Sidebilder
PDF

fore, when all its institutions tended to preserve social order as established, and to discourage and forbid all innovation, the duration of a style was doomed to become eternal. Religion, however, alone, was capable of effecting the same object, and of restraining within certain bounds the imitative faculty, by the preservation of types and primitive conventional signs for the hieroglyphic language, which, from the sacred purposes for which it was employed, soon acquired an authority from which no individual would dare to deviate by an improvement of the forms under which it had appeared. Plato observes, that no change took place in painting among the Egyptians; but that it was the same, neither better nor worse, than it had been ages before his time. Xxorwy 5' etpmorets autobi ta uvpiorrow eros yetypauueva, m retvrwueva (oux &s emos extrew uvptootov, axx' ovtws) tww vuv Šešnuoup'ymuevav oute ti kawNuova, ovt' alaxia, rmy avrmy be texymy are pyagueva. De Legibus, lib. ii. 69. Uniformity of plan characterises all their works; they never deviated from the right line and square. “Les Egyptiens," observes M. Caylus “ne nous ont laissé aucun monument public dont l'elevation ait eté circulaire.” The uniformity of their elevations is still more striking. Neither division of parts, contrast, nor effect is visible. All this necessarily resulted from the political and religious institutions whereof we have been speaking. 70. II. In analysing the architecture of Egypt, three points offer themselves for consideration, – construction, form, and decoration. In construction, if solidity be a merit, no nation has equalled them. Notwithstanding the continued effect of time upon the edifices of the country, they still seem calculated for a duration equally long as that of the globe itself. The materials employed upon them were well adapted to insure a defiance of all that age could effect against them. The most abundant material is what the ancients called the Thebaic granite. Large quarries of it were seated near the Nile in Upper Egypt, between the first cataract and the town of Assouan, now Syene. The whole of the country to the east, the islands, and the bed of the Nile itself, are of this red granite, whereof were formed the obelisks, colossal statues, and columns of their temples. Blocks of dimensions surprisingly large were obtained from these quarries. Basalt, marble, freestone, and alabaster were found beyond all limit compared with the purposes for which they were wanted. 71. We have already observed, that Egypt was deficient in timber, and especially that sort proper for building. There are some forests of palm trees on the Lybian side, near Dendera (Tentyris); but the soil is little suited to the growth of timber. Next in quantity to the palm is the acacia; the olive is rare. With the exception of the palm tree, there is none suited for architectural use. The oak is not to be found; and that, as well as the fir which the present inhabitants use, is imported from Arabia. Diodorus says, that the early inhabitants used canes and reeds interwoven and plastered with mud for their huts; but he confines this practice to the country away from towns, in which, from fragments that have been found, we may infer that brick was the material in most common use. 72. Bricks dried in the sun were employed even on large monuments; but it is probable that these were originally faced either with stone or granite. The pyramids described by Pocock, called Ktoube el Meuschich, are composed of bricks, some of which are 133 in. long, 64 in. wide, and 4 in, thick; others 15 in. long, 7 in. wide, and 4} in thick. They are not united by cement, but in some instances cements of a bituminous nature were employed, and in others a mortar composed of lime or plaster and sand, of which it would seem that the second was exceedingly powerful as well as durable. 73. The Egyptians arrived at the highest degree of skill in quarrying and working stone, as well as in afterwards giving it the most perfect polish. In their masonry they placed no reliance on the use of cramps, but rather on the nice adjustment of the stones to one another, on the avoidance of all false bearings, and the nice balance of all overhanging weight. Of their mechanical skill the reader will form some idea by reference to volume iii. p. 328. of Wilkinson's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, from a representation in a grotto at El Bersheh. A colossus on a sledge is therein pulled along by 172 men, but none of the mechanical powers seem to be called in to their assistance. “The obelisks," says Mr. Wilkinson, “transported from the quarries of Syene to Thebes and Heliopolis, vary in size from 70 to 93 ft. in length. They are of one single stone ; and the largest in Egypt, which is that at the great temple at Karnak, I calculate to weigh about 297 tons. This was brought about 138 miles from the quarry to where it now stands; and those taken to Heliopolis passed over a space of 800 miles." Two colossi (one of them is the vocal Memnon), each of a single block 47 ft. in height, and containing 11,500 cubic feet, are carved from stone not known within several days’ journey of the place; and at the Memnonium is a colossal statue, which, when entire, weighed 887 tons. We consider, however, the raising of the obelisks a far greater test of mechanical skill than the transport of these prodigious weights; but into the mode they adopted we have no insight from any representations yet discovered. We can scarcely suppose that in the handling of the weights whereof we have spoken, they were unassisted by the mechanical powers, although, as we have observed, no representations to warrant the conjecture have been brought to light,

