enclosures of the great hall of columns (fig. 3), measuring 170 ft. deep by 329 ft. wide, having added a fourth pylon on the other side to enclose it. Again in front of this was the great open court with porticoes on two sides, and a great pylon, forming the entrance. In the rear of all these buildings, and some distance beyond the sanctuary, Tethmosis III. (1503–1449) built a great colonnaded hall with other halls round, considered to have been a palace. All these structures form a part only of the great temple, on the right and left of which (i.e. to the north-east and south-west) were other temples preceded by pylons and connected one with the other by avenues df sphinxes. Though of small size comparatively, one of the best preserved is the temple of Chons, built by Rameses III. It was from this temple that anavenue of sphinxes led to the temple of Luxor, which was begun by Amenophis III. (1414–1379 B.C.), and completed by Rameses II. (1300–1234). On the opposite or west bank of the Nile are the temple of Medinet Abu, the Ramesseum, the temples of Kurna and of Deir-el-Bahri; the last being a sepulchral temple, which, built on rising ground, had flights of steps leading to the higher level (fig. 4), and porticoes with square piers at the foot of each terrace. In the rear on the right-hand side was found an altar, the only example of its kind known in A. first P opyton. B. Great Court with Colonnades in centre. C. Second Propylon. D. Hall of Columns. E. Third Propylon. F. Fourth Propylon. G. Hall with Osirid figures. H. Granite Sanctuary and adjoining chambers. I. Open Area K. Columnar Edifice of Tethmosis III (XVIIIth. Dynasty). L. Temple of Rameses Ill. (XXth. Dynasty/. M.Temple of Sethos II. (XIXfh. Dynasty). a. Sculptures of Sethos I. (XIXth. Dynasty). b. Sculptures of Sheshonk (XXI/ad. Dynasty). C. Sculptures of itamcoea /I. (XIXth. Dynasty d. Small Obelisks. e. Large Obelisks„ f. Pillars of &meow/ I. (XIlth. Dynasty. .g., Hail of Ancestors. •• • • B 0
End of Article: EGYPTIAN
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