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A history of

art in ancient Egypt


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1Lon^on: chapman and hall, Limitei..


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R. Clay, Sons, and Taylor,


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1. The Graphic Processes employed by the Egyptians in their

representations of Buildings i— 8

2. The Palace 8—26

3. The Egyptian House 26 — 38

4. Military Architecture 38 — 50



§ I. An Analysis of Architectural Forms necessary 51 — 52

§ 2. Materials 52—55

§ 3. Construction 55 — 76

§ 4. The Arch 77—84

§ 5. The Pier and Column. — The Egyptian Orders 85—133

Their Origin 85 — 91

General Types of Supports 91 — 133

§ 6. The Ordonnance of Egyptian Colonnades 133 — 147

§ 7. Monumental Details 147 — 155

§ 8. Doors and Windows 156 — 162

Doors 156 — 161

Windows 162

§ 9. The Illumination of the Temples 162 — 169

§ 10. The Obelisks 169—176

§ 1 1 . The Profession of Architect 176 — 179

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vi Contents.




§ I. The Origin of Statue-making i8o — 184

§ 2. Sculpture under the Ancient Empire 184 — 225

§ 3. Sculpture under the First Theban Empire 226 — 238

§ 4. Sculpture under the Second Theban Empire 239 — 265

§ 5. The Art of the Saite Period 265 — 274

§ 6. The Principal Themes of Egyptian Sculpture 275 — 284

§ 7. The Technique of the Bas-reliefs 284 — 288

§ 8. Gems 288—291

§ 9. The Principal Conventions in Egyptian Sculpture 291 — 326

§ 10. The General Characteristics of the Egyptian Style 326 — 330



§ I. Technical Processes 331 — 341

§ 2. The Figure 341—351

§ 3. Caricature 351—355

§ 4. Ornament 355—363



§ I. Definition and Characteristics of Industrial Art % . 364 — 367

§ 2. Glass and Pottery 367 — 377

§ 3. Metal-work and Jewelry 377 — 390

§ 4. Woodwork 390 — 398

§ 5. The Commerce of Egypt 399 — 400




APPENDIX 409—416

INDEX 417—434

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Thebes, the Pavilion of Medinet-Abou, restored To face page 24

Portico in the temple of Medinet-Abou, restored .... „ 144

Rahotep and Nefert, Boulak Museum „ 186

The Scribe^ Louvre „ 192

The Queen Taia, Boulak Museum „ 240

Funerary offerings, fragment of a painting upon plaster, Louvre „ 334

Tomb of Ptah-hotep, fragment of Western Wall „ 356

Tomb of Ptah-hotep, ceiling and upper part of Western Wall „ 360


1. House 3

2. The adoration of the solar disk by Amenophis IV 6

3. Egyptian plan of a villa 7

4. Part of the plan of a house and its offices 9

5. Partial restoration of a palace at Tell-el-Amarna 17

6. Ground plan of the " Royal Pavilion " 19

7. Plan of the first floor of the " Royal Pavilion" 19

8. Longitudinal section of the pavilion 19

9. Transverse section of the pavilion 20

10. Brackets in the courtyard of the Royal Pavilion 23

11. Plan of a part of the city at Tell-el-Amarna 29

12. BirdVeye view of a villa 31

13. Model of an Egyptian house 34

14 — 17. Plans of houses 34

18. Piece of furniture in the form of a house 35

19. House from a Theban wall painting 35

20. House with a tower 35

21. Battlemented house 36

22. Decorated porch 36

23. House with inscription 36

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viii List of Illustrations.