74. In the construction of the pyramids it is manifest they would serve as their own scaffolds. The oldest monuments of Egypt of which we below give a view, and a section of that of the largest, called of Cheops (fig. 45.), are the pyramids at Gizeh, to the north of Memphis. Mr. Wilkinson supposes them to have been erected by Suphis and Jeusuphis his brother, 2120 years B. c., that is, previous by nearly 400 years to the entrance of Joseph into Egypt; but the same author admits that, previous to the reign of Osirtasen, 1740 B. c., there is nothing to guide any one with certainty as to dates. The edifices (fig. 46.), however, more commonly known by the names of Cheops, Cephrenes, and Mycerinus, are extraordinary for their size and the consequent labour bestowed upon them; but as works of the art they are of no further importance than being a link in the chain of its history. They are constructed of stone from the neighbouring mountains, and are in steps, of which in the largest there are two hundred and eight, varying in height from 23 ft. (French) to 4 ft., decreasing in height as they rise towards the summit. Their width diminishes in the same proportion, so that a line drawn from the base to the summit touches the edge of each step. So great a difference in the measures by different authors appears, that we here subjoin those of the pyramid of Cheops: —

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Authors. Length of base. Number of steps. Height.
Herodotus - - - 800 Greek ft. - - - - - 852 English st.
Strabo - - - - 600 - - - - - - 666 -
Diodorus - - - 700 - - - - - - 639 -
Sandys - - - - 300 paces
Bellonius - - - 324 -
Greaves - - - 693 English st. - - 207 - - 499 -
LeBruyn - - - 750 – - - - - - 656 -
Prosper Alpinus - - 799 - - - - - - 666 -
Thevenot - - - 727 - - - 208 - - 554 -
Niebuhr - - - 757 - - - - - - 469 -
Chazelles - - - 751 - - - - - - 498 —
Maillet - - - - - - - - -
Pocock - - - - - - - - - 212
Belon - - - - - - - - - 250
French Engineers - - - - - - - - - 477 -

Upon the top thereof is a platform 32 ft. square, consisting of nine large stones, each about a ton in weight, though inferior in that respect to others in the edifice, which vary from 5 ft. to 30 ft. in length, and from 3 ft. to 4 ft. in height. From this platform Dr. Clarke saw the pyramids of Saccara to the south, and on the east of them smaller monuments of the same kind nearer to the Nile. He remarked, moreover, an appearance of ruins which might be traced the whole way from the pyramids of Gizeh to those of Saccara, as if the whole had once constituted one great city. The stones of the platform are soft limestone, a little harder and more compact than what in England is called clunch. The pyramids are built with common mortar externally, but no appearance of mortar can be discerned in the more perfect parts of the masonry. The faces of the pyramid F. are directed to the four cardinal points. The entrance is in the north front, and the passage to the central chamber is shown on the preceding section. That in the pyramid of Cephrenes (fig. 47.) is thus described by Belzoni : —The first passage is built of granite, the rest are cut

- - out of the natural sandstone rock which *g-i- oraaxes torn-arcoso rvaarun, rises above the level of the basis of the pyramid. This passage is 104 ft. long, 4 ft. high, and 3 ft. 6 in. wide; descending at an angle of 26 degrees: at the bottom is a Poulio beyond which is a horizontal passage

