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Title: A history of art in ancient Egypt, Vol. I (of 2)
Author: Perrot, Georges, 1832-1914, Chipiez, Charles, 1835-1901
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A history of art in ancient Egypt, Vol. I (of 2)" ***










    New York: A. C. ARMSTRONG AND SON.






M. Perrot's name as a classical scholar and archæologist, and M.
Chipiez's as a penetrating critic of architecture, stand so high that
any work from their pens is sure of a warm welcome from all students
of the material remains of antiquity. These volumes are the first
instalment of an undertaking which has for its aim the history and
critical analysis of that great organic growth which, beginning with
the Pharaohs and ending with the Roman Emperors, forms what is called
Antique Art. The reception accorded to this instalment in its original
form is sufficient proof that the eulogium prefixed to the German
translation by an eminent living Egyptologist, Professor Georg Ebers,
is well deserved; "The first section," he says, "of this work, is
broad and comprehensive in conception, and delicate in execution; it
treats Egyptian art in a fashion which has never previously been
approached." In clothing it in a language which will, I hope, enable
it to reach a still wider public, my one endeavour has been that it
should lose as little as possible, either in substance or form.

A certain amount of repetition is inevitable in a work of this kind
when issued, as this was, in parts, and in one place[1] I have
ventured to omit matter which had already been given at some length,
but with that exception I have followed M. Perrot's words as closely
as the difference of idiom would allow. Another kind of repetition,
with which, perhaps, some readers may be inclined to quarrel, forced
itself upon the author as the lesser of two evils. He was compelled
either to sacrifice detail and precision in attempting to carry on at
once the history of all the Egyptian arts and of their connection with
the national religion and civilization, or to go back upon his
footsteps now and again in tracing each art successively from its
birth to its decay. The latter alternative was chosen as the only one
consistent with the final aim of his work.

    [1] Page 92, Vol. I.

Stated in a few words, that aim is to trace the course of the great
plastic evolution which culminated in the age of Pericles and came to
an end in that of Marcus Aurelius. That evolution forms a complete
organic whole, with a birthday, a deathday, and an unbroken chain of
cause and effect uniting the two. To objectors who may say that the
art of India, of China, of Japan, should have been included in the
scheme, it may be answered: this is the life, not of two, or three,
but of one. M. Perrot has been careful, therefore, to discriminate
between those characteristics of Egyptian art which may be referred
either to the national beliefs and modes of thought, or to undeveloped
material conditions, such as the want or superstitious disuse of iron,
and those which, being determined by the very nature of the problems
which art has to solve, formed a starting point for the arts of all
later civilizations. By means of well-chosen examples he shows that
the art of the Egyptians went through the same process of development
as those of other and later nationalities, and that the real
distinguishing characteristic of the sculptures and paintings of the
Nile Valley was a continual tendency to simplification and
generalization, arising partly from the habit of mind and hand created
by the hieroglyphic writing, partly from the stubborn nature of the
chief materials employed.

To this characteristic he might, perhaps, have added another, which is
sufficiently remarkable in an art which had at least three thousand
years of vitality, namely, its freedom from individual expression. The
realism of the Egyptians was a broad realism. There is in it no sign
of that research into detail which distinguishes most imitative art
and is to be found even in that of their immediate successors; and
yet, during all those long centuries of alternate renascence and
decay, we find no vestige of an attempt to raise art above imitation.
No suspicion of its expressive power seems to have dawned on the
Egyptian mind, which, so far as the plastic arts were concerned, never
produced anything that in the language of modern criticism could be
called a creation. In this particular Egypt is more closely allied to
those nations of the far east whose art does not come within the scope
of M. Perrot's inquiry, than to the great civilizations which formed
its own posterity.

       *       *       *       *       *

Before the late troubles intervened to draw attention of a different
kind to the Nile Valley, the finding of a pit full of royal mummies
and sepulchral objects in the western mountain at Thebes had occurred
to give a fresh stimulus to the interest in Egyptian history, and to
encourage those who were doing their best to lead England to take her
proper share in the work of exploration. A short account of this
discovery, which took place after M. Perrot's book was complete, and
of some of the numerous art objects with which it has enriched the
Boulak Museum, will be found in an Appendix to the second volume.

       *       *       *       *       *

My acknowledgments for generous assistance are due to Dr. Birch, Mr.
Reginald Stuart Poole, and Miss A. B. Edwards.

    W. A.





    § 1. Egypt's place in the History of the World
    § 2. The Valley of the Nile and its Inhabitants
    § 3. The Great Divisions of Egyptian History
    § 4. The Constitution of Egyptian Society--Influence of that
           Constitution upon Monuments of Art
    § 5. The Egyptian Religion and its Influence upon the Plastic Arts
    § 6. That Egyptian Art did not escape the Law of Change, and that
           its History may therefore be written
    § 7. Of the place held in this work by the Monuments of the
           Memphite  Period, and of the Limits of our Inquiry


    § 1. Method to be Employed by us in our Study of this Architecture
    § 2. General Principles of Form
    § 3. General Principles of Construction.--Materials
    § 4. Dressed Construction
    § 5. Compact Construction
    § 6. Construction by Assemblage
    § 7. Decoration


    § 1. The Egyptian Belief as to a Future Life and its Influence upon
         their Sepulchral Architecture
    § 2. The Tomb under the Ancient Empire
           The Mastabas of the Necropolis of Memphis
           The Pyramids
    § 3. The Tomb under the Middle Empire
    § 4. The Tomb under the New Empire


    § 1. The Temple under the Ancient Empire
    § 2. The Temple under the Middle Empire
    § 3. The Temple under the New Empire
    § 4. General Characteristics of the Egyptian Temple


      The Arab Chain, from near Keneh
      The Pyramids, from old Cairo
      Karnak, bas-reliefs in the Granite Chambers
      Seti I., bas-relief at Abydos
      General view of Karnak
      Perspective view of the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak
      Thebes, the plain, with the Colossi of Memnon


         1. During the Inundation of the Nile
         2. Hoeing
         3. Ploughing
         4. Harvest scene
         5. The Bastinado
         6. Statue from the Ancient Empire
         7. The _Sheikh-el-Beled_
         8. Hunting in the Marshes
         9. Shadouf
        10. The White Crown
        11. The Red Crown
        12. The Pschent
        13. Seti I. in his War-Chariot
        14. Rameses II. in adoration before Seti
        15. Homage to Amenophis III.
        16. Construction of a Temple at Thebes
        17. Columns in the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak
    18, 19. Scribes registering the yield of the harvest
        20. Colossi of Amenophis III.
        21. Scribe registering merchandize
        22. Boatmen
        23. Cattle Drovers
        24. Bakers
        25. Women at a loom
        26. Netting birds
        27. Shepherds in the fields
        28. Winnowing corn
        29. Herdsmen
        30. From the tomb of Menofre
        31. Water Tournament
        32. Mariette's House
        33. Amenhotep, or Amenophis III., presented by Phré to Amen-Ra
        34. Amen (or Ammon)
        35. Ptah
        36. Osiris
        37. The goddess Bast
        38. Painted bas-relief
        39. Sekhet
        40. Isis-Hathor
        41. A Sphinx
        42. Touaris
        43. Rannu
        44. Horus
        45. Thoth
        46. Sacrifice to Apis
        47. Statue from the Ancient Empire
        48. Woman kneading dough
        49. The Scribe Chaphré
        50. The Lady Naï
        51. Ouah-ab-ra
        52. Sculptor at work upon an arm
        53. Sculptor carving a statue
        54. Artist painting a statue
        55. Isis nursing Horus
        56. Chephren
        57. Ti, with his wife and son
        58. Square building
        59. Rectangular and oblong building
        60. The Libyan chain, above the Necropolis of Thebes
        61. General appearance of an Egyptian Temple
        62. Temple of Khons, at Thebes
        63. Temple of Khons, Thebes
        64. Temple of Khons, Thebes
        65. From the second court of Medinet-Abou, Thebes
        66. Ramesseum, Thebes
        67. The Egyptian Gorge or Cornice
        68. Capital and Entablature of the Temple of the Deus Rediculus
              at Rome
        69. The Egyptian "bond"
        70. Double-faced wall
    71, 72. Elements of the portico
        73. Egyptian construction
        74. Element of an off-set arch
        75. Arrangement of the courses in an off-set arch
        76. Off-set semicircular arch
        77. Voussoir
        78. Arrangement of voussoirs
        79. Semicircular vault
        80. Granaries, from a bas-relief
        81. Modern pigeon house, Thebes
        82. Elements of wooden construction
        83. Wooden building (first system)
        84. Wooden building (second system)
        85. Seti I. striking prisoners of war with his mace
        86. Stele of the eleventh dynasty
        87. Mummy case from the eighteenth dynasty
        88. Man and his wife in the style of the fifth dynasty
        89. Sekhem-ka, his wife Ata, and his son Khnem, in the style
              of the fifth dynasty
        90. Stele of Nefer-oun
        91. Preparation of the victims and arrival of funeral gifts
        92. Table for offerings
        93. Another form of the table for offerings
        94. Labourers heaping up ears of corn
    95, 96. Sepulchral statuettes
        97. Vignette from a _Ritual_ upon papyrus
        98. Arrival in Egypt of a company of Asiatic emigrants
        99. The tomb of Ti; women, representing the lands of the
              deceased, carrying the funeral gifts
       100. Lid of the coffin of Entef
  101, 102. Scarabs
  103, 104. Funerary amulets
       105. Pillow
       106. Actual condition of a Mastaba. The Tomb of Sabou
       107. Three mastabas at Gizeh
       108. Restoration of part of the Necropolis of Gizeh
       109. The Mastabat-el-Faraoun
       110. Entrance to a Mastaba at Sakkarah
       111. Lintel of the tomb of Teta
       112. Plan of the tomb of Ti
  113, 114. Mastaba at Sakkarah
       115. Western wall in the chamber of the tomb of Ptah-Hotep
       116. Plan of a Mastaba with four serdabs
       117. Longitudinal section of the same Mastaba
       118. Transverse section through the chamber
       119. Transverse section through the serdabs
       120. Figures in high relief, from a Mastaba at Gizeh
       121. The upper chamber, well, and mummy-chamber
       122. Double Mastaba at Gizeh
       123. Sarcophagus of Khoo-foo-Ankh
       124. Details of the Sarcophagus of Khoo-foo-Ankh
       125. Bas-relief from Sakkarah
       126. Head of a Mummy
       127. Plans of the temples belonging to the Second and Third
       128. Plan of the Pyramid of Cheops
       129. The Great Pyramid and the small pyramids at its foot
       130. The Three Great Pyramids; from the south
       131. The Pyramid of Illahoun, horizontal section in perspective
       132. Section of the Pyramid of Cheops
       133. The southern Pyramid of Dashour
       134. Section of the Stepped Pyramid
       135. The Stepped Pyramid
   136-142. Successive states of a pyramid
       143. Section of the Stepped Pyramid at Sakkarah
       144. Construction of the Pyramid of Abousir in parallel layers
       145. Partial section of the Stepped Pyramid
       146. The Pyramid of Meidoum
       147. The Mastabat-el-Faraoun
       148. Funerary monument represented in the inscriptions
       149. Plan and elevation of a pyramid at Meroe
       150. Method of closing a gallery by a stone portcullis
       151. Portcullis closed
       152. Transverse section, in perspective, through the
              Sarcophagus-chamber and the discharging chambers of the
              Great Pyramid
       153. Longitudinal section through the lower chambers
       154. Pyramidion
       155. The casing of the pyramids
       156. Plan of the Pyramids of Gizeh and of that part of the
            Necropolis which immediately surrounds them
       157. The Sphinx
       158. Pyramid with its inclosure, Abousir
       159. The river transport of the Mummy
       160. Tomb at Abydos
       161. Section of the above tomb
       162. Tomb at Abydos
       163. Section of the above tomb
       164. Stele of the eleventh dynasty, Abydos
       165. Stele of Pinahsi, priest of Ma; Abydos
       166. Façade of a tomb at Beni-Hassan
       167. Façade of a tomb at Beni-Hassan, showing some of the
              adjoining tombs
       168. Interior of a tomb at Beni-Hassan
       169. Plan of the above tomb
       170. Chess players, Beni-Hassan
       171. General plan of Thebes
       172. Rameses III. conducting a religious procession, at
       173. Rameses III. hunting
       174. Rameses II. in battle
       175. Painting in a royal tomb at Gournah
       176. Amenophis III. presenting an offering to Amen
       177. Flaying the funerary victim
       178. Entrance to a royal tomb
       179. Plan of the tomb of Rameses II.
       180. Horizontal section of the same tomb
       181. The smaller Sarcophagus-chamber in the tomb of Rameses VI.
       182. Entrance to the tomb of Rameses III.
       183. Hunting scene upon a tomb at Gournah
       184. The weighing of actions
       185. Anubis, in a funerary pavilion
       186. Plan and section of a royal tomb
  187, 188. Theban tombs from the bas-reliefs
       189. Theban tomb from a bas-relief
       190. A tomb of Apis
       191. The tomb of Petamounoph
       192. The most simple form of Theban tomb
       193. Tomb as represented upon a bas-relief
       194. Stele in the Boulak Museum, showing tombs with gardens
              about them
       195. The sarcophagus of a royal scribe
       196. Canopic vase of alabaster
       197. View of the grand gallery in the Apis Mausoleum
       198. Sepulchral chamber of an Apis bull
       199. Section in perspective of "Campbell's tomb"
       200. Vertical section in perspective of the Sarcophagus-chamber
              of the above tomb
       201. A Tomb on El-Assasif
       202. The Temple of the Sphinx
       203. Interior of the Temple of the Sphinx
       204. The Temple of the Sphinx, the Sphinx, and the neighbouring
              parts of the Necropolis
       205. Ram, or _Kriosphinx_
       206. Gateway and boundary wall of a temple
       207. Principal façade of the Temple of Luxor
       208. The Temple of Khons; horizontal and vertical section
              showing the general arrangement of the temple
       209. The _Bari_, or sacred boat
       210. Portable tabernacle of painted wood
       211. Granite tabernacle
       212. General plan of the Great Temple at Karnak
       213. Longitudinal section of the Temple of Luxor
       214. Plan of the anterior portion of the Great Temple at Karnak
       215. The Great Temple at Karnak; inner portion
       216. Karnak as it is at present
       217. Plan of the Temple of Luxor
       218. Bird's-eye view of Luxor
       219. Plan of the Ramesseum
       220. The Ramesseum. Bird's-eye view of the general arrangement
       221. General plan of the buildings at Medinet-Abou
       222. Plan of the Temple of Thothmes
       223. Plan of the Great Temple at Medinet-Abou
       224. Plan of the Temple at Abydos
       225. Seti, with the attributes of Osiris, between Amen, to whom
              he is paying homage, and Chnoum
       226. Plan of the Temple of Gournah
       227. Façade of the _naos_ of the Temple of Gournah
       228. Longitudinal section of the Temple of Gournah, from the
              portico of the _naos_ to the back wall
       229. Plan of the Temple of Elephantiné
       230. View in perspective of the Temple of Elephantiné
       231. Longitudinal section of the Temple of Elephantiné
       232. Temple of Amenophis III. at Eilithyia
       233. Temple of Amenophis III. at Eilithyia; longitudinal section
       234. The speos at Addeh
       235. The speos at Addeh; longitudinal section
       236. Plan of speos at Beit-el-Wali
       237. Longitudinal section of the speos at Beit-el-Wali
       238. Plan of the hemispeos of Gherf-Hossein
       239. Gherf-Hossein; longitudinal section
       240. Plan of the hemispeos of Derri
       241. Longitudinal section; Derri
       242. Façade of the smaller temple at Ipsamboul
       243. Plan of the smaller temple
       244. Perspective of the principal Chamber in the smaller temple
       245. Longitudinal section of the smaller temple
       246. Plan of the Great Temple
       247. Perspective of the principal Hall in the Great Temple
       248. Façade of the Great Temple at Ipsamboul
       249. Longitudinal section of the Great Temple
       250. Dayr-el-Bahari
       251. Restoration in perspective of Dayr-el-Bahari
       252. The ruins on the Island of Philæ
       253. The battle against the Khetas, Luxor
       254. Rameses II. returning in triumph from Syria
       255. The goddess Anouké suckling Rameses II., Beit-el-Wali



The successful interpretation of the ancient writings of Egypt,
Chaldæa, and Persia, which has distinguished our times, makes it
necessary that the history of antiquity should be rewritten. Documents
that for thousands of years lay hidden beneath the soil, and
inscriptions which, like those of Egypt and Persia, long offered
themselves to the gaze of man merely to excite his impotent curiosity,
have now been deciphered and made to render up their secrets for the
guidance of the historian. By the help of those strings of hieroglyphs
and of cuneiform characters, illustrated by paintings and sculptured
reliefs, we are enabled to separate the truth from the falsehood, the
chaff from the wheat, in the narratives of the Greek writers who
busied themselves with those nations of Africa and Asia which preceded
their own in the ways of civilization. Day by day, as new monuments
have been discovered and more certain methods of reading their
inscriptions elaborated, we have added to the knowledge left us by
Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, to our acquaintance with those empires
on the Euphrates and the Nile which were already in old age when the
Greeks were yet struggling to emerge from their primitive barbarism.

Even in the cases of Greece and Rome, whose histories are supplied in
their main lines by their classic writers, the study of hitherto
neglected writings discloses many new and curious details. The
energetic search for ancient inscriptions, and the scrupulous and
ingenious interpretation of their meaning, which we have witnessed and
are witnessing, have revealed to us many interesting facts of which no
trace is to be found in Thucydides or Xenophon, in Livy or Tacitus;
enabling us to enrich with more than one feature the picture of
private and public life which they have handed down to us. In the
effort to embrace the life of ancient times as a whole, many attempts
have been made to fix the exact place in it occupied by art, but those
attempts have never been absolutely successful, because the
comprehension of works of art, of _plastic_ creations in the widest
significance of that word, demands an amount of special knowledge
which the great majority of historians are without; art has a method
and language of its own, which obliges those who wish to learn it
thoroughly to cultivate their taste by frequenting the principal
museums of Europe, by visiting distant regions at the cost of
considerable trouble and expense, by perpetual reference to the great
collections of engravings, photographs, and other reproductions which
considerations of space and cost prevent the _savant_ from possessing
at home. More than one learned author has never visited Italy or
Greece, or has found no time to examine their museums, each of which
contains but a small portion of the accumulated remains of antique
art. Some connoisseurs do not even live in a capital, but dwell far
from those public libraries, which often contain valuable collections,
and sometimes--when they are not packed away in cellars or at the
binder's--allow them to be studied by the curious.[2] The study of
art, difficult enough in itself, is thus rendered still more arduous
by the obstacles which are thrown in its way. The difficulty of
obtaining materials for self-improvement in this direction affords the
true explanation of the absence, in modern histories of antiquity, of
those laborious researches which have led to such great results since
Winckelmann founded the science of archæology as we know it. To take
the case of Greece, many learned writers have in our time attempted to
retrace its complete history--England, Germany, and France have each
contributed works which, by various merits, have conquered the favour
of Europe. But of all these works the only one which betrays any deep
study of Greek art, and treats it with taste and competence, is that
of M. Ernest Curtius; as for Mr. Grote, he has neither a theoretic
knowledge of art, nor a feeling for it. Here and there, indeed, where
he cannot avoid it, he alludes to the question, but in the fewest and
driest phrases possible. And yet Greece, without its architects, its
sculptors, and its painters, without in fact its passion for beautiful
form, a passion as warm and prolific as its love for poetry, is hardly
Greece at all.

    [2] Our national library at the British Museum is, perhaps, the
    only one which does not deserve this reproach.--ED.

Much disappointment is thus prepared for those who, without the
leisure to enter deeply into detail, wish to picture to themselves the
various aspects of the ancient world. They are told of revolutions, of
wars and conquests, of the succession of princes; the mechanism of
political and civil institutions is explained to them; "literature,"
we are told, "is the expression of social life," and so the history of
literature is written for us. All this is true enough, but there is
another truth which seems to be always forgotten, that the art of a
people is quite as clear an indication of their sentiments, tastes,
and ideas, as their literature. But on this subject most historians
say little, contenting themselves with the brief mention of certain
works and proper names, and with the summary statement of a few
general ideas which do not even possess the merit of precision. And
where are we to find the information thus refused? Europe possesses
several histories of Greek and Roman literature, written with great
talent and eloquence, such as the work, unhappily left unfinished, of
Ottfried Müller; there are, too, excellent manuals, rich in valuable
facts, such as those of Bernhardy, Baehr, and Teuffel; but where is
there, either in England, in France, or in Germany, a single work
which retraces, in sufficient detail, the whole history of antique
art, following it throughout its progress and into all its
transformations, from its origin to its final decadence, down to the
epoch when Christianity and the barbaric invasions put an end to the
ancient forms of civilization and prepared for the birth of the modern
world, for the evolution of a new society and of a new art?

To this question our neighbours may reply that the _Geschichte der
bildenden Kunst_ of Carl Schnaase[3] does all that we ask. But that
work has one great disadvantage for those who are not Germans. Its
great bulk will almost certainly prevent its ever finding a
translator, while it makes it very tedious reading to a foreigner. It
must, besides, be very difficult, not to say impossible, for a single
writer to treat with equal competence the arts of Asia, of Greece, and
of Rome, of the Middle Ages and of modern times. As one might have
expected, all the parts of such an extensive whole are by no means of
equal value, and the chapters which treat of antique art are the least
satisfactory. Of the eight volumes of which the work consists, two are
devoted to ancient times, and, by general acknowledgment, they are not
the two best. They were revised, indeed, for the second edition, by
two colleagues whom Herr Schnaase called in to his assistance;
oriental art by Carl von Lützow, and that of Greece and Rome by Carl
Friedrichs. But the chapters in which Assyria, Chaldæa, Persia,
Phœnicia, and Egypt are discussed are quite inadequate. No single
question is exhaustively treated. Instead of well-considered personal
views, we have vague guesses and explanations which do nothing to
solve the many problems which perplex archæologists. The illustrations
are not numerous enough to be useful, and, in most cases, they do not
seem to have been taken from the objects themselves. Those which
relate to architecture, especially, have been borrowed from other well
known works, and furnish therefore no new elements for appreciation or
discussion. Finally, the order adopted by the author is not easily
understood. For reasons which have decided us to follow the same
course, and which we will explain farther on, he takes no account of
the extreme east, of China and Japan; but then, why begin with India,
which had no relations with the peoples on the shores of the
Mediterranean until a very late date, and, so far as art was
concerned, rather came under their influence than brought them under
its own?

    [3] _Geschichte der bildenden Kunst_, 2nd ed., corrected and
    augmented, with wood engravings in the text, 8 vols. 8vo.
    1865-1873. The first edition consisted of 7 vols., and appeared
    between 1843 and 1864.

The fact is that Schnaase follows a geographical order, which is very
confusing in its results. To give but one example of its absurdity, he
speaks of the Phœnicians before he has said a word of Egypt; now,
we all know that the art of Tyre and Sidon was but a late reflection
from that of Egypt; the workshops of those two famous ports were mere
factories of cheap Egyptian art objects for exportation.

Again, the first part of Herr Schnaase's work is already seventeen
years old, and how many important discoveries have taken place since
1865? Those of Cesnola and Schliemann, for instance, have revealed
numberless points of contact and transmission between one phase of
antique art and another, which were never thought of twenty years ago.
The book therefore is not "down to date." With all the improvements
which a new edition might introduce, that part of it which deals with
antiquity can never be anything but an abridgment with the faults
inherent in that kind of work. It could never have the amplitude of
treatment or the originality which made Winckelmann's _History of Art_
and Ottfried Müller's _Manual of Artistic Archæology_ so successful in
their day.[4]

    [4] Germany had long felt the want which Schnaase attempted to
    satisfy. As early as 1841 Franz Kugler published his _Handbuch
    der Kunstgeschichte_, which embraces the whole history of art
    from the earliest times down to our own day. The book was
    successful; the fourth edition, revised and corrected by Wilhelm
    Lübke (2 vols. 8vo. 1861, Stuttgart), lies before us, but to
    give an idea of its inadequacy as a history of ancient art, it
    is enough to say that the whole of the antique period, both in
    Greece and Asia, occupies no more than 206 pages of the first
    volume. The few illustrations are not very good in quality, and
    their source is never indicated; the draughtsman has taken
    little care to reproduce with fidelity the style of the
    originals or to call attention to their peculiarities; finally,
    the arrangements adopted betray the defects of a severely
    scientific method. The author commences with Celtic monuments
    (dolmens and menhirs), and then passes to the structures of
    Oceania and America; before commencing upon Egypt he takes us to
    Mexico and Yucatan. Lübke, whilst still occupied with the work
    of Kugler, wished to supply for the use of students and artists
    a book of a more elementary character; he therefore published in
    1860 an 8vo volume which he called _Grundriss der
    Kunstgeschichte_; the antique here occupies 208 pages out of
    720. His plan seems to us to be open to the same objection as
    that of Kugler; he follows a geographical instead of an
    historical arrangement; he begins with the extreme east; he puts
    the Assyrians and the Persians before Egypt, and India before
    Assyria. His illustrations are sometimes better than those of
    Kugler, but many of the cuts are common to both works.

    Under the title _Geschichte der Plastik_, Overbeck and Lübke
    have each written a comprehensive history of sculpture. [The
    word "comprehensive" must here be understood in a strictly
    limited sense.--ED.] The word _Plastik_ in the language of
    German critics has this special and restricted meaning--it
    comprises sculpture only. The work of Overbeck, far superior to
    that of Lübke, deserves the success which has attended it; the
    third edition, which contains the results of the searches at
    Olympia and at Pergamus, is now in course of publication.

Winckelmann's _History of Art among the Ancients_, originally
published in 1764, is one of those rare books which mark an epoch in
the history of the human intellect. The German writer was the first to
formulate the idea, now familiar enough to cultivated intelligences,
that art springs up, flourishes, and decays, with the society to which
it belongs; in a word, that it is possible to write its history.[5]
This great _savant_, whose memory Germany holds in honour as the
father of classic archæology, was not content with stating a
principle: he followed it through to its consequences; he began by
tracing the outlines of the science which he founded, and he never
rested till he had filled them in. However, now that a century has
passed away since it appeared, his great work, which even yet is never
opened without a sentiment of respect, marks a date beyond which
modern curiosity has long penetrated. Winckelmann's knowledge of
Egyptian art was confined to the _pasticcios_ of the Roman epoch, and
to the figures which passed from the villa of Hadrian to the museum of
Cardinal Albani. Chaldæa and Assyria, Persia and Phœnicia, had no
existence for him; even Greece as a whole was not known to him. Her
painted vases were still hidden in Etruscan and Campanian cemeteries;
the few which had found their way to the light had not yet succeeded
in drawing the attention of men who were preoccupied over more
imposing manifestations of the Greek genius. Nearly all Winckelmann's
attention was given to the works of the sculptors, upon which most of
his comprehensive judgments were founded; and yet, even in regard to
them, he was not well-informed. His opportunities of personal
inspection were confined to the figures, mostly of unknown origin,
which filled the Italian galleries. The great majority of these formed
part of the crowd of copies which issued from the workshops of Greece,
for some three centuries or more, to embellish the temples, the
basilicas, and the public baths, the villas and the palaces of the
masters of the world. In the very few instances in which they were
either originals or copies executed with sufficient care to be fair
representations of the original, they never dated from an earlier
epoch than that of Praxiteles, Scopas, and Lysippus. Phidias and
Alcamenes, Pæonius and Polycletus, the great masters of the fifth
century, were only known to the historian by the descriptions and
allusions of the ancient authors.

    [5] Winckelmann's History of Ancient Art should be read in
    connection with his Remarks upon the History of Art, which is a
    kind of supplement to it, and takes the place of that new
    edition of which the author's premature and tragic death
    deprived the world. It is an answer to the objections which made
    themselves heard on every side; the preface to _Monumenti
    inediti_ (Rome, 1867, 2 vols. in folio, with 208 plates) should
    also be read. The method of Winckelmann is there most clearly
    explained. Finally, the student of the life and labours of
    Winckelmann may consult with profit the interesting work of Carl
    Iusti, _Winckelmann, sein Leben, seine Werke, und seine
    Zeitgenossen_, which will give him a clear idea of the state of
    archæology at the time when the German _savant_ intervened to
    place it upon a higher footing.

In such a case as this the clearest and most precise of verbal
descriptions is of less value than any fragment of marble upon which
the hand of the artist is still to be traced. Who would then have
guessed that the following generation would have the opportunity of
studying those splendid groups of decorative sculpture whose close
relation to the architecture of certain famous temples has taught us
so much? Who in those days dreamt of looking at, still less of
drawing, the statues in the pediments and sculptured friezes of the
Parthenon, of the Thesæum, of the temples at Ægina, at Phigalia, or at
Olympia? Now if Winckelmann was ignorant of these, the real monuments
of classic perfection, it follows that he was hardly competent to
recognise and define true archaism or to distinguish the works of
sculpture which bore the marks of the deliberate, eclectic, and
over-polished taste of the critical epochs. He made the same mistake
in speaking of architecture. It was always, or nearly always, by the
edifices of Rome and Italy, by their arrangement and decoration, that
he pretended to explain and judge the architecture of Greece.

But Winckelmann rendered a great service to art by founding a method
of study which was soon applied by Zoëga[6] and by Ennio Quirino
Visconti,[7] to the description of the works which filled public and
private galleries, or were being continually discovered by excavation.
These two _savants_ classified a vast quantity of facts; thanks to
their incessant labours, the lines of the master's rough sketch were
accented and corrected at more than one point; the divisions which he
had introduced into his picture were marked with greater precision;
the groups which he had begun to form were rendered more coherent and
compact; their features became more precise, more distinct, and more
expressive. This progress was continuous, but after the great wars of
the Revolution and the Empire its march became much more rapid, and
the long peace which saw the growth of so rich a harvest of talent,
was also marked by a great increase in the energy with which all kinds
of historical studies were prosecuted.

    [6] Zoëga busied himself greatly with Egypt, and in inaugurating
    the study of Coptic prepared the way for Champollion. But the
    work which gave him a place among the chief scholars of
    Winckelmann is unfinished; the _Bassirilievi antichi di Roma_
    (Rome, 2 vols. 4to. 1808) only contains the monuments in the
    Villa Albani, engraved by Piroli, with the help of the
    celebrated Piranesi. A volume containing most of his essays was
    given to the world by Welcker in 1817 (_Abhandlungen
    herausgegeben und mit Zusätzen begleitet_, 8vo. Göttingen), who
    also published his life and a volume of his correspondence
    (Zoëga, _Sammlung seiner Briefe und Beurtheilung seiner Werke_,
    2 vols. 8vo. Stuttgart, 1819).

    [7] _Il Museo Pio-Clementino_, Visconti, vol. i. 1782; by Enn.
    Quir. Visconti, vols. ii. to vii. Rome, 1784-1807. _Museum
    Worsleyanum_, 2 vols. folio. London, 1794. _Monumenti Gabini
    della Villa Pinciana_, Visconti, 8vo. 1797. _Description des
    Antiques du Musée Royal_, begun by Visconti and continued by the
    Comte de Clarac. 12mo. Paris, 1820. For the collection of the
    materials and the execution of the plates in the _Iconographie
    Grecque et Romain_, Visconti took advantage of his opportunities
    as director of the _Musée Napoléon_, into which the art
    treasures of all Europe, except England, were collected at the
    beginning of this century.

But the widest, as well as the most sudden, enlargement of the horizon
was due to a rapid succession of discoveries, some the result of
persevering searches and lucky excavations, others rendered possible
by feats of induction which almost amounted to genius. It seemed as
though a curtain were drawn up, and, behind the rich and brilliant
scenery of Græco-Roman civilization, the real ancient world, the world
of the East, the father of religions and of useful inventions, of the
alphabet and of the plastic arts, were suddenly revealed to us. The
great work which was compiled by the _savants_ who accompanied
Bonaparte to Egypt first introduced the antiquities of that country to
us, and not long afterwards Champollion discovered the key to the
hieroglyphics, and thus enabled us to assign to the monuments of the
country at least a relative date.

A little later Layard and Botta freed Nineveh from the ruins of its
own buildings, and again let in the light upon ancient Assyria. But
yesterday we knew nothing beyond the names of its kings, and yet it
sprang again to the day, its monuments in marvellous preservation, its
history pictured by thousands of figures in relief and narrated by
their accompanying inscriptions. These did not long keep their secrets
to themselves, and their interpretation enables us to classify
chronologically the works of architecture and sculpture which have
been discovered.

The information thus obtained was supplemented by careful exploration
of the ruins in Babylonia, lower Chaldæa, and Susiana. These had been
less tenderly treated by time and by man than the remains of Nineveh.
The imposing ruins of the palace at Persepolis and of the tombs of the
kings, had been known for nearly two centuries, but only by the
inadequate descriptions and feeble drawings of early travellers.
Ker-Porter, Texier, and Flandrin provided us with more accurate and
comprehensive descriptions, and, thanks to their careful copies of the
writings upon the walls of those buildings, and upon the inscribed
stones of Persia and Media, Eugène Burnouf succeeded in reconstructing
the alphabet of Darius and Xerxes.

Thus, to the toils of artists and learned men, who examined the
country from the mountains of Armenia to the low and marshy plains of
Susiana, and from the deserts which border the Euphrates to the rocks
of Media and Persia, and to the philologists who deciphered the texts
and classified the monumental fragments which had travelled so far
from the scene of their creation, we owe our power to describe, upon a
sound basis and from authentic materials, the great civilisation which
was developed in Western Asia, in the basin of the Persian Gulf. There
were still many details which escaped us, but, through the shadows
which every day helped to dissipate, the essential outlines and the
leading masses began to be clearly distinguished, and the local
distinctions which, in such a vast extent of country and so long a
succession of empires, were caused by differences of race, of time,
and of physical conditions, began to be appreciated. But, in spite of
all these differences, the choice of expressive means and their
employment, from Babylon to Nineveh, and from Nineveh to Susa and
Persepolis, presented so many points of striking similarity as to
prove that the various peoples represented by those famous capitals
all sprang from the same original stock. The elements of writing and
of the arts are in each case identical. The alphabets were all formed
upon the same cuneiform principle, notwithstanding the variety in the
languages which they served. In the plastic arts, although the plans
of their buildings vary in obedience to the requirements of different
materials, their sculpture always betrays the same way of looking at
living forms, the same conventions and the same motives. Every work
fashioned by the hand of man which has been discovered within the
boundaries given above, displays community of style and unity of
origin and tradition.

       *       *       *       *       *

The result of these searches and discoveries was to show clearly that
this ancient civilisation had sprung from two original sources, the
one in the valley of the Nile, the other in Chaldæa. The latter was
the less ancient of the two, and was considerably nearer our own time
than the epoch which witnessed the commencement of the long series of
Egyptian dynasties by the reign of Menes. These two civilizations met
and intermingled through the agency of the Phœnicians, and any
active and prolific interchange of ideas and products began, traces of
which are still to be found both in Egypt and Assyria.

It still remained doubtful, and the doubt has but lately been removed,
how the influence of these two great centres of cultivation was
extended to the still barbarous tribes, the ancestors of the Greeks
and Romans, who inhabited the northern and eastern shores of the

It is only within the last twenty years, since the mission of M.
Renan, that Phœnicia has become well-known to us. Several English
and French travellers, Hamilton, Fellows, Texier, among others, had
already, in the first half of the century, described the curious
monuments of Lydia, Phrygia, Cappadocia, and of the still more
picturesque Lycia, whose spoils now enrich the British Museum; people
vaguely conjectured that through those countries had progressed, stage
by stage, from the east to the west, the forms and inventions of a
system of civilization which had been elaborated in the distant
Chaldæa. But it was not till 1861 that an expedition, inspired by the
desire to clear up this very question, succeeded in demonstrating the
_rôle_ actually played by the peoples inhabiting the plateau of Asia
Minor. As for Cyprus, it was but yesterday that the explorations of
Lang and Cesnola revealed it to us, with its art half Egyptian and
half Assyrian, and its cuneiform alphabet pressed into the service of
a Greek dialect. These discoveries have put us on the alert. Not a
year passes without some lucky "find," such as that of the Palæstrina
treasure, in the immediate neighbourhood of Rome, or that made by
Salzmann at Rhodes. These pieces of good fortune allow the
archæologist to supply, one by one, the missing links of the chain
which attaches the arts of Greece and Italy to the earlier
civilizations of Egypt and Assyria.

       *       *       *       *       *

While the remains of Oriental antiquity were being thus recovered
piece by piece, secrets no less interesting and documents no less
curious were continually coming to the surface to cast new light upon
the history of classic antiquity. First came the marbles of the
Parthenon, transferred by Lord Elgin to the British Museum in 1816.
Both artists and connoisseurs, after a short pause of hesitation,
agreed in asserting that the bas-reliefs of the frieze and the
sculptures of the two pediments excelled anything which had previously
entered into any European museum. Artists declared that they
experienced a sense of beauty never felt before; they were face to
face for the first time with the ideal of the Greeks, as it had been
conceived and realised at that happy period of perfection which
followed the disappearance of the last traces of archaic hardness.
That period was but too short. It was comprised in a single
generation, which was followed by one which made the first steps down
the slope of the decadence. During a single lifetime a crowd of works
were produced which, in spite of differences in material and subject,
were all stamped with the same character of easy and frank nobility,
of sincerity and elegant severity, of simplicity combined with
grandeur. The death, or even the old age of the great men who had
produced these works, was sufficient to lower the standard. Emphasis
and a striving for effect took the place of nobility; under a pretence
of sincerity, artists took to a servile imitation of nature, and
mannerism, with all its weaknesses, began to disfigure their works.
Art remained at a high level in Greece, however, longer than
elsewhere. The word decadence can hardly be pronounced in connection
with the admirable works produced in the fourth century before Christ,
and yet it cannot be denied that, so long as we were without original
examples from the great epoch of Pericles, we were without that most
necessary material for a history of Greek art, a knowledge of the most
masterly, the most pure, and the most elevated of her creations. The
literary historian might as well have attempted to trace the course of
her poetry without having read Sophocles, without having heard of the
_Electra_ or the _Œdipus Rex_.

Attention being once turned in this direction, discoveries followed
each other in rapid succession. The statues from the pediments at
Ægina, so ably restored by Thorwaldsen, were bought to form the
nucleus of the collection at Munich.[8] The study of these statues is
very instructive in making clear to us the paths which sculptors had
to follow in their progress from the stiffness and conventions of
early periods to the ease and amplitude of classic perfection. As for
the friezes from the temple of Apollo Epicurius, near Phigalia, they
too are in the British Museum.[9] Thus brought into immediate
propinquity with the marbles from the Parthenon, with which they are
almost cotemporary, they afford us some curious information. They show
us what the art of Phidias and Alcamenes became when those sculptors
had to work in what we should call "the provinces;" how much they
preserved and how much they lost of their complete excellence when
employed upon buildings erected at less cost and with less care than
those of the capital. So far as the composition is concerned, the
consummate facility and the natural _verve_ of the master who supplied
the sketches and models is never absent, but the execution, which must
have been left to local artists, betrays their inferiority by its
inequalities and general weakness. The same may be said of the figures
with which Alcamenes and Pæonius ornamented the pediments and metopes
of the Temple of Zeus at Olympia. Even before the discoveries at Ægina
and Phigalia, the results of the French expedition to the Morea and
the beautiful fragments of sculpture brought to the Louvre from the
banks of the Alphæus, had given us reason to suspect this inferiority
of provincial art, and the excavations recently undertaken by Germany,
after an interval of about half a century of inaction, have finally
removed all doubts. Neither the statues nor the bas-reliefs, nor any
other part of the decoration of the temple at Olympia, possess the
nobility and purity which distinguish the great buildings on the
Athenian acropolis. They show abundant power and science, but also
perceptible inequalities, and certain signs of that exaggerated
objectivity which we now call realism. Each fresh discovery helps us
to comprehend, not without a certain sense of surprise, how much
freedom and variety Greek art possessed during its best time. There is
none of that dull uniformity which, with other races, distinguishes
most of the works of a single epoch, none of the tyranny of a single
master or school, none of the narrowness of mere _formulæ_.

    [8] They were discovered in 1811 amid the ruins of one of the
    temples at Ægina, by a company of excavators presided over by
    Mr. Cockerell. They were bought by Prince Louis of Bavaria in
    1812, and Thorwaldsen was occupied during several years in
    putting together and restoring them. They were first exhibited
    in the Glyptothek of Munich in 1820.

    [9] The _débris_ of the temple at Bassæ was explored by the same
    company in the year 1812, and a whole frieze was found, which
    was bought by the British Museum in 1815.

The memorable exploration to which we have alluded, and many others
which it would take too long to enumerate, have not only made known to
us the most original and most fertile period of Greek sculpture, but
have given us much information as to that art which, when combined
with the statues of Phidias and Alcamenes, reared those splendid
creations which have been reconstructed with such skill and care by
the artist and the archæologist; we mean Greek architecture at its
best, the purest and the most complete architecture which the world
has yet seen. Every year sees the excellent example set by Stuart and
Revett,[10] in the second half of the eighteenth century, followed by
an increasing number of imitators. The smallest remains of ancient
architecture are measured and drawn with religious care; their
arrangements are explained, their elements are grouped, their
_ensemble_ is restored with a comprehension of their artistic
conditions which steadily gains in certainty and penetration. Blouet's
interesting restorations of Olympia and Phigalia, published in the
account of the French expedition to the Morea,[11] excited the
emulation of the young architects at the French Academy in Rome, and
opened to them a new course of study. Until then they had been
contented with the monumental buildings of Rome and its neighbourhood,
of Latium and Campania; a few of the more adventurous among them had
penetrated as far as Pæstum; but it was not till 1845 that they
ventured to cross the sea and to study the ruins of Greece and
Athens;[12] in later years they have travelled as far as Syria and
Asia Minor in search of objects for their pencils.[13]

    [10] _The Antiquities of Athens, Measured and Delineated by J.
    Stuart and N. Revett._ Folio. London, 1761.

    [11] _Expédition scientifique de Morée, ordonnée par le
    Gouvernement Français. Architecture, Sculpture, Inscriptions,
    mesurées, dessinées, recueillies et publiées, par_ A. Blouet, A.
    Ravoisié, Alph. Poirot, F. Trézel, et Fr. de Gournay. Paris,

    [12] The restoration of the temple of Athenè Polias and of the
    Parthenon, by Ballu and Paccard, dates from 1845. Since that
    time the students of the French Academy have drawn and restored
    all the most important monuments of Greece.

    [13] One temple at Baalbec was restored in 1865 by M. Moyau; the
    Mausoleum of Halicarnassus by M. Bernier in 1878, and the temple
    of Athenè at Priene by M. Thomas in 1879.

But the occupants of the Villa Medici were not alone in these
researches. Doubtless, the invaluable publication which contains the
results of their labours, forms the most ample and varied collection
of documents open to the historian of architecture among the ancients.
But many other architects of different nationalities have given their
help to the work of patiently reconstructing the past.[14]

    [14] In 1872 this collection consisted of sixty-one
    restorations, comprising 691 original drawings upon a very large
    scale, and forming fifty-two bound volumes. Thanks to M. Jules
    Simon, then Minister of Public Instruction, and M. Charles
    Blanc, Director of Fine Arts, the publication of the series in
    its entirety was resolved upon. A commission, with M. Ernest
    Vinet as secretary, was appointed to superintend the expenditure
    of an annual grant of 20,000 francs voted by the Chamber. But
    the work progresses very slowly. In 1881 only five sections had
    appeared, the most important being the _Restauration des Temples
    de Pæstum_, by Labrouste.

Examined thus closely, and by the trained eyes of professional artists
provided with all the necessary instruments, the relics of antiquity
yielded up secrets which would never have been suspected by the casual
observer. Thus Mr. Penrose discovered and explained that those walls
of the Propylæum and of the Parthenon, which seemed straight to the
eye, are in fact planned on a gentle curve;[15] he showed how this
subtle variation was calculated to add to the beauty of the buildings,
and to augment their effect. Hittorf arrived at still more important
results through the minute examination of the Sicilian ruins. He was
the first to describe the important part which painting played in the
decoration of Greek architecture; he affirmed that in many parts of
their buildings the stone or marble was painted over, and that the
various members of the architecture were distinguished by differences
of tint, which gave accent to the mouldings, and force to the figures
in relief. These ideas were too strongly opposed to modern habits of
thought to be received without strong protestations. Their partisans,
too, did something to retard their acceptance by their absolute
fashion of stating their convictions, and by certain unhappy
applications of their system; but the polychromatic principles of the
Greeks are now confirmed by too many facts to be denied.[16]

    [15] F. C. PENROSE, _An Investigation of the Principles of
    Athenian Architecture_. Folio, with plates. London, 1851.

    [16] J. J. HITTORF, _Restitution du Temple d'Empédocle à
    Sèlinonte; ou, l'Architecture polychrome chez les Grecs_, 4to.
    and plates in folio. Paris, 1851.

Of the three principal branches of ancient art, that of which we know
least is painting, properly speaking; the art of Polygnotus, of
Zeuxis, and of Apelles. Of this we have but few remains, and we are
obliged to take our ideas of its excellence from the descriptions of
ancient authors. We have indeed the wall-paintings of those Campanian
cities which were so long buried under the ashes of Vesuvius;
paintings which were uncovered in great numbers under the Napoleonic
domination, and have in later times been added to every year, in spite
of the indolent fashion in which the excavations have been conducted.
Fragmentary mural paintings of the same kind have also been discovered
in Rome and in a few other neighbourhoods. But after all, great though
the interest may be which attaches to these works, it must not be
forgotten that they are Italian rather than Greek, that they are the
decorations for the most part of small provincial cities, and that
even the best of them, when compared with the productions of the fifth
and fourth centuries before our era, are examples of decadence. At the
most they enable us to recall, with some approach to probable truth,
the taste and technical methods of the Alexandrian school.[17]
Winckelmann and his immediate successors saw the ashes cleared from
the first Pompeian wall-paintings. But they possessed no standards by
which they could define the styles of those great schools of painting
which flourished in Greece between the epoch of the Persian Wars and
the beginning of the Macedonian supremacy; such a definition we may
now however attempt with at least partial success. Since the time of
Winckelmann hundreds and thousands of those painted vases of burnt
clay, which the public persist in calling Etruscan, have been
discovered, classified, described, and explained, in such a manner as
to leave unsolved scarcely any of the problems upon which they could
cast a light.

    [17] See upon this subject M. Wolfgang Helbig's _Untersuchungen
    ueber die Campanische Wandmalerei_. Leipsic, 1873. M. Boissier
    has summed up the leading opinions in this matter in an
    interesting article in the _Révue des Deux Mondes_, entitled
    _Les Peintures d'Herculaneum et de Pompéi_ (October 1, 1879).

Gerhard led the way in 1831 with his famous report on the Volscian
vases;[18] numerous _savants_ have followed his example, and nearly
every day the series which they have established are enriched by new
discoveries. These vases, as we now know, were made in many places, at
Athens, at Corinth, in the Greek cities of Africa and of Magna Græcia.
They were eagerly sought after by some of the races whom the Greeks
considered barbarous, by the Græco-Scythians of the Crimea, as well as
by the Sabellians and the Etruscans; the latter imitated them now and
then more or less awkwardly, but it is unanimously acknowledged that
they are an essentially Greek product, the product of an art which
sprang up with the first awakening of the Greek genius, and was
extinguished about two hundred years before Christ, when the nation
ceased to be creative and prolific. From analogy with all that has
passed elsewhere we are justified in believing that, in each century,
the painting of these vases, which would belong to what we call the
industrial arts, followed with docility the example set by historical
painters, and that it reproduced, so far as its resources would allow,
the style and taste of their works. If we study each series of vases
in the light of the judgments passed by the ancients upon the most
celebrated painters of Greece, we may find, by a legitimate induction,
traces now of the style of Polygnotus, now of that of Zeuxis, and
again suggestions of the hands of Apelles or Protogenes; a vase here
and there may have even preserved more or less faithful imitations of
the actual works of those masters. These inductions and conjectures
certainly demand both prudence and delicacy of perception, but their
principle is incontestable, and the profit to be obtained from them is
great. In the whole wreck of antiquity there is no loss which lovers
of art find so hard to bear, as the complete annihilation of the works
of those great painters whom the ancients put at least upon the same
level as their most famous sculptors; and who would not rejoice to be
able, by the remains of contemporary though inferior productions, to
trace a reflection, distant and feeble perhaps, but yet faithful so
far as it goes, of a whole art which has been lost to the world?

    [18] _Rapporto intorno i Vasi Volcenti_ (_Annali dell' Instituto
    di Corrispondenza Archeologica_, vol. iii. p. 5).

The archæologists of the eighteenth century never dreamt of such
researches as these, still less of the results to which they might
lead; few of them suspected what valuable aid might be afforded to the
historian of art and of antique civilization, by the multitude of
small objects--vases, gems, glass, mirrors, bronze plaques and
figures, terra-cotta bas-reliefs, and statuettes--which are now so
eagerly sought after, and which begin to form valuable collections in
most of the great museums of Europe.[19] These objects, which were in
continual use, were manufactured in prodigious quantities for
thousands of years, and their vast numbers gave them a greatly
increased chance of being preserved. In spite of the rough usage of
man, and the slower progress of destruction due to the action of
nature, a certain number of them were sure, from the first, to find
means of escape, and, from so many examples, a few of each type have
therefore come down to us. The small size of these objects also
contributed to preserve them from destruction. In times of war and
revolution the poor and humble ones of the earth easily avoid the
catastrophes which overwhelm those who are richer, more powerful, and
more conspicuous than themselves. So it was with these little
memorials of antiquity. Their insignificance was their salvation in
the overthrow of the civilisation to which they belonged. More
numerous and better sheltered than the masterpieces of fine art, they
survived when the latter perished. Thus it is that so many of the
lighter and more fragile products of industry have survived to our
time, and have made us acquainted with modes of thought and life, and
with forms of plastic expression which we should never have known
without them. The painted vases, for instance, have preserved for us
more than one myth of which no trace can be found in poetry or
sculpture; and as for terra-cottas, to which the Tanagra statuettes
have directed so much attention, we may judge from the labours of M.
Henzey of the value which they possess for archæologists, who, though
unable, like some of our amateurs, to buy them with their weight in
gold, may compare them one with another and study their smallest
details.[20] Those statuettes, which are now classified in museums in
the order of their production, have shown us how narrow and inadequate
were the formulæ by which the early historians of the plastic arts
attempted to define the genius of the Greeks. Even now, the most
accomplished and well-informed critics are not always able to repress
a feeling of astonishment when they examine a collection of
terra-cottas. Some of these figures, no more than a span high,
resemble the marbles of the Parthenon in dignity and grandeur, others
are full of grace and playfulness in their outlines, and show a
capricious _abandon_ which disconcerts for a moment even those who are
least insensible to their charm. At the bases of such works one is apt
to look for the signature of some artist of the Renaissance or of the
eighteenth century. In reality they have existed ever since the fourth
or third century before our era, and yet there is something modern in
their appearance. But an indescribable purity of taste suffices to
betray their real origin to all those who possess knowledge and
delicate perceptions. That origin is still Greece, but Greece in her
lighter and more playful moments, when, leaving the representation of
gods and heroes, she condescends to treat the familiar objects of
domestic life, and does it with an ease of which her great writers,
notably Plato and Aristophanes, had also found the secret, when they
passed from epic tragedy to comedy, from the noblest eloquence to
hearty expressions of enjoyment.

    [19] One of the first antiquaries to whom it occurred that the
    examination of these little objects might lead to profitable
    results was the Comte de Caylus, a _savant_ who is in some
    danger of being forgotten, and who deserves that his claims to
    our gratitude should be recalled to the public mind. The work in
    which he has brought together the fruits of a long life spent in
    travelling, in collecting, and in examining the technical
    processes of the ancients, both by himself and with the help of
    specialists, may be consulted with advantage (_Recueil d'
    Antiquites égyptiennes, étrusques, grecques, et romains_, 6
    vols. 4to. 1752-64. Supplement, 1 vol. 4to. 1767).

    [20] _Recherches sur les Figures de Femmes voilées dans l'Art
    Grec_, 4to. Paris, 1873. _Recherches sur un Groupe de Praxitèle,
    d'après les Figurines de terre cuite_, 8vo. Paris, 1875. _Les
    Figurines antiques de terre cuite du Musée du Louvre_, 4to.
    1878, Morel.

These little statues interest the historian for other reasons also.
They sometimes give him, as at Tanagra, the most precise and accurate
information as to dress and social customs: sometimes, as at Tegæa,
they afford particulars of a famous though obscure form of worship, of
a divinity and of rites which are but imperfectly described in the
writings of classic authors.

This extension of knowledge and the great discoveries upon which it
was based, naturally led those who were interested in the study of the
remains of antique civilisation, to feel the necessity of
organisation, of division of labour, and of the importance of ensuring
a steady supply of the best and most trustworthy information.
Societies were therefore founded in many different centres with the
express object of meeting those wants. We cannot, of course, enumerate
them here, nor attempt to estimate their various claims to our
gratitude, but we may be permitted to allude to the good work
accomplished, during fifty years of incessant activity, by the
Association which has perhaps done more than any other for the
progress of archæology, we mean the _Instituto di Corrispondenza
Archeologica_, founded in Rome in 1829, by Bunsen, Gerhard, and the
Duc de Luynes. Thanks to the breadth of view which characterised its
founders, this society has been, ever since its inauguration, an
international one in the best sense of the word; it brings together
for a common end the most eminent European _savants_ and their best
pupils; it finds fellow-labourers and correspondents in every country.
With their aid it soon established a _Bullettino_, where, month by
month, all discoveries of interest made at any point of the
Mediterranean basin were registered; and volumes, called sometimes
_Annali_, sometimes _Memorie_, in which really important discoveries,
and the problems to which they give rise, were discussed. Some of
these dissertations are so elaborate and so full of valuable matter as
to have formed epochs in the history of science. They are accompanied
by fine plates, which, by their size, permit the reproduction of
objects of art on a grander scale, and with more fidelity, than had
been previously attempted.[21]

    [21] For the history of the _Instituto Archeologico_, the notice
    written for the celebration, in 1879, of the fiftieth
    anniversary of its foundation, may be consulted. It is from the
    pen of Michaëlis, one of the most learned of modern German
    archæologists, and bears the following title: _Storia dell'
    Instituto Archeologico Germano, 1829-1879, strenna pubblicata
    nell' occasione della festa del 21 Aprile, 1879, dalla direzione
    centrale dell' Instituto Archeologico_, 8vo. Roma, 1879. It was
    also published in German. An article by M. Ernest Vinet in the
    volume entitled _L'Art et l'Archéologie_ (pp. 74-91, 8vo.
    Didier, 1874), upon the origin and labours of the _Instituto_,
    will also be found interesting.

While the Roman _Instituto_ was thus devoting itself to research, and
assuring to its members the advantages of a regular publicity, these
inquiries were daily attracting a more considerable share of attention
from the other learned bodies of Europe. The _Académie des
Inscriptions et de Belles Lettres_, the Academies of Berlin, Munich,
and Vienna, devoted an ever-increasing portion of their programmes to
such studies. Men began everywhere to understand that the writings of
the classic authors, which had been so exhaustively studied ever since
the Renaissance, were no longer capable of affording fresh
information. In order to learn more of antiquity than the great
scholars of the last three centuries, it was necessary to penetrate
into the past by paths as yet unexplored; it was necessary to
complement and control the evidence of classic authors by that of
public and private inscriptions, engraved upon bronze, marble, or
stone; it was above all necessary to seek for the expression, in their
handiwork, of the wants and ideas, of the personal sentiments and
religious conceptions, of the men of antiquity. There are, in fact,
nations, such as the Etruscans, whose whole literature has perished,
who are only known to us by the relics of their art. Others, like the
Greeks and Latins, have indeed transmitted to us noble masterpieces of
literature; but these masterpieces are few in proportion to those
which time has destroyed. Of the thoughts which they expressed in
their immortal languages, too many have been lost for ever with the
fragile strips of papyrus to which they were confided.

With the ardour for knowledge and the heroic perseverance which are
among the virtues of our time, curiosity has refused to resign itself
to such a loss. It has determined to discover the unpublished, to draw
into the light all that has not perished beyond recovery, to collect
all that the spirit of antiquity has left behind it, either upon works
hitherto unnoticed, or upon those which have been imperfectly
understood. The treasures of epigraphy have been classified and shown
in their full value by Bœckh, Borghesi, and others, and the world
is now able to guess all that history may owe to them. The study,
however, of those remains which bear figured representations is still
more complex and formidable. The language of forms is, in itself, less
definite than that of words, and it becomes very difficult to decipher
when we have no words dealing with the same ideas to help us, when we
possess the art of a people without a line of their literature.
Another difficulty springs from the very abundance and variety of the
materials to our hand. We feel oppressed by the ever-growing
accumulation of facts, and can neither determine where to begin our
work, nor how to leave it off: we cannot see the forest for the trees!


In 1830, when the Roman Institute was founded, the time seemed to have
come for the formulation of all the gathered facts and for their
arrangement into groups, a task which had become much more difficult
than in the time of Winckelmann. To conduct it to a successful
conclusion a rare combination of faculties was required; breadth of
intellect, aided by vast reading and a powerful memory; a
philosophical spirit, capable of wide generalisation, joined to that
passion for accurate detail which distinguishes the philologist; it
demanded one whose taste would survive the trying labour of the
cabinet, a _savant_ and an artist combined in one person. Books do not
teach everything. He who wishes to speak of art with intelligence must
study art objects themselves, must cultivate an intimate acquaintance
with them, and, within himself, a love for beautiful forms. Without
the perceptive powers which such an educational process alone can
give, no man can appreciate the subtle differences which distinguish
styles and schools. He who possesses no ear, who is unable to perceive
the intervals which separate one note from another, who knows that he
can neither recognise nor remember an air, does not, unless he be both
presumptuous and ignorant, dilate upon music, or attempt to write its
history. In the art of design, as in music, no education can supply
the place of natural aptitudes; but the latter are not by themselves
sufficient to form a connoisseur. Something more is necessary to those
who wish to form judgments upon which reliance may be placed, and to
give reasons for them which will bear discussion. A special
preparation must be undergone, the rules and technical processes--that
is to say, the language of art--must be learnt. A connoisseur need not
be able to compose an opera, or to chisel a statue, but he should be
able to read a part, or to decide, for instance, by the appearance of
a copy whether its original were of bronze or marble.

At the end of the last century there was born in Silesia a man who,
while yet in his first youth, gave evidence of a rare combination of
the gifts necessary for the successful accomplishment of the task
which we have described; we mean Carl Ottfried Müller, who has been
called, without any exaggeration, a "scholar of genius."[22] A
disciple of Niebuhr and Bœckh, he excelled all his contemporaries
in his efforts to embrace the whole of antiquity in one view, to trace
out and realise for himself all the varied aspects of ancient
civilisation. As a philologist, he took the greatest pleasure in the
science which weighs words and syllables, which collates manuscripts.
A poet in his hours of leisure, he appreciated both ancient and modern
works of literature. As a young man he studied with passion the
antiques in the Dresden Museum and the gallery of casts belonging to
the University of Gottingen.

    [22] LÉO JOUBERT, _Essais de critique et d'histoire_ (Paris,
    Firmin-Didot, 1 vol. 1863, p. 4). We shall never cease to regret
    that politics have deprived literature of this judicious and
    widely instructed critic.

In the last year of his life he traversed Italy and Sicily with
continual delight, and was like one intoxicated with the beauty of
that Athens of which he caught but a glimpse, of that Greece whose sun
so quickly destroyed him.

All this knowledge, all these experiences he hoped to make use of as
the lines and colours for the great picture of ancient Greece which he
meditated, for the canvas upon which he meant to portray the Greek
civilization for the benefit of the moderns, with all its indivisible
unity of social and political life, of literary and artistic
production. In striking him down in his forty-second year, death put
an end to this project, and the great picture, which would have been,
perhaps, one of the capital works of our century, was never executed.
But the preparatory sketches of the master happily remain to us. While
he was employed in collecting materials for the work which he meant to
be his highest title to honour, he was not shut up in silence and
meditation, as a less prolific spirit might have been. His facility of
arrangement and utterance was prodigious; all that he learnt, all new
discoveries that he made or thought he had made, he hastened to make
public, either by direct addresses to the auditors who crowded round
his chair at Gottingen, or by his pen to the readers of the numerous
philosophical periodicals to which he contributed. Like a man who has
travelled much and who loves to tell of what he has seen, he was ever
ready to take the public into his confidence when he embarked upon a
new study. This he generally did by means of papers full of facts and
ideas, written sometimes in German, sometimes in Latin. In his later
years he issued short articles upon archæology and the history of art,
in sufficient number to form five substantial volumes.[23] Besides
this, he gave to the world learned editions of Varro, of Festus, of
the _Eumenides_ of Æschylus; or important monographs like his
_Geschichten hellenischer Stämme und Städte_, including _Orchomenos
und die Minyer_ and _Die Dorier_, the most famous and most actively
discussed of his works; and finally, _Die Etrusker_, a work which was
suggested to him by one of the publications of the Berlin Academy.
There was also _Prolegomena zu einer wissenschaftlichen Mythologie_,
which has been fruitful for good even in its errors, and the
_Geschichte der griechischen Literatur_, &c., which, incomplete as it
is, has never become obsolete. Since the time of Ottfried Müller
several other critics have attempted to rival his achievements, but
they have all lacked his breadth of view and comprehensiveness of
exposition, as well as the versatility with which he combined the most
accurate scientific investigations with a delicate appreciation of the
beauty and originality of the Greek authors.

    [23] _Kunstarchæologische Werke._ Berlin, Calvary, 18 mo. 1873.

But of all these works, that which has perhaps rendered the greatest
service to the science of archæology is the _Handbuch der Archæologie
der Kunst_, which was published in Breslau in 1830.[24] Translated
into French, Italian, and English, it at once took its place as the
indispensable guide for all those who wished to learn something of
antique art.[25] In all the universities into which archæology had
made good its entrance, this manual has formed the basis of the
teaching, and also has enabled the pupils to supplement for themselves
the lessons which they learnt from their professors. Even now it has
not been superseded, and to all appearance it will long preserve its

    [24] _Handbuch der Archæologie der Kunst_, 1 vol. 8vo.

    [25] The French translation, from the pen of M. P. Nicard, forms
    three volumes of the collection of handbooks known under the
    name of the _Encyclopédie Roret_. It appeared in 1841, so that
    the translator was unable to make use of the additions and
    corrections with which Welcker enriched the edition of 1848. But
    M. Nicard's edition has one great advantage over the German
    versions in the complete tables with which it is provided. The
    best English translation is that by J. Leitch, the second
    edition of which appeared in 1850.--ED.

The form of a _handbuch_ or manual, which Ottfried Müller gave to his
work, was well and favourably known to cultivated Germans, but it was
not so with the French. They had nothing of the kind but worthless
epitomes made to facilitate the passing of University examinations. In
this matter the Germans are better off than any other nation in
Europe. They have manuals in which every branch of history and science
is treated by competent writers with as much care and skill as the
most ambitious publications, a few being original works by savants of
the first order. The arrangement of the _Handbuch_ is very simple. It
opens with an introduction in which the author defines art--more
especially the plastic arts--divides it into classes, and indicates
the principal works to be consulted, namely, those to which he himself
has had continually to refer during the progress of his book. Then
comes the history of Greek and Roman art divided into periods, and
the paragraphs which are devoted to Etruria and the East. To this
historical epitome succeed the theoretical chapters.

He takes antique art as a whole, and studies its constitution, the
materials and processes which it employs, the conditions under which
it works, the characteristics which it gives to form, the subjects of
which it treats, and the partition of its remains over the whole
territory occupied by ancient civilization. Greece, in her best days,
gave most of its care to the representation of those beings, superior
to humanity and yet clothed with human forms, in which her glowing
imagination personified the forces and eternal laws of nature and of
the moral world; it was in striving to create these types, and to
endow them with outward features worthy of their majesty, that Grecian
art produced its noblest and most ideal works. It will, therefore, be
seen that a comprehensive manual had to include a history of those
gods and heroes which, with that of their statues, formed a whole
mythology of art; and this mythology occupies the larger portion of
the second part of the work.

This plan has been often criticised, but we need here make no attempt
to repel or even to discuss the objections which have been brought
against it.

It has doubtless the inconvenience of leading to frequent repetition;
monuments which have been necessarily described and estimated in the
historical division are again mentioned in the chapters which treat of
theory; but a better plan has yet to be found, one which will enable
us to avoid such repetitions without any important sacrifice. The
chief thing in a work of the kind is to be clear and complete, merits
which the _Handbuch_ possesses in the highest degree. Things are
easily found in it, and, by a powerful effort of criticism, the author
has succeeded in classifying and condensing into a single convenient
volume, all the interesting discoveries of several generations of
archæologists. Not that it is a mere compilation, for previous writers
were far from being unanimous as to the dates and significance of the
remains which they had described, and it was necessary to choose
between their different hypotheses, and sometimes to reject them all.
In such cases Müller shows great judgment, and very often the opinion
to which he finally commits himself had been previously unknown.
Without entering into any long discussion he sustains it by a few
shortly stated reasons, which are generally conclusive. The plan of
his book prevents him from launching out, like Winckelmann, into
enthusiastic periods; he makes no attempt at those brilliant
descriptions which in our day seem a little over-coloured; but in the
very brevity of his judgments and his laconic but significant
phraseology, we perceive a sincere and individual emotion, an
independent intellect, a pure though catholic taste. We need say no
more to the objectors who attack the mere form of the book. Its one
real defect is that it was written thirty or forty years too soon. The
second edition, carefully revised and largely augmented, appeared in
1835; it was the last issued during the lifetime of Müller. From that
moment down to the day but lately passed when the excavations at
Olympia and Pergamus were brought to an end, many superb remains of
Greek, Etruscan, and Roman art have risen from their temporary graves
and ranged themselves in our museums. If, however, recent archæology
had made no further discoveries, a few occasional corrections and
additions, at intervals of ten or fifteen years, would have sufficed
to prevent the manual from becoming obsolete. With a little care any
intelligent editor could have satisfactorily performed what was
wanted. For the Græco-Roman period especially Müller had erected so
complete a historical framework that the new discoveries could find
their places in it without any difficulty. Welcker, indeed, published
a third edition in 1848, corrected and completed, partly from the
manuscript notes left by the author in his interleaved copy, partly
from information extracted by the editor from the lectures and other
writings of Müller. But why does Welcker declare, in his advertisement
to the reader, that but for the respect due to a work which had become
classic, he would have modified it much more than he had dared. And
why, for more than thirty years, has his example found no imitators?
Why have we been content to reprint word for word the text of that
third edition?

A few years ago one of the most eminent of our modern archæologists,
Carl Bernhard Stark, was requested by a firm of publishers to
undertake a new revision of the _Handbuch_. Why then, after having
brought his materials together, did he find it more useful, and even
easier, to compose an original work, a new manual which should fulfil
the same requirements on a system of his own devising?--an enterprise
which he would have brought to a successful conclusion had not death
interrupted him after the publication of the first part.[26]

    [26] Stark died at Heidelberg in October, 1879. The title of his
    work was identical with that of Müller: _Handbuch der
    Archæologie der Kunst_. The first 256 pages of the first volume
    were published in 1878 with the sub-title: _Einleitender und
    grundlegender Theil_ (Leipsic, Engelmann, 8vo). A second
    instalment appeared in 1880, by which the introduction was
    completed. The entire work, which will not be continued, was to
    have formed three volumes. We explained its plan and made some
    remarks upon the part already published in the _Revue Critique_
    of July 14, 1879.

The answer is easy. The East was not discovered till after the death
of Ottfried Müller. By the East we mean that part of Africa and Asia
which is bordered by the Mediterranean, or is so near to that sea that
constant communication was kept up with its shores; we mean Egypt,
Syrian Phœnicia, and its great colony on the Libyan Coast, Chaldæa
and Assyria, Asia Minor, and those islands of Cyprus and Rhodes which
were so long dependent upon the empires on the neighbouring
continents. It was between 1820 and 1830 that the young _savant_
conceived the ideas which he developed in his works; it was then that
he first took an important part in the discussion as to the origin of
the Greek nation, upon which archæologists had long been engaged. What
part had foreign example taken in the birth and development of the
religion, the arts, the poetry, and the philosophy of Greece, of the
whole Hellenic civilization? How much of it was due to suggestions
derived from those peoples who had so long preceded the Greeks in the
ways of civil life? No historian has answered this question in a more
feeble and narrow spirit than Ottfried Müller; no one has been more
obstinate than he in insisting upon the originality of the Greek
genius, and in believing that the Greek race extracted from its own
inner consciousness all that has made its greatness and glory.

When Müller first attacked this question, Egypt alone had begun to
emerge from the obscurity which still enveloped the ancient
civilization of the East. It was not until three years after his
death, that Botta began to excavate the remains of Assyrian art; and
nothing but the vaguest and most confused information was to be had
about the ruins in Chaldæa. Now, however, we can follow the course of
the Phœnician ships along the Mediterranean, from the Thracian
Bosphorus to the pillars of Hercules. From the traces left by the
commerce and the industries of the Syrians and Carthaginians, we can
estimate the duration of their stay in each of the countries which
they visited, and the amount of influence which they exercised over
the various peoples who were tributary to them. Forty years ago this
was impossible; the writings of ancient authors were our sole source
of knowledge as to the style and taste of Phœnician art, and the
ideas which they imparted were of necessity inexact and incomplete.
Wherever they passed the Phœnicians left behind them numbers of
objects manufactured by them for exportation, and these objects are
now eagerly collected, and the marks of the Sidonian and Carthaginian
makers examined and classified, and thus we are enabled to recognize
and describe the industrial processes and the decorative motives,
which were conveyed to the Greeks and to the races of the Italian
peninsula by the "watery highway" of the Mediterranean. Fifty years
ago the land routes were as little known as those by sea. The roads
were undiscovered which traversed the defiles of the Taurus and the
high plateaux of Asia Minor, to bring to the Greeks of Ionia and
Æolia, those same models, forms, and even ideas, and it was still
impossible to indicate their detours, or to count their stages.

Leake had indeed described, as early as 1821, the tombs of the
Phrygian kings, one of whom bore that name of Midas to which the
Greeks attached so strange a legend;[27] but he had given no drawings
of them, and the work of Steuart,[28] which did not appear till 1842,
was the first from which any definite knowledge of their appearance
could be obtained. Müller knew nothing of the discoveries of Fellows,
of Texier, or of Hamilton; while he was dying in Greece, they were
exploring a far more difficult and dangerous region. A few years
afterwards they drew the attention of European _savants_ to the
remains which they had discovered, dotted about over the country which
extends from the shores of the Ægæan to the furthest depths of
Cappadocia, remains which recall, both by their style and by their
symbolic devices, the rock sculptures of Upper Assyria. The Lycian
remains, which give evidence of a similar inspiration and are now in
the British Museum, were not transported to Europe until after
Müller's death.

    [27] _Journal of a Tour in Asia Minor, with Comparative Remarks
    on the Ancient and Modern Geography of that Country_ (1 vol. in
    8vo. London, Murray, 1821, pp. 31-33).

    [28] _A Description of some Ancient Monuments with Inscriptions
    still existing in Lydia and Phrygia._ London, 1842, in folio.

The clear intellect of Ottfried Müller easily enabled him to perceive
the absurdity of attempting to explain the birth of Greek art by
direct borrowing from Egypt. He saw that the existing remains in both
countries emphatically negatived such a supposition, but materials
were wanting to him for a right judgment of the intensity and duration
of the influence under which the Greeks of the heroic age worked for
many centuries, influences which came to them partly from the
Phœnicians, the privileged agents of intercourse between Egypt and
the East, partly from the people of Asia Minor, the Cappadocians,
Lycians, Phrygians, and Lydians, all pupils and followers of the
Assyrians, whose dependants they were for the time, and with whom they
communicated by caravan routes. We may thus explain the extravagance
of the hypothesis which Müller advocated in all his writings; and, as
the originality of the Greek intellect displayed itself in the plastic
arts much later than in poetry, the partial falsity of his views and
their incompleteness is much more obvious and harmful in his handbook
than in his history of Greek literature.

In writing the life of any great man and attempting to account for his
actions, it is important to know where he was born, and who were his
parents; to learn the circumstances of his education, and the
surroundings of his youth. The biographer who should have no
information on these points, or none but what was false, would be
likely to fall into serious mistakes and misapprehensions. He would
find great difficulty in explaining his hero's opinions and the
prejudices and sentiments by which he may have been influenced, or he
would give absurd explanations of them. Peculiarities of character and
eccentricities of idea would embarrass him, which, had he but known
the hereditary predisposition, the external circumstances during
infancy and adolescence, the whole course of youthful study, of the
man whose life he was describing, he might easily have understood. It
is the same with the history of a people and of their highest
intellectual manifestations, such as their religion, arts, and

It was not the fault of Ottfried Müller, it was that of the time in
which he lived, that he was deceived as to the true origin of Greek
art. The baneful effects of his mistake are evident in the very first
pages of the historical section of his work, in the chapters which he
devotes to the archaic period. These chapters are very unsatisfactory.
Attempt, under their guidance alone, to study the contents of one of
those museum saloons where the remains of Oriental art are placed side
by side with those from Etruria and primitive Greece; at every step
you will notice resemblances of one kind or another, similarities
between the general aspects of figures, between the details of forms
and the choice of motives, as well as in the employment of common
symbols and attributes. These resemblances will strike and even
astonish you, and if you are asked how they come to exist among
differences which become ever more and more marked in the succession
of the centuries, you will know not how to reply. In these archaic
remains there are many traits for which those who, like Ottfried
Müller, begin with the history of Greece, are unable to account. He
wishes us to believe that Greece in the beginning was alone in the
world, that she owed all her glory to the organic development of her
unequalled genius, which, he says, "displayed a more intimate
combination than that of any other Aryan nation of the life of
sensibility with that of intelligence, of external with internal
life." He goes no further back than the Greece described to us in the
heroic poems; he never has recourse to such comparisons as we are now
continually making; at most he lets fall at lengthy intervals a few
words which seem to imply that Oriental civilization may have had
something to do with the awakening of Greek thought and the directing
of her first endeavours. He never formally denies her indebtedness,
but he fails to perceive its vast importance, or to declare it with
that authoritative accent which never fails him in the expression of
those ideas which are dear to him, of those truths which he has firmly

This tendency is to be seen even in the plan of his work. There is
nothing surprising in the fact that Müller, in 1830, or even in 1835,
had but a slight acquaintance with the art of the Eastern Empires; but
as he thought it necessary not entirely to ignore those peoples in a
book which pretended to treat of antiquity as a whole, it would
perhaps have been better not to have relegated them to a few
paragraphs at the end of his historical section. He knew well enough
that the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Phœnicians, even the
Phrygians and the Lydians were much older than the Greeks; why should
he have postponed their history to that of the decline and fall of
Græco-Roman art? Would it not have been better to put the little he
had to tell us in its proper place, at the beginning of his book?

This curious prejudice makes the study of a whole series of important
works more difficult and less fruitful. It prevents him from grasping
the true origin of many decorative forms which, coming originally from
the East, were adopted by the Greeks and carried to perfection by
their unerring taste, were perpetuated in classic art, and thence
transferred to that of modern times; and this, bad though it is, is
not the worst result of Müller's misapprehension. His inversion of the
true chronological order makes a violent break in the continuity of
the phenomena and obscures their mutual relations. There is no
sequence in a story so broken up, falsified, and turned back upon
itself. You will there seek in vain for that which we mean to strive
after in this present history of antique art--a regular and
uninterrupted development, which in spite of a few more or less
brusque oscillations and periods of apparent sterility, carried the
civilization of the East into the West, setting up as its principal
and successive centres, Memphis, Thebes, Babylon, Nineveh, Sidon,
Carthage, Miletus and the cities of Ionia, Corinth and Athens,
Alexandria, Antioch, Pergamus, and finally Rome, the disciple and heir
of Greece.

Ottfried Müller saw clearly enough the long and intimate connection
between Greece and Rome, but he did not comprehend--and perhaps in the
then state of knowledge it was impossible that he should
comprehend--that the bonds were no less close which bound the Hellenic
civilization to the far more ancient system which was born upon the
banks of the Nile, and crept up the valleys of the Tigris and
Euphrates, to spread itself over the plains of Iran on the one hand
and of Asia Minor on the other; while the Phœnicians carried it,
with the alphabet which they had invented and the forms of their own
worship of Astarte, over the whole basin of the Mediterranean. His
error lay in his arbitrary isolation of Greece, in dragging her from
the soil in which her roots were deeply imbedded, from which she had
drawn her first nourishment and the primary elements of that varied
and luxuriant vegetation which, in due time, became covered with the
fairest hues of art and poetry.


Thanks to the numerous discoveries of the last fifty years, and to the
comparisons which they have suggested, thanks also to the theories for
which they afford a basis, history has been at last enabled to render
justice to certain nations whose activity had never before been
properly understood, to give to them their proper place in the
civilization of ancient times. But Greece--the Greece which Ottfried
Müller worshipped, and for which he was too ready to sacrifice her
predecessors and teachers, to whom she herself was more just in her
early legends--has lost nothing by the more exact information which is
now at our command. Served by her situation on the confines of Europe
and Asia and not far from Africa, by the superiority of the genius of
her people and the marvellous aptitudes of her language, Greece was
able to arrange and classify previous discoveries and to bring them to
perfection, to protect from destruction and oblivion the machinery of
progress, the processes of art, the newly-born scientific methods, in
a word, all the complex and fragile apparatus of civilization which
was so often threatened with final destruction, and which has more
than once been overwhelmed for a time in epochs of national conflict
and social decadence.

This is not the place for insistence upon all that Greece has
accomplished in the domains of pure thought, philosophy, and science,
nor even for calling attention to her literature. We are writing the
history of the arts and not that of letters, a history which we wish
to conduct to the point where Müller left off, to the commencement of
those centuries which are called the Middle Ages; and Greece will
occupy by far the most important place in our work. We shall endeavour
to bring the same care and conscience, the same striving after
accuracy, into every division of our history; but the monuments of
Greece will be examined and described in much greater detail than
those of Egypt and Assyria, or even those of Etruria and Latium. It
was our love for Greece that drove us to this undertaking; we desire
and hope to make her life better known, to show a side of it which is
not to be found in the works of her great writers, to give to our
readers new and better reasons for loving and admiring her than they
have had before. A combination of circumstances that is unique in the
history of the world gave to the contemporaries of Pericles and
Alexander the power of approaching more nearly to perfection, in their
works of art, than men of any other race or any other epoch. In no
other place or time have ideas been so clearly and completely
interpreted by form; in no other place or time have the intellectual
qualities been so closely wedded to a strong love for beauty and a
keen sensibility to it. It results from this that the works of the
Greek artists, mutilated by time and accident as they are, serve as
models and teachers for our painters and sculptors, a _rôle_ which
they will continue to fill until the end of time. They form a school,
not, as some have thought, to enable us to dispense with nature, the
indispensable and eternal master, but to incite to such an ardent and
intelligent study of her beauties, as may lead to the creation of
great works, works capable, like those of the Greeks, of giving
visible expression to the highest thoughts.

As the Greeks excelled all other nations in the width and depth of
their æsthetic sentiments; as their architects, their sculptors, and
their painters, were superior both to their pupils and their masters,
to the orientals on the one hand, and the Etruscans and the Latins on
the other, we need feel no surprise at their central and dominating
position in the history of antique art. Other national styles and
artistic manifestations will pass before the eye of the reader in
their due order and succession; they will all be found interesting,
because they show to us the continual struggle of man against matter,
and we shall endeavour to distinguish each by its peculiar and
essential characteristics, and to illustrate it by the most striking
remains which it has left behind. But each style and nationality will
for us have an importance in proportion to the closeness of its
connection with the art of Greece. In the case of those oriental races
which were the teachers of the Greeks, we shall ask how much they
contributed to the foundations of Greek art and to its ultimate
perfection; in the case of the ancient Italians, we shall endeavour to
estimate and describe the ability shown by them in apprehending the
lessons of their instructors, and the skill with which they drew from
their teachers a method for the expression of their own peculiar wants
and feelings and for the satisfaction of their own æsthetic desires.

The study of oriental art will really, therefore, be merely an
introduction to our history as a whole, but an introduction which is
absolutely required by our plan of treatment, and which will be
completely embodied in the work. The history of Etruscan and Roman art
will be its natural and necessary epilogue.

This explanation will show how far, and for what reasons we mean to
separate ourselves from our illustrious predecessor. We admit, as he
did, we even proclaim with enthusiasm, the pre-eminence of Greece, the
originality of its genius and the superiority of its works of plastic
art; but we cannot follow him in his arbitrary isolation of Greece,
which he suspends, so to speak, in air. Our age is the age of history;
it interests itself above all others in the sequence of social
phenomena and their organic development, an evolution which Hegel
explained by the laws of thought. It would be more than absurd in
these days to accept Greek art as a thing self-created in its full
perfection, without attempting to discover and explain the slow and
careful stages by which it arrived at its apogee in the Athens of
Pericles. In this history of ours of which we are attempting to sketch
the form, we must, in order to get at the true origin of Greek art,
penetrate far beyond its apparent origin; to describe the springing of
Greek civilization, we must first study the early history of those
races which surround the eastern basin of the Mediterranean.

The Greece which we call ancient entered late into history, when
civilization had already a long past behind it, a past of many
centuries. In this sense, the words which, as we are told by Plato, a
priest of Saïs addressed to Solon, were perfectly true, "You Greeks,
you are but children!"[29] In comparison with Egypt, with Chaldæa,
with Phœnicia, Greece is almost modern: the age of Pericles is
nearer to our day than to that which saw the birth of Egyptian

    [29] _Timæus_, p. 22.

Appearing thus lately upon the scene, when the genius of man had, by
efforts continued without intermission through a long procession of
centuries, arrived at the power of giving clear and definite
expression to his thoughts, by means either of articulate sounds and
the symbols which represent them or by the aid of plastic forms, the
Greeks could only have remained ignorant of all that had been achieved
before their time if they had sprung into existence in some distant
and isolated corner of the world, or in some inaccessible island.
Their actual situation was a very different one. In the earliest
epoch of which we have any record we find them established in a
peninsula, which is on one hand upon the very borders of Asia, and
upon another seems to hold out a hand to Africa by the innumerable
islands which surround its shores. Between the shores of this
peninsula and those of Asia, these islands are sprinkled so thickly
over the narrow seas that nature seems to have intended them for
stepping-stones which should tempt the least venturesome to cross from
one continent to the other.

The Greek race thus found itself, by the accident of its geographical
situation, in contact with the Egyptian, Assyrian, and Median empires,
the masters of the Eastern Mediterranean; while the insular or
peninsular character of most of the region which it inhabited,
together with the numerous colonies attached to the surrounding coasts
like vessels at anchor, had the effect of greatly multiplying the
points of contact. The Greek frontier was thus one of abnormal extent,
and was, moreover, always open, always ready to receive foreign ideas
and influences. Her eyes were ever turned outwards; the Greek
nationality was not one of those which remain for ages inaccessible to
foreign merchandize and modes of thought.

Such being the situation of Greece, it could not but happen, that, as
soon as the Greek race drew itself clear from primitive barbarism, the
fertile germs of art,--examples, models, processes,--should penetrate
into the country from the neighbouring East by all the channels of
communication which we have mentioned. Seeing how far civilization had
advanced, would it not have been absurd for the Greeks to have turned
a deaf ear and a blind eye to the experience of their predecessors; to
have begun again at the beginning? Was it not better to take up the
work at the point where it had been left, and to make use, for future
developments, of those which had already been established? Man
progresses as fast as he can; as soon as he learns any new method of
satisfying his wants and ameliorating his life, he makes use of it; he
makes use of it at first in its original form, but with years and
experience he improves it and brings it nearer to perfection.

Thus then, the more we study the past, the more surely do we recognize
the truth contained in those myths and traditions which betray the
influence exercised upon Greece by the people of Egypt, Syria, and
Asia Minor. To confine ourselves to the plastic arts, the historian
of Greek art discovers _survivals_, forms and motives which had been
employed in previous centuries and earlier civilizations, in exact
proportion to the accuracy of his researches, and to the number of his
elements for comparison. He also finds that the Greeks borrowed from
the same instructors those industrial processes which, although not in
themselves artistic, are among the antecedent conditions of art;
namely, metallurgy, ceramics, smith's work, glass-making, weaving,
embroidery, stone-working and carving, in a word all those trades
which seem so simple when their secrets are known, but which,
nevertheless, represent the accumulated efforts of countless unknown

It was not only the material outfit of civilization that the Greeks
borrowed from their predecessors; they obtained, together with that
alphabet which represents the principal sounds of the voice by a few
special signs, another alphabet which has been happily named the
_alphabet of art_, certain necessary conventions, combinations of
line, ornaments, decorative forms, a crowd of plastic elements which
they had employed in the expression of their own ideas and sentiments.
Even after Greek art had reached perfection and was in the full
enjoyment of her own individuality, we still find traces of these
early borrowings. Sometimes it is a decorative motive, like the
sphinx, the griffin, the palm-leaf, and many others, which, invented
on the banks of the Nile or the Tigris, were transported to Greece and
there preserved to be handed down to our modern ornamentist. The
nearer we get to the fountain head of Greek art, the more we are
struck with these resemblances, which are something beyond mere
coincidences. The deeper we penetrate into what is called archaism,
the more numerous do those features become which are common to
oriental, especially Assyrian, art, and that of Greece. We find
analogous methods of indicating the human skeleton, of accenting its
articulations, of representing the drapery with which the forms are
covered. Greek taste had not yet so transformed the details of
ornamentation as to prevent us from recognizing the motives which
commerce had brought for its use over the waves of the Ægean or the
mountains of Asia Minor. The marks of their origin are continually
visible, and yet a practised eye can perceive that the Greeks were
never satisfied, like the Phœnicians, with merely combining in
various proportions the materials furnished by the artisans of Egypt
or Assyria; the facilities of such a soulless and indiscriminating
eclecticism as that could not satisfy the ambitions of a race that
already possessed the poetry of Hesiod and Homer.