24. House, storehouse, and garden 36

25. Brewing 37

26. Granaries 37

27. Granaries 38

28. Military post at Abydos 42

29. Military post 42

30. Bird's-eye view of the fortress of Semneh 43

31. A besieged fort 46

32. Siege of a fortress 47

33. Brick stamped with the royal ovals 54

34. The Sarcophagus of Mycerinus 57

35. Door of a tomb at Sakkarah 60

36. Stele from the fourth dynasty 5i

37. Stele from the fourth dynasty 62

38. Flattened form of lotus-leaf ornament, seen in front and in section ... 63

39. Lotus-leaf ornament in its elongated form 63

40. Wooden pavilion 64

41. Horizontal section, in perspective, of the first pylon at Karnak .... 67

42. Workmen polishing a monolithic column 69

43. Transport of a colossus 73

44. Arch in the necropolis of Abydos 78

45. Arch in El-Assassif 79

46. Arch in El-Assassif 80

47. Vaults in the Ramesseum 81

48. Vault in the Ramesseum 81

49. Elliptical vault 82

50. Foundations with inverted segmental arches 82

51. Transverse section of a corridor at Dayr-el-Bahari 83

52. Section in perspective through the same corridor 83

53. Vaulted chapel at Abydos 84

54. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 86

55. Detail of capital 86

56. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 87

57. Details of columns in Fig. 56 87

58. Pavilion from Sakkarah 87

59. Details of columns in Fig. 58 87

60. Bas-relief from the fifth dynasty 88

61. Details of the columns 88

62 — 65. Columns from bas-reliefs 89

66. Quadrangular pier 92

67. Tapering quadrangular pier 92

68. Pier with capital 92

69. Hathoric pier 92

70. Osiride pillar 93

71. Ornamented pier 94

72. Octagonal pillar 96

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List of Illustrations. ix


73. Sixteen-sided pillar 96

74. Polygonal column with a flat vertical band 98

75. Polygonal pier with mask of Hathor 98

76. Column from Beni-Hassan 99

77. Column at Luxor loi

78. Column at Medinet-Abou loi

79. Column at Medinet-Abou 102

80. Column from the Great Hall at Kamak 103

81. Column from the Hypostyle Hall of the Ramesseum 103

82. Column of Soleb 104

83. Column of Thothmes at Kamak 104

84. Corner pier from the temple at Elephantine 106

85. Pier with capital 107

86. Osiride pier 109

87. Hathoric pier from Eilithya iii

88. Hathoric pier from a tomb in

89. Column at Kalabch^ 112

90. Column of Thothmes HI 113

91. Base of a column 115

92. Bell-shaped capital 117

93. Capital at Sesebi 119

94. Capital from the temple of Nectanebo, at Philse 119

95. Capital from the work of Thothmes, at Karnak 120

96. Arrangement of architraves upon a capital 120

97. The Nymphaea Nelumbo 123

98. Papyrus plant 127

99. Small chamber at Kamak 134

100. Apartment in the temple at Luxor 134

loi. Hall of the temple at Abydos 134

102. Plan of part of the Hypostyle Hall at Kamak 134

103. Tomb at Sakkarah 135

104. Hall in the inner portion of the Great Temple at Karnak 135

105. Portico of the first court at Medinet-Abou 135

106. Portico of the first court at Luxor 135

107. The portico of the pronaos, Luxor 136

108. Part plan of the temple at Elephantine 136

109. Luxor, plan of the second court 136

no. Portico in the Temple of Khons 137

111. Luxor, portico of the first court 137

112. Part of the portico of the first court, Luxor 138

113. Portico in front of the fa9ade of the temple of Goumah 138

114. Part of the Hypostyle Hall in the Great Temple at Karnak 138

115. Second Hypostyle Hall in the temple of Abydos 139

116. Hall in the speos of Gherf-Hossein 139

117. Medinet-Abou; first court 139

118. Medinet-Abou; second court 139

VOL. II. b

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List of Illustrations.