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

of the same height as the first, and at the distance of 22 ft. it descends in a different direction, leading to some passages below. Hence it re-ascends towards the centre of the pyramid by a gallery 84 ft. long, 6 ft. high, and 3 ft. 6 in. wide, leading to a chamber also cut out of the solid rock. The chamber is 46 ft. in length, 16 feet wide, and 23 ft. 6. in. in height, and contained a sarcophagus of granite 8 ft. long, 3 ft. 6. in. wide, and 2 ft. 3 in. deep in the inside. Returning from the chamber to the bottom of the gallery a passage descends at an angle of 26 degrees to the extent of 48 ft. 6 in., when it takes a horizontal direction for a length of 55 ft. ; it then again ascends at the same angle and proceeds to the base of the pyramid, where another entrance is formed from the outside. About the middle of the horizontal passage there is a descent into another chamber, which is 32 ft. long, 10 ft. wide, and 8 ft. 6 in. high. The dimensions of this pyramid, as given by Denon, are a base of 655 ft. and a height of 398 ft. Those of the pyramid of Mycerinus are a base of 280 ft., and a height of 162 ft. The pyramids of Saccara, which are as many as twenty in number, vary in form, dimensions, and construction. They extend five miles to the north and south of the village of Saccara. Some of them are rounded at the top, and resemble hillocks cased with stone. One is constructed with steps like that of Cheops. They are six in number, each 25 ft. high, and 11 ft. wide The height of one in the group is 150ft. Another, built also in steps, is supposed to be as high as that of Cheops. The stones whereof they are composed are much decayed, and more crumbling than those of Gizeh; hence they are considered older. One of them is formed of unburnt bricks, containing shells, gravel, and chopped straw, and is in a very mouldering state. About 300 paces from the second pyramid stands the extraordinary gigantic statue of the Sphinx (fig. 48.), whose length from the fore-part to the tail has been found to be 125 ft. Belzoni cleared away the sand, and found a temple held between the legs and another in one of its paws. According to Denon, the antiquity of the Egyptian temples may be comparatively determined from their size; the larger ones being posterior to the smaller. Since, however, the wonderful insight we have obtained into the meaning of the hieroglyphics, more accurate information than we before possessed may be gained on that point by reference to Mr. (now Sir Gardiner) Wilkinson's works on Egypt and Thebes. A spirit of simplicity, grandeur, and solidity reigns through the whole of them, and every precaution seems to have been taken to render them eternal. The walls by which they are enclosed are found sometimes 26 ft. in thickness, and those of the entrance gate of a temple at Thebes are as much as 53 ft. thick at their base, and are composed of blocks of enormous size. The masonry employed is that called by the Greeks emplectum (eurXextov), all filling in of an inferior or rubble work being discarded. They are masses of nicely squared and fitted stones, and are built externally with a slope like the walls of a modern fortification. The columns are absolutely necessary for the support of the ceilings, which consist of large blocks of stone, and are therefore of few diameters in height. Sometimes they are in a single piece, as at Thebes and Tentyris. The stones of which the ceilings are composed are usually, according to Pococke, 14 ft. long, and 54 ft. in breadth, but some run much larger. 75. Before adverting to the form and disposition of the Egyptian temple, we think it here necessary to notice the recent discovery of an arch in a tomb at Saccara, said to be of the time of Psammeticus II., and of one also at Thebes in the remains of a crude brick pyramid. (See Wilkinson's Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, vol. iii. p. 263. 321.) That exhibited in the tomb of Saccara, from the vignette given, is clearly nothing but a lining of the rock, and is, if truly represented in the plate, incapable of bearing weight, which is the office of an arch. That, however, at Thebes, to which Mr. W. assigns the date of 1500 b.c., with every respect for his great information on the subject, and with much deference to his judgment, not having ourselves seen it, we cannot easily believe to be of such antiquity. Its appearance is so truly Roman, that we must be permitted to doubt the truth of his conjecture. We are, moreover, fortified in the opinion we entertain by the principles on which the style of Egyptian architecture is founded, which are totally at variance with the use of the arch. We have ventured to transfer this (fig. 49.) to our pages, that the reader may form a judgment on the subject, as well as ourselves. We will only add, that the reasons assigned by Mr. W. for the Egyptians not preferring such a mode of construction as the arch, because of the difficulty of repairing it when injured, and the consequences attending the decay of a single block, are not of any weight with us, because, practically, there is an easy mode of accomplishing such repair. And, again, the argument that the superincumbent weight applied to an arch in such a case as that before

Fig. 48. trie spriixx.

[graphic]

us will not hold good, inasmuch as the balance on the back of each course would almost preserve the opening without any arch at all.

76. The roam ANd disposition of the Egyptian temple seem to have been founded on immutable rules. The only points wherein they differ from one another are in the number of their subdivisions and their extent, as the city for which they served was more or less rich. Unlike the temples of the Greeks and Romans, whose parts were governed by the adoption of one of the orders, and

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

- could be measured from any one of its parts: those of Egypt were an assemblage of porticoes, courts, vestibules, galleries, apartments, communicating with each other, and surrounded with walls. Strabo, in his 17th book, thus describes the temples in question. “At the entrance of the consecrated spot the ground is paved to the width of 100 ft. (TAeëpov) or less, and in length three or four times its width, and in some places even more. This is called the court (8pouos, course); thus Callimachus uses the words —

