Gaston Camille Charles Maspero.

Manual of Egyptian Archaeology and Guide to the Study of Antiquities in Egypt online

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fringe alone being retained below the top bands, while a slight ridge
between each of the three bands recalls the original stems (fig. 70). The
capital underwent a like process of degradation. At Beni Hasan, it is
finely clustered throughout its height. In the processional hall of
Thothmes III., at Luxor, and at Medamot, a circle of small pointed leaves
and channellings around the base lessens the effect, and reduces it to a
mere grooved and truncated cone. In the hypostyle hall of Karnak, at
Abydos, at the Ramesseum, and at Medinet Habû, various other ornaments, as
triangular leaves, hieroglyphic inscriptions, or bands of cartouches
flanked by uraei, fill the space thus unfortunately obtained. Neither is
the abacus hidden as in the campaniform capital, but stands out boldly, and
displays the cartouche of the royal founder.

[Illustration: Fig. 71. - Hathor-head capital, Ptolemaic.]


III. _Columns with Hathor-head Capitals_. - We find examples of the Hathor-
headed column dating from ancient times, as at Deir el Baharî; but this
order is best known in buildings of the Ptolemaic period, as at Contra
Latopolis, Philae, and Denderah. The shaft and the base present no special
characteristics. They resemble those of the campaniform columns. The
capital is in two divisions. Below we have a square block, bearing on each
face a woman's head in high relief and crowned with a naos. The woman has
the ears of a heifer. Her hair, confined over the brow by three vertical
bands, falls behind the ears, and hangs long on the shoulders. Each head
supports a fluted cornice, on which stands a naos framed between two
volutes, and crowned by a slender abacus (fig. 71). Thus each column has
for its capital four heads of Hathor. Seen from a distance, it at once
recalls the form of the sistrum, so frequently represented in the bas-
reliefs as held in the hands of queens and goddesses. It is in fact a
sistrum, in which the regular proportions of the parts are disregarded. The
handle is gigantic, while the upper part of the instrument is unduly
reduced. This notion so pleased the Egyptian fancy that architects did not
hesitate to combine the sistrum design with elements borrowed from other
orders. The four heads of Hathor placed above a campaniform capital,
furnished Nectenebo with a composite type for his pavilion at Philae (fig.
72). I cannot say that the compound is very satisfactory, but the column is
in reality less ugly than it appears in engravings.

[Illustration: Fig. 72. - Campaniform and Hathor-headed capital, Philae.]

[Illustration: Fig. 73. - Section of the hypostyle hall at Karnak to show
the
arrangement of the two varieties: campaniform and lotus-bud columns.]

Shafts of columns were regulated by no fixed rules of proportion or
arrangement. The architect might, if he chose, make use of equal heights
with very different diameters, and, regardless of any considerations apart
from those of general harmony, might design the various parts according to
whatever scale best suited him. The dimensions of the capital had no
invariable connection with those of the shaft, nor was the height of the
shaft dependent on the diameter of the column. At Karnak, the campaniform
columns of the hypostyle hall measure 10 feet high in the capital, and 55
feet high in the shaft, with a lower diameter of 11 feet 8 inches. At
Luxor, the capital measures 11-1/2 feet, the shaft 49 feet, and the
diameter at the spring of the base 11-1/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the shaft
and capital measure 35 feet, and the spring diameter is 6-1/2 feet. The
lotus-bud or clustered column gives similar results. At Karnak, in the
aisles of the hypostyle hall, the capital is 10 feet high, the shaft 33
feet, and the base diameter 6-3/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the capital is 5-
1/2 feet high, the shaft 24-1/2 feet, and the base diameter 5 feet 10
inches. We find the same irregularity as to architraves. Their height is
determined only by the taste of the architect or the necessities of the
building. So also with the spacing of columns. Not only does the inter-
columnar space vary considerably between temple and temple, or chamber and
chamber, but sometimes - as in the first court at Medinet Habû - they vary in
the same portico. We have thus far treated separately of each type; but
when various types were associated in a single building, no fixed relative
proportions were observed. In the hypostyle hall at Karnak, the campaniform
columns support the nave, while the lotus-bud variety is relegated to the
aisles (fig. 73). There are halls in the temple of Khonsû where the lotus-
bud column is the loftiest, and others where the campaniform dominates the
rest. In what remains of the Medamot structure, campaniform and lotus-bud
columns are of equal height. Egypt had no definite orders like those of
Greece, but tried every combination to which the elements of the column
could be made to lend themselves; hence, we can never determine the
dimensions of an Egyptian column from those of one of its parts.


[12] For an account of the excavations at Bubastis, see Eighth and Tenth
Memoirs of the Egypt Exploration Fund, by M.E. Naville.

[13] French "Promenoir"; this is perhaps best expressed by "Processional
Hall," in accordance with the description of its purpose on p. 67.
- A.B.E.




2. THE TEMPLE.

[Illustration: Fig. 74. - Plan of temple of the Sphinx.]

Most of the famous sanctuaries - Denderah, Edfû, Abydos - were founded before
Men a by the _Servants of Hor_.[14] Becoming dilapidated or ruined in the
course of ages, they have been restored, rebuilt, remodelled, one after the
other, till nothing remains of the primitive design to show us what the
first Egyptian architecture was like. The funerary temples built by the
kings of the Fourth Dynasty have left some traces.[15] That of the second
pyramid of Gizeh was so far preserved at the beginning of the last century,
that Maillet saw four large pillars standing. It is now almost entirely
destroyed; but this loss has been more than compensated by the discovery,
in 1853, of a temple situate about fifty yards to the southward of the
sphinx (fig. 74). The façade is still hidden by the sand, and the inside is
but partly uncovered. The core masonry is of fine Tûrah limestone. The
casing, pillars, architraves, and roof were constructed with immense blocks
of alabaster or red granite (Note 9). The plan is most simple: In the
middle (A) is a great hall in shape of the letter T, adorned with sixteen
square pillars 16 feet in height; at the north-west corner of this hall is
a narrow passage on an inclined plane (B), by which the building is now
entered;[16] at the south-west corner is a recess (C) which contains six
niches, in pairs one over the other. A long gallery opening at each end
into a square chamber, now filled with rubbish (E), completes the plan.
Without any main door, without windows, and entered through a passage too
long to admit the light of day, the building can only have received light
and air through slanting air-slits in the roofing, of which traces are yet
visible on the tops of the walls (_e, e_) on each side of the main hall
(Note 10). Inscriptions, bas-reliefs, paintings, such as we are accustomed
to find everywhere in Egypt, are all wanting; and yet these bare walls
produce as great an impression upon the spectator as the most richly
decorated temples of Thebes. Not only grandeur but sublimity has been
achieved in the mere juxtaposition of blocks of granite and alabaster, by
means of purity of line and exactness of proportion.

Some few scattered ruins in Nubia, the Fayûm, and Sinai, do not suffice to
prove whether the temples of the Twelfth Dynasty merited the praises
lavished on them in contemporary inscriptions or not. Those of the Theban
kings, of the Ptolemies, and of the Caesars which are yet standing are in
some cases nearly perfect, while almost all are easy of restoration to
those who conscientiously study them upon the spot. At first sight, they
seem to present an infinite variety as to arrangement; but on a closer view
they are found to conform to a single type. We will begin with the
sanctuary. This is a low, small, obscure, rectangular chamber, inaccessible
to all save Pharaoh and the priests. As a rule it contained neither statue
nor emblem, but only the sacred bark, or a tabernacle of painted wood
placed upon a pedestal. A niche in the wall, or an isolated shrine formed
of a single block of stone, received on certain days the statue, or
inanimate symbol of the local god, or the living animal, or the image of
the animal, sacred to that god. A temple must necessarily contain this one
chamber; and if it contained but this one chamber, it would be no less a
temple than the most complex buildings. Very rarely, however, especially in
large towns, was the service of the gods thus limited to the strictly
necessary. Around the sanctuary, or "divine house," was grouped a series of
chambers in which sacrificial and ceremonial objects were stored, as
flowers, perfumes, stuffs, and precious vessels. In advance of this block
of buildings were next built one or more halls supported on columns; and in
advance of these came a courtyard, where the priests and devotees
assembled. This courtyard was surrounded by a colonnade to which the public
had access, and was entered through a gateway flanked by two towers, in
front of which were placed statues, or obelisks; the whole being surrounded
by an enclosure wall of brickwork, and approached through an avenue of
sphinxes. Every Pharaoh was free to erect a hall still more sumptuous in
front of those which his predecessors had built; and what he did, others
might do after him. Thus, successive series of chambers and courts, of
pylons and porticoes, were added reign after reign to the original nucleus;
and - vanity or piety prompting the work - the temple continued to increase
in every direction, till space or means had failed.

[Illustration: Fig. 75. - South Temple of Amenhotep III. at Elephantine.]

[Illustration: Fig. 76. - Plan of temple of Amenhotep III., at El Kab.]

The most simple temples were sometimes the most beautiful. This was the
case as regards the sanctuaries erected by Amenhotep III. in the island of
Elephantine, which were figured by the members of the French expedition at
the end of the last century, and destroyed by the Turkish governor of Asûan
in 1822. The best preserved, namely, the south temple (fig. 75), consisted
of but a single chamber of sandstone, 14 feet high, 31 feet wide, and 39
feet long. The walls, which were straight, and crowned with the usual
cornice, rested on a platform of masonry some 8 feet above the ground. This
platform was surrounded by a parapet wall, breast high. All around the
temple ran a colonnade, the sides each consisting of seven square pillars,
without capital or base, and the two façades, front and back, being
supported by two columns with the lotus-bud capital. Both pillars and
columns rose direct from the parapet; except on the east front, where a
flight of ten or twelve steps, enclosed between two walls of the same
height as the platform, led up to the _cella_. The two columns at the head
of the steps were wider apart than those of the opposite face, and through
the space thus opened was seen a richly-decorated door. A second door
opened at the other end, beneath the portico. Later, in Roman times, this
feature was utilised in altering the building. The inter-columnar space at
the end was filled up, and thus was obtained a second hall, rough and bare,
but useful for the purposes of the temple service. These Elephantine
sanctuaries bring to mind the peripteral temples of the Greeks, and this
resemblance to one of the most familiar forms of classical architecture
explains perhaps the boundless admiration with which they were regarded by
the French savants. Those of Mesheikh, of El Kab, and of Sharonah are
somewhat more elaborate. The building at El Kab is in three divisions (fig.
76); first, a hall of four columns (A); next, a chamber (B) supported by
four Hathor-headed pillars; and in the end wall, opposite the door, a niche
(C), approached by four steps. Of these small oratories the most complete
model now remaining belongs to the Ptolemaic period; namely, the temple of
Hathor at Deir el Medineh (fig. 77). Its length is just double its breadth.
The walls are built with a batter inclining inwards,[17] and are externally
bare, save at the door, which is framed in a projecting border covered with
finely-sculptured scenes. The interior is in three parts: A portico (B),
supported by two lotus flower columns; a pronaos (C), reached by a flight
of four steps, and separated from the portico by a wall which connects the
two lotus flower columns with two Hathor-headed pilasters _in antis_;
lastly, the sanctuary (D), flanked by two small chambers (E, E), which are
lighted by square openings cut in the ceiling. The ascent to the terrace is
by way of a staircase, very ingeniously placed in the south corner of the
portico, and furnished with a beautiful open window (F). This is merely a
temple in miniature; but the parts, though small, are so well proportioned
that it would be impossible to conceive anything more delicate or graceful.

[Illustration: Fig. 77. - Plan of temple of Hathor, Deir el Medineh.]

[Illustration: Fig. 78. - Plan of temple of Khonsû, Karnak.]

[Illustration: Fig. 79. - Pylon, with masts, from a bas-relief in the temple
of Khonsû at Karnak.]

[Illustration: Fig. 80. - The Ramesseum restored, to show the rising of the
ground.]

[Illustration: Fig. 81. - Crypts in the thickness of the walls, round the
sanctuary at Denderah.]

[Illustration: Fig. 82. - The pronaos of Edfû, as seen from the top of the
eastern pylon.]

We cannot say as much for the temple which the Pharaohs of the Twentieth
Dynasty erected to the south of Karnak, in honour of the god Khonsû (fig.
78); but if the style is not irreproachable, the plan is nevertheless so
clear, that one is tempted to accept it as the type of an Egyptian temple,
in preference to others more elegant or majestic. On analysis, it resolves
itself into two parts separated by a thick wall (A, A). In the centre of
the lesser division is the Holy of Holies (B), open at both ends and
isolated from the rest of the building by a surrounding passage (C) 10
feet in width. To the right and left of this sanctuary are small dark
chambers (D, D), and behind it is a hall of four columns (E), from which
open seven other chambers (F, F). Such was the house of the god, having no
communication with the adjoining parts, except by two doors (G) in the
southern wall (A, A). These opened into a wide and shallow hypostyle hall
(H), divided into nave and aisles. The nave is supported by four lotus-
flower columns, 23 feet in height; the aisles each contain two lotus-bud
columns 18 feet high. The roof of the nave is, therefore, 5 feet higher
than that of the sides. This elevation was made use of for lighting
purposes, the clerestory being fitted with stone gratings, which admitted
the daylight. The court (I) was square, and surrounded by a double
colonnade entered by way of four side-gates and a great central gateway
flanked by two quadrangular towers with sloping fronts. This pylon (K)
measures 105 feet in length, 33 feet in width, and 60 feet in height. It
contains no chambers, but only a narrow staircase, which leads to the top
of the gate, and thence up to the towers. Four long grooves in the façade,
reaching to a third of its height, correspond to four quadrangular openings
cut through. the whole thickness of the masonry. Here were fixed four
great wooden masts, formed of joined beams and held in place by a wooden
framework fixed in the four openings above mentioned. From these masts
floated long streamers of various colours (fig. 79). Such was the temple of
Khonsû, and such, in their main features, were the majority of the greater
temples of Theban and Ptolemaic times, as Luxor, the Ramesseum, Medinet
Habû, Edfû, and Denderah. Though for the most part half in ruins, they
affect one with a strange and disquieting sense of oppression. As mystery
was a favourite attribute of the Egyptian gods, even so the plan of their
temples is in such wise devised as to lead gradually from the full sunshine
of the outer world to the obscurity of their retreats. At the entrance we
find large open spaces, where air and light stream freely in. The hypostyle
hall is pervaded by a sober twilight; the sanctuary is more than half lost
in a vague darkness; and at the end of the building, in the farthest of the
chambers, night all but reigns completely. The effect of distance which was
produced by this gradual diminution of light, was still further heightened
by various structural artifices. The parts, for instance, are not on the
same level. The ground rises from the entrance (fig. 80), and there are
always a few steps to mount in passing from one part to another. In the
temple of Khonsû the difference of level is not more than 5-1/4 feet, but
it is combined with a lowering of the roof, which in most cases is very
strongly marked. From the pylon to the wall at the farther end, the height
decreases continuously. The peristyle is loftier than the hypostyle hall,
and the hypostyle hall is loftier than the sanctuary. The last hall of
columns and the farthest chamber are lower and lower still. The architects
of Ptolemaic times changed certain details of arrangement. They erected
chapels and oratories on the terraced roofs, and reserved space for the
construction of secret passages and crypts in the thickness of the walls,
wherein to hide the treasure of the god (fig. 81). They, however,
introduced only two important modifications of the original plan. The
sanctuary was formerly entered by two opposite doors; they left but one.
Also the colonnade, which was originally continued round the upper end of
the court, or, where there was no court, along the façade of the temple,
became now the pronaos, so forming an additional chamber. The columns of
the outer row are retained, but built into a wall reaching to about half
their height. This connecting wall is surmounted by a cornice, which thus
forms a screen, and so prevented the outer throng from seeing what took
place within (fig. 82). The pronaos is supported by two, three, or even
four rows of columns, according to the size of the edifice. For the rest,
it is useful to compare the plan of the temple of Edfû (fig. 83) with that
of the temple of Khonsû, observing how little they differ the one from the
other.

[Illustration: Fig. 83. - Plan of temple, Edfû.]

[Illustration: Fig. 84. - Plan of the temple of Karnak in the reign of
Amenhotep III.]

[Illustration: Fig. 85. - Plan of Hypostyle Hall, Karnak.]

[Illustration: Fig. 86. - Plan of great temple, Luxor.]

[Illustration: Fig. 87. - Plan of the Isle of Philae.]

Thus designed, the building sufficed for all the needs of worship. If
enlargement was needed, the sanctuary and surrounding chambers were
generally left untouched, and only the ceremonial parts of the building, as
the hypostyle halls, the courts, or pylons, were attacked. The procedure of
the Egyptians under these circumstances is best illustrated by the history
of the great temple of Karnak. Founded by Ûsertesen I., probably on the
site of a still earlier temple, it was but a small building, constructed of
limestone and sandstone, with granite doorways. The inside was decorated
with sixteen-sided pillars. The second and third Amenemhats added some work
to it, and the princes of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties adorned
it with statues and tables of offerings. It was still unaltered when, in
the eighteenth century B.C., Thothmes I., enriched with booty of war,
resolved to enlarge it. In advance of what already stood there, he erected
two chambers, preceded by a court and flanked by two isolated chapels. In
advance of these again, he erected three successive pylons, one behind the
other. The whole presented the appearance of a vast rectangle placed
crosswise at the end of another rectangle. Thothmes II. and Hatshepsût[18]
covered the walls erected by their father with bas-relief sculptures, but
added no more buildings. Hatshepsût, however, in order to bring in her
obelisks between the pylons of Thothmes I., opened a breach in the south
wall, and overthrew sixteen of the columns which stood in that spot.
Thothmes III., probably finding certain parts of the structure unworthy of
the god, rebuilt the first pylon, and also the double sanctuary, which he
renewed in the red granite of Syene. To the eastward, he rebuilt some old
chambers, the most important among them being the processional hall, used
for the starting-point and halting-place of ceremonial processions, and
these he surrounded with a stone wall. He also made the lake whereon the
sacred boats were launched on festival days; and, with a sharp change of
axis, he built two pylons facing towards the south, thus violating the true
relative proportion which had till then subsisted between the body and the
front of the general mass of the building. The outer enclosure was now too
large for the earlier pylons, and did not properly accord with the later
ones. Amenhotep III. corrected this defect. He erected a sixth and yet more
massive pylon, which was, therefore, better suited for the façade. As it
now stood (fig. 84), the temple surpassed even the boldest architectural
enterprises hitherto attempted; but the Pharaohs of the Nineteenth Dynasty
succeeded in achieving still more. They added only a hypostyle hall (fig.
85) and a pylon; but the hypostyle hall measured 170 feet in length by 329
feet in breadth. Down the centre they carried a main avenue of twelve
columns, with lotus-flower capitals, being the loftiest ever erected in the
interior of a building; while in the aisles, ranged in seven rows on either
side, they planted 122 columns with lotus-bud capitals. The roof of the
great nave rose to a height of 75 feet above the level of the ground, and
the pylon stood some fifty feet higher still. During a whole century, three
kings laboured to perfect this hypostyle hall. Rameses I. conceived the
idea; Seti I. finished the bulk of the work, and Rameses II. wrought nearly
the whole of the decoration. The Pharaohs of the next following dynasties
vied with each other for such blank spaces as might be found, wherein to
engrave their names upon the columns, and so to share the glory of the
three founders; but farther they did not venture. Left thus, however, the
monument was still incomplete. It still needed one last pylon and a
colonnaded court. Nearly three centuries elapsed before the task was again
taken in hand. At last the Bubastite kings decided to begin the colonnades,
but their work was as feeble as their, resources were limited. Taharkah,
the Ethiopian, imagined for a moment that he was capable of rivalling the
great Theban Pharaohs, and planned a hypostyle hall even larger than the
first; but he made a false start. The columns of the great nave, which were
all that he had time to erect, were placed too wide apart to admit of being
roofed over; so they never supported anything, but remained as memorials of
his failure. Finally, the Ptolemies, faithful to the traditions of the
native monarchy, threw themselves into the work; but their labours were
interrupted by revolts at Thebes, and the earthquake of the year 27 B.C.
destroyed part of the temple, so that the pylon remained for ever
unfinished. The history of Karnak is identical with that of all the great
Egyptian temples. When closely studied, the reason why they are for the
most part so irregular becomes evident. The general plan is practically the
same, and the progress of the building was carried forward in the same
way; but the architects could not always foresee the future importance of
their work, and the site was not always favourable to the development of
the building. At Luxor (fig. 86), the progress went on methodically enough
under Amenhotep III. and Seti I., but when Rameses II. desired to add to
the work of his predecessors, a bend in the river compelled him to turn
eastwards. His pylon is not parallel to that of Amenhotep III., and his
colonnades make a distinct angle with the general axis of the earlier work.
At Philae (fig. 87) the deviation is still greater. Not only is the larger
pylon out of alignment with the smaller, but the two colonnades are not
parallel with each other. Neither are they attached to the pylon with a due
regard to symmetry. This arises neither from negligence nor wilfulness, as


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