19. Portico of the Temple of Khons 140

20. Portico of first court at Luxor 140

21. Anta, Luxor 141

22. Anta, Goumah 141

23. Anta, Medinet-Abou 141

24. Anta in the Great Hall of Karnak 141

25. Antae, Temple of Khons 142

26. Anta and base of pylon, Temple of Khons 142

27. Antae, Medinet-Abou 143

28. AntSB, Medinet-Abou 143

29. Anta and column at Medinet-Abou 145

30. Column in the court of the Bubastides 146

31. Stereobate 148

32. Stereobate with double plinth 148

33. Pluteus in the intercolumniations of the portico in the second court of

the Ramesseum 150

34. Doorway 151

35. Cornice of the Ramesseum 152

36. Cornice of a wooden pavilion 152

37. Pedestal of a Sphinx 153

38. Cornice under the portico 153

39. Fragment of a sarcophagus 154

40. Fragment of decoration from a royal tomb at Thebes 154

41. Plan of doorway, Temple of Elephantine 157

42. Plan of doorway, Temple of Khons 157

43. Plan of doorway in the pylon. Temple of Khons 157

44. 145. The pylon and propylon of the hieroglyphs 157

46. Gateway to the court-yard of the small Temple at Medinet-Abou . . . 158

47. A propylon with its masts 158

48. A propylon 159

49. Gateway in the inclosing wall of a Temple 159

50. Doorway of the Temple of Khons 160

51. Doorway of the Temple of Goumah 160

52. Doorway of the Temple of Seti 161

53> 154- Windows in the Royal Pavilion at Medinet-Abou 162

55. Attic of the Great Hall at Karnak 163

56. C7a«j/ra of the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak 165

57. C/a/^J/r« in the Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Khons 166

58. Method of lighting in one of the inner halls of Karnak 167

59. Auxiliary light-holes in the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak 167

60. Method of lighting one of the rooms in the Temple of Khons . . . . 167

61. Light openings in a lateral aisle of the Hypostyle Hall in the Ramesseum 168

62. The Temple of Amada 168

63. Claustra 168

64. Window of a house in the form of ^/<:7«x/!r£Z 169

65. Window closed by a mat 169

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List of Illustrations. xi


i66. Funerary obelisk 171

167. The obelisk of Ousourtesen 173

168. The obelisk in the Place de la Concorde 173

169. The obelisk of Beggig 175

170. Upper part of the obelisk at Beggig 175

171. Limestone statue of the architect Nefer 177

172. SepaandNesa 186

173. Ra-hotep 188

174 — 176. Wooden panels from the tomb of Hosi 191,193,195

177. Limestone head 196

178. Wooden statue 198

179. Bronze statuette 199

180. Bronze statuette 201

181. Ra-nefer 204

182. Statue in the Boulak Museum 205

183. Statue of Ti ,. . . 205

184. Wooden statue 206

185. Statue in limestone 206

186. Limestone group 207

187. Wooden statuette 208

188. Nefer-hotep and Tenteta 208

189. Limestone statue 209

190. Limestone statue 209

191. Limestone statue 210

192. Limestone statue 210

193. Woman kneading dough 211

194. Woman making bread 212

195. Bread maker 213

196. 197. Details of head-dresses 213

198, 199. Nem-hotep 214

200. Funerary bas-relief 215

201. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 217

202. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 218

203. Sepulchral bas-relief 219

204. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ra-ka-pou 219

205. Statue of Chephren 222

206. Wooden statue 227

207. Sebek-hotep III 229

208. Sphinx in black granite 231

209. Head and shoulders of a Tanite Sphinx in black granite 233

210. Group from Tanis 234

211. Side view of the same group 235

212. Upper part of a royal statue 236

213. Fragmentary statuette of a king 237

214. Thothmes III 241

215. Thothmes III 243

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xii List of Illustrations.


2 1 6. Statuette of Amenophis IV 245

217. Funeral Dance 251

218. Bas-relief from the tomb of Chamhati 253

219. Portrait of Rameses II. while a child 255

220. Statue of Rameses II 256

221. Prisoners of war 257

222. Statue of Rameses 11. in the Turin Museum 259

223. Head of Menephtah 260

224. Seti II 261

225. The Goddess Kadesh 263

226. Statue of Ameneritis 264

227. Bronze Sphinx 267

228. Statue of Nekht-har-heb 268

229. Statue of Horus 269

230. 231. Bas-relief from Memphis 270, 271

232. Horus enthroned 273

233. Roman head 274

234. Wooden statuette 279

235. Bronze cat 280

236. Lion 281

237. Bronze lion 282

238. Sphinx with human hands 283

239. Quadruped with the head of a bird 284

240. Portrait of Rameses II 286

241. Intaglio upon sardonyx, obverse 289

242. Reverse of the same intaglio 289

243. Intaglio upon jasper 290

244. Reverse of the same intaglio 290

245. Seal of Armais 290

246. Bas-relief from Sakkarah 295

247. The Queen waiting on Amenophis IV 296

248. Bas-relief from the eighteenth dynasty 297

249. Horus as a child 299

250. Bas-relief from the tomb of Ti 306

251. Bas-relief at Thebes 307

252. From a painting at Thebes 308

253. Painting at Thebes 309

254. Painting at Thebes 310

255. Painting at Thebes 311

256. Bronze statuette 312

257. Spoon for perfumes 313

258. Design transferred by squaring 320

259. Design transferred by squaring 321

260. Head of a Cynocephalus 323

261. Head of a Lion 323

262. Head of a Lioness 323

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List of Illustrations. xiii


263. Outline for a portrait of Amenophis III 333

264. Portrait of Queen Taia 339

265. Painting at Beni-Hassan 341

266. Painting at Beni-Hassan 342

267. Painting at Beni-Hassan 342

268. Painting at Beni-Hassan 343

269. Painting at Thebes 343

270. Painting at Thebes 344

271. Harpist 345

272. European prisoner 347

273. Head of the same prisoner 347

274. Ethiopian prisoner 348

275. Head of the same prisoner 348

276. Winged figure 349

277. Winged figure 350

278. Battle of the Cats and Rats 352

279. The soles of a pair of sandals 354

280. 281. The God Bes 354

282. Vultures on a ceiling 356

283,284. Details from the tomb of Ptah-hotep 357

285. Carpet hung across a pavilion 358

286. Specimens of ceiling decorations 359

287. Painting on a mummy case 361

288. Winged globe 361

289. 290. Tables for offerings 363

291. Pitcher of red earth 368

292. Red earthenware 369

293. Gray earthenware 370

294. The God Bes 370

295. Pendant for necklace 371

296,297. Enamelled earthenware 371

298. Enamelled faience 372

299. Doorway in the Stepped Pyramid at Sakkarah 372

300 — 302. Enamelled plaque from the Stepped Pyramid 373

303 — 305. Enamelled earthenware plaques 374

306, 307. Glass statuettes 376

308. Mirror-handle 379

309. Bronze hair-pin 379

310. Bronze dagger 379

311. Pectoral 381

312. 313. Golden Hawks 382

314. ^gis 383

315. Necklace 385

316. Osiris, Isis, and Horns 387

317. 318. Rings 387

319, 320. Ear-rings 387

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XIV List of Illustrations.


321. Ivory Plaque 388

322. Ivory Castanet 389

323. Fragment of an Ivory Castanet 391

324. Workman splitting a piece of wood 392

325. Joiner making a bed 392

326. Coffer for sepulchral statuettes 393

327. 328. Chairs 394

329—331- Perfume spoons 395, 396

332 — 334. Walking-stick handles 397

335. Wooden pin or p^ 398

336. Hathoric capital 398

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§ I. The Graphic Processes employed by the Egyptians in their
representations of Buildings.

We have seen that sepulchral and religious architecture are
represented in Egypt by numerous and well preserved monuments.
It is not so in the case of civil and military architecture. Of
these, time has spared but very few remains, and all that the
ancient historians tell us on the subject amounts to very little.
Our best aids in the endeavour to fill up this lacuna are the
pictures and bas-reliefs of the tombs, in which store-houses,
granaries, houses and villas of the Pharaonic period are often

It is not always easy, however, to trace the actual conformation
and arrangement of those buildings through the conventionali-
ties employed by the artists, and we must therefore begin
by attempting to understand the ideas with which the Egyptians
made the representations in question. Their idea was to show
all at a single glance ; to combine in one view matters which
could only be seen in reality from many successive points, such
as all the fa9ades of a building, with its external aspect and
internal arrangements. This notion may be compared to that
which recommends itself to a young child when, in drawing a profile,


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A History of Art in Ancient Egypt.

he insists upon giving it two ears, because when he looks at a
front face he sees two ears standing out beyond either cheek.

In these days when we wish to represent an architectural
building exhaustively, we do it in geometrical fashion, giving
plans, elevations, and sections. To get a plan we make a horizontal
section at any determined height, which gives us the thickness
of the walls and the area of the spaces which they inclose. An
elevation shows us one of the faces of the building in all its
details, while the transverse or longitudinal section allows us
to lay the whole of the structural arrangements open to the
spectator. Plan, elevation, and section, are three different things
by the comparison of which a just idea of the whole building and
of the connection of its various parts may be formed.

The Egyptians seem to have had a dim perception of these
three separate processes, but they failed to distinguish clearly
between them, and in their paintings they employed them in the
most naive fashion, combining all three into one figure without
any clear indication of the points of junction.

Let us take as an example a representation of a house from a
Theban tomb (Fig. i), and attempt to discover what the artist
meant to show us. In the left-hand part of the picture there is
no difficulty. In the lower stage we see the external door by
which the inclosure surrounding the house is entered ; in the two
upper divisions there are the trees and climbing plants of the
garden. It is when we turn to the house, which occupies two-
thirds of the field, that our embarrassments begin. The following
explanation is perhaps the best — that, with an artistic licence which
is not rare in such works, the painter has shown us all the four
sides of the building at once. He has spread them out, one after
the other, on the wall which he had to decorate. This process
may be compared to our method of flattening upon a plane
surface the figures which surround a Greek vase, but in modem
works of archaeology it is customary to give a sketch of the
real form beside the flat projection. No such help is given by
the Egyptian painter and we are forced to conjecture the shapes
of his buildings as best we can. In this case he was attempting
to represent an oblong building. The door by which the
procession defiling across the garden is about to enter, is in one
of the narrow sides. It is inclosed by the two high shafts
between which a woman seems to be awaiting on the threshold

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Egyptian Perspective.

the arrival of the guests. On the right we have one of the lateral
faces ; it Is pierced at one angle by a low door, above which are
two windows and above them again an open story or terrace
with slender columns supporting the roof. Still further to the
right, at the extremity of the picture, the second narrow fa9ade
is slightly indicated by its angle column and a portal, which
appears to be sketched in profile. Want of space alone seems to
have prevented the artist from giving as much detail to this
portion of his work as to the rest. The left wing, that which is
contiguous to the garden, remains to be considered. Those who
agree with our interpretation of the artist's aims, will look upon
this as the second lateral fa9ade. It presents some difficulty,
however, because it shows none of the plain walls which inclose
the rest of the building and exclude the eye of the spectator ;
its walls are left out and leave the interior of the house completely

It may be said that this part of the picture represents an
awning or verandah in front of the house. But, in that case, how
are we to explain the objects which are arranged at the top of
it — jars, loaves of bread, and other house-keeping necessaries ?
It cannot be a verandah with a granary on the top of it. Such
a store-room would have to be carefully closed if its contents were
to be safe-guarded from the effects of heat, light, and insects.
It would therefore be necessary to suppose that the Egyptian
painter made use of an artistic licence not unknown in our
own days, and suppressed the wall of the store-room in order to
display the wealth of the establishment. By this means he
has given us a longitudinal section of the building very near the
external wall. There is no trace of an open story above. The
latter seems to have existed only on that side of the house
which was in shade during the day and exposed after nightfall
to the refreshing breezes from the north.

This picture presents us, then, with a peculiar kind of elevation ;
an elevation which, by projection, shows three sides of the house
and hints at a fourth. Representations which are still more
conventionalized than this are to be found in many places. The
most curious of these are to be found in the ruins of the capital
of Amenophis IV., near the village of Tell-el-Amarna. It was in

Online LibraryGeorges PerrotA history of art in ancient Egypt → online text (page 1 of 31)