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Throughout the whole length beyond this on each side of the width, are placed sphinxes of stone, 20 cubits or more distant from one another, one row being on the right, and the other on the left. Beyond the sphinxes is a great vestibule (rporvaov), then a further one, and beyond this another. The number, however, of the sphinxes, as of the vestibules, is not always the same, but varies according to the length and breadth of the course. Beyond - --~~~~ the vestibules (mporvaala) is the temple (vews), having a very large porch (rpovaos), which is worthy to be recorded. The chapel (amkos) is small, and without a statue; or, if there be one, it is not of human form, but that of some beast. The porch on each side has a wing (rrepa); these consist of two walls as high as the temple itself, distant from each other at the bottom a little more than the width of the foundations of the temple, then they incline towards each other, rising to the height of 50 or 60 cubits. ... These walls are sculptured with large figures, similar to those which are to be seen in the works of the Etruscans and ancient Greeks.” This account is not at all exaggerated, as we shall immediately show by the introduction in this place of the plan, section, and elevation of the celebrated temple at Apollonopolis Magna, between Thebes and the first cataract, which, though, as we learn from the deciphering in these days, the hieroglyphics upon it are not of the time of the Pharaohs, seems admirably calculated to give the reader almost all the information necessary for understanding the subject. This will, moreover, so much more fully explain it than words, that we shall not need to do more than afterwards come to some recital of the details. 77. This edifice, seated near Edfou, about twenty miles south of Thebes, is one of the largest in Egypt, • * ~ * ~ * and is comparatively in good preservation. Its form is - & J CE=E.I. o o its 5. i."...oo: *—o - - - - - n the centre of one O e sno e - oriko foLio {{*. which consists of two buildings, each 100 ft. ——o" long, and 32 ft. in width ; both pyramidal in form, and *** *** * ***** arriosoro" was... lying in the same direction, but separated by a passage 20 ft. in width, with a doorway at each extremity. This passage conducts us to a quadrangle 140 ft. long, and 120 ft. wide, flanked by twelve columns on each side, and eight more on the entrance side, all standing a few feet within the walls, and thus forming a colonnade round three sides covered by a flat roof. A view of a portion of it is given in fig. 54. At the further end of the quadrangle (which rises by corded steps) opposite to the entrance, is a portico extending the whole breadth of the quadrangle, and 45 ft. in depth. It has three ranks of columns, containing six in each rank, is covered by a flat roof, is 45 ft. deep, and is enclosed by walls on three ;: the fourth, or that opposite the entrance, 2

[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]

being open. This is, however, closed breast high by a species of pedestals half inserted in the columns, and in the central intercolumniation a doorway is constructed with piers, over which are a lintel and cornice cut through. From this portico a doorway leads to an inner vestibule, in which are three ranks of four columns each, smaller than those first described, but distributed in the same way. Beyond this, in Cousin's plan, are sundry apartments, with staircases and passages, whereof the smaller central one was

[ocr errors]

doubtless the cell. Fig. 51. is a longitudinal section. Fig. 52, is the elevation. We

Fig. 52. rt.nvariox- Fig. 55. view or the tempt.r.

may here add, that there is so little difference between the earlier and later specimens of Egyptian architecture, that though, as we have hinted, this is of the latter, it will convey a pretty correct knowledge of all. The general appearance of the temple is given in fig. 53., and a view of the interior in fig. 54. The plan of the Egyptian temple is always uniform, symmetrical, and rectangular. Its most brilliant feature is the great number of columns employed, in which is displayed a prodigality unapproached by any other nation. This, however, was induced by the necessity for employing blocks of stone for the ceilings or roofs. The greatestirregularity occurring in any

--- - of the plans known, is in that at the Fig. 54. virw of ritk intention. island of Philac (see Jig. 55. ), and it is very evident that the cause was the shape of the ground on which it is placed. The intercolumniations were very small, rarely exceeding a diameter, or one diameter and a half of the column. We know of no specimens of peripteral temples similar to those of Greece, that is, those in which the cell is surrounded by columns. In the elevations of those of Egypt, the spirit and character of their architecture is more particularly developed. But they are monotonous. The repetition of the same forms is carried to the utmost pitch of tolerance. The pyramidal form prevails in all the combinations, whether in walls, doors, general masses, or details. In considering the principal parts of the elevations, the first feature that presents itself is the column, which we will notice without its attendant base and capital. If it were possible to establish a system relative to their invention and subsequent perfection, we might easily arrange them in distinct classes, principally as respects their decoration; but as far as regards general form, the Egyptian column may be reduced to two varieties, the circular and polygonal. The first are of two sorts. Some are found quite plain or smooth, but ornamented with hieroglyphics (see fig. 56.). Some

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsett »