Massive structures came to be favoured from the Old Kingdom on. Mud brick was the principal building material for domestic building. Stone was favoured for temples and tombs. Characteristics of Egyptian Architecture
Characteristics of Egyptian Architecture • Features of mud construction were often echoed in stone. • For example, columns were built to resemble plants or bunches of plants.
Characteristics of Egyptian Architecture. • Features of mud construction were often echoed in stone. • Corner detailing often resembled bunches of reeds used as a binding material in mud construction.
Egyptian aristocratic culture focussed on preparation for life after death. Preservation of bodies through mummification and providing goods for the afterlife were considered essential. Funerary Structures
Mastabas • Early Old Kingdom aristocratic and royal burials were in mastabas - square or rectangular buildings connected by shafts to tomb chambers deep beneath the earth. • The mastaba also housed a chapel and a statue of the dead.
Mastabas Chapel Shaft Tomb
Zoser’s Step Pyramid • Built during the 3rd dynasty, Zoser’s architect, Imhotep, added steps above Zoser’s mastaba to create a step pyramid -- a stairway to the heavens.
These were built during the 4th dynasty. What remains is but a fraction of the great funerary districts of each of the pyramids. Construction was hugely labour intensive -- but this was paid labour during slow agricultural seasons, not slave labour as is commonly supposed. The Great Pyramids of Gizeh
Section of Pyramid of Khufu RelievingBlocks Grand Gallery King’s Chamber Queen’s Chamber Thieves Tunnel False Tomb Chamber Entrance
These were buildings that housed chambers and passages, including small air shafts that may have been used for ventilation -- or were, perhaps, passages for the spirit of the pharaohs to pass through. Pyramid building was abandoned during the Old Kingdom. They provided tomb robbers with easily identifiable targets. The Great Pyramids of Gizeh
The Theban Necropolis • Pyramidal structures were abandoned in the Old Kingdom. • Later Pharaohs were buried in Upper Egypt across the Nile from Karnak. • Large concentrations of tombs were cut into cliffsides at what are now known as the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.
Theban Necropolis. • Interiors were richly decorated with paintings and low-relief carvings.
The Valley of the Kings • Entrances were hidden to protect tomb treasures from grave-robbers. • Over the millennia this has proven largely unsuccessful. Only Tutenkhamen’s tomb eluded them.
Mortuary Temples • Though mummies and treasures might be concealed, more conspicuous temple structures were still required -- like Hatshepsut’s temple near the Theban Necropolis.
These were built in the same forms as palaces, with three increasingly restricted areas. Temples Hypostile Hall Entrance Sacred Area including Chapels Second Pylon First Pylon
The entire temple was surrounded by a windowless wall. Within the temple, light and shadow were important features. Walls might be blank or incised with low relief carvings. Temples
Lighting through wall openings, columns, and clerestory windows in the colonnade, were intended to feature particular locations. In the case of Abu Simbel, the statures on the wall deepest in the temple, emerged from shadow on two days during the year. Temples
Great Pylons marked entrances. Temple at Karnak
Luxor Temple • The most public area was a large courtyard, surrounded by a post and lintel colonnade.
Temple at Karnak • The Second Area was the great hypostyle hall, with its dense forest of columns.
Temple of Karnak • Columns & Capitals in Hypostyle Hall
Temple Architecture • Light & shadow were important features. • Light came through: • Wall openings • gaps between columns • clerestory windows
In Closing • Egyptian Architecture showed both variety and continuity over ca. 3,000 years. • While domestic structures of mud brick have been obliterated by time, monumental structures in stone still astound visitors to Egypt today.
Sources • Slides from Corel Gallery Magic Photo Library. • Amiet, Pierre et.al. Forms and Styles; Antiquity. Cologne, Evergreen, 1981. • Janson, H.W. (and Anthony), History of Art. Abrams, New York, 1995. • Ruffle, John. Heritage of the Pharaohs. Oxford, Phaidon, 1977. • Stierlin, Henri. Encyclopedia of World Architecture. Cologne, Evergreen, 1977.