The art of Greece was profoundly original in the best sense of the
word. It was far superior to all that went before it; it alone
deserved to become classic, that is, to furnish a body of rules and
laws capable of being transmitted by teaching. In what does its
superiority consist? How does its originality show itself, and how can
its existence be explained? These are the questions which we propose
to answer; but in order to arrive at a just conclusion we must begin
with the study of those nations to whom the Greeks went to school, and
of whose art they were the heirs and continuers. We should be unable
to grasp the exclusively Greek features of Greek art did we not begin
by defining the foreign elements which have taken their part in the
work, and that we can only do by going back to the civilizations in
which they were produced; we must endeavour to penetrate into the
spirit of those civilizations, to discover whence they started and how
far they progressed; we must first define their ideas of the
beautiful, and then show, by well-chosen examples, by what means and
with how great a measure of success, they realised their own

       *       *       *       *       *

We undertake this long detour in order that we may arrive in Greece
instructed by all that we have learnt on the way, and prepared to
understand and to judge; but during the whole voyage our eyes will be
turned towards Greece, as those of the traveller towards his
long-desired goal. Our route will conduct us from the shores of the
Nile to those of the Euphrates and Tigris, over the plains of Medea
and Persia and Asia Minor to the shores of Phœnicia, to Cyprus and
Rhodes. But beyond the obelisks and pyramids of Egypt, beyond the
towers of Chaldæa and the domes of Nineveh, the lofty colonnades of
Persepolis, the fortresses and rock-cut tombs of Phrygia and Lycia,
beyond the huge ramparts of the cities of Syria, we shall never cease
to perceive on the horizon the sacred rock of the Athenian acropolis;
we shall see it before us, as our history of the past advances,
lifting into the azure sky the elegant severity of its marble
porticoes, the majesty of those pediments where live and breathe the
gods of Homer and Phidias.

When we have crossed the threshold of the Propylæa, and have visited
the Parthenon, the Erecthæum, and the temple of the Wingless Victory;
when we have seen all Greece become covered with monuments of
architecture and sculpture, which, without rivalling those of Athens
in purity of line or finesse of execution, bear the impress of the
same style and the same taste; when we have seen Praxiteles and Scopas
succeed to Phidias and Polycletus, will it not cost us a struggle to
quit the scene of so many wonders and conclude our voyage? If we leave
the Athens of Cimon, of Pericles, and Lycurgus, for the pompous
capitals of the heirs of Alexander; if we cross the sea to visit Veii
and Clusium, to describe the Etruscan cemeteries with the fantastic
magnificence of their decoration; if at last we find ourselves in
imperial Rome, among its basilicas, its baths, its amphitheatres, and
all the sumptuous evidence of its luxury, we shall now and again turn
our eyes with regret to what we have left behind; and, although we
shall endeavour to comprehend and to judge with the liberality and
largeness of taste and sympathy which is the honour of contemporary
criticism, we shall sometimes sigh for that ideal of pure and
sovereign beauty which we adored in Greece; and shall feel, now and
again, the nostalgia of the exile.


In this sketch of our plan, we have reserved no place for the art
which is called _prehistoric_, the art of the caverns and the lake
dwellings. This omission may surprise some of our readers, and we
therefore beg to submit for their consideration the reasons which,
after grave reflection, have induced us to refrain from retracing the
first steps of human industry, from describing the first
manifestations of the plastic instinct of mankind.

We are actuated by neither indifference nor disdain. We fully
appreciate the importance of such researches, and of the results to
which they have led. No sooner had it entered into the mind of man to
look for and collect the humble remains upon which so many centuries
had looked with indifference, than they were found almost everywhere,
thickly dispersed near the surface of the earth, heaped among the
bones of deer in the grottoes for which men and animals had once
contended, buried in peat marshes and sandy shores, sometimes even
sprinkled upon the surface of the fields and country roads. Pieces of
flint, bone, or horn, fashioned into instruments of the chase, into
fishhooks, and domestic utensils; shells, perforated teeth, amber
balls which were once strung upon necklaces and bracelets; fragments
of rough tissue and of skin garments; seeds and carbonized fruits;
earthen vessels made by hand and dried in the sun or simply in the
open air. In some of the cave dwellings, bones and pieces of horn have
been found upon which the figures of animals are carved with a truth
and spirit which allow their species to be at once and certainly

But none of these remains bear the slightest trace of a system of
signs for the transmission of ideas or recollections; there is nothing
which suggests writing; and, more significant still, there is a
complete absence of metal. All this is evidence that the remains in
question belong to a very remote antiquity, to a period much nearer
the primitive barbarism than to the civilization of Egypt and Chaldæa,
to say nothing of that of Greece and Rome. The comparative method,
which has done so much for natural science, has also taken these
remains in hand, has attempted to classify them and to gain from them
some notion of the life led by the early human families which
manufactured them. These arms, tools, and instruments which have been
recovered from the soil of the old and cultivated nations of Europe,
have been carefully compared with similar objects still in use by the
savage races which people the far corners of the world. These
comparisons have enabled us to decide the former use of each of the
objects discovered. By collating the observations of the various
travellers who have visited the savage races in question, we have been
enabled to form for ourselves a probably truthful picture, so far as
it goes, of the life and social habits of those primitive Europeans
who made use of similar tools and weapons. And that is not all. The
general character of those early periods being established, further
examination brought to light the local differences which prevailed
then as now. Thus the proneness to plastic imitation seems to have
been peculiar to a few tribes--although traces of this taste are found
elsewhere, it is nowhere so marked as among those primitive
cave-dwellers of Perigord whom Christy and Edouard Lartet have so
patiently studied.

By dint of careful classification and comparison, we have been enabled
to follow the march of progress through those countless centuries
whose number will never be known to us, whose total would, perhaps,
oppress our imaginations if we knew it; we have been enabled to
discover the slow steps by which mankind raised itself from the
earliest, almost shapeless, flint axe, found with the bones of the
mammoth in the quaternary alluvial deposits, to the rich and varied
equipment of "lacustrian civilization," as it has sometimes been
called. In this unlimited field, of which one side at least must ever
be lost in unfathomable obscurity, the main divisions have been
traced; the stone age has been defined and divided into the
_palæolithic_ and _neolithic_ epochs; the age of bronze followed, and
then came the iron age. With the appearance of the former metal the
tribes of northern and central Europe established a connection with
the civilized races which surrounded the Mediterranean, and with iron
we are in the full classic period.

We can never be too grateful for the persevering labours of those who
have carried on these researches in every corner of Europe; their
deserts are all the greater from the fact that they could never count
upon those agreeable surprises which come now and then to reward
excavators on the sites of ancient and historic cities. Their chances
are small of finding those objects of art which, by their beauty and
elegance, repay any amount of toil and expense. The remains which they
bring to light have little to say to our æsthetic perceptions; they
repeat a few types with an extreme monotony; but, on the other hand,
they carry our thoughts back to a point far nearer the cradle of our
race than the myths of early history or even the monumental remains of
Egypt and Chaldæa. They cast some slight illumination upon those
distant ages of which humanity has preserved no recollection. They
people with unknown multitudes those remote epochs into which
scientific curiosity had, but yesterday, no desire to penetrate. There
can be in all this no real question of chronology, but when from the
sands of Abbeville or the caverns of Perigord we dig up the first
flint implements or those fragments of bone, of ivory, of reindeer
horn, which have preserved to us the first attempts made by man to
copy the outlines of living beings, it takes us far beyond those days
of which our only knowledge comes from vague tradition, and still
farther beyond those centuries which saw the first struggling dawn of

       *       *       *       *       *

We have, then, decided not to embark upon these questions of
prehistoric art, because, as the title which we have chosen declares,
we propose to write a _history_, and the word history, when the human
race is in question, implies established relations between certain
groups of facts and certain portions of time, measured at least with
something approaching to probable truth.

We do not yet possess, probably we shall never possess, any means of
estimating even within five or six thousand years, the actual duration
of the stone age. From all analogies progress must have been, in the
beginning, exceedingly slow; like that of a falling body, the rapidity
of industrial progress is continually accelerating. This acceleration
is not of course quite regular; the phenomena of social life are too
complex, the forces at work are too numerous and sometimes too
contrary to allow us to express it by the mathematical formula which
may be applied to movement in the physical world; but on the whole
this law of constantly accelerated progress holds good, as indeed may
be historically proved. So long as man had to do without metals, each
generation, in all probability, added but little to the discoveries of
that which preceded it; most likely after each happy effort many
generations succeeded one another without any further attempt to
advance. Ever since they have been under our observation, the savage
races of the world have been practically stationary except where
European commerce has profoundly modified the conditions of their
lives. It is probable, therefore, that more centuries rolled away
between the first chipped flints and the well polished weapons which
succeeded them than between the latter and the earliest use of bronze.
But we cannot prove that it was so, nor satisfy those whom probability
and a specious hypothesis will not content. Where neither written
evidence nor oral tradition exist there can be little question of
historic order. The remains of the stone age are not calculated to
dissipate the silence which enshrouds those centuries. In the art of a
civilized people we find their successive modes of feeling and thought
interpreted by expressive forms; we may even attempt under all reserve
to sketch their history with the sole aid of their plastic remains.
The chances of error would of course be numerous; but yet if all other
materials had, unhappily, failed us, the attempt would have been well
worth making. The more ancient portions of our prehistoric collections
do not offer the same opportunities; they are too simple and too
little varied. The primitive savage who moulded matter to his will
with great and painful difficulty, could impress upon it nothing but
those gross instincts which are common to man and beast; we can
discover nothing from his works, beyond the means which he employed in
his struggles with his enemies, and in his never-ending effort to
procure food for himself.

The word history cannot then be pronounced in connection with these
remote periods, nor can their remains be looked upon in any sense as
works of art. Art commences for us with man's first attempts to
impress upon matter some form which should be the expression of a
sentiment or of an idea. The want of skill shown in these attempts is
beside the question; the mere desire on the part of the workman
renders him an artist. The most hideous and disgusting of those idols
in stone or terra-cotta which are found in the islands of the Greek
Archipelago, at Mycenæ and in Bœotia, idols which represent, as we
believe, the great goddess mother whose worship the Phœnicians
taught to the Greeks, are works of art; but we are unable to give that
title to the axes and arrowheads, the harpoons and fish-hooks, the
knives, the pins, the needles, the crowds of various utensils which we
see in the glass cases of a pre-historic museum; all this, interesting
though it be to those who wish to study the history of labour, is
nothing but an industry, and a rudimentary industry, which is content
with supplying the simplest wants. It is not until we reach the
sculptures of the cave-dwellings that we find the first germs of
artistic effort, and in truth, man did not cut the figures of animals
upon the handles of his tools and upon those objects which have been
called, perhaps a little recklessly, batons of command, for any
utilitarian purpose; it was to give himself pleasure, it was because
he found true æsthetic enjoyment in copying and interpreting living
nature. Art was born, we may acknowledge, with those first attempts at
the representation of life, and it might fairly be expected that our
history should commence with them, were it not that they offer no
sequence, no starting point for any continuous movement like that
which, beginning in Egypt and Chaldæa, was prosecuted in Greece and
led in time to such high developments; even its competent students
confess that the art of the cave-men was an isolated episode without
fruition or consequence. Specimens of this art are found at but a few
points of the vast surface over which the vestiges of primitive man
are spread, and neither in the neolithic age, nor even in that of
bronze--both far in advance in other ways of that of the
cave-dwellings--does it ever seem to have entered into the mind of man
to copy the types offered to him by the organic world, still less
those of mankind, which, however, had long before been roughly figured
in one or two caves in the Dordogne.[30]

    [30] _Dictionnaire archéologique de la Gaule_, vol. i.,
    Cavernes, figure 28. Al. BERTRAND, _Archéologie celtique et
    gauloise_ (1 vol. 8vo. Didier, 1876, p. 68).

Towards the close of the prehistoric age the taste for ornament
becomes very marked, but that ornament is always of the kind which we
call geometric. Hardly a single decorative motive is taken from the
vegetable world. Like the rude efforts of the cave-men, this
decoration proves that those by whom it was imagined and who
frequently employed it with such happy results, were not contented
with bare utility, but, so far as they could, sought after beauty. A
secret instinct worked in them and inspired them with the desire to
give some appearance of elegance to the objects which they had in
daily use. This geometrical style of decoration prevailed all over
central Europe until, in the first place, the movements of commerce
with Greece and Etruria, and secondly the Roman conquest, introduced
the methods of classic art.

From what we have said, it will be seen that we could not have passed
over in silence this system of ornamentation; but we shall again find
it in our path when we come to treat of that prehistoric Greece which
preceded by perhaps two or three centuries the Greece of Homer. By the
help of the discoveries which have been lately made in the Troad, at
Mycenæ, and in other ancient sites, we shall study the works produced
by the ancestors of the Greeks before they went to school to the
nations of the East. But even with the discoveries which carry us
farthest back, we only reach the end of the period in question, when
maritime commerce had already brought to the islands and the mainland
of Greece objects of Egyptian, Phœnician or Chaldaic manufacture,
but before those objects were sufficiently numerous or the relations
with those countries sufficiently intimate to produce any great effect
upon the habits of native workmen. Among the deposits to which we have
alluded, it is generally possible to distinguish those works which are
of foreign origin; and such works excluded, it is easy to form a
sufficiently accurate general idea of the art practised by the
forefathers of the historic Greeks--by the Pelasgians, to use a
conventional term. So long as it was left to its own inspiration,
Pelasgic art did not differ, in its general characteristics, from that
of the various peoples spread over the continent of Europe, and still
practised for centuries after the dawn of Greek civilization in the
great plains to the north of the Alps and the Danube. Its guiding
spirit and its motives are similar. There is the same richness, or
rather the same poverty, the same combinations produced by a small
number of never-changing linear elements. One would say that from the
shores of the great ocean and the Baltic to those of the
Mediterranean, all the workmen laboured for the same masters. Struck
by this resemblance, or rather uniformity, one of the most eminent of
German archæologists, Herr Conze, has proposed that this kind of
ornament shall be called Indo-European; he sees, in the universality
of the system, a feature common to all branches of the Aryan race, a
special characteristic which may serve to distinguish it from the

Objections have been brought against this doctrine of which Herr Conze
himself has recognized the gravity; by numerous examples taken from
the art of nations which do not belong to the Aryan family, it has
been shown that, human nature being the same everywhere, all those
peoples whose development has been normal, neither interrupted nor
accelerated by external causes, have, at some period of their lives,
turned to the style in question for the decoration of their weapons,
of their earthenware, their furniture, their apparel and their
personal ornaments. The less richly endowed among them would have
stopped at that point but for the example of their neighbours, who
stirred them on to new attempts and further progress; others advanced
without impulse from other sources than their own instincts, they
reproduced vegetable and animal forms, and finally the human figure in
all its beauty and nobility. It was the same with letters. Among the
nations which have made a name in history how few there are that
possess a true literature, a poetry at once inspired and critical! All
however, under one form or another, have a popular poetry which is
more or less varied and expressive.

The trace of this earliest spontaneous effort, of this first naïve
product of the imagination, never entirely disappears in a literature
which is life-like and sincere; it is found even in the most perfect
works of its classic period. In the same way the most advanced and
refined forms of art draw a part of their motives and effects from
geometrical decoration. This style therefore should be studied both
for its principle and for the resources of which it disposes, but as
we shall have to notice it when we treat of Greece, it seems to us
better to adjourn till then any discussion of its merits. Both in
Greece and Italy approximate dates can be given to the monuments which
it ornaments, they can be placed in their proper historical position,
which is by no means the case with the objects gleaned throughout
central Europe.

       *       *       *       *       *

There is another consideration of still greater importance; the
artistic remains of Greece form an almost unbroken series, from the
humble and timid attempts of nascent sculpture to the brilliant
masterpieces of Phidias and Polycletus, and show the steps by which
the artist succeeds in passing from one style to another, from curves
and interlacing lines, from all mere abstract combinations, to the
imitation of nature, to the representation of bodies which breathe,
feel, and speak, which move and struggle. Elsewhere force has either
been wanting for this development, or evidence of the transition has
escaped our researches. Nothing can be much more imperfect or more
conventional than the figures which we find upon some of the painted
vases from Mycenæ and Cyprus,[31] upon which the workman's hand,
accustomed to straight lines and circles, or segments of circles, has
succeeded in suggesting by those means the figures of birds and
fighting men. Nothing could be farther from the subtlety and variety
of the contours presented by living organisms. But in spite of all
this, art was born with the awakening of this desire to reproduce the
beauty and mobility of living forms. All that had preceded it was but
the vague murmuring of a wish which had not yet become self conscious;
but, at last the intellect divined the use to which it might be put,
and guessed at the part which might be played by the plastic instincts
with which it felt itself endowed. All the rest depended upon natural
gifts, upon time and circumstance; the march along the road of
progress began, and although its rapidity was intermittent, it was
certain to arrive, if not always at the production of masterpieces of
divine beauty, at least at sufficient competence in painting and
modelling to transmit the types of a race and the images of its gods
to posterity.

    [31] SCHLIEMANN, _Mycenæ_, see figs. 33 and 213; CESNOLA,
    _Cyprus_, see pls. 44 and 46.

The student of plastic art finds in the remains of prehistoric times
rather a tendency to the creation of art, than art itself; by
postponing our study of this tendency until we come to investigate the
origin of Greek and Italian art, we are enabled to avoid all excursion
beyond the limits implied by our title, beyond that which is generally
called antiquity. The conventional meaning of this word embraces
neither the primitive savages who chipped the first flint, nor the
cave-men, but it calls up before our eyes the brilliant cities of
northern Africa and hither-Asia, of Greece and Italy, with which our
school-days have made us familiar; it reminds us of those nations
whose stories we learnt from the sacred and profane authors whose
works we read in our youth; and our thoughts revert to their grandiose
monuments of architecture and sculpture, to their masterpieces of
poetry and eloquence, to those great works of literature in which we
took our first lessons in the art of writing and speaking. Behind all
these images and associations the intelligence of an educated man
tells him--and the discoveries of science every day make the fact more
certain--that in the ancient as in the modern world, the nations which
figure upon the stage of history were not isolated; they each had
neighbours who influenced them, or whom they influenced, by commerce
or conquest; each also received something from its predecessors, and
in turn transmitted the results of its labour to those which came
after it; in a word, the work of civilization was continuous and
universal. The nations which, for three or four thousand years, were
grouped round the basin of the Mediterranean, belonged to one
historical system; to those who take a wide grasp of facts they are
but the members and organs of one great body, in which the nervous
centres, the sources of life, of movement and of thought, slowly
gravitated with the effluxion of time from the east to the west, from
Memphis and Babylon to Athens and Rome.

As for the populations which, long before the opening of this period
and during the whole of its duration, lived on the north of the
Danube, the Alps, and the Pyrenees, they do not belong to the same
system; they were attached to it by the Roman conquest, but at a very
late period; not long, indeed, before the triumph of Christianity, the
invasion of the barbarians, and the fall of the empire, led to the
dissolution of the antique system and the substitution for it, after
centuries of confusion and violence, of the wider and more
comprehensive civilization of modern Europe, a civilization which was
destined to cross every sea and to spread itself over the whole
surface of the globe. As soon as the victories of the Roman legions,
and the construction of the great roads which united Rome with her
most distant provinces, had brought them into constant communication
with the maritime cities of the Mediterranean, these barbaric nations,
who had neither history, nor letters, nor expressive art, received
them from their conquerors, whose very language they all, or nearly
all, adopted; and for all this they gave practically nothing in
return. Elsewhere, the old world had almost finished its task. It had
exhausted every form in which those ideas and beliefs could be clothed
which it had kept unchanged, or little changed, for millenium after
millenium. The old world employed such force and vitality as remained
to it in giving birth to the new, to that religion which has led to
the foundation of our modern social and political systems. These also
were to have their modes of expression, rich and sonorous enough, but
dominated by analysis; they were to have arts and literatures, which
have given expression to far more complex ideas than those of
antiquity. The Celts and Teutons, the Slavs and Scandinavians, all
those tribes which the Romans called barbarous, have, in spite of the
apparent poverty of their share, made an important contribution to the
civilization into which they plunged at so late a period, when they
did so much to provide a foundation for those modes of thought and
feeling which are only to be found in modern society.

These races do not belong, then, to what we call antiquity. They are
separated from it by many things; they have no history, they have
neither literary and scientific culture nor anything that deserves the
name of art. Hidden behind a thick curtain of mountains and forests,
sprinkled over vast regions where no towns existed, they remained in
their isolation for thousands of years, furnishing to civilization
nothing but a few rough materials which they themselves knew not how
to use; they took no part in the work which, throughout those ages,
was being prosecuted in the great basin of the Persian Gulf and the
Mediterranean, in that accumulation of inventions and creations which,
fixed and preserved by writing and realized by art, form the common
patrimony of the most civilized portion of the human species. When,
at a late hour, these nations entered upon the scene, it was as
disturbers and destroyers,--and although they helped to found modern
society, they produced none of those elements left to us by antiquity
and preserved for us by that Rome in whose hands the heritage of
Greece was concentrated.


We have different, but equally valid, reasons for leaving that which
is called the far East--India, China, and Japan--outside the limit of
our studies. Those rich and populous countries have, doubtless, a
civilization which stretches back nearly as far as that of Egypt and
Assyria, a civilization which has produced works both of fine and of
industrial art which in many respects equalled those of the nations
with which we are now occupied. In all those countries there are
buildings which impress by their mass and by the marvellous delicacy
of their ornamentation, sculptures of a singular freedom and power,
and decorative painting which charms by its skilful use of brilliant
colour as well as by the facility and inventive fancy of its design.
The representation of the human figure has never reached the purity of
line or nobility of expression of a Greek statue, but, on the other
hand, the science of decoration has never been carried farther than by
the wood-carvers, weavers and embroiderers of Hindostan, and the
potters of China and Japan.

These styles have their fanatical admirers who see nothing but their
brilliant qualities; they have also their detractors, or at least
their severe judges, who are chiefly struck by their shortcomings, but
no one attempts to deny that each of those nations possesses an art
which is always original, and sometimes of great and rare power. Why
then, it may be asked, do we refuse to comprehend the more ancient
monuments of India and China, those which by their age belong to the
centuries with which we are concerned, in this work? Our motives may
be easily divined.

We might allege our incompetence for such an extended task, which
would be enough to occupy several lives. But we have a still more
decisive reason. Neither Aryan India nor Turanian China belongs to the
antiquity which we have defined, and as for Indo-China and Japan they
are but annexes to those two great nations; religion, written
characters, the industrial and plastic arts--all came to them from one
or the other of those two great centres of civilization.

So far as China is concerned no doubt or hesitation is possible. Down
almost to our own days China and its satellites had no dealings with
the western group of nations. It is a human family which has lived in
voluntary isolation from the rest of its species. It is separated from
western mankind by the largest of the continents, by deserts, by the
highest mountains in the world, by seas once impassable, finally, by
that contempt and hatred of everything foreign which such conditions
of existence are calculated to engender. In the course of her long and
laborious existence China has invented many things. She was the first
to discover several of those instruments and processes which, in the
hands of Europeans, have, in a few centuries, changed the face of the
world; not only did she fail to make good use of her inventions, she
guarded them so closely that the West had to invent them anew. We may
cite printing as an example; nearly two hundred years before our era
the Chinese printed with blocks of wood. On the other hand, every
useful discovery made in the period and by the group of nations to
whom we mean to confine our attention, from the time of Menes and
Ourkham, the first historic kings of Egypt and Chaldæa, to the latest
of the Roman Emperors, has been turned to the profit of others than
its authors, and forms, so to speak, part of the public wealth. A
single alphabet, that which the Phœnicians extracted from one of
the forms of Egyptian writing, made the tour of the Mediterranean, and
served all the nations of the ancient world in turn for preserving
their thoughts and the idiom of their language. A system of numerals,
of weights and measures, was invented in Babylon and travelled across
Western Asia to be adopted by the Greeks, and, through the mediation
of the Greek astronomers and geographers, has given us the sexagesimal
division which we still employ for the partition of a circumference
into degrees, minutes and seconds.

From this point of view, then, there is a profound difference between
Egypt or Chaldæa, and China. The most remote epochs in the history of
China do not belong to antiquity as we have defined the term. Without
knowing it or wishing it, all those nations included in our plan
laboured for their neighbours and for their successors. Read as a
whole, their history proves to us that they each played a part in the
gradual elaboration of civilized life which was absolutely necessary
to the total result. But when China is in question our impression is
very different, our intellects are quite equal to imagining what the
world would have been like had that Empire been absolutely destroyed
centuries ago, with all its art, literature, and material wealth.
Rightly or wrongly, we should not expect such a catastrophe to have
had any great effect upon civilization; we should have been the poorer
by a few beautiful plates and vases, and should have had to do without
tea, and that would have been the sum of our loss.

       *       *       *       *       *

The case of India is different. Less remote than China, bathed by an
ocean which bore the fleets of Egypt, Chaldæa, Persia, Greece and
Rome, she was never beyond the reach of the western nations. The
Assyrians, the Persians, and the Greeks carried their arms into the
basin of the Indus, some portions of which were annexed for a time to
those Empires which had their centre in the valley of the Euphrates
and stretched westwards as far as the Mediterranean. There was a
continuous coming and going of caravans across the plateau of Iran and
the deserts which lie between it and the oases of Bactriana, Aria, and
Arachosia, and through the passes which lead down to what is now
called the Punjab; between the ports of the Arabian and Persian gulfs
and those of the lower Indus and the Malabar coast, a continual
commercial movement went on which, though fluctuating with time, was
never entirely interrupted. From the latter regions western Asia drew
her supplies of aromatic spices, of metals, of precious woods, of
jewels, and other treasures, all of which came mainly by the sea

All this, however, was but the supply of the raw material for
Egyptian, Assyrian, and Phœnician industries. There is no evidence
that up to the very last days of antique civilization the inhabitants
of Hindostan with all their depths and originality of thought ever
exercised such influence upon their neighbours as could have made
itself felt as far as Greece. The grand lyric poetry of the Vedas, the
epics and dramas of the following epoch, the religious and
philosophical speculations, those learned grammatical analyses which
are now admired by philologists, all the rich and brilliant
intellectual development of a race akin to the Greeks and in many ways
no less richly endowed, remained shut up in that basin of the Ganges
into which no stranger penetrated until the time of the Mohammedan
conquest. Neither Egyptians, Arabs nor Phœnicians reached the true
centres of Hindoo civilization; they merely visited those sea-board
towns where the mixed population was more occupied with commerce than
with intellectual pursuits. The conquerors previous to Alexander did
no more than reach the gates of India and reconnoitre its approaches,
while Alexander himself failed to penetrate beyond the vestibule.

Let us suppose that the career of the Macedonian hero had not been cut
short by the fatigues and terrors of his soldiers. So far as we can
judge from what Megasthenes tells us of Palibothra, the capital of
Kalaçoka, the most powerful sovereign in the valley of the Ganges in
the time of Seleucus Nicator, the Greeks would not, even in that
favoured region, have found buildings which they could have studied
with any profit, either for their plan, construction, or decoration.
Recent researches have proved Megasthenes to be an intelligent
observer and an accurate narrator, and he tells us that in the richest
parts of the country the Hindoos of his time had nothing better than
wooden houses, or huts of pisè or rough concrete. The palace of the
sovereign, at Palibothra, impressed the traveller by its situation,
its great extent, and the richness of its apartments. It was built
upon an artificial, terraced mound, in the midst of a vast garden. It
was composed of a series of buildings surrounded by porticos, which
contained large reception halls separated from one another by
courtyards in which peacocks and tame panthers wandered at will. The
columns of the principal saloons were gilt. The general aspect was
very imposing. The arrangements seem to have had much in common with
those of the Assyrian and Persian palaces. But there was one capital
distinction between the two; at Palibothra the residence of the
sovereign, like those of his subjects, was built of wood. With its
commanding position, and the fine masses of verdure with which it was
surrounded, it must have produced a happy and picturesque effect, but,
after all, it was little more than a collection of kiosques.
Architecture, worthy of the name, began with the employment of those
solid and durable materials which defend themselves against
destruction by their weight and constructive repose.

The other arts could not have been much more advanced. Ignorant as
they were of the working of stone for building, these people can
hardly have been sculptors, and as to their painting, we have no
information. There is, moreover, no allusion to works of painting or
sculpture in their epics and dramas, there are none of those
descriptions of pictures and statues which, in the writings of the
Greek poets and dramatists, show us that the development of the
plastic arts followed closely upon that of poetry. This difference
between the two races may perhaps be explained by the opposition
between their religions and, consequently, their poetry. In giving to
their gods the forms and features of men, the oldest of the Greek
singers sketched in advance the figures to be afterwards created by
their painters and sculptors. Homer furnished the sketch from which
Phidias took his type of the Olympian Jupiter. It was not so with the
Vedic hymns. In them the persons of the gods had neither consistence
nor tangibility. They are distinguished now by one set of qualities
and again by another; each of the immortals who sat down to the
banquet on Olympus, had his or her own personal physiognomy, described
by poets and interpreted by artists, but it was not so with the Hindoo
deities. The Hindoo genius had none of the Greek faculty for clear and
well-defined imagery; it betrays a certain vagueness and want of
definition which is not to be combined with a complete aptitude for
the arts of design. It is the business of these arts to render ideas
by forms, and a well marked limit is the essence of form, which is
beautiful and expressive in proportion as its contours are clearly and
accurately drawn.

Indian art then, for the reasons which we have given, and others which
are unknown, was only in its cradle in the time of Alexander, while
the artists of Greece were in full possession of all their powers;
they had already produced inimitable master-pieces in each of the
great divisions of art, and yet their creative force was far from
being exhausted. It was the age of Lysippus and Apelles; of those
great architects who, in the temples of Asia Minor, renewed the youth
of the Ionic order by their bold and ingenious innovations. Under such
conditions, what would the effect have been, had these two forms of
civilization entered into close relations with each other? In all
probability the result would have been similar to that which ensued
when the ancestors of the Greeks began to deal with the more civilized
Phœnicians and the people of Asia Minor. But in the case of the
Hindoos, as we have said, the disciples had a less, instead of a
greater, aptitude for the plastic arts than their teachers, and,
moreover, the contact between the two was never complete nor was it of
long duration. The only frontier upon which the interchange of idea
was frequent and continuous was the north-west, which divided India
from that Bactrian kingdom of which we know little more than the mere
names of its princes and the date of its fall. But before the end of
the second century B.C. this outpost of Hellenism had fallen before
the attacks of those barbarians whom we call the Saci. In such an
isolated position it could not long hope to maintain itself,
especially after the rise of the Parthian monarchy had separated it
from the empire of the Seleucidæ. Its existence must always have been
precarious, and the mere fact that it did not succumb until the year
136 B.C. is enough to prove that several of its sovereigns must have
been remarkable men. Should their annals ever be discovered they would
probably form one of the strangest and most interesting episodes in
the history of the Greek race.

Through the obscurity in which all the details are enveloped we can
clearly perceive that those princes were men of taste. They were, as
was natural, attached to the literature and the arts which reminded
them of their superior origin and of that distant fatherland with
which year after year it became more difficult to communicate.
Although they were obliged, in order to defend themselves against so
many enemies, to employ those mercenary soldiers, Athenians, Thebans,
Spartans and Cretans, which then overran Asia, and to pay them dearly
for their services, they also called skilful artists to their court
and kept them there at great expense; the beautiful coins which have
preserved their images down to our day are evidence of this, the
decoration of their cities, of their temples, and of their palaces
must have been in keeping with these; everywhere no doubt were
Corinthian and Ionic buildings, statues of the Greek gods and heroes
mixed with those portraits and historic groups which had been
multiplied by the scholars of Lysippus, wall paintings, and perhaps
some of those easel pictures signed by famous masters, for which the
heirs of Alexander were such keen competitors. Artisans, who had
followed the Greek armies in their march towards the East with the
object of supplying the wants of any colonies which might be
established in those distant regions, reproduced upon their vases and
in their terra-cotta figures the motives of the painting, the
sculpture, and the architecture which they left behind; goldsmiths,
jewellers and armourers cut, chased, and stamped them in metal. And it
was not only the Greek colonists who employed their skill. Like the
Scythian tribes among whom the Greek cities of the Euxine were
planted, the nations to the north of India were astonished and
delighted by the elegance of their ornament and the variety of its
forms. They imported from Bactriana these products of an art which was
wanting to them, and soon set themselves, with the help perhaps of
foreign artists settled among them, to imitate Grecian design in the
courts of the Indian rajahs.

That this was so is proved by those coins which bear on their reverse
such Hindoo symbols as Siva with his bull, and on their obverse Greek
inscriptions, and by the remains of what is now called Græco-Buddhic
art, an art which seems to have flourished in the upper valley of the
Indus in the third or second century before our era. These remains,
formerly much neglected, are now attracting much attention. They have
been carefully studied and described by Cunningham[32]; Dr. Curtius
has described them and published reproductions of the most curious
among them.[33] They are found in the north of the Punjab upon a few
ancient sites where excavations have been made. Some of them have been
transported to Europe in the collection of Dr. Leitner, while others
remain in the museums of Peshawur, Lahore, and Calcutta.[34] In those
sacred buildings which have been examined the plan of the Greek temple
has not been adopted, but the isolated members of Greek architecture
and the most characteristic details of its ornament are everywhere
made use of. It is the same with the sculpture; in the selection of
types, in the arrangement of drapery, in the design, there is the same
mixture of Greek taste with that of India, of elements borrowed from
foreign, and those drawn from the national, beliefs. The helmeted
Athené and Helios in his quadriga figure by the side of Buddha.

    [32] _Archæological Survey of India_, 3 vols. 1871-73.

    [33] _Archæologische Zeitung_, 1876, p. 90. _Die Griechische
    Kunst in Indien._

    [34] The Louvre has lately acquired some curious examples of
    this art.

Traces of the same influence are to be found in a less marked degree
in other parts of India. Near the mouth of the Indus and upon the
Malabar coast, the native sculptors and architects were able to obtain
more than one useful suggestion, more than one precious hint as to
their technique, from the works of art brought in the ships of
maritime traders. It is even possible that Greek workmen may thus have
been introduced into seaport towns, and there employed upon the
decoration of palaces and temples. However this may be it is
incontestable that all the important sacred edifices of that region,
whether stone-built or carved in the living rock, date from a period
more recent than that of Alexander, and that most of them show details
which imply acquaintance with Greek architectural forms and their
imitation. We are thus on all hands forced to this conclusion: that,
in the domain of the plastic arts, Greece owed nothing to India, with
which she made acquaintance very late and at a period when she had no
need to take lessons from others. That, moreover, India had little or
nothing to give; that her arts were not developed till after her early
relations with Greece, and it would even seem that her first stimulus
was derived from the models which Greece put within her reach.

       *       *       *       *       *

From all this it will be seen that we need not go as far as China, or
even as the Punjab, in order to explain the origin of Greek art.
During the period with which we are concerned, China might as well
have been in the planet Saturn for all she had to do with the ancient
world, and we need refer to her no more, except now and then perhaps
for purposes of illustration. We cannot treat India quite in the same
fashion, because there were, as we have said, certain points of
contact and reciprocal influences at work between her and the group of
nations we are about to treat. But as Greece borrowed nothing from
India, at least in the matter of art, the little which we shall have
to say of the products of the Hindoos will not be connected with our
discussion of the origin of Greek art. A curious though hardly an
important episode in history, is seen in the reaction by which the
Greek genius, when arrived at maturity, threw itself at the command of
Alexander upon that East from which it had received its first

None of those philosophical discussions to which Ottfried Müller and
Stark thought it necessary to give so large a place will be found in
our introduction; both of those authors devoted a long chapter to the
definition of art and its principal manifestations. Stark went so far
as to discuss, with much patience and ingenuity, the definitions of
art and of its essential forms which had been given by previous
writers. We shall attempt nothing of the kind; we have not undertaken
a work of criticism or æsthetic demonstration. We wish to build up the
history of ancient civilization through the study, description, and
comparison of its plastic remains.

Neither do we feel sure that, in such a question as this, definitions
do not lead to confusion rather than to clearness. When short, they
are vague and obscure, and only acquire precision through distinctions
and developments which have to be discussed at length; and again they
generally lead, on one hand or the other, either to objections or
reservations. _Omnis definitio in jure periculosa_, says an old maxim,
which is certainly true in matters of art. Why should we attempt,
unless we are obliged, to define terms which awake sufficiently clear
and distinct ideas in all cultivated minds? No satisfactory definition
has ever been given of the word _architecture_, and yet, when we use
it, every one knows what we mean. Architecture, sculpture, painting,
each of these sounds has a precise meaning for those to whom our work
is addressed, and we may say the same of certain other expressions,
such as _industrial arts_, _decoration_, _style_, _historical
painting_, _genre painting_, _landscape painting_, which will often be
found in our pages. We must refer those who want definitions of these
phrases to the _Grammaire des Arts du Dessin_ of M. Charles Blanc and
kindred works. It will suffice for us that these words should be taken
in the ordinary meaning which they bear in the conversation of
cultivated men. If our ideas of art and its different branches diverge
here and there from those which are commonly received, those
divergencies will become evident, and will be discussed and justified
to the best of our ability as the work proceeds. But on all occasions
we shall do our best to avoid the abstract and pedantic terminology
which makes Ottfried Müller's first chapter so difficult to read.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have now declared the aim of our work and the route which we
propose to follow. In order to increase our chances of success, I have
sought and obtained the collaboration of M. Charles Chipiez, whose
special knowledge is well calculated to neutralise my own
deficiencies. To his _Histoire critique des Origines et de la
Formation des Ordres grecques_, was awarded, in 1877, one of the
highest prizes of the Académie des Inscriptions, and in the Salons of
1878 and 1879 he confirmed his double reputation as a skilful
draughtsman and a learned theorist; his _Essais de Restoration d'un
Temple grecque hypèthre, et des tours à étages de la Chaldée_, was
much noticed and discussed by connoisseurs. It would not be fitting,
however, to praise it here. I must confine myself to saying how
fortunate I am in having obtained a help which I have found more
helpful, more single-minded, more complete, than I had dared to hope
for. In all that has to do with architecture, I have not written a
line until after consulting M. Chipiez upon all technical points. He
has also taken an active part in the revision of the text of certain
chapters. As for the plates and illustrations in the text, we have
together chosen the objects to be represented, and M. Chipiez, as a
professional man and able draughtsman, has personally superintended
the execution of the drawings. It remains for me to explain the _rôle_
which we have assigned to our illustrations.


In the single edition of his great work which appeared during his own
lifetime, Winckelmann inserted but a small number of illustrations,
and those for ornament rather than for instruction. One of his
translators, M. Huber, tells us that their execution gave great
dissatisfaction to the author.[35] In our days, on the other hand,
those who undertake a work of this kind make use of the great progress
which has taken place in engraving and typography, to insert numerous
figures in their text, to which they offer an indispensable and
animated commentary. Without their help many descriptions and
observations might remain unnecessarily obscure and doubtful. When
forms are to be defined and compared, mere words, in whatever language
spoken or written, can never suffice.

    [35] _Histoire de l'Art_; Huber's preface to his translation,
    p. xxxii.

With well chosen phrases we may awake the recollections of others, and
give renewed life to any impression which they may have received from
some striking natural phenomenon or some fine work of art. Their
imaginations will call up for a moment some landscape, picture, or
statue which has formerly charmed them. But if we wish to explain the
complicated plan of some great building, its design and its
proportions, the slightest sketch will be of more use than the longest
and most minute descriptions. So it will, if we wish to make clear the
characteristics which distinguish one style from another, the Assyrian
from the Egyptian, the archaic Greek style from that of the Phidian
epoch or of the decadence, an Ionic column from the Erechtheum from
one of the same order treated by a Roman architect. Between the
contour of a figure from a Memphite bas-relief and that of one from
Nineveh, what difference is there? A tenth of an inch more or less, a
slight difference in the sweep of a line in order to mark more
strongly the junction of the thigh and the knee. If we placed three
nude torsos side by side, one of the sixth century, another of the
fifth century, and the third of the time of Hadrian, a practised eye
would at once assign its true date to each, in accordance with the
manner in which the skeleton was indicated under the flesh, and the
muscles drawn over it and attached to it. Supposing that the same
model had served all three artists, it would show in the one case a
lively sentiment of form combined with some dryness and rigidity; in
another a freer, larger, and more subtle treatment, and in the third a
want of vigour and firmness: but it would be difficult to give by
words a clear idea of what caused the difference. Between the contour
which satisfies us and that which does not there is hardly the
difference of a hair; by leaning a little harder with the chisel the
aspect of the one surface might have been made identical with the
other. By its double astragali, by the fine chiselling of its
gorgerin, by the elegant curve which unites the two volutes, and by
the general delicacy of its ornament, a capital from the Erechtheum is
distinguished above a Roman Ionic capital; it is at once finer in
design and richer in ornamentation: by the side of it a capital from
the theatre of Marcellus or the Coliseum would look mean and poor.

The whole history of art consists of the succession of subtle changes
like these, and it would be impossible to convey them to the reader
by the utmost precision of technical language or the most brilliant
and life-like descriptions. The best thing that can be done is to make
one's remarks in the presence of the statues, pictures and buildings
concerned. But it is rarely that we find ourselves in such favourable
conditions for teaching and explaining our ideas. But, in default of
the objects themselves, we may at least give the most faithful images
of them which can be obtained, and that we shall attempt to do
throughout the course of this history.

We shall, then, give a large number of figures, in which absolute
accuracy and justice of proportion will be aimed at rather than
picturesque effects. It is not very long since, in collections of
drawings from antique remains, they were all presented under one
aspect, so far as the subtleties of style were concerned. The hand of
the engraver spread a technical uniformity over them all in which
differences of school and date disappeared, just as the delicate
carvings and coloured ornament of the middle ages and the renaissance,
which gave to each building an individuality of its own, were reduced
to dull monotony by the undiscriminating brush of the whitewasher. It
seemed to the artist natural enough to clothe the monuments of the
past in the style of his own day--and it required much less care than
would have been needed for the successful expression of all the
diversities of style in his models. We have now, however, grown more
exacting. We demand from the draughtsman who pretends to interpret a
work of art the same devotion and the same self-sacrifice as from the
writer who is charged with the translation of a work of literature
from one language into another--we require him to forget himself, so
that we may say of him, as the Latin poet says of his _Proteus_:

    "_Omnia transformat sese in miracula rerum._"

We require him to change his style with every change of subject, to
copy the gesture, the accent, and even the faults of his model; to be
Chinese in China, Greek in Greece, and Tuscan when he takes us to
Siena or Florence. But we have indicated an ideal which is not often
reached. Every one of us has his preferences and natural affinities,
every artist his own methods and personal modes of thought. One will
be conspicuous for his interpretation of the nobility and purity of
the antique, another for his treatment of oriental art or of the
elegance of our eighteenth century. But the mere enunciation of the
principle is of value, for a great effect follows the praise which
those who treat their model with scrupulous and intelligent respect
are sure to obtain, and the blame to which they who are less
conscientious expose themselves.

Fidelity in interpretation is, in fact, the honesty of the
draughtsman; it may become, if carried to a great height, his honour,
and even his glory. So far as we are concerned, we demand it from all
those who are associated with us in this task; and, so far as existing
methods will allow, we shall see that we obtain it. Unless our
illustrations had that merit they would obscure the text instead of
making it more comprehensible. Our readers would search in vain for
the features and characteristics to which we might call their
attention, and many of our remarks and theories would become difficult
to understand. We should be in the same position as an incompetent
barrister who has made a bad choice of witnesses; witnesses who, when
in the box, prove either to know nothing or to know only facts which
tell against the party who has called them.

Our aim in choosing our illustrations will be to place before our
readers good reproductions of most of the objects which are discussed
in our text. We shall, of course, be unable to figure everything that
is of interest, but we can at least ensure that those figures which we
give shall each be interesting in some particular or another. So far
as possible, we shall select for illustration such objects as have not
previously been reproduced, or have been ill reproduced, or have been
figured in works which are difficult of access. We shall sometimes, of
course, find it necessary to reproduce some famous statue or some
building which is familiar to most people; but even then we shall
endeavour to give renewed interest to their beauties by displaying
them under some fresh aspect and by increased care in the delineation
of their forms. Views in perspective, of which we shall make frequent
use, give the general aspect of buildings with much greater truth and
completeness than a mere plan, or a picturesque sketch of ruinous
remains, or even than an elevation.

Most of the more important perspectives and restorations due to the
learned pencil of M. Chipiez will be given in plates separate from the
text, as well as the most curious or significant of the works in
sculpture or painting to which we shall have to refer. Some of these
plates will be coloured. But the majority of our illustrations will
consist of engravings upon zinc and wood, which will not, we hope,
fall short of their more elaborate companions in honesty and fidelity.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the earliest Egyptian dynasties and from fabled Chaldæa to
imperial Rome, from the Pyramids and the Tower of Babel to the
Coliseum, from the Statue of Chephren and the bas-reliefs of
Shalmaneser III, to the busts of the Cæsars, from the painted
decorations of the tomb of Ti, and the enamelled bricks of Nineveh to
the wall-paintings of Pompeii, we shall review in due succession all
the forms which the great nations of antiquity made use of to express
their beliefs, to give shape to their ideas, to satisfy their
instincts for luxury and their taste for beauty, to lodge their gods
and their kings, and to transmit their own likenesses to posterity.

We propose to trace and explain the origin of, and to describe,
without æsthetic dissertations or excessive use of technical terms,
those processes which imply the practice of art; the creation and
descent of forms; the continual changes, sometimes slight and
sometimes great, which they underwent in passing from one people to
another, until, among the Greeks, they arrived at the most happy and
complete perfection which the world has seen. We hope, too, by the
judicious choice and careful execution of our figures, to give a fair
idea of this course of development even to those artists who have
neither time nor patience to follow our criticisms and descriptions.

I conceived the plan of this history, of which the first instalment is
now submitted to the public, at the time when M. Wallon, who is
secretary to the _Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres_,
entrusted me with the inauguration, at the Sorbonne, of the teaching
of classic archæology. But before it could be realized two conditions
had to be fulfilled. I had to find an associate in the work, a
companion who would help me in the necessary labour and study, and I
found him among my auditors in those first lectures at the Sorbonne. I
had also to find a publisher who would understand the wants of the
public and of the critics in such a matter. In this, too, I have
succeeded, and I am free to undertake a work which is, I hope,
destined to carry far beyond the narrow limits of a Parisian lecture
room, the methods and principal results of a science, which, having
made good its claims to the gratitude of mankind, is progressing with
a step which becomes daily more assured. The task is an arduous one,
and the continual discoveries which are reported from nearly every
quarter of the ancient world, make it heavier every day. As for my
colleague and myself, we have resigned ourselves in advance to seeing
omissions and defects pointed out even by the most benevolent critics,
but we are convinced that in spite of such imperfections as it may
contain, our work will do good service, and will cause one of the
aspects of ancient civilization to be better understood. This
conviction will sustain us through the labours which, perhaps with
some temerity, we have taken upon us. How far shall we be allowed to
conduct our history? That we cannot tell, but we may venture to
promise that it shall be the chief occupation and the dearest study of
all that remains to us of life and strength.



We have been in some doubt as to whether we should append a special
bibliography to each section of this work, but after mature reflection
we have decided against it. We shall, of course, consider the art of
each of the races of antiquity in less detail than if we had
undertaken a monograph upon Egyptian, upon Assyrian, or upon
Phœnician art; but yet it is our ambition to neglect no source of
information which is likely to be really valuable. From many of the
books and papers which we shall have to consult we may reproduce
nothing but their titles, but we hope that no important work will
escape us altogether, and in every case we shall give references which
may be easily verified. Under these circumstances a formal list of
works would be a mere repetition of our notes and would only have the
effect of giving a useless bulk to our volumes.

Whenever our drawings have not been taken directly from the originals
we have been careful to indicate the source from which we obtained
them, and we have made a point of borrowing only from authors of
undoubted authority. Those illustrations which bear neither an
artist's name nor the title of a book have been engraved from
photographs. As for the perspectives and restorations supplied by M.
Chipiez, they are in every case founded upon the study and comparison
of all accessible documents; but it would take too long to indicate in
each of these drawings how much has been borrowed from special
publications and how much has been founded upon photographic evidence.
M. Chipiez has sometimes employed the ordinary perspective, sometimes
that which is called axonometric perspective. The difference will be
at once perceived.

Egyptologists may, perhaps, find mistakes in the hieroglyphs which
occur in our illustrations. These hieroglyphs have been as a rule
exactly transcribed, but we do not pretend to offer a collection of
texts; we have only reproduced these characters on account of their
decorative value, and because without them we could not have the
general appearance of this or that monument. It will thus be seen that
our object is not affected by a mistake or two in such matters.

We may here express our gratitude to all those who have interested
themselves in our enterprise and who have helped us to make our work
complete. Our dear and lamented Mariette had promised us his most
earnest help. During the winter that we passed in Egypt, while he
still enjoyed some remains of strength and voice, we obtained from his
conversation and his letters some precious pieces of information. We
have cited the works of M. Maspero on almost every page, and yet we
have learnt more from his conversation than from his writings. Before
his departure for Egypt--whither he went to succeed Mariette--M.
Maspero was our perpetual counsellor and referee; whenever we were
embarrassed we appealed to his well ordered, accurate, and unbiased
knowledge. We are also deeply indebted to M. Pierret, the learned
_conservateur_ of the Louvre; not only has he done everything to
facilitate the work of our draughtsmen in the great museum, he has
also helped us frequently with his advice and his accumulated
knowledge. M. Arthur Rhôné has lent us a plan of the temple of the
Sphinx, and M. Ernest Desjardins a view of the interior of that

The artists who have visited Egypt have helped us as cordially as the
learned men who have deciphered its inscriptions. M. Gerome opened his
portfolios and allowed us to take three of those drawings, which
express with such truthful precision the character of Egyptian
landscape from them. M. Hector Leroux was as generous as M. Gerome,
and if we have taken but one illustration from his sketch-books it is
because the arrangements for this volume were complete before we had
the chance of looking through them. M. Brune has allowed us to
reproduce his plans of Karnak and Medinet-Abou.

We have had occasion, in the work itself, to express our
acknowledgments to MM. J. Bourgoin, G. Bénédite, and Saint-Elme
Gautier, who have drawn for us the principal monuments of the Boulak
and Louvre Museums. For the architecture we must name M. A. Guérin, a
pupil of M. Chipiez, who prepared the drawings under the direction of
his master, and M. Tomaszkievicz, whose light and skilful point has so
well engraved them. If the process of engraving upon zinc has given
results which, as we hope, will satisfy our readers, much of the
honour belongs to the untiring care of M. Comte, whose process has
been employed; all these plates have been reviewed and retouched by
him with minute care. The steel engravings are by MM. Ramus, Hibon,
Guillaumot père and Sulpis. In order that the polychromatic decoration
of the Egyptians should be rendered with truth and precision in its
refined tones and complicated line, we begged M. Sulpis to make use of
a process which had almost fallen into disuse from its difficulty and
want of rapidity; we mean that which is called _aquatint_. Our plates
II, XIII, and XIV will perhaps convince our readers that its results
are superior to those of chromo-lithography, which is now so widely




§ 1. _Egypt's Place in The History of the World._

Egypt is the eldest daughter of civilization. In undertaking to group
the great nations of antiquity and to present them in their proper
order, in attempting to assign to each its due share in the continuous
and unremitting labour of progress until the birth of Christianity, we
have no alternative but to commence with the country of the Pharaohs.

In studying the past of mankind, we have the choice of several points
of view. We may attempt to determine the meaning and value of the
religious conceptions which succeeded one another during that period,
or we may give our attention rather to the literature, the arts and
the sciences, to those inventions which in time have done so much to
emancipate mankind from natural trammels and to make him master of his
destiny. One writer will confine himself to a description of manners,
and social and political institutions; another to the enumeration and
explanation of the various changes brought on by internal revolutions,
by wars and conquests; to what Bossuet calls "_la suite des empires_."
Finally, he who has the highest ambition of all will attempt to unite
all these various features into a single picture, so as to show, as a
whole, the creative activity of a race and the onward movements of
its genius in the continual search for "the best." But in any case the
commencement must be made with Egypt. It is Egypt that has preserved
the earliest attempts of man towards outward expression; it is in
Egypt that those monuments exist which contain the first permanent
manifestation of thought by written characters or plastic[36] forms;
and it is in Egypt that the historian of antique art will find the
earliest materials for study.

    [36] The word "plastic" is used throughout this work in its
    widest significance, and is not confined to works "in the

But, in the first place, we must give some account of the curious
conditions under which the people lived who constructed and ornamented
so many imposing monuments. We must begin, then, by describing the
circumstances and the race characteristics under which this early
civilization was developed.

§ 2. _The Valley of the Nile and its Inhabitants._

The first traveller in Egypt of which we have any record is Herodotus;
he sums up, in an often quoted phrase, the impression which that land
of wonders made upon him: "Egypt," he says, "is a present from the
Nile."[37] The truth could not be better expressed. "Had the
equatorial rains not been compelled to win for themselves a passage to
the Mediterranean, a passage upon which they deposited the mud which
they had accumulated on their long journey, Egypt would not have
existed. Egypt began by being the bed of a torrent; the soil was
raised by slow degrees ... man appeared there when, by the slow
accumulation of fertile earth, the country at last became equal to his

    [37] HERODOTUS, ii. 7.

    [38] MARIETTE, _Itineraire de la haute Égypte_, p. 10 (edition
    of 1872, 1 vol. Alexandria, Mourès).

Other rivers do no more than afford humidity for their immediate
borders, or, in very low-lying districts, for a certain narrow stretch
of country on each hand. When they overflow their banks it is in a
violent and irregular fashion, involving wide-spread ruin and
destruction. Great floods are feared as public misfortunes. It is
very different with the Nile. Every year, at a date which can be
almost exactly foretold, it begins to rise slowly and to spread gently
over the land. It rises by degrees until its surface is eight or nine
metres above low-water mark;[39] it then begins to fall with the same
tranquillity, but not until it has deposited, upon the lands over
which it has flowed, a thick layer of fertile mud which can be turned
over easily with the lightest plough, and in which every seed will
germinate, every plant spring up with extraordinary vigour and

    [39] The river should rise to this height upon the Nilometer at
    Cairo if there is to be a "good Nile." In upper Egypt the banks
    of the river are much higher than in middle Egypt. In order to
    flow over those banks it must rise to a height of some eleven or
    twelve metres, and unless it rises more than thirteen metres it
    will not have a proper effect.

[Illustration: FIG. 1.--During the Inundation of the Nile.]

Thus nature has greatly facilitated the labour of the Egyptian
agriculturist; the river takes upon itself the irrigation of the
country for the whole width of its valley, and the preparation of the
soil for the autumnal seed-time; it restores the virtue annually taken
out of the ground by the crops. Each year it brings with it more
fertility than can be exhausted in the twelve months, so that there
is a constantly accumulating capital, on both banks of the river, of
the richest vegetable earth.

[Illustration: FIG. 2.--Hoeing; Beni-Hassan. (Champollion, pl. 381

    [40] This work of Champollion's, to which we are greatly
    indebted, is entitled: _Monuments de l'Égypte et de la Nubie_, 4
    vols. folio. It contains 511 plates, partly coloured, and was
    published between the years 1833 and 1845. The drawings for the
    plates were made by members of the great scientific expedition
    of which Champollion was the head. Many of those drawings were
    from the pencil of Nestor L'Hôte, one of those who have most
    sympathetically rendered the Egyptian monuments.

[Illustration: FIG. 3.--Ploughing; from the Necropolis of Memphis.
(_Description de l'Égypte_, ant. V., pl. 17.)]

Thus the first tribes established themselves in the country under
singularly favourable conditions; thanks to the timely help of the
river they found themselves assured of an easy existence.[41] We know
how often the lives of those tribes who live by fishing and the chase
are oppressed by care; there are some days when game is not to be
found, and they die of hunger. Those who live a pastoral life are also
exposed to cruel hardships from the destruction of their flocks and
herds by those epidemics against which even modern science sometimes
struggles in vain. As for agricultural populations, they are
everywhere, except in Egypt, at the mercy of the weather; seasons
which are either too dry or too wet may reduce them to famine, for in
those distant times local famines were far more fatal than in these
days, when facility of transport and elaborate commercial connections
ensure that where the demand is, thither the supply will be taken. In
Egypt the success of the crops varied with the height of the Nile, but
they never failed altogether. In bad years the peasant may have had
the baton of the tax-collector to fear, but he always had a few onions
or a few ears of maize to preserve him from starvation.[42]

    [41] This advantage was thoroughly appreciated by the ancients.
    Diodorus Siculus, speaking of the Egyptians, says that "At the
    beginning of all things, the first men were born in Egypt, in
    consequence of the happy climate of the country and the physical
    properties of the Nile, whose waters, by their natural fertility
    and their power of producing various kinds of aliment, were well
    fitted to nourish the first beings who received the breath of
    life.... It is evident that from the foundation of the world
    Egypt was, of all countries, the most favourable to the
    generation of men and women, by the excellent constitution of
    its soil" (i. 10).

    [42] In all ages the rod has, in Egypt, played an important part
    in the collection of the taxes. In this connection M. Lieblein
    has quoted a passage from the well-known letter from the chief
    guardian of the archives of Ameneman to the scribe Pentaour, in
    which he says: "The scribe of the port arrives at the station;
    he collects the tax; there are agents with rattans, and negroes
    with branches of palm; they say 'Give us some corn!' and they
    are not to be repulsed. The peasant is bound and sent to the
    canal; he is driven on with violence, his wife is bound in his
    presence, his children are stripped; as for his neighbours, they
    are far off and are busy over their own harvest." (_Les Récits
    de Recolte dans l'ancienne Égypte, comme Éléments
    chronologique_, in _Recueil de Travaux relatifs à la Philologie
    et à l'Archéologie égyptiennes et assyriennes_, t. i. p. 149).

[Illustration: FIG. 4.--Harvest scene; from a tomb at Gizeh.
(Champollion, pl. 417.)]

The first condition of civilization is a certain measure of security
for life. Now, thanks to the beneficent action of the king of rivers,
that condition was created sooner in Egypt than elsewhere. In the
valley of the Nile man found himself able, for the first time, to
calculate upon the forces of nature and to turn them to his certain
profit. It is easy then to understand that Egypt saw the birth of the
most ancient of those civilizations whose plastic arts we propose to

[Illustration: FIG. 5.--The Bastinado; Beni-Hassan. (Champollion, pl.

Another favourable condition is to be found in the isolation of the
country. The tribes who settled there in centuries so remote that they
are beyond tradition and even calculation, could live in peace, hidden
as it were in a narrow valley and protected on all sides, partly by
deserts, partly by an impassable sea. It would perhaps be well to give
some idea of the natural features of their country before commencing
our study of their art. The terms, _Lower-_, _Middle-_, and
_Upper-Egypt_, the _Delta_, and _Ethiopia_ will continually recur in
these pages, as also will the names of Tanis and Sais, Memphis and
Heliopolis, Abydos and Thebes, and of many other cities; it is
important therefore that our readers should know exactly what is meant
by each of these time-honoured designations; it is necessary that they
should at least be able to find upon the map those cities which by
their respective periods of supremacy represent the successive epochs
of Egyptian history.

"Egypt is that country which, stretching from north to south, occupies
the north-east angle of Africa, or Libya as the ancients called it.
It is joined to Asia by the isthmus of Suez. It is bounded on the east
by that isthmus and the Red Sea; on the south by Nubia, the Ethiopia
of the Greeks, which is traversed by the Nile before its entrance into
Egypt at the cataracts of Syene; on the west by the desert sprinkled
here and there with a few oases, and on the north by the
Mediterranean. The desert stretches as far north on the west of the
country as the Red Sea does on the east.

"It penetrates moreover far into the interior of Egypt itself.
Strictly speaking Egypt consists simply of that part of this corner of
Africa over which the waters of the Nile flow during the inundation,
to which may be added those districts to which the water is carried by
irrigation. All outside this zone is uninhabited, and produces neither
corn nor vegetables nor trees nor even grass. No water is to be found
there beyond a few wells, all more or less exposed to exhaustion in an
ever-parching atmosphere. In Upper Egypt rain is an extremely rare
phenomenon. Sand and rock cover the whole country, except the actual
valley of the Nile. Up to the point where the river divides into
several arms, that is to say for more than three-quarters of the whole
length of Egypt, this valley never exceeds an average width of more
than four or five leagues. In a few districts it is even narrower than
this. For almost its whole length it is shut in between two mountain
chains, that on the east called the Arab, that on the west the Libyan
chain. These mountains, especially towards the south, sometimes close
in and form defiles. On the other hand, in Middle Egypt the Libyan
chain falls back and becomes lower, allowing the passage of the canal
which carries the fertilizing waters into the Fayoum, the province in
which the remains of the famous reservoir which the Greek writers
called Lake Mœris exist. Egypt, which was little more than a glen
higher up, here widens out to a more imposing size. A little below
Cairo, the present capital of Egypt, situated not far from the site of
ancient Memphis, the Nile divides into two branches, one of which, the
Rosetta branch, turns to the north-west, the other, that of Damietta,
to the north and north-east.... The ancients knew five others which,
since their time, have either been obliterated or at least have become
non-navigable.... All these branches took their names from towns
situated near their mouths. A large number of less important
watercourses threaded their way through Lower Egypt; but as the earth
there is marshy, their channels have shifted greatly from age to age
and still go on changing. The Nile forms several lagunes near the sea,
shut in by long tongues of earth and sand, and communicating with the
Mediterranean by openings here and there. The space comprised between
the two most distant branches of the river is called the Delta, on
account of its triangular form, which is similar to that of a capital
Greek _delta_ (Δ)."[43]

    [43] ROBIOU, _Histoire ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient_, ch.

At one time the waves of the Mediterranean washed the foot of the
sandy plateau which is now crowned by the Great Pyramid; the Nile
flowed into the sea at that time slightly to the north of the site
upon which Memphis was afterwards built. With the slow passage of time
the particles of earth which it brought down from the mountains of
Abyssinia were deposited as mud banks upon the coast, and gradually
filling up the gulf, created instead wide marshy plains intersected by
lakes. Here and there ancient sand ridges indicate the successive
watercourses. The never-ceasing industry of its floods had already, at
the earliest historic period, carried the mouths of the Nile far
beyond the normal line of the neighbouring coasts. The Egyptian
priests--whose words have been preserved for us by Herodotus--had a
true idea as to how this vast plain had been created, a plain which
now comprises twenty-three thousand square kilometres and is
continually being added to; but they were strangely deceived when they
thought and declared that Menes or Ména, the first of all kings, found
almost all Egypt under the waters. The sea, they said, penetrated in
those days beyond the site of Memphis, and the remainder of the
country, the district of Thebes excepted, was an unhealthy morass.[44]
The Delta had, in fact, existed long before the appearance of Menes,
and perhaps it may have shown pretty much its present form when the
Egyptian race first appeared in the valley of the Nile.[45]

    [44] HERODOTUS, ii. 4.

    [45] MASPERO, _Histoire ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient_, pp. 6
    and 7. In such general explanations as are unavoidable we shall
    content ourselves with paraphrasing M. Maspero.

As to the origin of that race, we need not enter at length into a
question so purely ethnographical. It is now generally allowed that
they were connected with the white races of Europe and Western Asia;
the anatomical examination of the bodies recovered from the most
ancient tombs, and the study of their statues, bas-reliefs, and
pictures, all point to this conclusion. If we take away individual
peculiarities these monuments furnish us with the following common
type of the race even in the most remote epochs:--

"The average Egyptian was tall, thin, active. He had large and
powerful shoulders,[46] a muscular chest, sinewy arms terminating in
long and nervous hands, narrow hips, and thin muscular legs. His knees
and calves were nervous and muscular, as is generally the case with a
pedestrian race; his feet were long, thin, and flattened, by his habit
of going barefoot. The head, often too large and powerful for the
body, was mild, and even sad in its expression. His forehead was
square and perhaps a little low, his nose short and round; his eyes
were large and well opened, his cheeks full and round, his lips thick
but not turned out like a negro's; his rather large mouth bore an
habitually soft and sorrowful expression. These features are to be
found in most of the statues of the ancient and middle empires, and in
all the later epochs. Even to the present day the peasants, or
_fellahs_, have almost everywhere preserved the physiognomy of their
ancestors, although the upper classes have lost it by repeated
intermarriage with strangers."[47]

    [46] Their exceptional breadth of shoulder has been confirmed by
    an examination of the skeletons in the mummies. See on this
    subject a curious note in BONOMI's _Some Observations on the
    Skeleton of an Egyptian Mummy_ (_Transactions of the Society of
    Biblical Archæology_, vol. iv. pp. 251-253).

    [47] MASPERO, _Histoire ancienne_, p. 16.

When Mariette discovered in the necropolis at Memphis the famous
wooden statue of a man standing and holding in his hand the baton of
authority, the peasants of Sakkarah recognised at once the feature and
attitude of one of themselves, of the rustic dignitary who managed the
_corvées_ and apportioned the taxation. An astonished fellah cried
out: "The Sheikh-el-Beled!" His companions took up the cry, and the
statue has been known by that name ever since.[48]

    [48] _Notice des principaux Monuments exposés dans les Galeries
    provisoires du Musée d' Antiquités égyptiennes de S. A. le
    Vice-Roi, à Boulaq_ (1876), No. 492. The actual statue holds the
    _bâton_ in its left hand.

Increased knowledge of the Egyptian language has enabled us to carry
our researches much farther than Champollion and his successors. By
many of its roots, by its system of pronouns, by its nouns of number,
and by some of the arrangements of its conjugations, it seems to have
been attached to the Semitic family of languages. Some of the idioms
of these Semitic tongues are found in Egyptian in a rudimentary state.
From this it has been concluded that Egyptian and its cognate
languages, after having belonged to that group, separated from it at a
very early period, while their grammatical system was still in course
of formation. Thus, disunited and subjected to diverse influences, the
two families made a different use of the elements which they possessed
in common.

There would thus seem to have been a community of root between the
Egyptians on the one part and the Arabs, Hebrews, and Phœnicians on
the other, but the separation took place at such an early period, that
the tribes who came to establish themselves in the valley of the Nile
had both the time and the opportunity to acquire a very particular and
original physiognomy of their own. The Egyptians are therefore said to
belong to the proto-Semitic races.

[Illustration: FIG. 6.--Statue from the Ancient Empire, in calcareous
stone. (Boulak.[49]) Drawn by G. Bénédite.]

    [49] _Notice des principaux Monuments exposés dans les Galeries
    provisoires du Musée d' Antiquités égyptiennes de S. A. le
    Vice-Roi, à Boulaq_ (1876), p. 582. With the exception of a few
    woodcuts from photographs the contents of the museums at Cairo
    and Boulak have been reproduced from drawings by M. J. Bourgoin.
    The Boulak Museum will be referred to by the simple word Boulak.
    The reproductions of objects in the Louvre are all from the
    pencil of M. Saint-Elme Gautier.

This opinion has been sustained with more or less plausibility by MM.
Lepsius, Benfey, and Bunsen, and accepted by M. Maspero.[50] But
other critics of equal authority are more impressed by the differences
than by the resemblances, which, however, they neither deny nor
explain. M. Renan prefers to rank the Copts, the Tuaregs, and the
Berbers in a family which he would call Chamitic, and to which he
would refer most of the idioms of Northern Africa.[51] A comparison of
the languages is, then, insufficient to decide the question of origin.

    [50] MASPERO, _Histoire ancienne_, p. 17.

    [51] _Histoire des Langues sémitiques_, Book i. ch. ii. § 4.

[Illustration: FIG. 7.--The _Sheikh-el-Beled_. (Boulak.) Drawn by J.

The people whose physical characteristics we have described and whose
idiom we have defined, came from Asia, to all appearance, by the
Isthmus of Suez. Perhaps they found established on the banks of the
Nile another race, probably black, and indigenous to the African
continent.[52] If this were so the new comers forced the earlier
occupants of the country southwards without mixing with them, and set
themselves resolutely to the work of improvement. Egypt must then have
presented a very different sight from its richness and fertility of
to-day. The river when left to itself, was perpetually changing its
bed, and even in its highest floods it failed to reach certain parts
of the valley, which remained unproductive; in other districts it
remained so long that it changed the soil into swamp. The Delta, half
of it drowned in the waters of the Nile, the other half under those of
the Mediterranean, was simply a huge morass dotted here and there with
sandy islands and waving with papyrus, reeds, and lotus, across which
the river worked its sluggish and uncertain way; upon both banks the
desert swallowed up all the soil left untouched by the yearly
inundations. From the crowding vegetation of a tropical marsh to the
most absolute aridity was but a step. Little by little the new comers
learnt to control the course of the floods, to bank them in and to
carry them to the farthest corners of the valley, and Egypt gradually
arose out of the waters and became in the hand of man one of the best
adapted countries in the world for the development of a great

    [52] See LEPSIUS, _Ueber die Annahme eines sogenannten
    prehistorischen Steinalters in Ægypten_ (in the _Zeitschrift für
    Ægyptische Sprache_, 1870, p. 113, et seq.).

    [53] MASPERO, p. 18.

How many generations did it require to create the country and the
nation? We cannot tell. But we may affirm that a commencement was
made by the simultaneous establishment at several different points of
small independent states, each of which had its own laws and its own
form of worship. These districts remained almost unchanged in number
and in their respective boundaries almost up to the end of the ancient
world. Their union under one sceptre formed the kingdom of the
Pharaohs, the country of Khemi, but their primitive divisions did not
therefore disappear; the small independent states became provinces and
were the foundation of those local administrative districts which the
Greeks called _nomes_.

[Illustration: FIG. 8.--Hunting in the Marshes; from a bas-relief in
the tomb of Ti.]

Besides this division into districts, the Egyptians had one other, and
only one--the division into Lower Egypt, or the North Country
(_Tomera_, or _To-meh_), and into Upper Egypt, or the South Country
(_To-res_). Lower Egypt consisted of the Delta; Upper Egypt stretched
from the southernmost point of the Delta to the first cataract. This
division has the advantage of corresponding exactly to the
configuration of the country; moreover, it preserves the memory of a
period before the time of Menes, during which Egypt was divided into
two separate kingdoms--that of the North and that of the South, a
division which in later times had often a decisive influence upon the
course of events. This state of things was of sufficiently long
duration to leave an ineffaceable trace upon the official language of
Egypt, and upon that which we may call its blazonry, or heraldic
imagery. The sovereigns who united the whole territory under one
sceptre are always called, in the royal protocols, the lords of Upper
and Lower Egypt; they carry on their heads two crowns, each
appropriate to one of the two great divisions of their united kingdom.
That of Upper Egypt is known to egyptologists as the White crown,
because of the colour which it bears upon painted monuments; that of
the North is called the red crown, for a similar reason. Combined with
one another they form the complete regal head-dress ordinarily called
the pschent. In the hieroglyphics Northern Egypt is indicated by the
papyrus; Southern by the lotus.

[Illustration: FIG. 9.--Shadouf; machine for irrigating the land above
the level of the canals.]

During the Ptolemaic epoch a new administrative division into Upper,
Middle, and Lower Egypt was established. The Middle Egypt of the
Greek geographers began at the southern point of the Delta, and
extended to a little south of Hermopolis. Although this latter
division was not established until after the centuries which saw the
birth of those monuments with which we shall have to deal, we shall
make frequent use of it, as it will facilitate and render more
definite our topographical explanations. For the contemporaries of the
Pharaohs both Memphis and Thebes belong to Upper Egypt, and if we
adopted their method of speech we should be under the continual
necessity of stopping the narration to define geographical positions;
but with the tri-partite division we may speak of Beni-Hassan as in
Middle, and Abydos as in Upper Egypt, and thus give a sufficient idea
of their relative positions.

[Illustration: FIG. 10.--The White Crown.]

[Illustration: FIG. 11.--The Red Crown.]

[Illustration: FIG. 12.--The Pschent.]

§ 3. _The Great Divisions of Egyptian History._

In enumerating and analysing the remains of Egyptian art, we shall
classify them chronologically as well as locally. The monuments of the
plastic arts will be arranged into groups determined by the periods of
their occurrence, as well as by their geographical distribution. We
must refer our readers to the works of M. Maspero and others for the
lists of kings and dynasties, and for the chief events of each reign,
but it will be convenient for us to give here a summary of the
principal epochs in Egyptian history. Each of those epochs corresponds
to an artistic period with a special character and individuality of
its own. The following paragraphs taken from the history of M. Maspero
give all the necessary information in a brief form.

"In the last years of the prehistoric period, the sacerdotal class had
obtained a supremacy over the other classes of the nation. A man
called Menes (Menha or Ména in the Egyptian texts) destroyed this
supremacy and founded the Egyptian monarchy.

"This monarchy existed for at least four thousand years, under thirty
consecutive dynasties, from the reign of Menes to that of Nectanebo
(340 years before our era). This interval of time, the longest of
which political history takes note, is usually divided into three
parts: the _Ancient Empire_, from the first to the eleventh dynasty;
the _Middle Empire_, from the eleventh dynasty to the invasion of the
Hyksos or Shepherds; the _New Empire_ from the shepherd kings to the
Persian conquest. This division is inconvenient in one respect; it
takes too little account of the sequence of historical events.

"There were indeed, three great revolutions in the historical
development of Egypt. At the beginning of its long succession of human
dynasties (the Egyptians, like other peoples, placed a number of
dynasties of divine rulers before their first human king) the
political centre of the country was at Memphis; Memphis was the
capital and the burying-place of the kings; Memphis imposed sovereigns
upon the rest of the country and was the chief market for Egyptian
commerce and industry. With the commencement of the sixth dynasty, the
centre of gravity began to shift southwards. During the ninth and
tenth dynasties it rested at Heracleopolis, in Middle Egypt, and in
the time of the eleventh dynasty, it fixed itself at Thebes. From that
period onwards Thebes was the capital of the country and furnished the
sovereign. From the eleventh to the twenty-first all the Egyptian
dynasties were Theban with the single exception of the fourteenth
Xoite dynasty. At the time of the shepherd invasion, the Thebaïd
became the citadel of Egyptian nationality, and its princes, after
centuries of war against the intruders, finally succeeded in freeing
the whole valley of the Nile for the benefit of the eighteenth
dynasty, which opened the era of great foreign wars.

"Under the nineteenth dynasty an inverse movement to that of the first
period carried the political centre of the country back towards the
north. With the twenty-first Tanite dynasty, Thebes ceased to be the
capital, and the cities of the Delta, Tanis, Bubastis, Mendes,
Sebennytos, and above all Sais, rose into equal or superior
importance. From that time the political life of the country
concentrated itself in the maritime districts. The _nomes_ of the
Thebaïd, ruined by the Ethiopian and Assyrian invasions, lost their
influence; and Thebes itself fell into ruin and became nothing more
than a _rendezvous_ for curious travellers.

"I propose, therefore, to divide Egyptian history into three periods,
each corresponding to the political supremacy of one town or province
over the whole of Egypt:--

"FIRST PERIOD, Memphite (the first ten dynasties). The supremacy of
Memphis and of the sovereigns furnished by her.

"SECOND PERIOD, Theban (from the eleventh to the twentieth dynasties
inclusive). Supremacy of Thebes and the Theban kings. This period is
divided into two sub-periods by the Shepherd dynasties.

"_a. The old Theban empire_, from the eleventh to the sixteenth

"_b. The new Theban empire_, from the sixteenth to the twentieth

"THIRD PERIOD, Sait (from the twenty-first to the thirtieth dynasties,
inclusive). Supremacy of Sais and the other cities of the Delta. This
period is divided into two by the Persian invasion:--

"_First Sait period_, from the twenty-first to the twenty-sixth

"_Second Sait period_, from the twenty-seventh to the thirtieth

    [54] _Histoire ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient_, p. 53. We
    believe that the division proposed by M. Maspero is, in fact,
    the best. It is the most suggestive of the truth as to the
    successive displacements of the political centre and the
    movement of history. We shall, however, have no hesitation in
    making use of the terms _Ancient_, _Middle_, and _New Empire_,
    as occasion arises.

Mariette places the accession of Ména or Menes at about the fiftieth
century before our era, while Bunsen and other Egyptologists bring
forward his date to 3,600 or 3,500 B.C. as they believe some of the
dynasties of Manetho to have been contemporary with each other.
Neither Mariette nor Maspero deny that Egypt, in the course of its
long existence, was often partitioned between princes who reigned in
Upper and Lower Egypt respectively; but, guided by circumstances
which need not be described here, they incline to believe that Manetho
confined himself to enumerating those dynasties which were looked upon
as the legitimate ones. The work of elimination which has been
attempted by certain modern _savants_, must have been undertaken, to a
certain extent, in Egypt itself; and some of the collateral dynasties
must have been effaced and passed over in silence, because the
monuments still remaining preserve the names of reigning families
which are ignored by history.

Whatever may be thought of this initial date, Egypt remains, as has
been so well said by M. Renan, "a lighthouse in the profound darkness
of remote antiquity." Its period of greatest power was long anterior
to the earliest traditions of the Greek race; the reign of Thothmes
III., who, according to a contemporary expression, "drew his frontiers
where he pleased," is placed by common consent in the seventeenth
century, B.C. The Egyptian empire then comprised Abyssinia, the
Soudan, Nubia, Syria, Mesopotamia, part of Arabia, Khurdistan, and
Armenia. Founded by the kings of the eighteenth dynasty, this
greatness was maintained by those of the nineteenth. To this dynasty
belonged Rameses II., the Sesostris of the Greeks, who flourished in
the fifteenth century. It was the superiority of its civilization,
even more than the valour of its princes and soldiers, which made
Egypt supreme over Western Asia.

This supremacy declined during the twenty-first and twenty-second
dynasties, but, at the same time, Egyptian chronology becomes more
certain as opportunities of comparison with the facts of Hebrew
history increase. The date of 980, within a year or two, may be given
with confidence as that of the accession of Sheshonk I., the
contemporary of Solomon and Rehoboam. From that date onwards, the
constant struggles between Egypt and its neighbours, especially with
Assyria, multiply our opportunities for synchronic comparison. In the
seventh century the country was opened to the Greeks, the real
creators of history, who brought with them their inquiring spirit and
their love for exactitude. After the accession of Psemethek I., the
founder of the twenty-sixth dynasty, in 656, our historical materials
are abundant. For that we must thank the Greek travellers who
penetrated everywhere, taking notes which they afterwards amplified
into narratives. It is a singular thing, that even as late as the
Ptolemies, when the power of the Macedonian monarchy was fully
developed, the Egyptians never seem to have felt the want of what we
call an _era_, of some definite point from which they could measure
the course of time and the progress of the centuries. "They were
satisfied with calculating by the years of the reigning sovereign, and
even those calculations had no certain point of departure. Sometimes
they counted from the commencement of the year which had witnessed the
death of his predecessor, sometimes from the day of his own
coronation. The most careful calculations will therefore fail to
enable modern science to restore to the Egyptians that which, in fact,
they never possessed."[55]

    [55] MARIETTE, _Aperçu de l'Histoire d'Égypte_, p. 66.

Even thus summarily stated, these historical indications are enough to
show how little foundation there is for the opinion which was held by
the ancient Greeks, and too long accepted by modern historians. It
was, they said, from Ethiopia that Egyptian civilization had come. A
colony of Ethiopian priests from the island of Meroè in Upper Nubia,
had introduced their religion, their written characters, their art and
their civil institutions into the country. The exact opposite of this
is the truth. "It was the Egyptians who advanced up the banks of the
Nile to found cities, fortresses, and temples in Ethiopia; it was the
Egyptians who carried their civilization into the midst of savage
negro tribes. The error was caused by the fact that at one epoch in
the history of Egypt the Ethiopians played an important part.

"If it were true that Egypt owed its political existence to Ethiopia,
we should be able to find in the latter country monuments of a more
remote antiquity, and as we descended the Nile, we should find the
remains comparatively modern; but, strangely enough, the study of all
these monuments incontestably proves that the sequence of towns, holy
places, and tombs, constructed by the Egyptians on the banks of their
river, follow each other in such chronological order that the oldest
remains, the Pyramids, are found in the north, in Lower Egypt, near
the southern point of the Delta. The nearer our steps take us to the
cataracts of Ethiopia, the less ancient do the monuments become. They
show ever increasing signs of the decadence of art, of taste, and of
the love for beauty. Finally, the art of Ethiopia, such as its still
existing monuments reveal it to us, is entirely wanting in
originality. A glance is sufficient to tell us that it represents the
degeneracy only of the Egyptian style, that the spirit of Egyptian
forms has been weakly grasped, and that their execution is generally

    [56] BRUGSCH-BEY, _Histoire de l'Égypt_, pp. 6 and 7. Maspero's
    _Histoire ancienne_, p. 382, may also be consulted upon the
    character of the Ethiopian kingdom and the monuments of Napata.
    A good idea of this process of degradation may be gained by
    merely glancing through the plates to part v. of Lepsius's
    _Denkmæler_; plate 6, for example, shows what the caryatid
    became at Napata.

We may condense all these views into a simple and easily remembered
formula; we may say that _as we mount towards the springs of the Nile,
we descend the current of time_. Thebes is younger than Memphis, and
Meroè than Thebes. The river which Egypt worshipped, and by which the
walls of its cities were bathed, flowed from the centre of Africa,
from the south to the north; but the stream of civilization flowed in
the other direction, until it was lost in the country of the negro, in
the mysterious depths of Ethiopia. The springs of this latter stream
must be sought in that district where the waters of the Nile, as if
tired by their long journey, divide into several arms before falling
into the sea; in that district near the modern capital, over which
stretch the long shadows of the Pyramids.

§ 4. _The Constitution of Egyptian Society--Influence of that
Constitution upon Monuments of Art._

During the long sequence of centuries which we have divided into three
great periods, the national centre of gravity was more than once
displaced. The capital was at one time in Middle Egypt, at another in
Upper, and at a third period in Lower Egypt, in accordance with its
political necessities. At one period the nation had nothing to fear
from external enemies, at others it had to turn a bold front to Asia
or Ethiopia. At various times Egypt had to submit to her foreign foes;
to the shepherd invaders, to the kings of Assyria and Persia, to the
princes of Ethiopia, and finally to Alexander, to whom she lost her
independence never again to recover it. And yet it appears that the
character and social condition of the race never underwent any great
change. At the time of the pyramid-builders, Egypt was the most
absolute monarchy that ever existed, and so she remained till her
final conquest.

"Successor and descendant of the deities who once reigned over the
valley of the Nile, the king was the living manifestation and
incarnation of God: child of the sun (_Se Râ_), as he took care to
proclaim whenever he wrote his name, the blood of the gods flowed in
his veins and assured to him the sovereign power."[57] He was _the
priest_ above all others. Such a form of worship as that of Egypt,
required no doubt a large sacerdotal class, each member of which had
his own special function in the complicated and gorgeous ceremonies in
which he took part; but the king alone, at least in the principal
temples, had the right to enter the sanctuary and to open the door of
the kind of chapel in which the symbolical representation of the
divinity was kept; he alone saw the god face to face, and spoke to him
in the name of his people.[58] The pre-eminent dignity of this
priestly office did not, however, prevent the king from taking his
proper share in war or political affairs generally. The army of
scribes and various functionaries, whose titles may still be read upon
the most ancient monuments of the country, depended upon him for their
orders from one end of the country to the other, and in war, it was he
who led the serried battalions of the Egyptian army. The king was thus
a supreme pontif, the immediate chief of all civil and military
officers; and, as the people believed that his career was directed by
the gods with whom he held converse, he became to them a visible deity
and, in the words of an inscription, "the representative of Râ among
the living." His divinity, begun on earth, was completed and rendered
perpetual in another life. All the dead Pharaohs became gods, so that
the Egyptian pantheon obtained a new deity at the death of each
sovereign. The deceased Pharaohs thus constituted a series of gods to
whom the reigning sovereign would of course address himself when he
had anything to ask; hence the monuments upon which we find living
Pharaohs offering worship to their predecessors.[59]

    [57] MASPERO, _Histoire ancienne_, p. 58. This affiliation of
    the king to the god was more than a figure of speech. In an
    inscription which is reproduced both at Ipsamboul and at
    Medinet-Abou, Ptah is made to speak in the following terms of
    Rameses II. and Rameses III. respectively: "I am thy father, as
    a god I have begotten thee; all thy members are divine; when I
    approached thy royal mother I took upon me the form of the
    sacred ram of Mendes" (line 3rd). This curious text has lately
    been interpreted by E. Naville (_Society of Biblical
    Archæology_, vol. vii. pp. 119-138). The monarchy of the Incas
    was founded upon an almost identical belief.

    [58] See the account of the visit to Heliopolis of the
    conquering Ethiopian, Piankhi-Mer-Amen; we shall quote the text
    of this famous inscription in our chapter upon the Egyptian

    [59] FR. LENORMANT, _Manuel d'Histoire ancienne_, t. 1, pp.
    485-486. The most celebrated of these is the famous _Chamber of
    Ancestors_ from Karnak, which is now preserved in the
    _Bibliothèque Nationale_ at Paris.

[Illustration: FIG. 13.--Seti I. in his War-Chariot, bas-relief at
Thebes. (Champollion, pl. 297.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 14.--Rameses II. in adoration before Seti. From
Abydos (Mariette).]

The prestige which such a theory of royalty was calculated to give to
the Egyptian kings may easily be imagined. They obtained more than
respect; they were the objects of adoration, of idolatry. Brought up
from infancy in this religious veneration, to which their hereditary
qualities also inclined them, generation succeeded generation among
the Egyptians, without any attempt to rebel against the royal
authority or even to dispute it. Ancient Egypt, like its modern
descendant, was now and then the scene of military revolts. These were
generally provoked by the presence of foreign mercenaries, sometimes
by their want of discipline and licence, sometimes by the jealousy
which they inspired in the native soldiery; but never, from the time
of Menes to that of Tewfik-Pacha, has the civil population, whether of
the town or of the fields, shown any desire to obtain the slightest
guarantee for what we should call their rights and liberties. During
all those thousands of years not the faintest trace is to be
discovered of that spirit from which sprung the republican
constitutions of Greece and ancient Italy, a spirit which, in yet
later times, has led to the parliamentary governments of Christian
Europe. The Egyptian labourer or artisan never dreamt of calling in
question the orders of any one who might be master for the time.
Absolute obedience to the will of a single man--such was the constant
and instinctive national habit, and by it every movement of the social
machine, under foreign and native kings alike, was regulated.

From the construction of the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren, and the
cutting of a new canal between the two seas under Nekau, to the
Mahmoudieh canal of Mehemet-Ali and that abortive enterprise, the
barrage of the Nile, the only method thought of for obtaining the
necessary labour was compulsion.[60] An order is received by the
governor, who has it proclaimed from one village to another throughout
his province; next day the whole male population is driven, like a
troop of sheep, to the workshops. Each man carries a bag or basket
which holds his provisions for a fortnight or a month, as the case may
be; a few dry cakes, onions, garlic, and _Egyptian beans_, as the
Greeks called the species of almond which is contained in the fruit of
the lotus. Old men and children, all had to obey the summons. The more
vigorous and skilful among them dressed and put in place the blocks of
granite or limestone; the weakest were useful for the transport of the
rubbish to a distance, for carrying clay and water from the Nile to
the brickmakers, for arranging the bricks in the sun so that they
might be dried and hardened.

    [60] The beaters for the great hunts which took place in the
    Delta and the Fayoum were procured in the same fashion. These
    hunts were among the favourite pleasures of the kings and the
    great lords. See MASPERO, _Le Papyrus Mallet_, p. 58 (in
    _Recueil de Travaux_, etc. t. 1).

[Illustration: FIG. 15.--Homage to Amenophis III. (From Prisse.[61])]

    [61] The work to which we here refer is the _Histoire de l'Art
    Égyptien d'après les Monuments_, 2 vols. folio. Arthus Bertrand,
    1878. As the plates are not numbered, we can only refer to them

Under the stimulus of the rod, this multitude worked well and
obediently under the directions of the architect's foreman and of
skilled artisans who were permanently employed upon the work; they did
all that could be done by men without special education. At the end of
a certain period they were relieved by fresh levies from another
province, and all who had not succumbed to the hard and continuous
work, returned to their own places. Those who died were buried in
hasty graves dug in the sands of the desert by the natives of their
own village.

The massive grandeur of some of the Egyptian monuments is only to be
explained by this levy _en masse_ of every available pair of hands.
The kings of the ancient empire, at least, were unable to dispose of
those prisoners of war captured in myriads, in whole races, by the
Assyrian kings, and apparently employed by them in the construction of
Nineveh. Now, it is impossible that such works as the Pyramids could
have been begun and finished in the course of a single reign by free
and remunerated labour, even if it had the help of numerous slaves.
Certain arrangements in their design and the marvellously exact
execution of the more important details of the masonry, prove that
architects of great ability and skilful workmen were, indeed, employed
upon those gigantic works; but the great bulk of the task must have
required the collective effort of a whole population; of a population
devoting themselves night and day to complete the work when once
begun, like ants over their subterranean city or bees over their comb.

[Illustration: FIG. 16.--Construction of a Temple at Thebes. (From

Even supposing that history had been silent upon this subject, the
architect could easily divine, from these monuments themselves, how
they had been constructed. Cast your eyes upon the ruins of the
Athenian Acropolis; their dimensions will seem to you small in the
extreme if you compare them with the buildings of Egypt and Assyria;
on the other hand their workmanship is equally careful throughout; it
is as exact and perfect in the concealed parts of the structure as in
those which were to be visible, in the structural details as in the
ornamental painting and sculpture. By these signs you may recognize at
once, that, from its foundation to its completion, the whole work was
in the hands of artisans whom long practice had made perfect in their
trade, and that each single individual among them had made it a point
of honour to acquit himself worthily of the task entrusted to him. In
the gangs of docile labourers who succeeded each other in the
workshops of Memphis or Thebes, there was, of course, a certain
sprinkling of men who had become qualified by experience for the
special work upon which they were employed; but the great majority
were men suddenly taken from very different occupations, from the oar,
the plough, the management of cattle; who therefore could have nothing
but their unskilled labour to bestow. To such men as these a great
part of the work had perforce to be confided, in order that it might
be complete at the required time. In spite of the strictest
supervision, the almost religious care in the placing and fixing of
masonry, which might be fairly expected from the practised members of
a trade guild, could not be ensured. Hence the singular inequalities
and inconsistences which have been noticed in most of the great
Egyptian buildings; sometimes it is the foundations which are in
fault, and, by their sinking, have compromised the safety of the whole
building;[62] sometimes it is the built up columns of masonry, which,
when deprived by time of their coating of stucco, appear very poor
and mean. The infinite foresight and self-respect, the passionate love
for perfection for its own sake, which is characteristic of Greek work
at its best time, is not here to be found. But this defect was
inseparable from the system under which the Egyptian buildings were

    [62] "The foundations of the great temple at Abydos, commenced
    by Seti I. and finished by Rameses II., consist of but a single
    course of generally ill-balanced masonry. Hence the settling
    which has taken place, and the deep fissure which divides the
    building in the direction of its major axis."--MARIETTE, _Voyage
    dans la Haute-Égypte_, p. 59. The same writer speaks of Karnak
    in a similar strain: "The Pharaonic temples are built, as a
    rule, with extreme carelessness. The western pylon, for
    instance, fell because it was hollow, which made the inclination
    of the walls a source of weakness instead of
    strength."--_Itineraire_, p. 179.

[Illustration: FIG. 17.--Columns in the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak.]

[Illustration: FIGS. 18, 19.--Scribes registering the yield of the
harvest. From a tomb at Sakkarah. (Boulak, 9-1/2 inches high. Drawn by

[Illustration: FIG. 20.--Colossi of Amenophis III. (statues of Memnon)
at Thebes.]

The absolute and dreaded master whose gesture, whose single word, was
sufficient to depopulate a province and to fill quarries and
workshops with thousands of men, the sovereign who, in spite of his
mortality, was looked up to by his people as one so near akin to the
gods as to be hardly distinguishable from them, the high priest and
father of his people, the king before whom all heads were bent to the
earth; filled with his own glory and majesty the buildings which he
caused to spring, as if by magic, from the earth. His effigy was
everywhere. Seated in the form of colossal statues in front of the
temples, in bas-reliefs upon pylons, upon the walls of porticos and
pillared halls, he was represented sometimes offering homage to the
gods, sometimes leading his troops to battle or bringing them home
victorious. The supreme efforts of architect and sculptor were
directed to constructing for their prince a tomb which should excel
all others in magnificence and durability, or to immortalizing him by
a statue which should raise its head as much above its rivals as the
royal power surpassed the power and dignity of ordinary men. The art
of Egypt was, in this sense, a monarchical art; and in so being it was
the direct expression of the sentiments and ideas of the society which
had to create it from its foundations.

[Illustration: FIG. 21.--Scribe registering merchandize. Sakkarah.
(9-1/2 inches high. Drawn by Bourgoin.)]

After the king came the priests, the soldiers, and the scribes or
royal functionaries, each receiving authority directly from the king
and superintending the execution of his orders. These three groups
formed what we may call the upper class of Egyptian society. The soil
was entirely in their hands. They possessed among them the whole
valley of the Nile, with the exception of the royal domain. The
agriculturists were mere serfs attached to the soil. They cultivated,
for a payment in kind, the lands belonging to the privileged classes.
They changed masters with the lands upon which they lived, which they
were not allowed to quit without the permission of the local

Their position did not greatly differ from that of the modern fellahs,
who cultivate the Egyptian soil for the benefit of the effendis, beys,
and pachas or for that of the sovereign, who is still the greatest
landowner in the country.

[Illustration: FIG. 22.--Boatmen. Tomb of Ra-ka-pou, 5th dynasty.
(Boulak, 16 inches high. Drawn by Bourgoin.)]

The shepherds, the fishermen and boatmen of the Nile, the artisans and
shopkeepers of the cities were in a similar condition. They lived upon
their gains in the same way as the peasant upon the share of the
harvest which custom reserved for his use. As a natural consequence of
their life in a city and of the character of their occupations, small
traders and artisans enjoyed more liberty and independence, more power
of coming and going than the agriculturists, although legal rights
were the same in both cases. The burden of forced labour must have
pressed less heavily upon the latter class, and they must have had
better opportunities of escaping from it altogether.

In consequence of a mistaken interpretation of historic evidence, it
was long believed that the Egyptians had castes, like the Hindoos.
This notion has been dispelled by more careful study of their remains.
The vigorous separation of classes according to their social
functions, the enforced heredity of professions, and the prohibition
of intermarriage between the different groups, never obtained a
footing in Egypt. We often find, in Egyptian writings, two members of
a single family attached one to the civil service and the other to the
army, or the daughter of a general marrying the son of a priest. Nay,
it often happens that the offices of soldier and priest, of priest and
civil servant, or of civil servant and soldier, are united in the
person of a single individual. In families which did not belong to
these aristocratic classes there was, in all probability, more
heredity of occupation; in the ordinary course the paternal employment
fixed that of the children, but yet there was nothing approaching to
an absolute rule. The various trades were formed into corporations or
guilds, rather than castes in the strict sense of the word. From this
it resulted that great natural talents, fortunate circumstances, or
the favour of the sovereign could raise a man of the lowest class up
to the highest dignities of the state. In the latter days of the
monarchy we have an example of this in the case of Amasis, who, born
among the dregs of the population, finally raised himself to the
throne.[63] Such events were of frequent occurrence in all those
oriental monarchies where the will of the sovereign was the supreme
and undisputed law. Even in our own days, similar things have taken
place in Turkey and Persia to the surprise of none but Europeans. When
the master of all is placed so high above his fellow men that his
subjects seem mere human dust about his feet, his caprice is quite
sufficient to raise the most insignificant of its atoms to a level
with the most illustrious.

    [63] HERODOTUS, ii. 172. For an earlier epoch, see the history
    of a certain Ahmes, son of Abouna, as it is narrated upon his
    sepulchral inscription, which dates from the reign of Amosis,
    the founder of the eighteenth dynasty (DE ROUGÉ, _Mémoire sur
    l'Inscription d'Ahmes, Chef des Nautoniers_, 4to. 1851, and
    Brugsch, _Histoire d'Égypte_, t. i. p. 80). Starting as a
    private soldier for the war against the Shepherds, undertaken
    for the re-conquest of Avaris, he was noticed by the king for
    his frequent acts of gallantry, and promoted until he finally
    became something in the nature of high admiral.

[Illustration: FIG. 23.--Cattle Drovers. From the tomb of Ra-ka-pou,
Sakkarah, 5th dynasty. (Boulak. Drawn by Bourgoin.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 24.--Bakers. From a tomb. (Boulak, 9-1/2 inches
high. Bourgoin.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 25.--Women at a loom. From a tomb at Beni-Hassan.
(Champollion, 381 bis)]

[Illustration: FIG. 26.--Netting birds. From a tomb. (Boulak. Drawn by

The priests of the highest rank, the generals and officers of the army
and the great civil functionaries, while they made no effort to rival
the splendour of the royal creations, consecrated steles, images of
the deity, and chapels, at their own expense. It was upon their tombs,
however, that most of their care was lavished. These tombs furnish
numberless themes of great interest to the historian. The tombs of the
Memphite kings have not preserved for us anything that can fairly be
called sculpture. All that we know of the style and methods of that
art in those early times we owe to the burial-places which the members
of the governing classes were in the habit of preparing during their
lifetime in the necropolis of Memphis. We may say the same of the
early centuries of the Middle Empire. The Egypt of the great kings
belonging to the twelfth dynasty has been preserved for us upon the
tombs of Ameni and Num-Hotep, the governors of the _nomes_ in which
they were buried. It is to the burial chambers at Gizeh, at Sakkarah,
at Meidoum, and at Beni-Hassan that we must go for complete types of
sepulchral architecture at those epochs; to the statues in the
recesses of their massive walls and to the bas-reliefs in their narrow
chambers, we must turn for those features of early Egyptian
civilization which remained for many centuries without material
change; by these monuments we are enabled to build up piece by piece a
trustworthy representation of the Egyptian people both in their
labours and in their pleasures. Finally it is from these tombs of
private individuals that the best works of Egyptian artists have been
obtained, the works in which they approached most nearly to the ideal
which they pursued for so many centuries.

[Illustration: FIG. 27.--Shepherds in the fields. From a tomb at
Sakkarah. (Boulak. 8-3/4 inches high. Drawn by Bourgoin.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 28.--Winnowing corn. From a tomb at Sakkarah.
(Boulak. Drawn by Bourgoin.)]

Thanks to these monuments erected at the expense of the great lords
and rich burghers of Egypt, thanks also to the climate and to the
desert sand which has preserved them without material injury, the art
of Egypt appears to us more comprehensive and varied than that of any
other nation of which we shall have to treat; than that of Assyria for
instance, which represents little but scenes of battle and conquest. A
faithful mirror of Egyptian society, it has preserved for us an
exhaustive record of the never-ceasing activity which created and
preserved the wealth of the country; it has not even neglected the
games and various pleasures in which the laborious Egyptian sought for
his well earned repose. The king indeed, preserved his first place by
the importance of the religious buildings which he raised, by the size
of his tomb, and by the number and dimensions of the reproductions of
his features; reproductions which show him in the various aspects
demanded by the complex nature of the civilization over which he
presided. But in the large number of isolated figures, groups, and
scenes which have come down to us, we have illustrations of all
classes that helped in the work of national development, from the
ploughman with his ox, to the scribe crouching, cross-legged, upon
his mat, from the shepherd with his flock or the hunter pushing his
shallop through the brakes of papyrus, to the directors of the great
public works and the princes of the blood who governed conquered
provinces or guarded the frontiers of the country at the head of ever
faithful armies.

[Illustration: Height 12-3/4 inches.

Height 6-1/3 inches.

FIG. 29.--Herdsman. From a tomb at Sakkarah, 5th dynasty. (Boulak.)]

The art of Egypt resembled that of Greece in being a complete and
catholic art, seeing everything and taking an interest in everything.
It was sensitive to military glory, and at the same time it did not
scorn to portray the peaceful life of the fields. It set itself with
all sincerity to interpret the monarchical sentiment in its most
enthusiastic and exaggerated form, but while it placed kings and
princes above and almost apart from humanity, it did not forget the
"humble and meek," on the contrary, it frankly depicted them in their
professional attitudes, with all those ineffaceable characteristics,
both of face and figure which the practice of some special trade so
certainly imparts. Looked at from this point of view Egyptian art was
popular, it might even be called democratic, but that such a phrase
would sound curious when used in connection with the most absolute
monarchy which the world has ever seen.

This absolute power, however, does not seem, speaking generally, to
have been put in force in a hard or oppressive manner either by the
king himself or by his agents. M. Maspero and others who, like him,
live in intimate communion with the ancient Egyptians, declare that
they were by no means unhappy. They tell us that the confidences
whispered to them in the pictured tomb-houses of Sakkarah and Memphis
complain of no misery, from the time of Mena to that of Psemethek,
except during a few violent reigns and a few moments of national
crisis. The country suffered only on those comparatively rare
occasions when the sceptre passed into the hands of an incapable
master or into those of some insatiable warrior who thought only of
satisfying his own ambition, and sacrificed to the day the resources
of the future. Egypt, with her river, her teeming soil and her
splendid climate, found life easy as long as she enjoyed an easy and
capable administration. She then gave to her princes almost without an
effort all they could desire or demand.

It was one of the fundamental principles of Egyptian morality that
those who were powerful should treat the poor and feeble with kindness
and consideration. Their sepulchral inscriptions tell us that their
kings and princes of the blood, their feudal lords and functionaries
of every grade, made it a point of honour to observe this rule. They
were not content with strict justice, they practised a bountiful
charity which reminds us of that which is the chief beauty of the
Christian's morality. The "Book of the Dead"--that passport for
Egyptians into the other world which is found upon every mummy--gives
us the most simple, and at the same time the most complete description
of this virtue. "I have given bread to the hungry, I have given water
to the thirsty, I have clothed the naked ... I have not calumniated
the slave in the ears of his master." The lengthy panegyrics of which
some epitaphs consist, are, in reality no more than amplifications of
this theme. "As for me, I have been the staff of the old man, the
nurse of the infant, the help of the distressed, a warm shelter for
all who were cold in the Thebaïd, the bread and sustenance of the
down-trodden, of whom there is no lack in Middle Egypt, and their
protector against the barbarians."[64] The prince Entef relates that
he has "arrested the arm of the violent, used brute force to those who
used brute force, showed hauteur to the haughty, and lowered the
shoulders of those who raised them up," that he himself on the other
hand, "was a man in a thousand, wise, learned, and of a sound and
truthful judgment, knowing the fool from the wise man, paying
attention to the skilful and turning his back upon the ignorant, ...
the father of the miserable and the mother of the motherless, the
terror of the cruel, the protector of the disinherited, the defender
of those whose goods were coveted by men stronger than themselves, the
husband of the widow, the asylum of the orphan."[65]

    [64] Louvre, c. i. Cf. MASPERO, _un Gouverneur de Thèbes au
    temps de la douzième dynastie_.

    [65] Quoted by MASPERO, _Conférence sur l'Histoire des Âmes dans
    l'Égypte ancienne, d'après les Monuments du Musée du Louvre_
    (_Association scientifique de France, Bulletin hebdomadaire_,
    No. 594; _23 Mars, 1879_).

[Illustration: FIG. 30.--From the tomb of Menofre, at Sakkarah.
(Champollion, pl. 408.)]

Amoni, hereditary prince of the nome of Meh, talks in the same
fashion. "I have caused sorrow to no youth under age, I have despoiled
no widow, nor have I repelled any labourer, I have imprisoned no
shepherd, I have never taken for the labour gangs the serfs of him who
had but five, there have been no paupers, nor has any man or woman
starved in my time; for, although there have been years of scarcity, I
have caused all the tillable land in Meh to be tilled, from the
northern frontier to that of the south, and have made such
arrangements and such provision for the people that there has been no
famine among them; I have given to the widow and to the married woman
alike, and I have never made any distinction between the great and the
small in my gifts."[66]

    [66] Translated by MASPERO (_la Grande Inscription de
    Beni-Hassan_ in the _Recueil de Travaux relatifs à la Philologie
    et à l'Archéologie égyptienne et assyrienne_ (t. i. pp.

Doubtless these laudatory self-descriptions may be exaggerated in some
respects; hyperbole has ever been a favourite figure with the
composers of epitaphs, and those of Egypt formed no exception to the
rule. As M. Maspero remarks in connection with this question, "The man
as he is, often differs very greatly from the man as he thinks he is."
But we may safely say that the Egyptian realized some portion of the
ideal which he set before himself. If only to obtain admiration and
esteem, he would practice, to a certain extent, the virtues of which
he boasted. Many signs combine to tell us that the Egyptians of all
classes possessed a large fund of tenderness and good-will. The master
was often both clement and charitable; the peasant, the servant, and
the slave, were patient and cheerful, and that in spite of the fatigue
of labours which could never enrich them. In a country so favoured by
nature, men had so few wants that they had no experience of all that
is implied by that doleful word poverty, with us. The pure skies and
brilliant sunshine, the deep draughts of Nile water, and the moments
of repose under the shadows of the sycamores, the freshness of the
evening bath, the starry night with its reinvigorating breezes, were
all enjoyments which the poorest could share.

We need feel no surprise therefore at the vivacity with which one of
the most learned of the historians of Egypt, Brugsch-Bey, protests
against the common misconception of the Egyptians "as a race grave,
serious, morose, exclusive, religious, thinking much of the next
world, and little of this; living, in a word, like the Trappists of
former days. Are we to believe," he cries, "that this majestic river
and the fertile soil through which it flows, this azure sky with its
unclouded sun, produced a nation of living mummies, a race of solemn
philosophers who looked upon life in this world as a burden to be
shuffled off as quickly as possible? Travel over Egypt; examine the
scenes painted and sculptured upon the walls of sepulchral chambers;
read the inscriptions carved upon stone or traced in ink upon the
rolls of papyrus, and you will find yourself compelled to modify the
false notions you have imbibed as to the Egyptian philosophers.
Nothing could be more cheerful, more amusing or more frank, than the
social life of this pleasure-loving people. Far from wishing to die,
they prayed to the gods for a long life and a happy old age; they
prayed that, 'if possible, they might live to the perfect age of one
hundred and ten.' They were addicted to all kinds of pleasures. They
drank, they sang, they danced, they were fond of excursions into the
country, where the sports of hunting and fishing were specially
reserved for the upper class. As a natural effect of this desire for
enjoyment, gay conversation and pleasantry which was sometimes rather
free, jokes and what we should call chaff, were much in vogue: even
their tombs were not sacred from their desire for a jest."[67]

    [67] BRUGSCH-BEY, _Histoire d'Égypte_, pp. 14, 15.

The worst government, the sternest oppression, could never extinguish
this natural gaiety; it was too intimately connected with the climate
and the natural conditions of the country, conditions which had never
changed since the days of Menes. Never were the Egyptians more roughly
treated than under Mehemet Ali and the late viceroy; their condition
was compared, with justice, to that of the negroes in Carolina and
Virginia, who, before the American civil war, laboured under the whips
of their drivers, and enjoyed no more of the fruits of their own
labour than what was barely sufficient to keep life in their bodies.
Torn from their homes and kept by force in the public works, the
fellahs died in thousands; those who remained in the fields had to pay
the taxes one or two years in advance; they were never out of debt,
nominally, to the public treasury, and the rattan of the collector
extorted from them such savings as they might make during years of
plenty, up to the last coin. But still laughter did not cease in
Egypt! Look, for instance, at the children in the streets of Cairo who
let out mounts to sight-seeing Europeans. Let the tourist trot or
gallop as he will, when he stops he finds his donkey-boy by his side,
full of spirits and good humour; and yet perhaps while running behind
his "fare" he has been making his midday meal upon a few grains of
maize tied up in a corner of his shirt.

[Illustration: FIG. 31.--Water Tournament, from a tomb at
Khoum-el-Ahmar. (From Prisse.)]

In 1862 I returned from Asia Minor in company with M. Edmond
Guillaume, the architect, and M. Jules Delbet, the doctor, of our
expedition to Ancyra. We took the longest way home, by Syria and
Egypt. At Cairo, Mariette, after having shown us the museum at Boulak,
wished to introduce us to his own "Serapeum." He took us for a night
to his house in the desert, and showed us the galleries of the tomb of
Apis by torchlight. We passed the next afternoon in inspecting those
excavations in the necropolis of Sakkarah which have led to the
recovery of so many wonders of Egyptian art. The works were carried on
by the labour of four hundred children and youths, summoned by the
_corvée_ for fifteen days at a time from some district, I forget
which, of Middle Egypt. At sunset these young labourers quitted their
work and seated themselves in groups, according to their native
villages, upon the still warm sand. Each drew from a little sack,
containing his provision for two or three weeks, a dry cake; those
whose parents were comfortably off had also, perhaps, a leek or a raw
onion. But even for such _gourmands_ as those, the repast was not a
long one. Supper over, they chattered for a time, and then went to
rest; the bigger and stronger among them took possession of some
abandoned caves, the others stretched themselves upon the bare earth;
but, before going to sleep they sang; they formed themselves into two
choirs who alternated and answered one another, and this they kept up
to an advanced hour of the night.

[Illustration: FIG. 32.--Mariette's House.]

I shall never forget the charm of that night in the desert, nor the
weird aspect of the moonlight upon the sea of sand. Were it not that
no star was reflected upon its surface, and that no ray scintillated
as it does even on the calmest sea, we might have thought ourselves in
mid ocean. Sleep came to me reluctantly. While I listened to the
alternate rise and fall of the chorus outside, I reflected upon how
little those children required; upon the slender wants of their
fathers and mothers, who, like them, sink into their nightly sleep
with a song upon their lips. I compared this easy happiness with the
restless and complicated existence which we should find, at the end
of a few days, in the ambitious cities of the West, and I regretted
that our year of travel, our twelve months of unrestrained life in the
desert or the forest, had come to an end.

§ 5.--_The Egyptian Religion and its Influence upon the Plastic Arts._

We have still to notice the profoundly religious character of Egyptian
art. "The first thing that excites our surprise, when we examine the
reproductions of Egyptian monuments which have been published in our
day, is the extraordinary number of scenes of sacrifice and worship
which have come down to us. In the collection of plates which we owe
to contemporary archæologists, we can hardly find one which does not
contain the figure of some deity, receiving with impassive countenance
the prayers or offerings of a prostrate king or priest. One would say
that a country with so many sacred pictures and sculptures, must have
been inhabited by gods, and by just enough men for the service of
their temples.[68] The Egyptians were a devout people. Either by
natural tendency or by force of education, they saw God pervading the
whole of their universe; they lived in Him and for Him. Their
imaginations were full of His greatness, their words of His praise,
and their literature was in great part inspired by gratitude for the
benefits which He showered upon them. Most of their manuscripts which
have come down to us treat of religious matters, and even in those
which are ostensibly concerned only with profane subjects,
mythological names and allusions occur on every page, almost at every

    [68] The saying of one of the characters of Petronius might be
    applied to Egypt: "This country is so thickly peopled with
    divinities that it is easier to find a god than a man." The
    place held by religious observances in the daily life of Egypt
    is clearly indicated by HERODOTUS (ii. 37): "The Egyptians," he
    says, "are very religious; they surpass all other nations in the
    adoration with which they regard their deities."

    [69] MASPERO, _Histoire ancienne_, pp. 26, 27.

An examination into the primitive religious beliefs of the Egyptians
is full of difficulty. In discovering new papyri, in determining the
signification of signs which have been puzzling egyptologists, the
inquirer will undoubtedly do good work, and will establish facts which
are sure not to lack interest and even importance; but even when
documents abound and when every separate word they contain is
understood, even then it is very difficult to penetrate to the root of
their meaning. A glimpse will be caught of it, I admit, by one of
those efforts of inductive divination which distinguish modern
research; but even then it will remain to explain the primitive and
only half-understood notions of five or six thousand years ago in the
philosophical vocabularies of to-day. It is here that the most
difficult and irksome part of the task begins. We who represent the
old age, or, perhaps, the prime, of humanity, think of these matters
and speak of them as abstractions, while the Egyptians, who were
children compared to us, thought of them under concrete forms. Their
very ideals were material, more or less vague and refined perhaps, but
still material. Their only conception of a deity was of a figure
larger, more vigorous and more beautiful than mortals; the powers and
attributes with which it was endowed were all physical. If we attempt
to express their conceptions in abstract terms, we falsify their
meaning. We cannot avoid altering it to a certain extent, for exact
equivalents are not to be found, and, in spite of all precautions, we
give to the confused and childish ideas of ancient religion, a
precision which is entirely modern.

[Illustration: FIG. 33.--Amenhotep or Amenophis III. presented by Phré
to Amen-Ra; Thebes. (Champollion, pl. 344.)]

If, under these reserves, we study the Egyptian theology in its most
learned and refined form--namely, that which it attained during the
eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties--we shall dimly perceive that it
implies a belief in the unity of the First Cause of all life. But this
belief is obscured behind the numerous gods who are, in fact,
emanations from its substance and manifestations of its indefatigable
activity. It is in the person of these gods that the divine essence
takes form. Each of them has his own name, his own figure, and his own
special share in the management of the universe; each of them presides
over the production of some particular order of phenomena and insures
their regularity. These gods are related to each other as fathers,
mothers, and sons. They thus form a vast hierarchy of beings, superior
to man, and each enjoying a dignity corresponding to his rank in the
series. There is, so to speak, most of divinity in those who are
nearest to the "one God in heaven or earth who was not begotten."
These deities are divided into groups of three, each group
constituting a family, like those of earth, consisting of father,
mother, and son. Thus from triad to triad, the concealed god develops
his sovereign powers to all eternity, or, to use an expression dear
to the religious schools of ancient Egypt, "he creates his own
members, which are themselves gods."[70]

    [70] This formula frequently occurs in the texts. To cite but
    one occasion, we find upon a Theban invocation to Amen,
    translated by P. PIERRET (_Recueil de Travaux relatifs à la
    Philologie et à l'Archéologie égyptienne et assyrienne_, t. i.
    p. 70), at the third line of the inscription: "Sculptor, thou
    modelest thine own members; thou begettest them, not having
    thyself been begotten."

How should the science of comparative religion class this form of
faith? Should it be called polytheism or pantheism? The answer is,
perhaps, not of great importance, and this is hardly the place for its
discussion. It is certain that, practically, the Egyptians were
polytheists. The Egyptian priests, indeed, had, by dint of long
reflection, arrived at the comprehension, or at least at the
contemplation, of that First Cause which had started the river of
life--that inexhaustible stream of which the Nile with its fertilising
waves was the concrete image--in its long journey across time and
space. But the devotion of the people themselves never succeeded in
mounting above the minor divinities, above those intermediaries in
whom the divine principle and attributes became personified and put on
the tangibility of body necessary to make them intelligible to
childish understandings. So, too, was it with artists, and for still
more powerful reasons; as by forms only could they express the ideas
which they had conceived. Even in those religions which are most
clearly and openly monotheistic and spiritual, such as Christianity,
art has done something of the same kind. Aided in secret by one of the
most powerful instincts of the human soul, it has succeeded, in spite
of all resistance and protestation, in giving plastic expression to
those parts of our belief which seem least fitted for such treatment;
and it has caused those methods of expression to be so accepted by us
that we see nothing unnatural in the representation under the features
of an old man, of the first Person of the Trinity,--of that Jehovah
who, in the Old Testament, proscribed all graven images with such
impartial rigour; who, in the Evangel, described Himself as "the Truth
and the Life."

In Egypt, both sculptors and painters could multiply their images to
infinity without coming into collision with dogma, without provoking
the regrets or censures of its most severe interpreters. Doctrine did
not condemn these personifications, even when it had been refined and
elaborated by the speculative theologians of Thebes and Heliopolis.
In the interior of the temples, there was a small class of mystics who
took pleasure in contemplating "the 'One' who exists by his own
essential power, the only being who substantially exists." Even then
men tried, as they have often done since, to define the undefinable,
to grasp the incomprehensible, to perceive the supreme "I AM" through
the shifting and transparent veil of natural phenomena. But those
refined metaphysics never touched and influenced the crowd, and never
will. The deity, in order to be perceived by them and to touch their
feelings, must have his unity broken; he must, if the expression be
admissible, be cut up into morsels for them.

By a process of "abstraction" which is as old as religion itself, the
human intelligence is led to consider separately each of the qualities
of existence, each of the forces which it perceives to be at work
either within man himself or in the exterior world. At first it thinks
those forces and qualities are distributed impartially to all
creation. It confounds existence with life. Hence the reign of
_fetishism_, when man believes, as young children do, that thought,
passion, and volition like his own, are to be found in everything he
meets. His own image seems to him reflected as in a mirror with a
thousand converging facets, and he is unable to distinguish the real
condition of things outside it.

Certain celestial and terrestrial bodies make a particularly strong
impression upon his mind by their size, their beauty, by their evil or
beneficial effects upon himself. They fill him with more than the
average gratitude, admiration, or terror. Driven by the illusion which
possesses him, he places the origin of those qualities which seem to
him the highest and most important, in the bodies which have made so
deep an impression upon his senses; to them he attributes the friendly
or hostile influences which alternately excite his desire and his
fear. According to circumstances a fetish might be a mountain, a rock
or a river, a plant or an animal. It might be those heavenly bodies
which exercised much more influence over the life of primitive man
than they do over us; it might be the moon and stars, which tempered
the darkness of the night and diminished its terrors; it might be the
cloud, from whose bosom came rain and thunder; above all, it might be
the sun which returned every morning to light and warm the world.
Differences of climate and race had their modifying effect, but
everywhere one common characteristic is to be found. It was always to
some material and visible object that the human intellect referred
those forces and qualities which it drew from its own consciousness;
forces which, when thus united with something tangible, constituted
the first types of those divine beings whom mankind have so long
adored, to whom they have turned for ages in their hope and fear.

As the years passed away, man advanced beyond his primitive
conceptions. He did not entirely renounce them--we may indeed see
reminiscences of them all around us--but he superimposed others upon
them which were more complex. His powers of observation, still
imperfect though they were, began to insinuate into his mind a
disbelief in the activity of inanimate matter, and those objects which
were nearest to him, which he could touch with his hand, were the
first victims of his disenchantment. Thus began a long course of
intellectual development, the result of which we know, although the
various stages of its progress are difficult to follow at this
distance of time. It appears certain, however, that star worship
formed the transition between _fetishism_ and _polytheism_. Men no
longer attributed vital forces and pre-eminent qualities generally to
bodies with which they themselves were in immediate contact, to stones
and trees; but they found no difficulty in continuing to assign them
to those great luminaries whose distance and beauty placed them, so to
speak outside the material world. As they gradually deprived inanimate
matter of the properties with which they had once gifted it, they
sought for new objects to which they might attach those properties.
These they found in the stars which shone in the firmament century
after century, and knew neither old age nor death; and especially in
the most brilliant, the most beneficent, and the most necessary of
them all, in that sun whose coming they awaited every morning with an
impatience which must once have been mixed with a certain amount of

The attributes which awakened intelligence had taken away from the
inanimate objects of the world could not be left floating in space.
They became gradually and imperceptibly grouped in men's minds around
the great luminary of day, and a bond of union was found for the
different members of the group by endowing the sun with a personality
modelled upon that of man. This operation was favoured by the
constitution of contemporary language, by its idioms made up entirely
of those images and metaphors which, by their frank audacity, surprise
and charm us in the works of the early poets. It commenced with the
first awakening of thought, when man endowed all visible nature with
the bounding life which he felt in his own veins. No effort of
intelligence was required for its commencement or for its prosecution.
The sun became a young hero advancing, full of pride and vigour, upon
the path prepared for him by Aurora; a hero who pursued his daily path
in spite of all obstacle or hindrance, who, when evening came, went to
his rest amid all the glories of an eastern sunset, and amid the
confidence of all that after his hours of sleep he would take up his
eternal task with renewed vigour. He was an invincible warrior. He was
sometimes an angry master, whose glance killed and devoured. He was
above all the untiring benefactor of mankind, the nurse and father of
all life. Whether as Indra or as Amen-Ra, it was the same cry that
went up to him from Egypt and Hindostan; the prayers which we find in
the Vedas and in the papyri, breathe the same sentiments and were
addressed to the same god.[71]

    [71] See the fine hymns quoted and translated by M. Maspero in
    his _Histoire ancienne_, pp. 30-37.

This solar god and the divinities who resemble him, form the
transition from the simple fetish to complete deities, to those gods
who played such an important part in the Egyptian religion, and
attained to their highest and most complete development in the
Hellenic mythology. In some respects, the luminous globe of the sun
with its compulsory course, belonged to the same category as the
material objects which received the first worship of humanity. But its
brilliance, its tranquil and majestic movement, and the distance which
conceals its real substance from the eye of man, allowed his
imagination to endow it with the purest and noblest characteristics
which the finest examples of humanity could show; while the phenomena
which depend upon its action are so numerous that there was no
hesitation in assigning to it qualities and energies of the most
various kinds.

This type when once established was used for the creation of other
deities, which were all, so to speak, cast in the same mould. As the
intellect became more capable of abstraction and analysis, the
personality and moral individuality of these gods gradually threw off
its astral or physical characteristics, although it never lost all
trace of their existence. It resulted that, both in Egypt and in
Greece, there were deities who were mere entities, the simple
embodiment of some power, some quality, or some virtue. It requires
all the subtle _finesse_ of modern criticism to seek out and
distinguish the obscure roots which attach these divinities to the
naturalistic beliefs of earlier ages. Sometimes absolute certainty is
not to be attained, but we may safely say that a race is polytheistic
when we find these abstract deities among their gods, such deities as
the Ptah, Amen, and Osiris of the Egyptians, and the Apollo and Athenè
of the Greeks.[72]

    [72] Several of the bronzes which we reproduce may belong to the
    Ptolemaic epoch; but they are repetitions of types and
    attributes which had been fixed for many centuries by tradition.
    It is in this capacity chiefly that we reproduce them, as
    examples of those forms which seemed to the Egyptian imagination
    to offer the most satisfactory emblems of their gods.

[Illustration: FIG. 34.--Amen or Ammon, from a bronze in the Louvre.
Height 22·04 inches.]

We may, then, define polytheism as the partition of the highest
attributes of life between a limited number of agents. The imagination
of man could not give these agents life without at the same time
endowing them with essential natural characteristics and with the
human form, but, nevertheless, it wished to regard them as stronger,
more beautiful and less ephemeral than man. The system had said its
last word and was complete, when it had succeeded in embodying in some
divine personality each of those forces whose combined energy produces
movement in the world or guarantees its duration.

When religious evolution follows its normal course, the work of
reflection goes on, and in course of time makes new discoveries. It
refers, by efforts of conjecture, all phenomena to a certain number of
causes, which it calls gods. It next perceives that these causes, or
gods, are of unequal importance, and so it constitutes them into a
hierarchy. Still later it begins to comprehend that many of these
causes are but different names for one thing, that they form but one
force, the application of a single law. Thus by reduction and
simplification, by logic and analysis, is it carried on to recognize
and proclaim the unity of all cause. And thus monotheism succeeds to

[Illustration: FIG. 35.--Ptah, from a bronze in the Louvre. Actual

In Egypt, religious speculation arrived on the threshold of this
doctrine. Its depths were dimly perceived, and it was even taught by
the select class of priests who were the philosophers of those days;
but the monotheistic conception never penetrated into the minds of the
great mass of the people.[73] Moreover, by the very method in which
Egyptian mythology described it, it was easily adapted to the national
polytheism, or even to fetish worship. The theory of emanations
reconciled everything. The different gods were but the different
qualities of the eternal substance, the various manifestations of one
creative force. These qualities and energies were revealed by being
imported into the world of form. They took finite shape and were made
comprehensible to the intellect of man by their mysterious birth and
generation. It was necessary, if the existence of the gods were to be
brought home to mankind, that each of them should have a form and a
domicile. Imagination therefore did well in commencing to distinguish
and define the gods; artists were piously occupied when they pursued
the same course. They gave precision of contour to the forms roughly
sketched, and by the established definition which they gave to each
divine figure, we might almost say that they created the gods.

    [73] In his work entitled _Des deux Yeux du Disque solaire_, M.
    GRÉBAUT seems to have very clearly indicated how far we are
    justified in saying that Egyptian religious speculation at times
    approached monotheism (_Recueil de Travaux, etc._, t. i. p.

[Illustration: FIG. 36.--Osiris, from a bronze in the Louvre. Height
22·8 inches.]

Their task was, in one sense, more difficult than that of the Greek
artists. When newly born Greek art first began to make representations
of Greek deities, the work of intellectual analysis and abstraction
had already come to a state of maturity which it never reached in
Egypt. The divinities were fewer in number and consequently more fixed
and decided in their individual characteristics. The Egyptian
polytheism was always more mixed, more strongly tinged with fetishism
than that of Greece. Even in those centuries in which the ideas of the
Egyptian people were most elevated and refined, the three successive
stages, which are always found in the development of religious life,
co-existed in the mind of the nation. A few more or less isolated
thinkers were already seeking to formulate monotheism. The _élite_ of
the nation--the king, the priest, and the military class--were adoring
Amen and Ptah, Khons or Khonsu, Mouth, Osiris and Horus, Sekhet, Isis,
Nephtis and many other divinities; all more or less abstract in their
nature, and presiding over special phenomena. As for the lower orders
of the people, they knew the names of these deities and associated
themselves with the great public honours which were paid to them; but
their homage and their faith were more heartily rendered to such
concrete and visible gods as the sacred animals, as the bulls Apis and
Mnevis, the goat of Mendes, the ibis, the hawk, &c. None of the
peculiarities of Egyptian civilization struck Greek travellers with
more amazement than this semiworship of animals.[74]

    [74] HERODOTUS, ii. 75-86.

[Illustration: FIG. 37.--The goddess Bast. (From a bronze in the
Louvre. Actual Size.)]

Later theology has succeeded in giving more or less subtle and
specious explanations of these forms of worship. Each of these animals
has been assigned, as symbol or attribute, to one of the greater
deities. As for ourselves we have no doubt that these objects of
popular devotion were no more than ancient fetishes. In the long
prehistoric centuries, while the Egyptian race was occupied in making
good its possession of the Nile valley and bringing it into
cultivation, imagination deified these animals, some for the services
which they rendered, others for the terror which they inspired; and it
was the same with certain vegetables.

We find traces of this phenomenon, which at first seems so
inexplicable, among the other races of antiquity, but it is nowhere
else so marked as it is in Egypt. When Egypt, after being for three
centuries subject to the influence and supremacy of the Greek genius,
had lost all but the shadow of its former independence and national
life; when all the energy and intellectual activity which remained to
it was concentrated at the Greco-Syrian rather than Egyptian
Alexandria, the ancient religion of the race lost all its highest
branches.[75] The aspirations towards monotheism took a form that was
either philosophical and Platonic or Christian; and as for the
cultivated spirits who wished to continue the personification of the
eternal forces of the world and of the laws which govern them, these
laws and forces presented themselves to their minds in the forms which
had been figured and described by the sculptors, painters, and writers
of Greece. They accepted, without hesitation or dispute, the numbers
and physical characteristics of the divine types of Greece. From end
to end of the habitable earth, as the Greeks boasted, the gods of the
Hellenic pantheon absorbed and assimilated all those of other
nationalities; within the boundaries of the Roman Empire, at least,
its polytheism became a kind of universal religion for civilized
humanity, and was adopted by nations of the most diverse origin and
language. The lower classes alone, who read neither Homer nor Hesiod
and were unable to admire the statues of the Greek sculptors, were
kept free from the powerful and softening influence of poetry and art.
They guarded with obstinacy the ancient foundations of their early
faith, and in the void left by the disappearance of the national gods,
their primitive beliefs seem to have put on a new life and to have
enjoyed a restored _prestige_. Thus we may see, in forest clearings,
the ancient but still vigorous stumps of great trees which have been
felled send out fresh shoots to renew their youth.

    [75] We do not mean to say that the higher qualities of the
    Egyptian religion were then altogether lost. In Roman Egypt the
    fetish superstitions were no doubt predominant, but still it had
    not lost all that theological erudition which it had accumulated
    by its own intellectual energy. In an inscription cut in the
    time of Philip the Arab, we find an antique hymn transcribed in
    hieroglyphs upon the wall of a temple. We find abstract and
    speculative ideas in all those Egyptian books which have come
    down to us, in a form which betrays the last two centuries of
    the Empire. Alexandria had its Egyptian Serapeum by the side of
    its Greek one. Monuments are to be found there which are
    Egyptian in every particular. Gnosticism was particularly
    successful in Egypt, which was predestined to accept it by the
    whole of its past. Certain doctrines of Plotinus are thus best
    explained. More than one purely Egyptian notion may be found
    interpreted in the works of Alexandrian philosophers and in the
    phraseology of Greek philosophy. The principal sanctuaries did
    not allow their rites and ceremonies to fall into disuse.
    Although Thebes was nothing but a heap of ruins, a dead city
    visited for its relics of the past, the worship of Vulcan, that
    is of Ptah, at Memphis, was carried on up to the establishment
    of Christianity. That of Isis, at Philæ, lasted until the time
    of Justinian. Diocletian negotiated a treaty with the Blemmyes,
    those people of Nubia who were at one time such redoubtable
    soldiers, which guaranteed to them the free use of that temple.
    It was not converted into a church until after the destruction
    of the Blemmyes by Silco and the Christian kings of Ethiopia.

    The old religion and theology of the Egyptians did not expire in
    a single day. It was no more killed by the Roman conquest than
    it was by that of the Ptolemies. But although its rites did not
    cease, and some of its elaborate doctrines still continued to be
    transmitted, its vitality had come to an end. It exercised some
    remains of influence only on condition of being melted down and
    re-modelled in the crucible of Greek philosophy. A little
    _coterie_ of thinkers set themselves to complete this
    transfusion, but the great mass of the people returned to simple
    practices which had been sanctified by thousands of years, and
    formed nearly the whole of their religion.

This persistence, this apparent recrudescence of fetishism made itself
felt in Egypt alone. It amazed and scandalized both pagans and
Christians during the early centuries of Christianity. They mocked at
a people who "hardly dared to bite a leek or an onion; who adored
divinities which grew in their own gardens,"[76] and a god which was
nothing but a "beast wallowing on a purple carpet."[77] Guided by a
more critical knowledge of the past, we are now better able to
understand the origin of these beliefs and the secret of their long
duration. We are enabled to account for them by that inexperience
which falsifies all the judgments of infancy, in the race as well as
in the individual; we see that they are the exaggeration of a natural
sentiment, which becomes honourable and worthy of our sympathy when it
is addressed to the useful and laborious helpers of man, to domestic
animals, for instance, such as the cow and the draught ox.

    [76] Porrum et cæpe nefas violare et frangere morsu.
         O Sanctas gentes, quibus hæc nascuntur in hortis
         Numina!--JUVENAL, xv. 9-11.

    [77] CLEMENS ALEXANDRINUS, quoted by Maspero, _Histoire
    ancienne_, p. 46.

It would be interesting to know why these beliefs were so curiously
tenacious of life in Egypt; perhaps the reason is to be found in the
prodigious antiquity of Egyptian civilization. That civilization was
the oldest which the world has seen, the least remote from the day of
man's first appearance upon the earth. It may therefore be supposed to
have received more deeply, and maintained more obstinately, those
impressions which characterize the infancy of men as well as of
mankind. Add to this, that other races in their efforts to emerge from
barbarism, were aided and incited by the example of races which had
preceded them on the same road. The inhabitants of the Nile Valley, on
the other hand, were alone in the world for many centuries; they had
to depend entirely upon their own internal forces for the
accomplishment of their emancipation; it is, therefore, hardly
surprising that they should have remained longer than their successors
in that fetish worship which we have asserted to be the first stage of
religious development.[78]

    [78] This was perceived by the President de Brosses, a _savant_
    with few advantages but a bold and inquiring spirit, to whom the
    language is indebted for the use of the term _fetishism_ as a
    name for a definite state of religious conception. We can still
    read with interest the book which he published anonymously in
    1760, under the title: _Du Culte des Dieux fétiches; ou,
    Parallèle de l'Ancienne Religion de l'Égypte avec la Religion
    actuelle de Nigritie_ (12mo). The study of the fetish elements
    of the Egyptian religion has been resumed lately with competent
    knowledge and talent by a German egyptologist, Herr Pietschmann,
    in an essay which appeared in 1878 in the _Zeitschrift für
    Ethnologie_, which is published in Berlin under the direction of
    M. Virchow. It is called _Der Ægyptische Fetischdienst und
    Götterglaube--Prolegomena zur Ægyptischen Mythologie_ (28 pp.
    8vo). A great many judicious observations and curious facts are
    to be found in it; the realistic and materialistic character of
    the Egyptian conceptions are very well grasped; it is perhaps to
    be regretted that the author has not endeavoured to make the
    creeds to which he gives this name of _fétichisme_ somewhat
    clearer, and to show by what workings of the mind they were
    adopted and abandoned. With regard to the Egyptian religion, we
    shall find treated, in the excellent _Manuel de l'Histoire des
    Religions_, by Tiele, which M. Maurice Vernes has just
    translated from the Dutch (1 vol. 12mo, Ernest Leroux, 1880),
    views much the same as those which we have just described. The
    author denominates the religious state which we call fetishism
    _animism_, but he points out the fact that this class of
    conceptions had a perennial influence over the Egyptian mind.
    "The Egyptian religion," he says, "like the Chinese, was nothing
    to begin with but an organised _animism_." He finds traces of
    this _animism_ in the worship of the dead, the deification of
    the kings, and the adoration of animals. From his point of view
    the custom of placing a symbol of the divinity rather than an
    image in the temple, must be traced to fetishism (pp. 44 and 45
    of the French version).

This stage must never be forgotten, if we wish to understand the part
which art played in the figuring of the Egyptian gods. In most of the
types which it created it mixed up the physical characteristics of man
and beast. Sometimes the head of an animal surmounts the body of a man
or woman; sometimes, though more rarely, the opposite arrangement
obtains. The Sphinx, and the bird with a human head which symbolizes
death, are instances of the latter combination. The usual explanation
of these forms is as follows. When men began to embody for the eye of
others the ideas which they had formed of the divine powers, they
adopted as the foundation for their personifications the noblest
living form they knew, that of man. In the next place they required
some easy method for distinguishing their imaginary beings one from
another. They had to give to each deity some feature which should be
peculiar to him or her self, and should allow of his being at once
identified and called by his own name. The required result was
obtained in a very simple manner, by adding to the constant quantity
the human figure, a varying element in the heads of different animals.
These the fauna of Egypt itself afforded. In the case of each
divinity, the particular animal was selected which had been
consecrated to it, which was its symbol or at least its attribute, and
the head or body, as the case might be, was detached in order to form
part of a complex and imaginary being. The special characteristics of
the animal made use of were so frankly insisted upon that no confusion
could arise between one deity and another. Even a child could not fail
to see the difference between Sekhet, with the head of a cat or a
lioness, and Hathor, with that of a cow.

[Illustration: FIG. 38.--Painted bas-relief. Boulak. (Drawn by

We do not refuse to accept this explanation, but yet we may express
our surprise that the Egyptians, who were able, even in the days of
the ancient empire, to endow the statues of their kings with so much
purity and nobility of form, were not disgusted by the strangeness of
such combinations, by their extreme grotesqueness, and by the
disagreeable results which they sometimes produced. A certain beauty
may be found in such creations as the Sphinx, and a few others, in
which the human face is allied to the wings of a bird, and the trunk
and posterior members of the most graceful and powerful of quadrupeds.
But could any notion be more unhappy than that of crowning the bust of
a man or woman with the ugly and ponderous head of a crocodile, or
with the slender neck and flat head of a snake?

[Illustration: FIG. 39.--Sekhet. Louvre. (Granite. Height 0·50

Every polytheistic nation attacked this problem in turn, and each
solved it in its own manner. The Hindoos multiplied the human figure
by itself, and painted or carved their gods with three heads and many
pairs of arms and legs, of which proceeding traces are to be found
among the Western Asiatics, the Greeks, and even the Latins. The
Greeks represented all their gods in human form, and yet by the
delicacy of their contours and the general coherence of their
characterization, they were enabled to avoid all confusion between
them. With them, too, costume and attributes helped to mark the
difference. But even where these are absent, our minds are never left
in doubt. Even a fragment of a torso can be at once recognized at
sight as part of a statue of Zeus, of Apollo, or of Bacchus, and a
head of Demeter or Hera would never be confounded with one of Artemis
or Pallas.

[Illustration: FIG. 40.--Isis-Hathor. Louvre. (Bronze. Actual size.)]

It may be said that the artists of Egypt were lacking in the skill
necessary for all this, or that they generalized their forms to such a
degree as to leave no scope for such subtle differences. But, in fact,
we find in their oldest statues a facility of execution which suggests
that, had they chosen, they could have expressed anything which can be
expressed by the chisel. That they did not do so, we know. They
contented themselves with plastic interpretations so rough and awkward
that, perhaps, we should rather seek their explanation in some
hereditary predisposition, some habit of thought and action contracted
in the infancy of the race and fortified by long transmission.

[Illustration: FIG. 41.--A Sphinx; in rose granite. Thirteenth
dynasty. Louvre. Drawn by Saint-Elme Gautier.]

We have already spoken of that which we believe to be the cause of the
peculiar forms under which the Egyptians figured their deities,
namely, the fetish worship, which was the earliest, and for many
centuries the only, form of religion which they possessed. That
worship had struck its roots so deeply into the souls of the people,
that it could not be torn up even when a large part of the nation had
gradually educated itself to the comprehension of the highest
religious conceptions. Its practices never fell into total neglect,
and its influence was so far maintained that during the decadence of
the nation it again became the ruling faith, so that foreign observers
were led to believe that the Egyptian religion began and ended in the
adoration of plants and sacred animals. The eyes and the imagination
being thus educated by immemorial custom, it is not surprising that
even the most cultivated section of the people should have seen
nothing offensive in the representation of their gods sometimes under
the complete form of an animal (Horus is often symbolized under the
likeness of a hawk), sometimes as composite monsters with human bodies
and animal heads.

[Illustration: FIG. 42.--Touaris. Boulak. (Drawn by G. Bénédite.)]

Take, for a moment, the bird to which we have just alluded. The hawk,
like the vulture, plays an important part in Egyptian art. The vulture
symbolizes Maut, the spouse of Amen. It furnishes the sign by which
her name is written, and sometimes, as the symbol of maternity, its
head appears over the brow of the goddess, its wings forming her
head-dress. The goddess Nekheb, who symbolizes the region of the
South, is also represented by a vulture.[79] So it is with the ibis.
It supplies the character by which the name Thoth is written, and that
god is figured with the head of an Ibis. The part played by these
birds in the representation of the gods, both in the plastic arts and
in writing, is to be explained by the sentiments of gratitude and
religious veneration of which they were the objects, sentiments which
were the natural outcome of the practical services which they rendered
to mankind.

    [79] PIERRET, _Dictionnaire d'Archéologie Égyptienne_.

[Illustration: FIG. 43.--Rannu (from Wilkinson).]

When the early fathers of the nation first established themselves upon
the banks of the Nile, they found invaluable allies in those energetic
birds of prey, and the alliance has been continued to their latest
descendants. After the annual inundation the damp earth was overrun by
toads and frogs, by snakes and lizards and all kinds of creeping
things. Fishes, left by the retreating flood in pools which were soon
dried up by the blazing sun, perished, and, decomposing, rendered the
air noisome and malarious. In addition to this there were the corpses
of wild and domestic animals, and the offal of every kind which
accumulated round the dwellings of the peasantry and rapidly became
putrid under the sun of Egypt. If left to decompose they would soon
have bred a pestilence, and in those days human effort was not to be
reckoned upon in the work of sanitation. To birds of prey, then, was
assigned the indispensable work of elimination and transformation, an
office which they yet fill satisfactorily in the towns and villages of
Africa. Thanks to their appetite and to the powerful wings which
carried them in a twinkling to wherever their presence was required,
the multiplication of the inferior animals was kept within due limits,
and decomposing matter was recalled into the service of organic life.
Had these unpaid scavengers but struck work for a day, the plague, as
Michelet puts it, would soon have become the only inhabitant of the

    [80] See in _L'Oiseau_ the chapter-headed _L'Épuration_. With
    his genius for history and poetry Michelet has well understood
    the sentiment which gave birth to these primitive forms of
    worship, forms which have too long provoked unjust contempt. The
    whole of this beautiful chapter should be read; we shall only
    quote a few lines: "In America the law protects these public
    benefactors. Egyptian law does still more for them--it respects
    them and loves them. Although they no longer enjoy their ancient
    worship, they receive the friendly hospitality of man as in the
    time of Pharaoh. If you ask an Egyptian fellah why he allows
    himself to be besieged and deafened by birds, why he patiently
    suffers the insolence of the crow perched upon the horn of the
    buffalo, on the hump of a camel, or fighting upon the date-trees
    and shaking down the fruit, he will say nothing. Birds are
    allowed to do anything. Older than the Pyramids, they are the
    ancients of the country. Man's existence depends upon them, upon
    the persevering labour of the ibis, the stork, the crow and the

[Illustration: FIG. 44.--Horus; from a bronze in the Posno collection.
(Height 38 inches.)]

The worship of the hawk, the vulture, and the ibis, had, then,
preceded by many centuries that of the gods who correspond to the
personages of the Hellenic pantheon. Rooted by long custom in the
minds of the people, it did not excite the ire of the wise men of
Heliopolis or Thebes. The doctrine of emanation and of successive
incarnations of the deity, permitted their theology to explain and to
accept anything, even those things which at a later epoch seemed
nothing more than the grossest creations of popular superstition.
These objects of veneration were therefore enabled to maintain their
places by the side of the superior gods, to represent them in written
characters and in plastic creations, and, in the latter case, to be
blended with the forms of man himself. To us, accustomed as we are to
the types created by Greek anthropomorphism, these figures are
surprising; but to the Egyptians they seemed perfectly natural, for
they offered the characteristic features of the animals which they had
loved, respected, and adored ever since the birth of their

[Illustration: FIG. 45.--Thoth. Louvre. Enamelled clay. Actual size.]

It is difficult for us to see things with the same eyes as the
contemporaries of Cheops or even of Rameses; to enter into their ideas
and sentiments so as to feel with them and to think with their brains.
Let us attempt to do so for a moment; let us make one of those
intellectual efforts which are demanded from the historian, and we
shall then understand how it was, that the Egyptians were not offended
by a combination of two classes of forms which, to us, seem so
differently constituted and so unequal in dignity. The deity took the
form of an animal and revealed himself in it, just as he took that of
a man, or of a statue which he was supposed to animate, and to which
he was attached. In one of his most curious and most penetrating
essays, M. Maspero explains that the sacred animal was--like the king,
the son of Amen; like the statue fashioned by the hands of a
sculptor--the manifestation of the deity, the strength and support of
his life, his _double_, to use an expression dear to the Egyptians.
At Memphis, Apis repeated and constantly renewed the life of Ptah; he
was, in a word, his living statue.[81]

    [81] MASPERO, _Notes sur différents Points de Grammaire et
    d'Histoire dans le Recueil de Travaux relatifs à la Philologie
    et à l'Archéologie égyptienne et assyrienne_, vol. i. p. 157.

Egyptian art was, then, the faithful and skilful interpretation of the
ideas of the people. What the Egyptians wished to say, that they did
say with great clearness and a rare happiness of plastic expression.
To accuse them, as they have been sometimes accused, of a want of
taste, would be to form a very narrow conception of art, to sin
against both the method and the spirit of modern criticism. This
latter seeks for originality and admires it, and all art which is at
once powerful and sincere arouses its interest. We do not, however,
wish to deny that their conception of divinity is less favourable to
the plastic arts than the anthropomorphism of the Greeks. No more
simple method of distinguishing one god from another could well be
imagined than that of giving to each, as his exclusive property, the
head of some well-known animal; the employment of such an unmistakable
sign rendered the task of the artist too easy, in giving him assurance
that his meaning would be understood at a glance without any
particular effort on his part.

[Illustration: FIG. 46.--Sacrifice to Apis, from Mariette.]

The value of an artistic result is in proportion to the difficulty of
its achievement. The Greek sculptor had nothing beyond the bodily form
and the features of man with which to give a distinct individuality to
each god and goddess of his mythology; he was therefore obliged to
make use of the most delicate and subtle distinctions of feature and
contour. This necessity was a great incentive to perfection; it drove
him to study the human form with a continuous energy which, unhappily
for himself, was not required of the Egyptian sculptor or painter.
Art and religion have ever been so closely allied that it was
necessary that we should give some account of the original
characteristics of the Egyptian beliefs, but we shall make no attempt
to describe, or even to enumerate, the chief divinities of the
Egyptian pantheon; such an attempt would be foreign to the purposes
which we have in view. We have, however, already mentioned most of the
chief deities of Egypt, and we shall have occasion to draw the
attention of our readers to others, in speaking of the tombs and
temples, the statues and bas-reliefs, of the country. Now, each of
these gods began by being no more than the local divinity of some
particular nome or city. As a city grew in importance, so did its
peculiar god, and sometimes it came about that both a dynasty of kings
and a divinity were imposed upon Egypt by the power of what we may
call their native city. In the course of time a number of successive
deities thus held the supreme place, each of whom preserved, even
after his fall, some of the dignity which he had acquired during his
period of supremacy.

The two first dynasties, the authors of Egyptian unity, had their
capital in the nome of Abydos, the nome which contained the tomb of
Osiris; and it was in their reign that, from one end to the other of
the Nile valley, spread the worship of that god; of that Osiris who,
with Isis, seemed to Herodotus to be the only deity whom all the
Egyptians combined to adore.[82] Under the following dynasties, whose
capital was Memphis, Ptah rose into the first place; but, as if by a
kind of compromise, his dignity is combined with that of the great god
of Abydos under the names of Ptah-Osiris and Ptah-Sokar-Osiris. Toum,
the chief deity of Heliopolis, never rose above the second rank
because Heliopolis itself was neither a royal city nor even the
birthplace of any powerful dynasty. During all this period we hear
nothing of Amen, the local deity of Thebes; his name is hardly to be
found upon any monument earlier than the eleventh dynasty, but, with
the rise of the Theban empire he began to be a conspicuous figure in
Egypt. During the domination of the Hyksos, their national deity,
Soutekh or Set, overshadowed the ancient divinities of the soil; but
the final victory of Thebes under Ahmes I. installed Amen as the
national god, and we shall see hereafter what magnificent temples were
raised in his honour by the kings of the brilliant Theban dynasties.
His successor would no doubt have been Aten, the solar disc, had
Tell-el-Amarna, the new capital of Amenophis IV., and the worship
which was there inaugurated, enjoyed a less ephemeral existence; but
Thebes and Amen soon regained their supremacy. Again, when the
Egyptian centre of gravity was transported to the Delta, the local
deities of the district, and especially Neith, conquered the first
place in the religious sentiments of the people. Under the Persians
they returned to Amen, as to the protector who could give back to the
nation its former independence and power. Under the Ptolemies, Horus
and Hathor were in the ascendant, and later still, under the Roman
emperors, the worship of the Isis of Philæ became popular and was
prolonged in that island sanctuary until the sixth century of our era.

    [82] HERODOTUS, ii. 42.

The movement of religious thought in Egypt was very different from
what we shall find in Greece. We find no god, like that of the
Hellenes, whose pre-eminence dates back to the remote origin of the
Aryan race, a pre-eminence which was never menaced or questioned;[83]
we find no Zeus, no Jupiter, whose godhead was conceived from century
to century in an ever larger and more purified spirit, until at last
it was defined in the famous hymn of Cleanthe as that "which governed
all things according to law." We have pointed out how greatly the
Greek artists profited by their efforts to endow the piety of their
countrymen with an image of this great and good being, which should be
worthy of the popular faith in him as the father of gods and men. The
Egyptian artist could find no such inspiration in a long succession of
gods, no one of whom succeeded in concentrating supreme power in his
hands. No such ideal existed for them as that which the popular
conscience and the genius of the national poets created in the lord of
Olympus. Neither Thebes nor Sais could give birth to a Phidias; to an
artist who should feel himself spurred on by the work of all previous
generations to produce a masterpiece in which the highest religious
conception, to which the intelligence of the race had mounted by slow
degrees, should be realized in visible form.

    [83] JAMES DARMESTETER, _Le Dieu supréme dans la Mythologie
    indo-européenne_ (in the _Revue de l'Histoire des Religions_,

§ 6. _That Egyptian Art did not escape the Law of Change, and that its
History may therefore be written._

It may be well, before embarking upon the study of Egyptian
architecture, sculpture, and painting, to dispel a prejudice which in
spite of recent discoveries still exists in some minds; we mean, the
belief in the immobility of Egyptian art. This mistake is a very
ancient one. The Greeks were the first to make it, and they
transmitted their error to us. In regard to this we must cite the
famous passage of Plato[84]:--"Long ago they appear to have recognized
the very principle of which we are now speaking--that their young
citizens must be habituated to forms and strains of virtue. These they
fixed, and exhibited patterns of them in their temples; and no painter
or artist is allowed to innovate upon them, or to leave the
traditional forms and invent new ones. To this day no alteration is
allowed, either in these arts or in music, at all. And you will find
that their works of art are painted or moulded in the same forms that
they had ten thousand years ago--(this is literally true and no
exaggeration)--their ancient paintings and sculptures are not a whit
better or worse than the work of to-day, but are made with just the
same skill."

    [84] τὴν αὐτὴν δὲ τέχνην ἀπειργασμένα, etc. Laws, 656. D. E. [We
    have quoted from Professor Jowett's English version, p. 226,
    vol. v.--ED.]

This strange assertion was long accepted without question even in
modern times. We need not go back to the archæologists of the last
century, whose credulity is to be accounted for by their lack of
materials for the formation of a better judgment. In 1828 in his first
lecture at the Bibliothèque Royale, Raoul-Rochette turned his
attention to Egypt. He had before his eyes, in the Parisian museums
and in the _Description de l'Égypte_, works which dated from the
finest periods of the Theban dynasties, although the still more
ancient monuments which now form the glory of the Boulak Museum were
not yet discovered; he might have perceived and pointed out the
difference between the statues of Ousourtesen, Thothmes, and Rameses
on the one hand, and those of the Sait epoch; still more should he
have remarked upon the characteristics which distinguish the
monuments of independent Egypt from those which were erected under the
Ptolemies and the Roman emperors. What he did say, however, and say
with consummate confidence was: "From the first of the Pharaohs to the
last of the Ptolemies, the art of Egypt never varied."[85]

    [85] _Cours d'Archéologie_, 8vo. 1829, pp. 10, 11. This critic's
    ideas upon Egyptian art were both superficial and false.
    "Egyptian art," he says, "never attempted any realistic
    imitation." We even find sentences utterly devoid of meaning,
    such as, for instance, "The fundamental principle of Egyptian
    art was the absence of art." (p. 12.)

Such crude notions as this can no longer be upheld. M. Marriette
protests in the following almost indignant terms against certain
utterances of M. Renan which seemed to him to imply the same doctrine.
"M. Renan loves[86] to represent ancient Egypt as a sort of China,
walled in and fortified against the exterior world, immovable, old
even in its infancy, and arrived by a single spring at a degree of
civilization which it never surpassed. He looks upon the country as a
great plain, green indeed and fertile, but without accidents of
contour to break the monotony of the landscape. And yet Egypt had
periods of grandeur and decadence more marked than those of other
countries. Her civilization went through all the different phases; it
went through many complete transformations, it had its sudden moments
of brilliancy and its epochs of eclipse. Its art was not so stationary
as to prevent us from writing its history. The influence of Egypt was
felt from Mesopotamia to the equator. Thothmes, in a word, was no
Chinaman. Egypt perished because in attacking foreign nations she
provoked a reaction which was fatal to her."[87]

    [86] See the _Revue des Deux Mondes_ of April 1, 1865.

    [87] _Voyage dans la Haute Égypte_, vol. i.

Now that we are enabled to contrast the statues of the Ptolemaic
period with those of the pyramid builders, we find nothing surprising
in Mariette's language; but even before these means of study were open
to us, criticism should have cast more than doubt upon the assertions
of Plato; it should have appealed from a theory which was at variance
with all historical analogies to the monuments themselves to tell the
truth, to those monuments which were best known and understood. Was it
likely, was it possible, that such a people as that which created
these monuments, should remain for more than forty centuries
unaffected by the law of continual, even if almost insensible, change?

What right have we thus to place Egypt and China apart from the rest
of humanity? There are, it is true, some peoples who are more attached
than others to traditional customs and ancient institutions; they are
more conservative, to use the modern phrase. But, although their
evolution is a slower process, it is there; our eyes cannot perceive
any movement in the small hand of a watch, but yet it does move
exactly in the same fashion as that which marks the seconds. Upon the
banks of the Peiho as upon those of the Nile, upon the whole surface
of our planet, man _is_ not; he _becomes_, to borrow one of the
favourite expressions of German philosophy. History can admit no
exception to this law either for China or Egypt. In the cases of both
those countries there is a certain illusion, which is to be explained
by our ignorance. We are not well enough acquainted with them to grasp
the different periods of their political and social, their artistic
and literary development. For one who is too far off or very
short-sighted the details of the most varied landscape become
obliterated or confused; waste land and smiling fields are blended
together; hollows and hillocks lose the vigour of their contours.

China, as we have said, does not enter into our purview; and as for
Egypt, the deeper we penetrate into her history the more are we
convinced that her long career was troubled by moments of crisis
similar to those which have come to other human societies. The
narratives of the Greek historians give us reason to suspect that it
was so, and the monuments which have been discovered insist upon the
same truth, and compel us to accept it. For certain epochs these are
very abundant, beautiful, and varied. Afterwards they become rare and
clumsy, or altogether wanting; and again they reappear in great
numbers and in their full nobility, but with a different general
character. These contrasts and temporary eclipses occur again and
again. How, then, can we doubt that here, as elsewhere, there were
alternations of grandeur and poverty, of periods of conquest and
expansion and epochs of civil war or of defeat by foreign invaders?
May we not believe that through the clouds which obscure the causes of
such changes we may catch glimpses of those periods of decadence and
renascence which, following one upon the other, exhausted in the end
the genius of the race?

Let us take a single example--the most striking of all. "After the
sixth dynasty all documents cease; they are absolutely wanting until
the eleventh, the first of the Middle Empire. This is one of those
sudden interruptions in the history of Egypt which may be compared to
the temporary disappearance of those curious rivers which run partly

    [88] M. MELCHOIR DE VOGÜÉ, _Chez les Pharaons_ (_Revue des Deux
    Mondes_ of Jan. 15, 1877).

[Illustration: FIG. 47.--Statue from the Ancient Empire, in limestone.
Boulak. Drawn by Bourgoin.]

When historians, living as long after our nineteenth century as we do
after the epochs of Memphite and Theban supremacy in Egypt, come to
treat the history of the past, they will perhaps look upon the ages
which rolled away between the fall of Græco-Roman civilization and the
revival of learning in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries as no
longer than that which divided the ancient from the middle empire of
Egypt, or the latter from the dynasties of Thebes. In the distant
future men will know, in a vague fashion, that between the fall of
Rome and the discovery of printing, or that of America, there were
great movements among the nations, and an apparent recoil of
civilization; but memory and imagination will leap without effort over
the gap, over that period which we call the Middle Ages. The Roman
empire will seem to touch our modern civilization, and many of the
differences which strike us so strongly will be imperceptible. They
will perceive that we had a new religion and new inventions, but they
will take more account of the resemblances than of the differences.
Our languages, manners, laws, and forms of government will seem to
them continuations of those of Greece and Rome. In that which we call
antiquity, and in Christian Europe, they will find similar literary
habits and standards of criticism, the same judicial nomenclature, the
same terms for monarchy, empire, and republic, the same titles for
kings and Cæsars. These different civilizations are like star
clusters. To us who are among them they seem distinct enough, but to
generations which are divided from them by a vast space of time they
will seem to form but one nebulous body.

[Illustration: FIG. 48.--Woman kneading dough. Statuette from the
Ancient Empire, in limestone. Drawn by Bourgoin.]

[Illustration: FIG. 49.--The Scribe Chaphré. Fifth dynasty. Boulak.

Egypt, then, had her great convulsions like the rest of the world. She
met with disasters, and underwent periods of confusion like those
which overtook the nations of the West between the reigns of Trajan
and Charlemagne. Wars and invasions, the action and reaction of
civilization, had upon her the same influence as upon them, and, in
transforming her sentiments and ideas, caused their plastic expression
to pass through a series of changes in taste and style. The Theban
tomb of the time of Rameses is very different from that of Memphis and
the ancient empire; the new empire constructed no buildings like the
greater pyramids, but its temples were larger and more magnificent
than any of their predecessors. It was the same with sculpture. A
cultivated eye has no need to run to inscriptions to enable it to
distinguish between works of the ancient and of the middle empire; nor
will it confound works created in either of those periods with those
of the Sait epoch. The differences are almost as well marked as those
which enable archæologists to distinguish a torso of the time of
Phidias from one of the school of Praxiteles or Lysippus. These
differences it will be our duty to describe hereafter, but our readers
may perhaps discover them for themselves if they examine the
illustrations to this chapter, which are arranged in chronological

Variety is universal in Egypt, local variety as well as that of
different periods. Language had its dialects as well as art. The
pronunciation of Upper and that of Lower Egypt was quite dissimilar,
except in the case of a few letters. In the same way different cities
had distinct schools of sculpture and painting, which were
distinguished from one another by their traditional methods of
conception and execution. Neither under Ousourtesen nor under Rameses,
had art the same character in the cities of the Delta, in Memphis, and
in Thebes. Among the works in sculpture executed for Rameses II.,
those of Abydos were more elegant and refined than those of Thebes.

[Illustration: FIG. 50.--The Lady Naï. Wooden statue from the 19th or
20th dynasty. Louvre.]

How, then, are we to explain the error committed by Plato, and by him
transmitted to posterity? The explanation is easy. The Greeks visited
Egypt too late in its history to form a true judgment. In Plato's time
the Egyptians were still trying, by violent but spasmodic efforts, to
reconquer the independence which had been destroyed by the successor
of Cyrus. But the moment was at hand when even these intermittent
struggles were to be abandoned, and they were to finally succumb to
sovereigns of foreign blood. Their still brilliant civilization might
deceive a passing stranger, but the decadence had commenced--a
decadence slow indeed, but none the more remediable.

Some years after the visit of Plato, the two Nectanebos, more
especially the second, devoted themselves with energetic ardour to the
restoration of the ancient buildings of the country and to the
construction of new ones, such as the temple at Philæ. Buildings
signed with their name are to be found all over Egypt; but these
simultaneous undertakings seem to betray a sense of vanishing power,
an uncertainty of the morrow, a feverish activity seeking to deceive
itself and to hide its own weakness. Nothing could be more precarious
than the political conditions under which this activity was displayed.
The independence of the country was maintained by the dearly bought
services of Spartan and Athenian mercenaries. Twice already had Persia
crushed Egyptian revolts, and she was, perhaps, but watching her
opportunity to cast the hordes of Asia upon the unhappy country for a
third time. Ill obeyed as he was, the "Great King" could always find
troops to take part in the spoiling of a country whose riches had
proved so inexhaustible. And if, by any remote chance, the Persians
should fail in their enterprise, another and a graver danger would
menace the Egyptian monarchy from the rapid growth of the Greek power
in the Mediterranean. Since the period of the Persian wars, the
language, the literature, the arts, the mythology of Greece, had
spread with great rapidity; and the moment might be foreseen when a
supremacy founded upon intellectual worth would be confirmed by
military triumph and the creation of a vast Hellenic empire. The
conquest of Egypt was begun by the Ionian soldiers and merchants who
were introduced into the Nile valley by Psemethek; it was bloodlessly
completed by the arms of Alexander. For three centuries the Egyptians
had been accustomed to see the Greeks freely coming and going among
them as merchants, as mercenary officers, as travellers eager for
instruction. The latter posed as disciples before the priests of
Memphis and Heliopolis, and freely expressed a warmth of admiration
which could not fail to flatter the national vanity. The Greeks would
be better masters than their rivals from Persia. From them the
Egyptians would, at least, obtain good administration and complete
freedom in the exercise of their religion in return for their taxes.
The Greeks were clear-sighted enough to understand their own
interests; they were too philosophical and large minded for any
fanatical persecution of, or even hindrance to, the national religion;
they were too much of connoisseurs to fail in respect to a form of
civilization whose prodigious antiquity they divined, and before which
the most eminent among them were ever inclined to bow, like youths
before an old man, or a parvenu before the descendant of a long line
of kings.

Thus Egypt gradually fell into the hands of strangers after the
commencement of the fourth century before Christ. Ethiopians,
Assyrians and Persians had by turns overrun the country. Great numbers
of the Phœnicians had established themselves in it, and, after the
fall of Jerusalem and Samaria, many Jews followed their example.
Finally, the Greeks came in by thousands through the breaches which
their predecessors had made, penetrating into all parts, and making
everywhere felt the superiority of a people who had, by appropriating
the useful results obtained in a long succession of centuries by more
ancient races, become wealthier, stronger, and better instructed than
any of their forerunners.

Thus Egypt lost her power of national rejuvenation, her power of
rising again after calamity. She existed on through the centuries by
mere force of habit, but she lived no more. Her population was so
homogeneous, and her institutions were so solid, that the social
conditions of the country could not be changed in a day or even in a
century. The teachings of her religion had been established by so long
a course of development, and the hands of her artists were so well
practised, that the monumental types which had been created in more
fertile periods of her history were reproduced until a late date, in a
machine-like and instinctive fashion. Imagination was dead, and the
best that could be hoped for was the faithful repetition of those
forms which the genius of the race had conceived in its last moments
of original thought.

Under the Sait princes, under the Psemetheks and Nekau, under Apries
and Amasis, Egypt was delivered from her enemies and again became
mistress of Syria and of the Island of Cyprus. She thus recovered
confidence in herself and in her future, and a period ensued which had
an art of its own with distinctive features which we shall endeavour
to trace. In the intervals of precarious repose which characterized
the Persian domination, the Egyptians had leisure neither to invent
nor to improve. They copied, as well as they could, the monuments of
the twenty-sixth dynasty. Art became a mere collection of technical
precepts, kept together and transmitted in the intercourse of the
studio, by instruction and practice; it became a mere matter of
routine implying, perhaps, great technical skill, but displaying no
sincere and personal feeling. Nature was no longer studied or cared
for. Artists knew that the human figure should be divided into so many
parts. They knew that in the representation of this or that god a
certain attitude or attribute was necessary; and they carved the
statues required of them after the traditional recipes. Thus Egyptian
art became conventional, and so it remained to the end. So it was in
the time of Diodorus. The sculptors whom that historian saw at work in
Memphis and Thebes, during the reign of Augustus, carved a statue as a
modern mechanic would make the different parts of a machine; they
worked with a rapidity and an easy decision more characteristic of the
precise workman than of the artist.[89] Thought was no longer
necessary to them. The due proportions and measurements had been
ascertained and fixed many centuries before their time.

    [89] DIODORUS, i. 98, 7, 8.

[Illustration: FIG. 51.--Ouah-ab-ra, 26th dynasty. Louvre. Grey
granite, height 37 inches.]

But research must still precede discovery. We admit that a day arrived
when convention was supreme in Egyptian art, but it could not have
begun with convention any more than the arts of other nations. We must
here define the terms which we shall have occasion to employ. Every
work of art is an interpretation of nature. Let us take the example of
the human figure. In the works of a single period and of a single
people, it is always full of striking similarity; and yet two original
artists never look at it with the same eyes. One will look at it in
certain aspects and will bring out certain qualities, which another,
although his contemporary and fellow-countryman, will leave in the
obscurity of shadows. One will devote himself to the beauty of form,
another to the accidents of colour or the expression of passion and
thought. The original remains the same, although its interpretations
are so various. And these varieties become still more marked when we
compare the arts of different races or of different periods--the art
of Egypt with that of Assyria or Greece, antique art with that of
modern times.

On the other hand, the great resemblance which the arts of a single
time and country bear to each other, is accounted for by the fact that
their creators look upon the external facts of life through a glass,
if we may put it so, tinted with the colours of the national genius.
They bring to their study of an eternal model the same transient
prejudices, the same preoccupations, the same desires. And yet among
those highly gifted races where art holds or has held a lofty place,
groups of artists are formed, either successively or simultaneously,
which we call schools. Each of these groups professes to make a fresh
reference to nature, to interpret her works more faithfully than its
predecessors, and to draw from them typical forms which shall be more
expressive of the real desires and sentiments of the public for which
it caters. Between the works of these different schools, there are,
however, many similarities, which are to be explained by the identity
of race and belief. There are also diversities which are caused either
by different conditions or by the influence of some master spirit.
Wherever these schools spring up, art lives, moves, and progresses.
But sooner or later comes a time when this ardour comes to an end, and
exhaustion takes its place. The civilization to which it belongs
becomes old and languid, and its creative power ceases like the
imperceptible sinking of a flood. Now, it often happens that just
before this period of lassitude, in the last days of reproductive
strength and healthy maturity, a rich and brilliant school springs up,
which interprets the characteristic sentiments of the civilization to
which it belongs, with the greatest vigour and by admirably selected
means. If such an interpretation be found satisfactory at all points,
why should a better be sought for at the risk of choosing a worse?
This question is but a confession of impotence on the part of those
who ask it. From that moment convention will be supreme, and
convention in the sense of an artificial set of rules which will
release the artist from his obligation of continual reference to

[Illustration: FIG. 52.--Sculptor at work upon an arm, Thebes.
(Champollion, pl. 180.)]

Such a revolution is not the work of a day. Art requires time thus to
inclose itself in mere mechanical dexterity. As a nation grows old,
its art, like its literature, continually becomes more and more
conventional. Every great period or school leaves to the generations
that come after it types which have made a vivid impression upon taste
and imagination. As time goes on these types become more numerous and
more brilliant, and their prestige increases until it becomes little
less than tyranny. Society can only escape from its thrall at the
expense of some great religious or philosophical revolution, or by the
infusion of new blood from without. And these changes western
civilization had to undergo in the early centuries of our era, in the
establishment of Christianity, the invasion of the barbarians, and the
fall of the Roman Empire.

Thanks to the peculiar circumstances of the country, Egyptian society
was enabled to maintain the originality of its genius and the vitality
of its institutions with unusual success. After each period of
internal commotion or foreign invasion, the Egyptians set themselves
to renew the chain of their national traditions. In spite of the
foreign elements which had been received among them, the great mass of
the people remained the same down to the latest days of antiquity.
Heterogeneous constituents were absorbed by the nation without leaving
any apparent trace. The ideas which the people had formed for
themselves of the ultimate destiny of humanity were developed, indeed,
and in successive ages varied slightly in general colour, but in none
of their variations did they give rise to a new religion, as
Brahmanism gave birth to Buddhism.

As often as a new dynasty of kings succeeded in driving out the
foreign conqueror and in re-establishing the unity of the kingdom, so
often was there a complete restoration. The aim which they had in view
was ever to restore, in all its parts, a _régime_ which was founded
upon national pride. Enjoying a civilization which for ages had been
alone in the world, it was in its full and glorious past that
Egyptian society found the ideal to which it clung in spite of all
obstacles and misfortunes. Its gaze was turned backwards towards those
early sovereigns who seemed transfigured by distance, but whose
presence in the memory kept alive the perpetual worship which had been
vowed to them.

[Illustration: FIG. 53.--Sculptor carving a statue, Thebes.
(Champollion, pl. 180.)]

Every restoration is inspired by a more or less blind and
superstitious reverence for the past. This has often been asserted in
connection with politics and religion, and the assertion is equally
true in respect to art. Each of those dynasties to which Egypt owed
its political restoration, set themselves to repair the temples which
had been destroyed, and to replace upon their pedestals the statues of
gods or ancestors which had been overthrown. When new temples and new
statues were to be erected, the first idea of the artists employed was
to study the ancient monuments and to try to equal them. As long as
Egypt preserved her vitality, the wants of the present and external
influences no doubt had their effect in introducing certain changes,
both in the arrangement of her buildings, and in the modelling,
movement, and expression of the statues which adorned them. Ancient
types were not servilely copied, but the temptation to borrow from
them a point of departure, at least, for new attempts at progression,
was too strong to be resisted. It was necessary that all buildings and
statues should be in harmony with the remains which subsisted from
previous ages, and from this it resulted that each new creative effort
began by imitating what had gone before. The 'school' in process of
foundation accepted on trust the architectural disposition left by its
predecessor, as well as its methods of looking at nature. And this is
equivalent to saying that, from its first moment, it must have been
conventional in a certain degree.

This conventionality must have increased at every fresh renascence,
because each new development had its own processes to transmit to
posterity as well as those of its ancestors. After each recoil or
pause in the progress of art, the weight of the past must have seemed
heavier to those who attempted to revive the onward movement. On the
one hand, the more ancient of the traditional elements had acquired,
by their constant and often repeated transmission, a prestige and
authority which placed them above discussion; on the other, the legacy
of admitted principles and processes was continually increasing, until
it became a source of embarrassment to the artist, and of destruction
to his liberty. When at last the decadence of the race had advanced so
far that all initiative power and independence of thought had
disappeared, the time arrived when convention was everything, like one
of those elaborate rituals which regulate every word, and even gesture
of the officiating priest. When Plato visited Egypt, the schools of
sculpture were nothing more than institutions for teaching pupils, who
were remarkable for docility and for dexterity of hand, to transmit to
their successors an assemblage of precepts and receipts which provided
for every contingency and left no room for the exercise of fancy or

At that very time Greek art was progressing with a power and rapidity
which has never been rivalled. To the school of Phidias, a school
established in that Athens which yet possessed so many works of the
archaic period, had succeeded those of Praxiteles and Scopas. The
Greeks found means to improve, or at least to innovate, upon
perfection itself. Plato did not, and could not, perceive, in his
hasty journey through the Egyptian cities, that they too had seen
their periods of change, their different schools and developments of
style, less marked, perhaps, than those of Greece, and certainly less
rapid, but yet quite perceptible to the practised observer. We are now
in a better position to estimate these differences. Monuments have
been brought before our eyes such as Plato never saw; namely, the
statues of the ancient empire which were hidden for so many ages in
the thickness of walls or in the depths of sepulchral pits. Even now
these statues have not reached the age of ten thousand years so
persistently attributed by the Greek philosopher to the early works
which he did see, works which seemed to him exactly the same as those
which were being made in his presence. But although the statues of the
early empire were then no more than some thirty centuries old, Plato
could not have helped seeing, if he had seen them at all, that they
were quite distinct from the works which the sculptors of Nectanebo
had in progress, always supposing that he looked at them with
reasonable attention. The art of the pyramid builders, an art which
possesses in a very high degree certain qualities for which the
Egyptians have been too commonly refused credit, is known to us
chiefly through the excavations of Mariette and the contents of the
Boulak museum. But even before Cheops, Chefren, and their subjects had
risen from their tombs, the historian might have divined by analogy,
and described by no very bold conjecture, the essential
characteristics of Egyptian art during its first centuries. Whether we
speak of an individual, of a school, or of a people, every artistic
career which follows its natural course and is not rudely broken
through, ends sooner or later in conventionality, in that which is
technically called _mannerism_. But mannerism is never the beginning
of art. Art always begins by humble and sincere attempts to render
what it sees. Its awkwardness is at first extreme and its power of
imitation very imperfect. But it is not discouraged; it tries
different processes; it takes account now of one, now of another
aspect of life; it consults nature incessantly and humbly, taking note
of her answers and modifying its work in obedience to their teaching.
This teaching is not always rightly understood, but it is ever
received with docility and good faith.

[Illustration: FIG. 54.--Artist painting a statue, Thebes.
(Champollion, pl. 180.)]

Every work which bears the marks of frank and loyal effort is
interesting; but the moment in an artistic career which gives birth to
real _chefs d'œuvre_ is towards the end of that period, when the
eye has become sure, and the hand sufficiently well practised, for the
faithful interpretation of any model whose beauty or original
expression may have caught the fancy. Success is then achieved, always
provided that the model is never lost sight of or studied with
anything short of passionate devotion. But the time comes when this
devotion is relaxed. The artist thinks that such constant reference to
nature is no longer required when he has made his final choice between
the different methods which his art employs. In devoting himself to
the reproduction of certain features for which he has a marked
preference, he has himself produced types which he thenceforward takes
pleasure in repeating, as if they were in themselves an epitome of
nature's infinite diversity.

In the case of Egypt, even those discoveries which carry us back
farthest do not enable us to grasp, as we can in the case of
Greece, the first attempts at plastic expression, the first rude
efforts of the modeller or painter; but they carry us to the end of
that period which, in the case of other countries, we call archaic;
and above all they transport us into the centre of the epoch which was
to Egypt what the fifth century was to Greece, namely, the age of
perfection. The Egyptian people had already lived so long and worked
so hard that they could not free their work from certain common and
irrepressible characteristics. In the plastic arts and in poetry they
had their own style, and that style was both individual and original
in an extraordinary degree. This style was already formed, but it was
not yet robbed of its vitality by indolent content or petrified by
mannerism; it had neither renounced its freedom nor said its last

[Illustration: FIG. 55.--Isis nursing Horus. Ptolemaic bronze; in the
Louvre. Height, 19 inches.]

§ 7. _Of the place held in this work by the monuments of the Memphite
period, and of the limits of our inquiry._

It will be found that a very large space in the present work, some may
say too large a space, is devoted to the pre-conventional art of the
ancient empire. We had reasons for taking such a course, and reasons
that may be easily divined.

This early art is much less known than that of the later epochs. While
the great museums of Europe are filled with statues and reliefs from
Thebes, or, at least, contemporary with the Theban and Sait dynasties,
monuments from the Memphite period are still rare out of Egypt. Thanks
to Mariette and Lepsius, Paris and Berlin are not without remarkable
examples of the art in question, but it is in Egypt itself, at the
Boulak museum, that any detailed study must be made. It is there that
the masterpieces of an art whose very existence was unsuspected by
Champollion, are to be found; the Chephren, the two statues from
Meidoum, the bas-reliefs from the tomb of Ti, and many others of
similar style and value. These figures have been drawn for our readers
by two skilful artists, MM. Bourgoin and Bénédite. They have rendered
with fidelity and sincerity more than one object which had never
before been reproduced, either by photography or otherwise. A few
specimens of these treasures, selected by him who had been the means
of bringing them to light and whom we now mourn, were seen at the
Universal Exhibitions of 1867 and 1878, but they soon returned to
Cairo, and western archæologists had but slight opportunity to become
acquainted with their characteristics.

The art of the early dynasties has thus been practically ignored by
those who have never visited Egypt. The lifelike and enthusiastic
descriptions of M. Eugene Melchior de Vogüé and others have done
something to arouse the attention of connoisseurs; but in such a
matter the slightest sketch, provided it be correct so far as it goes,
is of more value, as a definition of style, than the most picturesque
or eloquent writing.

These reflections would by themselves justify our efforts to
incorporate in our pages, reproductions of all the more important
objects with which the necropolis at Memphis has enriched the museum
at Boulak; but we were impelled by other motives also. The extant
monuments of the ancient empire are less numerous than those of the
Theban and Sait dynasties; they are of comparatively modest
dimensions, and, with rare exceptions they all belong to one category,
that of works relating to death and burial. They also have a special
interest of their own. They enable us to protest, and to give tangible
justification for our protestations, against a prejudice which dates
back to a remote antiquity; even if all evidence had perished the
critic would have no great difficulty in casting doubt upon assertions
which were in themselves extremely improbable, but his task is
rendered much easier when he is able to point to existing monuments in
support of his contention, and his pleasure is great in seeing the
certainty of his critical methods borne out, and Egyptian art
replacing itself, as if of its own motion, under the normal conditions
of historic development.

[Illustration: FIG. 56.--Chephren. Sketched by Bourgoin. See also Fig.

This volume, then, will treat of the remains of early Egyptian art at
a length which would seem at first sight out of due proportion to
their number, but later ages will also be represented by a series of
monuments, which will bring us down to the Persian conquest. This
limit will hardly be over-passed in our choice of examples for study,
and that for two reasons.

The first is, that at the latter period the evolution of Egyptian art
was complete, it had created all that it could and had become a slave
to its own past. Disposing under the Ptolemies of all the resources of
a great empire, it indeed introduced certain architectural changes
which do not seem to have been borrowed from previous buildings, but
those changes were of no very great importance and were mostly in
matters of detail. In sculpture and painting we can easily see that it
abandoned itself to mere copying, to the repetition of a lesson learnt
by rote. Whatever had to be done, was done in accordance with fixed
tradition, and one monument only differed from another in the amount
of care and manual dexterity bestowed upon it.

[Illustration: FIG. 57.--Ti, with his wife and son.]

Our second reason is this, that Egypt was opened to the Greeks in the
time of the Sait princes. From the year 650 B.C. onwards, there was
constant communication between Ionia and the cities of the Delta. If
at any time Greek art borrowed directly from that of Egypt, it was
during the second half of the seventh century and the first half of
the sixth. By the end of the sixth century, it had become so original
and so skilful in the management of its selected methods of expression
that it could not have been very receptive to foreign influences.
After the Persian wars such influences would be still more powerless.
In the Ptolemaic era the state of things was reversed; Greece imposed
her language, her literature, her religious conceptions and their
visible symbols upon the whole eastern world. Even then the art of
Egypt could defend, and even perpetuate itself, by the power of custom
and of a tradition which had been handed down through so many
centuries, but the day was past when it could provoke imitation.

As for the indirect borrowings of forms and motives which Greece
received from Egypt through the Phœnicians, their transmission had
come to an end before the Persian conquest, even before the time of
Psemethek. Egypt was represented, either immediately or through the
imitative powers of the Syrian manufacturers, in the first textiles,
jewels, and vases of clay or metal, carried by the Sidonian merchants
to the savage ancestors of the Greeks. In this roundabout manner she
had probably more influence over Greece than in their periods of more
direct communication. The rays kindled upon her hearth, the earliest
of civilization, fell upon the Hellenic isles as refracted rays, after
passing through the varied media of Chaldæa, Assyria or Phœnicia.

Thus if we wish thoroughly to understand Greece, we must start from
Memphis and go through Babylon and Nineveh, Tyre and Sidon. But Greece
will be the aim of our voyage, and Egypt will interest us less on her
own account than on account of that unique and unrivalled people who
inherited her inventions and discoveries, and made them the foundation
for a productiveness in which are summarized all the useful labours of
antiquity. Egyptian art will be followed by us down to the moment in
which it lost its creative force and with it its prestige. We shall
rarely have occasion to speak of the Ptolemaic remains of Egyptian
art. Now and then we shall go to them for examples when any particular
detail which we desire to mention has not been preserved for us by
earlier monuments, but even then we shall require to have good reasons
for believing that such detail did in fact originate in the creative
periods of the national history.

The Egypt of the Pharaohs has not even yet been entirely explored. Are
we to believe that the splendid edifices reared in the cities of the
Delta, and especially at Sais, by the twenty-sixth dynasty, have
perished to the last stone? We are loth to think that it is so, but no
remains have yet been discovered. Some day, perhaps, well directed
excavations may bring to light the temples which Herodotus so greatly
admired; and who knows but that we may find in them more than one of
those motives and arrangements which at present are only known to
exist in the buildings of the Ptolemies and of the Roman emperors?



§ 1.--_Method to be Employed by us in our Study of this Architecture._

In the enterprise which we have undertaken the study of oriental art
is but an introduction to that of Greece. Without an attentive
examination of its remains we should be unable to distinguish the
original elements in the work of the Greek genius from those which it
borrowed from other nations. We must pass in review the whole artistic
production of several great nations who occupied a vast surface of the
globe, and whose fertility was prolonged through a long course of
centuries, but we shall not attempt to describe singly the great
buildings of Egypt and Assyria, of Persia and Phœnicia, as such an
attempt would perhaps cause us to lose sight of the main object of our

Our task is no easy one. While limiting our study in the fashion which
has been described, we must not fail to extend our purview to every
fact which may help to justify the comparison which we propose to
institute between the arts of Greece and those of the nations by whose
teachings she profited. There is but one road to success in this
double task. We must devote the greatest possible care to our study of
the details in question, and then give the general results of that
study; we must make ourselves thoroughly acquainted with all the
phenomena, but must confine our exposition to the general laws which
governed them, such as our minute inquiries have presented them to us.
No circumstantial description need, therefore, be looked for in these
pages even in the case of the most important and famous buildings of
Egypt. No monograph upon any tomb or temple will be found, but we
shall ourselves have examined many tombs and temples; we shall, to
speak figuratively, have taken them to pieces, and by means of the
knowledge acquired we shall endeavour to make our readers acquainted
with the notions of the Egyptians upon sepulchral and religious
architecture, and with the changes which those conceptions underwent
in the course of centuries.

Thus, for example, we have explored the pages of Lepsius[90] and
Prisse d'Avennes[91] for information relating to the sepulchres of the
first six dynasties, and further researches have been made on the spot
expressly for the present work, but we shall not give any descriptions
or illustrations of those works individually; we shall merely use them
for an ideal restoration of the characteristic tombhouse of the
ancient empire. We may, perhaps, for this purpose, make a more
particular reference to one or two sepulchres which are in unusually
good preservation, but only for the sake of giving firm definition to
the type and to its main variations.

    [90] _Denkmæler aus Ægypten und Æthiopien_ (from drawings of the
    expedition sent into Egypt in 1842, which remained there till
    1845), 12 vols. folio. Berlin, no date.

    [91] _Histoire de l'Art égyptien d'après les Monuments depuis
    les Temps les plus reculés jusqu'à la Domination romaine_, 2
    vols. Paris, Arthus Bertrand, 1878. The text (1 vol. 4to.),
    published after the death of Prisse, has this great
    inconvenience, that it is not always easy to distinguish what
    belongs to the editor, M. Marchandon de la Faye, from the
    contributions of Prisse, who was one of the most practical and
    experienced of egyptologists. The papers, sketches, and drawings
    left by Prisse became the property, in 1880, of the Bibliothèque
    Nationale; when they are classified and published we shall
    probably find among them several interesting documents; we have
    only been able hurriedly to look through them, when the
    illustrations to this work were already prepared. It is
    desirable that a complete inventory of these collections should
    be made as soon as possible.

By this analytical method of treatment we shall be enabled to give an
account, which shall be at once accurate and not too long, of the
constructive processes employed by the Egyptians, of the general
aspect of their buildings, and of the modifications enforced by the
decorative forms of which they made use. We shall be enabled to see
how far those forms were decided by natural conditions, by ancient
tradition, or by special wants. We shall thus include in a single
chapter all that relates to principal or accessory openings, to doors
and their construction, to those loftily placed windows which were
calculated to give so little light. In another chapter we shall
discuss the column and its capital; we shall describe the variations
produced by time and materials upon its proportions and its entasis.
Each assertion will be justified by reference to characteristic
examples. In this matter our only difficulty will be an _embarras de
richesse_, a difficulty of choice among the vast number of remains
still existing of ancient Egypt from the time of Menes to that of the
Persian conquest.

In order to avoid repetition and to put before the reader ideas which
he will have no difficulty in assimilating, we shall push our work of
analysis and generalization farther still. Before we embark upon the
study of any special class of buildings we shall endeavour to define
the general and unchanging characteristics of Egyptian architecture as
a whole; characteristics which were fixed by the idiosyncracy of the
race, by its beliefs and social customs, by the nature of the climate,
and of the materials of which the architect could dispose. We shall do
the same for Assyria and Chaldæa, for Persia and Phœnicia, for
each, indeed, of the nationalities which are to be considered in our

These theoretical chapters will be illustrated in the same fashion as
the others, except that the illustrations will partake of the
generalized and abstract character of the text which they accompany.
In most cases they will be simple diagrams composed for the express
purpose of illustrating the definitions or descriptions to which they
belong. They will each refer to some essential element in the national
architecture, to some element which is not peculiar to any one edifice
more than another, but is to be found in all those which have similar
aims and are constructed of the same materials. Such elements are
above and outside such accidental variations as may be found in
details of plan or ornament; they form part of the substantial inner
constitution of the arts of Egypt and Chaldæa, and make their
originality indisputable.

§ 2.--_General Principles of Form._

The external forms of Egyptian edifices are _pyramidoid_; in other
words, the outward surfaces of their walls affect the form of a
_trapezium_. Thus if we prolong these surfaces vertically we find that
they unite at last in a point, in the case of square buildings (Fig.
58), and in a ridge in those which are oblong in plan (Fig. 59).[92] A
square building will sometimes end in a ridge, or _aréte_, when the
principal _façade_ and the corresponding one in its rear are vertical,
the other two being inclined.

    [92] _Lois générales de l'Inclinaison des Colonnes dans la
    Construction des Temples grecs de l'Antiquité_, dedicated to his
    Majesty, Otho I., by CHARLES VILLEROI, engineer. Athens, 1842,

Horizontal lines predominate over inclined or vertical lines, and
buildings, therefore, tend to develop in length and depth rather than
in height. To this general rule, however, the pylons afford

[Illustration: FIG. 58.--Square building.]

[Illustration: FIG. 59.--Rectangular and oblong building.]

The terminations of their edifices were also horizontal. There was no
necessity for sloping roofs, as, away from the immediate proximity of
the sea, it hardly ever rains in Egypt. Moreover, the natural
conformation of the country had its influence upon the creations of
its inhabitants. The unforeseen and sudden variations, the contrasts
of hill and plain, which we find in a mountainous country like Greece,
are here unknown. Lower Egypt is a verdant plain, intersected by
canals, and stretching from the sea to the desert; in Upper and Middle
Egypt the lazy river is accompanied throughout its journey from south
to north by two long chains of hills, the Arab chain and the Libyan,
whose summits form an almost unbroken line. Between these aspects of
nature and the works of man which they enframe, there is a striking
general sympathy.[93]

    [93] Egyptian landscape is well characterised in these lines of
    M. CH. BLANC, taken from the _Voyage de la Haute Égypte_ (p.
    116): "Pour le moment, notre plaisir se borne à regarder un
    paysage simple, monotone, mais grand par sa simplicité même et
    par sa monotonie. Ces lignes planes qui s'allongent et se
    prolongent sans fin, et qui s'interrompent un instant pour
    reprendre encore leur niveau et se continuer encore, impriment à
    la nature un caractère de tranquillité qui assoupit
    l'imagination et qui apaise le cœur. Par une singularité
    peut-être unique au monde, les variétés qui viennent rompre de
    distance en distance la vaste uniformité de la terre égyptienne
    se reproduisent toujours les mêmes." [We have refrained from
    translating this piece of word painting, lest its suggestive
    rhythm should vanish in the process.--ED.]

The peculiar character of Egyptian architecture is owing to its
lateral extension, and to those wide-spreading bases and foundations
which suggest the inclination of the superincumbent walls. In looking
at one of these buildings, we feel that it is capable of infinite
extension horizontally, and that but one of its dimensions, that of
height, is limited by its essential forms. These characteristics give
a look of sturdy power to Egyptian architecture which is peculiar to
itself, and suggests an idea of unbounded durability.[94]

    [94] Similar notions are expressed by M. CH. BLANC in his
    _Grammaire des Arts du Dessin_ (Book i. ch. viii.). "The
    wide-spreading base is the distinguishing characteristic of the
    Egyptian monuments. Wall, pier, and column, all the constructive
    members of Egyptian architecture, are short and thick set. To
    add to this appearance of solidity the relative size of the base
    is increased by that tendency towards the pyramid which is to be
    found in every Egyptian building. The pyramids of Memphis, one
    of them the greatest building upon earth, stand upon enormous
    bases. Their height is far less than their largest horizontal
    diameter. The pyramid of Cheops, for instance, is 233 metres
    along one side of its base, and only 146 in height, _i.e._, its
    base is to its height as 8 to 5. All Egyptian monuments, even
    the most lofty, are more remarkable for the ground they cover
    than for their height [except the monoliths!--ED.], and this
    extension of their bases gives them an appearance of absolutely
    eternal durability."

[Illustration: FIG. 60.--The Libyan chain, above the necropolis of

An appearance of incomparable gravity, of solemnity, is also stamped
upon it by the small number of openings for the admission of light of
which it makes use, and also by their arrangement. Compared to our
modern architecture, in which windows play such an important part,
that of Egypt is prison-like in its gloom; but, in consequence of its
rare openings and their small size, it presents more imposing walls
than any other style.

One of the essential arrangements of Egyptian architecture is shared
by many other countries, that of the _portico_, by which we mean an
alternation of voids and solids in certain well defined proportions,
either for ornamenting the exterior and providing a covered way, or
for dividing the halls of the interior and supporting their roofs.

[Illustration: FIG. 61.--General appearance of an Egyptian

    [95] This illustration has been compiled in order to give a
    general idea of the more persistent characteristics of the
    Egyptian temple.

The relation between voids and solids in any style of architecture is
one of the most vital characteristics.

In the case of Egypt this relation gives rise to the following

1. Supports of the same kind and of the same diameter may have very
different heights in one and the same building (Fig. 62).

[Illustration: FIG. 62.--Temple of Khons, at Thebes. (_Description de
l'Égypte_, t. iii., pl. 55.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 63.--Temple of Khons, Thebes. (_Descr. de
l'Égypte_, t. iii., pl. 55.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 64.--Temple of Khons, Thebes. (_Descr. de
l'Égypte_, t. iii., pl. 55.)]

In a single edifice supports of different kinds but of the same
diameter, have no fixed proportions, one to the other. A column with a
_lotus_ capital may be higher than one with a bell-shaped termination,
and _vice versâ_ (Figs. 63 and 64), while, again in a single building,
we may find these two differently shaped columns equal to each other
both in average diameter and in height (Fig. 65).

[Illustration: FIG. 65.--From the second court of Medinet-Abou,
Thebes. (_Description_, t. ii., pl. 6.)]

2. The spaces, or voids, between columns of one size and similar
design, may vary considerably (Fig. 66), and the entablatures which
they support may differ greatly in height (Fig. 66).

[Illustration: FIG. 66.--Ramesseum, Thebes. (_Description de
l'Égypte_, t. ii., pl. 28.)]

The proportional combinations of these elements are such that they
cannot be methodically classified, and in this the architecture of
Egypt is distinguished from that which we call classic. In Greek art
there is a _modulus_ which determines the quantitative relation
of forms to each other, and fixes a mutual and invariable
interdependence. This _modulus_ is found in the diameter of the
column, and the standard of proportion which is based upon it is
called a _canon_. In Egypt, as in other countries, there must have
been a certain connection between the diameter of a column and its
height, but there was no approach to that rigid and immutable law
which had its effect upon every detail of a Greek temple. The
_modulus_, in Egyptian art, was used with such freedom, and gave rise
to such varied proportions, that we may say that no _canon_ existed.
The elementary forms of an Egyptian edifice had so little dependence
upon the _modulus_ that we need not take it into consideration, and,
in this sense, the art of Egypt was not mathematical, like that of

[Illustration: FIG. 67.--The Egyptian Gorge or Cornice.]

Finally, all Egyptian buildings are crowned by the same entablature,
an architrave and the moulding which is called the Egyptian _gorge_
(Fig. 67).[96] An architectural member, the plain quadrangular
architrave, is invariably inserted between this termination and the
upper extremity of the voids and points of support.

    [96] We know but one or two exceptions to this rule. It will
    suffice to quote the Royal Pavilion of Medinet-Abou, which is
    crowned by a row of battlements.



§3. _General Principles of Construction.--Materials._

In studying a natural architecture and in attempting to assign reasons
for its particular characteristics, many circumstances have to be
taken into consideration. The innate genius of the race, the physical
and moral conditions of its development, the perfection of its
civilization, the spirit of its religion, and the ardour of its faith;
none of these must be forgotten, but some of them act in such a
complex fashion that they are extremely difficult to follow. In its
aspirations towards the infinite and the eternal, the Egyptian
religion raised from the surface of the earth many buildings which
varied as greatly in form and aspect as they did in date and
situation. The climatic conditions of the world have changed but
little since the beginning of the historic period, and every nation
has to take them into the first consideration in deciding upon its own
architectural forms and principles. We have here a problem whose data
do not vary, and yet its solutions have not always been the same even
in a single country. Without ever being absolutely incorrect, they
attached themselves now to one principle, now to another, and so gave
much variety to the appearance of successive buildings under one sky
and destined for similar uses.

As for the materials employed, we cannot go so far as to say that
their different properties absolutely determined the characteristics
of Egyptian building in advance. Stone, the chief of all materials,
can lend itself to forms of great variety in principle; and so, too,
can brick and wood. But although no material can narrowly confine a
skilful architect, there are, nevertheless, certain systems and
constructions which are only possible with those which possess certain

To give but a single example, neither the hypo-style halls of Egypt
and Persepolis, nor the Greek temples, with their architraves resting
upon widely spaced columns, with the coffered roofs of their porticos,
and their decorative and expressive sculpture, could have been carried
out in brick. In stone, or rather in marble, alone, could the typical
temple, such as the Parthenon, have been realised; without such a
material the Greeks could never have created that incomparable
ensemble whose different parts are so intimately allied one with
another, in which the richest decoration is in complete unity with the
constructive forms which it accentuates and embellishes. Brick could
never have led to the invention or employment of these forms. Those
who try to imitate them in any such material have to make up for its
deficiencies by various ingenious devices. The joints between the
bricks have to be hidden under stucco, the mouldings and carved
ornaments of stone have to be replaced, as in the temple of the Deus
Rediculus, by moulded terra cotta (Fig. 68). The result is sometimes
pleasing enough, especially by the surprise which it causes. Santa
Maria delle Grazie, at Milan, is a masterpiece of its kind, thanks to
the skill and tact displayed by Bramante in the management of the
burnt clay which was the only material afforded him by the plains of
Lombardy; but where Bramante succeeded, less skilful artists have
failed. They have demanded effects from brick which it was unable to
give, with a profound discord between form and matter as a result.

[Illustration: FIG. 68.--Capital and entablature of the temple of the
Deus Rediculus at Rome.[97]]

    [97] From the work of the Abbé Uggeri, entitled: _Le Détail des
    Matériaux dont se servaient les Anciens pour la Construction de
    leurs Bâtiments_ (Rome, oblong folio, 1800, pl. v.).

Of all the causes which modify the forms of architecture and determine
its character, the most important is the nature, the genius, if we may
say so, of the materials used. So, before we can arrive at a correct
judgment of the rules and principles of any style, we must begin by
appreciating and describing the materials of which it disposes. We
never forget this in the case of sculpture, still less should we do so
in the case of architecture, where the material is still more

The materials made use of by the Egyptians were granite,[98]
sandstone,[99] and limestone.[100] A softer stone, namely alabaster,
was often employed for lining.[101]

    [98] The only granite quarries that were worked in antiquity
    were those of Syene now Assouan, in Upper Egypt, upon the right
    bank of the Nile.

    [99] Sandstone was chiefly obtained from two localities,
    Djebel-Ahmar, near Cairo, and Djebel-Silsili in Upper Egypt.

    [100] The Arab Chain is almost entirely calcareous. Near the
    sites of all the ancient cities it shows numerous excavations
    bearing witness to the activity of the ancient builders. The
    most celebrated of these quarries is that at Mokattam, near
    Cairo. The stone of which the body of the pyramids is composed
    was drawn from it.

    [101] The alabaster quarries of to-day are all in the Arab
    Chain, between the southern slopes of the mountain Mahsarah,
    near Cairo, and the springs of the Wady-Siout, opposite the town
    of that name.

Sandstone and limestone, especially the latter, are used nearly
everywhere; granite is of less frequent occurrence and suggests an
important observation.

Granite is not a sedimentary, stratified rock like limestone; it is a
material compacted in great masses, to a depth or, to speak more
accurately, in a volume which is practically unlimited; the dimensions
of the stones which may be cut from these masses are therefore
infinite to all intents and purposes.[102]

    [102] The obelisk of Queen Hatasu, at Karnak, is 105 ft. 8 in.
    high; the statue of Rameses II. at Thebes, on the left bank of
    the river, is a monolith 55 ft. 5 in. high, and weighing about
    1,200 tons. [The obelisk which still remains at Syene, never
    having been completely detached from the rock in which it was
    quarried, is nearly 96 ft. high and 11 ft. 1-1/2 in. diameter at
    its base.--ED.]

The Egyptians also made use of both burnt and unburnt brick.

The employment of these different materials gave birth to what we may
call "dressed construction," that is, construction the elements of
which are squared upon each face and put into close juxtaposition one
with another.

Concrete or pisé, compressed, as in the pylons, between moulds or
caissons of woodwork, was also made use of by the Egyptians. This
material gave rise to what we may call compact construction.

Again, although trees, except the palm, were rare enough in the valley
of the Nile, the Egyptians built also in wood, by which a third kind
of construction, called construction by assemblage, in which the
elementary units were held together by being introduced one into
another, was obtained.

In a few buildings of the latter class metal seems to have been
employed, sometimes in the construction, sometimes for lining, and
sometimes for outward decoration.

§4.--_Dressed Construction._

The constructive elements which enter into the composition of this
first class of buildings are stone and brick.

In the first place, these elements are horizontal or vertical.

The horizontal elements constitute the planes, as they cover the voids
by horizontal superposition.

They consist of courses and architraves.

The courses form the walls. They are arranged in horizontal bands,
with vertical and sometimes sloping joints. The separate stones are
often bound together upon their horizontal surfaces by dovetails or
tenons of wood. The blocks made use of in this form of construction
are usually of large dimensions, but the Egyptians also made use of
small stones or rubble, lined on the exterior by large flat ones which
concealed the meanness of the material behind them.[103] (Fig. 70.)

    [103] We find this construction in the so-called Temple of the
    Sphinx, near the Great Pyramid.

Various peculiarities of construction which are comparatively seldom
met with will be noticed when we come to describe the monuments in
which they are to be found.

Architraves were stone beams used to bridge over the voids and to
support the covering of the building, which latter was composed of
long and heavy slabs.

The vertical elements support the architraves and combine them one
with another. These vertical supports vary greatly in size. Those of
small or medium dimensions are monoliths; others are composed of many
courses of stone one upon another, courses which in this case take the
name of _drums_.

[Illustration: FIG. 69.--The Egyptian "bond."]

Upon exterior surfaces, supports take various forms of development
which may all be referred to the type which we have defined, namely,
the portico. In the interiors the form of support is a logical
consequence of the material employed. Whenever the stones which form
the roof are too small to bridge over the whole of the space comprised
within two walls, they must be made to rest upon intermediate
supports; and this necessity springs up in every building of any
importance. This very elementary combination fulfils all the
requirements of circulation. The number of supports depends upon the
number of rows of the flat stones which form the roof. They are
sometimes multiplied to such an extent that they remind us of that
planting arrangement in our gardens which we call a quincunx.

[Illustration: FIG. 70.--Double-faced wall.]

[Illustration: FIGS. 71, 72.--Elements of the portico.]

We cannot, however, affirm that the number of supports is invariably
decided by the length of the architraves, or of the roofing stones.
Some very long monoliths are supported at regular intervals, lest they
should break with their own weight or with that put upon them. The
walls, architraves, and vertical supports are always far stronger than
the mere weight of the roof would require.

The following woodcut shows the arrangement of supports, architraves
and roof. These simple arrangements constitute a complete system of
construction which, belonging exclusively to Egypt, has had results
upon which we cannot too strongly insist. Both roof and architraves
being horizontal, all the pressure upon the walls is vertical. There
is no force tending to thrust the walls outwards nor to affect the
immobility of the supports.

[Illustration: FIG. 73.--Egyptian construction, epitomized by Ch.

Consequently, if the proportions of the vertical and horizontal
elements of a building, that is to say, its sections, have been
skilfully determined, there is in the building itself no latent cause
of disruption; its equilibrium is perfect, and can only be destroyed
by external physical causes, by long exposure to the weather, by
earthquakes, or by the hand of man.[104]

    [104] The vertical support and the architrave form the two vital
    elements of an Egyptian building, which is therefore enabled to
    dispense with those buttresses and other lateral supports which
    are necessary to give stability to the edifices of many other

We see then that the first impression caused by the external lines of
the architectural monuments of Egypt is confirmed and explained by
further study. They are built, as said the Pharaohs themselves, "for
eternity." Stability, in a word, in its highest and most simple form
is the distinguishing characteristic, the true originality, of
Egyptian architecture.

This character is most strongly marked in stone buildings, but it is
by no means absent from those built of materials created by human
industry. Works in brick form the transition between the construction
that we have described and that which we call compact. A stone roof is
not often found, and the termination is generally a terrace in which
wood is the chief element. In some cases the secondary parts of such
edifices, and sometimes the whole of them, are covered in by brick
vaults, and maintained by walls of a sufficient thickness.

Although the use of monoliths for roofing purposes was general in
Egypt, it must not be thought that the architects of that country were
ignorant of the art of covering voids with materials of small size,
that is to say, of building vaults. There are numerous examples of
Egyptian vaults, some of them of great antiquity, and, moreover, the
Egyptian builders constructed their vaults after a method of their
own. In spite of the facilities which they afforded, they played,
however, but a secondary _rôle_ in the development of art. They were
never used in the buildings to which greater importance was attached;
they are introduced chiefly in out-of-the-way corners of the building,
and in the substructures of great monumental combinations. This method
of construction, being confined within such narrow limits, never
resulted in Egypt in an architectural system;[105] neither did it give
birth to any of those accessory forms which spring from its use.

    [105] We may here remark that the modest dwellings of the
    Egyptian fellah are often covered by vaults of pisé, that is to
    say, of compressed and kneaded clay. None of the ancient
    monuments of Egypt possess such vaults, which are of much less
    durability than those of stone or brick. We are, however,
    disposed to believe that they were used in antique times.

Egyptian vaults may be divided into two great categories, according to
the method of their construction.

1. _Off-set vaults._ These vaults are composed of courses off-set one
from another, and with their faces hollowed to the segment of a
circle. (Fig. 74.)

[Illustration: FIG. 74.--Element of an off-set arch.]

[Illustration: FIG. 75.--Arrangement of the courses in an off-set

[Illustration: FIG. 76.--Off-set semicircular arch.]

If the face of those stones which, in the form of inverted steps, are
turned to the void which has to be covered, be cut into the line of a
continuous curve, the superficial appearance of a segmental arch or
barrel vault will be obtained; but this appearance will be no more
than superficial, the vault will be in fact a false one, because, in
such a construction, all the stones which enframe the void and offer
to the eye the form of a vault, are really laid horizontally one upon
another, and their lateral joints are vertical. (Fig. 76.) When the
units of such vaults are properly proportioned they are stable in
themselves, and they have no lateral thrust.

2. _Centred vaults._ These are true vaults. They are composed of
voussoirs, whose lateral joints are oblique, and radiate towards one
centre or more. (Figs. 77, 78, and 79.)

[Illustration: FIG. 77.--Voussoir.]

[Illustration: FIG. 78.--Arrangement of voussoirs.]

[Illustration: FIG. 79.--Semicircular vault.]

This method of construction is very convenient because it enables the
builder to utilize constructive units of very small dimensions, such
as bricks. But this advantage has a corresponding drawback. These
voussoirs thrust one against another and tend towards disintegration.
They are not stable in themselves, and in order to give them stability
they must be kept in place by surrounding them with opposing forces
which will effectually prevent their setting up any movement in the
structure of which they form a part. This function is fulfilled by the
wall in Egyptian architecture, which is consequently very thick, but
the radiating arch never arrived at such a development in Egypt as to
lead to the adoption of any contrivance specially charged with the
maintenance of vaults in a state of proper rigidity. The Egyptians not
only employed the semicircular arch; they made use, in a few
instances, of the pointed form, and many of their underground
buildings have roofs cut out of the rock in the form of a segmental
vault. The fact that these sepulchral chambers affected the aspect of
vaulted halls, can only be explained by the supposition that a similar
construction was common in the dwellings of the living.[106]

    [106] Another explanation has been given of the employment of
    the vault in subterranean work. Mariette believed the arch to be
    symbolic, to signify the canopy of heaven, the heaven of Amen.
    One objection to this is the fact that the vault was not
    universal in tombs; some of those at Beni-Hassan have flat
    ceilings, others have coves.

§5.--_Compact Construction._

[Illustration: FIG. 80.--Granaries, from a bas-relief.]

The methods employed in what we may call _compact construction_ permit
the use, in considerable quantities, of moulded clay mixed with
chopped straw. This material was used in buildings which were
homogeneous; it was poured into a mould formed by planks, which was
raised as the work progressed and the mixture dried. But the material
had little strength, and was far inferior to those modern concretes
which have the density and durability of the hardest stone. The
Egyptians do not seem to have been acquainted with concrete proper,
and unburnt bricks did not differ essentially from pisé. Such bricks,
when placed one upon another after being imperfectly dried, combined,
under the influence of the weather and their own weight, into
one homogeneous mass so that the separate courses became
undistinguishable. This latter fact has been frequently noticed in
Assyria, by those who had to cut through the thickness of walls in
the process of excavation.

[Illustration: FIG. 81.--Modern pigeon house, Thebes.]

If voids have to be covered in pisé, one of those self-supporting
curves which we have described under the name of vaults, must be made
use of, and the vault must be constructed over a centring of wood. But
we have no evidence that the Egyptians could carry the art of
construction to this point in pisé. On the contrary, we have good
reason to believe that they generally made use of this material for
the quiescent body of the edifice alone, and that voids were mostly
covered with stone or wood. In a word, the Egyptians did not carry the
use of artificial material far enough to form a complete system based
upon it. They made great use of it, but only in a strictly limited
fashion. It is only found in certain well-defined parts of buildings,
which were never of any very great interest from an artistic point of
view (Fig. 80). It deserved to be mentioned, if only for the frequency
of its use in Egypt, in the private architecture of both ancient and
modern times (Fig. 81), but it need not detain us longer.

§ 6.--_Construction by Assemblage._

Carpentry, or construction by assemblage, played a considerable part
in ancient Egypt, but, as may easily be understood, few traces of it
are to be found in our day. Those edifices which were constructed of
wood have, of course, all perished; but, in spite of their
disappearance, we can form a very good idea of their aspect and of the
principles of their construction. In the most ancient epoch of
Egyptian art, the people took pleasure in copying, in their stone
buildings, the arrangements which had characterised their work in
wood; besides which, their paintings and reliefs often represent
buildings of the less durable material. The constructive principles
which we have next to notice, have thus left traces behind them which
will enable us to describe them with almost as much accuracy as if the
carpenters of Cheops and Rameses were working before our eyes.

We need not insist upon the characteristics which distinguish
assembled construction from masonry or brickwork. The different parts
of the former are, of course, much more intimately allied than in
buildings constructed of large stones. Supports of dressed stone truly
fixed with the plumb line are perfectly stable of themselves.

In both Egypt and Greece we often come upon a few columns still
standing upright amid their desolate surroundings, and announcing to
the traveller the site of some city or famous temple which has been
long destroyed. But wooden supports have little thickness in
comparison with their height, and the material of which they are
formed, being far less dense than stone, cannot maintain itself in
place by its own weight. It is the same with wooden architraves. The
heaviest beams of wood will not keep their places when simply laid one
upon another, and are in that matter far inferior to those well
dressed stones which, in so many ancient walls, have resisted change
with neither tenons nor cement to help them.

As a general principle, when wood has to be employed to the best
advantage, and endowed with all the solidity and resisting power of
which it is capable, the separate pieces must be introduced one into
another (Fig. 82). But even when thus combined and held in place by
mechanical contrivances, such as bolts and nails, they will never form
a homogeneous and impenetrable mass like brick or stone. By such
methods an open structure is obtained, the voids of which have
afterwards to be filled up by successive additions, and these
additions often take the form of what we call panels.

We may look upon the different faces of a wooden building as separate
pieces of construction which should be put together upon the ground
before being combined with each other. This process, though not always
made use of in practice, is at least the most logical method for those
who wish to make the best use of their materials. But even when thus
put together, one of these single faces has not much more stability
than each of its constituent elements. In order to form a rigid and
stable whole, the several faces must be allied by reciprocal
interpenetration at the angles.

It was necessary to call attention once for all to these general
characteristics of wooden construction, because we shall hereafter
have occasion to examine the forms and motives which stone
architecture borrowed from wood in the case of other people besides
the Egyptians. We must now determine the particular characteristics
offered by the material in Egypt, as they may be learnt in the
representations to which we have already referred.

[Illustration: FIG. 82.--Elements of wooden construction.]

When a wall has to be built of wood so as neither to warp nor give
way, it is necessary to make use of a certain number of oblique
members. This is one of the elementary rules of the carpenter's art,
and to form an idea how it was applied in our own country it is enough
to cast an eye over any of the wooden buildings of the middle ages or
of the renaissance. The Egyptians were not ignorant of the advantages
conferred by the use of these oblique members because they employed
them frequently in their furniture; but they seem never to have
introduced them into the construction of their buildings. All joints
are there made at a right angle. They were probably led to reject
oblique lines by their unwillingness to break in upon the simple
harmony of vertical and horizontal lines which is the distinguishing
principle of all their architecture. Thus self-deprived of a valuable
resource, they were driven to the discovery of some other means of
giving the required cohesion and stability to their walls. This
requirement they thought they had fulfilled in exaggerating the points
of connection between the vertical and horizontal members, which were
thus brought into more intimate relation than would in these days be
thought necessary.[107] The consequence of this was that their wooden
buildings presented much the same closed appearance (Fig. 83) as we
have already noticed in their stone constructions; and, moreover, as
every joint was made at right angles, the pyramidal form was entirely

    [107] In this respect there is a striking resemblance between
    Egyptian carpentry (see Fig. 83), and much of the joinery of the
    modern Japanese.--ED.

[Illustration: FIG. 83.--Wooden building (first system), composed by
Charles Chipiez.[108]]

    [108] In this figure we have attempted to give some notion of
    what a wooden building must have been like in ancient Egypt,
    judging from the imitations of assembled construction which have
    been found in the tombs and sarcophagi of the ancient empire.

But the Egyptians also made use of wood for buildings very different
from those to which we have hitherto alluded. Those were closed; but
we have now to speak of another system, of one which, by contrast,
might be called an open system of construction. The edifices upon
which it was employed were generally of small size, and in this
respect resembled those which we have described, but they were
distinguished by a different system of carpentering. We know them only
by the figured representations which have come down to us, for they
were little calculated to outlast the centuries (Fig. 84). This second
system lends itself as little as the first to pyramidal and kindred
forms; horizontal lines, also, were in it of but secondary importance.
Composed of a few vertical members bound together at the top, such a
building was allied to the portico type which has already been
described. This method of carpentry seems to have been used only for
subordinate buildings; but yet it should not be passed by in silence.
It was frequently used for the construction of light decorative
pavilions, and it had a set of principles which are as susceptible of
definition as those of the most ambitious architecture.

[Illustration: FIG. 84.--Wooden building (second system), composed by
Charles Chipiez.]

Metal must have entered into the construction of these pavilions. It
may have furnished either the horizontal or the vertical members, and
it is certain that it was partly used for the roofs.

In all wooden structures the roof must also be of wood, because the
light walls which are proper to the material could not support the
great weight of a flat stone covering, still less could they stand up
against the combined weight and thrust of a stone or brick vault,
which would destroy them in very summary fashion.

§ 7.--_Decoration._

We have hitherto described Egyptian architecture according to the
general character of its forms and principles of construction; we must
now attempt to give a true idea of its method of decoration. This may
be described in a very few words. For the decoration of the vast
surfaces, either plain or curved, which their style of architecture
placed at their disposal, the Egyptians made use of paint. They
overlaid with a rich system of colour the whole inside and outside of
their buildings, and that with no desire to accentuate, by a carefully
balanced set of tones, the great constructive lines, contours and
mouldings, nor with any wish to produce merely a complicated,
polychromatic ornamentation. Groups of figures borrowed from the
animal and vegetable kingdoms form its chief constituents. In these
picture decorations, man is seen in every attitude or vocation, side
by side with birds, fishes and quadrupeds, and with those composite
forms which have been created by himself to represent his gods.

Intaglio and bas-relief often lend their help to the ornament. Images
and explanatory inscriptions are sometimes cut in the stone, sometimes
modelled in slight relief; but in either case all figures are
distinguished by their proper colour as well as by the carved or
modelled outlines.

It will thus be seen that Egyptian decoration is distinguished by the
intimate and constant alliance of two elements which are often
separated in that of other races. The first is the employment of
colour to give variety to surfaces and to distinguish different
members of the architecture by the opposition of tones. The second is
the employment of colour for the representation of life, for which
purpose every surface is seized upon, whether the face of a wall, or
the round shaft of a column. The decorator is not satisfied to use
colour to give force to the lines of a building and to increase its
general effect; he also makes use of it to interpret, to multiply, and
to immortalize the ideas which float through his own brain. A building
thus ornamented presents us with a series of pictures embodied in its
own constitution. From cornice to foundation, upon wall and column, it
is covered with an unending series of wall paintings, which, like a
gorgeous tapestry, envelop and embellish it without hiding any of the
details of its construction.

The polychromatic decoration of the Egyptians is to be explained, like
that of the Assyrians, of the Greeks, of the Italians, and of all
other southern nations, by the quality and quantity of their daylight
and the way in which it affected their visual organs. The more intense
the light, the more pleasure does the eye receive from strength and
variety of colour. The science of optics gives us an explanation of
this fact, but at present we are concerned only with the fact itself,
which is a matter of daily experience. It is notorious that the
colours of birds and butterflies, and of the petals of flowers, become
brighter and gayer in exact proportion as we near the equator and
leave the pole;[109] the same rule holds good with the habitations of
mankind, with his clothes and furniture, which become more brilliant
in colour, and more audaciously abrupt in their transitions from one
hue to another. Delicate shades of difference are imperceptible by an
eye blinded with the southern sun; it sees nothing but the simplest,
strongest, and frankest colour notes to the exclusion of all

    [109] We here speak of the fauna as a whole, disregarding
    particular genera and species. It may be said that some
    particular plant which is to be found both in France and Norway,
    is much brighter in colour when it grows in the neighbourhood of
    the pole than in our temperate climate, but this apparent
    exception only confirms the rule which we have laid down. The
    plant whose whole season of bloom is comprised between a late
    spring and an early autumn develops itself much more rapidly
    than with us, and, granting that it has become so hardened that
    it is able to resist the long and hard frosts of winter, it
    receives, during the short summer, much more light and sun than
    its French or German sister. During those fleeting summers of
    the north, whose strange charm has been so often described, the
    sun hardly descends below the horizon; the nights are an hour
    long, and not six or seven. The colour of flowers is therefore
    in exact proportion to the amount of light which they receive.

    [110] This was perceived by Goethe. In art, as in natural
    science, he divined beforehand some of the discoveries of our
    century by the innate force of his genius. He was not surprised
    by the discovery that the temples of classic Sicily were painted
    in brilliant tones, which concealed the surface of their stone
    and accentuated the leading lines of their architecture. He was
    one of the first to accept the views of Hittorf and to proclaim
    that the architects who had found traces of colours upon the
    mouldings of Greek buildings were not deceiving themselves and

Under a burning and never clouded sun, objects of a neutral colour do
not stand out against their background, and their shadows lose a part
of their value, "_comme dévorées par la diffusion et la réverbération
d'une incomparable lumière_." [111] In Egypt, a column, a minaret, a
dome, hardly seem to be modelled as they stand against the depths of
the sky. All three seem almost flat. The warm and varied hues with
which polychromatic decoration endows buildings help us to distinguish
them in such situations from the ground upon which they stand, and to
accentuate their different planes. They also compensate, in some
degree, for the absence of those strong shadows which elsewhere help
to make contours visible. Attention is drawn to the dominant and
bounding lines of an architectural composition by contrasts of tint
which also serve to give force to wall paintings and bas-reliefs.

    [111] We borrow these expressions from M. CH. BLANC, who, when
    in Egypt, was very much struck with this phenomenon. "Those
    villages which approach in colour to that Nile mud of which they
    are composed, hardly stand out at all against the background,
    unless that be the sky itself or those sunny rocks which reflect
    the light in such a fashion that they fatigue the most
    accustomed eyes. I notice here, as I did in Greece, at Cape
    Sunium, that cupolas and round towers have their modelling
    almost destroyed by the strong reflections." (_Voyage de la
    Haute Égypte_, 1876, p. 114).

Polychromy is thus a help to our eyes in those countries where a
blinding light would otherwise prevent us from appreciating the
structural beauties of their architecture. It is by no means peculiar
to Egypt, but that country was the first to employ it upon rich and
vast undertakings, she employed it more constantly and more
universally than any other people, and she carried it to its logical
conclusion with a boldness which was quite unique.

The Egyptian habit of sprinkling figures over every surface without
regard to its shape, its functions, or those of the mass to which it
belonged, was also peculiar to themselves. Upon the round shaft of the
column, upon the bare expanse of the wall, these figures were
multiplied and developed to an extent which was limited only by the
length of the wall or the height of the column. They were generally
painted in bands of equal height, separated one from another by a
narrow fillet which indicated the plane upon which the groups of
figures had a footing. There is no visible connection between the
bands of figures and the structures which they ornament; right and
left, above and below, they spread over every surface and pay no
attention to the joints and other structural accidents by which they
are seamed (Fig. 85 and Pl. III.).

It may be said that these joints were invisible until the passage of
centuries had laid them bare by destroying the stucco which,
especially where sandstone or limestone was used, once veiled the
surface of the bare walls.[112] Doubtless this is true; but even in a
climate such as that of Egypt, the architect could not believe that a
thin coat of plaster would endure as long as the massive walls upon
which he laid it. We have here a great contrast in principle between
the decoration and the architecture of Egypt. In the latter the chief,
if not the only aim, seems to have been to make sure of absolute
stability, of indefinite duration; and yet these eternal walls are
lined with a rich decoration which is spoiled by the fall of a piece
of plaster, which is injured by the unavoidable settlings of the
masonry and destroyed by the slightest earthquake! Of this we need
give but one conclusive instance. Our third plate reproduces that
admirable portrait of Seti I., which is the wonder of the temple at
Abydos. This beautiful work in relief is sculptured upon the internal
faces of four unequal stones in the wall of one of the rooms. The
joints may be distinguished, but as yet they have not opened
sufficiently to do much damage to the artistic beauty of the work; but
it cannot be denied that the preservation of the royal effigy would
have been much more certainly assured if the sculptor had chosen a
single stone to work upon, instead of a built-up wall which so many
causes would help to destroy.

    [112] WILKINSON thought there was always a layer of stucco, even
    upon the beautiful granite of the obelisks (_Manners and Customs
    of the Ancient Egyptians_, 2nd ed., 1878, vol. ii. p. 286.) His
    statement must be treated with great respect. During his long
    sojourn in Egypt he examined the remains of the ancient
    civilisation with great care and patience, but yet we think his
    opinion upon this point must be accepted with some reserve.
    There are in the Louvre certain sarcophagi and other objects in
    hard stone, upon which traces of colour are clearly visible on
    the sunk beds of the figures and hieroglyphics, while not the
    slightest vestige of anything of the kind is to be found upon
    the smooth surface around those carvings. But it is certain that
    granite was often stuccoed over. MARIETTE has verified that it
    was so on the obelisk of Hatasu at Thebes; both from the
    inscription and the appearance of the monument itself he came to
    the conclusion that it had been gilded from top to bottom, and
    that the gold had been laid upon a coat of white stucco. "The
    plain surface," he says, "alone received this costly decoration.
    It had been left slightly rough, but the hieroglyphs, which had
    their beds most carefully polished, preserved the colour and
    surface of the granite." (_Itinéraire_, p. 178.) As for
    buildings of limestone or sandstone, like the temples of Thebes,
    they are always coated.

When Egyptian buildings were new and their colour fresh, this method
of decoration must have given them a most fascinating brilliancy.
Whether the pencil alone were employed to trace the designs upon the
smooth walls, or whether its powers were supplemented by the work of
the chisel, these figures, which succeeded each other in thousands
upon every wall and pillar, mingled with inscriptions which were in
themselves pictures, and dressed in the most vivid colours, must have
at once amused the eye and stirred the brain by the variety of their
tints and of the scenes which they represented. But in spite of its
breadth and vivacity the system had two grave defects.

The first was the fragility of the plaster surface upon which it was
displayed. This surface may be compared to a tapestry stretched over
the whole interior of the building, and, to continue the comparison,
when once any portion of the plaster coat became detached from the
wall, there was nothing left but the ground or reverse of the
stuff.[113] The design and colour may still be distinguished or
divined, but there is a great difference between painted ornament
which is subject to such damage and a woven hanging at any time before
the threads of the woof have been discoloured and entirely worn out.
The other defect in the system, is its uniformity. It is monotonous
and confused in spite of all its richness. It suffers from the absence
of that learned balance between plain and decorated surface which the
Greeks understood so thoroughly. In the Greek temples, sculptured
figures had the more importance in that the eye of the spectator was
drawn forcibly to them by the very limitation of the space reserved
for them. They were cut from separate blocks of marble, which,
though carefully and skilfully allied with the architecture which they
were meant to adorn, did not form an integral part of it. Such figures
ran no risk of being cut in two by the opening of the joints between
the stones. Although marvellously well adapted to the places for which
they were intended, and closely allied to the architecture by their
subject as well as their material shape, they yet preserved a life and
individuality of their own. To take decorative art as a whole, the
Greeks did not make use of so many figures as the Egyptians, but they
knew better how to economize the sources of effect, and to preserve
their works against the destructive action of time.

    [113] _Apropos_ of the Temple of Khons, JOLLOIS and DEVILLIERS
    (_Description générale de Thébes_, ch. ix.) remark: "It was upon
    this coat that the hieroglyphs and figures were sculptured....
    The contour of the figures is sometimes marked upon the stone
    beneath, because the depth of the cutting is greater than the
    thickness of the stucco."

[Illustration: FIG. 85.--Seti I. striking prisoners of war with his
mace. Karnak, Thebes. (Champollion, Pl. 294.)]


    J. Sulpis del et sc.


To Egypt, then, belongs the credit of having been the first to
discover the obligation imposed upon the architect by the sunlight of
the south--to accentuate the main lines of his edifice by means of
colour. She thoroughly understood how to make different tones
distinguish between the various parts of a structure and defend its
contours against the effect of a dazzling light. On the other hand,
she went too far when she covered every surface, without choice or
stint, with her endless figure processions. Such a decoration was only
rendered possible by the use of a material which compromised its
durability; and that is not her only shortcoming. She failed to
understand the value of repose and the absolute necessity of contrast;
she failed to perceive that by multiplying figures to infinity, she
lessened their effect and made them a fatigue to the eye and the



§ 1.--_The Egyptian Belief as to a Future Life and its Influence upon
their Sepulchral Architecture._

The most ancient monuments which have yet been discovered in Egypt are
the tombs; they have therefore a right to the first place in our
sketch of Egyptian architecture.

In every country the forms and characteristics of the sepulchre are
determined by the ideas of the natives as to the fate of their bodies
and souls after life is over. In order to understand the Egyptian
arrangements, we must begin then by inquiring into their notions upon
death and its consequences; we must ask whether they believed in
another life, and in what kind of life. We shall find a complete
answer to our question in the collation of written texts with figured

In the first period of his intellectual development, man is unable to
comprehend any life but that which he experiences in his own person.
He is as yet unable to observe, to analyse or to generalize. He does
not perceive the characteristics which distinguish him from things
about him, and he sees nothing in nature but a repetition of himself.
He is therefore incapable of distinguishing between life such as he
leads it and mere existence. He dreams of no other way of being than
his own. As such is the tendency of his intellect, nothing could be
more natural or more logical than the conception to which it leads him
in presence of the problem offered to him every time that a corpse
descends into the grave. M. Maspero has so thoroughly understood the
originality of the solution adopted by the Egyptians that we cannot do
better, in attempting to explain the hypothesis, at once gross and
subtle, to which they had recourse for consolation, than borrow his
rendering of the texts which throw light upon this subject,
together with some of the reflections which those texts suggested to

    [114] "_Conférence sur l'Histoire des Âmes dans l'Égypte
    ancienne, d'après les Monuments du Musée du Louvre_," in the
    _Bulletin hebdomadaire de l'Association scientifique de France_,
    No. 594. M. Maspero has often and exhaustively treated this
    subject, especially in his numerous lectures at the Collège de
    France. Those lectures afforded the material for the remarkable
    paper in the _Journal asiatique_ entitled, "_Étude sur quelques
    Peintures et sur quelques Textes relatifs aux Funérailles_"
    (numbers for May, June, 1878, for December-June, and November,
    December, 1879, and May-June, 1880). These articles have been
    republished in a single volume with important corrections and
    additions (Maisonneuve, 1880).


    J. Sulpis del et sc.
    SETI I


Were we to affirm that during thousands of years no change took place
in the ideas of the Egyptians upon a future life, we should not be
believed, and, as a fact, those ideas underwent a continual process of
refinement. Under the eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties, during
those centuries when the limits of Egyptian empire and Egyptian
thought were carried farthest afield, we find traces of doctrines
which offer notable variations, and even, when closely examined,
actual contradictions. These are successive answers made during a long
course of time to the eternal and never-changing enigma. As they
became more capable of philosophic speculation the Egyptians modified
their definition of the soul, and, by a necessary consequence, of the
manner in which its persistence after death must be understood, and as
always happens in such a case, these successive conceptions are
super-imposed one upon another; the last comer did not dethrone its
predecessor but became inextricably blended with it in the popular

We refer all those who wish to follow minutely this curious
development of the Egyptian intellect to the subtle analysis of M.
Maspero. That historian has applied himself to the apprehension of
every delicate shade of meaning in a system of thought which has to be
grasped through the veil thrown around it by extreme difficulties of
language and written character, but at the same time he has never
attempted to endow it with a precision or logical completeness to
which it had no claim. By well chosen comparisons and illustrations he
enables us to understand how the Egyptian contented himself with vague
notions, and how he managed to harmonize ideas which seem to us

We shall not enter into those details. We shall not seek to determine
the sense which the Egyptians attached, after a certain period, to the
word _bâi_,[115] which has been translated _soul_, nor the
distinction between it and _khou_, luminousness, which the soul seems
to have enveloped like a garment. We shall not follow the soul and its
internal light in its subterranean journey across _Ament_, the
Egyptian Hades, to which it entered by a cleft, _Pega_, to the west of
Abydos, which was the only portal to the kingdom of the shades; nor
shall we accompany them in the successive transformations which made
them acquainted with every corner of the earth and sky in the infinite
series of their _becomes_ (to use the Egyptian expression); what we
have to do is to trace out the most ancient of their religious
conceptions, the conception which, like the first teachings of
infancy, was so deeply engraved upon the soul and intellect of the
race as to exercise a much stronger influence than the later more
abstract and more philosophical theories, which were superimposed upon
it. In this primitive conception we ought to find the determining
cause of the Egyptian form of tomb. Its constitution was already
settled in the time of the ancient Empire, and, from the Memphite
dynasties until the end, it remained unchanged in principle. In this
constitution we shall find embodied the essential idea adopted by the
Egyptians when they first attempted to find some eternal element in
man, or, at least, some element which should resist the annihilation
of death for a period much longer than the few days which make up our
mortal life.

    [115] Or _ba_.--ED.

The Egyptians called that which does not perish as the dying man draws
his last sigh, the _ka_, a term which M. Maspero has rendered as the
_double_. "This _double_ was a duplicate of the body in a matter less
dense than that of the body, a projection, coloured but aërial, of the
individual, reproducing him feature for feature, a child if coming
from a child, a woman if from a woman, and a man if from a man."[116]

    [116] _Conférence_, p. 381. Mr. Herbert Spencer, in the first
    chapters of his _Principles of Sociology_, has given a curious
    and plausible explanation of how this conception of a _double_
    was formed. He finds its origin chiefly in the phenomena of
    sleep, of dreams, and of the faintness caused by wounds or
    illness. He shows how these more or less transitory suspensions
    of animation led men to suppose that death was nothing but a
    prolonged interruption of life. He also thinks that the actual
    shadow cast by a man's body contributed to the formation of that
    belief. But had it no other elements which belonged to the
    general disposition of humanity in those early periods of
    intellectual life? Into that question we cannot enter here
    further than to say that Mr. Spencer's pages make us acquainted
    with numerous facts which prove that the beliefs in question
    were not confined to a single race, but were common to all

This _double_ had to be installed in a lodging suitable to its
existence, had to be surrounded by objects which it had used in its
former state, had to be supplied with the food which was necessary for
the sustenance of its life. And all these things it obtained from the
piety of its relations, who, on fixed days, brought them to the
threshold of the _good dwelling_ or the _eternal dwelling_, which were
the phrases used by the Egyptians.[117] By these offerings alone could
the hungry and thirsty phantom which had replaced the living man be
kept alive. The first duty of the survivors was to take care that this
dependent existence should not be extinguished by their neglect, to
provide food and drink for the support, if we may use such a phrase,
of the precarious life of the dead, who would otherwise be irritated
against them and use the almost godlike power attributed to his
mysterious condition for the punishment of his ungrateful

    [117] This expression, which is very common in the Egyptian
    texts, seems to have made a great impression upon the Greek
    travellers. The following passage of DIODORUS is well known:
    "This refers to the beliefs of the natives, who look upon the
    life upon earth as a thing of minor importance, but set a high
    value upon those virtues of which the memory is perpetuated
    after death. They call their houses hotels, in view of the short
    time they have to spend in them, while they call their tombs
    their _eternal dwellings_" (i. 51).

    [118] The dead were put under the protection of, and, as it
    were, combined with, Osiris; they talked of _the Osiris so and
    so_ in naming one who was dead.

This conception is not peculiar to Egypt. The _double_ of the Egyptian
sepulchral records corresponds exactly to the εἴδωλον[119] of
the Greeks and the _umbra_ of the Latins. Both Greeks and Latins
believed that when the funeral rites had been duly accomplished, this
image or shadow entered upon the possession of a subterranean dwelling
and began a life which was no more than the continuation of that in
the light.[120] The dead thus remained in close relation with the
living, on the one hand by the nourishment which they received, on the
other by the protection which they afforded; even in the funeral
repast they took their parts, in the strictest sense of the word, in
the eating and drinking.[121] They looked impatiently forward to these
supplies because, for a moment, they awoke their dormant thoughts and
feelings and gave them glimpses of the true life, the life above
ground and in the sunshine.[122] If they were kept waiting too long
they became angry and revenged themselves upon those who had caused
their sufferings. Woe to the family or city which was not careful to
interest the dead in its stability and thus to associate them with its

    [119] Εἴδωλα καμόντων (_Il._ xxiii. 72; _Od._ xi. 476; xxiv.

    [120] This belief is clearly stated in a passage from Cicero
    quoted by Fustel: "Sub terrâ censebant reliquam vitam agi
    mortuorum" (_Tusc._ i. 16). This belief was so strong that it
    subsisted even after the universal establishment of the custom
    of burning the bodies of the dead.

    [121] Texts to this effect abound. FUSTEL brought the more
    remarkable of them together in his _Cité antique_ (p. 14). We
    shall be content with quoting three: "Son of Peleus," said
    Neoptolemus, "take this drink which is grateful to the dead;
    come and drink this blood" (Hecuba, 536). Electra says when she
    pours a libation: "This drink has penetrated the earth; my
    father has received it" (Choephorœ, 162). And listen to the
    prayer of Orestes to his dead father: "Oh my father, if I live
    thou shalt have rich banquets; if I die thou wilt have no
    portion of those smoking feasts which nourish the dead"
    (Choephorœ, 482-484). Upon the strange persistence of this
    belief, traces of which are still found in Eastern Europe, in
    Albania, in Thessaly, and Epirus, the works of HEUZEY (_Mission
    archéologique de Macédoine_, p. 156), and ALBERT DUMONT (_le
    Balkan et l'Adriatique_, pp. 354-356), may be consulted. Some
    curious details relating to the funeral feasts of the Chinese
    are to be found in the _Comptes rendus de l'Académie des
    Inscriptions_, 1877, p. 325. There are some striking points of
    resemblance between the religion of China and that of ancient
    Egypt; in both one and the other the same want of power to
    develop may be found. Taking them as a whole, both the Chinese
    and the Egyptians failed to emerge from the condition of

    [122] In the eleventh book of the Odyssey it is only after "they
    have drunk deep draughts of black blood" that the shades are
    capable of recognising Ulysses, of understanding what he says
    and answering. The blood they swallowed restored their
    intelligence and powers of thought.

    [123] The speeches of the Greek orators are full of proofs that
    these beliefs had a great hold upon the popular mind, even as
    late as the time of Demosthenes. In contested cases of adoption
    they always laid great stress upon the dangers which would
    menace the city if a family was allowed to become extinct for
    want of precautions against the failure of the hereditary line;
    there would then be some neglected tomb where the dead never
    received the visits of gift-bringing friends, a neglect which
    would be visited upon the city as a whole as the accomplice in
    such abandonment. Such an argument and others like it may not
    seem to us to be of great judicial value, but the talent of an
    Isæus understood how to make it tell with an audience, or we
    should not find it so often repeated in his pleadings (see G.
    PERROT, _L'Éloquence politique et judiciare à Athènes. Les
    Précurseurs de Demosthène_, pp. 359-364).

These beliefs seem to have been common to all ancient peoples during
that period of their existence which is lost in the shadow of
prehistoric times. From India to Italy all the primitive forms of
public and private rights betray their presence. For this fact and its
consequences we may refer our readers to the fine work of M. Fustel de
Coulange, _La Cité antique_.[124]

    [124] Seventh edition, Hachette, 18mo., 1879.

[Illustration: FIG. 86.--Stele of the 11th dynasty. Boulak. Drawn by

With the progress of centuries and the development of religious
thought, more elevated ideas prevailed. The growth of the scientific
spirit tended to make the notion of a being suspended between life and
death ever more strange and inadmissible. Experience accumulated its
results and it became daily more evident that death not only put an
end to the activity of the organs, but that, immediately upon its
occurrence, it began to dissolve and decompose their tissues. As time
rolled on men must have found it very difficult to believe in a shadow
thus placed outside the normal conditions of life, in a something
which was not a spirit and yet survived the destruction of its organs.

It would seem then that observation and logical reflection should soon
have led to the abandonment of a theory which now appears so puerile;
but, even in these scientific times, those whose intellects demand
well defined ideas are few indeed.[125] At a period when the diffusion
of intellectual culture and the perfection of scientific methods add
daily to our accumulations of positive knowledge, most men allow their
souls to be stirred and their actions to be prompted by the vaguest
words and notions; how much greater then must the influence of those
confused beliefs and baseless images have been in antiquity when but a
few rare minds, and those ill provided with means of research and
analysis, attempted to think with originality, clearness and freedom.

    [125] Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his ingenious and subtle analysis
    of _primitive ideas_ draws our attention to their frequent
    inconsistencies and even positive contradictions; but he shows
    us at the same time that the most highly civilised races in
    these modern days admit and combine ideas which are logically
    quite as irreconcilable as those which seem to us so absurdly
    inconsistent when we think of the beliefs of the ancients or of
    savage races. Custom renders us insensible to contradictions
    which we should perceive at once were we removed to a distance
    from them. (_The Principles of Sociology_, vol. i. pp. 119,

The prestige of this illusion was increased and perpetuated by its
intimate connection with several of those sentiments which are most
honourable to human nature. Such a worship of the dead surprises and
even scandalizes us by its frank materialism, but if we seek for the
source of its inspiration and its primitive meaning, we find them in
the remembrance of lost objects of affection, in feelings broken by
the supreme separation, in the gratitude of children to the parents
who gave them birth and nourished their infancy, in the recognition by
the living of the blessings which they enjoy through the long and
laborious efforts of their ancestors. There was no doubt a perishable
element in the funerary ideas of Egypt, an element which the progress
of reason was sure to destroy, and we may be tempted to smile when we
think of the Greek or Egyptian giving himself the trouble to feed his
departed ancestors with blood, milk, or honey, but with all their
simplicity, both one and the other were alive to a truth which the
revolutionary spirit of our days, with its childish and brutal
contempt for the past, is often unable to grasp. They realized the
complete solidarity of one human generation with another. Guided by
their hearts alone they anticipated the results at which modern
thought has arrived by close and attentive study of history. From a
reasoned out conviction of this truth and its consequences, philosophy
now draws the principles of a high morality! but long before our days
this idea and the tender, grateful, sentiments which it provoked had
been a powerful instrument in the moral improvement of the first-born
of civilization and a bond of union for their civil and domestic life.

We have thought it right to dwell upon this worship of the dead and to
describe its character at some length, because the beliefs upon which
it was based are not to be found so clearly set forth in the art of
any other people. Their most complete, clear, and eloquent expression,
in a plastic form, is to be seen in the tombs which border the Nile.
And why is this so? It is because the Egyptian industries were already
in full possession of their resources at the period when those beliefs
had their strongest hold over the minds and feelings of the people. In
the case of Greece, art did not arrive at its full development until
the worship of the dead had lost its high place in the national
conscience. When the Greek genius had arrived, after much striving, at
its complete power of plastic expression, the gods of Olympus had been
created for several centuries, and art was called upon to interpret
the brilliant polytheism of Homer and Hesiod, to give outward image to
those gods, and to construct worthy dwellings for their habitation.
Sculptors, painters, and architects still worked indeed, at the
decoration of the tomb. They strove to give it beauty of shape and
arrangement, and to adorn its walls with bas-reliefs and pictures;
they designed for it those vases and terra cottas which, in our own
day, have been found in thousands in the cemeteries of Greece and
Italy, but all this was only a subordinate use of their talent. Their
ambition was to build temples, to model statues of Zeus, Pallas, and
Apollo. On the other hand, those distant ages in which primitive and
childish ideas of religion prevailed, had no art in which to manifest
their beliefs with clearness and precision.

It was otherwise in the valley of the Nile. A well provided industry
and an experienced art laid themselves out to interpret the popular
beliefs and to defend the dead against final dissolution, or the
agonies of hunger and thirst. Egypt did not differ from other nations
in its opinions upon the mystery of death. In the infancy of every
race the same notions on this matter are to be found, and in this
respect the only difference between the Egyptians and the rest of the
world is very much to the credit of the former; they rapidly attained
to a degree of civilization which was only reached by other races
after their religious development was comparatively mature. Thanks to
this advantage, they were enabled to push their ideas to consequences
which were not to be attained by tribes which were little less than
barbarous, and they had no difficulty in expressing them with
sufficient force and precision.

It remains for us to show the use which the Egyptians made of their
superiority in doing more honour to their dead, in guarding them more
safely against the chances which might shorten the duration or destroy
the happiness of their life in the tomb. The fulfilment of this duty
was, as the Greek travellers rightly affirmed, their chief
pre-occupation. Their sepulchral architecture was, of all their
creations, the most original and the most characteristic of their
genius, especially in the forms which we find in the cemeteries of the
Ancient Empire. In the time of the New Empire, at Thebes, it is less
complete and homogeneous. In the latter the arrangement and decoration
do not spring, as a whole, from a unique conception; we find traces in
it of new hypotheses and novel forms of belief. These do not supersede
the primitive ideas; they are added to them, and they bear witness to
the restless efforts made by human thought to solve the problem of
human destiny. These apparent contradictions and hesitations are of
great interest to the student of the Egyptian religion, but from the
art point of view the Memphite tombs are more curious and important
than those of later date. They have the great merit of being complete
in their unity both of artistic form and of intellectual conception.
They are the offspring of a single growth, and are perfect in their
clear logical expression. And again, they are the type of all the
later tombs, of those at Abydos, at Beni-Hassan, and at Thebes.
Certain details, indeed, are modified, but the general disposition
remains the same to the end. We shall, therefore, find the ruling
principle of Egyptian sepulchral architecture most clearly laid down
in the cemeteries of Gizeh and Sakkarah.

The first and most obvious necessity for the obscure form of life
which was supposed to commence as soon as the tomb had received its
inmate, was the body. No pains, therefore, were spared which could
retard its dissolution and preserve the organs to which the _double_
and the soul might one day return.[126] Embalming, practised as it was
by the Egyptians, rendered a mummy almost indestructible, so long, at
least, as it remained in the dry soil of Egypt. On the warm sands of
Sakkarah and close to the excavations from which the fellahs of the
_corvée_ were returning at the end of their day's labour, we--my
travelling companions and myself--stripped a great lady of the time of
Ramses of the linen cloths and bandages in which she was closely
enveloped, and found her body much in the same condition as it must
have been when it left the workshop of the Memphite embalmer! Her
black hair was plaited into fine tresses; all her teeth were in place
between the slightly contracted lips; the almond-shaped nails of her
feet and hands were stained with henna. The limbs were flexible and
the graceful shapes but little altered under the still firm and smooth
skin, which, moreover, seemed to be still supported by flesh in some
parts. Had it not been for its colour of tarred linen or scorched
paper, and the smell of naphtha which arose from the body and from the
numberless bandages which were strewn about, we might have shared the
sentiment attributed to Lord Evandale in Theophile Gautier's brilliant
_Roman de la Momie_; with an effort of good-will we could almost
sympathise with those emotions of tenderness and admiration which were
excited in the breast of the young Englishman at the sight of the
unveiled charms of that daughter of Egypt whose perfect beauty had
once troubled the heart of the proudest of the Pharaohs.[127]

    [126] The texts also bear witness to the ideas with which the
    complicated processes of embalming were undertaken. See P.
    PIERRET, _Le Dogme de la la Résurrection_, &c., p. 10. "It was
    necessary that no member, no substance, should be wanting at the
    final summons; resurrection depended on that." "_Thou countest
    thy members which are complete and intact._" (Egyptian funerary
    text.) "Arise in To-deser (the sacred region in which the
    renewal of life is prepared), thou august and coffined mummy.
    Thy bones and thy substance are re-united with thy flesh, and
    thy flesh is again in its place; thy head is replaced upon thy
    neck, thy heart is ready for thee." (Osirian statue in the
    Louvre.) The dead took care to demand of the gods "_that the
    earth should not bite him, that the soil should not consume
    him_." (MARIETTE, _Feuilles d'Abydos_.) The preservation of the
    body must therefore have been an object of solicitude at the
    earliest times, but the art of embalming did not attain
    perfection until the Theban period. Under the ancient empire men
    were content with comparatively simple methods. Mariette says
    that "more examples would have to be brought together than he
    had been able to discover before the question of mummification
    under the ancient empire could be decided. It is certain, first,
    that no authentic piece of mummy cloth from that period is now
    extant; secondly, that the bones found in the sarcophagi have
    the brownish colour and the bituminous smell of mummies.

    "Not more than five or six inviolate sarcophagi have been found.
    On each of these occasions the corpse has been discovered in the
    skeleton state. And as for linen, nothing beyond a little dust
    upon the bottom of the sarcophagus, which might be the _débris_
    of many other things than of a linen shroud." (_Les Tombes de
    l'Ancien Empire_, p. 16.)

    [127] PASSALACQUA gives the following description of the mummy
    of a young woman which he discovered at Thebes: "Her hair and
    the rotundity and surprising regularity of her form showed me
    that she had been a beauty in her time, and that she had died in
    the flower of her youth." He then gives a minute description of
    her condition and ornaments, and concludes by saying that "the
    peculiar beauty of the proportions of this mummy, and its
    perfect preservation, had so greatly impressed the Arabs
    themselves that they had exhumed it more than once to show to
    their wives and neighbours." (_Catalogue raisonné et historique
    des Antiquités découvertes en Égypte_, 8vo. 1826.)

In order that all the expense of embalming should not be thrown away,
the mummy had to be so placed that it could not be reached by the
highest inundations of the river. The cemeteries were therefore
established either upon a plateau surrounded by the desert, as in the
case of Memphis and Abydos, or in the sides of the mountain ranges and
in the ravines by which they were pierced, as at Thebes and
Beni-Hassan. In the whole valley of the Nile, no ancient tomb has been
discovered which was within reach of the inundation at its

    [128] RHIND describes several mummy-pits in the necropolis of
    Thebes which receive the water of the Nile by infiltration; but,
    as he himself remarks, this is because those who dug them did
    not foresee the gradual raising of the valley, and,
    consequently, of the level attained in recent ages by the waters
    of the Nile. It is doubtless only within the last few centuries
    that the water has penetrated into these tombs. (_Thebes, its
    Tombs and their Tenants_, p. 153.)

The corpse was thus preserved from destruction, first by careful and
scientific embalming, secondly by placing its dwelling above the
highest "Nile." Besides this we shall see that the Egyptian architects
made use of many curious artifices of construction in order to conceal
the entrance to the tomb, and to prevent the intrusion of any one
coming with evil intentions. All kinds of obstacles and pitfalls are
accumulated in the path of the unbidden visitor, with a fertility and
patient ingenuity of invention which has often carried despair into
the minds of modern explorers, especially in the case of the pyramids.
Mariette was fond of saying that there are mummies in Egypt which will
never, in the strictest sense of the word, be brought to light.

But in spite of all this pious and subtle foresight, it sometimes
happened that private hate or, more often, the greed of gain, upset
every calculation. Enemies might succeed in penetrating to the
sepulchres of the dead, in destroying their bodies, and thus
inflicting a second death worse than the first; or a thief might drag
the corpse from its resting place, and leave it naked and dishonoured
upon the sands, that he might, with the greater ease, possess himself
of the gold and jewels with which it had been adorned.

[Illustration: FIG. 87.--Mummy case from the 18th dynasty. Boulak.]

The liability of the mummy to accident had to be provided against. The
idea of the unhappy condition in which the _double_ would find itself
when its mummy had been destroyed, led to the provision of an
artificial support for it in the shape of a statue. Art was
sufficiently advanced not only to reproduce the costume and ordinary
attitude of the defunct and to mark his age and sex, but even to
render the individual characteristics of his physiognomy. It aspired
to portraiture; and the development of writing allowed the name and
qualities of the deceased to be inscribed upon his statue. Thus
identified by its resemblance and its inscriptions it served to
perpetuate the life of the _double_, which was in continual danger of
dissolution or evaporation in the absence of a material support.

The statues were more solid than the mummy, and nothing stood in the
way of their multiplication. The body gave but one chance of duration
to the _double_; twenty statues represented twenty chances more. Hence
the astonishing number of statues which are sometimes found in a
single tomb. The images of the dead were multiplied by the piety of
surviving relations, and consequently the _double_ was assured a
duration which practically amounted to immortality.[129]

    [129] MASPERO, _Conférence_, p. 381.

[Illustration: FIG. 88.--Man and his wife in the style of the 5th
dynasty. Calcareous stone. From the Louvre.]

We shall see that a special recess was prepared in the thickness of
the built up portion of the tomb for the reception of wooden or stone
statues, so that they might be kept out of sight and safe from all
indiscreet curiosity. Other effigies were placed in the chambers of
the tomb or the courts in front of it. Finally, we know that persons
of consideration obtained from the king permission to erect statues in
the temples, where they were protected by the sanctity of the place
and the vigilance of the priests.[130]

    [130] MASPERO, _Notes sur différentes Points de Grammaire et
    d'Histoire_, p. 155. (In the _Recueil de Travaux relatifs à la
    Philologie et à l'Archéologie Égyptienne et Assyrienne_, vol.

[Illustration: FIG. 89.--Sekhem-ka, his wife Ata, and his son Khnem,
in the style of the 5th dynasty. Limestone. From the Louvre.]

From the point of view of the ancient Egyptians such precautions were
by no means futile. Many of these effigies have come down to us safely
through fifty or sixty centuries and have found an asylum in our
museums where they have nothing to fear but the slow effects of
climate and time. Those which remain intact may therefore count upon
immortality. If the _double_ required nothing to preserve it from
annihilation but the continued existence of the image, that of
Chephren, the builder of the second great pyramid, would be still
alive, preserved by the magnificent statue of diorite which is the
glory of Boulak, and thanks to the durability of its material, it
would have every chance of lasting as long as the world itself. But,
unhappily for the shade of Pharaoh, this posthumous existence which is
so difficult of comprehension to us, was only to be prolonged by
attention to conditions most of which could not long continue to be

[Illustration: FIG. 90.--Stele of Nefer-oun. Boulak.]

It was entirely a material life. The dead-alive had need of food and
drink, which he obtained from supplies placed beside him in the
tomb,[131] and afterwards, when these were consumed, by the repasts
which took place periodically in the tomb, of which he had his share.
The first of these feasts was given upon the conclusion of the funeral
ceremonies,[132] and they were repeated from year to year on days
fixed by tradition and sometimes by the expressed wish of the
deceased.[133] An open and public chamber was contrived in the tomb
for the celebration of these anniversaries. It was a kind of chapel,
or, perhaps, to speak more accurately, a saloon in which all the
relations and friends of the deceased could find room. At the foot of
the stele upon which the dead man was represented sacrificing to
Osiris, the god of the dead, was placed a table for offerings, upon
which the share intended for the _double_ was deposited and the
libations poured. A conduit was reserved in the thickness of the wall
by which the odour of the roast meats and perfumed fruits and the
smoke of the incense might reach the concealed statues.[134]

    [131] Jars, which seem to have been once filled with water, are
    found in many tombs of all epochs. Different kinds of dates are
    also found, together with the fruit of the sycamore, corn,
    cakes, &c. See the _Catalogue_ of PASSALACQUA, pp. 123, 151, and
    elsewhere. Quarters of meat have also been found in them, which
    are easily recognised by their well-preserved bones.

    [132] MASPERO, _Études sur quelques Peintures funéraires_, in
    the _Journal Asiatique_, May-June, 1880, p. 387, _et seq._

    [133] In one of the great inscriptions at Beni-Hassan, recently
    translated anew both by M. Maspero and Professor Birch,
    Chnoumhotep speaks thus: "I caused to prosper the name of my
    father. I completed the existing temples of the Ka. I served my
    statues at the great temples. I sacrificed to them their food,
    bread, beer, water, vegetables, pure herbs. My priest has
    verified (I chose a priest for the Ka,--Maspero). I procured
    them from the irrigation of my work-people (I made him master of
    fields and slaves,--Maspero). I ordered the sepulchral offerings
    of bread, beer, cattle, fowl, in all the festivals of Karneter,
    at the festivals of the beginning of the year, the opening of
    the year, increase of the year, diminution of the year (little
    year,--Brugsch and Maspero), close of the year, at the great
    festival, at the festival of the great burning, at the festival
    of the lesser burning, the five intercalary days, at the
    festival of bread making (of the entry of grain,--Maspero) at
    the twelve monthly and half monthly festivals, all the festivals
    on the earth (plain), terminating on the hill (of Anubis). But
    should my sepulchral priest or men conduct them wrongly may he
    not exist, nor his son in his place."--BIRCH, _Records of the
    Past_, vol. xii. p. 71.--ED.

    [134] In each opening of the serdab in the tomb of Ti, at
    Sakkarah, people, probably relatives of the deceased, are
    represented in the act of burning incense in a contrivance which
    resembles in form the θυμιατήριον of the Greek monuments.
    (MARIETTE, _Notice des principaux Monuments de Boulak_, p. 27,
    note 1.)

[Illustration: FIG. 91.--Preparation of the victims and arrival of
funeral gifts, 5th dynasty. Height of each band, 13-1/2 inches.
Boulak. Drawn by Bourgoin.]

The Egyptians did not trust only to the piety of their descendants to
preserve them from a final death by inanition in their neglected
tombs. At the end of a few generations that piety might grow cold and
relax its care; besides, a family might become extinct. All those who
could afford it provided against such contingencies as these by giving
their tombs what we now call a perpetual foundation. They devoted to
the purpose the revenues of some part of their property, which was
also charged with the maintenance of the priest or priests who had to
perform the ceremonial rites which we have described.[135] We find
that, even under the Ptolemies, special ministers were attached to the
sepulchral chapel of Cheops, the builder of the great pyramid.[136] It
may seem difficult to believe that a "foundation" of the ancient
empire should have survived so many changes of _régime_, but the
honours paid to the early kings had become one of the national
institutions of Egypt. Each restoring sovereign made it a point of
duty to give renewed life to the worship of those remote princes who
represented the first glories of the national history.

    [135] See the paper by M. MASPERO upon the great inscription at
    Siout, which has preserved for us a contract between Prince
    Hapi-Toufi and the priests of Ap-Môtennou, by which offerings
    should be regularly made to the prince's statue, which was
    deposited in a temple at Siout. (_Transactions of the Society of
    Biblical Archæology_, vol. vii. pp. 1-32.)

    [136] It was the same in the case of a still older king,
    Seneferu, the founder of the fourth dynasty. (DE ROUGÉ,
    _Recherches sur les Monuments que l'on peut attribuer aux six
    premières Dynasties de Manéthon_, p. 41.)

[Illustration: FIG. 92.--Table for offerings. Louvre.]

[Illustration: FIG. 93.--Another form of the table for offerings.

Besides which there were priests attached to each necropolis, who,
for certain fees, officiated at each tomb in turn. They were
identified by Mariette upon some of the bas-reliefs at Sakkarah. Their
services were retained much in the same way as masses are bought in
our days.[137]

    [137] _Tombes de l'Ancien Empire_, p. 87.

The same sentiment led to the burial with the dead of all arms,
clothes, jewels, and other objects of which they might have need in
the next life. We know what treasures of this kind have been obtained
from the Egyptian tombs and how they fill the cases of our museums.
But neither was this habit peculiar to Egypt. It was common to all
ancient people whether civilized or barbarous. Traces are to be found
even in the early traditions of the Hellenic race of a time when, like
those Scythians described by Herodotus,[138] the Greeks sacrificed, at
the death of a chief, his wives and servants that they might accompany
him to the next world. When she began to reveal herself in the arts
Egypt was already too far civilized for such practices as these;
thanks to the simultaneous development of science, art and religion,
she found means to give the same advantages to her dead without
permitting Scythian cruelties. Those personal attendants and domestic
officers whose services would be so necessary in another life, were
secured to them at a small expense; instead of slaying them at the
door of the tomb, they were represented upon its walls in all the
variety of their occupations and in the actual moment of labour. So
too with all objects of luxury or necessity which the _double_ would
wish to have at hand, as for instance his food and drink.[139]

    [138] HERODOTUS, iv. 71, 72.

    [139] In a few rare cases the objects destined for the
    nourishment of the _double_ are represented in the round instead
    of being painted upon the wall. In the tomb of the personage
    called Atta, a wooden table, supporting terra-cotta vases and
    plucked geese carved in calcareous stone, has been found.
    (MARIETTE, _Tombes de l'Ancien Empire_, p. 17.) The vases must
    have been full of water when they were placed in the tomb; the
    stone geese may be compared to the _papier-mâché_ loaves of the
    modern stage.

A custom which would seem to have established itself a little later
may be referred to the same desire; we mean the habit of placing in
the tomb those statuettes which we meet with in such vast numbers
after the commencement of the second Theban Empire.[140] Mariette
obtained some from tombs of the twelfth dynasty, and the sixth
chapter of the _Book of the Dead_, which is engraved upon them, seems
to be one of the most ancient. Egyptologists are now inclined to
believe that the essential parts of this ritual date back as far as
the Memphite period.

    [140] All Egyptian collections contain coffers of painted wood,
    often decorated in the most brilliant fashion, which served to
    hold these statues when they were placed in the tomb. The size
    and the richness of their ornament depended upon the wealth of
    the deceased for who they were made.

[Illustration: FIG. 94.--Labourers heaping up ears of corn, from a
tomb at Gizeh. (_Description de l'Égypte._)]

These statuettes are of different sizes and materials. As a rule they
do not exceed from eight to twelve inches, but there are a few which
are three feet or more in height. Some are in wood, some in limestone,
and some in granite, but as a rule they are made of that kind of terra
cotta which, when covered with green or blue enamel, has been called
Egyptian porcelain. They are like a mummy in appearance; their hands
are crossed upon the breast and hold instruments of agriculture such
as hoes and picks, and a sack meant for grain hangs from their
shoulders. The meaning of all this is to be sought in the Egyptian
notions of a future life; it is also explained by the picture in
chapter XC. of the _Ritual_, which shows us the dead tilling, sowing
and harvesting in the fields of the other world. The texts of the
Ritual and of certain inscriptions call these little figures
_oushebti_ or _answerers_ from the verb _ousheb_, to answer. It is
therefore easy to divine the part attributed to them by the popular
imagination. They answered to the name traced upon the tomb and acted
as substitute for its tenant in the cultivation of the subterranean
regions.[141] With the help of the attendants painted and sculptured
upon the walls they saved him from fatigue and from the chance of
want. This is another branch of the same old idea. In his desire to
take every precaution against the misery and final annihilation which
would result from abandonment, the Egyptian thought he could never go
too far in furnishing, provisioning and peopling his tomb.

    [141] PIETSCHMANN (_Der Egyptische Fetischdienst_, &c., p. 155),
    has well grasped the character and significance of these
    statuettes. Conf. PIERRET, _Dictionnaire d'Archéologie
    égyptienne_, vol. v. See also, in connection with the
    personality attributed to them and to the services which were
    expected from them, a note by M. MASPERO, _Sur une Tablette
    appartenant à M. Rogers_. (_Recueil de Travaux_, vol. ii. p.

[Illustration: FIGS. 95, 96.--Sepulchral statuettes, from the Louvre.]

The ingenuity of their contrivances is extraordinary. Food in its
natural state would not keep, and various accidents, might, as we have
shown, lead to the death of the _double_ by inanition. It was the same
with furniture and clothes; the narrow dimensions of the tomb,
moreover, would forbid the accumulation there of everything which its
sombre tenant might desire. On the other hand the funerary statuettes
were made of the most indestructible materials and the bas-reliefs and
paintings were one with the thick walls of stone or living rock. These
have survived practically unaltered until our day. We visited the tomb
of Ti a short time after its chambers had been opened and cleared. It
was marvellous to see how form and colour had been preserved intact
and fresh under the sand, and this work which was four or five
thousand years old seemed to be but lately finished. By the brightness
of their colours and the sharp precision of their contours these
charming reliefs had the effect of a newly struck medal. Such scenes
from the daily life of the people continued to be figured upon
Egyptian tombs from the old empire to the new. When their study and
comparison were first begun different explanations were put forward.
Some believed that they were an illustrated biography of the deceased,
a representation of his achievements or of those over which he had
presided during the course of his mortal life; others saw in them an
illustration of his future life, a setting forth of the joys and
pleasures of the Egyptian Elysium.

Both these interpretations have had to give way before the critical
examination of the pictures themselves and the decipherment of their
accompanying inscriptions. It was soon perceived, through comparisons
easily made, that these scenes were not anecdotic. On a few very rare
occasions they seem to be connected with circumstances peculiar to the
inhabitant of the tomb. There are a few steles and tombs upon which
the dead man seems to have caused his services to be described, with
the object, no doubt, of continuing in the next world his career of
honour and success in this. Such an inscription is so far
biographical, and a similar spirit may extend to the decorations of
the stele and walls of the tomb. As an example of such narrative
epigraphs we may cite the long inscription of Ouna, which gives us
the life of a sort of grand-vizier to the two first Kings of the sixth
dynasty;[142] also the inscriptions upon the tombs of those feudal
princes who were buried at Beni-Hassan. In the latter there are
historical representations as commentaries upon the text. Among these
is the often reproduced painting of a band of Asiatic emigrants
bringing presents to the prince and demanding, perhaps, a supply of
wheat in return, like the Hebrews in the time of Jacob.

    [142] DE ROUGÉ, _Mémoire sur les Monuments des six premières
    Dynasties_ (p. 80 _et seq._). Conf. MASPERO, _Histoire
    Ancienne_, pp. 88-92.

[Illustration: FIG. 97.--Vignette from a Ritual upon papyrus, in the
Louvre. Chap. XC., 20th dynasty.]

But all this is exceptional. As a rule the same subjects occur upon
the tombs again and again, in the persistent fashion which
characterizes traditional themes. The figures by which the flocks and
herds and other possessions of the deceased were numbered are too
great for literal truth.[143] On the other hand the pictured tradesmen
and artificers, from the labourer, the baker, and the butcher up to
the sculptor, seem to apply themselves to their work with an energy
which excludes the notion of ideal felicity. They, one and all, labour
conscientiously, and we feel that they are carrying out a task which
has been imposed upon them as a duty.

    [143] See MARIETTE, _Tombes de l'Ancien Empire_, p. 88.

For whose benefit do they take all this trouble? If we attempt to
enter into the minds of the people who traced these images and compare
the pictured representations with the texts which accompany them, we
shall be enabled to answer that question. Let us take by chance any
one of the inscriptions which accompany the scenes figured upon the
famous tomb of Ti, and here is what we find. "To see the picking and
pressing of the grape and all the labours of the country." Again, "To
see the picking of the flax, the reaping of the corn, the transport
upon donkeys, the stacking of the crops of the tomb." Again, "Ti sees
the stalls of the oxen and of the small animals, the gutters and
water-channels of the tomb."

It is for the dead that the vintage takes place, that the flax is
picked, that the wheat is threshed, that oxen are driven into the
fields, that the soil is ploughed and irrigated. It is for the supply
of his wants that all these sturdy arms are employed.

We shall leave M. Maspero to sum up the ideas which presided at the
construction of the Egyptian tomb, but first we must draw our
readers' notice to the fact that he, more than once, alludes to a
conception of the future life which differs somewhat from the early
Egyptian notions, and belongs rather to the Second Theban Empire and
its successors.

[Illustration: FIG. 98.--Arrival in Egypt of a company of Asiatic
emigrants (Champollion, pls. 362, 393).]

"The scenes chosen for the decoration of tomb walls had a magic
intention; whether drawn from civil life in the world or from that of
Hades, they were meant to preserve the dead from danger and to insure
him a happy existence beyond the tomb.... Their reproduction upon the
walls of the sepulchre guaranteed the performance of the acts
represented. The _double_ shut up in his σύριγξ[144] saw
himself going to the chase upon the surrounding walls and he went to
the chase; eating and drinking with his wife, and he ate and drank
with her; crossing in safety the terrible gulfs of the lower world in
the barque of the gods, and he crossed them in safety. The tilling,
reaping, and housing on his walls were for him real tilling, reaping,
and housing. So, too, the statuettes placed in his tomb carried out
for him under magic influence all the work of the fields, and, like
the sorcerer's pestle in Goethe's ballad, drew water for him and
carried grain. The workmen painted in his papyri made shoes for him
and cooked his food; they carried him to hunt in the deserts or to
fish in the marshes. And, after all, the world of vassals upon the
sides of the sepulchre was as real as the _double_ for which they
laboured; the picture of a slave might well satisfy the shadow of a
master. The Egyptian thought that by filling his tomb with pictures he
insured the reality of all the objects, people, and scenes represented
in another world, and he was thus encouraged to construct his tomb
while he was yet alive. Relations, too, thought that they were doing a
service to the deceased when they carried out all the mysterious
ceremonies which accompanied his burial. The certainty that they had
been the cause of some benefit to him consoled and supported them on
their return from the cemetery where they had left their regretted
dead in possession of his imaginary domain."[145]

    [144] This word, σύριγξ (flute), was employed by the Greeks to
    designate those long subterranean galleries cut in the rock of
    the necropolis at Thebes, in the valley called the _Valley of
    the Kings_; modern egyptologists apply it in a more general
    sense to all tombs cut deeply into the flanks of the mountain.
    For the reason which led the Greeks to adopt a term which now
    seems rather fantastic, see PIERRET, _Dictionnaire d'Archéologie
    égyptienne_. The chief passages in ancient authors in which the
    term is applied either to the subterranean excavations of Egypt
    or to other galleries of the same kind, are brought together by
    Jomard in the third volume of the _Description_ (_Antiquités_,
    vol. iii. pp. 12-14).

    [145] _Journal asiatique_, May-June, 1880, pp. 419, 420.

Such a belief is astonishing to us; it demands an effort of the
imagination to which we moderns are in no way equal. We have great
difficulty in realising a state of mind so different from what ours
has become after centuries of progress and thought. Those early races
had neither a long enough experience of things, nor a sufficiently
capable power of reflection to enable them to distinguish the possible
from the impossible. They did not appreciate the difference between
living things and those which we call inanimate. They endowed all
things about them with souls like their own. They found no more
difficulty in giving life to their carved and painted domestics, than
to the mummy or statue of the deceased, or to the phantom which they
called the double. Is it not natural to the child to take revenge upon
the table against which he hurts himself, or to speak tenderly to the
doll which he holds in his arms?

[Illustration: FIG. 99.--The tomb of Ti; women, representing the lands
of the deceased, carrying the funeral gifts.]

This power to endow all things with life and personality is now
reserved for the poet and the infant, but in the primitive days of
civilization it belonged to all people alike. Imagination had then a
power over a whole race which in our days is the gift of great poets
alone. In the efforts which they made to forestall the wants of the
helpless dead, they were not content with providing the food and
furniture which we find upon the walls. They had a secret impression
that these might be insufficient for wants renewed through eternity,
and they made another step upon the way upon which they had embarked.
By a still more curious and still bolder fiction than those which had
gone before, they attributed to prayer the power of multiplying, by
the use of a few magic sentences, all objects of the first necessity
to the inhabitants of the tomb.

Every sepulchre has a _stele_, that is to say, an upright stone tablet
which varied in form and place in different epochs, but always served
the same purpose and had the same general character. Most of these
steles were adorned with painting and sculpture; all of them had more
or less complicated inscriptions.[146] In the semicircle which forms
the upper part of most of these inscribed slabs, the dead person,
accompanied by his family, presents offerings to a god, who is usually
Osiris. Under this an inscription is carved after an unchanging
formula: "Offering to Osiris (or to some other deity, as the case may
be) in order that he may give provision of bread, liquid, beef, geese,
milk, wine, beer, clothes, perfumes, and all good and pure things upon
which the god subsists, to the ka of N..., son of M...." Below this
the defunct is often shown in the act of himself receiving the
offerings of his family. In both divisions the objects figured are
looked upon as real, as in the wall decorations. In the lower division
they are offered directly to him who is to profit by them; in the
upper, the god is charged to see that they are delivered to the right
address. The provisions which the god is asked to pass on to the
defunct are first presented to him; by the intervention of Osiris the
_doubles_ of bread, meat and drink pass into the other world to
nourish the double of man. But it was not essential for the gift to be
effective that it should be real, or even _quasi_-real; that its image
should even be given in paint or stone. The first-comer could procure
all things necessary for the deceased by their enumeration in the
proper form. We find therefore that many Egyptians caused the
following invocation to passing strangers, to be engraved upon their

    [146] See above, Figs. 87 and 91.

"Oh you who still exist upon the earth, whether you be private
individuals, priests, scribes, or ministers entering into this tomb,
if you love life and do not know death, if you wish to be in favour
with the gods of your cities and to avoid the terrors of the other
world, if you wish to be entombed in your own sepulchres and to
transmit your dignities to your children, you must if you be scribes,
recite the words inscribed upon this stone, or, if not, you must
listen to their recital: say, offering to Amen, master of Karnak, that
he may give thousands of loaves of bread, thousands of jars of drink,
thousands of oxen, thousands of geese, thousands of garments,
thousands of all good and pure things to the _ka_, or _double_, of the
prince Entef."[147]

    [147] We borrow the translation of this inscription, as well as
    the reflections which precede it, from M. MASPERO (_Conférence_,
    p. 382). According to M. de Rougé, it dates from about the
    twelfth dynasty. An invocation of the same kind is to be found
    in another epigraph of the same period, the inscription of
    Amoni-Amenemhaït, hereditary prince of the nome of Meh, at
    Beni-Hassan. See MASPERO, _La Grande Inscription de
    Beni-Hassan_, p. 171 (_Recueil de Travaux_, etc., vol. i.

Thanks to all these subtle precautions, and to the goodwill with which
the Egyptian intellect lent itself to their bold fictions, the tomb
deserved the name it received, the _house of the double_. The
_double_, when thus installed in a dwelling furnished for his use,
received the visits and offerings of his friends and relations; "he
had priests retained and paid to offer sacrifices to him; he had
slaves, beasts of burden, and estates charged with his support. He was
like a great lord sojourning in a strange country and having his wants
attended to by intermediary officials assigned to his service."[148]

    [148] MASPERO, _Conférence_, p. 282.

This analogy between the house and the tomb is so complete that it
embraces details which do not seem very congruous. Like the house of
the living, the tomb was strictly oriented, but after a mystic
principle of its own.

As soon as the Egyptian began to think he perceived the most obvious
of the similarities between the sun's career and that of man. Man has
his dawn and his setting. Man grows from the early glimmerings of
infancy to the apogee of his wisdom and strength; he then begins to
decline and, like the magnified evening sun, ends by disappearing
after his death into the depths of the soil.

In Egypt the sun sets every evening behind the Libyan chain; thence he
penetrates into those subterranean regions of Ament across which he
has to make his way before the dawn of the next day. The Egyptian
cemeteries were therefore placed on the left bank of the Nile, that
is, in the west of the country. All the known pyramids were built in
the west, and there we find all the more important "cities of the
dead," the necropolis of Memphis and those of Abydos and Thebes. A few
unimportant groups of tombs have indeed been found upon the eastern
bank; but these exceptions to a general rule are doubtless to be
explained by a question of distance. For any city placed near the
eastern border of the wider parts of the Nile valley, a burying-place
in the Libyan chain would be very inconvenient both for the transport
of the dead, and for the sepulchral duties of the survivors.[149]

    [149] Among the cemeteries of the right bank we may mention that
    of Tell-el-Amarna; where the tombs would have been too far from
    the city had they been dug in the Libyan Chain. The cemeteries
    of Beni-Hassan and of Eilithyia (_El-Kab_) are also in the Arab
    Chain. In spite of these exceptions, however, the west was the
    real quarter of the dead, their natural habitation, as is proved
    by the tearful funeral songs translated by M. MASPERO: "The
    mourners before the ever-to-be praised Hor-Khom say, 'O chief,
    as thou goest toward the West, the gods lament thee.' The
    friends who close the procession repeat, 'To the West, to the
    West, oh praiseworthy one, to the excellent West!'" MASPERO,
    _Étude sur quelques Peintures funéraires_ (_Journal asiatique_,
    February-April, 1881, p. 148).

Each morning sees the sun rise as youthful and ardent as the morning
before. Why then should not man, after completing his subterranean
journey and triumphing over the terrors of Ament, cast off the
darkness of the tomb and again see the light of day? This undying hope
was revivified at each dawn as by a new promise, and the Egyptians
followed out the analogy by the way in which they disposed their
sepulchres. They were placed in the west of their country, towards the
setting sun, but their doors, the openings through which their inmates
would one day regain the light, were turned to the east. In the
necropolis of Memphis, the door of nearly every tomb is turned to the
east,[150] and there is not a single stele which does not face in that
direction.[151] In the necropolis of Abydos, both door and stele are
more often turned towards the south, that is towards the sun at its
zenith.[152] But neither at Memphis, at Abydos, nor at Thebes is there
a tomb which is lighted from the west or presents its inscription to
the setting sun.[153] Thus, from the shadowy depths where they dwell,
the dead have their eyes turned to that quarter of the heavens where
the life-giving flame is each day rekindled, and seem to be waiting
for the ray which is to destroy their night and to rouse them from
their long repose.[154]

    [150] "It is so," says Mariette, "four times out of five." (_Les
    Tombes de l'Ancien Empire_, in the _Revue archéologique_, new
    series, vol. xix. p. 12).

    [151] "In the further wall of the chamber, and _invariably
    facing eastwards_, is a stele." (_Ibidem_, p. 14.)

    [152] MARIETTE, _Abydos_, vol. ii. p. 43.

    [153] The tombs in the Arab Chain form, of course, an exception
    to this rule. The unusual circumstances which took them eastward
    of the river forced them also to neglect the traditional law.

    [154] The symbolic connection established by man between the
    course of the sun and his own life was well understood by
    Champollion, who used it to explain the paintings in the royal
    tombs at Thebes. (See his remarks on the tomb of Rameses V. on
    the 185th and following pages of his _Lettres d'Égypte_, &c.)

The ideas and beliefs which we have described were common to all
Egyptians, irrespective of class. When he felt his last hour
approaching, the humble peasant or boatman on the Nile was as anxious
as Pharaoh himself to insure the survival of his double and to guard
against the terrors of annihilation:

                 ... Mais, jusqu'en son trépas,
    Le riche a des honneurs que le pauvre n'a pas.

[Illustration: FIG. 100.--Lid of the coffin of Entef, 11th dynasty.

Those who, when alive, had to be content with a hut of earth or of
reeds, could not, when dead, expect to have a tomb of stone or brick,
a habitation for eternity; they could not look for joys in the other
world which they had been unable to procure in this. So that such
tombs as those which most fully embodied the ideas we have described
must always have remained the exclusive privilege more or less of the
governing classes. These consisted of the king, the princes and
nobles, the priests, the military chiefs, and functionaries of every
kind down to the humblest of the scribes attached to the
administration. As for those Egyptians who did not belong to this
aristocracy, they had to be content with less expensive arrangements.
The less poor among them at least took measures to be embalmed and to
be placed in a coffin of wood or _papier-mâché_, accompanied by
scarabs and other charms to protect them against malignant spirits.
The painted figures upon the coffin also helped to keep off evil
influences. If they could afford it they purchased places in a common
tomb, where the mummies were heaped one upon the other and confided to
the care of priests who performed the funerary rites for a whole
chamber at once.[155] It was the frequent custom to put with the dead
those pillows of wood or alabaster which the Egyptians seem to have
used from the most ancient times for the support of their heads in
sleep. This contrivance, which does away with the necessity for
continually rearranging their complicated head-dress, is still used by
the Nubians and Abyssinians.

    [155] Upon the papyrus known as the _Papyrus Casati_, mention is
    made of a priest who is charged to watch over a whole collection
    of mummies.

        "This is the list of bodies belonging to Osorvaris:--
        "Imouth, son of Petenefhotep, his wife and children;
        "Medledk, the carpenter, his wife and children;
        "Pipee, his wife and children, from Hermouth;
        "The father of Phratreou, the fuller;
        "Aplou, the son of Petenhefhotep the boatman, his wife and
           children, from Thebes;
        "Psenmouth, the carpenter, his wife and children;
        "Psenimonthis, the mason;
        "Amenoth, the cowherd."

    There are many more lists of the same kind. The above is cited
    from M. E. LE BLANT (_Tables égyptiennes à Inscriptions
    grecques_, p. 6, 1875, 8vo.).

[Illustration: FIGS. 101, 102.--Scarabs. Louvre.]

[Illustration: FIGS. 103, 104.--Funerary amulets. _Oudja_ and _ta_.

But those who could procure even these slight advantages were still
among the favourites of fortune. Many were unable to obtain even this
minimum of funeral honours. On the confines of all the great
cemeteries, at Thebes as well as at Memphis, corpses are found
deposited in the loose sand two or three feet from the surface. Some
of these are packed in the leaves of the palm, others are roughly
enveloped in a few morsels of linen. They have been hastily dipped in
a bath of natron, which has dirtied rather than embalmed them.[156]
Sometimes even these slender precautions have been omitted. Bodies
have been found in the earth without vestige of either coffin or linen
swathes. The sand seems to have been intrusted with the work of drying
them, and they have been found in our days in the condition of

    [156] See in the interesting work of Mr. H. RHIND (_Thebes, its
    Tombs and their Tenants_, London, 1862, 8vo.), the chapter
    headed _A Burial-place of the Poor_.

[Illustration: FIG. 105.--Pillow, Louvre.]

On the other hand, the fortunate ones of the world, those who were so
easy in their circumstances in this life that they could place
themselves in the same happy condition in the next, spared no expense
in anything connected with their burial. They never allowed themselves
to be surprised by death, as we so often do. Whether kings or private
individuals, they made their preparations while they were still alive,
and caused their tombs to be constructed under their own eyes.[157]
Their forethought when living and the piety of relations spared
nothing that could add to the beauty and convenience of dwellings
which were to be the eternal resting places of their inmates. The
palaces of the princes and rich men of Egypt were so lightly built
that they have left no traces upon the soil; but many of their tombs
have subsisted uninjured to our day, and it is from them that we have
obtained our treasures of Egyptian art. All the other nations of the
ancient world followed the good example thus set, or rather, to speak
more accurately, being all penetrated with similar ideas, they took
similar courses without borrowing one from the other. Whenever we
moderns have opened any of those ancient tombs which have happily
remained intact, we have been met by the same discoveries. Whether it
be in Egypt or Phœnicia, in Asia Minor, Cyprus or Greece, in
Etruria or Campania, the same astonishing sight meets our eyes. The
tombs are filled with precious objects and _chefs d'œuvres_ of art
which their depositors had intended never again to see the light of

    [157] MARIETTE, _Tombes de l'Ancien Empire_, p. 83. See also the
    great inscription of Beni-Hassan, the first lines of which run
    thus: "The hereditary chief ... Khnumhotep ... has made a
    monument for the first time to embellish his district; he has
    sculptured his name for ever; he has embellished it for ever by
    his chamber of Karneter; he has sculptured the names of his
    household; he has assigned their place. The workmen, those
    attached to his house, he has reckoned amongst his dependants of
    all ranks." [BIRCH, _Records of the Past_, vol. xii. p.
    67.--ED.] It was, no doubt, in order to conform to the Egyptian
    custom that Antony and Cleopatra commenced in their lifetime
    that tomb which Augustus ordered to be finished after their
    death (SUETONIUS, _Augustus_, 17). "To be laid to rest in the
    tomb which he had made for himself and furnished with every
    necessary was the greatest good which the gods could insure to
    an Egyptian. In Papyrus IV. at Boulak we find the following
    phrases: 'Be found with thy dwelling finished in the funerary
    valley: in every enterprise which thou meditatest _may the
    morning when thy body shall be hid be present to thee_.'" (From
    the French of M. MASPERO, _Journal asiatique_, 7th series, t.
    xv. p. 165, note 1.)

In modern times, when piety or pride stimulates to the decoration of a
tomb, all the care of the architect, the sculptor and the painter is
given to the outside, to the edifice which surmounts the actual grave.
The grave or other receptacle for the coffin is as plain and simple in
the most sumptuous monuments of our cemeteries as in the most humble.
Our funerary architecture is based upon our belief that the tomb is
empty; that the vital part of the deposit confided to it has escaped
to rejoin the current of eternal life. Under such conditions the tomb
becomes above all things a commemorative structure, a more or less
sincere manifestation of the grief of a family or of society at large
for the loss of one of its members. As for the narrow pit into which
the "mortal coil" is lowered, all that we demand of it is that it
should be deep enough and properly closed. Art makes no attempt to
illumine its darkness. She leaves to workmen the task of excavation
and of building its walls and confines herself to the visible parts of
the tomb. The dead within furnishes the pretext for her activity, but
it is the admiration of the living that is her real incentive.

The ideas of the ancients on this matter were, as we have seen, very
different. They looked upon the tomb as an inhabited house; as a house
in which the dead was to lead some kind of existence. Rich men wished
their tombs to look well outside, even to the distant spectator, but
it was to the inside that their chief attention was turned. They
wished to find there all the necessaries, the comforts, the luxuries,
to which they had been accustomed during life. So we find that the
Egyptians, the Greeks or the Etruscans, were willing enough, when they
built their own tombs or those of their relations, to throw a
_tumulus_ of earth above it, or, later, a constructed building which
was conspicuous at a distance. In those sepulchres which were cut out
of the side of a mountain, the fronts were carved with frieze,
pediment and columns into the shape of a regularly constructed
portico; but the chief object of solicitude to the proud possessor of
such a tomb, was its internal furnishing and disposition. For him
there was no removal should he be discontented with his lodging. When
a man is condemned by illness or accident to keep his room, he takes
care to surround himself with everything that he may want. He gathers
immediately about him all the comforts and luxuries which he can
afford; and death is an illness from which there is no recovery.

Impelled by such ideas as these, the ancients filled their tombs with
precious objects and decorated them with sumptuous art, all the more
that they seemed well guarded against intrusion for the sake of gain.
Thus the Achæans of Mycenæ (if that be the proper name of those
mysterious people) buried, in the sepulchres discovered by Dr.
Schliemann, the innumerable objects of gold and silver which now fill
the museum of Athens; thus the tombs of Bœotia were filled with
those marvels of grace and delicate workmanship, the terra cottas of
Tanagra; and those of Etruria and Campania with the most beautiful
painted vases ever produced by Greek taste.

Identity of religious conception thus led, from end to end of the
antique world, to funerary arrangements which bore a curious
resemblance one to another, so that sepulchral architecture among the
ancients had, as a whole, a very different character from that of the
moderns. This character is more strongly marked in Egypt than anywhere
else, and therefore we have studied it in detail. The general
observations to which it has given rise have been made once for all,
and we shall not have to repeat them when we describe the funeral
customs of other ancient peoples. We shall then confine ourselves to
pointing out the slight differences which naturally spring up in the
several interpretations of a common belief.

We have still to show how the varying circumstances of time and place
caused the Egyptian tomb to pass through certain modifications of form
and decoration, which, however, were never of so radical a nature as
to affect its general appearance and arrangement. Until Egypt became a
mere geographical expression and her venerable civilization lost its
independence and originality, these latter remained practically

§2.--_The Tomb under the Ancient Empire._

Among the tombs which date from the time of the ancient empire, the
most interesting to the traveller are, of course, the Pyramids. Long
before his arrival at Cairo he sees the summits of those artificial
mountains rising into the air above the vapours raised by the sun, and
above the dust thrown up by the teeming population of the city. At
that distance their peaks seem light and slender from their height
above the horizon (Plate I. 2).

The tourist's first visit is paid to the Pyramids, and many an
European leaves Egypt without seeing any other ancient building. He
thinks that he has qualified himself to discourse upon Egyptian
architecture because a few shouting Arabs have landed him, exhausted,
upon the topmost stone of the pyramid of Cheops, and have painfully
dragged and thrust him along those passages of the interior which will
ever be among his most disagreeable recollections. During all this his
eyes and thoughts are entirely given to the preservation of his own
equilibrium, and he sees nothing of the real constitution of the
structure he has come to visit.

In spite of the wonderful panorama which repays the fatigues of the
ascent, and of the overpowering impression made upon the mind by their
colossal mass, the Pyramids, as we see them to-day are far from being
the most complete and interesting of the sepulchral monuments left to
us by the early dynasties. The largest and best preserved are not so
old as some of the tombs in the necropolis of Memphis, and, royal
burying-places as they are, their arrangement and ornamentation are
less rich and expressive than those of many sepulchres built by
private individuals. Many of the latter, in their comparatively
restricted dimensions, answer better to the definition of a tomb
suggested to us by our study of the national beliefs.

We shall, therefore, reserve the Pyramids for future treatment, and in
our review of the successive forms taken by sepulchral architecture,
we shall assign the first place to those private tombs, dating from
the Ancient Empire, which are to be found in the necropolis of
Memphis. Notwithstanding a few differences, to which we shall refer
hereafter, these tombs, as a whole, can be traced to a single type, of
which Lepsius was the first to perceive the interest.[158] This type,
which was first clearly brought to light by the many and deep
excavations carried out by Mariette, has been known for some years
past by the Arab term _mastaba_,[159] which means literally a _bench_,
a bench of stone or wood. This name was given by the labourers
employed upon the excavations, and seemed well adapted to their long
and low shapes, which bear some resemblance to those divans, or
ottomans, which are found in every room of an oriental dwelling.
Mariette was struck by the fitness of the expression, and used it ever
after to designate that particular kind of tomb.

    [158] _Briefe aus Ægypten_, p. 23 _et seq._ Before the Prussian
    commission left Middle for Upper Egypt they had studied 130
    private tombs, of which the principal ones are figured in the

    [159] Lexicographers do not seem to know the origin of this
    word; they believe it to be foreign, perhaps Persian.

Mariette will be our constant guide in this part of our study. After
having opened many hundreds of these monuments, he published in
the _Revue archéologique_, what we may call a _theory of the
mastaba_.[160] In all essential matters we shall allow his words to
speak for themselves; when he enters into more detail than is
necessary for our purpose, we shall content ourselves with epitomizing
his descriptions.

    [160] Vol. xix. (1869), pp. 1-22 and 81-89.


The space over which the monuments which we propose to describe are
spread, is on the left bank of the Nile, and extends from _Abou-Roash_
to _Dashour_; it is thus, in all probability, the largest cemetery in
the world, being more than fifteen miles in length, and of an average
width of from two to two and a half miles.[161] It was, in a word, the
burial-place for Memphis and its suburbs, and Memphis seems to have
been the largest city of Egypt, and to have boasted an antiquity which
only Thinis could rival. Excavations have failed, apparently, to
confirm the assertion of Strabo, who describes the early capital of
Egypt as reaching to the foot of the Libyan chain. On the contrary, it
seems to have been confined between the canal which is called the
_Bahr Yussef_ and the Nile. It would thus have formed a very long and
rather narrow city, close upon the river, of which the site may still
be traced by the more or less barren hillocks strewn with blocks of
granite and fragments of walls, which crop up from the plain between
Gizeh and Chinbab. For forty centuries there was a continual
procession of corpses from Memphis itself, and probably from towns on
the other side of the Nile, such as Heliopolis, to the plateau which
lies along the foot of the Libyan chain. The formation of this plateau
makes it peculiarly well adapted for the purpose to which it was put.
It consists of a thick bed of soft limestone, covered by a layer of
sand which varies in depth from many yards to a few feet according to
the inequalities of the ground beneath it.

    [161] EBERS (_Ægypten_, p. 137) gives this necropolis a length
    of more than forty-five miles, but in making it extend to
    Meidoum he seems to be exaggerating.

It was easy, therefore, either to lay bare the rock and to construct
the tomb upon it, or to dig the mummy pits in its substance, and the
winds might be trusted to quickly cover the grave with sand which
would protect it when made. The same sand covered the coffinless
corpse of the pauper with its kindly particles. Age after age the dead
were interred by millions in this great haven of rest. At first there
was plenty of room, and the corpses were strewn somewhat thinly in the
sand,[162] but with time economy of space had to be practised, until
at last bodies were squeezed into the narrowest spaces between older
inhabitants. Sometimes these new comers even intruded into the tombs
of those who had gone before them, and that without always troubling
themselves to conceal their usurpation by effacing the name of the
rightful owner.[163]

    [162] Upon the plateau which, at Sakkarah, extends westwards of
    the stepped pyramid the manner in which the necropolis was
    developed can be readily seen. In walking eastwards, that is,
    from the pyramid towards the cultivated land, we pass a first
    zone of tombs which date from the Ancient Empire, a second which
    possesses sculptures of the twenty-sixth dynasty, and a third
    which dates from the Greek period.

    [163] We may quote as an interesting example of such usurpation
    the Theban tomb first opened by a Scottish traveller, HENRY
    RHIND, to whose interesting work (_Thebes, its Tombs and their
    Tenants, Ancient and Present, with a Record of Excavations in
    the Necropolis_, Longman, 1862, 8vo.) we shall often have to
    refer. This tomb seems to have been made in the reign of
    Amenophis III. by a brother and sister whose statues were found
    in it, but it also contained Sebau, son of Menkara, a high
    official of the time of the Ptolemies, with his wife and all his
    family (c. iv.).

The number of tombs was increased to a prodigious extent by the
non-employment of those family tombs which, as we shall see, were made
use of by the Phœnicians, the Greeks, and the Etruscans. The
Egyptian sepulchre was a personal appanage. The husband and father of
a family admitted into it only his wife and such of their children as
died young. The son, when he in turn became the head of a family,
built a tomb for himself. Each generation, each human couple marked
their passage through the world by the erection of a new tomb.

All the _mastabas_ belong to the period of the Memphite empire. Those
who built them were able to give free play to their fancies, and to
develop the structure, both above and below ground, both in
arrangement and in decoration, to any extent they pleased. We may
therefore look upon them as the freest, the most spontaneous, and the
most complete expression of the ideas formed by the men of that remote
age concerning death and the life beyond the grave.

The mastabas of Sakkarah will receive most of our attention, and in
describing them we shall often have occasion to quote the words of
Mariette.[164] Those which are to be found in the more northern part
of the necropolis, in the neighbourhood of the Great Pyramid, differ
only in unimportant details from those at Sakkarah. The general
appearance now presented by these monuments may be guessed from the
sketch which M. Bourgoin has sent us of the tomb of Sabou (Fig. 106).
The other mastabas figured by us have all been more or less restored.

    [164] MARIETTE (_Voyage dans la haute Égypte_, p. 32) thought
    that the word Sakkarah was an ancient name derived from
    _Socharis_, a Memphite form of _Osiris_.

"The _mastaba_ is a massive structure, rectangular on plan, with four
faces of plain walling, each being inclined at a stated angle towards
their common centre. This inclination has led some people to assert
that it is nothing more than an unfinished pyramid. Such an idea is
refuted, however, by the fact that the divergence from the
perpendicular is in some cases so slight that, were the walls
prolonged upwards, their ridges, or _arêtes_, would not meet for some
eight or nine hundred yards. The mastaba might be more justly compared
to the space comprised between two horizontal sections of an obelisk,
supposing the obelisk to have an oblong base.

[Illustration: FIG. 106.--Actual condition of a mastaba. The tomb of
Sabou. Drawn by Bourgoin.]

"The major axis of the rectangle upon which these structures are
planned, always runs due north and south, and at the pyramids of
Gizeh, the necropolis of the west, they are arranged upon a
symmetrical plan so as to resemble a chess board on which all the
squares are strictly oriented.[165] The more carefully built mastabas
are oriented according to the true astronomical north. All the others
show the same intention, and, in those instances where an error of a
few degrees is to be discovered, it is to be clearly attributed to
carelessness on the part of the builder, a common fault in these
tombs, and not to a difference of intention. We often find that the
northern face is not strictly parallel to the southern, nor that on
the west to that on the east.

    [165] The way in which the mastabas were arranged with respect
    to each other is well shown in plates xiv. and xviii. of
    Lepsius's first volume (map of the pyramids of Gizeh and
    panorama taken from the summit of the second pyramid).

[Illustration: FIG. 107.--Three mastabas at Gizeh. Perspective view,
after the plan of Lepsius. (_Denkmæler_, vol. i. pl. 24.)]

"Although not varying much from true orientation, the mastabas of
Sakkarah are not arranged with the symmetry which distinguishes those
on the south and west of the Great Pyramid.[166] They are sprinkled
about in a rather haphazard fashion. Here we find them well
interspaced and there actually placed one upon another. It follows
that the chess-board arrangement which is so conspicuous at Gizeh is
not here to be noticed. Even at Sakkarah there were streets between
the rows of tombs, but they are so irregularly placed, and they are
often so narrow, many of them being nothing more than blind alleys,
that the inexperienced visitor may well fancy himself in a maze.

    [166] The general aspect of this city of the dead, and the
    regularity of its monuments, made a great impression upon the
    members of the "Institut d'Égypte." The following are the words
    of JOMARD (_Description_, vol. v. p. 619): "From the top of the
    building one sees an infinite quantity of the long rectangular
    structures extending almost to the Pyramids. They are carefully
    oriented, and exactly aligned one with another. I counted
    fourteen rows of them, in each direction, on the west of the
    Great Pyramid, and as many on the east, making nearly four
    hundred in all. The sand under which many of them are buried
    leaves their forms easily distinguishable." Since the time of
    Jomard many of the mastabas have been changed by the excavations
    into mere formless heaps of _débris_, and yet the general
    arrangement can still be clearly followed.

"The Sakkarah mastabas are built either of stone or brick.

"The mastabas of stone are of two kinds: those of a very hard blue
siliceous limestone and those of a softer chalky limestone which is
found upon the spot. This latter stone was used for the Stepped
Pyramid. The tombs upon which it was used seem to be much the oldest
in the necropolis; they are also the least rich and important.

[Illustration: FIG. 108.--Restoration of part of the Necropolis of

"Our general notion of Egyptian architecture would lead us to look for
the use of huge stones in these mastabas, and, in fact, certain
important monuments, such as the _Mastabat-el-Faraoun_, and parts of
important monuments, such as the Temple of the Sphinx and the passages
and chambers of the greater pyramids, were constructed of very large
blocks. But the Sakkarah architects were more modest. Apart from the
ceilings, architraves and other places where big stones were
necessary, the blocks are of an average height of about half a yard,
with a proportionate length and thickness.

"The brick-built sepulchres are of two kinds also. The more elaborate
are of black brick, while a yellowish brick is used for the others.
The yellow bricks are a mixture of sand and pebbles with a little
clay; the black bricks are of earth and straw. The former are always
small (8·8 in. x 4·4 in. x 2·8 in.); the latter are comparatively
large (15·2 in. x 7·2 in. x 5·6 in.). Both kinds are dried simply in
the sun. The yellow bricks seem to be the more ancient. Their
employment begins and ends with the Ancient Empire. The black bricks,
on the other hand, appear for the first time about midway through the
fourth dynasty. At first they were rarely employed, but under the
eighteenth dynasty and those which followed it, they came to be
exclusively used."

[Illustration: FIG. 109.--The Mastabat-el-Faraoun.]

All these mastabas, whether of brick or stone, betray an amount of
negligence in their construction which is astonishing. Considering the
ideas which the Egyptians had formed of a future life, the chief
preoccupation of their architects should have been to give a stability
to their sepulchres which would have insured their perpetuity, and,
with it, that of the deposit committed to their charge. The whole of
our description will be pervaded by accounts of the minute precautions
devised to that end. "Now these mastabas are constructed with care on
their outsides alone. The core of their walls is composed of sand, of
rubbish, of blocks of stone mingled with the flakes struck off by the
masons, and all this in most cases without any cement to give it
coherence. The mastabas of Sakkarah are not homogeneous constructions
of masonry and cement, like the pyramids and most of the mastabas of
Gizeh. They are confused heaps of ill assorted materials, which would
collapse but for the retaining strength of their covering of solid

"At Sakkarah the outward faces of the mastaba are not smooth. Each
successive course is slightly set back from the one below it. At Gizeh
the walls form a smooth plane gently inclined from the perpendicular.

"There are mastabas of all sizes. That of Sabou measures 172 feet by
84; that of Ha-ar, 149 by 74; that of Ra-en-ma 169 by 81, and that of
Hapi no more than 25 ft. 6 in. by 19 ft. 6 in. In height they vary
less. The highest are not more than from 26 to 30 ft. high, the
smallest about 12."

[Illustration: FIG. 110.--Entrance to a Mastaba at Sakkarah.

The roof of the mastaba is a plain surface without irregularity of any
kind; but the soil above it is sprinkled with vases buried at a slight
depth. These vases are pretty evenly distributed, but they are rather
more numerous in that part of the soil which covers the ceilings of
the chambers, a circumstance of which Mariette often made use to guide
him in his excavations. Like all the vases of this epoch, those which
are found upon the roof of the mastabas are roughly made, pointed at
the bottom and without handles. They each contain a thin film of
yellow clay deposited by the water with which they were filled. They
were placed in their curious position under the notion that the water
which they contained would quench the thirst of the dead man below.
The mouths of the jars were covered with flat stones, and the water
would last long enough to satisfy at least the immediate necessities
of the inhabitant of the tomb.

"The principal face of the mastaba is turned to the east. In four
cases out of five the entrance to its chambers, when there is one, is
found upon this face. The general arrangement is, almost always, as
follows: 1. At a few metres distance from the _north-eastern_ angle we
come upon a quadrangular niche or recess, very high and very narrow,
in the depths of which those long vertical grooves which distinguish
the steles of this epoch are carved upon the actual masonry of the
tomb. For this recess an unimportant stele, with or without
inscription, is occasionally substituted, or (2) we find, at a few
metres distance from the _south-eastern_ angle, either a deeper,
larger, and more carefully built recess, in the depths of which a
monolithic stele of white limestone covered with hieroglyphs is
placed; or a regular architectural façade in miniature with a door in
the centre. When the recess is found near the southern angle of the
eastern face, the tomb begins and ends there. It has no internal
chamber, or rather, the recess acts as substitute for one. But when,
instead of the niche or recess, we meet with a door, we then know that
we have come upon a regularly completed tomb. The name of its
proprietor is often carved upon the lintel. Several of these lintels,
of a peculiar shape, are to be seen in the Louvre.

[Illustration: FIG. 111.--Lintel of the tomb of Teta, 6th dynasty.

"Next after the eastern face, in relative importance, comes that which
is turned to the north. When the entrance is in the northern wall the
door is invariably at the back of a kind of vestibule, in front of
which are two monolithic columns, without base or capital, supporting
the architrave which, in turn, supports the roof.

"Still more seldom than in the northern face, the entrance is
occasionally found upon that which is turned to the south. This
exceptional arrangement is, in most instances, caused by some local
circumstance which may readily be perceived. When the entrance is on
the south its arrangement is sometimes the one, sometimes the other,
of the two which we have described.

"As for the western face, we have no evidence that it ever played any
more ambitious _rôle_ than that of completing the inclosure. It is
always destitute of both openings and ornaments."

We have thus explored, with Mariette, the outside of the mastaba. We
have described its form and general aspect, we have noticed the
materials of which it was constructed, the principles upon which it
was oriented, and its average size. We have explained, too, how this
single type of sepulchre was repeated many thousands of times with but
slight variations, until, upon the plateau between Memphis and the
desert there gradually arose a metropolis of the dead more populous
than that of the living. It remains to describe the contents of those
huge blocks of masonry. We shall begin by visiting the chambers
planned by the architect in the building itself; we shall afterwards
penetrate, by the paths which modern curiosity has established through
the _débris_ of ages and the depths of the soil, to those recesses of
the tomb which were meant to be for ever inaccessible.

The interior of a mastaba is composed of three parts--the chamber, the
_serdab_, and the well. The last-named of the three is the only part
which is never wanting. Many of the mastabas are, in fact, solid. In
them the chamber is in a very rudimentary condition, being represented
merely by one of those external niches which Mariette has described.
This arrangement was the earliest, and, as long as the mastaba
continued to be built, the less ambitious tenants of the necropolis
were contented to reproduce it. But in these pages, as in a natural
history, it is important to study the species when fully developed and
provided with all its organs. When we have clearly established a
general type nothing is more easy than to recognise and point out its
variations. It suffices to say here that some tombs are wanting in
one, some in another of those constituent parts whose meaning and uses
we shall attempt to determine, and that, in a few, they are of an
unaccustomed importance.

It is natural that we should first turn our attention to the chamber.
This was a kind of neutral ground upon which the quick and the dead
could meet, the former to present, the latter to receive the funeral

"The interior of a mastaba may be divided into several 'chambers'
(there are three in the tomb of Ti), but generally there is only one.
It is entered by the door in the middle of the _façade_.

"These chambers have, as a rule, to depend upon the door for light,
but there are a few instances in which they are lighted from openings
in the roof. A remarkable example of the latter arrangement is to be
seen in the tomb of Ti, where the innermost chamber, which otherwise
would be in complete darkness, is lighted from the roof.

"The chamber is sometimes quite bare, sometimes covered with
sculptures and paintings such as those whose character and meaning we
have already pointed out. At its further end, and always facing
eastwards, stands the inscribed tablet or stele. There are some
chambers in which the walls are bare and the stele engraved, but there
are none where the walls are carved and the stele plain."

[Illustration: FIG. 112.--Plan of the tomb of Ti.]

[Illustration: FIGS. 113, 114.--Mastaba at Sakkarah, from Prisse.]

In the tomb of Ptah-Hotep, of which we reproduce the principal side,
the stele proper is on the left, but the figures and the funerary
inscriptions cover all the central part of the richly decorated wall
(Fig. 115).

We see, then, that the stele is the one indispensable part of this
complicated whole. It was, in fact, upon the formula with which it was
inscribed, that the Egyptians depended for those magical agencies by
which Osiris became the active medium of transmission between the
living and the dead.

"At the foot of the stele there was often a table for offerings,
in granite, alabaster, or limestone. This was laid flat upon the
ground (Fig. 92).

[Illustration: FIG. 115.--Western wall in the chamber of the tomb of
Ptah-Hotep, 5th dynasty. Drawn by Bourgoin.]

"As a rule this was the only piece of furniture in the chamber; but
occasionally we find, on each side of the stele and always placed upon
the ground, either two small limestone obelisks, or two objects in
that material resembling table legs hollowed out at the top for the
reception of offerings."

This chamber was left open to every comer. The entrance was in fact
left without a door. To this rule Mariette found but two exceptions in
the many hundreds of tombs which he examined.[167]

    [167] One of these exceptions is furnished by the tomb of Ti, of
    which we shall often have to speak (Fig. 114). The large public
    hall near the entrance to the tomb was separated from the two
    chambers farther in by a corridor closed at two points by doors,
    some remains of which were found in place when the tomb was

"Not far from the chamber, oftener on the south than the north, and
oftener on the north than the west, a passage in the masonry, high,
narrow, and built of very large stones, is found. The workmen employed
upon the excavations christened it the _serdab_, or corridor, and
their name has been generally adopted."[168] In Figs. 116-119 we give
the plan and three sections of a mastaba at Gizeh which has four

    [168] This is a word of Persian origin adopted by the Arabs. Its
    strict meaning is a dark subterranean opening, cave, or

"Sometimes the serdab has no communication with the other parts of the
mastaba, it is entirely walled in, but in other instances there is a
narrow quadrangular opening, a sort of pipe or conduit, which unites
the serdab with the chamber. It is so small that the hand can only be
introduced into it with difficulty.[169]

    [169] The tomb of Ti had two serdabs as well as three chambers;
    one of these was close to the door, the other in the innermost
    part of the mastaba. In the latter several statues of Ti were
    found, the best preserved being now in the museum at Boulak.

"The use of the serdab is revealed by the objects which have been
found in it; it was to hold one or more statues of the deceased. The
Egyptians believed these statues to be the most certain guarantees,
always with the exception of the mummy itself, of a future life for
the dead. Hidden from sight in their dark prison, they were protected
from all violence, while they were separated only by a few stones from
the chamber where the friends and relations met together, and the
conduit by which the intervening wall was often pierced, allowed the
smell of fruit and incense and the smoke of burnt fat to come to their

    [170] In a Theban tomb described by M. MASPERO (_Étude sur
    quelques Peintures funéraires_) the tenant, Harmhabi, is made to
    speak thus: "I have come, I have received my bread; joining the
    embalmed offerings to my members, I have breathed the scent of
    the perfumes and incense." It is also possible that this conduit
    may have been intended to permit of the free circulation of the
    _double_, to allow it to pass from its supporting statues to the
    chapel in which it is honoured. This curious idea, that the
    spirit of the dead can pass through a very small hole, but that
    it cannot dispense with an opening altogether, is found among
    many nations. The Iroquois contrived an opening of very small
    diameter in their tombs, through which the soul of the dead
    could pass and repass. See HERBERT SPENCER, _Principles of
    Sociology_, vol. i. p. 192.

[Illustration: FIG. 116.--Plan of a mastaba with four Serdabs.
(Lepsius, i., pl. 24.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 117.--Longitudinal section of the same mastaba.]

"No inscriptions have been found in a serdab except those upon the
statues. And no objects other than statues have ever been found in a
serdab." So that the function of the serdab was to afford a safe and
final asylum to the statues. These were, no doubt, to be found in
other situations also, because, not to mention the numerous
bas-reliefs upon which the figure of the deceased appeared in the
chamber or in the niche which sometimes took its place, he was
sometimes portrayed in high relief, and of full life size, in the
public hall of the tomb.[171] Sometimes, also, we find a statue in one
of those front courts which, especially at the time of the fourth
dynasty, seem to have been in great favour. But this court, as well as
the chamber, was open to every chance passer by, and the statues
which they both contained were in continual danger from careless or
malicious hands. It was to guard against such chances as these that
the inventive architects of Egypt contrived a safe retreat in the
heart of the massive structure which should provide a reserve of
statues against every contingency. When all those which were exposed
to accident should have perished, these would still survive and would
furnish to the _double_ the material support, the tangible body, to
which that phantom was obliged to attach himself unless he wished to
perish entirely.

    [171] There is an example of this in a mastaba at Gizeh (Fig.
    120). See No. 95 of LEPSIUS (_Denkmæler_, vol. i. p. 29; vol.
    iii. pl. 44).

[Illustration: FIG. 118.--Transverse section through the chamber.]

These precautions were not ill conceived. The serdab kept efficient
guard over its deposit; the museum of Boulak contains at least a
hundred statues from the ancient empire which were found at Sakkarah,
and nine-tenths of them were found in the serdabs.

[Illustration: FIG. 119.--Transverse section through the serdabs.]

We have now described all those parts of the tomb which were above
ground. We have not been content with visiting the chamber only, which
was freely left open, we have penetrated into the farthest recesses,
and have discovered those secrets of the massive walls which their
constructor thought to hide for ever from the eye of man. But even yet
we have not arrived at the actual place of burial; we shall reach it,
however, through our third internal division, the well or pit.

"The well is an artificial excavation, square or rectangular in plan,
never round, at the bottom of which is the chamber in which the mummy
is deposited.

"To arrive at the opening of the well, we must mount to the platform,
or roof, of the mastaba (Fig. 122). As there was never any staircase
to a mastaba either within or without, it will be seen that the well
must have been a very inaccessible part of the tomb." In one single
instance, namely, in the tomb of Ti, the well is sunk from the floor
of the largest of the internal chambers, but whether it opened upon
the roof or upon the floor of the chamber, it was always closed with
the utmost care by means of a large flat stone.

[Illustration: FIG. 120.--Figures in high relief, from a mastaba at
Gizeh, 5th dynasty (from Lepsius).]

"The well is generally situated upon the major axis of the mastaba,
and, as a rule, nearer to the north than to the south. Its depth
varies, but, on an average, it is about forty feet. Now and then,
however, it has a depth of sixty-five or even eighty feet. As the well
begins at the platform and ends in the rock-carved mummy chamber, it
follows that it passes vertically first through the mastaba, secondly
through the rock upon which the mastaba is founded. The built part of
the well is carefully constructed of large and perfect stones, and in
this we find one of the distinguishing characteristics of the tombs of
the ancient empire." In the tomb of Ti the well takes the form of an
inclined plain like a passage in the pyramids. In the common form of
well the mummy pit could only be reached by means of ropes.

"When the bottom of the well is reached a gaping passage is seen in
the rock which forms its southern wall. This passage, which is not
high enough to allow one to walk upright, does not run quite parallel
to the axis of the mastaba. It is directed obliquely towards the
south-east, like the chamber above. Suddenly it becomes enlarged into
a small cavern, which is the mortuary chamber properly speaking, that
is to say, the room with a view to which the whole structure has been
planned and to which all its other parts are but accessories.

"This mortuary chamber is vertically under the public hall above, so
that the survivors who came together in the latter for the funeral
ceremonies had the corpse of the deceased under their feet, at a
distance which varied according to the depth of the well."

[Illustration: FIG. 121.--The upper chamber, well, and mummy

    [172] This figure is a composition by Mariette for the purpose
    of showing the relation between the subterranean and constructed
    parts of the tomb. (_Notice des principaux Monuments_, p. 22.)
    [It shows, however, the well opening from the floor of the upper
    chamber, an arrangement which is not characteristic of the

The mortuary chambers are large and carefully built, but generally
without ornament or inscription. Of all those explored by him Mariette
found but one which had its walls ornamented; in the middle of its
decorations, which he does not describe, he contrived to make out a
few phrases which seemed to belong to the _Ritual of the Dead_.

The sarcophagus was placed in one corner of the chamber. It was
generally of fine limestone, sometimes of red granite, and on a few
occasions of opaque black basalt. It was rectangular on plan with a
round-topped lid squared at the angles.

Mariette found none at Sakkarah with inscriptions. On the other hand
we find them upon the sarcophagus at Khoo-foo-Ankh, which was
discovered at Gizeh and belongs to the fourth dynasty (Figs. 123,

[Illustration: FIG. 122.--Double mastaba at Gizeh, transverse section
(from Lepsius, t. i., pl. 22).]

"The Egyptians did not always trust to the mere size and weight of the
lid for the secure closing of the sarcophagus. The under-side of the
cover is made with a rebate at its edge which fits into a
corresponding groove on the upper edge of the sarcophagus, and the two
edges were bound still more tightly together by a very hard cement.
Finally, as if all these precautions were not enough, wooden bolts
were affixed to the under-side of the lid which fitted into slots in
the sarcophagus and helped to render the two inseparable."

So far as we can judge from the few human remains which have been
gathered from these ancient tombs, the process of embalmment was then
carried on in simple and elementary fashion, and it was this
imperfection that the Egyptians attempted to neutralize, by the
innumerable and complicated precautions which they took to insure that
the corpse should not be disturbed in its envelope of stone. In later
times, when the preparation of the mummy was better understood, they
were not so careful to seal up the sarcophagus from the outer air.

"The furniture of the mummy chamber comprised neither statues, nor
funerary statuettes, nor amulets of any kind. Sometimes a few ox bones
bestrew the ground. Two or three large and pointed red vases,
containing nothing but a thin deposit of clay, rest against the walls.
Within the sarcophagus we find the same sobriety of sepulchral
furniture. Beyond a wooden or alabaster pillow (Fig. 105) and half a
dozen little drinking cups of alabaster, nothing has been found there
but the mummy itself."

[Illustration: FIG. 123.--Sarcophagus of Khoo-foo-Ankh. Perspective
after Bourgoin. Red granite. Height 1·33 metres. Boulak.]

These beef bones must be the remains of the quarters of meat which
were placed in the tomb for the nourishment of the dead. No scene is
more frequently represented upon the walls of the public chamber of
the mastaba than the killing and flaying of victims for the funeral
ceremonies (Fig. 125). Like those which are found upon the roof, the
vases must have held water for the double. The pillow was placed under
the head of the mummy, it was the one he had used during his life. As
for the drinking cups, their use has not yet been determined, so far
as we know.

"As soon as the mummy was in the sarcophagus, the sarcophagus sealed,
and the various objects which we have described in place, the opening
at the bottom of the well was walled up; the well itself was filled
with stones, earth, and sand, and the dead was left to his eternal
sleep."[173] These precautions make it no easy thing to reach the
mummy chamber. To find the entrance to the well is the first
difficulty, and when it is found, many hands and no little time are
required to remove the rubbish with which it is filled. The only
mechanical helps which the Egyptians have ever used in such work are
those which we ourselves have seen in the hands of Mariette's
labourers, namely, the wooden shovel and the little rush basket which
is filled with a few handfuls of sand and pebbles, and then carried on
the head to be emptied at a convenient distance. It may be guessed how
many journeys to and fro have to be made before a few cubic yards of
_débris_ are cleared by such means as this!

    [173] The broken up and decayed remains of wooden boats have
    been found in two or three mummy pits (MARIETTE, _Les Tombes de
    l'Ancien Empire_, p. 17). They originally formed part, perhaps,
    of the boats upon which the corpse was transported across the
    Nile to the nearest point of the western bank to the tomb. There
    can be no doubt that, in placing them in the well, the survivors
    believed that they were serving the deceased. Both the
    bas-reliefs in the tomb and the _Ritual_ contain many
    representations of the soul navigating the regions of Ament (see
    the upper section of Fig. 98). In certain Theban tombs, models
    of fully rigged boats have been found; there are some of them in
    the Louvre (_Salle Civile_, case K). [There are two in the
    British Museum, and one, a very fine one, in the museum at

[Illustration: FIG. 124.--Details of the Sarcophagus of

[Illustration: FIG. 125.--Bas-relief from Sakkarah. Boulak.]

We have so far followed Mariette, and have frequently had to make use
of his _ipsissima verba_. To his pages and to the plates of the great
work of Lepsius, we must refer those readers who are not contented
with being told general rules but wish to know the exceptions also. We
shall not go into all the changes which variety of taste and the
progress of art introduced into the arrangement and decoration of
Egyptian buildings; they do not affect the general statements which we
have made. We shall not re-state the evidence which enabled Mariette
to apportion the 142 painted and sculptured mastabas explored by him
in 1869, to the first six dynasties. It is certain that those
monuments form a chronological series extending over a space of from
twelve to fifteen centuries, and that during the whole of that long
period, the general character of Egyptian sepulchral architecture
remained unchanged.

We should here, perhaps, in order to make our description complete,
attempt to convey a true idea of the reliefs which cover the sides of
the chamber, and of the statues which fill the serdab. We should,
perhaps, by a judicious choice of examples, endeavour to estimate
their style and composition; but we shall postpone all such
examination until we come to treat of sculpture, and of the way in
which the earliest Egyptian artists treated the human form. A didactic
and analytic method is so far despotic that it compels us, in order to
marshal our facts and to make them easily understood, to separate
phenomena which are intimately connected, and to destroy the unity of
natural groups. We have thus been driven to separate the figured
decorations of the tomb from the architectural arrangements which
enframe and support them; with the latter, alone, are we now

We may sum up the foregoing details by the following general
description of the Egyptian tomb as it was established in the early
ages of the national life, in those years when the national
civilization put on the form and colour which it retained until the
last days of antiquity.

This tomb, when complete, included (1) a built up part which, being
raised well above the surface of the soil, was a conspicuous object in
the landscape; and (2) a subterranean part cut in the living rock
which was never more than a few feet below the surface of the sand.
The constructed part inclosed a chamber which was sometimes internal
and sometimes external, a chamber in which the relations of the
deceased deposited the funeral offerings, and in which the priests
officiated before the stele, to which the most conspicuous place was
always given. Sometimes this chamber is nothing more than a recess in
the _façade_, a mere frame for the stele. The structure also contains
a retreat in its thickness where the statues of the deceased were
walled up. The subterranean part is composed of the well and the mummy
chamber. The well is sunk from different parts of the building;
usually traversing its whole depth; it leads to the mummy chamber
which is found at varying depths in the bowels of the earth.

Such are the constituent elements of the _mastaba_, that is to say, of
those private tombs which were contemporary with the Pyramids. All
over Egypt, in every one of the cemeteries, no matter where they are
situated or what their date, the same elements are to be found,
modified in certain particulars by the rank of the deceased, by the
nature of the soil, by the size of the tomb, and by the changes of
fashion, but always to be easily recognized. Of all these elements
there is but one which does not persistently reappear in monuments
other than the mastaba, and that is the _serdab_. This retreat for
statues has not, as yet, been found in any of the royal tombs of the
first six dynasties, neither has it been met with in the tombs of the
two Theban empires, or of later epochs. And yet it was connected with
one of the most vital hopes of the Egyptian religion. It fulfilled in
the happiest manner, one of the conditions imposed upon the Egyptian
architect by the strange conceptions of a future life which we have
described. Why then do we, as a rule, find the serdab only in the
mastabas of the Memphite necropolis? Its absence under the Theban
princes is, perhaps to be explained by the progress made in the
science of embalming. The heads of more than one mummy have now been
exhibited in the cases of European museums for many years, and, in
spite of the dampness of our climates, they still preserve their skin,
their teeth and their hair (Fig. 126). When they had learnt the secret
of preserving the body from corruption, so that after a long series of
centuries it should be pretty much in the same condition as on the day
after death, they did not indeed, cease to make those images which
were supposed to guard the _double_ from annihilation, but they
attached less importance to their safety, and took less trouble to
hide them. They considered that they had done enough for their
preservation by putting them in the precincts of their tombs and
temples, and so under the guardianship of their venerated religion.

As for the other parts of the tomb, a little attention will always
suffice for their identification even in those sepulchres which differ
most from the mastaba. In some instances we shall find the mummy
chamber contrived in the upper structure, in others the whole tomb is
cut in the living rock. Sometimes we find the chapel, as we may call
the public chamber in which the miraculous nourishment of the _double_
took place, more or less distantly separated from the mummy chamber;
sometimes the well almost disappears, sometimes it ceases to be
vertical and becomes a long corridor with but a gentle slope. As a
rule all these variations are easily explained, and may be connected
without difficulty with that primitive type which we have attempted to
define by its most wide-spread and constant features.

[Illustration: FIG. 126.--Head of a Mummy. Louvre.]

Another method of sepulture was made use of in the Ancient Empire, a
method which afterwards came into general use in Egypt, we mean the
_hypogeum_, or subterranean tomb. The Egyptian Commission has
described several rock-cut tombs in the neighbourhood of the Pyramids,
especially some which face the western slope of the Second Pyramid.
Similar tombs are to be found near the pyramid of Mycerinus. Some of
these sepulchral grottos declare their extreme antiquity by their
imitations of wooden architecture;[174] others by their inscriptions
dating from the fourth and fifth dynasties. We shall not dwell long
upon these rock-cut tombs. They are generally composed of one or two
small sculptured chambers, upon one of which the well opens which
leads to the mummy chamber. We shall postpone their study to a later
chapter, as the time of the Middle Empire affords us richer and more
complete examples of them than the earlier period; but, indeed, the
New Empire has left us the most important examples of this kind of
sepulchre. We shall here content ourselves with pointing out that the
architects of Memphis did not ignore the facilities offered by the
easily cut limestone rocks, not only for construction of well and
mummy chamber, but also for those open parts of the tomb where the
funeral rites and the ceremonies of the Ritual of the Dead were
performed. In the whole course of her long vitality Egypt did little
more, either in art or religion, than develop, with variations, the
themes presented to her by the generations which were ruled by her
first six dynasties.

    [174] _Description de l'Égypte_, vol. v. p. 647, and _Atlas,
    Ant._ vol. v. pl. 16, Figs. 3, 4, and 5.


The _mastaba_ was the private tomb of the great lord or rich citizen
of primitive Egypt; the _pyramid_ was the royal tomb for the same
epoch, the tomb of that son of the gods, almost a god himself, before
whom all foreheads were bowed into the dust. As his head towered over
those of his prostrate subjects during life, so, after death, should
his sepulchre rise high above the comparatively humble tombs of his
proudest servants. The most imposing mastabas, before the sand had
buried them to the summit, must have looked small enough beside those
prodigious masses. They were ant-hills at the foot of a palace.

It may seem that in considering the mastaba before the pyramid we have
reversed the natural order. We were led to do so by the fact that the
enormous mass of the pyramids and their peculiarities of construction
compelled their architects to separate elements which are found
closely allied in the mastaba. In consequence of this separation the
elements in question have not all had the same fate. In the case of
the mastaba all survived or perished together, but, in the pyramids,
some are in a marvellous state of preservation, while others have
disappeared and left hardly a trace behind. We are therefore obliged
to make use of the private tomb in our restoration of that which was
peculiar to the king.

Philologists have attempted to trace back the etymology of the word
πυραμίς to the ancient language of Egypt. The term was first employed
by the Greeks, and from their language it has been adopted into that
of every civilized nation, with a meaning which is scientifically
exact. Its origin has been sought for in the coptic term _pi-rama_,
height, and in the term _pir-aa_, which occurs continually in Exodus,
and was used by Moses to signify the reigning Pharaoh. But
egyptologists now seem to be unanimous in rejecting both these
derivations. They are, we are told, refuted by the fact that the terms
which are supposed to have meant a pyramid are never used in that
sense in any of the texts. 'The words which mean a royal tomb or a
tomb of any kind, have not the remotest likeness,' says Herr
Brugsch,[175] 'to the term πυραμίς. Each royal pyramid had its own
name, a composite epithet which was peculiar to itself.' Thus the
largest of them all was called "the brilliant dwelling of Choufou;"
the second, "the great;" the third, "that which is on high." The word
_pyramid_ appears therefore to be a purely Greek term, derived from
πῦρ, fire, and suggested by the similarity between its shape and that
of a tongue of flame.

    [175] _History of Egypt_ (English version, Murray, 1879), vol.
    i. pp. 72, 73.

We shall not waste our time in noticing and refuting those fantastic
explanations of the pyramids which have been given in modern times. We
shall not trouble ourselves to prove that they were not observatories.
Those sloping tunnels, at the bottom of which some modern writers
would set unlucky astronomers to watch the passage of stars across the
meridian, were hermetically sealed, and minute precautions were taken
with the sole object of obstructing and concealing their entrance. The
four slopes of the pyramid faced to the cardinal points, simply
because the orientation of the tomb was habitual with the Egyptians;
we have already explained its meaning. Still less need we occupy
ourselves with the theory, which made, however, some stir in its time,
that the pyramids were bulwarks by which the ancient Egyptians
attempted to keep back the sand from the fertile valley of the Nile.
The science of M. de Persigny was well worthy of his policy. There was
in both, the same turn for fantastic invention, the same want of
reflection and common sense. If such a costly barrier had been either
useful or necessary it should at least have been prolonged from one
end of Egypt to the other, and all the pyramids would not have been
found assembled, with but few exceptions, in the neighbourhood of

    [176] FIALIN DE PERSIGNY, _De la Destination et de l'Utilité
    permanente des Pyramides d'Égypte et de Nubie contre les
    Irruptions sablonneuses du Désert, Développements du Mémoire
    adressé à l'Académie des Sciences le 14 Juillet, 1844_, suivie
    d'_une nouvelle interprétation de la Fable d'Osiris et d'Isis_.
    Paris, 1845, gr. in-8.

No one in our day thinks of either starting or discussing such
theories as these. There are, of course, several obscure points in the
history of the pyramids, several details of their construction, which
stimulate to fresh research and lend themselves to many different
explanations; but there can be no doubt as to their general character.
Their exploration and the interpretations of the Egyptian texts have
confirmed the assertions of those Greek writers who were most familiar
with Egypt, such as Herodotus,[177] Diodorus Siculus,[178] and
Strabo.[179] The Pyramids are sepulchres. "They are massive, simply
conceived, carefully sealed up tombs. All entrance is forbidden even
to their most carefully built corridors. They are tombs without
windows, without doors, without exterior openings of any kind. They
are the gigantic and impregnable dwellings of the mummy; ... their
colossal dimensions have been invoked to bear out the arguments of
those who would attribute to them some other destination, but they are
in fact to be found of all sizes, some being no more than twenty feet
high. Besides this, it must be remembered that in all Egypt no
pyramid, or rather group of pyramids, is to be found, which is not the
centre of a necropolis, a fact which is enough by itself to indicate
their funerary character."[180] It is proved still more definitely, if
that be possible, by the sarcophagi which have been found in the
internal chambers, empty in most cases, because those chambers had
been entered and despoiled, either in the days of antiquity or in
those of the middle ages, but sometimes intact, as in the pyramid of
Mycerinus. The pyramids were hermetically sealed. Even without direct
evidence we might assert that it was so, knowing as we do the
precautions which the Egyptians took elsewhere to guard their tombs
against intrusion; but direct proof of the fact is not wanting. When
in the ninth century the Kaliph Al-Mamoun wished to penetrate into the
Great Pyramid he was only enabled to do so by breaking into it
violently, near the centre of its northern face, and thus stumbling
accidentally upon the descending passage at some distance from its
mouth. That he was reduced to employ this method at the risk of
meeting with nothing but the solid masonry shows that no external
indication had been left of the opening through which the mummy had
been carried in. The casing seems to have been then complete and
consequently the four sides of the Pyramid must have been free from
_débris_ and generally uniform. That the Arabs should have chosen the
right side for their attack was perhaps owing to the survival of some
ancient tradition indicating the northern side to be that of the
entrance, which, as a fact, it has been found to be in all the
pyramids as yet explored. Perhaps too the Arabs may have been guided
by the traces of previous attempts made either in the time of the
Persians or in that of the Romans.[181] However this may be it is very
certain that had they perceived any signs of an original doorway, they
would have directed their attentions to it. Those who seek for
treasure do not, like archæologists, strike out lines of exploration
in all directions for the satisfaction of their curiosity, they go
straight to their point.

    [177] HERODOTUS, ii. 127.

    [178] DIODORUS, l. 64, 4.

    [179] STRABO, xvii. p. 1161, C.

    [180] MARIETTE, _Itinéraire de la Haute-Égypte_, pp. 96, 97. [An
    excellent translation of this work into English, by M. Alphonse
    Mariette, has been published (Trübner, 1877, 8vo.)--ED.]

    [181] The existence of the passage leading to the mummy chamber
    was not unknown to STRABO. He says: "Very nearly at the middle
    of their sides, as to height, the pyramids had a stone which
    could be moved away; when this is done, a winding passage
    appears, which leads to the coffin" (xvii. p. 1161, C).

The pyramid includes two of those four parts into which we have
divided the typical Egyptian tomb; it contains the well and the mummy
chamber. As for the funerary chapel, there were obvious difficulties
in the way of including it in the thickness of the monument itself. It
would have been difficult to preserve it from being crushed by the
immense weight above it, and as it would have had to be lighted from
the door alone, it must always have been of the most restricted
dimensions. A different arrangement had therefore to be devised from
that adopted in the case of the mastaba. The open part of the monument
was separated from that which was destined to be sealed up from the
outer world. The chapel or temple, in which the successors of the
prince buried in the pyramid and the priests told off for its service
performed the prescribed rites, was erected at some distance from the
eastern face. The remains of such buildings have been found to the
east of both the second and third pyramids. That of Cheops has not
been discovered, but we may assert with confidence that it has either
been destroyed by the hand of man, or that it still lies under the
veil of sand. Were there any _serdabs_ concealed in the thickness of
the temple walls? That question cannot be answered. The remains of
those buildings are in such a condition that all traces of such an
arrangement would have vanished had there been any. The walls have
disappeared. The lower courses of masonry are still in place, and
allow us to follow the very simple plan upon which these chapels were
erected; and that is all. It is possible, however, that the Egyptians
depended solely upon the profound respect which was felt for the royal
person, combined with the sacredness of the spot and the vigilance of
the established priesthood of the necropolis, to preserve the august
images of the sovereign from insult or destruction. The seven or eight
statues of Chephren which were found at the bottom of a pit in what is
called the _Temple of the Sphinx_, were all more or less mutilated,
proving that this want of precaution was sometimes disastrous. In the
course of so many centuries, during which the Hyksos, the Ethiopians,
the Assyrians, and the Persians overran the country by turns, such
statues as were not sheltered in some well dissembled retreat must
more than once have been struck off their pedestals and broken, or,
like those of the unlucky Chephren, thrown head-foremost into the
depths of the earth.

[Illustration: FIG. 127.--Plans of the temples belonging to the second
and third pyramids; from Perring.]

As such vast importance was attached to the preservation of the
portrait statues upon which the prolongation of life after death was
made so largely to depend, is it not probable that the idea of hiding
some of them in the innermost recesses of the pyramids themselves may
have occurred to those who caused those monuments to be built? It is
obvious that no hiding-place could be more secure. No such retreats
have yet been discovered in any of the galleries which have been
explored by modern curiosity, but it does not follow that they do not
exist in some corner which has not yet been reached, which will
perhaps never be reached by the most persevering explorer. Quite
lately M. Maspero believed that he recognized a serdab in a
subterranean chamber with three niches which he found near the mummy
chamber in the Pyramid of Ounas, the last king of the fifth
dynasty.[182] Before we could say that such an arrangement does not
exist elsewhere, we should have to take some pyramid to pieces from
the first stone to the last. It might, however, be asserted that the
images of the deceased would, if hidden in the pyramid, be too far
removed from that public hall to which his relations brought their
offerings and their pious homage. At such a distance they would not
have heard the friendly voices or the magic chants; nor would the
scent of the incense have reached their nostrils. In a word, they
would have been ill placed for the fulfilment of the office assigned
to them by the Egyptian faith.

    [182] This pyramid was opened on February 28, 1881.
    Circumstantial accounts of the discoveries to which it led have
    not yet been published. The _Moniteur Égyptien_ of March 15,
    1881, contains a short account of the opening. [Since this note
    was written, a full account of the entrance and exploration of
    this pyramid, together with the texts discovered, has been
    published by M. MASPERO in the _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. iii.
    liv. 3 and 4, 1882.--ED.]

We have hitherto spoken only of the social purposes of the pyramid, of
its office as the sepulchre of the ancient kings of Egypt, or rather
as the part of that sepulchre that corresponded to the least
interesting parts of private tombs. In the plants of our gardens and
orchards, we see cultivation develop certain organs at the expense of
others. We find stamens changed into petals, giving us double flowers,
and the envelope of the seeds thickened and made to shed perfume. We
see the same process of development in the tombs of the early Egyptian
monarchs. Under the influence of their pride of station, and as a
consequence of the effort which they made to perpetuate their rank
even after death, the stone hiding-place which protected the mummy
took a size which is oppressive to the imagination, while the funerary
chapel remained of modest dimensions. This disproportion is to be
easily explained. The simple method of construction which
distinguishes the pyramid permitted almost indefinite extension,
while architecture, properly speaking, was not yet sufficiently
advanced to make use of those grandiose orders which distinguish the
porticos and hypostyle temples of the Theban period.

We have now to consider the pyramids from another point of view, from
that of their probable origin, of their variety of form, and of the
materials of which they are composed. Descriptions of these monuments,
such as those contained in the great works of Vyse[183] and
Perring[184], works which gave to the world the accumulated results of
long and costly explorations, must not be looked for in these volumes.
We do not think it necessary that we should give even a succinct
account of the more important pyramids, such as that given by Bædeker
or Isambert. Such a proceeding would be a mere duplication of those
excellent manuals, and would moreover, be foreign to the purpose which
we have before us. We take the pyramids as known. The two books just
mentioned are within the reach of all. Thanks to the precise
information and the numerous figures which they contain, we may
content ourselves with making a few general observations. Some of
these observations will refer to the pyramids as a whole, some to the
peculiarities of construction which distinguish a few, peculiarities
which do not affect that general type which seems to be as old as the
Egyptian monarchy itself.

    [183] VYSE (Howard), _Operations carried on at the Pyramids of
    Gizeh in 1837, with an Account of a Voyage into Upper Egypt, and
    an Appendix_. (London, 1840, 3 vols. 8vo.)

    [184] PERRING (J. L.), _The Pyramids of Gizeh, from Actual
    Survey and Admeasurement, illustrated by Notes and References to
    the Several Plans, with Sketches taken on the Spot by J.
    Andrews._ (3 parts, large oblong folio. London, 1839-42.)

As soon as a society had sprung up on the banks of the Nile which
attempted to organize itself under the directing lead of chiefs or
headmen, the latter seem to have been stung by the desire to make
known their final resting-place by some conspicuous sign. The most
simple way of arriving at the desired result was to heap up the earth
over the corpse, so as to form an artificial hillock which should be
visible from a distance over the level plain. This was the origin of
that funerary mound which modern archæologists call a _tumulus_. The
tumulus is to be found in most districts of the ancient as well as of
the modern world. But to confine ourselves to our own province, it is
to be found in pre-Christian times among the Scythians of Herodotus
and our ancestors the Gauls, as well as among the Greeks of the heroic
age. We all know the frequent expression of Homer, σῆμα χεύειν, which
is literally to _display a signal_, that is to say, to accumulate over
the corpse of a warrior a sufficient number of spadefuls of earth to
_signalize_ it, for the worship and admiration of posterity. Tradition
ascribes those tumuli which are yet to be seen on the plain of Troy to
the observance of this custom.

The funerary architecture of Egypt commenced in the same fashion, in
those distant ages which were called by the Egyptians themselves the
times of _Hor-schesou_ or slaves of Horus. We cannot doubt that the
pyramid sprang from the mound. Its birth must have taken place after
Menes had, by uniting the various tribes under his own sceptre, caused
the whole race to take a distinct step onwards in civilization. The
pyramid is but a built mound. It is a tumulus in which brick and stone
take the place of earth. This substitution adds very greatly to its
chances of duration, and makes it a much safer place of deposit and a
much more lasting monument for the body committed to its charge. The
Nile mud, when moulded and dried in the sun, gave bricks which still
remain good; their manufacture and their constructive use seem to have
been understood by the Egyptians as soon as they emerged from
primitive barbarism. Thanks to the facilities thus afforded, they were
enabled to build monuments upon the graves of their rulers which could
offer a better resistance to injuries of time and human enemies than a
few handfuls of earth and grass. They began, perhaps, by placing a few
blocks of stone upon their mounds, so as to fix them more securely, or
by covering them with a thin coat of brickwork. But, after a few
experiments in that direction, they found it better to construct the
whole body of the tumulus in the harder material. Its size increased
with the constructive skill and material appliances of its builders,
until it became first a hillock and finally a mountain of stone, with
the impenetrable rock for its base and flanks of solid masonry.

The built-up tumulus of masonry took a form very different, in its
definite lines, from the rounded slopes of the mound. The squared
forms of brick or cut stone infallibly give to the edifice upon which
they are employed one of those more or less rigid forms which are
defined by geometry. When they leave the hands of the builder they are
either cubes or parallelopipeds, pyramids or prisms, cylinders or
cones. They present the general appearance, they possess the essential
properties, of one of those forms. We may say that architecture was
born on the day when man began to use the unyielding materials by
which definite geometrical forms can alone be given. As soon as this
early development was reached he set to work to combine those
elementary forms in different proportions and to add to their effect
by elegance and richness of decoration, and so in the end to form
national architectures.

When the first pyramid was built upon the borders of the desert man
was on the threshold of the movement to which we have referred. The
form adopted for the royal tomb was one of the most simple which could
be chosen for a building. The most simple of all would have been the
_tetrahedron_, or pyramid built upon a triangular base. But not a
single pyramid of that kind has been discovered in Egypt. The whole of
the pyramids, large or small, are built upon a right-angled base, and
in most instances upon one with sides practically equal.[185] Mystic
reasons for this shape have been given. It has been said that each
face was dedicated to one of the four powers of Amen, which
corresponded to the cardinal points of heaven.[186] We are not yet
sufficiently well acquainted with the genesis of the Egyptian religion
to be able to decide how far into the past the four powers of Amen may
be traced: but it is quite possible that they were derived from the
four faces of the strictly oriented pyramids. Were we inclined to
enter into this discussion we should rather, perhaps, attribute the
shape of the pyramid to the prevailing Egyptian desire to turn one
face of their tombs towards the west, the abode of the dead, and
another to the east, whence the hoped-for resurrection was to come.
The three-sided pyramid would not have lent itself to such an

    [185] The base of the great pyramid at Sakkarah is a rectangle,
    measuring 390 feet from north to south, and 347 from east to
    west. The three great pyramids at Gizeh like most of these
    structures, are built upon a base which is practically square.

    [186] MARIETTE, _Itinéraire de la Haute-Égypte_, p. 96.

There is also something unpleasant to the eye in the sharp angles
which form the three _arêtes_ of the tetrahedron; it looks as if there
had been a lack of material, and as if the structure would suffer in
consequence. The four-sided pyramid has more dignity and more
amplitude; its four faces, placed back to back in pairs, seem to
counterpoise and sustain each other in a fashion which is impossible
in the case of the tetrahedron.

[Illustration: FIG. 128.--Plan of the Pyramid of Cheops.]

The one characteristic possessed in common by those relics of the
Ancient Empire which we call pyramids, is their four-sidedness. To an
attentive observer these buildings offer more diversities than would
at first sight be believed. From Meidoum in the south to Abou-Roash in
the north is a distance of 43-1/2 miles as the crow flies. Between
these two points, which may be called the northern and southern
boundaries of the pyramid field, about one hundred have been
discovered, sixty-seven of which have been examined by Lepsius. Now,
in this whole number there are not two which resemble each other in
all particulars, or which seem to be copies of one model. We do not
refer only to their height, which differs in an extreme degree. The
three large pyramids at Gizeh are 482, 454, and 218 feet high
respectively, while at their feet are several little pyramids which
hardly exceed from 50 to 70 feet of vertical height. Between these two
extremes many of intermediate sizes may be inserted. The Stepped
Pyramid, near Sakkarah, is about 190 feet high; the largest of those
at Abousir is about 165; one of those at Dashour is not quite 100
feet. These differences in height are easily explained by one of those
national habits to which we have already alluded. Every Egyptian, as
soon as he arrived at years of discretion, set about building his own
tomb. He dug the well and the mummy chamber, he caused the sarcophagus
to be carved and the funerary chapel to be built. It often happened
that those who had ordered such works died long before they were
finished, and it would seem that their heirs were content with doing
no more than was strictly necessary. They placed the mummy in its
grave with the prescribed ceremonies, they filled up the well and
sealed the private parts of the tomb; but being occupied with the
preparations for their own funeral, they did not continue the
decoration of the chapel, which thenceforward remained _in statu quo_.
Thus only can we explain the state in which several important tombs
have been discovered both at Memphis and at Thebes. On one wall we
find paintings and sculptures carried out with the greatest care and
finish, while on another nothing is to be seen but the first rough
outline, in red paint, by the artist charged with the undertaking. The
completion of the work must have been suddenly arrested by the death
of the destined inhabitant of the tomb.

[Illustration: FIG. 129.--The great pyramid and the small pyramids at
its foot; from Perring.]

It was the same with the sepulchres of the kings. Each sovereign began
the construction of his pyramid as soon as he found himself upon the
throne. But, in case his life and his reign should be cut short, he
began with those constituents of the tomb which were absolutely
necessary. He pressed on the work until he had raised a pyramid of
moderate size with its mummy chamber. When this point had been
reached, his immediate anxiety came to an end; but that was no reason
for interrupting the course of the work. The higher and wider his
pyramid, the more efficient a guardian of his body would it be, and
the more impressive would be the message carried down by it to
posterity as to the power of its builder. Year after year, therefore,
he employed crowds of impressed workmen to clothe it in layer after
layer of dressed stone or brick, so that the edifice raised in
comparative haste at the beginning of his reign, became in time
nothing but the nucleus or kernel of one many times its size.[187] The
construction was thus begun in the centre and was developed outwards,
like the timber of a tree in successive years. As the pyramid grew in
extent and height, each successive coat, so to speak, required more
hands and more time. We have no reason to believe that each coat had
to be finished within a certain period, and so it would be futile to
attempt to found any calculation as to the duration of the different
reigns upon the number of these concentric layers; but we may assert
in a general way that the highest pyramids correspond to the longest
reigns. We know, by the witness of ancient authors, that the kings who
built the three great pyramids at Gizeh, namely, Cheops, Chephren, and
Mycerinus, each reigned about sixty years. History thus confirms the
truth of the induction which arises from the study of those monuments
and from a comparison of the constructive processes made use of by the
architects of the pyramids.[188]

    [187] This method of construction may be easily recognized in
    the Pyramid of Meidoum. That curious structure was built in
    concentric layers round a nucleus. These layers are by no means
    equal in the excellence either of the workmanship or of the
    materials employed. Some show supreme negligence; in others we
    find the builders of the Ancient Empire and their materials both
    at their best. The same fact has been observed in regard to the
    Stepped Pyramid and the pyramids at Abousir. It would seem that
    the work was assigned in sections to different _corvées_, whose
    consciences varied greatly in elasticity. (MARIETTE, _Voyage de
    la Haute-Égypte_, p. 45.)

    [188] LEPSIUS, _Briefe aus Ægypten_, pp. 41, 42 (in speaking of
    the Pyramid of Meidoum, from which he received the first hint of
    this explanation). See also his paper entitled _Ueber den Bau
    der Pyramiden_, in the _Monatsbericht_ of the Berlin Academy,
    1843, pp. 177-203.

The author of Bædeker's _Guide_ has not been content with believing,
like Perring, Lepsius, and Mariette, that the pyramid grew by the
application of successive envelopes of stone round the central mass,
either in horizontal courses or in courses sloping towards the axis of
the building. He has brought forward an elaborate theory of
construction, which, though very ingenious, encounters several grave
objections. We shall point out those objections while we endeavour to
explain the system itself by the help of special illustrations drawn
for us by the author of the _Guide_ in question.[189]

    [189] _Ægypten_, First part, 1878, p. 341.

[Illustration: FIG. 130.--The three great pyramids; from the south.]

When Cheops first began to think about building his tomb, he could not
have counted upon giving it the colossal dimensions which it presents
even in its actual injured condition. The area of the great pyramid is
more than double that of Saint Peter's at Rome. If we deduct from its
total volume the core of rock which it incloses[190] and the openings
which it contains, the masonry in its primitive integrity must have
amounted to a total of 3,479,600 cubic yards. Even now, when so much
of its substances has been detached and carried away, there still
remains the enormous mass of 3,246,600 cubic yards. Supposing that,
two or three years after the commencement of a work upon this colossal
scale, death had carried off its projector, can we believe that any
successor, even a son who was sincerely devoted to the memory of his
father, would have burthened himself with the continuation and
completion of such an enterprise? The new sovereign would have enough
to do in commencing and carrying on the erection of his own tomb, and,
moreover, would be irresistibly tempted to make use, for its
construction, of the accumulated material and collected labour of his

    [190] It has been suggested by Mr. Cope Whitehouse that the
    nucleus of rock under the great pyramids was originally much
    more important than is commonly supposed. During his expedition
    in March, 1882, he ascertained that a profile from the Mokattam
    across the Nile valley into the western desert would present the
    contours shown in the annexed woodcut. He concludes that a large
    part of the material of those pyramids was obtained upon their
    sites, and quarried above the level at which the stones were
    finally placed. He cites HERODOTUS (ii. 125) as conveying in an
    imperfect form the tradition that the pyramids were "constructed
    from above."

Even four or five thousand years before our era, men were too
sagacious to reckon upon the piety or gratitude of an heir. For the
closing and final sealing up of the pyramid, its builder and destined
inhabitant was obliged to depend upon his survivors, he could not do
it himself. Moreover, the external completion, which, in the case of
the greater monuments, must have been a long and costly matter, had to
be entrusted to the same hands. The reigning king, so long as he was
not too sternly reminded of the end by disease or the infirmities of
age, must have felt great reluctance to order the cessation of the
work which had gone on under his own eye for so many years, or to
arrest that course of development which, after being a continual
source of pride and pleasure to himself, might end in giving him a
monument surpassing those of his famous predecessors. He was,
therefore, very likely to be surprised by death with his tomb still
unfinished, with the final cope-stone still upon the ground, or, even
when that had been put in place so as to show the total height, with
the casing of polished stone which was destined to hide the inner
courses of the masonry and the entrances, still incomplete. Upon
two-thirds or three-quarters of each face, his pyramid would still
present the aspect which necessarily belonged to it during the period
of its construction; an aspect which has again distinguished the great
pyramid since it was despoiled of its casing. As each course was set
back from that upon which it was placed, the final _ensemble_ looked
like an enormous staircase with steps gradually diminishing in length
as they neared the summit.

There were many of the Egyptian princes who from want of patience or
zeal, or from some other motive, failed to carry on the enterprise of
their predecessors to its destined conclusion. We are ignorant as to
the condition of the three great pyramids of Gizeh at the death of
their projectors. But they appear to have been finished in most of
their details with a care which would seem to indicate that Cheops,
Chephren, and Mycerinus, must have been there to overlook the smallest
details of their execution. Other pyramids, on the other hand, seem to
have been left in a comparatively imperfect state.

These observations furnish us with an initial objection to the theory
to which we have referred. Some may refuse to believe that Cheops
intended from the beginning that his pyramid should have the
dimensions and the internal arrangements which we now see. But why
should he not have done so? If he had died at the end of a few years,
his pyramid would, perhaps, have presented to us a shape like that of
some other edifices of the same kind, a large base which had never
received either its cope-stone or its casing. So too with those of
Mycerinus and Chephren. Have not absolute monarchs existed at all
times, whose infinite power seems to have made them forget the eternal
limits of time and space? Sometimes Fortune has been cruel to them:
but often she seems to have placed herself entirely at their disposal.

Among the causes which combine to make the royal tombs of the first
six dynasties so unequal in height and appearance, the very unequal
length of the reigns is the most important. If we were better
acquainted with the condition of Egypt in those remote epochs, we
should, no doubt, be enabled to give other reasons for their want of
uniformity. The chances of completion and even of preservation in its
complete state enjoyed by a pyramid must have greatly depended upon
the descent of the crown. When king succeeded king in one family those
chances were much better than when dynasty succeeded dynasty, whether
the break were due to internal revolution or to the failure of the
legitimate line. It is even possible that some of those pyramids which
are now to outward appearance mere heaps of _débris_ never received
the mummy for whose reception they were designed and built.

The pyramids differ also in the materials employed. The great pyramids
at Gizeh are built of fine limestone from Mokattam and Toura; the
chief one at Sakkarah of a bad clayish limestone from the neighbouring
rocks; at Dashour and Abou-Roash there are pyramids of unburnt brick.
Finally there are pyramids built chiefly of stone which is kept in
place by a carefully constructed skeleton, so to speak, of brick. This
construction is to be found in the pyramid of Illahoun, at the
entrance to the Fayoum (Fig. 131).

There is the same variety in the position of the mummy chamber.
Sometimes this is within the sides of the pyramid itself, as in that
of Cheops; sometimes, after the example of the mastaba, it is cut out
of the living rock upon which the pyramid stands. This arrangement is
to be found, for instance, in the pyramid of Mycerinus, where the roof
of the mummy chamber is about 33 feet below the lowest course of the
pyramid itself. So too in the Stepped Pyramid, where the whole
complicated system of corridors and cells, which distinguishes that
edifice, is cut in the rock, so that the building itself is absolutely
solid. Most of the pyramids have no more than one or two entrances,
giving access to narrow galleries, sometimes ascending, sometimes
descending, which lead to one or two chambers of very small dimensions
when compared to the enormous mass which rises above and around them
(Fig. 132). In the subterranean part of the Stepped Pyramid the
proportion of voids to solids is far less insignificant. This pyramid,
which is not nearly so carefully oriented as the others, has four
entrances and a series of internal passages, horizontal galleries,
staircases and cells, which make it little else than a subterranean
labyrinth. It is singular also in having, upon its central axis and at
the point upon which, at various heights, all its galleries converge,
a sort of large well, a chamber about twenty feet square and eighty
feet high, in the pavement of which a huge block of granite cut into
the shape of a cork or plug was so placed as to open at will[191] and
leave a free passage for the descent into a second chamber, the
purpose of which is more than obscure, as it is too small even to have
contained a sarcophagus.[192] The end of the long passage which leads
to the thirty chambers which have been counted beneath this pyramid
has been found in the neighbouring sands (Fig. 134).

    [191] The weight of this stopper is about four tons, and it has
    long been a puzzle to egyptologists how it, and others like it,
    could be raised and lowered. M. Perrot's words must not,
    therefore, be taken too literally.--ED.

    [192] ARTHUR RHONÉ, _L'Égypte à petites Journées_, p. 259.

[Illustration: FIG. 131.--The pyramid of Illahoun, horizontal section
in perspective; from the plan of Perring.]

Another point of difference: most of the pyramids are built round a
core of living rock, which is embraced by the lower courses of their
masonry. But the pyramid of Mycerinus is just the reverse of this. It
is built over a hollow in the rock which is filled up with masonry.
The inequalities of the surface were usually taken advantage of so as
to economize material, and make a greater show with less labour.
Mycerinus, however, did not fear to increase his task by rearing his
pyramid over a depression in the plateau.

[Illustration: FIG. 132.--Section of the pyramid of Cheops; from

There is no less diversity in the external aspects of the pyramids. We
are most familiar with the shapes of the great pyramids at Gizeh (Fig.
130 and Pl. 1, 2); their images have been multiplied to infinity by
engraving and photography, but we make a great mistake when we imagine
all the royal tombs at Memphis to be built upon this one model. They
do not all present the same simplicity of form, the same regular slope
from summit to base, or the smooth and polished casing which
distinguished those great monuments when they were in complete
preservation. The southern pyramid of Dashour offers us one of the
most curious variations upon the original theme (Fig. 133). Its
angle-ridges are not unbroken straight lines from base to summit. The
slope of its faces becomes less steep at about half their height. The
lower part of its sides make angles of 54° 41' with the horizon, while
above they suddenly fall back to an angle of 42° 59'. This latter
slope does not greatly differ from the 43° 36' of the other pyramid in
the same neighbourhood. No indication has yet been discovered as to
the builder of this pyramid.

A second variation, still more unlike the Gizeh type, is to be found
in the great pyramid of Sakkarah, the Stepped Pyramid, which was
considered by Mariette as the oldest of them all. Taking a passage
from Manetho as his authority, he thought himself justified in
attributing it to the fourth king of the first dynasty, Ouenephes or
Ata, and he was inclined to see in it the Serapeum, or Apis tomb, of
the Ancient Empire. Its present elevation is about 190 feet. Each of
its sides is divided horizontally into six large steps with inclined
faces. The height of these steps decreases progressively, from the
base to the summit, from 38 feet 2 inches to 29 feet 6 inches. The
width of each step is nearly 7 feet. It will be seen, therefore, that
this building rather tends to the pyramidal form than achieves it; it
is a rough sketch for a pyramid.

[Illustration: FIG. 133.--The southern pyramid of Dashour; from the
measurements of Perring.]

[Illustration: FIG. 134.--Section of the Stepped Pyramid; from

Does this want of completion result from accidental causes, or must
it be referred to ignorance of the full beauties of the pyramidal form
on the part of its builders? If the conjecture of Mariette is well
founded, the Stepped Pyramid is not only the most ancient building in
Egypt but in the whole world; and in the remote century which
witnessed its construction men may not yet have learnt to fill up the
angles left in their masonry, they may have been quite satisfied to
leave their work in a condition which to us seems imperfect.

[Illustration: FIG. 135.--The Stepped Pyramid; restored from the
measurements of Perring.]

The Germans have evolved a complicated system of construction from
notes made by Lepsius upon the details of the masonry in different
pyramids. In order that this system may be more easily understood, we
give, on the opposite page, a series of representations of such a
pyramid in different stages of completion (Figs. 136 to 142). A
commencement was made by erecting a very narrow and perpendicular
pyramid crowned by a pyramidion, like a stumpy obelisk (Fig. 136).
This finished, sloping masses were erected against it so as to form,
with the pyramidion of the first mass, a second pyramid. The apex of
this pyramid, a pyramidion of a single stone, might be put in place
and the work considered finished (Fig. 137); or, if the builder were
sanguine as to time, he might seek to push on still farther. Then, at
the line where the slopes of the pyramid left the earth, four
perpendicular walls were erected to the height of the pyramidion. The
space between the sides of the pyramid and the inner faces of these
walls was filled in, and thus a kind of terrace, or huge rectangular
block, was obtained (Fig. 138), which served as the core for a new
pyramid (Fig. 139). This again disappeared under a pyramid of larger
section and gentler slope (Fig. 140), whose sides reached the ground
far beyond the foundations of the terrace. In the case of a long reign
this operation might be repeated over and over again (Figs. 140 and
142). A large pyramid would thus be composed of a series of pyramidal
envelopes placed one upon another. The mummy-chamber was either cut in
the rock before the laying of the first course of stone, or it was
contrived in the thickness of the masonry itself; as the casing of
stone went on increasing in thickness, galleries were left for
ventilation and for the introduction of the sarcophagus and the
mummy. The mummy-chamber is always found either upon the axis of the
pyramid, or in its immediate neighbourhood, and always nearer the base
than the summit.

[Illustration: FIG. 136.

FIG. 137.

FIG. 138.

FIG. 139.

FIG. 140.

FIG. 141.

FIG. 142.

FIGS. 136-142.--Successive states of a pyramid, according to the
system advocated in Bædeker's _Guide_.]

We are told that the system of construction here set forth is rendered
almost certain by the fact that "the deeper we penetrate into the
pyramid the more careful do we find the construction, which becomes
more and more careless as the exterior is approached. In fact, as each
new envelope was commenced, the chances of its being completed became
less." The mass of stone to be worked and placed was greater, while
the king, upon whose life the whole operation depended, was older and
nearer his death. The builders became less sure of the morrow; they
pressed on so as to increase, at all hazards, the size of the
monument, and trusted to the final casing to conceal all defects of

This system of pyramid building would explain the curious shapes which
we have noticed in the Stepped Pyramid and the southern pyramid of
Dashour.[193] Both of those erections would thus be unfinished
pyramids. At Sakkarah, the angles left by the successive stages would
be waiting for their filling in; at Dashour, the upper part of a
pyramid of gentle slope would have been constructed upon the nucleus
which was first erected, but the continuation of the slope to the
ground would have been prevented by the stoppage of the works at the
point of intersection of the upper pyramid and its provisional
substructure. Hence the broken slope which has such a strange effect,
an effect which could not have entered into the original calculations
of the architect.

    [193] There are other stepped pyramids besides that at Sakkarah.
    Jomard describes one of crude and much crumbled brick at
    Dashour. It is, he says, about 140 feet high. Its height is
    divided into five stages, each being set back about 11 feet
    behind the one below. These steps are often found, he adds,
    among the southern pyramids, and there is one example of such
    construction at Gizeh. (_Description de l'Égypte_, vol. x., p.
    5.) At Matarieh, between Sakkarah and Meidoum, there is a
    pyramid with a double slope like that at Dashour.

But although this theory seems satisfactorily to explain some puzzling
appearances, it also, when tested by facts, encounters some very grave
objections. The explorers of the pyramids have more than once, in
their search for lost galleries and hidden chambers, cut for
themselves a passage through the masonry, but neither in these
breaches made by violence, nor in the ancient and carefully
constructed passages to which they were the means of giving access,
have any signs been, discovered, or at least, reported, of the
junctions of different surfaces and slopes which must have existed
according to the theory which we are noticing. We should expect, at
least, to find the nearly upright sides of the cubic mass with which
the pyramid began, contrasting with the comparatively gentle slopes
which were built against it. These different parts of the pyramid, we
are told, were built and finished separately, a proceeding which, if
the later parts were to be properly fitted to the earlier and the
final stability of the monument assured, would have demanded a minute
and scrupulous care which was not common with Egyptian workmen. How,
without numerous through bonding-stones, could those slides and
settlements be prevented to which the want of homogeneity in the
structure would otherwise be sure to lead? But we are not told that
any such junctions of old and new work are to be found even in those
points where they would be most conspicuous, namely, in the galleries
leading to the internal chambers, where a practised eye could hardly
fail to note the transition. We do not say that there are no such
transitions, but we think the advocates of the new theory should have
begun by pointing them out if they exist.

There is another difficulty in their way. How is their system to
explain the position of the mummy-chamber in certain pyramids? Let us
take that of Cheops as an example. If its internal arrangements had
been fixed from the beginning, if the intention had been from the
first to place the mummy-chamber where we now find it, at about
one-third of the whole height, why should the builders have
complicated their task by imposing upon themselves these ever
difficult junctions? Would it not have been far better to build the
pyramid at once to the required height, leaving in its thickness the
necessary galleries? The same observation applies to the discharging
chambers above the mummy-chamber. The whole of these arrangements, the
high vestibule with its wonderful masonry, the chambers and the
structural voids above them, appear to have been conceived and carried
out at one time, and by the same brains and hands. Not a sign is to be
found of those more or less well-veiled transitions which are never
absent when the work of one time and one set of hands has to be united
with that of another. Or are we to believe that they commenced by
building a hill of stone composed of those different pyramids one
within another, and that they afterwards carved the necessary chambers
and corridors out of its mass? One of the heroes of Hoffmann, the
fantastic Crespel, made use indeed of some such method in giving doors
and windows to his newly-built house, but we may be sure that no
architect, either in Egypt or elsewhere, ever thought of employing it.
The disintegration to which it would lead may easily be imagined.

We may here call attention to a circumstance which justifies all our
reserves. There is but one pyramid which seems to have been built upon
a system which, though much less complicated, resembled that which we
are noticing in some degree, we mean the Stepped Pyramid of Sakkarah.
Now we find that the whole of the complicated net-work of chambers and
passages in that pyramid is cut out of the living rock beneath its
base, and that they are approached from without by subterranean
passages. The difficulty of deciding upon the position of the chambers
in advance, and of constructing the galleries through the various
slopes of the concentric masses which were to form the pyramid, was
thus avoided, and the builder was able to devote all his attention to
increasing the size of the monument, by multiplying those parallel
wedges disposed around a central core of which it is composed.

The observations made by Lepsius in the Stepped Pyramid and in one at
Abousir seem to prove that some pyramids were constructed in this
manner. In both of those buildings all necessary precautions were
taken to guard against the weaknesses of such a system. It is
difficult to understand how separate slices of masonry, placed one
upon the other in the fashion shown by the section which we have
borrowed from Perring's work (Fig. 134), could have had sufficient
adherence one to another. Lepsius made a breach in the southern face
of this pyramid, and the examination which he was thus enabled to
institute led him to suggest a rather more probable system of
construction. Upon the external sloping face of each step he found two
casing-walls, but these did not extend from the ground to the apex of
the monument, they reached no higher than the single step, so that
they found a true resisting base in the flat mass (see Fig. 143) upon
which they rested. Moreover, the architect provided for the lateral
tying of the different sections of his work, as Lepsius proves to us
by a partial section of the pyramid of Abousir. Two walls of fine
limestone blocks inclose a filling in of rubble, to which they are
bound by perpend stones which penetrate its substance. This method of
construction has its faults, but it is so rapid that its employment is
not to be wondered at.

[Illustration: FIG. 143.--Section of the Stepped Pyramid at Sakkarah;
from Lepsius.[194]]

    [194] Fig. 5 of his paper, _Ueber den Bau der Pyramiden_.

[Illustration: FIG. 144.--Construction of the Pyramid of Abousir in
parallel layers; transverse section in perspective from the
geometrical section of Lepsius.[195]]

    [195] Fig. 8 of his paper, _Ueber den Bau der Pyramiden_.

Do these parallel walls reach from top to bottom? A detail discovered
by Minutoli would seem to indicate that a base was first constructed
of sufficient extent for the whole monument. In the lower part of the
Stepped Pyramid Minutoli[196] shows concave courses of stone laid out
to the segment of a circle. These courses formed a kind of inverted
vault, abutting, at its edges, upon the rock. This curious
arrangement should be studied upon the spot by some competent
observer. As we do not know whether these curves exist upon each face
or not, or whether they meet each other and penetrate deeply into the
structure or not, we cannot say what their purpose may have been. But
however this may be, they afford another argument against the notion
that all the great pyramids were built round such a pyramidoid core as
that represented by our Fig. 136. We fear that this system must be
regarded merely as an intellectual plaything. The views of Lepsius as
to the enlargement of the pyramid by the addition of parallel slices
are worthy of more respect, and their truth seems to be demonstrated
in the case of some pyramids. But these all belong to that category of
monuments which have subterranean chambers only. We have yet to learn
that they were ever made use of in those pyramids which inclose the
mummy-chamber and its avenues in their own substance. Variety is
universal in that Egypt which has so often been described as the land
of uniformity and immobility--no two of the pyramids resemble each
other exactly.

    [196] _Voyage au Temple de Jupiter Amman et dans la
    Haute-Égypte._ (Berlin, 1824, 4to. and folio; Pl. xxvii. Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 145.--Partial section of the Stepped Pyramid; from

We have yet to speak of two ancient monuments in which some would
recognize unfinished pyramids, namely, the Pyramid of Meidoum and the
Mastabat-el-Faraoun. We do not agree with this opinion, which has,
however, been lately put forward, so far, at least, as the former
monument is concerned.[197] These two sepulchres seem to us to
represent a different type of funerary architecture, a type created by
the ancient empire, and meriting special notice at our hands.

    [197] BÆDEKER, _Egypt_, part i. 1878. The pages dealing with the
    monumental remains were edited in great part by Professor

The monument which rises so conspicuously from the plain near the
village of Meidoum on the road to the Fayoum, is called by Arabs the
Haram-el-Kabbab, or "the false pyramid." It is, in fact, not so much a
pyramid, strictly speaking, as a mass formed of three square towers
with slightly inclined sides superimposed one upon the other, the
second being less in area than the first, and the third than the
second. The remains of a fourth story may be distinguished on the
summit of the third; some see in them the remains of a small pyramid;
others those of a cone. Judging from the names found in the
neighbouring mastabas, which were opened and examined by Mariette,
this is the tomb of Snefrou I., one of the greatest kings of the third

    [198] _Voyage dans la Haute-Égypte_, vol. i. p. 45.

[Illustration: FIG. 146.--The Pyramid of Meidoum; from Perring.]

The Mastabat-el-Faraoun or "Seat of Pharaoh," as the Arabs call it, is
a huge rectangular mass with sloping sides; it is about 66 feet high,
340 long, and 240 deep. It is oriented like the pyramids. It is a
royal tomb with internal arrangements which resemble those in the
pyramid of Mycerinus; the same sloping galleries, the same chambers,
the same great lateral niches. Upon a block lying at the foot of the
structure of which it had once formed a part, Mariette found a
quarry-mark traced in red ochre which seemed to him to form part of
the name of Ounas, one of the last kings of the fifth dynasty (Figs.
109 and 147).

[Illustration: FIG. 147.--The Mastabat-el-Faraoun; from Lepsius.]

Upon the platform of the Mastabat-el-Faraoun certain blocks are to be
found which, from their position, must have been bonding-stones. They
seem to hint, therefore, either that the structure was never finished,
or that it has lost its former crown. The latter hypothesis is the
more probable. Among the titles of people buried in the necropolis at
Sakkarah, we often come upon those of priests attached to the service
of some monument with a form similar to that represented by our Fig.
148. Who can say asks Mariette, that it is not the Mastabat-el-Faraoun

    [199] _Voyage dans la Haute-Égypte_, vol. i. p. 34.

[Illustration: FIG. 148.--Funerary monument represented in the

M. Mariette cites, in support of this conjecture, certain other
structures of a similar character, such as the large tomb situated
near the south-eastern angle of the second pyramid at Gizeh, and the
little monument which is called the Pyramid of Righa. From these he
concludes that the principles of the mastaba and the pyramid were
sometimes combined under the ancient empire. The royal tombs in the
Memphite region were not always pyramids, they were sometimes composed
of a mastaba and of one or more high square tower-like erections upon
it, the whole ending in one of those small pyramids which we call
pyramidions. This type allowed of numerous combinations, many of
which are to be discovered in the monuments of a later period.

The pyramid was employed as a terminal form throughout the whole of
Egyptian history. Both Thebes and Abydos offer us many examples of its
use, either in those sepulchral edifices which are still extant, or in
the representations of them upon bas-reliefs. But the pyramid properly
speaking was confined to the Memphite period. The princes of the
twelfth dynasty seem to have constructed some in the Fayoum. The
pyramids of Hawara and Illahoon correspond to those which, we are
told, were built in connection with the labyrinth and upon the islands
of Lake Mœris respectively. These, so far as we can judge, were the
last of the pyramids. There are, indeed, in the necropolis of Thebes,
upon the rocks of Drah-abou'l-neggah, a few pyramids of crude brick,
some of which seem to belong to Entefs of the eleventh dynasty; but
they are small and carelessly constructed.[200] When the art of Egypt
had arrived at its full development, such purely geometrical forms
would seem unworthy of its powers, as they did not allow of those
varied beauties of construction and decoration which its architects
had gradually mastered.

    [200] LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 94. RHIND, _Thebes, its
    Tombs and their Tenants_, p. 45. MARIETTE, _Voyage dans la
    Haute-Égypte_, vol. ii. p. 80.

The pyramids have never failed to impress the imaginations of those
foreign travellers who have visited Egypt. Their venerable antiquity;
the memories, partly fable, partly history, which were attached to
them by popular tradition; their colossal mass and the vast space of
ground which they covered, at the very gates of the capital and upon
the boundary between the desert and the cultivated land, all combined
to heighten their effect. Those nations who came under the living
influence of Egypt could hardly, then, escape from the desire to
imitate her pyramids in their own manner. We shall find the pyramidal
form employed to crown buildings in Phœnicia, Judæa, and elsewhere.
But the kingdom of Ethiopia, the southern annexe of Egypt and the
copyist of her civilization, was the chief reproducer of the Egyptian
pyramid as it was created by the kings of the ancient empire. Napata,
Meroe, and other places have pyramids which may be counted by dozens.
Like those in Egypt, they are the tombs of the native monarchs.

We shall not attempt any study of these remains. Like all the other
products of Ethiopian art, they are neither original nor interesting.
The people who inhabited the region which we now call by the names of
Nubia and the Soudan, had, indeed, reconquered their political
independence a thousand years before our era, but they were not gifted
by nature with power to assimilate the lessons of their former
masters. Even during the short period when the Ethiopian monarchs
reigned over a divided and weakened Egypt, Ethiopia remained the
clumsy pupil and imitator of the northern people. She never learnt to
give to her royal pyramids the air of grandeur which distinguishes the
great structures of Memphis. The Ethiopian pyramids were generally so
narrow and steep in slope that their whole character was different
from those of Egypt. In Egypt the base line was always greater than
the vertical height, upon the Upper Nile the proportions were
reversed.[201] The latter edifices thus lost some of that appearance
of indestructible solidity which is their natural expression. They
remind one at once of the obelisk and the pyramid. Add to this that an
unintelligent taste overspread them with ill-devised decoration. Thus
the upper part of their eastern faces, for they are oriented,
generally bears a false window surmounted by a cornice, about as
incongruous an ornament as could well be conceived, and one which
expresses nothing either to the eye or the mind.

    [201] Thus the Great Pyramid was 482 feet high, while the length
    of one side at the base is 764 feet. On the other hand, the
    "third pyramid" at Gebel-Barkal (Napata) is 35 feet square at
    the base and 60 feet high; the "fifth" is 39 feet square at the
    base and nearly 50 feet high. Their proportions are not
    constant, but the height of the Nubian pyramids is always far
    greater than the length of one side at its base.

We shall, therefore, take no further notice of these more or less
ill-designed variations upon the type which was created by the
Egyptians in the early days of their civilization and fully understood
by themselves alone.

We must return, however, to that type for a moment, in order to show,
in as few words as possible, how far the art of working and fixing
stone had advanced even at the time of the first dynasties.

The Great Pyramid affords us a curious example of the elaborate
precautions taken against the violation of the royal tomb (Fig. 132).
At the point where the ascending gallery branched off from that
descending corridor which was the only entrance to the pyramid, the
mouth of the former was closed by a block of granite which exactly
fitted it. This block was so heavy and so well adjusted, that entrance
could only be obtained by cutting a passage through the surrounding
masonry, which, being of limestone, did not offer such an unyielding
resistance to the tools brought against it. Formerly the mouth of a
gallery, which seemed to be the continuation of the entrance corridor,
remained open, and, when followed to the end, led to an unfinished
chamber cut in the rock at about the level of the Nile. If this had
been finished the waters would perhaps have invaded it by
infiltration. This seems to have been intended by the constructor,
because Herodotus, who no doubt thought the work had been completed,
tells us of a subterranean conduit which admitted the waters of the
Nile.[202] The violaters of the tomb would believe the corpse to be in
this unsuspected reservoir, and would search no farther, or if they
guessed the deception and persevered till they found the entrance to
the ascending gallery, they would find another obstacle to their
success which would be likely to arrest them longer than the first.
The upper extremity of the great gallery, at which we suppose them
arrived, opens upon a small vestibule which would still separate them
from the sarcophagus-chamber itself. Four flat blocks of granite,
sliding in grooves, masked the entrance to the latter; Figs. 150 and
151 show the arrangement of these portcullis stones. The narrow
passage leading to the discharging chambers above the mummy-chamber,
would be likely to lead our supposed robbers into the upper part of
the pyramid. The entrance to this passage is high up in the end wall
of the grand gallery; it was left open. The unbidden visitors would
thus have explored the interior of the pyramid high and low without
result, and even supposing that they expended considerable time and
trouble in the search, they might easily have failed to penetrate into
the mummy-chamber itself.[203]

    [202] HERODOTUS, ii. 124.

    [203] DU BARRY DE MERVAL, _Études sur l'Architecture
    Égyptienne_, pp. 129, 130.

[Illustration: FIG. 149.--Plan and elevation of a pyramid at Meroe:
from Prisse.]

[Illustration: FIG. 150.--Method of closing a gallery by a stone
portcullis; from the southern pyramid of Dashour. Drawn in perspective
from the plans and elevations of Perring.]

[Illustration: FIG. 151.--Portcullis closed.]

Another ingenious arrangement which demands our notice is that of
those discharging chambers to which we have already alluded. These
chambers were explored, not without trouble, by Colonel Howard Vyse
and J. L. Perring, who at once comprehended their use. The roof of the
sarcophagus-chamber consists of nine slabs of fine red granite, like
those which form the walls of the same chamber. They are 18 feet 9
inches long and their ends rest upon the side walls of the chamber. In
spite of their thickness and of the hard nature of the rock of which
they are composed, it was feared that they might give way under the
enormous weight of the masonry above, for the floor of the chamber is
still nearly 340 feet below the actual apex of the pyramid. This
danger was met in the fashion figured above.

[Illustration: FIG. 152.--Transverse section, in perspective, through
the sarcophagus-chamber and the discharging chambers; from the
elevation of Perring.]

As the structure grew above the roof of the mummy-chamber, five small
chambers were left, one above the other, to a total height of 56 feet,
which would relieve the flat ceiling of the mummy-chamber of the
weight to be placed above it. The first four of these chambers were of
similar shape and had flat roofs, but the roof of the fifth was formed
of sloping slabs, meeting in a ridge, and giving the chamber a
triangular section (see Fig. 152). Thanks to this succession of voids
immediately over the main chamber, and to the pointed arch which
surmounts them, the vertical pressure of the superstructure is
discharged from the chamber itself and distributed over the lateral
parts of the pyramid. These precautions have been quite effectual. Not
a stone has been stirred either by the inward thrust or by the
crushing of their substance; not a block is out of place but those
which have been disturbed by the violence of man; and, moreover, the
whole structure is so well bonded and so well balanced that even his
violent attacks have led neither to disruption nor settlement in the
apartment of Cheops or in the galleries which lead to it.[204]

    [204] The discovery of these chambers was interesting from
    another point of view. The name of Choufou was found continually
    repeated upon the blocks of which they are formed. It was
    written in red ochre, and, in places, it was upside down, thus
    proving that it must have been written before the stones were
    put in place. It cannot therefore have been traced after the
    tradition which assigned the pyramid to Cheops, that is, to
    Khoufou, arose; and so it affords conclusive corroboration of
    the statements of Herodotus.

[Illustration: FIG. 153.--Longitudinal section through the lower
chambers; perspective after Perring.]

The glory of the workmen who built the Great Pyramid is the masonry of
the Grand Gallery, the gallery which opens immediately into the
vestibule of the King's Chamber. As this corridor is 28 feet high and
7 feet wide, the visitor can breathe more freely than in the low and
narrow passages which lead to it, and can examine at his ease the
beautiful blocks of limestone from Mokattam of which its polished
walls are composed. The faces of these blocks have been dressed with a
care which is not to be surpassed even by the most perfect examples of
Hellenic architecture on the Acropolis at Athens. The internal faces
must have been worked with equal care. No cement has been employed in
the fixing, and the adherence is so perfect that, in the words of
Abd-ul-Latif "not a needle, not even a hair, can be introduced into
the joints."[205] These joints are not even to be distinguished
without careful examination. The roof of this gallery is built with no
less care.[206] Each of the upper courses is slightly set off from the
one below it, so that in time they come so near together that the
opening may be closed by a single stone, or rather, row of stones.
These, being held between the two upper courses of a quasi vault, play
the part of key stones. This method of vaulting has been employed in
other parts of the pyramid, especially in what is called the _Queen's
Chamber_, which is almost directly beneath the king's, or
sarcophagus-chamber. The same care is conspicuous in those linings of
red granite which form the walls of the two chambers. Even the fine
limestone used for the walls of the Grand Gallery was not considered
rich and solid enough for the walls of the apartment in which the
prince in whose honour the whole of the colossal edifice was reared
would repose; and it was determined to use the richest and most costly
material of which the Egyptian architect could dispose.[207] The plain
sarcophagus, without either inscription or ornament, which is still in
the King's Chamber, is also of red granite.

    [205] This is no exaggeration. JOMARD expresses himself to the
    same effect almost in the same terms. (_Description de
    l'Égypte_, vol. v. p. 628.)

    [206] The extremity of this gallery appears on the right of Fig.

    [207] The presence of this lining in the "Queen's Chamber" also
    led to its being dubbed a funerary chamber, for no trace of a
    sarcophagus was found in it. If we had any reason to believe
    that the pyramid was built in successive wedges, we should look
    upon this as a provisional chamber, made before it was certain
    that the pyramid would attain its present dimensions. As the
    work went on, it would be decided that another, larger, and
    better defended chamber should be built. In this case the first
    may never have been used, and may always have been as empty as
    it is now.

The external casing of the pyramid has entirely disappeared, as we
have already said. On account of their moderate size the stones of
which it was composed would seem to be especially well fitted for use
in building those great cities which, after the collapse of the
ancient civilization, succeeded each other, under different names, in
the neighbourhood of the Memphite necropolis. This casing seems to
have been made of more than one kind of stone, if we may believe an
ancient text which has been interpreted by Letronne with the skill and
sagacity of which he has given so many proofs.[208]

    [208] These observations are to be found in one of the early
    works of Letronne. Their presence is in no way hinted at by the
    title, which is: _Recherches Géographiques et Critiques sur le
    Livre 'De mensura orbis terræ'_ (8vo. 1844). The treatise, Περὶ
    τῶν ἑπτὰ θεαμάτων, may have been written either by Philo of
    Heraclea or Philo of Byzantium. They both belonged to the third
    century before our era, but the bombastic style and numerous
    errors incline us to believe that the little work must have been
    from the pen of some unknown rhetorician of a later date.

The author, named Philo, of a treatise upon the Seven Wonders of the
World, tells us that the Egyptians employed upon this work "the most
brilliant and varied stones, which were carefully fixed." He mentions
as contributing to the splendid result white marble, basalt, porphyry,
and a green breccia from Arabia, which must have been what is called
_verde antique_. And as for his white marble, it must have been the
white limestone from Mokattam, which, in its best strata, is almost as
white and fine in grain as marble. Marble, properly speaking, was only
introduced into Egypt by the Greeks, and that in very small
quantities, for the use of sculptors. Philo says nothing of granite,
but its use was so general that it must have found a place in the
scheme of decoration.[209]

    [209] These are the words of Philo, which we have translated
    rather freely:-- Ποικίλαι δὲ καὶ πορφυραὶ λίθων φύσεις ἀλλήλαις
    ἐπιδεδόμεναι, καὶ τὰ μέν ἐστιν ἡ πέτρα λευκὴ καὶ μαρμαρίτης· τῇ
    δὲ Αἰθιοπικὴ καὶ μέλαινα καὶ μετὰ ταύτην ὁ καλούμενος αἱματίτης
    λιθος· εἶτα ποικίλος καὶ διάχλωρος ἀπὸ τῆς Ἀραβίας κεκομισμένος,
    p. 2,259, A.

The various kinds of stone must have been so placed as to form zones,
and perhaps patterns, of different colours, white, red, black, rose,
green, and so on. To form an idea of the effect we must think of
Giotto's campanile at Florence and various other Italian buildings of
the same kind.

It has been questioned whether the testimony of this Philo is to be
depended upon, as few of those who have busied themselves with the
pyramids seem to have laid much stress upon it. It seems to us to be
worthy of great respect. We do not know when Philo lived, but we know
that the casing of the pyramid was still in place, at least in part,
during the Middle Ages, because in the time of Abd-ul-Latif it had
almost its original height, and its ascent was still very
difficult.[210] On the other hand we have proofs that, although the
author of the Seven Wonders of the World may have written more in the
tone of a rhetorician than of an eyewitness of the wonders which he
describes, he took some of his information from excellent sources. In
fact with the exception of Pliny, he is the only ancient writer who
gives us an approximately true statement of the length of the base
line of Cheops' Pyramid. While the measurements of other writers are
very far from accurate, the figure given by Philo is only 16 feet 6
inches in excess of the truth. The idea of decorating such an expanse
of surface with varied colour was quite in accordance with Egyptian
taste. They loved polychromatic ornaments; they covered every
available surface with the gayest hues; they delighted in the
juxtaposition of the most brilliant tones. They could hardly think of
covering such an immense surface with paint, and as it was necessary,
in any case, to cover it with a smooth casing, it would be no more
difficult to employ many kinds of stone than one. They would thus
obtain a kind of gigantic mosaic which may perhaps have been
heightened in effect by the use of gold. We know that the pyramidion
of an obelisk was frequently gilded, and it is probable enough that
similar means were sometimes taken, in the case of the more
magnificent and carefully finished pyramids, to draw the eye to their
topmost stone and thus to add to the impression made by their height.
No more fitting adornment could be imagined for the sharp peak of a
pyramid rising nearly five hundred feet into the pure blue of an
Egyptian sky.

    [210] According to the calculations of Letronne, the Great
    Pyramid must have been 482 feet high when it was complete. In
    the time of Diodorus it was slightly over 480 feet; in that of
    Abd-ul-Latif it measured 477 feet 3 inches. In 1795 it was only
    456 feet and a few inches, so that it lost about 24 feet in the
    course of eighteen centuries. This lowering of the summit was
    mainly caused by the destruction and removal of the outer
    casing. Since it disappeared the Arabs have been in the habit of
    loosening the stones on the top and launching them down the
    sides for the amusement of travellers; the smooth casing alone
    could prevent such outrage as this. The common idea that the
    Pyramid of Cheops is the highest building in the world is
    erroneous. Even if we take its height when complete, it is
    surpassed by at least two modern buildings, as may be seen by
    the following table of the most lofty buildings now existing:--


    Spires of Cologne Cathedral                          533
    Flèche of the Cathedral at Rouen                     500
    Spire of St. Nicholas, Hamburg                       480
    Dome of St. Peter's, Rome                            476
    Spire of Strasbourg Cathedral                        473
    Pyramid of Cheops                                    456
    Spire of St. Stephen's, Vienna                       450
    Spire of St. Martin's, Landshut                      443
    Spire of the Cathedral of Freiburg, Breisgau         417
    Spire of Antwerp Cathedral, not including the cross  411
    Spire of Salisbury Cathedral                         404
    Dome of Cathedral at Florence                        396
    Dome of St. Paul's, London                           371
    Flèche of Milan Cathedral                            363
    Tower of Magdeburg Cathedral                         344
    Victoria Tower, Westminster                          336
    Rathhaus Tower, Berlin                               293
    Spire of Trinity Church, New York                    287
    Pantheon, Paris                                      266
    Towers of Nôtre Dame, Paris                          226

But this is a conjecture which can never be verified. Even if the
topmost stone were still in place upon any of the pyramids it would,
after all these ages, have lost all traces of gilding; but the whole
of those edifices have their apex more or less truncated. Even before
our era, Diodorus[211] found the Great Pyramid crowned by a plateau
six cubits square.

    [211] DIODORUS, i. 63, 64.

It has sometimes been supposed that the pyramids, when complete, were
terminated by such a plateau as that described by Diodorus, and that
it bore a statue of the king whose mummy rested below. This hypothesis
is founded upon the passage of Herodotus which treats of the Lake
Mœris. "There are," he says, "in the middle of the lake, two
pyramids, each fifty fathoms high (309 feet) ... each of them is
surmounted by a colossal stone statue seated upon a throne."[212]
Herodotus insists so often upon having seen the Labyrinth and Lake
Mœris with his own eyes, that we cannot affect to doubt his
assertions; we shall therefore confine ourselves to a few observations
upon them.

    [212] HERODOTUS, ii. 49.

In the descriptions which he gives of the three great pyramids, and
among his comments upon the methods employed in their construction,
Herodotus does not say a word which can be construed into the most
distant allusion to statues upon their summits. If he had seen colossi
perched upon those lofty pedestals, or if he had heard from his
dragomans--whose exaggerations he has elsewhere so naïvely
reproduced--that they had formerly existed, would he not have made
some allusion to them in that passage, at least, where he explains how
they raised such huge stones to so great a height, and describes the
successive stages in the construction of a pyramid?[213] Would he not
have found room, in the elaborate antithetical passage in which he
contrasts the virtues of Mycerinus with the imaginary wickedness of
Cheops and Chephren, for moral and critical reflections called up by
the sight of their statues upon their respective pyramids; still more
if one of them had happened to be missing? Would he not have
attempted, through some popular tradition, to have accounted for the
presence of one statue and the absence of another? It is evident,
therefore, that Herodotus neither saw any statues upon the Pyramids of
Memphis nor had he any reason to suppose those structures had ever
been crowned in such a fashion. He lays stress upon the seated statues
of the pyramids in Lake Mœris because they were new to him, because
he had seen nothing of the same kind in the neighbourhood of the
ancient capital.

    [213] M. MASPERO has given in the _Annuaire de l' Association
    pour l'Encouragement des Études Grecques_ and elsewhere, several
    extracts from a commentary upon the second book of Herodotus,
    which we should like to see published in its entirety. We may
    point out more particularly his remarks upon the text of the
    Greek historian in the matter of the 1,600 talents of silver
    which, he says, was the value of the onions, radishes, and
    garlic consumed by the workmen employed upon the Great Pyramid
    (ii. 125). He has no difficulty in showing that Herodotus made a
    mistake, for which he gives an ingenious and probable
    explanation. (_Annuaire de 1875_, p. 16.)

Unless we are very much mistaken, this superposition of a colossus
upon a pyramid was a novelty devised by the architects of the middle
empire, when, under the Ousourtesens and Amenemhats, it was proposed
to revive the pyramidal form of tomb with which the early Pharaohs had
obtained such imposing results. Although most conservative on the
whole, the art of Egypt attempted, at each period of renascence, to
introduce new combinations into the details, at least, of the ancient
forms, and this was one of the number.

Another innovation of the same kind is to be found in the decoration
which covered, again according to Herodotus,[214] another pyramid
constructed at about the same time, namely, that which formed one side
of the Labyrinth. "It had," says the historian, "forty fathoms, and it
was sculptured with animals of large size. The entrance was by a
subterranean passage." From the Greek word used (ἐγγέγλυπται) we see
that Herodotus means that the faces, or perhaps only the principal
face, of this pyramid about two hundred and fifty feet high, were
covered with bas-reliefs. There is in Egypt no other example of a
pyramid so decorated. The architectural works of this period have
almost entirely vanished, but we may, perhaps, look upon it as one of
their characteristics that the bareness which they had inherited from
the early creators of Egyptian art, was relieved and adorned by the
intervention of the sculptor.

    [214] HERODOTUS, ii. 148. DIODORUS (l. 89) speaks of the same
    and STRABO, who also appears to have seen it, asserts its
    funerary character (p. 1165, C). He says it was four plethra
    (393 feet) both in width and height. This last dimension is
    obviously exaggerated, because in all the Egyptian pyramids that
    are known to us the shortest diameter of the base is far in
    excess of the height.

It was the desire for such ornament that made them convert their
pyramids into gigantic pedestals for statues. According to all the
analogies afforded by later ages, these statues must have been those
of the princes who built the pyramids in question. We have no reason
to suppose that any of the kings of the first six dynasties erected
any colossal figures like those which were set up in such numbers by
the Theban dynasties; with the single exception of the Sphinx, none of
the statues left to us by the ancient empire greatly exceed the
natural size. But it is evident that such figures as would be fit to
crown the pyramids of Cheops and Chephren would have to be of
extravagant size even if no more than their general outlines were to
be visible from below. Seen from a point nearly 500 feet below, and in
consequence of the inclination of the pyramid faces, at some
considerable distance laterally, even a statue fifty feet high, like
the two colossi of Amenophis III. on the plain of Thebes, would appear
small enough to a spectator. Its artistic results would be very
slender, and yet its erection would require prodigious mechanical
efforts. It would have required all the multitudes of labourers, the
patience, and the time, which the Egyptians alone dared to expend upon
their monuments. But perhaps it may be said that these colossi were
statues built-up of comparatively small stones. To this we must answer
that every colossus as yet discovered in Egypt is a monolith. A
statue, of whatever size, made in different pieces would form an
exception to the whole practice of Egyptian sculpture as we know it.
Until such works are proved to exist we decline to believe in them.

The problem was a much simpler one in the cases of the pyramids in
Lake Mœris. They were not nearly so lofty. According to Herodotus
they were about 309 feet high, doubtless including their statues.
Situated as they were in the middle of the lake, Herodotus could not
himself have measured them, and his statement that they sank as far
below the level of the water as they rose above it is an obvious
exaggeration. When the bed of the lake was formed, two masses of rock
were no doubt reserved, as in the cases of the other pyramids, to form
the core of the projected edifices, and therefore it is likely enough
that the lowest courses of the constructions themselves dipped but
little below the surface of the lake.[215] In his amazement at the
scale upon which the Egyptian buildings were conceived, Herodotus has
too often attributed excessive dimensions to them; thus he says that
the height of the Great Pyramid was eight plethra, or about 820 feet,
nearly 340 feet in excess of the truth. It is therefore probable that
the figures which he gives for the lake pyramids are also exaggerated.
These pyramids were, on account of their comparatively modest
dimensions, much better adapted to the ideas of the Ousourtesens and
Amenemhats than the gigantic piles of Cheops, Chephren, and Mycerinus.

    [215] If the passage in which Herodotus makes the statement here
    referred to be taken in connection with the remarks of Diodorus,
    a probable explanation of the old historian's assertion may be
    arrived at. Diodorus says that the king ὀρύττων τάυτην (λίμνην
    sub.) κατέλιπεν ἐν μέσῃ τόπον, ἐν ᾧ τάφον ᾠκοδόμησε καὶ δύο
    πυραμίδας, τὴν μὲν ἑαυτοῦ, τὴν δὲ τῆς γυναικός, σταδιαίας τὸ
    ὕψος. By this it would appear that, in excavating the bed, or a
    part of the bed, of the famous lake, a mass of earth was left in
    order to bear future witness to the depth of the excavation and
    the general magnitude of the work. This mass would probably be
    reveted with stone, and, in order that even when surrounded and
    almost hidden by water, its significance should not be lost, the
    pyramids raised upon it were made exactly equal to it in

Finally there is not a text to be found, outside the pages of
Herodotus, which mentions pyramids surmounted by statues, and upon
none of those monuments which in one way or another bear
representations of the pyramids are they shown in any other way than
with pointed summits. Thus do we find them in the papyri, upon those
steles of the Memphite necropolis which commemorate the priests
devoted to their service, and in those tombs at Memphis, Abydos, and
Thebes where the pyramid, placed upon rectangular figures of various
heights, is used as a terminal element. Neither in the small number of
pyramids which have come down to us comparatively intact, nor in those
which are represented in reliefs, is there the smallest sign of a
truncated summit or of any platform which could by any possibility
have borne a statue.

[Illustration: FIG. 154.--Pyramidion: Louvre.]

We may say the same of those small pyramidions which have been found
in such great numbers in tombs and which fill our museums. It is well
known that these are votive offerings in connection with the worship
of the sun. "The principal figure," says M. de Rougé, "is generally
shown in a posture of adoration, with his face turned to the sun. On
his left hand is the invocation to the rising, and on his right that
to the setting sun. These arrangements are modified in various ways,
but they are always upon the same genera lines as the orientation of
the tombs themselves."[216] These minute pyramids also end in a point
whether they be of basalt, granite, or calcareous stone, and it is
natural that we should look upon them as the faithful reproductions
upon a small scale of those great funerary monuments which furnished
a type, consecrated by the most venerable of the national traditions,
of that structure facing the four cardinal points which we may call
the normal Egyptian tomb.

    [216] _Notice sommaire des Monuments Égyptiens exposés dans les
    Galeries du Louvre_ (4th edition, 1865, p. 56).

We may believe, then, that the pyramid of the ancient empire
terminated in a pyramidion. This apex once fixed in place, the workmen
charged with the final completion of the edifice worked downwards from
one course to another, covering the immense steps which each face
displayed five or six thousand years ago and now displays again, with
the final casing which protected them for so many centuries. Even
Herodotus saw that this must have been the method of completion.[217]
Any other way of proceeding would have been too dangerous after the
slope of the sides had been made smooth and continuous by the
completion of the casing of polished granite. Workmen could only have
kept their footing upon such a surface, with its 51 or 52 degrees of
elevation, by means of a complicated arrangement of ropes and ladders.
And again, points of resistance could not have been obtained for the
elevation of the materials to ever increasing heights without cutting
or leaving holes in the casing, which would afterwards have to be
filled up. These difficulties would have unnecessarily complicated an
operation which was a simple matter when begun from the top. The
masons could then make use of the steps for their own locomotion, and
when the stones were too large to be lifted from hand to hand, nothing
could be easier than to fix windlasses by which the largest blocks
could be raised with facility.

    [217] Ἐξεποιήθη δ' ὦν τὰ ἀνώτατα αὐτῆς πρῶτα, μετὰ δὲ τὰ ἑπόμενα
    τούτων ἐξεποίευν ... (ii. 125).

As the workmen approached the base they left above them an ever
increasing extent of polished surface, sloping at such an angle that
no foot could rest upon it, and forming the only safeguard against the
degradation of the pyramid by removing its copestone or its violation
by breaking into the passages which led to the mummy-chamber. The
casing gave to the pyramid those continuous lines which were necessary
to make its beauty complete, and, if the materials employed were
varied in the way suggested, it furnished colour effects which had
their beauty also. But, above all, it was a protection, a defensive
armour. So long as the pyramid preserved its cuirass intact, it was
difficult for those who meditated violence to know where to begin
their attack. But this obstacle once pierced it was comparatively easy
to learn all the secrets of the building. The inner mass was much less
carefully built than the casing; the joints were comparatively open,
and the stones were soft and easily cut. Hence we see that some
pyramids, especially those which were built of bricks, have been
reduced by the action of time into heaps of _débris_, in which the
pyramidal form is hardly to be recognised.

Philo, who seems to be so well informed, tells us with what extreme
care the casing was put in place. "The whole work," he says, "is so
well adjusted, and so thoroughly polished, that the whole envelope
seems but one block of stone."[218] The pyramid of Cheops has been
entirely despoiled of its outer covering, and it is to that of
Mycerinus that we must now turn if we wish to have some idea of the
care with which the work was done. The lower part of this pyramid is
still covered with long blocks of the finest granite, fixed and
polished in the most perfect manner. At the foot of the Great Pyramid
several blocks have been found which seem to have formed part of the
casing of that edifice.[219] They are trapezoidal in form, and they
show, as Letronne[220] long ago remarked, that the casing stones were
placed one upon another, and adjusted by their external faces. They
were not, as was at first supposed, sunk into the upper face of the
course below by mortices which would correspond to the trench in the
living rock in which the first course was fixed. As to whether the
external faces of these blocks were dressed to the required angle
before they left the quarry, or whether the work were done after they
were in place we cannot say with any certainty, but it is most likely
that the methods of proceeding changed with the progress of time and
the succession of architects. In such a matter we should find, if we
entered into details, diversity similar to that which we have already
shown to have characterized the forms of the pyramids, their internal
arrangements, and the materials of which they were composed.

    [218] Σύναρμον δὲ καὶ κατεξεσμένον τὸ πᾶν ἔργον, ὥστε δοκεῖν
    ὅλου τοῦ κατασκευάσματος μίαν εἶναι πέτρας συμφυίαν, p. 2,259, A.
    So, too, the elder Pliny, though with rather less precision:
    "Est autem saxo naturali elaborata et lubrica" (_Nat. Hist._
    xxxvi. 12).

    [219] According to Jomard, the casing stones of the Great
    Pyramid were "a compact grey limestone, harder and more
    homogeneous than those of the body of the building"
    (_Description de l'Égypte_, t. v. p. 640); but according to
    Philo, this casing was formed, as we have already said, of
    various materials, so we need feel no surprise if blocks of
    granite or other rock are shown to have formed part of it.

    [220] _Journal des Savants_, August, 1841.

Thus some triangular prisms of granite have been found at the foot of
the pyramid of Chephren, which seem to have formed part of its lower
casing.[221] Such a section seems, upon paper, the simplest that could
be adopted for the filling in of the angle between two of the steps,
but it is far inferior in solidity to the trapezoidal section. The
prisms had no alliance one with another; they had to depend for their
security entirely upon their adherence to the faces of the graded
core, so that they could easily be carried off, or become dislocated
from natural causes. This system, unlike the first described, did not
give a homogeneous envelope with a thickness of its own, and partly
independent of the monument which it protected.[222]

    [221] BÆDEKER, _Egypt_, part i. p. 338 (ed. of 1878). Herodotus
    (ii. 127) says that the first course of the Great Pyramid was
    built of a parti-coloured Ethiopian stone (ὑποδείμας τὸν πρῶτον
    δόμον λίθου Αἰθιοπικοῦ ποικίλου). By Ethiopian stone we must
    understand, as several illustrations prove, the granite of
    Syene. The Greek historian seems to have thought that the whole
    of the first course, throughout the thickness of the pyramid,
    was of this stone. His mistake was a natural one. In his time
    the pyramid was in a good state of preservation, and he never
    thought of asking whether or no the core was of the same
    material as the outer case.

    [222] On the other hand, these awkwardly shaped prisms offered
    less inducement to those who looked upon the pyramids as open
    quarries than the easily squared blocks of Cheops, while their
    position in the angles of the internal masonry enabled them to
    keep their places independently of the lower courses of the

[Illustration: FIG. 155.--The casing of the pyramids; drawn in
perspective from the elevation of Perring.]

The casing of the Second Pyramid, moreover, does not seem to have been
carried out on the same principle from top to bottom. The upper part,
which still remains in place, is composed of a hard cement formed of
chalk, gypsum, and pieces of burnt brick. They may have wished to
obtain the parti-coloured effect of which Philo speaks, by making
simultaneous use of granite and concrete, and it is quite possible
that yet other materials entered into the composition of the

    [223] The determination to use a concrete such as that described
    affords a good reason for the prismatic shape of the granite
    blocks used in the lower courses. It would evidently be easy
    enough to cover the pyramid with a coat of cement--working
    downwards--if its surface did not greatly overpass the salient
    angles of the steps, while the difficulty would be enormously
    increased if the coat were to have a considerable thickness of
    its own independently of the pyramid, like the casing shown in
    Fig. 155.--ED.

In other pyramids we find different combinations again. In the
double-sloped erection at Dashour, the courses of casing stones are
vertical instead of horizontal,[224] while a brick pyramid--the most
northern--in the same locality, was covered with slabs of limestone,
fixed, no doubt, with mortar.

    [224] _Description de l'Égypte, Antiquités_, vol. v. p. 7.

Sometimes we find the revetment in a state of semi-completion; the
blocks in place, and cut to the proper angle, but without their final
polish. Such is the case with the Second Pyramid, upon which blocks of
granite are to be found which are still rough in face. It would seem
that the patience required for the minute completion of such a
terribly long and tedious piece of work was not forthcoming. But we
ought in fact to be surprised, not so much at the unfinished state of
a pyramid here and there, but rather that they should ever have been

The variety which is so conspicuous in the architectural construction
of the pyramids is also to be found in their epigraphy. The first
explorers of the Pyramids of Gizeh were surprised at the absence of
all inscriptions beyond the masons' marks; the silence of those
enormous structures seemed amazing; but soon Colonel Vyse discovered
in the pyramid of Mycerinus the sarcophagus of that king, and the
mummy case, now in the British Museum, which bears an inscription of
some length. Recent discoveries, too, of which full details are yet
wanting, prove that some of the pyramids contained long texts, which
contain the names of kings and other information which is of great
importance to the historian of the Egyptian religion. In 1879 and
1880, Mariette caused three pyramids at Sakkarah to be opened, which
until then had remained unexplored. One of them was silent and empty,
but in the others the inscriptions and sarcophagi of two kings of the
sixth dynasty, Papi and his son Merenzi, were found. Fragments of a
Ritual of the Dead were recognized among them. Pleasure at this
discovery, the last which he was destined to make in the soil of
Egypt, brightened the last days of Mariette.[225]

    [225] G. CHARMES, in the _Journal des Débats_, February 8,

In March 1881, M. Maspero, the successor of M. Mariette as director of
the excavations, opened a pyramid belonging to a different group,
which turned out to be the tomb of Ounas, the last Pharaoh of the
fifth dynasty. In this pyramid, portcullis stones similar to those
which have already been figured were found. When these obstacles were
passed "the continuation of the passage was found, the first part of
polished granite, the second of the close-grained limestone of Tourah.
The side walls are covered with fine hieroglyphs painted green, the
roof sprinkled with stars of the same hue. The passage finally opens
into a chamber half filled with débris, upon the walls of which the
inscription is continued.... The mummy-chamber, like that which
precedes it, is covered with hieroglyphs, with the exception of the
wall opposite to the entrance. This wall is of the finest alabaster,
and is effectively decorated with painted ornaments. The sarcophagus
is of black basalt, without inscription.... The text of the
inscription which covers the walls is almost identical with that in
the tomb of Papi, but it has the advantage of being complete. M.
Maspero, whom Mariette had previously entrusted with taking squeezes
from the inscription in the tomb of Papi, recognised certain formulæ
and phrases which had already struck him in another place.... These
texts make up a composition analogous to one which covers the walls of
certain little known Theban tombs. Without presenting any very
considerable difficulties, they demand careful examination from those
who would comprehend their meaning.

"M. Maspero, encouraged by this first success, ordered a second
pyramid to be opened. He wished to verify, upon the spot, a theory
which he had long upheld in spite of the adverse opinions of the
majority of egyptologists. It is well known that between the sixth and
the tenth dynasties a great gap exists, so far as monumental remains
are concerned. M. Maspero has always believed that there is no such
gap. He has observed that the pyramids are, so to speak, grouped
chronologically from north to south; those of the fourth dynasty at
Gizeh, those of the fifth at Abooseer, those of the twelfth in the
Fayoum. The excavations of Mariette as well as his own showed the
tombs of the fifth and sixth dynasties to have been at Sakkarah. Hence
M. Maspero thinks that the pyramids erected by the sovereigns of the
seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth dynasties are those between Sakkarah
and the Fayoum. The future will show whether he is right or wrong. In
any case science will profit by the new excavations which he is about
to undertake."[226]

    [226] _Moniteur Égyptien_, March 15, 1881.

When cross-examined by such questioners as M. Maspero the pyramids
will tell us much. Hitherto they have attracted but little of that
examination which discovers the most curious secrets, but their size
and the beauty of their masonry will ever make the three great
pyramids of Gizeh the most striking objects to the traveller and to
the historian of art.

Considering their age, these three pyramids are wonderfully well
preserved. In their presence, even in their actual state of partial
ruin, the oriental hyperbolism of Abd-ul-Latif, an Arab writer of the
thirteenth century, seems no more than natural. "All things fear
Time," he cries, "but Time fears the Pyramids!" And yet time has done
its work during the last few hundreds of years. The summits of the
great structures have been slightly lowered; the gaping breaches in
their flanks have been gradually widened; and although in spite of
their stripped flanks and open wounds they still rear their heads
proudly into the Egyptian sky, all those accessory structures which
surrounded them, and fulfilled their own well-defined offices in the
general monumental _ensemble_, have either been destroyed by the
violence of man or engulfed by the encroaching sand. Where, for
example, are those wide and substantial causeways, whose large and
carefully adjusted blocks excited the wonder of Herodotus.[227] After
having afforded an unyielding roadway for the transport of so many
heavy materials, they formed truly regal avenues by which the funeral
processions of the Egyptians reached the centre of the necropolis as
long as their civilization lasted. In the plain they were above the
level of the highest inundations, and their gentle slope gave easy
access to the western plateau. The great Sphinx, the image of
Harmachis, or the Rising Sun, was placed at the threshold of the
plateau. Immovable among the dead of the vast cemetery, he personified
the idea of the resurrection, of that eternal life which, like the
morning sun, is ever destined to triumph over darkness and death. His
head alone now rises above the sand, but in the days of Herodotus his
vast bulk, cut from a rock nearly 70 feet high, was well calculated to
prepare the eye of the traveller for the still more colossal masses of
the pyramids. His features have now been disfigured by all kinds of
outrage, but in the thirteenth century, although even then he had been
mutilated, Abd-ul-Latif was able to admire his serene smile, his head
enframed in a richly carved wig which added to its size and dignity.
His body was never more than roughly blocked out, but a painted
decoration, of which traces may still be found, compensated in some
degree for the deficiencies in the modelling.

    [227] The causeway which led to the Pyramid of Cheops still
    exists for some 400 yards of its length; here and there it rises
    as much as eighty-six feet above the surface of the plateau. A
    similar causeway is to be distinguished on the eastern side of
    the Third Pyramid. At Abou-Roash, at Abousir, and elsewhere,
    similar remains are to be found.

[Illustration: FIG. 156.--Plan of the Pyramids of Gizeh and of that
part of the necropolis which immediately surrounds them.]

[Illustration: FIG. 157.--The Sphinx.]

The soil around each pyramid was carefully levelled and paved with
dressed limestone slabs. Upon this pavement rested the foundations of
the stylobate surrounding the pyramid. Both stylobate and pavement are
now in almost every case concealed by sand and _débris_, but at the
pyramid of Chephren, which is less banked up than the others, traces
of them have been proved to exist. They added somewhat to the imposing
effect of those monuments upon the eye, and gave additional definition
to their bases.[228] The area thus paved was inclosed with a wall,
which had an opening towards the east, in front of which the temple,
or funerary chapel of the pyramid, was raised. The latter, no doubt,
was magnificently decorated. At the foot of the mountains of stone
under which reposed the ashes of the Pharaohs themselves, smaller
pyramids were raised for their wives and children. Of these some half
dozen still exist upon the plateau of Gizeh. One of them has been
recognized as the tomb of that daughter of Cheops, about whom
Herodotus tells one of those absurd stories invented by the Egyptians
of the decadence, with which his dragomans took such delight in
imposing upon his simple faith.[229] Around the space which was thus
consecrated to the adoration of the dead monarch, the long rows of
mastabas stretched away for miles through the vast necropolis.

    [228] _Description de l'Égypte_, vol. v. p. 643. See also in the
    plates, _Antiquités_, vol. v. Pl. xvi. Fig. 2. According to
    Jomard, the surbase of the second pyramid was in two parts--a
    stylobate, 10 feet high and 5 feet thick, and a plinth about 3
    feet high.

    [229] HERODOTUS, ii. 126.

[Illustration: FIG. 158.--Pyramid with its inclosure, Abousir; from

The great ones of Egypt, all those who had been near the Pharaoh and
had received some of his reflected glory, grouped their tombs as
closely as possible about his. Distributed thus by reigns, the private
tombs were erected in close juxtaposition one with another, each being
provided with a stele, or sepulchral tablet upon which the name of the
deceased was inscribed, most of them being adorned with painted
bas-reliefs, and a few with statues placed upon their façades. Upon
the causeways which connected Memphis with the necropolis, upon the
esplanades erected by the Pharaohs to the memory and for the adoration
of their ancestors, in the countless streets, lanes, and blind alleys
which gave access to the private tombs, advanced endless processions
of mourners, driving before them the bleating and lowing victims for
the funeral rites. Priests in white linen, friends and relations of
the dead with their hands full of fruit and flowers, flitted hither
and thither. On the days appointed for the commemoration of the dead,
all this must have afforded a curiously animated scene. The city of
the dead had its peculiar life, we might almost say its festivals,
like that of the living. But amid the coming and going, amid all the
bustle of the Egyptian _jour des morts_, it was the giant forms of
the pyramids, with their polished slopes[230] and their long shadows
turning with the sun, that gave the scene a peculiar solemnity and a
character of its own. Morning and evening this shadow passed over
hundreds of tombs, and thus, in a fashion, symbolized the royal
dignity and the almost superhuman majesty of the kingly office.

    [230] Jomard remarks that the upper part of the second pyramid
    still reflects the rays of the sun. "It still possesses," he
    says, "a portion of its polished casing, which reflects the rays
    of the sun and declares its identity to people at a vast

Of all this harmonious conception but a few fragments remain. The
necropolis is almost as empty and deserted as the desert which it
adjoins. The silence is only broken by the cry of the jackal, by the
footsteps of a few casual visitors hurrying along its deserted
avenues, and by the harsh voices of the Bedouins who have taken
possession of the Pyramid of Cheops, and, in their own fashion, do its
honours to the curious visitor. But despoiled though they be of their
ornaments and of their proper surroundings, the pyramids are yet among
those monuments of the world which are sure to impress all who possess
sensibility or powers of reflection. In a remarkable passage in the
_Description générale de Memphis et des Pyramides_, Jomard has well
defined the effect which they produce upon the traveller and the
impressions which they leave behind: "The general effect produced by
the pyramids is very curious. Their summits, when seen from a
distance, look like those of high mountains standing out against the
sky. As we approach them this effect diminishes; but when we arrive
within a very short distance of their sides a totally different
impression succeeds; we begin to be amazed, to be oppressed, almost to
be stupefied by their size. When quite close to them their summits and
angles can no longer be seen. The wonder which they cause is not like
that caused by a great work of art. It is the sense of their simple
grandeur of form and of the disproportion between the individual power
and stature of man and these colossal creations of his hands. The eye
can hardly embrace them, nor the imagination grasp their mass. We then
begin to form some idea of the prodigious quantity of dressed stone
which goes to make up their height. We see hundreds of stones each
containing two hundred cubic feet and weighing some thirty tons, and
thousands of others which are but little less. We touch them with our
hands and endeavour to realize the power which must have been
required to quarry, dress, carry, and fix such a number of colossal
blocks, how many men must have been employed on the work, what
machines they used, and how many years it must have taken; and the
less we are able to understand all these things, the greater is our
admiration for the patience and power which overcame such

    [231] _Description de l'Égypte, Antiquités_, vol. v. p. 597.

§ 3. _The Tomb under the Middle Empire._

We have shown how the mastaba, that is to say, the most ancient form
of tomb in the necropolis of Memphis, was an expression, both in
arrangement and in decoration, of the ideas of the Egyptians as to a
future life. In literature and in art the works created by a people in
its infancy, or at least in its youth, are the most interesting to the
historian, because they are the results of the sincere and unfettered
expansion of vital forces; this is especially the case when there is
no possibility of a desire to imitate foreign models. The mastaba
deserved therefore to be very carefully studied. No other race has
given birth in its funerary architecture, to a type so pure, a type
which may be explained in every detail by a master-idea at once
original and well defined. We therefore dwelt upon it at some length
and described it with the care which it demanded. We found it again in
the pyramids, the royal tombs of the Ancient Empire, which though
sensibly modified by the great change in proportion, by the colossal
dimensions which the pride of the Pharaohs gave to one part of their
tomb, are yet penetrated by the same spirit. We have yet to follow the
development of the same idea through the later years of Egyptian
civilization, and in localities more or less removed from that in
which she gave her first tokens of power. In one place we shall find
it modified by the nature of the soil to which the corpse had to be
committed, in another by the inevitable progress of ideas, by the
development of art, and by the caprices of fashion, which was no more
stationary in Egypt than elsewhere.

       *       *       *       *       *

The most important necropolis of the First Theban Empire was that of
Abydos in Upper Egypt, upon the left bank of the river. The great
number of sepultures which took place in it, from the first years of
the monarchy until the end of the ancient civilization, is to be
explained by the peculiarly sacred character of the city of Abydos,
and by the great popularity, from one end of the Nile valley to the
other, of the myths which centred in it. According to the Egyptian
belief, the opening through which the setting sun sank into the bowels
of the earth for its nightly transit, was situated to the west of
Abydos. We know how the Egyptian intellect had established an analogy
between the career of the sun and that of man; we may therefore
conclude that in choosing a final resting-place as near as possible to
the spot where the great luminary seemed to make its nightly plunge,
they believed they were making more completely sure of triumphing,
like him, over darkness and death.

The sun is not extinguished, he is but hidden for a moment from the
eyes of man. This sun of the infernal regions is Osiris, who, of all
the Egyptian gods, was most universally adored. Although many Egyptian
towns could show tombs in which the members of Osiris, which had been
dispersed by Set, were re-united by Isis and Nephthys, none of them
were so famous, or the object of such deep devotion, as that at
Abydos. It was, if we may be permitted to use such a phrase, the _Holy
Sepulchre of Egypt_. As, in the early centuries of Christianity, the
faithful laid great stress upon burial in the neighbourhood of some
holy martyr, "The richest and most influential Egyptians," says a well
informed Greek writer, "were ambitious of a common tomb with

    [232] PSEUDO-PLUTARCH, _On Isis and Osiris_, c. xx. M. Maspero
    finds, however, no confirmation of this statement in the
    monuments themselves. "All the tombs which have yet been
    discovered at Abydos," he says (_Revue Critique_, January 31,
    1881), "are those of Egyptians domiciled at Abydos. But the
    author from whom this Plutarch derived his inspiration must have
    known the ancient fiction according to which the soul could only
    pass into the next world by betaking itself to Abydos, and
    thence through the opening to the west of that town which gave
    access to the regions of Ament. Hence the voyage of the dead to
    Abydos which we find so often represented on tombs; an imaginary
    voyage, as the mummy would be reposing safely at Thebes or
    Memphis (Fig. 159). At all events, the family, after the death
    of its head, or any Egyptian during his own life, could deposit
    upon the _ladder of Osiris_ a stele, upon which the tomb
    actually containing his body could be represented and
    unmistakably identified with its original by the formula
    inscribed upon it."

Under such conditions it may readily be understood why Mariette should
have concentrated so much of his attention upon Abydos. In spite of
all his researches he did not succeed in discovering the tomb of
Osiris itself, but yet his digging campaigns afforded results which
are most interesting and important from every point of view.[233]

    [233] MARIETTE, _Abydos, Description des Fouilles exécutées sur
    l'Emplacement de cette Ville_, folio, vol. i. 1869; vol. ii.
    1880. Mariette thought that the sacred tomb was probably in the
    immediate neighbourhood of the artificial mound called
    _Koum-es-Soultan_, which may cover its very site. In the article
    which we quote above, M. Maspero has set forth the
    considerations which lead him to think that the staircase of
    Osiris, upon which the consecrated steles were placed, was the
    flight of steps which led up to the temple of that god.
    Consequently the tomb of Osiris, at Abydos as at Denderah, would
    be upon the roof of his temple.

[Illustration: FIG. 159.--The river transport of the Mummy.
(Champollion, pl. 173.)]

One district of this necropolis is made up by a vast number of tombs
dating from the time of the ancient empire, and particularly from the
sixth dynasty. Arrangements similar to those of the mastabas at
Sakkarah are found, but on a smaller scale--the same funerary
chambers, the same wells, sometimes vertical, sometimes horizontal as
in the tomb of Ti and the pyramids, the same materials. The situation
of this tomb-district, which Mariette calls the central cemetery, has
allowed arrangements to be adopted similar to those on the plateau of
Memphis, where the sand is the only covering to a stratum of living
rock in which it was easy to cut the well and the mummy-chamber.

In the remainder of the space occupied by the tombs the subsoil is of
a very different nature. "The hard and impenetrable rock is there
covered with a sandstone in course of formation; this is friable at
some points, at others so soft that but few mummies have been
entrusted to it."[234] This formation extends over nearly the whole of
the ground upon which the tombs of the eleventh, twelfth, and
especially of the thirteenth, dynasties, are packed closely together.
This Mariette calls the northern cemetery. The tombs of Abydos have
no subterranean story, properly speaking. Well, mummy-chamber, and
funerary chapel are all constructed, not dug. In the few instances in
which the ground has been excavated down to the friable sandstone
which over-lies the hard rock, the opening has been lined with rubble.

    [234] MARIETTE, _Voyage dans la Haute-Égypte_, vol. i. 1879.

[Illustration: FIG. 160.--Tomb at Abydos; drawn in perspective from
the elevation of Mariette.]

[Illustration: FIG. 161.--Section of the above tomb.]

"Hence the peculiar aspect which the necropolis of Abydos must have
presented when intact. Imagine a multitude of small pyramids five or
six metres high, carelessly oriented or not at all, and uniformly
built of crude brick. These pyramids always stand upon a plinth, they
are hollow, and within they are formed into a clumsy cupola by means
of roughly built off-sets. The pyramid stands directly over a chamber
in its foundations which shelters the mummy. As soon as the latter was
in place, the door of its chamber was closed by masonry."[235] An
exterior chamber was often built in front of the pyramid, and being
always left open, served for the performance of the sepulchral rites;
but sometimes this chamber was absent and then those rites were
carried through in the open air, before the stele of the deceased.
This latter was sometimes erected upon the plinth, sometimes let into
its face. A little cube of masonry is sometimes found at the foot of
the stele, destined, no doubt, for funeral offerings. Sometimes the
tomb had a surrounding wall of the same height as its plinth; this
served to mark out the ground which belonged to it, and when the
friends of the deceased met to do him honour, the entrance could be
closed, and comparative privacy assured even in the absence of a
funerary chapel.

    [235] _Ibidem._

[Illustration: FIG. 162.--Tomb at Abydos; drawn in perspective from
the elevation of Mariette.]

[Illustration: FIG. 163.--Section of the above tomb.]

These tombs, which were generally constructed with no great care, were
for the most part without casing. The pyramidal form was given by
setting each course of bricks slightly back from the one below it.
When this part of the work was finished, each face was covered, as a
rule, with a coat of rough concrete, which, in its turn, was hidden
under a layer of white stucco. This multitude of little monuments, all
of the same shape and of much the same size, must, when complete, have
looked like the tents of an encamped army.

[Illustration: FIG. 164.--Stele of the eleventh dynasty, Abydos. Drawn
by Bourgoin. (Boulak.)]

As these tombs were all upon the surface of the ground they have
suffered more than any others from the attacks of man. Those which are
reproduced among these lines of text were only recovered by Mariette
by dint of patient excavation. And although these ill constructed
edifices, so far as their materials are concerned, are still standing,
they will soon follow the many thousands which once stood in serried
ranks round the sepulchre of Osiris. The only remains of this
necropolis which are likely to be preserved are the numberless
steles which Mariette rescued from its _débris_. They form about
four-fifths of the total number of those monuments now preserved in
the museum at Boulak.[236] We figure two of them, one belonging to the
Middle, the other to the New Empire (Figs. 164 and 165).

    [236] All these steles are figured in the last work published by
    MARIETTE, the _Catalogue général des Monuments d'Abydos,
    découverts pendant les Fouilles de cette Ville_, 1 vol. 4to.
    Paris, 1880.

[Illustration: FIG. 165.--Stele of Pinahsi, priest of Ma: Abydos. New
Empire. Drawn by Bourgoin. (Boulak.)]

Whenever religious motives did not affect their choice, the Egyptians
preferred, during the period we are now considering, to cut their
tombs horizontally out of some rocky eminence. Such a tomb was called
a σπέος by the Greeks. The most interesting examples of these
constructions are offered by the tombs of the twelfth dynasty at
Beni-Hassan and at Siout, both situated between Memphis and Abydos.

Champollion was the first to appreciate the importance of the grottos
of Beni-Hassan. Ever since his time they have received, for various
reasons, much of the attention of egyptologists. We have already
referred to their inscriptions, which are as interesting to the
historian of ideas as to the student of political and social
organizations. We have alluded above to the varied scenes which cover
the walls of their chambers, the most important of which have been
reproduced by Champollion, Lepsius, and Prisse d'Avennes; we have
finally to speak of those famous protodoric columns, as they are
called, in which some have thought they saw the original model of the
oldest and most beautiful of the Grecian orders. We are at present
concerned, however, with the arrangement of the tombs themselves.
These are the same, with but slight variations, for the smallest and
most simple tombs as for those which are largest and most elaborately

These façades are cut into the cliff-like sides of the hills of the
Arab Chain, about half-way up their total height. They are, therefore,
high above the surface of the river. When the cutting was made, two or
three columns were left to form a portico, the deep shadows of which
stand out strongly against the whiteness of the rock. This portico
leads to a chamber which is lighted only from the door. Its ceiling is
often cut into the form of a vault. A deep square niche is cut,
sometimes opposite to the door, sometimes in one of the angles. It
once contained the statue of the deceased. Most of the tombs have but
one chamber, but a few have two or three. In a corner either of the
only chamber or of that which is farthest from the door, the opening
of a square well is found; this leads to the mummy-chamber, which is
excavated at a lower level.

[Illustration: FIG. 166.--Façade of a tomb at Beni-Hassan.]

The chamber upon which the portico opens is the funerary chapel, the
place of reunion for the friends and relations of the dead. As
Mariette very truly remarks, from the first step which the traveller
makes in the tomb of Numhotep at Beni-Hassan, he perceives that, in
spite of all differences of situation, the traditions of the Ancient
Empire are still full of vitality. "The spirit which governed the
decorators of the tomb of Ti at Sakkarah still inspired the painters
who covered the walls of the tomb of Numhotep at Beni-Hassan. The
defunct is at home among his own possessions; he fishes and hunts, his
cattle defile before him, his people build boats, cut down trees,
cultivate the vine and gather the grapes, till the earth, or give
themselves up to gymnastics or to games of skill and chance, and among
them the figure of the dead is carried hither and thither in a
palanquin. We have already found pictures like these in the mastabas
of the Ancient Empire, and here we find them again. But at
Beni-Hassan this painted decoration becomes more personal to the
occupant of the tomb, the inscriptions enter into precise and copious
biographical details, which are never found elsewhere."[237]

    [237] MARIETTE, _Voyage dans la Haute-Égypte_, vol. i. p. 51.

[Illustration: FIG. 167.--Façade of a tomb at Beni-Hassan, showing
some of the adjoining tombs.]

[Illustration: FIG. 168.--Interior of a tomb at Beni-Hassan. Drawn in
perspective from the elevation of Lepsius (i. pl. 60).]

[Illustration: FIG. 169.--Plan of the above tomb.]

The necropolis of Siout, in the Libyan chain, offers the same general
characteristics. The tomb of Hapi-Tefa, a feudal prince of the twelfth
dynasty, and consequently a contemporary of those princes of the nome
of Meh who are buried at Beni-Hassan, is the most remarkable. It is
composed of three large chambers communicating one with another, and
with the external air by a wide portico. The mummy-pit is reached from
the innermost of these chambers.

Neither statues, mummies, nor any other movable objects have been
found in these grottos. When their accessible situation and their
conspicuous appearance is remembered, this should not cause surprise.
Many centuries ago the acacia doors, which are mentioned in one of the
texts at Beni-Hassan, disappeared, and, in spite of the accumulation
of sand, the mouths of the wells could be found so easily, and could
so readily be cleared, that all objects of value and interest must
have been abstracted from the mummy-chambers in very remote times,
perhaps before the fall of the antique civilization. The inscriptions
and the painted walls alone remained practically intact down to the
commencement of the present century. The dryness of the climate, and
the difficulty of detaching them from the wall contributed to their
preservation, which was nowhere more complete than at Beni-Hassan. But
since travelling in Egypt became the fashion their sufferings have
begun. The mania for carving names upon every surface, and for
preserving souvenirs of all places of interest, has destroyed the
whole of one wall. The smoke of torches has also done its work in
reducing the brilliant tones and blunting the delicate contours.
Happily, the more interesting examples are all reproduced in those
great works to which we have already had such frequent occasion to

[Illustration: FIG. 170.--Chess players, Beni-Hassan. (Champollion,
pl. 369.)]

The rich necropolis of Thebes has not preserved any monuments from
this period in such good condition as those of Abydos, Beni-Hassan, or
Siout. M. Maspero has discovered, however, in the district known as
the _Drah-Aboul-Neggah_, some remains of the royal tombs of the
eleventh dynasty. Several of these tombs resemble in their general
arrangements those of the feudal princes of Meh and Siout. Thus the
sepulchre of the King _Ra-Anoub-Khoper-Entef_ is what the Greeks
called a _hemi-speos_, that is, it was partly built and partly
hollowed out of the living rock. Before the façade thus built against
the mountain, two obelisks were reared. The tombs of the other princes
belonging to the family of Entef were built upon the open plain. They
were structures in masonry, and seem at one time to have been crowned
by pyramids. Some idea of their shape may be obtained from our
illustrations of the tombs at Abydos.[238]

    [238] MASPERO, _Rapport sur une Mission en Italie_ (in the
    _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. ii. p. 166). The Abbott Papyrus gives
    a list of these little pyramids.

To complete our observations upon the tombs of the first Theban
Empire, it will be sufficient to recall what we have already said
about the pyramids in the Fayoum, which were the work of the
thirteenth dynasty. It is difficult to form an accurate idea of the
appearance of those monuments when complete. Time has treated them
with great severity, and in their present state it is impossible to
verify the assertions of Herodotus as to the peculiarities of their
casing and crowning ornaments. But it is quite certain that the Middle
Empire made no original inventions in the matter of sepulchral
architecture. It appears to have discontinued some of the ancient
arrangements, but in those which it preserved its efforts were
confined to putting old elements together in a new fashion and with
new proportions. It made frequent use of one mode of sepulture which
had previously been quite exceptional. No mastaba is known which dates
from this epoch, but the kings had not ceased to confide their mummies
and the perpetuation of their glory to pyramids, but these were no
longer of such colossal dimensions as under the Ancient Empire, while
their character was complicated, to some extent, by the colossi with
which they are said to have been surmounted, and the figured
decoration of their walls. Finally, they were often employed, not as
self-contained monuments in themselves, but merely as the culminating
points in a more complex _ensemble_. They were built upon a
rectangular platform or tower with walls slightly inclined from the

It would seem that the idea of this arrangement had occurred to the
primitive Egyptians. So, too, had that of the _speos_ or rock-cut
tomb; but the Memphite architects have left nothing which at all
resembles the grottos in the mountain sides of Beni-Hassan and Siout.
Neither in the neighbourhood of the pyramids nor in any other district
where the tombs of the early epoch are found, has any sepulchre been
discovered which shows the monumental façades, the large internal
development, and the simple and dignified lines of the artificial
chambers in the Arab and Libyan chains.

§4. _The Tomb under the New Empire._

The subterranean tombs for which the first Theban Empire had shown so
marked a preference, became firmly seated in public favour during the
succeeding centuries. We do not know what the funeral customs may have
been during those centuries when the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, were
masters of Egypt; but, after their expulsion, the great Theban
dynasties, the eighteenth, the nineteenth, and the twentieth, by whom
the glory of Egyptian arms and culture was spread so widely, hardly
made use of any sepulchre but the chamber hollowed laboriously in the
rocky sides of that part of the Libyan chain which lies to the west of
Thebes. Every traveller visits the royal tombs which lie in the gloomy
ravine called the _Bab-el-Molouk_, or the Gate of the Kings. The
valley is about three miles in length and has a mean width of about
eleven hundred yards; its sides are riddled with galleries penetrating
more or less deeply into the mountains, and starting sometimes from
the slopes, sometimes from the base of the cliffs, which here and
there attain a height of 400 feet. The word speos seeming to the
Greeks to give an inadequate idea of the depth of these excavations
and of their narrow proportions, they called them συρίγγες or pipes;
and modern archæologists have often employed the same picturesque term
in speaking of the Theban tombs. Five-and-twenty of these tombs are
royal; the rest belong to wealthy subjects, priests, warriors, and
high officers of state. In extent and richness of ornament some of the
latter are in no way inferior to the tombs of the sovereigns.

Our studies must first, however, be directed to the royal tombs,
because in them we find the most original types, the most important
variations upon those which have gone before. In them the art of the
New Empire gives a clearer indication of all the changes which the
progress of ideas had brought about in the Egyptian conception of a
future life. In them, too, the Egyptian taste for ample dimensions and
luxuriant decoration is more freely indulged. The architects of Seti
and Rameses had resources at command far beyond those of which their
early rivals could dispose. They were, therefore, enabled to indulge
their employers' tastes for magnificence, and to give to certain
parts of the tomb a splendour which had been previously unknown. And
such parts were never those upon which the pyramid builders had
lavished most of their attention.

Nothing could be more simple than the course of proceeding of the
earlier architects, whose services and high social position are
indicated for us by more than one stele from the Ancient Empire. They
had to distinguish the royal from the private tomb, and no means to
such an end could be more obvious than to make use of a form of
construction which allowed the height and extent to be added to _ad
infinitum_ without compromising the stability of the monument. Their
one idea, therefore, was to push the apex of the pyramid as far up
into the sky as they could. The height grew as the flanks swelled, so
that it became, by one process of accretion, ever more imposing and
better fitted to safeguard the precious deposit hidden within it. In
such a system the important point was this envelope of the
mummy-chamber, an envelope composed of thousands of the most carefully
dressed and fixed blocks of stone, which, in their turn, were covered
with a cuirass of still harder and more durable materials. In order
that all access to the sarcophagus might be more safely guarded
against, the funerary chapel was separated from the mountain of hewn
stone which inclosed the mummy-chamber. Supposing the latter to be
decorated with all the taste and richness which we find in the tomb of
Ti, it would still be comparatively small and unimportant beside the
colossal mass which overshadowed it, and to which it belonged. The
disproportion is easily explained. When the pyramids were built, the
workman, the actual mason, had little more to learn. He was a thorough
master of the dressing and fixing of stone and other materials; but,
on the other hand, the art of architecture was yet in its infancy. It
had no suspicion of those rich and varied effects which the later
Egyptians were to obtain by the majesty of their orders and the
variety of their capitals. It was not till much later that it learnt
to raise the pylon before the sacred inclosures, to throw solemn
colonnades about their courts, and to greet the visitor to the temples
with long naves clothed in all the glory of colour.

Two periods of national renascence, in the thirteenth and eighteenth
dynasties, had to intervene before these marvels could be realized.
The earlier of these two periods is only known to us by a few works
of sculpture in our museums. We are forced to guess at its
architecture, as we have nothing but descriptions, which are at once
incomplete and exaggerated, to guide our imaginations.

[Illustration: FIG. 171.--General plan of Thebes.]

The second Theban Empire may be studied under very different
conditions. The architects of that epoch excelled all their
predecessors in the skill with which they used their materials, and
the artistic ability with which they laid their plans. In a word, they
realized the ideal towards which Egyptian builders had been tending
for many centuries, and their genius is still to be seen in buildings
which, even in their ruin, charm by the grandeur of their conception
and the finish of their execution.

In the century which saw the construction of the great temples of
Abydos, of Karnak, and of Luxor, the architect who was charged with
the building of the royal tombs could dispose of all the resources of
an empire which stretched from the southern boundaries of Ethiopia to
Damascus and Nineveh. He would have fulfilled the wishes of neither
prince nor people had he not found means to give an amplitude and a
beauty to those tombs which should stand a comparison with the
sumptuous edifices which the same kings had erected, in another part
of the city, in honour of the great deities of the country.

The simple and massive forms of the pyramid did not lend themselves to
success in such an enterprise. They afforded no opportunity for the
happy combinations of horizontal and vertical lines, for the contrasts
of light and shadow and splendour of decoration which distinguished
the epoch. The experience of the Middle Empire proved that it was
better to make a fresh departure than to attempt to foist upon the
pyramid a class of ornament which was destructive to the simplicity in
which so much of its grandeur consisted. The highest expression of the
new form of art was in the temple, the development of which was rather
in a horizontal than in a vertical direction; in the long avenues of
sphinxes, in the pylons and colossal statues of the kings, in
porticoes and forests of columns. The problem, therefore, was to
embody some of these elements in the design of the tomb. For this
purpose it was necessary to give increased dimensions and greater
importance to a part of the royal sepulchre which had been hitherto
comparatively neglected. The funerary chapel had to be expanded into a
temple in miniature, into a temple where the king, who had rejoined
the deities from whom he was descended, could receive the homage and
worship of his people.

The exploits of these princes, which were greater than anything of
which Egypt had to boast in the whole of its glorious past, must have
helped to suggest the temple form of their tombs. To this form the
general movement of the national art also pointed, and to give it
effect nothing more was required than the separation of the chapel
from the tomb proper, to which previous tradition had so closely
allied it. The situation of the sepulchre, after Thebes had become a
populous city and the real capital of Egypt, was no longer a matter of
question. It was in the rocky flanks of the Libyan chain that all its
inhabitants sought that asylum for their dead which the inhabitants of
Memphis found upon the eastern edge of the desert. The Libyan chain to
the west of Thebes offers no platform like that of the necropolis of
Memphis. Its cliffs and intersecting ravines offer no sites for
constructed works; hence the ordinary form of Theban tomb is the
_speos_, or the _pipe_, which is but an exaggerated form of the

Like the chief men among his subjects, the sovereign loved to take his
last repose in the immediate neighbourhood of the city in which he had
dwelt during his life, in which the streets had so often resounded to
the cries of triumph which greeted his return from some successful
campaign, or had seen him pass in some of those long processions which
are figured upon the walls of Medinet-Abou (Fig. 172).[239] His tomb
was a cavern like that of his subjects. Fashion and the physical
conditions of the country governed him as well as his inferiors in
rank. From the reign of Seti I. onwards, the kings chose for their
place of sepulture the wild and deserted valley in which Belzoni found
the tomb of that conqueror. In the time of the Ptolemies it contained
the bones of no less than forty Egyptian monarchs. It would be
difficult to imagine any site better calculated for the isolation and
concealment of the mummy than this valley, where the rocks split and
crumble under the sun, and the sand blown hither and thither by the
winds from the desert fills up every crevice in the cliffs.

    [239] Fig. 172 reproduces only a part of the long plate given
    in Wilkinson. In order to bring the more important groups within
    the scope of one page, we have been compelled to omit the
    central portion, which consists principally of columns of

[Illustration: FIG. 172.--Rameses III. conducting a religious
procession, at Medinet-Abou. (Wilkinson, iii., pl. 50.)]

Nothing could be easier than to mask the entrance in such a place,
but, on the other hand, no constructed building of any importance was
possible except at a great expenditure of time and labour.[240]

    [240] See the description of the Valley of the Kings in the
    _Lettres d'Égypte et de Nubie_ of CHAMPOLLION (p. 183 of the
    second edition).

But the plain at the foot of the range offered all that the architect
could wish. It was still within the district consecrated to the dead,
and yet its level surface presented no obstacles to an unlimited
extension of any buildings which might be placed upon it.

We have here then the facts which determined the course of the
Egyptian architects.

In the space inclosed between the left bank of the river and the first
slopes of the Libyan chain, certain edifices were raised which are
still, in great part, extant. Their funerary signification was never
completely understood, in spite of the confused hints to that effect
given by the Greek writers, until within the last few years. To
Mariette belongs the credit of having at last removed all doubt on the
subject. It is probable enough that the number of these buildings was
formerly much greater than it is at present, but those which have come
down to us are still in sufficiently good preservation to enable us to
discern and define their true character, a character which was
doubtless common to all the temples on the left bank of the Nile.

They were certainly temples. Their general arrangements do not differ
from those of other religious edifices, both in Thebes itself, and
elsewhere in Egypt. There is, however, a difference which was not
perceived until the texts which contained the history of each temple
and of the prince who claimed the credit of its erection were
deciphered. The famous buildings at Luxor and Karnak may be taken as
typical examples of the temple, properly speaking, in its richest and
most complete development. The translation of the inscriptions and
royal ovals which cover their walls has sufficed to show that they
were national monuments, public sanctuaries consecrated by the king,
as the representative of the people, to the worship of those great
deities who were at once the principles of life and the faithful
protectors of the Egyptian race. Century after century they never
ceased to found such temples, to increase and to embellish them. From
the princes of the twelfth dynasty down to the Ptolemies, and even to
the Roman emperors, every successive family which occupied the throne
held it a point of honour to add to the creations of its predecessors.
One prince built a hypostyle hall, or a court surrounded by a
colonnade; another added to the long rows of human or ram-headed
sphinxes which lined the approaches; a third added a pylon, and a
fourth a laboriously chiselled obelisk. Some kings, who reigned in
periods of recuperation after civil war or barbaric invasion, set
themselves to repair the damage caused by time and the violence of
man. They strengthened foundations, they lifted fallen columns, they
restored the faded colours of the painted decorations. The foreign
conquerors themselves, whether Ethiopians, Persians, or Greeks, as
soon as they believed themselves to have a firm hold upon the country,
set themselves with zeal to obliterate the traces of their own
violence. Each of these sovereigns, whether his contribution to any
work had been great or small, took care to inscribe his own name upon
it, and thus to call upon both posterity and his own contemporaries to
bear witness to his piety.

The temple as we see it at Karnak and Luxor is the collective and
successive work of many generations. Such, too, was the character of
the great buildings at Memphis which were consecrated to Ptah and

But on the left bank of the Nile, and in the neighbourhood of the
Theban necropolis, we find a group of temples whose physiognomy is
peculiar to themselves. Nothing exactly like them is to be found
elsewhere;[241] and they all belong to one period, that of the three
great Theban dynasties, the eighteenth, nineteenth, and
twentieth.[242] "These temples are monuments raised by the kings
themselves to their own glory. They are not, like the temples at
Karnak and Luxor, the accumulated results of several generations.
Each temple was begun and finished by the king who planned it, so far
at least as construction was concerned. In those cases where the
decoration was left incomplete at the death of the royal builder, his
successor finished it in his name. In these decorations the founder of
the temple was represented either worshipping the gods, or in the
eventful moments of his military career, or in his great hunts; and
thus, while yet alive, he laid the foundations of an edifice destined
to carry the memory of his glory and piety down to the latest

    [241] EBERS, indeed, found something of the same kind in the
    temple of Abydos. He found there a cenotaph consecrated to his
    own memory by Seti I. This cenotaph was near the tomb of Osiris,
    while the king himself was buried in the Theban necropolis.
    (_Ægypten_, pp. 234, 235.)

    [242] The beautiful little temple of Dayr-el-Medinet, begun by
    Ptolemy Philopator and finished by his successors, especially by
    Physco, has often been considered a funerary monument. It is
    alleged that the situation of the temple in the necropolis, and
    the nature of the subjects represented in the interior,
    particularly in the Western Chamber, prove that it was so. If we
    accept this opinion, we must look upon the temple as a mere
    freak of fancy, suggested to Ptolemy Philopator by a journey to
    Thebes. The Greek prince was interred far from it, and it could
    have formed no part of his tomb.

    [243] MARIETTE, _Deir-el-Bahari_, § 1. (Atlas, folio, Leipsic,
    1877, with 40 pages letterpress, 4to.)

[Illustration: FIG. 173.--Rameses III. hunting; from Medinet-Abou.]

Surrounded on all sides by tombs and packed into a comparatively
narrow space, these temples are separated from the Bab-el-Molouk only
by the slopes of the surrounding El-Assassif. The oldest of them is
that at Dayr-el-Bahari. It was built by the regent Hatasu, of whose
career we know enough to strongly excite, but too little to satisfy,
our curiosity. We know that Hatasu, the wife and sister of Thothmes
II., governed Egypt with skill and energy for seventeen years, in
trust for her brother, Thothmes III. Where does her mummy repose? Is
it in that ravine on the south-west of the Bab-el-Molouk which is
called the _Valley of the Queens_, because the tombs of many Theban
princesses have been found in it? Or is it in the slopes of the
mountain behind the temple itself? Numerous sepulchral excavations
have been found there, and many mummies have been drawn from their
recesses. The artists to whom the decoration of the temple was
committed, were charged to represent the chief actions of Hatasu as
regent, and, although their works do not give us a detailed history of
her eminently successful administration, they deal at length with the
enterprise of which the regent herself seems to have been most proud,
namely, the maritime expedition against _Punt_, a distant region which
must have been either southern Arabia, the country of the Somalis, or
the eastern coast of Africa.

Next in point of age to the building of Queen Hatasu is that which is
called the _Ramesseum_; this is no other, as the members of the
_Institut d'Égypte_ have clearly proved, than the so-called _Tomb of
Osymandias_ which is described at such length by Diodorus.[244]
Erroneous though it be, this latter designation is by no means without
interest, as it proves that, at the time of Diodorus, persistent
tradition ascribed a funerary origin to the edifice. The whole temple,
inside and out, recalled Rameses II.; the great conqueror seemed to
live and breathe on every stone; here majestic and calm, like force in
repose, there menacing and terrible, with his threatening hand raised
over the heads of his conquered enemies. His seated statue, fifty-six
feet in height, was raised in the courtyard; to-day it lies broken
upon the ground. Battle scenes are to be distinguished upon the
remains of the walls. An episode of the war against the Khetas may be
recognized, which seems to have made a great impression upon the king
and his comrades in arms. It deals with that battle fought upon the
bank of the Orontes, in which Rameses, when surrounded by the enemy,
won safety for himself by his own personal valour and presence of
mind. His prowess was celebrated by Pentaour, a contemporary poet, in
an epic canto which has survived to our day. Rameses is there made to
ascribe his safety and all the honour of his victory to his father
Amen, who heard his appeal for help and, precipitating himself into
the _mêlée_, snatched him from the very hands of his enemies.

    [244] DIODORUS, i. §§ 47-49.

Medinet-Abou, which might be called _The Second Ramesseum_, is to
Rameses III. what the pretended tomb of Osymandias is to Rameses II.
His presence pervades both the temple itself and its adjoining
pavilion. Its bas-reliefs represent one of the greatest events in
Egyptian, we might almost say, in ancient, history, namely, the
victory won by Rameses over a confederation of the nations of the
north and west, of those who were called the maritime races. This
victory was mainly instrumental in driving westwards certain peoples
who were destined, in more recent times, to play a great part in the
politics of the Mediterranean.

Each of the buildings which we have just noticed had but a single
proprietor. They were each dedicated to the memory of some one
individual; but there was nothing to prevent the association in a
single temple of two sovereigns who might happen to be united by
strong ties of blood, and this course was taken in the temple of
Gournah, situated in the same district of Thebes. It was commenced by
Rameses I., the founder of the nineteenth dynasty, continued by his
son, Seti I., and finished by his grandson, Rameses II. The first
Rameses and Seti figure in it with the attributes of Osiris. The
inscriptions enumerate the sources of revenue set aside by the king,
in each nome, for the service of the annual sacrificial celebrations;
and thus the building reveals itself as a temple to the perpetual
honour of the two first princes of a race which did so much to add to
the greatness and prosperity of Egypt.

The famous colossi of Amenophis III., known to the ancients as the
_Statues of Memnon_, no doubt formed part of a similar building (Fig.
18 and Pl. vi). The temple built by this prince near the site of the
Ramesseum has almost entirely disappeared, but the slight traces which
still exist cover a vast space, and suggest that the building must
have been one of rare magnificence.[245]

    [245] This must have been the structure which STRABO calls the
    _Memnonium_, and near to which he seems to place the two colossi
    (xvii. p. 816). The true name of the author of both temple and
    colossi might easily be confused with that of the mythical Greek
    personage which the Hellenic imagination persisted in
    discovering everywhere in Egypt, and the similarity of sound
    must have helped to perpetuate the mistake among all the foreign
    travellers who visited the country. A curious passage in
    PAUSANIAS (_Attica_, 42) shows us, however, that the Egyptian
    scholars of his time knew how properly to convey the name of the
    prince represented in the colossi to foreigners: "I was less
    struck by that marvel," he says, in speaking of some sonorous
    stone which was shown to him at Megara, "than by a colossal
    statue which I saw beyond the Nile in Egypt, not far from the
    _pipes_. This colossus is a statue of the sun, or of Memnon,
    according to the common tradition. It is said that Memnon came
    from Ethiopia into Egypt, and that he penetrated as far as Susa.
    But the Thebans themselves deny that it is Memnon. They declare
    that it represents Phamenoph (Φάμενοφ), who was born in their
    own country...." The story told by PHILOSTRATUS (_Life of
    Apollonius_, l. vi. p. 232) of the visit of the sorcerer to
    Memnon, shows that in his time the colossus was surrounded by
    nothing but ruins, such as broken columns and architraves,
    fragmentary walls and shattered statues. Even then the
    monumental completeness of the "Amenophium" had vanished.

Only one of those Theban temples which rise upon the left bank of the
river is free from all trace of a funerary or commemorative purpose,
namely, the temple at Medinet-Abou which bears the ovals of Thothmes
II. and Thothmes III. It shows signs, moreover, of having been
frequently enlarged and added to, some of the additions having been
made as recently as in the time of the Roman Emperors. In this respect
it resembles, in spite of its comparatively small size, the great
temples upon the right bank of the river. Like them, its creation was
a gradual and impersonal matter. Every century added its stone, and
each successive king engraved his name upon its walls. How to account
for its exceptional situation we do not know. It is possible that
those funerary temples of which we have spoken were an original
invention of the successors of Thothmes; perhaps that constructed by
Hatasu at Dayr-el-Bahari was the first of the series.

However this may have been, the new type became a success as soon as
it was invented; all the other temples in the district may be more or
less immediately referred to it. The great deities of Egypt, and more
particularly those of Thebes, are never forgotten in them. They
contain numerous representations of the princes in whose honour they
were erected performing acts of worship before Amen-Ra, the Theban god
_par excellence_, who is often accompanied by Mout and Khons, the
other two members of the Theban triad. These temples were therefore
consecrated, like almost all the other sacred buildings of Thebes, to
those local deities which, after the establishment of that city as the
capital of the whole country, became the supreme national gods. Those
gods were as much at home in the temples of which we are speaking as
in their own peculiar sanctuaries on the right bank of the river. In
both places they received the same homage and sacrifices, but in the
funerary temples of the left bank they found themselves associated,
_paredral_ as the Greeks would say, with the princes to whose memory
the temples were raised. These princes were represented with the
attributes of Osiris, both in the statues which were placed against
the piers in the courtyard and in the bas-reliefs upon the long flat
surfaces of the walls. By these attributes they became more closely
allied with the great deity who was the common protector of the dead
and the guarantor of their future resurrection. In this capacity the
deceased prince was worshipped as a god by his own family. Thus, in
the temple of Gournah, we find Rameses I. seated in a _naos_ and
receiving the homage of his grandson, Rameses II.; and, again, the
latter worshipping Amen-Ra, Khons, and Rameses I. at one and the same
time. This presentation of offerings to the deified king, as
represented in the chambers of these temples, recalls the scene which
is carved upon almost all the steles, and with greater variety and
more detail, in the bas-reliefs on the internal walls of the mastabas.

The analogy which we are endeavouring to establish between the western
temples at Thebes and the funerary chambers of the private tombs, is
completed by the biographical nature of the pictures which form almost
the sole decoration of those temples. The images presented to our gaze
by the chamber walls of the mastaba are not, indeed, so personal and
anecdotical as those of the temples, but they contain an epitomized
representation of the every-day life, of the pleasures and the more
serious occupations of a rich Egyptian. It is easy to understand how,
with the progress of civilization, the more historic incidents in the
life of an individual, and especially when that individual was a king,
came to be figured in preference to those which were more general in
their application. To embellish the tomb of a conqueror with pictures
of his battles and victories was to surround him after death with the
images, at least, of those things which made his happiness or his
honour while alive. Pictures of some famous feat of arms would give
joy to the _double_ of him who had performed them, and would help to
relieve the _ennui_ of the monotonous life after death. Hence the
tendency which is so marked in the bas-reliefs of the first Theban
Empire, especially in those at Beni-Hassan. The constant and universal
themes which sufficed for the early centuries of the Egyptian monarchy
were not abandoned; scenes similar to those of the mastabas, are,
indeed, frequently met with in the Theban tombs; but it is evident
that in many cases scenes were sought out for reproduction which would
have a more particular application; there is an evident desire to hand
down to future generations concrete presentments of any political or
other events which might appear worthy of remembrance. History and
biography thus came in time to play an important part in sepulchral
decoration, especially when kings or other royal personages were

Similar pictures are to be met with here and there in temples proper,
as may be seen by a glance at the bas-relief figured upon the opposite
page (Fig. 174), but in such cases they are invariably on the outer
walls. At Luxor, for instance, the campaigns of Rameses II. against
the peoples of Syria are thus displayed; and at Karnak it is upon the
external walls of the hypostyle hall that the victories of Seti I. and
Rameses II. are sculptured. In the interiors of all these courts and
halls we hardly find any subjects treated but those which are purely
religious; such as female deities assisting at the birth of a king, or
taking him upon their knees and nourishing him from their breasts, a
theme which is also found in royal tombs (Fig. 175); or one god
presenting the king to another (Fig. 33); or the king paying homage to
sometimes one, sometimes another, of his divine protectors (Figs. 14
and 176). We find such religious motives as these continually
repeated, upon wall and column alike, from the first Theban kings to
the epoch of the Ptolemies. On the right bank of the river pictures of
a mystically religious character are universal; on the left bank those
with an historical aim are more frequent.

It will be seen that the difference between the two kinds of temple,
between that of the necropolis and that of the city, is not so
striking and conspicuous as to be readily perceived by the first comer
who crosses from the one bank of the river to the other; but the
variations are quite sufficiently marked to justify the distinction
propounded by Mariette. According to him the temples in the necropolis
are funerary chapels which owe their increased size and the
richness of their decoration to the general magnificence and highly
developed taste of the century in which they were built. But it is
enough for our present purpose to have indicated the places which they
occupied in the vast architectural compositions which formed the tombs
of a Seti or a Rameses. They had each a double function to fulfil.
They were foundations made to the perpetual honour of a deceased king,
chapels in which his fête-day could be kept and the memory of his
achievements renewed; but they were at the same time temples in which
the national gods were worshipped by himself and his descendants, in
which those gods were perpetually adored for the services which they
had done him while alive and for those which they might still do him
when dead. In their latter capacity these buildings have a right to be
considered temples, and we shall defer the consideration of their
architectural arrangements, which differ only in details from those of
the purely religious buildings, until we come to speak of the
religious architecture of Egypt.

[Illustration: FIG. 174.--Rameses II. in battle; Luxor. (Champollion,
pl. 331.)]

[Illustration: FIG. 175.--Painting in a royal tomb at Gournah.
Amenophis II. upon the lap of a goddess. (Champollion, pl. 160.)]

We shall here content ourselves with remarking that the separation of
the tomb and the funerary chapel by some mile or mile and a half was a
novelty in Egypt. The different parts of the royal tomb were closely
connected under the Memphite Empire, and the change in arrangement
must have been a consequence of some modification in the Egyptian
notions as to a second life.

[Illustration: FIG. 176.--Amenophis III. presenting an offering to
Amen. Decoration of a pier at Thebes; from Prisse.]

In the mastaba the _double_ had everything within reach of his hand.
Without trouble to himself he could make use of all of the matters
which had been provided for the support of his precarious existence:
the corpse in the mummy pit, the statues in the _serdab_, the
portraits in bas-relief upon the walls of the public chamber. Through
the chinks between the pieces of stone by which the well was filled
up, and through the conduits contrived in the thickness of the walls,
the magic formulæ of the funerary prayers, the grateful scent of the
incense, and of the burnt fat of the victims (Fig. 177), reached his
attentive senses. Brought thus into juxtaposition one with another,
the elements of the tomb were mutually helpful. They lent themselves
to that intermittent act of condensation, so to speak, which from time
to time gave renewed substance and consistency to the phantom upon
which the future life of the deceased depended. This concentration of
all the acts and objects, which had for their aim the preservation of
the deceased for a second term of life, was obviously destroyed as
soon as the division of the tomb into two parts took place. The mummy,
hidden away in the depths of those horizontal wells in the flank of
the Western Range of which we have spoken, would seem to be in danger
of losing the benefit of the services held in its honour upon the
Theban plain. At such a distance it would neither hear the prayers nor
catch the scent of the offerings. And the _double_? Is it to be
supposed that he oscillated between the colossi in the temple where
the funerary sites were celebrated, and the chamber in which the
corpse reposed?

[Illustration: FIG. 177.--Flaying the funerary victim. From a tomb of
the 5th dynasty at Sakkarah. (Boulak.)]

Before they could have accepted this division of the tomb into two
parts the Egyptians must have arrived at some less childish conception
of the future life than that of their early civilization. That
primitive conception was not entirely banished from their minds;
evidence of its persistency is, indeed plentiful, but a more
intelligent and less material notion gradually superimposed itself
upon the ancient belief. The indescribable being which was the
representative of the deceased after death became gradually less
material and more spiritual; in time it escaped from its enforced
sojourn in the tomb and approached more nearly to that which we call
the soul. This soul, like the nocturnal sun, passed a period of
probation and purgation in the under world, and, thanks to the
protection of Osiris and the other deities of the shades, was at last
enabled to return to earth and rejoin the body which it had formerly
inhabited. The problem of death and a future life was resolved in much
the same way by the Greeks and by all other races who drew much of
their inspiration from the Egyptians. They all looked upon the corpse
as still alive when they expressed their hopes that the earth upon
which they poured out wine and milk would like lie lightly upon it.
After a time they added Tartarus and the Elysian Fields to their
beliefs, they introduced the heroic fathers of their race into the
councils of the gods, and they described and figured the joys which
awaited the just upon the Happy Islands.

These various hypotheses are contradictory enough from a logical point
of view; they exclude and destroy one another. But when it is a
question of notions which are essentially incapable of being strictly
defined, the human intelligence is singularly content to rest in vague
generalities. Contradictions do not embarrass it; its adaptability is
practically infinite.

The beliefs which we have just described tended for many centuries to
become more and more general. They were taught in that _Ritual of the
Dead_ which, although certain of its parts date from the most ancient
times, did not take its complete and definite form until the Theban
epoch. Being more spiritual and less material, they were less opposed
to the subdivision of the sepulchre than the more primitive idea; and
this subdivision was necessary if the public and commemorative part of
the tomb were to receive a splendour and amplitude befitting the
exploits of a Thothmes, a Seti, or a Rameses. Dayr-el-Bahari proves
that the change had already been made under the eighteenth dynasty,
but it was not until the nineteenth that it became definitely adopted.
The progress of ideas and of art had then advanced so far, that more
ambitious desires could be satisfied, and the country filled with
magnificent edifices, which, like the temples of the two Rameses, were
original in so far as they belonged at one and the same time to
religious and funerary architecture. We should call them cenotaphs,
were it not that the Egyptians, like all the other races of antiquity,
believed in the real presence of their dead in the buildings erected
in their honour.

[Illustration: FIG. 178.--Entrance to a royal tomb. (_Description de
l'Égypte_, ii., pl. 79.)]

The other division of the tomb is that which contains the well and the
mummy-chamber, the eternal dwelling-place of the illustrious dead. The
second half of the royal sepulchre had to be as sumptuous and
luxurious in its way as the first, but the problem placed before the
architect was diametrically opposed to that which he had to solve in
the other part of his task. In constructing and decorating the
funerary temple upon the plain, he was working before the eyes of the
public, for their benefit and for that of the remotest posterity.

But the task of hewing out the tomb was a very different one. For long
years together he pursued his enterprise in the mystery and shadow of
a subterranean workshop, to which all access was no doubt forbidden to
the curious. He and his assistants cut and carved the living rock by
the light of torches, and his best ingenuity was taxed to devise means
for preserving from the sight of all future generations those works of
the best artists of Egypt with which the walls were to be covered.
Those prodigies of patience and skill were executed for the benefit of
the deceased alone. Important though it was that the sepulchre of a
great man should be ornamented to the greatest extent possible, it was
of still greater moment that his last resting-place should not be
troubled by the visits of the living; and the more completely the
mummy was concealed, the greater were the deserts of the faithful
servant upon whom the task had been placed.

In order that this blessing of undisturbed peace in his eternal
dwelling should be secured, the royal tomb seems to have been
constructed without any such external show as would call attention to
its situation. The tombs of private individuals usually had a walled
courtyard in front of them to which access was obtained by a kind of
porch, or tower, with inclined sides and crowned by a small pyramid.
But the explorers, Belzoni, Bruce and others, who disengaged the
entrances to the royal tombs, found them without propylæa of any
kind.[246] The doorway, cut vertically in the rock, is of the utmost
simplicity, and we have every reason to suppose that, after the
introduction of the mummy, it was carefully masked with sand and rocky

    [246] In many cases the sites are wanting for such external
    constructions. The fine tomb of Seti I., for instance, opens
    upon a ravine which is filled with the waters of a mountain
    torrent at certain seasons.

    [247] When Belzoni's workmen found the entrance to the tomb of
    Seti, they declared that they could not advance any farther,
    because the passage was blocked with big stones to such an
    extent as to be impracticable (_Narrative of the Operations and
    Recent Discoveries within the Pyramids, &c., in Egypt and
    Nubia_, 1820, 4to.). Mariette also believed that as soon as the
    mummy was in place, the external door was closed and earth
    heaped against it in such a way as effectually to conceal it. It
    is thus that the clashing between the tomb of Rameses III. and
    another is accounted for. The workmen did not see the entrance
    of the latter, and were, in fact, unaware of its existence until
    they encountered it in the bowels of the rock. (_Voyage dans la
    Haute-Égypte_, t. ii. p. 81.)

The existence of the temples in the plain made it unnecessary that the
tombs themselves should be entered after that final operation had
been performed. Some words of Diodorus are significant in this
direction. "The priests say that their registers attest the existence
of forty-seven royal tombs, but that at the time of Ptolemy the son of
Lagus, only seventeen remained."[248] This assertion cannot be
accepted literally, because twenty-one tombs have already been
discovered in the Bab-el-Molouk, some of them in a state of
semi-completion, besides four in the ravine which is called the
_Valley of the West_, which makes twenty-five in all. What the priests
meant when they spoke to Diodorus was no doubt, that at the time of
the Ptolemies, no more than seventeen of their entrances had been
discovered. If through the plans made for their construction and
preserved in the national archives there were some who knew their
situation, they preserved the secret. We know, by the inscriptions
upon their walls, that fifteen of the tombs which are now accessible,
were open in the time of the Ptolemies; several of them seem to have
been shown, to the Roman and other travellers who visited Egypt, as
national objects of interest.[249]

    [248] DIODORUS, i. 46.

    [249] "Above the Memnonium," says STRABO (xvii. 46), "there are
    royal tombs cut in the living rock to the number of forty; their
    workmanship is excellent and well worthy of attention."

The precautions taken to hide and obstruct the openings of the royal
tombs were thus successful in many cases. Some of these have only been
discovered in our own times, through the ardour and patience which
characterize modern research, and we have still good reason to suppose
that there are others which yet remain to be found. In 1872 Professor
Ebers discovered a beautiful private tomb, that of Anemenheb, which,
although situated close to one of the most frequented paths in the
necropolis, had been previously unknown. It was open, but the opening
had been carefully concealed with rough pieces of rock and general
rubbish by the fellahs, who used the tomb as a hiding-place from the
recruiting officers of the viceroy. They would remain concealed in it
for weeks at a time until the officers had left their village. The
royal cemetery of the Ramessides has possibly much more to tell us
before its secrets are exhausted.

The entrance to the tomb always ran a certain chance of being
discovered and freed from its obstacles. It was difficult, of course,
to prevent the survival of some tradition as to the whereabouts of
the burial-places of those great sovereigns whose memory was a
consolation to Egyptian pride in the days of national abasement and
decay. Provision had to be made, as in the case of the pyramids,
against a forced entry into the gallery either by an enemy or by some
robber in search of treasure, and we find that the precautions adopted
were similar to those which we have described in noticing the royal
tombs at Memphis. Let us take as an example the finest and most
complete of all the tombs of the Ramessides, that of Seti I. After
descending two flights of steps, and traversing two long and richly
decorated corridors, Belzoni arrived, without discovering either
sarcophagus or anything that looked like the site of a sarcophagus, at
an oblong chamber 13 feet 6 inches by 12 feet. A wide and deep well,
which here barred the passage, seemed to indicate that the extremity
of the excavation had been reached. Belzoni caused himself to be
lowered into the well. The walls were everywhere hard and firm, and
without resonance, and there was no sign of a passage, either open or
concealed, by which access to a lateral chamber, or to a second series
of galleries might be obtained. But Belzoni was too old an explorer to
be deceived by such appearances. On his first arrival at the edge of
the well he had perceived in the wall on the farther side of it a
small opening, about two feet wide, and two feet and a half high. This
had been made, at some unknown period, in a wall covered with stucco
and painted decorations. Across the well a beam was still lying, which
had served the purpose of some previous visitor to the tomb. A cord
hung from this beam, and it was after discovering that the well ended
in nothing that the screen of masonry on the other side had been
pierced. Belzoni had therefore only to follow the road opened for him
by earlier explorers. A plank bridge was thrown across the well, the
opening was enlarged, and a new series of galleries and chambers was
reached, which led at last to the sarcophagus-chamber itself.[250]

    [250] BELZONI, _Narrative of Operations, &c._, pp. 233 _et

Belzoni remarked that throughout the whole course of the excavation
the doors of the chambers showed evidence of having been walled up,
and that upon the first steps of one of the staircases a heap of stone
rubbish had been collected, as if to discourage any one who might
penetrate beyond the well and pierce the barrier beyond its gaping
mouth. It seems likely that the first violator of the tomb knew the
secret of all these arrangements, and consequently that its first
opening took place in very ancient times, and was the work of some
native Egyptian robber.

In the sarcophagus-chamber Belzoni discovered a contrivance of the
same kind as that which had failed to stop him almost upon the
threshold of the tomb. The sarcophagus of oriental alabaster was in
place, but empty; the lid had been raised and broken.[251] From the
sound given out by the floor when struck the explorer perceived that
there must be a hollow space under the base of the sarcophagus. He cut
a hole and brought to light the first steps of a staircase, which led
to an inclined plane by which the interior of the mountain was deeply
penetrated. A wall had been raised at the foot of these steps, beyond
which a settlement of the superincumbent rock put an end to all
advance after a distance of fifty-one yards had been traversed. Is it
not possible that Belzoni only discovered a false sarcophagus, placed
to deceive unbidden visitors like himself, and that the mummy was
deposited, and still lies, in a chamber at the end of this corridor?
The point at which the fallen rock arrested his progress is four
hundred and eighty-three feet from the external opening, and about one
hundred and eighty below the level of the valley. At such a depth, in
these narrow and heated galleries, where there is no ventilation and
where the smoke of the torches rapidly becomes stifling, it is not
astonishing that, in spite of his admirable perseverance, Belzoni held
his hand before completing the exploration.[252]

    [251] This beautiful sarcophagus is now in the Soane

    [252] Belzoni believed that this passage led again into the open
    air; that it was, in fact, another entrance to the tomb. "I
    have," he says, "reasons to think so;" but he does not give his

These subterranean tombs are hardly less astonishing than the colossal
masses of the pyramids for the sustained effort which they imply; if
we take the trouble to reflect upon the peculiarly difficult
conditions under which they were constructed, they may even impress
our imaginations more profoundly than the artificial mountains of
Cheops and Chephren. We have already mentioned a figure which gives
some idea of the surprising length of their passages; and although no
one of the other tombs quite equals that of Seti, many approach it in
dimensions. The tomb of Rameses III. is 416 feet long, that of Siptah
370 feet, and others varied between 200 and 270 feet. For the
construction of such places an enormous number of cubic yards of rocky
_débris_ had to be cut from the interior of the mountain, and carried
up by narrow and steep corridors to be "shot" in the open air. Still
more surprising is the elegance and completeness of the decoration. In
the tombs of Seti and of Rameses III. there is not a single surface,
whether of walls, piers, or ceilings, which is not covered with the
work of the chisel and the brush, with ornamental designs, with the
figures of gods and genii, of men and animals. These figures are far
too numerous to count. They swarm like ants in an anthill; a single
chamber often contains many hundreds. Colour is everywhere; here it is
used to give salience to the delicate contours of the figures in
relief, there it is laid flat upon the carefully-prepared surfaces of
white stucco. In these sealed-up caverns, in which the air is
constantly warm and dry, the pictures have preserved their freshness
of tint in the most startling fashion. And to obtain all this
harmonious effect no light but an artificial one was available. It was
by the smoky glare of torches, or by the flickering flame of little
terra-cotta lamps, suspended from the roof by metal threads, that the
patient artists of Egypt drew these masterly contours, and elaborated
the exquisite harmony of their colour compositions. Egyptian art never
reached greater perfection than in these characteristic productions of
its genius, and yet no human eye was to enjoy them after that day upon
which the final touch was to be given to their beauties, upon which
they were to be inclosed in a night which, it was hoped, would be

[Illustration: FIG. 179.--Plan of the tomb of Rameses II.; from

[Illustration: FIG. 180.--Horizontal section of the same tomb; from

    [253] The tomb of Seti having been so often reproduced, we have
    thought it better to give the plan and section of that of
    Rameses II., which is less generally known. The general
    arrangements are pretty much the same as those of Seti's tomb,
    but the plan is a little more complicated.

[Illustration: FIG. 181.--The smaller sarcophagus-chamber in the tomb
of Rameses VI. (From Horeau, pl. 21.)[254]]

    [254] _Panorama de l'Égypte et de la Nubie_, folio.

But yet all this work was not labour lost. These pictures, in which
the details change continually from one tomb to another, were all
inspired by a single desire, and all tended to the same end. Like
those which we have found in the tombs of the Ancient Empire, they had
a sort of magic virtue, a sovereign power to save and redeem. The
personages and articles of food represented on the mastabas were
shadows of people and shadows of material sustenance, destined for the
service and the food of a shadow, the _double_ of the defunct
proprietor of the tomb. The all-powerful influence of prayer and
faith, working through Osiris, turned these shadows into realities.

[Illustration: FIG. 182.--Entrance to the tomb of Rameses III. (From
Horeau, pl. 21.)]

Representations of this kind are common enough in the royal tombs of
Thebes. It will suffice if we notice those which are still to be seen
in the sepulchre of Rameses III., in the series of small chambers in
the first two passages. Like the hunting scene which we take from the
walls of a private tomb (Fig. 183), these pictures have, beyond a
doubt, the same meaning and value as those in the mastaba. But in the
Theban tombs their significance is only secondary. Ideas had
progressed to some purpose since the days of the Memphite kings. Both
in its general arrangement and in the details of its ornamentation,
the sepulchres in the Bab-el-Molouk gave expression to the new, more
philosophical, and more moral conception which had come to overlie the
primitive beliefs.

The first conception was that of the double, inhabiting the tomb, and
kept alive in it by sacrifice and prayer. But in time the Egyptians
would appear to have realized that the double was not the only thing
that remained after the death of a human unit. Their powers of
apprehension were quickened, in all probability, by that high moral
instinct of which the oldest pages of their literature give evidence.
Good or bad, every man had a double, the continuance and prosperity of
which depended in no way upon his merits or demerits. Unless the just
and the unjust were to come to one and the same end, something more
was wanting. This something was the soul (_ba_). Instead of vegetating
in the interior of the tomb, this soul had to perform a long and
difficult subterranean journey--in imitation of the sun and almost
upon his footsteps--during which it had to undergo certain tests and
penances. From this period of trial it would emerge with more or less
honour, according to its conduct during the few short years passed by
it on earth and in company with the body to which it had belonged. It
had to appear before the tribunal of Osiris-Khent-Ament, the Sun of
Night, around whose seat the forty-two members of the infernal jury
were assembled.[255]

    [255] This belief in the appearance of the dead before Osiris
    and his assessors gave rise to one of the most curious errors
    made by the Greeks in speaking of Egypt. The scene in question
    is figured upon many of the tombs visited by the Greek
    travellers, and in many of the illustrated papyri which were
    unrolled for their gratification. In the fragments of some
    funerary inscription or of some of these manuscripts, hastily
    translated for them by the accompanying priests, they found
    frequent allusions to this act of trial and judgment. They were
    greatly struck by the importance attached by the Egyptians to
    the sentence of this tribunal, but, always in a hurry, and
    sometimes not especially intelligent, they do not seem to have
    always understood what the dragoman, without whom they could not
    stir from the frontier, told them as to this matter. They
    believed that the judges in question were living men, and their
    tribunal an earthly one, and that they were charged to decide
    whether sepulture should be granted to the dead or not. One of
    the early travellers, we do not know which, gave currency to
    this belief, and we know how it has served as the foundation for
    much fine writing, from the time of Diodorus to that of Bossuet.
    We can find nothing either in the figured monuments or in the
    written texts which hints at the existence of such a custom.
    Ever since the key to the hieroglyphics was found, egyptologists
    have been agreed upon this point. Every Egyptian was placed in a
    sepulchre befitting his station and fortune; his relations and
    friends had to ask no permission before they placed him in it;
    it was in the other world that he was brought up for judgment,
    and had to fear the sentence of an august tribunal.

[Illustration: FIG. 183.--Hunting scene upon a tomb at Gournah.
(Champollion, pl. 171.)]

There, before the "Lords of truth and justice," the soul had to plead
its cause, and there it had to repeat, with an amount of assurance and
success which would depend upon its conduct in the light, that
negative confession which we read in chapter cxxv. of the "_Book of
the Dead_," which contains an epitome of Egyptian morality.[256] But
those incorruptible judges were not guided solely by the testimony of
the _ba_ in its own favour. They weighed its actions in a pair of
scales and gave judgment according to their weight.[257] The impious
soul was flogged, was delivered to storm and tempest, and, after
centuries of suffering, underwent a second death, the death of
annihilation. The just soul, on the other hand, had to conquer in many
a combat before it was admitted to contemplate the supreme verities.
During its transit across the infernal regions, hideous forms of evil
sprang up before it and did their best to arrest its progress by
terrifying threats. Thanks to the help of Osiris and of other
soul-protecting gods, such as Anubis, it triumphed in the end over all
obstacles, and, as the sun reappears each morning upon the eastern
horizon, it arrived surely at last at those celestial dwellings where
it became incorporated among the gods.

    [256] MASPERO gives a translation of it into French in his
    _Histoire Ancienne_, pp. 44 and 45.

    [257] This weighing of the actions of the deceased was
    represented in the illustrated specimens of the _Ritual of the
    Dead_ and upon the walls of the tombs, and perhaps upon those
    monuments decorated with Egyptian motives which were sprinkled
    by the Phœnicians over the whole basin of the Mediterranean.
    Coming under the eyes of the Greeks, it was modified by their
    lively imaginations into that ψυχοστασία, or _weighing of
    souls_, which we find in the Iliad (xxii. 208-212), where
    success in a combat between two heroes depends upon the result
    of that operation. (See ALFRED MAURY, _Revue archéologique_,
    1844, pp. 235-249, 291-307; 1845, pp. 707-717, and DE WITTE,
    _ibidem_, 1844, pp. 647-656.)

[Illustration: FIG. 184.--The weighing of actions. (From an
illustrated _Ritual of the Dead_ in the British Museum.)]

The Egyptian imagination spared no effort to represent with the
greatest possible precision those mysterious regions where the soul
had to undergo its appointed tests. Such beliefs afforded a wide scope
for the individual influence of the artist and the poet, and
accordingly we find that they were modified with a rapidity which is
unique in Egyptian art. But the Egyptians were accustomed, from such
early times, to give a concrete form to all their ideas, that they
were sure to clothe the plastic expression of this theme in a richness
and brilliancy of colour which we do not find to the same degree in
any other people of antiquity. On the other hand, although they did
not escape the operation of the eternal law of change, their
temperament was sufficiently conservative to give to each of their
creations a peculiar fixity and consistency. Their _Hades_, if we may
call it so, took on a very definite form, and features which varied
but little through a long course of centuries; and this form is
practically that which we find in the sepulchres of the great Theban
kings and in some belonging to private individuals.

[Illustration: FIG. 185.--Anubis, in a funerary pavilion; from a
bas-relief. (_Description de l'Égypte_, i., pl. 74.)]

It was through long and gloomy galleries, like those of the σύριγξ,
that the perilous voyage of the soul had to be undertaken. A boat
carried it over the subterranean river, for in a country which had the
Nile for its principal highway, every journey, even that of the sun
through space, was looked upon as a navigation. Spacious saloons were
imagined to exist among those galleries, chambers where the infernal
gods and their acolytes sat enthroned in all the majesty of their
office; and so the passages of the tomb were expanded here and there
into oblong or square chambers, their roofs supported by pillars left
in the living rock. On either side of the audience chambers the
imagination placed narrow passes and defiles, in which the walls
seemed to close in upon the soul and bar its progress; tortuous
corridors and gloomy gulfs were fixed in these defiles, in which the
terrible ministers of divine vengeance held themselves in ambush,
prepared to harass the march of souls not yet absolved, and to
overwhelm with frightful tortures those against whom sentence had
already been pronounced. The tomb, therefore, had its snares and
narrow passages, its gaping depths and the mazes of its intersecting
and twisting corridors. To complete the resemblance nothing more was
required than to paint and chisel upon the walls the figures of those
gods, genii, and monsters who peopled the regions below. On one side
the pious king may be seen, escorted by Amen-Ra and the other
divinities whom he had worshipped during life, advancing to plead his
cause before Osiris; on the other, the punishment of the wicked helps
to give _éclat_ to the royal apotheosis by the contrasts which it

Thus the tombs of the Theban period embody the Egyptian solution of
the problem which has always exercised mankind. Their subterranean
corridors were a reproduction upon a small scale of the leading
characteristics of the under world, and we should commit a great
mistake were we to look upon the series of pictures which decorate its
walls as mere ornament resulting from a desire for luxury and display.
Between the ideal models of these pictures and the pictures themselves
the Egyptians established one of those mutual confusions which have
always been readily accepted by the faithful. Nothing seemed more
natural to the Egyptian, or to the Ethiopian who was his pupil, than
to ascribe the power of speech and movement to the images of the gods,
even when they had painted or carved them with their own hands. This
M. Maspero has shown by an ingenious collation of various texts.[258]
The chisel which created such tangible deities gave them something
more than the appearance of life. Each god exercised his own proper
function in that tomb which was a reproduction in small of the regions
of the other world. His gestures and the written formulæ which
appeared beside him on the walls, each had their protective
or liberating power. To represent the king in his act of
self-justification before Osiris was in some measure to anticipate
that justification. The reality and the image were so intimately
commingled in the mind of the believer that he was unable to separate
one from the other.

    [258] _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. i. pp. 155-159.

Did the royal tombs contain statues of the defunct? None have been
found in any of those already opened, and yet there is a chamber in
the tomb of Rameses IV. which appears from its inscriptions to have
been called the _Statue chamber_, while another apartment in its
neighbourhood is reserved for the funerary statuettes. The tombs of
private individuals contained statues; why then should none have been
put in those of the sovereigns? The commemorative sanctuary, the
external funerary temple, was adorned with his image often repeated,
which in order that it might be in better keeping with the
magnificence of its surroundings, and should have a better chance of
duration, was colossal in its proportions. In the inclosures of the
temples of the two Rameses and upon the site of the Amenophium, the
remains of these huge figures are to be counted by dozens, most of
them are of rose granite from Syene; the smallest are from 24 to 28
feet high, and some, with their pedestals, are as much as from 55 to
more than 60 feet. The two colossi of Amenophis III., the Pharaoh
whom the Greeks called Memnon, reached the latter height. Flayed,
mutilated, dishonoured as they have been, these gigantic statues are
still in place. They should be seen in autumn and from a little
distance as they raise their solitary and imposing masses above the
inundated plain, when their size and the simplicity of their lines
will have an effect upon the traveller which he will never forget
(Fig. 20, and Plate vi.).

In the royal tombs at Thebes, as in those at Memphis, the approach to
the mummy-chamber is not by a well, but by an inclined plane. The only
wells which have been discovered in the tombs of the Bab-el-Molouk
are, if we may use the term, false wells, ingeniously contrived to
throw any would-be violator off the right scent. We have already
mentioned one of these false wells as existing in the tomb of Seti. In
the pyramids the corridor which leads to the mummy-chamber is
sometimes an ascending plane, but in the Theban tomb it is always
descending. At the end of the long descent the mummy-chamber is
reached with its sarcophagus, generally a very simple one of red
granite, which has hitherto, in every instance, been found empty.

It is doubtful whether the sarcophagus-chamber was closed by a door or
not. It is known that tombs were sometimes thus closed; some of the
doors have been found in place,[259] and in a few of the texts mention
is made of doors,[260] but not the slightest vestige of one has yet
been discovered in the royal sepulchres at Thebes. "All the doorways
have sills and grooved jambs, as if they had been closed, but no trace
of hinges or of the leaves of a door itself have been found."[261] It
is possible that they were never put in place. The exact and accurate
spirit which marks all the work of Egyptian artists would lead them to
prepare for the placing of a door at the entrance to each chamber; but
at the same time it is obvious that a few panels of sycamore would do
little to stop the progress of any one who should attempt to violate
the royal sepulchre. This latter consideration may have caused them
to abstain from expending time and trouble upon a futile precaution.

    [259] One was found in a Theban tomb opened by RHIND (_Thebes_,
    &c., pp. 94 and 95). In the tomb of Ti easily recognized traces
    of a door were found (BÆDEKER, _Unter-Ægypten_, p. 405); nothing
    but a new door was required to put the opening in its ancient

    [260] See one of the great inscriptions at Beni-Hassan,
    interpreted by M. MASPERO (_Recueil_, etc. vol. i. p. 168).

    [261] _Description de l'Égypte_, (_Antiquités_, vol. iii. p.

These tombs seem to have varied greatly in size from reasons similar
to those which determined the dimensions of the pyramids, namely, the
length of reign enjoyed by their respective makers. Cheops, Chephren,
and Mycerinus continually added to the height and mass of their tombs
until death put an end to the work. In the same way, Seti and Rameses
never ceased while they lived to prolong the quarried galleries in the
Bab-el-Molouk. As these galleries were meant to be sealed from the
sight of man, this prolongation was caused, no doubt, by the desire to
develop to the utmost possible extent those pictures which were to be
so powerful for good over the fortunes of the defunct in the under

Apart from the question of duration, reigns which were glorious would
give us larger and more beautiful tombs than those which were obscure
and marked by weakness in the sovereign. The three great Theban
dynasties included several of those monarchs who have been called the
Louis the Fourteenths and the Napoleons of Egypt,[262] and it was but
natural that they should employ the crowd of artificers and artists
which their enterprises gathered about them, for the excavation and
decoration of their own tombs. Either for this reason or for some
other, there is an extraordinary difference between king and king in
the matter of their tombs. Even when we admit that a certain number of
royal sepulchres have so far escaped discovery, it is difficult to
find place for all the sovereigns of the nineteenth and twentieth
dynasties in the two _Valleys of the Kings_. Many things lead us to
believe that several of those princes were content with very simple
tombs; some of them may have been merely buried in the sand. Thus
Mariette discovered, at _Drah-Abou'l-Neggah_, the mummy of Queen
Aah-hotep, of the nineteenth dynasty, some few feet beneath the
surface. The mummy chamber consisted of a few ill-adjusted stone
slabs. Like other mummies found on the same place, it seemed never to
have been disturbed since it had been placed beneath the soil. It was
gilt all over, and was decorated with jewels which now form some of
the most priceless treasures of the Boulak Museum.

    [262] A. RHONÉ, _l'Égypt à petites journées_, p. 104.

The private tombs in the Theban necropolis, which are much more
numerous than those of kings, do not, like the latter, belong to a
single period in the national history. The most ancient among them
date back to the eleventh dynasty. There are some also of the Sait
period, and a few contemporary with the Ptolemies and the Roman
emperors. But by far the greater number belong to that epoch which saw
Thebes promoted to be the capital of the whole country, to the
centuries, namely, between Amosis, the conqueror of the Hyksos, and
the last of the Ramessides.

[Illustration: FIG. 186.--Plan and section of a royal tomb.
(_Description de l'Égypte_, vol. ii., pl. 79.)]

These tombs are distinguished by great variety, but, before noticing
the principal types to which they may be referred, the points which
distinguish them from the royal burying-places should be indicated.
The private sepulchre is never subdivided like those of the kings.
This subdivision is to be explained by the exceptional position of the
sovereign mid-way between his subjects and the national deities. A
funerary chapel cut in the sides of the mountain would obviously be
too small for the purposes to which the commemorative part of the tomb
of a Rameses or a Seti would be put. On the other hand, no private
individual could hope to receive royal honours nor to associate his
memory with the worship of the great Egyptian gods. We find that for
him the chapel always remains closely connected with the mummy
chamber. Sometimes it is in front of it, sometimes above it, but in
neither case does it ever fail to form an integral part of the tomb,
so that the latter preserves at once its traditional divisions and its
indissoluble unity.

We may say the same of the well, which plays the same part in the
private tombs of the New Empire as in the Mastaba and the _Speos_ of
the Ancient and Middle Empires. In almost every instance the mummy
chamber is reached by a well, whether the tomb be constructed in the
plain or in the side of the mountains. It is seldom so deep as those
of Gizeh or Sakkarah; its depth hardly exceeds from 20 to 30 feet; but
its arrangement is similar to those in the early necropolis. The mummy
chamber opens directly upon it. Sometimes there are two chambers
facing each other at the foot of the well, and of unequal
heights.[263] After the introduction of the corpse, which was
facilitated by notches cut in two faces of the well, the door of the
mummy chamber was built up--the well filled in. In a few exceptional
instances, the tombs of private individuals seem to have had no well,
and the innermost chamber, as in the case of royal tombs, received the
mummy.[264] In such cases it is very necessary to make sure that
explorers have not been deceived by appearances. In these dusty
interiors the carefully sealed opening might easily escape any but the
most careful research; and as for a sarcophagus, when one is found in
such a chamber, it may have been placed there long after the making of
the tomb. Such usurpations are by no means unknown.[265] In the time
of the Ptolemies, influential people, such as priests and military
functionaries, made them without scruple. The venerable mummies,
dating from the time of Rameses, were thrown into a corner; their
cases were made use of, sometimes for the mummy of the usurper,
sometimes for more ignoble purposes. In more than one of these
usurpations the new comer has been placed in a chamber constructed for
some other object.

    [263] PASSALACQUA describes a tomb of this kind in detail in his
    _Catalogue raisonné et historique des Antiquités découvertes en
    Égypte_ (8vo., 1826). This tomb had been visited and pillaged at
    some unknown epoch. One of the two chambers had been opened and
    stripped, but the second, which opened lower down the well, and
    on the other side, escaped the notice of the violators (pp.
    118-120). In the tomb opened by RHIND (_Thebes_, _its Tombs_,
    etc. pl. 5, v.), the well gave access to four chambers of
    different sizes arranged round it like the arms of a cross.

    [264] _Description de l'Égypte_, (_Antiquités_,) plates, vol.
    ii. p. 78.

    [265] RHIND describes one of the most curious of these
    substitutions in his chapter IV. In that case an usurper of the
    time of Ptolemy established himself and all his family in the
    mummy chambers at the foot of the well, after relegating the
    statues and mummies of the rightful owner and his people to the
    room above.

The well and mummy chamber in the rock are, then, found almost
universally, but the form of the rest of the tomb varies according to
its date and site. Those in the plain are arranged differently to
those in the hill sides. But it must be understood that when we speak
of the plain in connection with the Theban tombs, we do not mean the
space over which spread the waters of the Nile. We mean the gentle
sandy slopes which lie between the foot of the cliffs and the
cultivated fields, a narrow band which widens a little between the
long spurs which the mountains throw out towards the river. In these
land-gulfs the rock crops up here and there, and nowhere is it covered
by more than a thin layer of sand. Such a soil, being above the reach
of the annual inundation, was marvellously well-fitted both for the
construction of the tomb and for the preservation of the mummy.

[Illustration: FIGS. 187, 188.--Theban tombs from the bas-reliefs.
(From Wilkinson, ch. xvi.)]

In this, which may be called the level part of the necropolis, the
tombs have left but slight and ill-defined traces. Their
superstructures have almost entirely disappeared, and yet some which
have now completely vanished were seen by travellers to Thebes in the
first half of the present century. By comparing what they tell us with
the figured representations in bas-relief and manuscript, we may form
some idea of the aspect which this part of the cemetery must formerly
have presented. The tombs which it contained were built upon the same
principles as those of Abydos; a square or rectangular structure with
slightly sloping walls was surmounted by a small pyramid. There was,
however, an essential difference between the two. At Abydos the nature
of the subsoil compelled the architect to contrive the mummy chamber
in the interior of his own structure; at Thebes, on the other hand,
there was nothing to prevent him from being faithful to a tradition
which had manifest advantages, and to intrust the corpse to the
keeping of the earth, at a depth below the surface which would ensure
it greater safety both from violence and from natural causes of decay.
At Thebes the rock was soft enough to be cut with sufficient ease, and
yet firm enough to be free from all danger of settlement or
disintegration. The soil of all this region is honeycombed with mummy
pits, which have long ago been pillaged and are now filled up with
sand. The superstructure was built above the well and inclosed the
funerary chapel. Sometimes it was surmounted by a small pyramid;
sometimes it was a quadrangular mass standing upon a surbase, with a
pilaster at each angle and a boldly projecting cornice at the top. The
oldest of the known tombs of Apis may be taken as specimens of this
latter class, which must also have been represented at Thebes. These
are contemporary with the eighteenth dynasty, and were discovered by
M. Mariette at Sakkarah.[266]

    [266] _Athenæum Français_, 1855, p. 55 (_Renseignements sur les
    soixante quatre Apis trouvés dans le Sérapeum de Memphis_).

[Illustration: FIG. 189.--Theban tomb from a bas-relief. (From
Wilkinson, ch. xvi.)]

These little monuments have either been destroyed since 1851 or
covered by the sand (see Fig. 190).

The other type is that of the _Speos_. We have here seen that it dates
from the Ancient Empire, but came into general employment and obtained
its full development under the First and Second Theban Empires. We
have already given some idea of the architectural character and of the
decoration of the royal sepulchres, we must now indicate the
peculiarities which in these respects distinguish the tombs of the
kings from those of their subjects.

One of the points of difference has already been noticed; the
employment of vertical wells instead of inclined planes as approaches
to the mummy chamber. The most extensive of all the Theban catacombs
is that of a private individual, the priest Petamounoph (Fig.
191).[267] In this the galleries have not less than 895 feet of total
length, besides which there are a large number of chambers, the whole
being covered with painted reliefs. But this tomb is quite
exceptional. The great majority, those of Rekhmara, for instance, and
others excavated in the hill of _Sheikh-Abd-el-Gournah_, are composed
of two or three chambers at most, united by corridors. The mummy pit
opens sometimes upon the corridor between two of the chambers,
sometimes upon the innermost chamber, sometimes upon a corridor
opening out of the latter. Rhind tells us that he followed one of
these corridors for about 300 feet beyond the chamber without arriving
at the mummy pit, the air then became too bad for further

    [267] This view is obtained by a series of horizontal and
    vertical sections in the rock to the right of the galleries. By
    this operation we are enabled to show the subterranean parts of
    the tomb.

    [268] RHIND, _Thebes_, etc. p. 43.

[Illustration: FIG. 190.--A tomb of Apis. From Mariette.]

The chamber for the funerary celebration is easily recognized by its
decorations. It is sometimes the first, but more often the second in
order, in which case the first acts as a sort of vestibule. A
considerable number of tombs are very simple in arrangement. The door
gives access to a rectangular chamber, from 6 to 10 feet high and 10
to 12 wide, which extends, in a direction parallel to the wall, for
from 12 to 24 feet. This chamber is the funerary chapel. From its
posterior wall a passage opens which is nearly equal in height and
width to the chamber. It has a gentle slope and penetrates into the
rock to a distance of some 25 to 35 feet, terminating, in some cases,
in the mummy chamber itself, but more frequently in a small apartment
containing the opening of a mummy pit.[269]

    [269] RHIND, _Thebes_, etc. pp. 56, 57.

[Illustration: FIG. 191.--The tomb of Petamounoph. Drawn in
perspective from the plans and elevations of Prisse.]

It must not be imagined that all the tombs were decorated; there are
many which have received neither painted nor carved ornament, and in
others the ornament has never been carried beyond the first sketch.
But even in those which are quite bare, the walls are, in nearly every
instance, covered with a coat of white stucco.

[Illustration: FIG. 192.--The most simple form of Theban tomb; from

[Illustration: FIG. 193.--Tomb as represented upon a bas-relief; from

As the funerary chapel was contained in the tomb itself, no effort
could be made to mask or conceal the entrance, which accordingly was
taken advantage of for the display of ornament. But no attempt was
made to cut architectural façades in the cliffs like those at
Beni-Hassan; not more than one or two sepulchres have yet been
discovered which have façades made up of those columns which have been
called _protodoric_. The makers of these tombs were usually content
with dressing the surface of the rock above and around the entrance.
The latter, with its sloping lintel above a cornice, stands in the
centre of an almost perpendicular wall which acts as its frame or
background. In the uninjured state of the sepulchre this wall was more
or less concealed by a construction similar to those which we have
described in speaking of the tombs in the plain. According to all
appearances, one of these little buildings, a cube of masonry crowned
by a pyramidion, was placed before the doorway of every tomb. It is
difficult to say whether it was of sufficient size to contain a
funerary chamber or not. It may have been no more than a solid
erection of small size, meant only to mask the entrance and to
indicate its situation to those concerned. The wealthy, indeed, may
have been only too pleased to thus call public attention to the
position of their gorgeously decorated sepulchres.

The little pyramids of crude brick which we find upon the irregular
rocky slopes of the _Kournet-el-Mourrayi_, above the little
window-shaped openings with which the rock is honeycombed, probably
answered a similar purpose. Of these some are still standing, and
others have left unmistakable traces upon, the slope. They seem to
have existed in great numbers in this part of the necropolis, which
seems to have been set apart, about the time of the eighteenth
dynasty, for the priests.

Although they hardly varied from the two or three types consecrated by
custom, these little buildings could easily have been made to present
slight differences one from another. When they existed in their
entirety, they must have given a very different aspect to the cemetery
from that which it presents with its rocky slopes burnt by the sun
into one harsh and monotonous tint, varied only by the black and
gaping mouths of the countless tombs. The sides which they turned to
the city and the river were adorned with those brilliant colours of
which the Egyptian architects were so fond, and, spaced irregularly
but never very far apart, they were sprinkled over the ground from the
edge of the plain to the topmost ridges of the hills. Nearly all of
them ended in a pyramid, but the varying dimensions of their bases and
their different levels above the plain, gave diversity to the
prospect, while here and there the slender apex of an obelisk rose
above the private tombs and signalized the sleeping-place of a king.
It has been very justly remarked, that the best idea of an Egyptian
cemetery in its best time is to be gained by a visit to one of those
Italian _Campo-Santos_, that of Naples, for example, where the tombs
of many generations lie closely together under a blazing sun.[270]
There, too, many sepulchral façades rise one above another upon the
abrupt slope of a hill into which the graves are sunk. A comparison
with the cemetery of Père-Lachaise, or with that at Constantinople,
would not be just because no trees could flourish in the Theban
rocks, at least in the higher part of the necropolis. In those
districts which border closely upon the irrigation channels, the tombs
seem to have had their gardens and fountains. Palms and sycamores
appear to have been planted about them, and here and there, perhaps,
the care of survivors succeeded in rearing flowers which would shed
their perfumes for the consolation of the dead.[271]

    [270] RHIND, _Thebes_, etc. p. 55.

    [271] MASPERO, _Recueil de Travaux_, vol. ii. p. 105. The
    formula which is generally found upon the funerary steles of the
    eighteenth and nineteenth dynasties hints at this: "That I may
    walk daily upon the border of my fountain; that my soul may rest
    upon the branches of the funerary garden which has been made for
    me, that each day I may be out under my sycamore!" These desires
    may be taken literally, as is proved by two steles in the
    museums of Turin and Boulak, which bear representations of tombs
    upon their lower portions. The latter, which we reproduce, comes
    from the Theban necropolis.

Were there statues in the courtyards by which many of these tombs were
surrounded? There is no doubt that such statues were placed in the
rock-cut sepulchres; all the museums of Europe have specimens which
come from the Theban tombs. The latter were opened and despoiled,
however, at such an early period that very few of these figures have
been found in place by those who have visited the ruins of Egypt for
legitimate motives. We have, however, the evidence of explorers who
have penetrated into tombs which were practically intact. They tell us
that the statue of the deceased, accompanied often by that of his wife
and children, was placed against the further wall of the innermost
chamber.[272] In some tombs, a niche is cut in the wall for this
purpose,[273] in others a dais is raised three or four steps above the
floor of the chamber.[274] Here, too, is found the sarcophagus, in
basalt when the defunct was able to afford such a luxury, and the
canopic vases, which were sometimes of stone, especially alabaster,
sometimes of terra cotta, and now and then of wood, and were used to
hold the viscera of the deceased. These vases were four in number,
protected respectively by the goddesses Isis, Nephtys, Neith, and Selk
(Fig. 196).

    [272] Most of these statues were of calcareous stone, but in the
    _Description de l'Égypte_ (_Antiquités_, vol. iii. p. 34) two
    granite ones are mentioned.

    [273] In the tomb of Amenemheb, for instance, discovered by
    Professor Ebers. See also _Description de l'Égypte_, vol. iii.
    p. 41.

    [274] _Description de l'Égypte_ (_Antiquités_, vol. iii. p.

During the period of which we have just been treating, the taste for
these huge rock-cut tombs was not confined to Thebes and its
immediate vicinity; we find obvious traces of them in the city which
then held the second place in Egypt, namely, in Memphis, where a son
of the sovereign resided as viceroy. It was in the reign of Rameses
II., that the fourth of his hundred and seventy children began what is
now called the little Sérapeum, in the neighbourhood of the Great
Pyramids.[275] Until then each Apis bull had had a tomb apart, a
tomb in which everything was of small dimensions. This royal prince
was especially vowed to the worship of Ptah and Apis, for whom he
inaugurated new rites. He began the excavation of a grand gallery, and
lined it on each side with small chambers which were increased in
number as each successive Apis died and required a sepulchre. This
gallery and its chambers served for 700 years (see Figs. 197 and 198).

    [275] It is no part of our plan to describe this discovery,
    which did so much honour both to the perspicacity and the energy
    of Mariette. We refer all those who are interested in the matter
    to the article contributed by M. E. Desjardins to the _Revue des
    Deux-Mondes_ of March 15, 1874, under the title: _Les
    Découvertes de l'Égyptologie française, les Missions et les
    Travaux de M. Mariette_. Many precious details will also be
    found, some of them almost dictated by Mariette, in the
    _L'Égypte à petites Journeés_ of M. ARTHUR RHONÉ (pp. 212-263).
    This work includes two plans, a general plan and a detailed plan
    of the subterranean galleries, which were supplied by the
    illustrious author of the excavations himself; views of the
    galleries are also given, and reproductions of various objects
    found in the course of the exploration. We may also mention the
    _Choix des Monuments du Sérapéum_, a collection of ten engraved
    plates published by Mariette, and the great work, unfortunately
    incomplete, which he commenced under the title: _Le Sérapéum de
    Memphis_ (folio, Paris, Gide, 1858). In the second volume of
    _Fouilles et Découvertes_ (Didier, 8vo., 1873, 2 vols.) BEULÉ has
    given a very good description of the bold but fortunate campaign
    which, begun in the month of October, 1850, brought fame to a
    young man who had, until then, both open enmity and secret
    intrigue to contend against.

[Illustration: FIG. 194.--Stele in the Boulak Museum, showing tombs
with gardens about them. From Maspero.]

[Illustration: FIG. 195.--The sarcophagus of a royal scribe, 19th
dynasty. Louvre.]

[Illustration: FIG. 196.--Canopic vase of alabaster. Louvre.]

[Illustration: FIG. 197.--View of the grand gallery in the Apis
Mausoleum; from Mariette.]

The funerary architecture of the Sait epoch seems to have had an
originality of its own, but we are unable to form an opinion from any
existing remains. Not a trace is extant of those tombs in which the
princes of the twenty-sixth dynasty were, according to Herodotus,
placed one after another. Here are the words of the Greek historian:
οἱ δέ (the Egyptians) μιν (Apries) ἀπέπνιξαν, καὶ ἔπειτα ἔθαψαν ἐν
τῇσι πατρῴῃσι ταφῇσι--αἱ δέ εἰσι ἐν τῷ ἱρῷ τῆς Ἀθηναίης, ἀγχοτάτω
τοῦ μεγάρου ἐσιόντι ἀριστερῆς χερός--ἔθαψαν δὲ Σαΐται πάντας τοὺς ἐκ
νομοῦ τούτου γενομένους βασιλέας ἔσω ἐν τῷ ἱρῷ. καὶ γὰρ τὸ τοῦ
Ἀμάσιος σῆμα ἑκαστέρω μέν ἐστὶ τοῦ μεγάρου ἢ τὸ τοῦ Ἀπρίεω καὶ τῶν
τούτου προπατόρων· ἔστι μέντοι καὶ τοῦτο ἐν τῇ αὐλῇ τοῦ ἱροῦ, παστὰς
λιθίνη μεγάλη, καὶ ἠσκημένη στύλοισί τε φοίνικας τὰ δένδρεα
μεμιμημένοισι, καὶ τῇ ἄλλῃ δαπάνῃ. ἔσω δὲ ἐν τῇ παστάδι διξὰ
θυρώματα ἕστηκε· ἐν δὲ τοῖσι θυρώμασι ἡ θήκη ἐστὶ.[276]

    [276] HERODOTUS, ii. 169. "The Egyptians strangled Apries, but,
    having done so, they buried him in the sepulchre of his fathers.
    This tomb is in the temple of Athenè (_Neith_), very near the
    sanctuary, on the left hand as one enters. The natives of Sais
    buried all the kings which belonged to their nome within this
    temple, and, in fact, it also contains the tomb of Amasis, as
    well as that of Apries and his family, but the former is not so
    close to the sanctuary as the former, but still it is within the
    buildings of the temple, in a large chamber constructed of
    stone, with columns in the shape of the trunks of palm-trees,
    and richly decorated besides, which incloses a kind of niche or
    shrine with folding doors, in which the mummy is placed." This
    is one of the most difficult passages in Herodotus, and has
    given much trouble to translators and commentators. See
    Larcher's note (ii. 565), and the passage in Stobæus (serm. xli.
    p. 251), which he cites in justification for the sense which is
    here given to the word θυρώματα. STRABO is content with but a
    line on this subject: "Sais," he says, "especially worships
    Athenè (Neith). The tomb of Psammitichos is in the very temple
    of that goddess" (xvii. 18).

Preceding centuries afford no example of a tomb placed within a temple
like this.[277]

    [277] HERODOTUS affirms (ii. 129-132) that Mycerinus caused the
    body of his daughter to be inclosed in the flank of a wooden
    cow, richly gilt, and he says that "the cow in question was
    never placed in the earth." In his time it was exposed to the
    view of all comers in a magnificently decorated saloon of the
    royal palace of Sais. We may be allowed to suggest that
    Herodotus was mistaken in the name of the prince; Mycerinus is
    not likely to have so far abandoned all the funerary traditions
    of his time, or to have entombed the body of his daughter in a
    spot so distant from his own pyramid at Gizeh. There is one
    hypothesis, however, which may save us from the necessity of
    once again accusing the Greek historian of misunderstanding what
    was said to him; in their desire to weld together the present
    with the past, and to collect into their capital such national
    monuments as might appeal to the imaginations of their subjects,
    the Sait princes may have transported such a curiously shaped
    sarcophagus either from the pyramid of Mycerinus or from some
    small pyramid in its neighbourhood.

First of all the royal mummy was entombed in the bowels of an
artificial mountain, secondly, under the Theban dynasties, in those of
a real one; but at Sais, it rests above the soil, in the precincts of
a temple, where curious visitors come and go at their will, and
nothing but a pair of wooden doors protects it from disturbance. Such
an arrangement seems inconsistent with all that we know of the
passionate desire of the Egyptians to give an eternal duration to
their mummies. We have every reason to believe that this desire had
shown no diminution at the time of the twenty-sixth dynasty, and we
can hardly admit that Psemethek and his successors were less impelled
by it than the meanest of their subjects.

The explanation of the apparent anomaly is to be found, we believe, in
the peculiar nature of the soil of Lower Egypt. The Sait princes were
determined to leave their mummies in the city which they had filled
with magnificent buildings and had turned into the capital of all
Egypt. Both _speos_ and mummy pit, however, were out of the question.
Sais was built in the Delta; upon an alluvial soil which was wetted
through and through, as each autumn came round, by the water of the
Nile. Neither hill nor rock existed for many miles in every direction.
It was, therefore, absolutely necessary that the tomb should be a
constructed one upon the surface of this soil. It would seem that the
pyramid would have been the best form of tomb to ensure the continued
existence of the mummy, but, to say nothing of the difficulty of
finding a satisfactory foundation for such a structure upon a soft and
yielding soil, the pyramid had, for many ages, been completely out of
fashion. Egyptian art was entirely occupied with richer and more
varied forms, forms which admitted of the play of light and shade, and
of all the splendour of carved and painted decoration. The pyramid
being rejected, no type remained but that of a building which should
inclose both mummy chamber and funerary chapel under one roof, or, at
least, within one bounding wall. There was also, it is true, the
Abydos type of sepulchre, with its mummy chamber hidden in the
thickness of its base; but it was too heavy and too plain, it was too
nearly related to the pyramid, and it did not lend itself readily to
those brilliant compositions which distinguish the last renascence of
Egyptian art. But the hypostyle hall, the fairest creation of the
national genius, was thoroughly fitted to be the medium of such
picturesque conceptions as were then required, and it was adopted as
the nucleus of the tombs at Sais. A hall divided, perhaps, into three
aisles by tall shafts covered with figures and inscriptions, afforded
a meeting-place and a place of worship for the living. The mummy
chamber was replaced by a niche, placed, doubtless, in the wall which
faced the entrance, and the well, the one essential constituent of an
early Egyptian tomb, was suppressed. Such arrangements as these
afforded much less security to the mummy than those of Memphis or
Thebes, and to compensate in some measure for their manifest
disadvantages, the tomb was placed within the precincts of the most
venerable temple in the city, and the security of the corpse was made
to depend upon the awe inspired by the sanctuary of Neith. As the
event proved, this was but a slight protection against the fury of a
victorious enemy. Less than a year after the death of Amasis, Cambyses
tore his body from its resting-place, and burnt it to ashes after
outraging it in a childish fashion.[278]

    [278] HERODOTUS, iii. 16. Upon this subject see an interesting
    article by M. EUGÈNE REVILLOUT, entitled: _Le Roi Amasis et les
    mercenaires Grecs, selon les Donnés d'Hérodote et les
    Renseignements de la Chronique Démotique de Paris_. (_Revue
    Égyptologique_, first year; p. 50 _et seq._)

[Illustration: FIG. 198.--Sepulchral chamber of an Apis bull; from

The tombs of these Sait kings, consisting of so many comparatively
small buildings in one sacred inclosure, remind us of what are called,
in the modern East, _turbehs_, those sepulchres of Mohammedan saints
or priests which are found in the immediate neighbourhood of the
mosques. Vast differences exist, of course, between the Saracenic and
Byzantine styles and that of Ancient Egypt, but yet the principle is
the same. At Sais, as in modern Cairo or Constantinople, iron or
wooden gratings must have barred the entrance to the persons while
they admitted the glances of visitors; rich stuffs were hung before
the niche, as the finest shawls from India and Persia veil the coffins
which lie beneath the domes of the modern burial-places. Perhaps, too,
sycamores and palm-trees cast their shadows over the external
walls.[279] The most hasty visitor to the Bosphorus and the Golden
Horn can hardly fail to remember the suburb of Eyoub, where the
_turbehs_ of the Ottoman princes stand half hidden among the cypresses
and plane trees.

    [279] There are two passages in HERODOTUS (ii. 91, and 138) from
    which we may infer that the Egyptians were fond of planting
    trees about their temples.

The material condition which compelled the Sait princes to break with
the customs of their ancestors, affected the tombs of private
individuals also. Throughout the existence of the Egyptian monarchy
the inhabitants of the Delta were obliged to set about the
preservation of their dead in a different fashion to that followed by
their neighbours in Upper Egypt; their mummies had to be kept out of
reach of the inundation. Isolated monuments, like those of Abydos,
would soon have filled all the available space upon artificial mounds,
such as those upon which the cities of the Delta were built. The
problem to be solved was, however, a simple one. Since there could be
no question of a lateral development, like that of the Theban tombs,
or of a downward one, like that of the Memphite mummy pits, it was
obvious that the development must be upwards. A beginning was made by
constructing, at some distance from a town, a platform of crude brick,
upon which, after its surface had been raised above the level of the
highest floods, the mummies were placed in small chambers closely
packed one against another. As soon as the whole platform was
occupied, another layer of chambers was commenced above it.
Champollion discovered the remains of two such cemeteries in the
immediate neighbourhood of Sais. The larger of the two was not less
than 1,400 feet long, 500 feet wide, and 80 feet high; an enormous
mass "which resembled," he said, "a huge rock torn by lightning or
earthquake."[280] No doubt was possible as to the character of the
mass; Champollion found among the débris both canopic vases and
funerary statuettes. Within a few years of his death Mariette
undertook some fresh excavations in the same neighbourhood; they led
to no very important results, but they confirmed the justice of the
views enunciated by Champollion. Most of the objects recovered were in
a very bad state of preservation; the materials had been too soft, and
in time the dampness, which had impregnated the base of the whole
structure, had crept upwards through the porous brick, and turned the
whole mass into a gigantic sponge.

    [280] _Lettres Écrites d'Égypte et de Nubie_, 2nd edition, 1868,
    p. 41.

These tombs resemble those of the kings in having no well; and as for
the funerary chapel we do not as yet know whether it existed at all,
how it was arranged, or what took its place. Perhaps each of the more
carefully constructed tombs was divided into two parts, a chamber more
or less decorated and a niche contrived in the masonry, like the
rock-cut ovens of the Phœnician catacombs. As soon as the mummy was
introduced, the niche was walled up, while the chamber would remain
open for the funerary celebrations. In order that the tombs situated
at some height above the level of the soil, and in the middle of the
block of buildings, should be reached, a complicated system of
staircases and inclined planes was necessary. In the course of
centuries the tombs of the first layer and especially those in the
centre of the mass, were overwhelmed and buried from sight and access
by the continual aggregation above and around them. The families to
which they belonged, perhaps, became extinct, and no one was left to
watch over their preservation. Had it not been for the infiltration of
the Nile water, these lower strata of tombs would no doubt have
furnished many interesting objects to explorers. In any case it would
seem likely that, if deep trenches were driven through the heart of
these vast agglomerations of unbaked brick, many valuable discoveries
would be made.[281] Such a system left slight scope to individual
caprice; space must have been carefully parcelled out to each
claimant, and the architect had much less elbow room than when he was
cutting into the sides of a mountain or building upon the dry soil of
the desert. In the royal tombs alone, if time had left any for our
inspection, could we have found materials for judging of the funerary
architecture of Sais, but, as the matter stands, we are obliged to be
content with what we can gather from Theban and Memphite remains as to
the prevailing taste of the epoch.

    [281] Similar structures exist in lower Chaldæa, and have
    furnished many inscriptions of great interest and value to

Upon the plateau of Gizeh, to the south of the Great Pyramid, Colonel
Vyse discovered and cleared, in 1837, an important tomb to which he
gave the name of Colonel Campbell, then British Consul-General in
Egypt. The external part of the tomb had entirely disappeared, but we
may conclude that it was in keeping with the subterranean portion. The
maker of the tomb had taken the trouble to define its extent by a
trench cut around it in the rock. The external measurements of this
trench are 89 feet by 74. A passage had been contrived from one of its
faces to the well, which had been covered in all probability by an
external structure. The well opens upon a point nearer to the north
than the south, and its dimensions are quite exceptional. It is 54
feet 4 inches deep, and 31 feet by 26 feet 8 inches in horizontal
section; it terminates in a chamber which is covered by a vault 11
feet 2 inches thick. It was not however in this chamber, but in small
lateral grottos that several sarcophagi in granite, basalt, white
quartz, &c., were found. The remains of two other wells were traced.
This tomb dates from the time of Psemethek I.

[Illustration: FIG. 199.--Section in perspective of "Campbell's tomb,"
from the plans and elevations of Perring.]

[Illustration: FIG. 200.--Vertical section in perspective of the
sarcophagus chamber of the above tomb; compiled from Perring.]

In the necropolis of Thebes there is a whole district, that of the
hill _El Assassif_, where most of the tombs belong to the twenty-sixth
dynasty. Their external aspect is very different from that of the
Theban sepulchres. The entrance to the subterranean galleries is
preceded by a spacious rectangular courtyard, excavated in the rock to
a depth of 10 or 12 feet. This court was from 80 to 100 feet long and
from 40 to 80 feet wide; it was surrounded by a stone or brick wall,
and reached by a flight of steps. A pylon-shaped doorway gave access
to the courtyard from the side next the rock, another door of similar
shape opened upon the plain; "but some tombs are entirely closed (see
Fig. 201) except towards the mountain, from which side they may be
entered by one or two openings."

[Illustration: FIG. 201.--A Tomb on El-Assassif (drawn in perspective
from the plans and elevations of Prisse).]

The subterranean part of these tombs varies in size. In some of them a
gallery of medium length leads to a single chamber. In others, and
these form the majority, there is a suite of rooms connected by a
continuous gallery. To this latter group belongs the largest of all
the subterranean Theban tombs, that of Petamounoph (Fig. 191). We have
already noticed the extraordinary dimensions of its galleries; there
are also two wells which lead to lower sets of chambers. All the walls
of this tomb are covered with sculptured reliefs. In the first
chambers these are in very bad condition, but they improve as we
advance, and in the farthest rooms are remarkable for their finish and
good preservation. The exterior of this sepulchre is worthy of the
interior. The open court, which acts as vestibule, is 100 feet long by
80 wide. An entrance, looking towards the plain, rises between two
massive walls of crude brick, and, to all appearance, was once crowned
by an arcade; within it a flight of steps leads down into the court.
Another door, pierced through the limestone rock, leads to a second
and smaller court which is surrounded by a portico. From this
peristyle a sculptured portal leads to the first subterranean chamber,
which is 53 feet by 23, and once had its roof supported by a double
range of columns. The next chamber is 33 feet square. With a double
vestibule and these two great saloons there was no lack of space for
gatherings of the friends and relations of the deceased.

Neither at Memphis nor at Thebes do the tombs of this late period
contain any novel elements, but they are distinguished by their size
and the luxury of their decoration. In some, the wells are much wider
than usual; in others it is upon the external courts and upon those
double gateways which play a part similar to that of the successive
pylons before a Theban temple, that extra care is bestowed. Vaults are
frequently employed and help to give variety of effect. Private tombs
become as large as those of sovereigns, and similar tendencies are to
be found in the sculpture. The Egyptian genius was becoming exhausted,
and it endeavoured to compensate for its want of invention and
creative imagination by an increase in richness and elegance.

A chronological classification is only possible in the cases of those
tombs which bear inscriptions and figures upon their walls. At
Memphis, as at Thebes, the remains of thousands of tombs are to be
found which give no indication of their date. Sometimes they are deep
mummy pits, slightly expanding at the bottom; sometimes, as at Thebes,
the rock is honeycombed with graves between the border of the
cultivated land and the foot of the Libyan chain. In the mountains
themselves there are hundreds of small chambers, with bare walls and
often extremely minute in size, cut in the sides of the cliffs.
Finally, there are the vast catacombs, in each chamber of which the
mummies of labourers and artisans were crowded, often with the
instruments of their trade by their sides.[282] Pits full of mummified
animals are also found among the human graves. Rhind saw some hundreds
of the mummies of hawks and ibises taken from a tomb at the foot of
the Drah-Abou'l-Neggah. They were each enveloped in bandages of mummy
cloth, and beside them numerous small boxes, each with a carefully
embalmed mouse inside it, were found. The lids of these boxes had
each a wooden mouse upon it, sometimes gilt.[283]

    [282] RHIND, _Thebes_, etc. p. 51. BELZONI, _Narrative of the
    Operations_, etc. p. 167.

    [283] RHIND, p. 52. Among the mummified animals found at Thebes,
    Wilkinson also mentions monkeys, sheep, cows, cats, crocodiles,
    etc. See BELZONI, _Narrative_, p. 187.

       *       *       *       *       *

We have endeavoured to notice all that is of importance in the
funerary architecture of Egypt, because the Egyptian civilization, as
we know it through the still existing monuments, carries us much
farther back than any other towards the first awakening of individual
thought and consciousness in mankind. The primitive conceptions of
those early periods were, of course, different enough from those to
which mankind was brought by later reflection, but nevertheless they
were the premises, they contained the germ of all the development that
has followed; and to thoroughly understand the origin and constitution
of this development it was necessary to follow it up to its source, to
the clearness and transparency of its springs.

The art of Egypt is the oldest of all the national arts, and the
oldest monuments of Egypt are its tombs. By these alone is that
earliest epoch in its history which we call the Ancient Empire known
to us.

In later ages the country was covered with magnificent temples and
sumptuous palaces, but, even then, the tomb did not lose its
pre-eminent importance. The chief care of the Egyptian in all ages was
his place of rest after death. Rich or poor, as soon as he arrived at
full age he directed all his spare resources towards the construction
and decoration of his tomb, his happy, his eternal "dwelling," with
which his thoughts were far more preoccupied than with that home in
the light, upon which, whether it were a miserable mud hut or a vast
edifice of brick or wood, he looked with comparative indifference,
regarding it as an encampment for a day or a mere hotel for a passing
traveller. The tombs, when not hollowed from the living rock, were
built with such solidity and care that they have survived in
thousands, while the palaces of great sovereigns have perished and
left no trace, and the temples which have been preserved are very few
in number.

Being mostly subterranean and hidden from the eye of man, sepulchres
preserved the deposits entrusted to them much better than buildings
upon the surface. Those among the latter which were not completely
destroyed, were, in very remote times, damaged, pillaged, stripped,
and mutilated in a thousand ways. All that subsists of their
decoration--shattered colossi and bas-reliefs often broken and
disfigured--tells us nothing beyond the pomps and triumphs of official
history. The tombs have suffered much less severely. The statues,
bas-reliefs, and paintings which have been found in them, seem, in
many instances, to have been the work of the very men whose footprints
were found in the sand which covered their floors when they were
opened.[284] The pictures offered to our eyes by the walls of the
private tombs are very different from those which we find in the
temples. All classes of the people appear in them in their every-day
occupations and customary attitudes. The whole national life is
displayed before us in a long series of scenes which comment upon and
explain each other. Almost all that we know concerning the industrial
arts of Egypt has been derived from a study of her tomb-houses. In
every hundred of such objects which our museums contain at least
ninety-nine come from those safe depositories.

    [284] When Mariette discovered the tomb of the Apis which had
    died in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of Rameses II., the
    fingers of the Egyptian mason who laid the last stone of the
    wall built across the entrance to the tomb were found marked
    upon the cement, and "when I entered the sarcophagus-chamber I
    found upon the thin layer of dust which covered the floor the
    marks made by the naked feet of the workmen who had placed the
    god in his last resting place 3,200 years before." (Quoted by
    RHÔNÉ in _L'Égypte à Petites Journées_, p. 239.)

In order to give a true idea of the national character of the
Egyptians and to enable the originality of their civilization to be
thoroughly understood, it was necessary to show the place occupied in
their thoughts by the anticipation of death; it was necessary to
explain what the tomb meant to them, to what sentiments and beliefs
its general arrangements and its principal details responded; it was
necessary to follow out the various modifications which were brought
about by the development of religious conceptions, from the time of
the first six dynasties to that of the Theban Empire.

The brilliant architectural revival which distinguished the first and
second Theban Empires was mainly due to this development of religious
thought. Almost all the peculiarities of the Memphite tomb are to be
explained by the hypotheses with which primitive man is content. But
when mature reflection evolved higher types for the national gods,
when polytheism came to be superimposed upon fetishism, the hour
arrived for the temple to take its proper place in the national life,
for majestic colonnades and massive pylons to be erected on the banks
of the life-giving river. The temple was later than the tomb, but it
followed closely upon its footsteps, and the two were, in a fashion,
united by those erections on the left bank of the Nile, under the
Theban necropolis, which partook of the character of both. The temple
is the highest outcome of the native genius during those centuries
which saw Egypt supreme over all the races of the East, supreme partly
by force of arms, but mainly by the superiority of her civilization.



§ 1.--_The Temple under the Ancient Empire._

No statue of a god is known which can be confidently referred to the
first six dynasties. Hence it has sometimes been asserted that at that
early period the Egyptian gods were not born, if we may use the
expression, that the notions of the people had not yet been condensed
into any definite conception upon the point. Some writers incline to
believe that Egyptian thought had not yet reached the point where the
polytheistic idea springs up, that they were still content with those
fetishes which retained no slight hold upon their imaginations until a
much later period. Others affirm that the absence of gods is due to
the fact that the Egyptian people were so near to the first creation
of mankind that they had not yet forgotten those religious truths
which were revealed to the fathers of our race. They believe that
Egypt began with monotheism, and that its polytheistic system was due
to the gradual degradation of pure doctrine which took place among all
but the chosen people.

We shall not attempt to discuss the latter hypothesis in these pages.
It is a matter of faith and not of scientific demonstration. But to
the first hypothesis we shall oppose certain undoubted facts which
prove it to be, at least, an exaggeration, and that Egypt was even in
those early days much farther advanced, more capable of analysis and
reflection, than is generally imagined. M. Maspero, in his desire for
enlightenment upon this point, searched the epitaphs of the ancient
empire, and found in their nomenclature most of the sacred names
which, in later phases of the national civilization, designate the
principal deities of the Egyptian pantheon.[285] The composite proper
names often seem to express individual devotion to some particular
deity, and to indicate some connection between the latter and the
mortal who bore his name and lived under his protection. These
divinities must, then, have already been in existence in the minds of
the Egyptians. The most that can be said is that they had not yet
arrived at complete definition; art, perhaps, had not yet given them
those unchanging external features and characteristics which they
retained to the last days of paganism. It is quite possible that they
were, more often than not, represented by those animals which, in more
enlightened times, served them for symbols.

    [285] We may take a few of those in the Boulak Museum at random:
    Ra-Hotep (No. 590), Hathor-En-Khéou (588), Ra-Nefer (23), Ra-Our
    (25), Sokar-Kha-Ca-u (993), Noum-Hotep (26), Hathor-Nefer (41),
    Ptah-Asses (500), Ptah-Hotep, &c. The names of several deities
    are to be found in the inscription upon the wooden coffin or
    mummy-case of Mycerinus, now in the British Museum. (MASPERO,
    _Histoire Ancienne_, p. 75). A priest of Apis is mentioned upon
    a tomb of the fourth dynasty; Osiris is invoked in the steles of
    the sixth dynasty. (Boulak Catalogue, No. 41.)

    Amen, or Ammon, is never mentioned on the monuments of the
    Ancient Empire; his first appearance is contemporary with the
    twelfth dynasty. (GRÉBAULT, _Hymne à Ammon-Ra_, Introduction,
    part iii. p. 136.) This is natural enough. Amen was a Theban
    god, and Thebes does not seem to have existed in the time of the
    Ancient Empire.

If the inscription and the figured representations still existing upon
a certain stele which was found a short distance eastward of the
pyramid of Cheops[286] are to be taken literally, we must believe that
that monarch restored the principal statues of the Egyptian gods and
made them pretty much what we see them in monuments belonging to times
much more recent than his. The upper part of the stele in question
shows the god of generation, Horus, Thoth, Isis in several different
forms, Nephthys, Selk, Horus as the avenger of his father,
Harpocrates, Ptah, Setekh, Osiris, and Apis. These statues would seem
to have been in gold, silver, bronze and wood. Mariette, however, is
inclined to think that this stele does not date from the time of
Cheops, that it is a restoration made during the middle, or, perhaps,
even during the New Empire. On attempting to restore so venerable a
relic of the author of the greatest architectural work in their
country, the scribes may have allowed themselves to add figures
treated in the style of their own day to the ancient text. It is
equally doubtful, moreover, whether the text itself dates back to the
earlier period, and we need, perhaps, accept as fact only this: that
Cheops restored an already existing temple, assigned to it certain
sacred offerings as revenues, and restored the statues of gold,
silver, bronze, and wood, which adorned the sanctuary.

    [286] _Notice des principaux Monuments exposés dans les Galeries
    provisoires du Musée d' Antiquités Égyptiennes à Boulak._
    (Edition of 1876, No. 582.)

It may be that the divine effigies were abundant even in those early
days, but that they have failed to survive to our day. The portraits
of so many private individuals have been preserved because, in their
desire to afford a proper support to their _double_, they multiplied
their own images to as great an extent as their means would allow.
Between the third and the sixth dynasties the multiplication of these
portrait statues went on at a prodigious rate, and their number may be
judged from the fact that twenty were taken from the _serdab_ alone of
the tomb of Ti. The greater their number, the greater was the chance
that one of them would escape destruction.

The ingenuity of man combined with the process of nature to preserve
these figures to generations in the remote future, to a time when they
could excite interest enough to save them from destruction and to
ensure them a chance of eternal existence. To the thick walls of the
mastabas, to the well-concealed serdabs, and, more than all, to the
constantly increasing mask of sand laid upon the cemeteries of Gizeh
and Sakkarah by the winds from the desert, did they owe their
preservation through the troublous times which were in store for

In their more exposed situations in the temples and private houses,
the images of the gods ran far greater risks than the private statues.
The material of those which were of gold, silver, or bronze, would
excite dangerous cupidity, while the wooden ones were pretty sure,
sooner or later, to be destroyed or damaged by fire. The stone statues
might be overthrown and broken and replaced by others of a later
fashion, besides which a vast number of them have perished in the

We see, then, that supposing Cheops and Chephren to have paid their
devotions before statues of Isis and Osiris, Ptah and Hathor, there is
nothing very astonishing in the total disappearance of those figures.
To argue from their absence that in those early days the gods of the
Egyptians were not yet created, and consequently that there were no
temples erected in their honour, is to hazard a gratuitous assertion
which may at any time be disproved by some happy discovery, such as
that which gave us, twenty years ago, the statue of Chephren now in
the Boulak Museum. Before that statue was found it might similarly
have been contended that the series of royal effigies only commenced
with the first Theban Empire.

We possess, moreover, at least one divine effigy which, in the opinion
of all contemporary archæologists, dates from the time of the ancient
monarchy, namely, the great Sphinx at Gizeh (Fig. 157). We learn from
epigraphic writings that this gigantic idol, combining the body of a
crouching lion with the head of a man, represents Hor-em-Khou, or
'Horus in the shining Sun,' corresponding to the Harmachis, or rising
sun, of the Greeks. According to the stele above quoted, it was
carved, long before the time of Cheops, out of a natural rock which
reared its head above the sand in this part of the necropolis; here
and there the desired form was made out by additions in masonry.[287]

    [287] The total height of the Sphinx is 66 feet; the ear is 6
    feet 4 inches high; the nose is 6 feet, the mouth 7 feet 9
    inches, wide. The greatest width of the face across the cheeks
    is 14 feet 2 inches. If cleared entirely of sand the Sphinx
    would thus be higher than a five-storied house. For the history
    of the Sphinx, the different restorations which it has
    undergone, and the aspect which it has presented at different
    epochs, see MARIETTE, _Questions relatives aux nouvelles
    Fouilles_. Our plan (Fig. 204) shows the wide flight of steps
    which was constructed in the time of Trajan to give access to a
    landing constructed immediately in front of the fore-paws.
    Between these paws a little temple was contrived, where the
    steles consecrated by several of the Theban kings in honour of
    the Sphinx were arranged. Caviglia was the first to bring all
    these matters to light, in 1817, but the _ensemble_, as it now
    exists, only dates back to the Roman epoch. It is curious that
    neither Herodotus, nor Diodorus, nor Strabo, mention the Sphinx.
    Pliny speaks of it (N. H. xxxvi. 17); some of the information
    which he obtained was valuable and authentic, but it was mixed
    with errors; it was said to be, he tells us, _the tomb of the
    king Armais_, but he knows that the whole figure was painted
    red. The _Denkmæler_ of Lepsius (vol. i. pl. 30) gives three
    sections and a plan of the little temple between the paws. The
    same work (vol. v. pl. 68) contains a reproduction of the great
    stele of Thothmes relative to the restoration of the Sphinx.

As primitive Egypt had gods she must have had temples. Few traces of
them are to be found, however, and their almost total disappearance is
mainly owing to causes which merit careful notice.

Before they began to erect stone buildings, the early Egyptians made
constant use of wood for many ages. Various bas-reliefs and paintings
prove that this latter material was never entirely abandoned, but
after stone and brick came into general use it was reserved for
special purposes; it was usually employed in those lighter and more
ephemeral edifices in which rapidity of construction was the chief
point required. When, in the remains of the early dynasties, we see
the characteristics of wooden constructions so closely imitated in
stone, we are constrained to believe that wood then played a much more
important part than under the Theban princes. Either brick or stone
was absolutely necessary for a tomb, because they alone had sufficient
durability, but it is quite possible that most of the temples were of
wood. With the help of colour and metal, wood could be easily made to
fulfil all the conditions of a temple. The shrine which enclosed
either a statue or some symbolic object, the portico which surrounded
the inner court, the furniture, the doors, the high palisade which
enclosed the sacred precinct, might all have been of wood. When
destroyed by accident or damaged by time, such a structure could be
quickly and easily restored.

We may admit, however, that from the epoch of the Pyramids onwards,
such cities as Thinis, Abydos, Memphis, and others, constructed their
temples of stone, which, in the then state of architectural skill,
they could have done without any serious difficulty. The chief cause
of the disappearance of the early temples was the construction of
those that came after them. The national taste changed with the
centuries, and the time came when the comparative simplicity of the
primitive erections was unable to satisfy the longing of the people
for magnificence and splendour. New temples, more vast and sumptuous
than the old, were constructed, and the substance of their
predecessors was, as a matter of course, employed in their
construction. Sometimes a fragmentary inscription or a piece of
sculpture betrays the restoration; and, here and there, inscriptions
on the later building go so far as to preserve the name of the
architect of the first. An instance of this occurs at Denderah.
Champollion discovered that the Ptolemaic temples almost always
replaced structures dating from the great Theban or Sait dynasties.
The island of Philæ, however, affords an exception to this rule.[288]
These temples he calls "second editions." But in some cases they were
third or even fourth editions.

    [288] CHAMPOLLION, _Lettres d'Égypte et de Nubie_, pp. 125, 143,
    and 166. Under both the temples at Ombos, Champollion discovered
    remains of a building of the time of Thothmes III. The same
    thing occurred at Edfou and at Esneh. We except Philæ, because
    there is good reason to believe that in the time of the Ancient
    Empire that island did not exist, and that the cataract was then
    at Silsilis.

But in spite of all these rearrangements and restorations, a few
sacred buildings of the early period were still in existence during
the Roman occupation of the country, and were then shown as
curiosities. This we may gather from a passage in Strabo. After having
described, with much precision, the disposition of certain buildings
which are easily recognized as temples built under the princes of the
New Empire, he adds: "At Heliopolis, however, there is a certain
building with several ranges of columns, which recalls, by its
arrangement, the barbarous style; because, apart from the great size
of the columns, their number and their position in several long rows,
there is nothing graceful in the building, nothing that shows any
power of artistic design; effort, and impotent effort, is its most
striking characteristic."[289] Lucian, too, was thinking of the same
building in his treatise upon the Syrian goddess, when he said that
the Egyptians had, in ancient times, temples without sculptured

    [289] STRABO, xvii. 128: Οὐδὲν ἔχει χαρίεν ὀυδὲ γραφικόν, etc.

    [290] LUCIAN, § 3: Ἀξοάνοι νηοί, etc.

One of these 'barbarous' temples, as Strabo calls them, is supposed to
have been discovered in the small building disinterred by Mariette in
1853, at about 50 yards distance from the right foot of the Sphinx in
a south-easterly direction. Mariette cleared the whole of the
interior, and by means of a flight of steps well protected from the
sand, he provided easy access to it. But he left the external walls
buried as he found them, and so they still remain.

The entrance is by a passage about 66 feet long and 7 wide, which runs
almost in an easterly direction through the massive masonry which
constitutes the external wall. About midway along this passage two
small galleries branch off; that on the right leads to a small
chamber, that on the left to a staircase giving access to the terrace
above. At the end of the passage we find ourselves at one of the
angles of a hall, running north and south, and about 83 feet long by
23 wide. The roof is supported by six quadrangular piers. These are
monoliths 16 feet 6 inches high and 3 feet 4 inches by 4 feet 8
inches in section. Several of their architraves are still in place.
These are stones about 10 feet in length.[291] From the eastern side
of this hall another opens at right angles. This second hall is about
57 feet long and 30 wide, and its roof was supported by ten columns
similar to those we have already mentioned.

    [291] The piers are not quite equidistant; their spacing varies
    by some centimetres. Exact symmetry has been sacrificed in
    consequence of the different lengths of the stones which formed
    the architrave.

[Illustration: FIG. 202.--The Temple of the Sphinx (from an
unpublished plan by Mariette).]

From the south-west angle of the first hall there is a short corridor
which leads to six deep niches in the masonry, arranged in pairs one
above the other, and apparently intended for the reception of mummies.
In the middle of the eastern wall of this same large chamber there is
a short and wide passage which leads to a third and last hall,
parallel to the one with six columns; it has no supporting pillars,
but there is, in the centre of the floor, a deep well which Mariette
cleared from the sand with which it was filled. There had been water
in it, because it was sunk below the level of the Nile. At the bottom
nine broken statues of Chephren were found; they were not copies, one
from the other, but represented the king at different periods of his
life. Several stone cynocephali were also found.

At each end of this hall there is a small chamber communicating with
it by short corridors. One of these, that in the northern angle of the
temple, seems to have communicated with the outward air by an
irregular opening in the masonry.

[Illustration: FIG. 203.--Interior of the Temple of the Sphinx (from a
sketch by M. Ernest Desjardins).]

The materials employed in the interior of this building are rose
granite and alabaster. The supporting piers are of granite, the lining
slabs of the walls and the ceiling, alabaster. Both these materials
are dressed and fixed with care and knowledge, but in no part of the
temple is the slightest hint at a moulding or at any other sort of
ornament to be found. The pillars are plain rectangular monoliths; the
walls are without either bas-reliefs or paintings, and there is not a
trace of any inscription on any part of the building. The external
walls are constructed of the largest limestone blocks which are to be
found in Egypt. In these days none of their outward faces are
visible, but according to Mariette, who, doubtless, had inspected them
by means of temporary excavation, nothing is to be seen but "smoothly
polished surfaces, decorated with long vertical and horizontal grooves
skilfully interlaced; in one corner there is a door, the only one, and
that very small."[292]

    [292] MARIETTE, _Questions relatives aux nouvelles Fouilles à
    faire en Égypte_. (_Académie des Inscriptions_, _Comptes Rendus
    des Séances de l'Année_, 1877, pp. 427-473.)

For the last thirty years there has been much controversy as to the
true character of this curious monument. Mariette himself allows us to
see that he could not convince himself of its real meaning: "It cannot
be doubted that this building dates from the time of the pyramids; but
is it a temple or a tomb? Its external appearance is, it must be
confessed, more that of a tomb than of a temple. From a distance it
must have looked not unlike a mastaba from Sakkarah or Abousir, which
it but slightly excelled in size. The six deep niches which exist in
the interior recall the internal arrangements of the pyramid of
Mycerinus and the Mastabat-el-Faraoûn, and the general plan resembles
that of several other tombs in the neighbourhood. It appears,
therefore, that the hypothesis which would make it a sepulchre might
be upheld without violating the rules which should guide the
archæologist.... On the other hand it may, very naturally, be asserted
that, as the Sphinx is a god, it must be the Temple of the

    [293] _Itinéraire des Invités du Vice-roi_, p. 99.

This latter hypothesis seems to have found most favour with Mariette.
The rectangular niches, which at first seemed to him to be intended
for funerary purposes, were accounted for in another way. "May they
not be here," he asks, "what the crypt is at the temple of Denderah?"
And he does not hesitate to employ the terms _Temple of the Sphinx_,
and _Temple of Harmachis_. He does not give his reasons, but to some
extent we can supply them. Every mastaba of any importance has
funerary representations upon it, and inscriptions containing both the
name of the deceased and those magical formulæ which we have already
explained; the walls display his portrait and the whole course of his
posthumous life. The humblest of these tombs shows at least a stele
upon which the name of the defunct is inscribed together with the
prayer which is to insure him the benefit of the funerary offerings
mentioned upon it. The tomb is thus consecrated to the use of some
particular person, of an individual whose name is placed upon it, and
who is exclusive owner of it and its contents to all eternity. In this
temple there is no sign of such individual appropriation. Its total
size is rather in excess of that of the largest mastaba yet
discovered; its materials are finer and its construction more careful.
The bareness of the walls, therefore, can hardly be attributed to want
of means on the part of the proprietor.

It is true that in many tombs the decorative works have never advanced
beyond the sketch stage; but here, although the building is in a good
state of preservation, not the slightest sign is to be discovered that
any funerary ornamentation had ever been attempted. It is difficult to
see how such an anomaly is to be accounted for except by the
supposition that this is not a tomb, and was never intended to be one.

An examination of the well leads to the same conclusion. In the
mastaba the well is simply a vertical corridor of approach to the
mummy chamber. Here there is neither sarcophagus nor any place to put
one; no enlargement of the well of any kind. But of the three parts
into which the typical Egyptian tomb may be divided, the most
important is the mummy chamber. It is the only one of three which is
absolutely indispensable. It could, in itself, furnish all the
necessary elements of a place of sepulture, because it could ensure
the safety and repose of the corpse entrusted to it. Where there is no
mummy chamber there can hardly be a tomb, strictly speaking.

The anomalous character of these arrangements, supposing the building
to be a tomb, disappears when it is looked upon as a temple. Its
bareness and simplicity agree entirely with the descriptions given by
Plutarch and the pseudo-Lucian of those early Egyptian temples which
the one saw with his own eyes and the other knew by tradition. A well
for providing the water required by the Egyptian ritual and by the
ablutions of the priests would be in its proper place in such an
edifice, while the similarity between its general arrangements and
those of the mastabas may easily be accounted for by the inexperience
of the early architect. The forms at his command were too few and too
rigid to enable him to mark, with any certainty, the different
purposes of the buildings which he erected. The architect of this
temple seems, however, to have done his best to express the
distinction. In none of the Memphite mastabas do we find such spacious
chambers or so many large and well-wrought monolithic columns.

Many hypotheses have been put forward in the attempt to reconcile
these two explanations of the "Temple of the Sphinx," but we cannot
discuss them here. "Why," asks Mariette, in his recently published
memoir, "should not the temple of the Sphinx be the tomb of the king
who made the Sphinx itself?" This question we may answer by two more:
Why did not that king decorate the walls of his tomb? and why did he
have neither sarcophagus nor sarcophagus chamber? Others have seen in
it the chapel in which the funerary rites of Chephren were
performed;[294] a theory which was of course suggested by the
discovery of that king's statues in the well. These statues, we are
told, must formerly have been arranged in one of the chambers, and, in
some moment of political tumult, they must have been cast into the
well either by foreign enemies or by the irritated populace.

    [294] BÆDEKER, _Guide to Lower Egypt_, p. 350.

In all probability we shall never learn the true cause of this insult
to the memory of Chephren, and it seems to us to be hazarding too much
to affirm that, because the statues of that king were found in it, the
building we are discussing must have been his funerary chapel. It is
very near the Sphinx, and it is a considerable distance from the
second pyramid,[295] which, moreover, had a temple of its own.
According to all analogy, the funerary chapel would be in the
immediate neighbourhood of the mummy for whose benefit it was erected.

    [295] The actual distance is about 670 yards.

In the absence of any decisive evidence either one way or the other,
the most reasonable course is to look upon this building as the temple
in which the worship of the neighbouring Colossus was carried on: as
the temple of Harmachis, in a word. This solution derives confirmation
from the following facts mentioned by Mariette: "The granite stele,
erected by Thothmes IV. to commemorate the works of restoration
undertaken by him, was placed against the right shoulder of the
Sphinx, that is to say, at the point nearest to the building which we
are discussing. In later years this stele and some others representing
scenes of adoration which were added by Rameses II., were combined
into a sort of small building, which almost directly faced any one
coming out of the temple."[296] One of Mariette's favourite projects
was to clear the sphinx down to its base, to clear all the space
between it and the temple (see Fig. 204), and finally to build a wall
round the whole group of sufficient height to keep it free from sand
in the future. In Mariette's opinion such an operation could hardly
fail to bring to light more than one monument of great antiquity, of
an antiquity greater, perhaps, than that of the pyramids. In any case
it would lay open the material connection between the great idol and
its temple, and would help us to reconstitute the most ancient group
of religious buildings in existence.

    [296] MARIETTE, _Questions relatives aux nouvelles Fouilles_,

Those structures which are generally called the _temples of the
pyramids_ belong to the same class of architecture (Fig. 127). We have
already mentioned them, and explained how they are to the pyramids
what the funerary chamber is to the mastaba. We must return to them
for a moment in their capacity as temples. The deceased kings in whose
honour they were erected were worshipped within their walls even down
to the time of the Ptolemies. They are in a much worse state of
preservation than the Temple of the Sphinx. Unlike the latter they
were not protected by the sand, and their materials could readily be
carried away for the construction of other buildings. Nothing remains
but the lower courses of the walls and their footings, so that no
exact agreement has yet been come to even as to their ground plan. We
shall quote, however, the description given by Jomard of the temple
belonging to the third pyramid. The French _savants_, whose visit to
Egypt took place nearly a century ago, saw many things which have
disappeared since their time.

"The building situated to the east of the third pyramid is remarkable
for its arrangement, its extent, and the enormous size of the blocks
of which it is composed. In plan it is almost square, being 177 feet
by 186. On its eastern side there is, however, a vestibule or annexe
103 feet long and 46 wide.... Outside the vestibule there is a vast
courtyard with two lateral openings or posterns; beyond this there are
several spacious saloons, five of which are still in existence; the
farthest of these is the same size as the vestibule, and is exactly
opposite to the centre of the pyramid, from which it is but 43 feet
distant. But I could see no opening in that part of the wall which
faced the pyramid.

"The general symmetry of the arrangement, however, suffices to prove
the connection between the two buildings.

"After having studied the construction and the materials of the Theban
edifices, I was astonished by the size of the stones here made use of,
and the care with which they were fixed. The walls are 6 feet 9 inches
thick; a thickness which is determined by that of the stones employed.
Their length varies from 12 to 23 feet. At first I took these blocks
for the face of the rock itself, elaborately worked and dressed, and I
might not have discovered my mistake but for the cemented joints
between the courses.

"The eastward prolongation or annexe is formed of two huge walls,
which are not less than 13 feet 4 inches thick. It may well be asked
why such walls should have been constructed, seeing that had they been
of only half the thickness they would have been quite as durable and

"This building forms, as it were, the continuation of an enclined
plane or causeway laid out at right angles to the base line of the
third pyramid, and leading up to it."[297]

    [297] _Description de l'Égypte, Ant._, vol. v. p. 654.

Jomard appears to have found no traces of pillars in any part of the
edifice; but Belzoni, whose description is, however, both short and
confused, seems to have found them in the temple of the second
pyramid. He speaks of a _portico_, and he adds that some of its blocks
were 24 feet high,[298] or about the same height as the monoliths in
the Temple of the Sphinx. Such blocks would, of course, be the first
to be carried off and used elsewhere.

    [298] BELZONI, _Narrative of the Operations_, etc. pp. 261-2.

In spite of this difference many of the peculiar arrangements of the
sphinx temple are repeated in these buildings. There is the same
squareness of plan, the same multiplicity of internal chambers, the
same employment of huge masses of stone and the same care and skill in
dressing and fixing them. It is now impossible to say whether these
buildings, when complete, were decorated or not; it is certain that at
the present day no sign of any ornamentation, either carved or
painted, is to be found upon them.

We see, then, that the religious architecture of the early empire is
represented by a very small number of monuments, of which only one
is in a good state of preservation. When we recall the texts which we
have quoted, when we compare the temple of the Sphinx with tombs like
the pyramids or the sepulchre of Ti, we must acknowledge that the
energies of the Egyptians during the early dynasties were mainly
directed to their resting-places after death, that the worship of the
dead held the largest place in their religious life. Their temples
were small in size, insignificant in height, and severe in their
absence of ornament. They give slight earnest of the magnificent
edifices which the country was to rear some ten or fifteen centuries
afterwards at the command of the great Theban pharaohs. The monolithic
pillars, however, of which we have spoken, give some slight foretaste
of a feature which was to reach unrivalled majesty in the hypostyle
halls of Karnak and Luxor.

[Illustration: FIG. 204.--The Temple of the Sphinx, the Sphinx, and
the neighbouring parts of the Necropolis.]

§ 2. _The Temple under the Middle Empire._

No temples constructed under the first Theban empire are now in
existence; and yet the Egyptians had then generally adopted the
worship of all those deities whose characters and attributes have been
made known to us through the monuments of the New Empire. The Theban
triad received the homage of the Ousourtesens and Amenemhats; its
principal personage, Amen, or Ammon, identified with Ra, already
showed a tendency to become a supreme deity for the nation as a whole.
To him successful sovereigns attributed their successes both of peace
and war. As the god of the king and of the capital, Amen acquired an
uncontested superiority throughout the whole valley of the Nile, which
affected, however, neither the worship of the local deities, nor the
homage paid by every man and woman in Egypt to Osiris, the god to whom
they looked for happiness beyond the grave.

Art, at this period, had advanced so far that there was no longer any
difficulty in marking the distinction between the temple and the tomb.
In the sepulchres at Beni-Hassan which date from the twelfth dynasty,
we find two very different kinds of support, and there was nothing to
prevent the forms employed in these rock-cut chambers from being made
use of in constructed buildings, seeing especially how skilful the
Egyptians had shown themselves to be in working the excellent
materials provided for them by nature. The architect could, if he had
chosen, have multiplied to infinity those stone supports which his
distant predecessors had employed, apparently with some inkling of
their future possibilities. The obelisk set up by Ousourtesen at
Heliopolis, proves that the cutting and polishing of those monoliths
was understood in his time, and as the obelisk seems always to have
been closely combined with the pylon, it is not improbable that the
religious edifices of the time of Ousourtesen were prefaced by those
huge pyramidoid masses. The hypostyle halls, the pylons, and the
obelisks of the New Empire differed from those of the Middle Empire
rather in their extent and in the magnificence of their decoration,
than in their general arrangement.

Of all the temples then constructed, the only one which has left any
apparent traces is that which was erected at Thebes by the princes of
the twelfth dynasty to the honour of Amen. It forms the central
nucleus around which the later buildings of Karnak have been erected.
The name of Ousourtesen is to be read upon the remains of the
polygonal columns which mark, it is believed, the site of the
sanctuary properly speaking, between the granite chambers and the
buildings of Thothmes III.; these columns, like those at Beni-Hassan,
are hexagonal in section.[299]

    [299] The little that now remains of the columns and foundations
    of the ancient temple is marked in the plan which forms plate 6
    of Mariette's _Karnak_, Fig. _a_. In plate 8 the remains of all
    statues and inscriptions which date from the same period are
    figured. See also pages 36, 37, and 41-45 of the text.

Of many other buildings erected at this period, nothing is left to us
beyond tradition and the mere mention of them in various texts. This,
however, is sufficient to prove their existence. We shall choose
examples of them from the two extremities of Egypt. Nothing has been
found of that great temple at Heliopolis which all the Greek
travellers visited and described, but we know that a part, at least,
of its buildings dated from the time of the first Theban empire,
because a MS. at Berlin, published by Herr Ludwig Stern in 1873,
narrates the dedication of a chapel by Ousourtesen. It is probable
that the obelisk was in the portion then built and consecrated to the
god Ra.

At Semneh, in Nubia, the fortress on the left bank of the river
contains a temple of Thothmes III., which, according to the pictures
and inscriptions which cover its walls, is no more than a restoration
of one built, in the first instance, in honour of Ousourtesen III.
This latter prince was deified at Semneh after his death, and his
worship continued for more than ten centuries. His temple, which had
fallen into ruin during the first reigns of the eighteenth dynasty,
was reconstructed by Thothmes, and that prince is represented doing
homage to the local deities, among whom Ousourtesen may be discovered
presenting his pious successor to the other gods.

Many more instances might be given, but the monuments of the second
Theban empire demand our attention. A Thothmes or an Amenophis, a Seti
or a Rameses, could dispose of all the resources of a rich country and
of an aged civilization for the construction of their edifices,
edifices so great and splendid that they ran no risk of being
destroyed in later times for the sake of constructing others still
more sumptuous; besides which they were built at the zenith of the
national greatness, at the moment when, in the Egyptian character, all
the energy of an unconquered people was combined with the knowledge
and experience resulting from an old and complex social system. In the
later ages of the monarchy a few unimportant additions were made, an
obelisk or a pylon here, there a court, a colonnade, or a few
chambers; but the great temples of the New Empire have come down to us
with few modifications beyond those caused by the three thousand years
through which they have existed, and we have little difficulty in
restoring them, on paper, to the condition in which they were left by
the great monarchs of the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth
dynasties. The later additions, although they render the ground-plans
more complicated, fail to hide or materially affect the general
characteristics of the buildings, and in no way prevent us from
recognizing and defining the spirit and originality of their

§ 3. _The Temple under the New Empire._

Before we cross the threshold of the great Theban temples and attempt
to evolve order out of their complexity of courts, halls, porticos and
colonnades, it may be convenient to describe their approaches. Each
temple had its external and accessory parts which had their share in
the religious ceremonies of which it was the theatre, and it would be
difficult to make its economy understood unless we began by noticing
them in detail.

[Illustration: FIG. 205.--Ram, or _Kriosphinx_, from Karnak.]

One of the first signs which denoted to visitors the proximity of an
Egyptian temple was what the Greek travellers called a δρόμος, that is
to say a paved causeway bordered on each side with rams or sphinxes,
their heads being turned inwards to the road. These avenues vary in
width, that at Karnak is 76 feet between the inner faces of the
pedestals;[300] within the precincts of the sacred edifice, between
the first and second pylon, this width underwent a considerable
increase. The space between one sphinx and another on the same side of
the causeway was about 13 feet. The _dromos_ which led from Luxor to
Karnak was about 2,200 yards long; there must, therefore, have been
five hundred sphinxes on each side of it. At the Serapeum of Memphis
the sphinxes which Mariette found by digging 70 feet downwards into
the sand were still nearer to one another;[301] the dromos which they
lined was found to be 50 feet wide and about 1,650 yards long.

    [300] MARIETTE, _Karnak_, p. 4.

    [301] We may infer from what Mariette says that they were
    separated from one another by a distance of 12 feet 4 inches.

Following our modern notions we should, perhaps, expect to find these
causeways laid out upon an exactly rectilinear plan. They are not so,
however. It has sometimes been said that one of the characteristic
features of Egyptian architecture is its dislike, or rather hatred, of
a rigorous symmetry. Traces of this hatred are to be found in these
avenues. The very short ones, such as those which extend between one
pylon and another, are straight, but those which are prolonged for
some distance outside the buildings of the temple almost always make
some abrupt turns. The Serapeum _dromos_ undergoes several slight
changes of direction, in order, no doubt, to avoid the tombs between
which its course lay. We find the same thing at Karnak, where the
architect must have had different motives for his abandonment of a
straight line. At the point where the man-headed sphinxes of Horus
succeed to those sphinxes without inscriptions the date of which
Mariette found it impossible to determine, the axis of the avenue
inclines gently to the left.

These avenues of sphinxes are always outside the actual walls of the
temple, from which it has been inferred that they were merely
ornamental, and without religious signification.[302]

    [302] MARIETTE, _Karnak_, p. 5. We find, however, that sphinxes
    were sometimes placed in the interior of a temple. The two fine
    sphinxes in rose granite which form the chief ornaments of the
    principal court of the Boulak museum, were found in one of the
    inner halls of the temple at Karnak. They date, probably, from
    the time of Thothmes III., to whom this part of the building
    owes its existence.

Some of the great temples have several of these avenues leading up to
their different gates. It is within these gates only that the sacred
inclosure called by the Greeks the τέμενος commences. The religious
ceremonies were all performed within this space, which was inclosed by
an encircling wall built at sufficient distance from the actual temple
to allow of the marshalling of processions and other acts of ritual.

These outer walls are of crude brick. At Karnak they are about 33 feet
thick, but as their upper parts have disappeared through the
perishable nature of the material, it is impossible to say with
certainty what their original height may have been.[303] Their
summits, with their crenellated parapets, must have afforded a
continuous platform connected with the flat tops of the pylons by
flights of steps.

    [303] _Description_, etc.; _Description générale de Thèbes_,
    section viii. § 1.

"These inclosing walls served more than one purpose. They marked the
external limits of the temple. They protected it against injury from
without. When their height was considerable, as at Denderah, Sais, and
other places, they acted as an impenetrable curtain between the
profane curiosity of the external crowd and the mysteries performed
within; and when they had to serve their last named purpose they were
constructed in such a fashion that those without could neither hear
nor see anything that passed.

"It is probable that the walls of Karnak served all three purposes.
There are four of them, connected one with another by avenues of
sphinxes, and all the sacred parts of the building, except a few
chapels, are in one of the four inclosures.... Their height was at
least sufficient to prevent any part of the inside from being
overlooked from any quarter of the city, so that the ceremonies in the
halls, under the colonnades, or upon the lakes could be proceeded with
in strict isolation from the outer world.[304] We may therefore
perceive that, on certain occasions, these inclosures would afford a
sanctuary which could not easily be violated, while they would keep
all those who had not been completely initiated at a respectful
distance from the holy places within."[305]

    [304] The wall of the principal inclosure at Denderah, that on
    the north, is not less than 33 feet high, and between 30 and 40
    thick at the base. Its surface is perfectly smooth and naked,
    without ornament of any kind, or even rough-cast. (MARIETTE,
    _Denderah_, p. 27.) At Karnak the bounding walls are in a much
    worse state of preservation; they are ten or twelve centuries
    older than those of Denderah, and those centuries have had their
    effect upon the masses of crude brick. Our only means of
    estimating their original height is by comparing, in the
    representations furnished to us by certain bas-reliefs, the
    height of walls with that of the pylons on which they abut.

    [305] MARIETTE, _Karnak_, pp. 5, 6.

These walls were pierced in places by stone doorways, embedded in the
masses of crude brick, whose highest parts always rose more or less
above the battlements of the wall (Fig. 206). At those points where
the sphinx avenues terminated, generally at the principal entrance of
the temple but sometimes at secondary gateways, these portals expanded
into those towering masses which by their form as well as their size,
so greatly impress the traveller who visits the ruins of ancient
Egypt. These masses have by common consent been named _pylons_.
They seem to have been in great favour with the architects of Egypt,
who succeeded by their means in rendering their buildings still more
original than they would have been without them.[306]

    [306] The word πυλών strictly means the place before the door
    (like θυρών), or rather great door (upon the augmentative force
    of the suffix ών, ῶνος, see AD. REGNIER, _Traité de la Formation
    des Mots dans la Langue Grecque_, § 184). Several passages in
    POLYBIUS (_Thesaurus_, s. v.) show that in the military language
    of his time the term was employed to signify a fortified doorway
    with its flanking towers and other defences. We may therefore
    understand why DIODORUS (i. 47) made use of it in his
    description of the so-called tomb of Osymandias. STRABO (xvii.
    1, 28) preferred to use the word πρόπυλων. Modern usage has
    restricted the word _propylæum_ to Greek buildings, and _pylon_
    to the great doorways which form one of the most striking
    features of Egyptian architecture.

[Illustration: FIG. 206.--Gateway and boundary wall of a temple;
restored by Ch. Chipiez.]

The pylon is composed of three parts intimately allied one with
another; a tall rectangular doorway is flanked on either hand by a
pyramidal mass rising high above its crown. Both portal and towers
terminate above in that hollow gorge which forms the cornice of nearly
all Egyptian buildings. Each angle of the towers is accentuated by a
cylindrical moulding, which adds to the firmness of its outlines. This
moulding bounds all the flat surfaces of the pylon, which are,
moreover, covered with bas-reliefs and paintings. It serves as a frame
for all this decoration, which it cuts off from the cornice and from
the uneven line which marks the junction of the sloping walls with the
sandy soil. From the base of the pylon spring those vertical masts
from whose summits many coloured streamers flutter in the sun.[307] In
consequence of the inclination of the walls, these masts, being
themselves perpendicular, were some distance from the face of the
pylon at its upper part. Brackets of wood were therefore contrived,
through which the masts passed and by which their upright position was
preserved; without some such support they would either have been
liable to be blown down in a high wind, or would have had to follow
the inclination of the wall to which they were attached, which would
have been an unsightly arrangement. The interiors of the pylons were
partly hollow; they inclosed small chambers to which access was
obtained by narrow staircases winding round a central square newel.
The object of these chambers seems to have been merely to facilitate
the manœuvring of the masts and their floating banners, because
when the latter were in place, the small openings which gave light to
the chambers were entirely obscured.

    [307] We learn the part played by these masts and banners in
    Egyptian decoration entirely from the representations in the
    bas-reliefs. The façade of the temple of Khons is illustrated in
    one of the bas-reliefs upon the same building. That relief was
    reproduced in the _Description de l'Égypte_ (vol. iii. pl. 57,
    Fig. 9), and is so well known that we refrained from giving it
    in these pages. It shows the masts and banners in all their
    details. Another representation of the same kind will be found
    in CAILLIAUD, _Voyage à Méroé_, plates, vol. ii. pl. 64, Fig. 1.
    See in the text, vol. iii. p. 298. It is taken from a rock-cut
    tomb between Dayr-el-Medinet and Medinet-Abou.

If the pylons had been intended for defensive purposes, the doors in
their centres would have been kept in rear of the flanking towers, as
in more modern fortifications. But instead of that being the case they
are slightly salient, which proves conclusively that their object was
purely decorative.

The pylon which we have taken as a type of such erections, is one of
those which inclose a doorway opening in the centre of one of the
sides of the brick inclosure, it may be called an external pylon, or a
_pro-pylon_, to make use of the word proposed by M. Ampère, but in all
temples of any importance several pylons have to be passed before the
sanctuary is reached. At Karnak, for instance, in approaching the
great temple from the temple of Mouth, the visitor passes under four
pylons, only one of which, the most southern, is connected with the
inclosing wall. So, too, on the west. After passing the pylon in the
outer wall, another has to be passed before the hypostyle hall is
reached, and a third immediately afterwards. Then, behind the narrow
court which seems to cut the great mass of buildings into two almost
equal parts, there are three more at very slight intervals. Thus M.
Mariette counts six pylons, progressively diminishing in size, which
lie in the way of the visitor entering Karnak by the west and passing
to the east. At Luxor there are three.

A glance at our general view of the buildings of Karnak will give a
good idea of the various uses to which the Egyptian architect put the
pylon.[308] There is the pro-pylon; there are those pylons which, when
connected with curtain walls, separate one courtyard from another;
there are those again, which, placed immediately in front of the
hypostyle halls, form the façades of the temples properly speaking.
The temple is always concealed behind a pylon, whose summit rises
above it while its two wings stretch beyond it laterally until they
meet the rectangular wall which incloses the sanctuary.

    [308] This plate (iv.) is not a picturesque restoration; it is
    merely a map in relief. Only those buildings are marked upon it
    which have left easily traceable remains. No attempt has been
    made to reconstruct by conjecture any of those edifices which
    are at present nothing but confused heaps of _débris_.

The dimensions of pylons vary with those of the temples to which they
belong. The largest still existing is the outer pylon of the great
temple of Karnak. It was constructed in Ptolemaic times. Its two chief
masses are 146 feet high, or about equal to the Vendôme column in
Paris. This pylon is 376 feet wide at the widest part and 50 feet
thick. The first pylon at Luxor, which was built by Rameses II., is
less gigantic in its proportions than this; it is, however, 76 feet
high, each of its two great masses is 100 feet wide, and the portal in
the middle is 56 feet high (see Fig. 207).

In those temples which were really complete, obelisks were erected a
few feet in front of the pylons, and immediately behind the obelisks,
in contact with the pylons themselves, were placed those colossal
statues by which every Egyptian monarch commemorated his connection
with the structures which were reared in his time. The obelisks are
generally two in number, the colossi vary from four to six for each
pylon, according to the magnificence of the temple. The obelisks range
in height from about 60 to 100 feet, and the statues from 20 to 45
feet.[309] Obelisks and colossal statues seem to have been peculiarly
necessary outside the first, or outer, pylon of a temple. This
produced an effect upon the visitor at the earliest moment, before he
had entered the sacred inclosure itself. But they are also to be found
before the inner pylons, a repetition which is explained by the fact
that such temples as those of Karnak and Luxor were not the result of
a single effort of construction. Each of the successive pylons which
met the visitor during the last centuries of Egyptian civilization had
been at one time the front of the whole edifice.

    [309] The obelisk of Ousourtesen at Heliopolis is 20·27 metres,
    or 67 feet 6 inches, high; the Luxor obelisk at Paris, 22·80
    metres, or 76 feet; that in the piazza before St. Peter's in
    Rome, 83 feet 9 inches; that of San Giovanni Laterano, the
    tallest in Europe, is 107 feet 2 inches; and that of Queen
    Hatasu, still standing amid the ruins at Karnak, 32·20 metres,
    or 107 feet 4 inches. This is the highest obelisk known. [The
    Cleopatra's Needle on the Victoria Embankment is only 68 feet 2
    inches high.--ED.]

To complete our description of the external parts of the temple we
have yet to mention those small lakes or basins which have been found
within the precincts of all the greater temples. Their position within
the inclosing walls suggests that they were used for other purposes
beyond such ablutions as those which are prescribed for all good
Mohammedans. If nothing but washing was in view they might have been
outside the inclosure, so that intending worshippers could discharge
that part of their duty before crossing the sacred threshold; but
their situation behind the impenetrable veil of such walls as those we
have described, suggests that they had to play a part in those
religious mysteries which could not be performed within sight of the
profane. Upon certain festivals richly decorated boats, bearing the
images or emblems of the gods, were set afloat upon these lakes. As
the diurnal and nocturnal journeys of the sun were looked upon as
voyages by navigation across the spaces of heaven and through the
shadows of the regions below, it may easily be understood how a
miniature voyage by water came to have a place in the worship of
deities who were more or less solar in their character.

We have now arrived upon the threshold of the temple itself, and we
must attempt to describe and define that edifice, distinguishing from
each other its essential and accessory parts.

When we cast our eyes for the first time either upon the confused but
imposing ruins of Karnak themselves, or upon one of the plans which
represent them, it seems a hopeless task to evolve order from such a
chaos of pylons, columns, colossal statues and obelisks, from such a
tangled mass of halls and porticos, corridors and narrow chambers. If
we begin, however, by studying some of the less complex structures we
soon find that many of these numerous chambers, in spite of their
curious differences, were repetitions of one another so far as their
significance in the general plan is concerned. When a temple was
complete in all its parts any monarch who desired that his name too
should be connected with it in the eyes of posterity, had no resource
but to add some new building to it, which, under the circumstances
supposed, could be nothing but a mere _replica_ of some part already
in existence.[310] They took some element of the general plan, such
as the hypostyle hall at Karnak, and added to it over and over
again, giving rise to interesting changes in the proportion,
arrangement and decoration.

    [310] At Thebes, still existing inscriptions prove this to be
    the case, and at Memphis the same custom obtained, as we know
    from the statements of the Greek travellers. The temple of
    Ptah--the site of which seems to be determined by the colossal
    statue of Rameses which still lies there upon its face--must
    have rivalled Karnak in extent and in the number of its
    successive additions. According to DIODORUS (i. 50) it was Mœris
    (Amenemhat III.) who built the southern propylons of this
    temple, which, according to the same authority, surpassed all
    their rivals in magnificence. At a much later period, Sesostris
    (a Rameses) erected several colossal monoliths, from 20 to 30
    cubits high, in front of the same temple (DIODORUS, cap. lvii.;
    HERODOTUS, ii. 140); at the same time he must have raised
    obelisks and constructed courts and pylons. Herodotus attributes
    to two other kings, whom he names _Rhampsinite_ and _Asychis_,
    the construction of two more pylons on the eastern and western
    sides of the temple (ii. 121 and 136). Finally Psemethek I.
    built the southern propylons and the pavilion where the Apis was
    nursed after his first discovery. (HERODOTUS, ii. 153.)

[Illustration: FIG. 207.--Principal façade of the temple of Luxor;
restored by Ch. Chipiez.]

One of the most intelligent of the ancient travellers, namely, Strabo,
attempted the work of discrimination which it is now our duty to
undertake. He wrote for people accustomed to the clear and simple
arrangements of the Greek temple, and he attempted to give them some
idea of the Egyptian temple, such as he found it in that Heliopolis
whose buildings made such an impression upon all the Greeks who saw

    [311] STRABO, xvii, 1, 28.

His description is, perhaps, rather superficial. It says nothing of
some accessory parts which were by no means without their importance,
and those details which most strongly attracted the author's attention
are not mentioned in their natural order, which would seem to be that
in which the visitor from without would meet them in his course from
the main door to the sanctuary. But Strabo had one great advantage
over a modern writer. He saw all these great buildings in their
entirety, and could follow their arrangement with an easy certainty
which is impossible in our day, when so many of them present nothing
but a confused mass of ruins, and some indeed, such as the temple at
Luxor, are partly hidden by modern ruins. We shall, then, take Strabo
for our guide, but we shall endeavour to give our descriptions in
better sequence than his, and to fill up some of the gaps in his
account by the study of those remains which are in the best state of
preservation. In our descriptions we shall advance from simple
buildings to those which are more complex. We should soon lose the
thread of our argument if we were to begin by attacking temples which
are at once so complicated and so mutilated as those of Karnak and
Luxor. The character of each of the elements of an Egyptian temple of
this period will be readily perceived if we begin our researches with
one which is at once well preserved, simple in its arrangements, and
without those successive additions which do so much to complicate a

Of all the ruins at Thebes the _Temple of Khons_, which stands to the
south-west of the great temple at Karnak, is that which most
completely fulfils these conditions.[312] Time has not treated it very
badly, and, although the painted decoration may be the work of several
successive princes, we are inclined to believe from the simplicity of
the plan that most of the architectural part of the work was begun and
completed by Rameses III.

    [312] This is the temple which the members of the Egyptian
    institute call the Great Southern Temple. In the background of
    our illustration (Fig. 208) the hypostyle hall and the southern
    pylons of the Great Temple are seen.

The advanced pylon, or propylon, which stands some forty metres in
front of the whole building and was erected by Ptolemy Euergetes, may
be omitted from our examination. The really ancient part of the
structure begins with the rows of sphinxes which border the road
behind the propylon. They lead up to a pylon of much more modest
dimensions than that of Ptolemy. In front of this pylon there is no
trace of either obelisks or colossal figures. As the whole temple is
no more than about 233 feet long and 67 feet wide, it may not have
been thought worthy of such ornaments, or perhaps their small size may
have led to their removal. In any case, Strabo appears to have seen
religious edifices in front of which there were neither obelisks nor
the statues of royal founders.

Immediately behind this pylon lay a rectangular court surrounded by a
portico of two rows of columns standing in front of a solid wall. In
this wall and in the columns in front of it we recognise the wings of
which Strabo speaks; the _two walls of the same height as those of the
temple, which are prolonged in front of the pronaos_. There is but one
difficulty. Strabo says that the space between these walls diminishes
as they approach the sanctuary.[313] His court must therefore have
been a trapezium with its smallest side opposite to the pylon, rather
than a rectangle. We have searched in vain for such a form among the
plans of those pharaonic temples which have been measured. In every
instance the sides of the peristylar court form a rectangular
parallelogram. It must, apparently, have been in a Ptolemaic temple
that Strabo noticed these converging sides, and even then he was
mistaken in supposing such an arrangement to be customary. The
Ptolemaic temples which we know, those of _Denderah_, _Edfou_,
_Esneh_, have all a court as preface to the sanctuary, but in every
case those courts are rectangular. In the great temple of Philæ alone
do we find the absence of parallelism of which Strabo speaks,[314] the
peristylar court which follows the second pylon is rather narrower at
its further extremity than immediately behind the pylon. In presence
of this example of the trapezium form we may allow that it is quite
possible that in the temples of Lower and Middle Egypt, which have
perished, the form in question was more frequently employed than in
those of Upper Egypt, where, among the remains of so many buildings,
we find it but once.

    [313] Τοῦ δὲ προνάου παρ' ἑκάτερον πρόκειται τὰ λεγόμενα πτερά·
    ἔστι δὲ ταῦτα ἰσοΰψη τῷ ναῷ τείχη δύο, κατ' ἀρχὰς μὲν ἀφεστῶτα
    ἀπ' ἀλλήλων μικρὸν πλέον, ἢ τὸ πλάτος ἐστὶ τῆς κρηπῖδος τοῦ νεώ,
    ἔπειτ' εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν προϊόντι κατ' ἐπινευούσας γραμμὰς μέχρι
    πηχῶν πεντήκοντα ἢ ἑξήκοντα.--STRABO, xvii, 1, 28.

    [314] _Description de l'Égypte_, _Antiquités_, vol. i. pl. 5.

[Illustration: FIG. 208.--The temple of Khons; horizontal and vertical
section showing the general arrangements of the temple.]

To return to the Temple of Khons. From the courtyard of which we have
been speaking, a high portal opens into a hall of little depth but of
a width equal to that of the whole temple. The roof of this hall is
supported by eight columns, the central four being rather higher than
the others.[315] It is to this room that the name of hypostyle hall
has been given. We can easily understand how Strabo saw in it the
equivalent to the _pronaos_ of the Greek temples. We know how in the
great peripteral buildings of Greece and Italy, the _pronaos_ prefaced
the entrance to the _cella_ with a double and sometimes a triple row
of columns. Except that it is entirely inclosed by its walls, the
Egyptian hypostyle had much the same appearance as the Greek
_proanos_. Its name in those texts which treat of its construction is
the _large hall_; but it is also called the _Hall of Assembly_ and the
_Hall of the Appearance_, terms which explain themselves. Only the
kings and priests were allowed to penetrate into the sanctuary for the
purpose of bringing forth the emblem or statue of the god from the
tabernacle or other receptacle in which it was kept. This emblem or
figure was placed either in a sacred boat or in one of those portable
wooden tabernacles in which it was carried round the sacred inclosure
to various resting places or altars. The crowd of priests and others
who had been initiated but were of inferior rank awaited the
appearance of the deity in the hypostyle hall, in which the _cortége_
was marshalled before emerging into the courts.

    [315] _Description de l'Égypte_, vol. iii. 55.

[Illustration: FIG. 209.--The _bari_, or sacred boat; from the temple
of Elephantiné.]

The second division of the temple, for Strabo, was the sanctuary, or
σηκός. In this Temple of Khons it was a rectangular chamber, separated
by a wide corridor running round its four sides from two smaller
chambers, which filled the spaces between the corridor and the
external walls. In this hall fragments of a granite pedestal have been
discovered, upon which either the _bari_ or sacred boat, which is so
often figured upon the bas-reliefs (Fig. 209), or some other
receptacle containing the peculiar emblem of the local divinity, must
have been placed. Strabo was no doubt correct in saying that the σηκός
differed from the _cella_ of the Greek temple in that it contained no
statue of the divinity, but nevertheless it must have had something to
distinguish it from the less sacred parts of the building. This
something was a kind of little chapel, tabernacle, or shrine, closed
by a folding door, and containing either an emblem or a statue of the
divinity, before which prayers were recited and religious ceremonies
performed on certain stated days. Sometimes this shrine was no more
than an inclosed niche in the wall, sometimes it was a little edifice
set up in the middle of the sanctuary. In those cases in which it was
a structure of painted and gilded wood, like the ark of the Hebrews,
it has generally disappeared and left no trace behind. The tabernacle
in the Turin Museum (Fig. 210) is one of the few objects of the kind
which have escaped complete destruction. In temples of any importance
the shrine was hollowed out of a block of granite or basalt. A
monolithic chapel of this kind is still in place in the Ptolemaic
temple of Edfou; it bears the royal oval of Nectanebo I.[316] Examples
are to be found in all the important European museums. One of the
finest belongs to the Louvre and bears the name of Amasis; it is of
red granite and is entirely covered with inscriptions and sculpture
(Fig. 211).[317] It must resemble, on a smaller scale, the tabernacle
prepared in the Elephantiné workshops, under Amasis, for the temple of
Neith, at Sais, which so greatly excited the admiration of

    [316] According to GAU, there was, in 1817, a well preserved
    tabernacle in the sanctuary of the temple at _Debout_, in Nubia.
    (_Antiquités de la Nubie_, 1821, pl. v. Figs. A and B.)

    [317] DE ROUGÉ, _Notice des Monuments_, etc. (Upon the ground
    floor and the staircase.) _Monuments Divers_, No. 29. The term
    _naos_ has generally been applied to these monuments, but it
    seems to us to lack precision. The Greeks used the word ναός or
    νεώς to signify the temple as a whole. Abd-el-Latif describes
    with great admiration a monolithic tabernacle which existed in
    his time among the ruins of Memphis, and was called by the
    Egyptians the _Green Chamber_. Makrizi tells us that it was
    broken up in 1349. (_Description de l'Égypte, Ant._, vol. v. pp.
    572, 573.)

    [318] HERODOTUS, ii. 175.

The doors of the shrine were kept shut and even sealed up. The king
and the chief priest alone had the right to open them and to pay their
devotions before the image or symbol which they inclosed. This seems
clearly proved by the following passage from the famous stele
discovered by Mariette at _Gebel-Barkal_, upon which the Ethiopian
conqueror Piankhi-Mer-Amen celebrates his victories and the occupation
of Egypt from south to north. After noticing the capture of Memphis he
tells us that he stopped at Heliopolis in order that he might
sacrifice to the gods in the royal fashion: "He mounted the steps
which led to the great sanctuary in order that he might see the god
who resides in Ha-benben, face to face. Standing alone, he drew the
bolt, and swung open the folding doors; he looked upon the face of his
father Ra in Ha-benben, upon the boat Mad, of Ra, and the boat Seket,
of Shou; then he closed the doors, he set sealing clay upon them and
impressed it with the royal signet."[319]

    [319] Translated by MASPERO, _Histoire Ancienne_, p. 385. The
    whole inscription has been translated into English by the Rev.
    T. C. Cook, and published in vol. ii. of _Records of the

[Illustration: FIG. 210.--Portable tabernacle of painted wood, 19th
dynasty. In the Turin Museum.]

From the description of Strabo we should guess that the Egyptian
temple ended with the sanctuary. Such was not the case however. Like
most of the Greek temples, the Egyptian temple had its further
chambers which served nearly the same purposes as the ὀπισθόδομοι of
the Greeks. Thus in the Temple of Khons, the sanctuary opens, at the
rear, into a second hypostyle hall which is smaller than the first and
has its roof supported by only four columns instead of eight. Upon
this hall open four small and separate chambers which fill up the
whole space between it and the main walls.

[Illustration: FIG. 211.--Granite tabernacle: in the Louvre.]

Similar general arrangements to those of the Temple of Khons are to be
found in even the largest temples. The second hypostyle hall is
however much larger and the chambers to which it gives access much
more numerous. It is not easy to determine the object of each of these
small apartments; in the Pharaonic temples they are usually in very
bad condition, but in some of the Ptolemaic buildings, such as the
temples of Edfou and Denderah, they are comparatively well preserved.
In the last named the question is complicated by the existence of
numerous blind passages contrived in the thickness of the walls. The
stone which stopped the opening into these passages seems to have been
manipulated by some secret mechanism.[320] Some of the sacred images
and such emblems as were made of precious materials were kept in these
hiding places. Their absolute darkness and the coolness which
accompanied it, were both conducive to the preservation of delicately
ornamented objects in such a climate as that of Egypt.

    [320] As M. MASPERO has remarked (_Annuaire de l'Association des
    Études Grecques_, 1877, p. 135), these secret passages remind us
    of the movable stone which, according to HERODOTUS (ii. 121),
    the architect of Rhampsinit contrived in the wall of the royal
    treasure-house which he was commissioned to build. Herodotus's
    story was at least founded upon fact, as the arrangement in
    question was a favourite one with Egyptian constructors.

It was this part of the temple, then, that the Greeks called the
treasure-house. It inclosed the material objects of worship. Some of
its chambers, however, were consecrated to particular divinities and
seem to have had somewhat of the same character as the apsidal chapels
of a Roman Catholic Church. They are material witnesses to the piety
of the princes who built them and who wished to associate the
divinities in whose honour they were raised with the worship of the
god to whom the temple as a whole had been dedicated. Whether
store-rooms or chapels, these apartments might be multiplied to any
extent and might present great varieties of aspect. At Karnak,
therefore, where they communicate with long and wide galleries, they
are very numerous. One of them was that small chamber which was
dismantled thirty years ago by Prisse d'Avennes and transported to
Paris. It is known as the _Hall of Ancestors_. In it Thothmes III. is,
in fact, represented in the act of worshipping sixty kings chosen from
among his predecessors on the Egyptian throne.

The last feature noticed by Strabo in the small temple taken by him as
a type, was the sculpture with which its walls were lavishly covered.
These works reminded him of Etruscan sculpture and of Greek
productions of the archaic period, but we can divine from the
expressions[321] of which he makes use, that he perceived the
principles which governed the Egyptian sculptor to be different from
those of the Greeks. The Greek architect reserved certain strictly
circumscribed places for sculpture, such as the friezes and pediments
of the temples, while in Egypt it spreads itself indiscriminately over
every surface. In the temple of Khons, as in every other building of
the same kind at Thebes, we find this uninterrupted decoration.
Mariette has shown the interesting nature of these representations and
their value to the historian.

    [321] Ἀναγλυφὰς δ' ἔχουσιν οἱ τοῖχοι οὗτοι μεγάλων εἰδώλων
    (STRABO, xvii, 1, 28).

We have still to notice, always keeping the same edifice in view, two
original points in the characteristic physiognomy of the Egyptian
temple which seem to have escaped the attention of the Greek

In the Greek temple there is no space inclosed by a solid wall but
that of the _cella_, which, by its purpose, answers to the σηκός of
the Egyptian buildings. Both the peristyle and the pronaos are open to
the air and to the view of all comers; the statues of the pediments,
the reliefs of the friezes are all visible from outside, and the eye
rejoices freely both in masterpieces of sculpture and in the long
files of columns, which vary in effect as they are looked at from
different points of view.

The appearance of the Egyptian temple is altogether dissimilar. The
peristylar court, the hypostyle hall, the sanctuary and its adjuncts,
in a word the whole combination of chambers and courts which form the
temple proper, is surrounded by a curtain wall which is at least as
high as the buildings which it incloses. Before any idea of the
richness and architectural magnificence of the temple itself can be
formed, this wall must be passed. From the outside nothing is to be
seen but a great rectangular mass of building, the inclined faces of
which seem to be endeavouring to meet at the top so as to give the
greatest possible amount of privacy and security to the proceedings
which take place within. The Egyptian temple may, in a word, be
compared to a box (Fig. 61), and in such buildings as that dedicated
to Khons, the box is a simple rectangular one. The partitions which
separate its various halls and chambers are kept within the main wall.
But in larger buildings the box is, partially at least, a double one.
When we examine a plan of the great temple at Karnak, we see that all
the back part of the vast pile, all that lies to the west of the open
passage and the fourth pylon, is inclosed by a double wall. A sort of
wide corridor, open to the sky, lies between the outer wall and that
which immediately surrounds the various chambers. This outer wall is
absent only on the side closed by the inner pylon. In some temples,
especially in those of the Ptolemaic period, the hypostyle hall is
withdrawn some distance behind the courtyard, and the sanctuary behind
the hypostyle hall. This arrangement is repeated in the position of
the two walls. The inner one embraces the chambers of the temple and
follows their irregularities; the other describes three sides of a
rectangle leaving a wider space at the back of the temple than at the
sides. The pylon, as we have said, supplies the fourth side. This
outer wall has no opening of any kind. It is true that at Karnak
lateral openings exist in the hypostyle hall and in the courtyard, but
those parts were less sacred in their character than the inner
chambers to which they gave access. From the point where the wall
becomes double, that is from the posterior wall of the hypostyle hall,
there are no more external openings of any kind. To reach the presence
of the deity the doors of the fourth and fifth pylons had to be
passed. The high and thick wall, without opening of any kind, which
inclosed the sanctuary and its dependencies like a cuirass, was no
doubt intended to avert the possibility of clandestine visits to the
holy place.

[Illustration: FIG. 212.--General plan of the Great Temple at Karnak.]

The evident desire of the architect to hide his porticos and saloons
behind an impenetrable curtain of limestone or sandstone suffices to
prove that shadow rather than sunshine was wanted in the inner parts
of the temple. When the slabs which formed the roofs of the temple of
Khons were all in place--they are now mostly on the ground--it must
have been very dark indeed. The hypostyle hall communicated directly
and by an ample doorway with the open courtyard, which was bathed in
the constant sunlight of Egypt; besides which there were openings
just under the cornice and above the capitals of the columns. When the
door was open, therefore, there would be no want of light, although it
would be softened to a certain extent. The sanctuary was much darker.
The light which came through the door was borrowed from the hypostyle
hall. The hall with the four supporting columns and the chambers which
surrounded it were still worse provided than the sanctuary; the first
named was feebly illuminated by small openings in the stone roof, the
latter were in almost complete darkness. The only one which could have
enjoyed a little light was that which lay on the central axis of the
building. A few feeble rays may have found their way to this chamber
when the doors of the temple were open, but, as a rule, they seem to
have been closed. Marks of hinges have been found in the Egyptian
temples, and it is certain that the sanctuary was permanently closed
in some fashion against the unbidden visits of the curious.[322]

    [322] _Description de l'Égypte, Antiquités_, vol. i. p. 219. The
    authors of the _Description générale de Thèbes_ noticed recesses
    sunk in the external face of one of the pylons at Karnak, which
    they believed to be intended to receive the leaves of the great
    door when it was open (p. 234); they also noticed traces of
    bronze pivots upon which the doors swung (p. 248), and they
    actually found a pivot of sycamore wood.

We shall return elsewhere to the illumination of the Egyptian temples,
and shall discuss the various methods made use of to ensure sufficient
light for the enjoyment of the sumptuous decorations lavished upon
them; here, however, it will be sufficient if we indicate their
general character, which is the same in all the religious edifices in
the country.

The largest and best lighted chambers are those nearest to the
entrance. As we leave the last pylon behind and penetrate deeply into
the temple, the light gradually becomes less and the chambers diminish
in size, until the building comes to an end in a number of small
apartments in which the darkness is unbroken. There are even some
temples which become gradually narrower and lower from front to back;
this is especially the case with those which have a double wall round
their more sacred parts.

This progressive diminution is even more clearly marked in a vertical
section than in one taken horizontally. The pylon is much higher than
any other point in the building. After the pylon, in the temple of
Khons, comes the portico which surrounds the courtyard. Next come in
their order the columns of the hypostyle hall, the roof of the
sanctuary, the roof of the chamber with four columns, and the roof of
the last small apartment which rests upon the inclosing wall. Between
the large hypostyle hall and the smaller one there is a difference in
height amounting to a quarter of the whole height of the former.

In the most important temples, such as those of Karnak, Luxor, and the
Ramesseum, the same _law of constant diminution in height from front
to rear_ holds good, with the exception that in their cases it is the
hypostyle hall which is the highest point in the building after the
pylons. In this hall their architects have raised the loftiest
columns, and it is after these that the progressive diminution begins.
The longitudinal section of the temple of Luxor (Fig. 213) and the
general view of Karnak (plate iv.) illustrate this statement.

As the roofs of the temple chambers are gradually lowered, their
carefully paved floors are raised, but not to an equal degree. In the
temple of Khons four steps lead up from the court to the hypostyle
hall, and one step from the hall to the sanctuary. Similar
arrangements are found elsewhere. At Karnak a considerable flight is
interposed between the courtyard and the vestibule of the hypostyle
hall. At Luxor the level of the second court is higher than that of
the first. In the Ramesseum there are three flights of steps between
the first and second hypostyle hall.

All these buildings are provided with staircases by which their flat
roofs may be reached. These roofs seem to have been freely opened to
the people. The interiors of the temples were only to be visited by
the priests, except on a few stated days and in a fashion prescribed
by the Egyptian ritual; but the general public were allowed to mount
to the roofs, just as with us they are allowed to ascend domes and
belfries for the sake of the view over the surrounding buildings and
country. The numerous _graffiti_, some in the hieroglyphic, others in
the demotic character, which are still to be seen upon the roof of the
temple of Khons, attest this fact.

We thus find the characteristic features of Egyptian architecture
united in a single building in this temple of Khons; but, even at
Thebes, no such similarity between one building and another is to be
found as in the great temples of Greece. In passing from the
Parthenon to the temple of Theseus or to that of Jupiter Olympius,
from a Doric to an Ionic, and from an Ionic to a Corinthian building,
certain well marked variations, certain changes of style, proportion
and decoration are seen. But the differences are never sufficient to
embarrass the student of those buildings. The object of each part
remains sufficiently well defined and immutable to be easily
recognised by one who has mastered a single example. In Egypt the
variations are much greater even among buildings erected during a
single dynasty and by a single architect. After the attentive study of
some simple and well marked building, like the temple of Khons, the
visitor proceeds to inspect the ruins of Karnak, Luxor, the Ramesseum,
Medinet-Abou or Gournah, and attempts to restore something like order
in his mind while walking among their ruins. But in vain are the rules
remembered which were thought to apply to all such buildings; they are
of little help in unravelling the mazes of Karnak or Luxor, and at
each new ruin explored the visitor's perplexities begin anew.


[Illustration: FIG. 213.--Longitudinal section of the Temple of Luxor.
Restored by Ch. Chipiez.]

The variations are, in fact, very great, but they are not so great as
they seem at the first glance. They are generally to be explained by
those developments and repetitions of which Egyptian architects were
so fond. We shall endeavour to demonstrate this by glancing rapidly at
each of the more celebrated Theban buildings in turn. Our purpose does
not require that we should describe any of them in detail, as we have
already done in the case of the temple of Khons, and we shall be
content with noticing their variations upon the type established by
our study of the minor monument.

Let us take Karnak first. This, the most colossal assemblage of ruins
which the world has to show, comprises no less than eleven separate
temples within its four inclosing walls of crude brick. The longest
axis of this collection of ruins is that from north to south; it
measures about 1,560 yards; its transverse axis is 620 yards long. The
whole circuit of the walls is nearly two English miles and a

    [323] These measurements are taken from MARIETTE, _Voyage dans
    la Haute-Égypte_, vol. ii. p. 7.

The first thing that strikes us in looking at a general map of Karnak
is that Egyptian temples were not oriented.[324] The Great Temple is
turned to the west, that of Khons to the south, that of Mouth to the
north. There is some doubt as to the name which should be given to
several of these buildings. Two of the most important are consecrated
to those deities who, with Amen, form the Theban triad. The highest
and largest of them all, that which is called the _Great Temple_, is
dedicated to Amen-Ra.

    [324] We have not given a general map. In order to do so we
    should either have had to overpass the limits of our page, or we
    should have had to give it upon too small a scale. Our fourth
    plate will give a sufficiently accurate idea of its arrangement.
    The plan in Lepsius's _Denkmæler_ (part i. pl. 74-76) occupies
    three entire pages.

We are here concerned with the latter building only. We reproduce, on
a much larger scale and in two parts (Fig. 214 on page 363, and
Fig. 215 on page 367), the plan given on page 358 (Fig. 212). A few
figures will suffice to give an idea of the several dimensions. From
the external doorway of the first western pylon to the eastern
extremity of the building, the length, over all, is 1,215 feet. Its
greatest width is that of the first pylon, namely 376 feet. The total
circumference of the bounding wall is about 3,165 feet. The outside
curtain wall of brick is from 2,500 to 2,700 yards in length, which
corresponds closely to the 13 stadia said by Diodorus to be the
circumference of the oldest of the four great Theban temples.[325]

    [325] DIODORUS, i. 46.

After passing the first pylon (No. 1 on the plan) we find ourselves in
a peristylar court answering to that in the temple of Khons. On our
right and left respectively we leave two smaller temples, one of which
(C on plan) cuts through the outer wall and was built by Rameses
III.; Seti II. was the author of the other (D). Those two buildings
are older than the court and its colonnades. When the princes of the
twenty-second dynasty added this peristyle to the already constructed
parts of the great temple, they refrained from destroying those
monuments to the piety of their ancestors. We also may regard these
temples as mere accidents in the general arrangement. We may follow
the path marked out down the centre of the court by the remains of an
avenue of columns which dates from the times of the Ethiopian
conquerors and of the Bubastide kings (E). After the second pylon (2)
comes the hypostyle hall, the wonder of Karnak, and the largest room
constructed by the Egyptians (F). It is 340 feet long by 170
wide.[326] One hundred and thirty-four colossal columns support, or
rather did once support, the roof, which, in the central portion, was
not less than 76 feet above the floor; in this central portion, twelve
pillars of larger proportions than the others form an avenue; these
columns are 11 feet 10 inches in diameter and more than 33 feet in
circumference, so that, in bulk, they are equal to the column of
Trajan. They are, without a doubt, the most massive pillars ever
employed within a building. From the ground to the summit of the cube
which supports the architrave, they are 70 feet high. Right and left
of the central avenue the remaining 122 columns form a forest of
pillars supporting a flat roof, which is lower than that of the
central part by 33 feet. The cathedral of Notre Dame, at Paris, would
stand easily upon the surface covered by this hall (see Plate V.).

    [326] These are the figures given by MARIETTE (_Itinéraire de la
    Haute-Égypte_, p. 135). Other authorities give 340 feet by 177.
    Diodorus ascribed to the temple of which he spoke a height of 45
    cubits (or 69 feet 3 inches). This is slightly below the true
    height. We may here quote the terms in which Champollion
    describes the impression which a first sight of these ruins made
    upon him: "Finally I went to the palace, or rather to the town
    of palaces, at Karnak. There all the magnificence of the
    Pharaohs is collected; there the greatest artistic conceptions
    formed and realised by mankind are to be seen. All that I had
    seen at Thebes, all that I had enthusiastically admired on the
    left bank of the river, sunk into insignificance before the
    gigantic structures among which I found myself. I shall not
    attempt to describe what I saw. If my expressions were to convey
    but a thousandth part of what I felt, a thousandth part of all
    that might with truth be said of such objects, if I succeeded in
    tracing but a faint sketch, in the dimmest colours, of the
    marvels of Karnak, I should be taken, at least for an
    enthusiast, perhaps for a madman. I shall content myself with
    saying that no people, either ancient or modern, have had a
    national architecture at once so sublime in scale, so grand in
    expression, and so free from littleness as that of the ancient
    Egyptians." (_Lettres d'Égypte_, pp. 79, 80.)

[Illustration: FIG. 214.--Plan of the anterior portion of the Great
Temple at Karnak. From the plan of M. Brune.]

Its proportions are very different from those of the corresponding
chamber in the little temple of Khons, but yet it fills the same
office in the general conception, it is constructed on the same
principle and lighted in the same fashion. To use the expression of
Strabo, we have here a real _pronaos_ or _ante-temple_, because a
passage, open to the sky, intervenes between it and that part of the
building which contains the sanctuary. The four doorways[327] with
which this vast hall is provided seem to indicate that it was more
accessible than the parts beyond the passage just mentioned.

    [327] Including a postern of comparatively small dimensions,
    there are five doorways to the hypostyle hall.--ED.

We cannot pretend to determine the uses of all those chambers which
encumber with their ruins the further parts of the great building. It
is certain however that between them they constitute the _naos_, or
temple properly speaking. They are surrounded by a double wall and
there is but one door by which they can be reached--precautions which
suffice to prove the peculiarly sacred character of this part of the
whole rectangle. In which of these chambers are we to find the σηκός?
Was it, as the early observers thought, in those granite apartments
which are marked H on the plan? This locality was suggested by the
extra solicitude as to the strength and beauty of those chambers
betrayed by the use of a more beautiful and costly material upon them
than upon the rest of the temple. Moreover, the chamber (H) which is
situated upon the major axis of the temple bears a strong resemblance
in shape as well as position, to the sanctuary of the temple of Khons,
in the case of which no doubt was possible. Or must we follow Mariette
when he places the sanctuary in the middle of the eastern court (I in
plan)? All traces of it have now almost vanished, but Mariette based
his opinion upon the fact that in the ruins of this court alone are to
be found any traces of the old temple dating back to the days of the
Amenemhats and Ousourtesens of the twelfth dynasty. He does not
attempt to account, however, for those carefully built granite
apartments which seem to most visitors to be the real sanctuary, or,
at least, the sanctuary of the temple as reconstructed and enlarged by
the princes of the second Theban Empire.

[Illustration: FIG. 215.--The Great Temple at Karnak; inner portion;
from the plan of M. Brune.]


In the actual state of the ruins the doubts on this point are,
perhaps, irremovable. But the final determination of the question
would be of no particular moment to our argument. For our purposes it
is sufficient to note that in the Great Temple, as in the Temple of
Khons, the sanctuary was surrounded and followed by a considerable
number of small apartments. In the Great Temple these chambers are
very numerous and some of them are large enough to require central
supports for their ceilings in the form of one or more columns. In
other respects they are similar to those in the Temple of Khons.

[Illustration: FIG. 216.--Karnak as it is at present. The ruins of a
pylon and of the hypostyle hall.]

The resemblance between the two temples is completed by the existence
in both of a minor hypostyle hall behind the sanctuary. The hall of
four columns of the smaller building corresponds to the large saloon
called the _Hall of Thothmes_, in the Great Temple (J). The roof of
this saloon is supported by twenty columns disposed in two rows and by
square piers standing free of the walls. It is 146 feet wide, and from
53 to 57 feet deep. Immediately before the granite apartments, and
between the fifth and sixth pylons, another hall, also with two ranges
of columns but not so deep as the last, is introduced. Its position
shows it to be meant for a vestibule to the naos properly speaking.
The fine _Court of the Caryatides_ with its Osiride pillars, the first
chamber entered by the visitors who penetrate into the temple proper,
seems to have been designed for a similar purpose (G).

If we wish, then, to evolve some order out of the seeming chaos of
Karnak; if we wish to find among its ruins the essential
characteristics, the vital organs, if we may put it so, of the
Egyptian temple, we have only to apply the method of analysis and
reduction suggested by examination of simpler monuments, and to take
account of the long series of additions which resulted in the finally
stupendous dimensions of the whole mass.[328] These additions may be
distinguished from one another by their scale of proportions and by
their methods of construction. When rightly examined the gigantic
ruins of the great temple of Amen betray those simple lines and
arrangements, which form, as we have shown, the original type.

    [328] A plan of the successive accretions is given in plates 6
    and 7 of MARIETTE'S work. The different periods and their work
    are shown by changes of tint. The same information is given in
    another form in pages 36 and 37 of the text. The complete title
    of the work is as follows: _Karnak, Étude topographique et
    archéologique, avec un Appendice comprenant les principaux
    Textes hiéroglyphigues_. Plates in folio; text in a 4to. of 88
    pages (1875).

The same remark may be applied to the other great building on the left
bank of the river, the Temple of Luxor. There, too, the architecture
is, to use the words of Champollion, the "architecture of giants."
From the first pylon to the innermost recesses of the sanctuary the
building measures about 850 feet. No traveller can avoid being deeply
impressed by the first sight of its lofty colonnades, by its tall and
finely proportioned pillars rearing their majestic capitals among the
palms and above the huts of the modern village. These columns belong
to the first hypostyle hall, and, were they not buried for two-thirds
of their height, they would be, from the ground up to the base of
their capitals, rather more than 50 feet high; the capitals and the
cubes above them measure about 18 feet more.

The plan of Luxor is more simple than that of Karnak; it was built in
two "heats" only, to borrow an expression from the athletes, under
Amenophis III. and Rameses II. In later periods it underwent some
insignificant retouches, and that is all. It is narrower than its
great neighbour, and covers a very much less space of ground, neither
has it so many chambers, and yet we are in some respects more at a
loss in attempting to assign their proper uses to its apartments and
in finding some equivalent for them in the elementary type from which
we started, than we were in the larger temple.

It is true that the proper character of the _naos_ is better marked at
Luxor than elsewhere. The sanctuary may be determined at a glance. It
consists of a rectangular chamber standing in the middle of a large
square hall; it is the only chamber in the whole building for which
granite has been used; it has two doors, one in each end, exactly upon
the major axis of the building. The hall in which it is placed is
preceded by a vestibule, and surrounded by those small chambers which
are always found in this part of a temple. So far, then, there is
nothing to embarrass us; everything is in conformity with the
principles which have been laid down.

[Illustration: FIG. 217.--Plan of the Temple of Luxor.]

The real difficulty begins when we look round us for the _pronaos_,
and examine the hypostyle halls. Here, as elsewhere, there is a hall
of modest dimensions beyond the sanctuary. It is supported by twelve
columns. There is another, much wider and deeper, in front of the
naos; it has thirty-two of those lofty columns of which we have
already spoken. By its design, situation, and the spacing of its
columns, it reminds us of the hypostyle hall of Karnak. It differs
from it in being open, without any external wall towards the court; so
that it may be called a portico with four ranges of columns. Moreover,
again unlike the Karnak hall, it is by no means the most imposing
feature of the whole edifice. The greatest elevation and the most
imposing proportions, so far as the interior of the building is
concerned, are to be found in the great gallery which leads from the
first to the second court, from the second to the third pylon. This
gallery is in effect a hypostyle hall, but it differs profoundly from
the superb edifice which bears that name at Karnak. It is long and
narrow and looks more like a mere covered corridor than an ample hall
in which the eager crowd could find elbow-room.

The place occupied by this hall in the whole composition is equally
singular. It has been ascertained that the first pylon and the
peristylar courtyard behind it date from the time of Rameses II.,
while all the rest of the building, from what is at present the second
pylon inwards, was built by Amenophis III. The doorway in the second
pylon leads immediately into the grand gallery, some 176 feet long, of
which we have been speaking.

We can hardly tell, therefore, where to look for the true pronaos at
Luxor. In that part of the ground plan where it is generally found
there is nothing but an open portico, which is considerably lower than
the highest parts of the building. The great colonnade, again, is
separated from the naos by an open court, so that it ought, perhaps,
to be classified as what the Greeks called a propylæum; but yet it is
a hall, inclosed and covered, of great size and height, and richly
decorated, like the hypostyle halls which we have already described
and others which we have yet to notice.[329]

    [329] In presence of this double range of superb columns one is
    tempted to look upon them as the beginning of a hypostyle hall
    which was never finished, to suppose that a great central nave
    was constructed, and that, by force of circumstances unknown,
    the aisles were never begun, and that the builders contented
    themselves by inclosing and preserving their work as far as it
    had gone.

[Illustration: FIG. 218.--Bird's-eye view of Luxor, as restored by M.
Ch. Chipiez.]

Another peculiarity of Luxor is its change of axis. The first pylon,
that of Rameses, is not parallel with the two built by Amenophis; the
angle at which they stand is a very perceptible one. Neither is the
doorway of this pylon in alignment with the other doorways on the
major axis of the building. No justification or even explanation of
this irregularity, which is unique among the Theban temples, has been

If we cross the Nile and land upon the plain which stretches between
the river and the Libyan hills, we find ourselves in the presence of
those temples, the Ramesseum, Medinet-Abou, and Gournah, whose
funerary destination we have already noticed. These are royal chapels
erected in connection with the royal tombs in their neighbourhood,
they are cenotaphs filled with the memories of the great Theban
princes, and with representations of their exploits. Consequently we
do not find in them those complications which, in the great temples of
the right bank, mark the successive dynasties to which their final
form was due. But yet the difference in general appearance is not
great; there is however, one distinction which, as it goes far to
prove the peculiar character of these buildings, should be carefully
noticed. In no one of them, if we may judge from plans which have been
made, has any chamber or structure been found which corresponds to the
sanctuary or σηκός, of the temples of Amen or Khons. The absence of
such a chamber might easily be explained by our supposition that these
buildings were funerary chapels; as such they would require no
depository for those mysterious symbols of this or that deity which
the temples proper contained: they were the lineal descendants of the
upper chambers in the mastabas, in which no rudiment of such a thing
is to be found. On the other hand, we have reason to believe that the
great Theban divinities were associated in the worship paid to
deceased kings. If that were so these funerary temples might well have
been arranged like those of the right bank. The inner portions of the
Ramesseum and of Medinet-Abou are so ruinous that the question cannot
be settled by the examination of their remains.

The Ramesseum certainly appears to have been the monument described by
Diodorus as the _Tomb of Osymandias_, a name which has never been
satisfactorily explained.[330] It is also called by the _Institut
d'Égypte_, the Palace of Memnon and the Memnonium, upon the faith of
Strabo's identification of Ismandes and Memnon.[331] It is to
Champollion that this building owes the restoration of its true title,
under which it is now generally known.

    [330] DIODORUS, i. 47-49.

    [331] STRABO, xvii. i. 42. In another passage (xvii. i. 46) he
    seems to place the Memnonium close to the two famous colossi. He
    would, therefore, seem rather to have had in view an
    "Amenophium," the remains of which have been discovered in the
    immediate neighbourhood of the two colossi. The French _savants_
    suspected this to be the case, but they often defer to the
    opinions of their immediate predecessors among Egyptian
    travellers. (_Description générale de Thèbes_, section iii.)

Without being so colossal as Karnak, the size of the Ramesseum would
astonish us anywhere but in Egypt. When it was complete, it must have
been as large as Luxor before the additions of Rameses II. were made,
if not larger. The first pylon was 226 feet wide; the whole of its
upper part is destroyed.[332] Immediately behind this pylon comes a
vast peristylar court, almost square on plan (186 feet by 173). On the
left the remains of a double colonnade exist, which must at one time
have extended along at least two sides of the quadrangle. At the
further end of this court and directly facing the back of the pylon,
was a colossal statue of Rameses. Although seated, this statue was
more than 56 feet high; its fragments now cover a considerable amount
of the courtyard. A grand doorway, pierced through the centre of the
wall upon which the defeat of the Khetas is painted, leads to a second
court, a little less extensive than the first. Right and left there
are porticos, each with a double range of columns. On the side of the
entrance and on that opposite to it there are single ranges of Osiride
figures. Many of these figures are still standing; they are 31 feet

    [332] This pylon stands in the foreground of our view (Fig.
    220). The face which is here shown was formerly covered--as we
    may judge from the parts which remain--with pictures of battles;
    and that we might not have to actually invent scenes of combat
    for our restoration, we have borrowed the ornamentation of the
    first pylon of the Temple of Khons. The scale of our cut is too
    small, however, to show any details.

Three flights of steps lead up from this court into a vestibule
ornamented with two colossal busts of Rameses and with a row of
columns. From this vestibule the hypostyle hall is reached by three
doorways of black granite. It measures 136 feet wide and 103 deep. Its
roof is supported by forty-eight columns, in eight ranges of six each,
counting from front to rear. Five of these eight ranges are still
standing and still afford support to a part of the ceiling. This
latter is painted with golden stars upon a blue ground, in
imitation of the vault of heaven. The side walls have entirely

    [333] LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. plates 88 and 89. The
    engineers of the _Institut d'Égypte_ fell into an error in
    speaking of this hall. They failed to notice that it was smaller
    than the second court, and they accordingly gave it sixty
    columns. (_Description générale de Thebes_, vol. i. p. 132.)

[Illustration: Gérome del. Ale Guillaumot père so THEBES]

[Illustration: FIG. 219.--Plan of the Ramesseum (from Lepsius.)]

This hall resembles that at Karnak, both in its plan and in its
general appearance. The mode of lighting is the same; the arrangement
is the same; there is in both a wide passage down the centre,
supported by columns thicker and higher than the rest, from which they
are also distinguished by the nobility of their bell-shaped capitals.
At Karnak the hall was begun by Rameses I. and Seti; Rameses II. did
no more than carry on the work of his predecessors. He heard the
chorus of admiration with which the completion of such a superb
building must have been hailed, and we can easily understand that he
was thereby incited to reproduce its happy arrangement and majestic
proportions in the great temple which he was erecting in his own
honour on the left bank of the river.

Ambitious though he was, Rameses II. could not attempt to give the
colossal dimensions of the great temple of Amen to what was, after
all, no more than the chapel of his own tomb. The great hall at Karnak
required three reigns, two of them very long ones, for its completion.
In the Ramesseum an attempt was made to compensate for inferior size
by extra care in the details and by the beauty of the workmanship. The
tall columns of the central nave were no more than thirty-six feet
high, including base and capital, the others were only twenty-five
feet; but they surpassed the pillars at Karnak by the elegance of
their proportions.

The admiration excited in us by the ruins of Karnak is mingled with
astonishment, almost with stupefaction, but at the Ramesseum we are
more charmed although we are less surprised. We see that, when
complete, it must have had a larger share than its rival of that
beauty into which merely colossal dimensions do not enter.[334]

    [334] See EBERS, _Ægypten_, vol. ii. pp. 309 _et seq._

Beyond the hall there are wide chambers, situated upon the major axis
of the building, and each with its roof supported by eight columns.
Beyond them again there is a fourth and smaller chamber which has only
four columns. Round these rooms a number of smaller ones are gathered;
they are all in a very fragmentary state, and among them no vestige of
anything like a _secos_ has been found. On the other hand, the
bas-reliefs in one of the larger rooms seem to confirm the assertion
of Diodorus, in his description of the _Tomb of Osymandias_, that the
library was placed in this part of the building.[335]

    [335] _Ibid._, p. 312.

The Ramesseum was formerly surrounded by brick structures of a
peculiar character, some of which are yet to be found in good
preservation at about 50 metres from the north face of the building.
They consist of a double range of vaults closely abutting on each
other, numbering from ten to twelve in each range, and surmounted by a
platform. If it be true that a library was included in the building,
these curious structures, which are situated within the outer bounding
wall of the temple, may have contained rooms for lodging and
instructing students, as well as chambers for the priests. In that
case Rameses would deserve the credit of having founded, like the
Mussulman sovereigns, a _médressé_, or sort of university, by the side
of his _turbeh_ and _mosque_. Additional probability is given to this
conjecture both by certain discoveries which have been made in tombs
near the Ramesseum and by the evidence of several papyri.[336] But for
these texts we should be inclined to believe that these remains are
the ruins of storehouses.

    [336] EBERS, _Ægypten_, vol. ii. p. 312.

[Illustration: FIG. 220.--The Ramesseum. Bird's-eye view of the
general arrangement, restored by M. Ch. Chipiez.]

[Illustration: FIG. 221.--General plan of the buildings at

About a thousand yards south-west of the Ramesseum rises the group of
buildings which is known by the name of the modern village of
Medinet-Abou. It was not until the second half of the present century
had commenced that they were cleared from the _débris_ and modern huts
which concealed many of their parts. The group is composed of three
distinct buildings in one enclosure. The oldest is a temple built by
Thothmes II. and Thothmes III. and afterwards enlarged by the
Ptolemies and the Roman Emperors (A on plan). The other two date from
the time of Rameses III., the founder of the twentieth dynasty. They
both lie upon the same axis, they are connected by a sphinx avenue,
and they must certainly be considered as two parts of one whole. The
first of the three which we encounter in approaching the group from
the river is known as the Royal Pavilion or Pavilion of Rameses III.
(B). Ninety yards farther to the north we come upon the great temple,
the funerary character of which we have already explained (C). It is a
second _Ramesseum_, and to avoid confusion it is generally known as
the _Great Temple of Medinet-Abou_. We shall return to the Royal
Pavilion presently, and, as for the Temple of Thothmes, which was
consecrated to Amen, its really ancient portion is of too little
importance to detain us long. It consists merely of an isolated secos
surrounded on three sides by an open gallery upheld by square piers
and, upon the fourth, by a block containing six small chambers (Fig.

[Illustration: FIG. 222.--Plan of the Temple of Thothmes.
(Champollion, _Notices descriptives_, p. 314.)]

The great temple, however, whose picturesque ruins attract every
visitor to Thebes, deserves to be carefully considered even in our
summary review.[337] It bears a striking resemblance to the Ramesseum.
Their dimensions are nearly the same. The first pylon at Medinet-Abou
is 210 feet wide. The two courts which follow and isolate the second
pylon are severally 113 feet by 140, and 126 feet by 136. The plan of
Medinet-Abou does not differ (223) in any very important points from
that of the Ramesseum. Upon two of its sides only, those which are at
right angles to the face of the pylon, the first quadrangle has
colonnades. One of these colonnades, that on the right of a visitor
entering the temple, consists of a row of pillars faced with
caryatides of Osiris. These Osiride piers are repeated in the second
court, where a double colonnade, five steps above the pavement, leads
to the pronaos. The latter seems too small for the two peristyles. It
has only twenty-four supporting columns, in four rows of six each,
counting from front to back of the building. These columns are
smaller in section than those of the peristyles, and the eight which
constitute the central nave do not differ from their companions.[338]
This hypostyle hall lacks, therefore, some of the distinguishing
characteristics of its rivals elsewhere. Its unambitious appearance is
all the more surprising after the noble proportions and rich
decorations of the two external courts. The effect of the hall is
still farther lessened by the fact that it does not occupy the whole
width of the building. Ranges of apartments are introduced between it
and the external walls of the temple.

    [337] The plan in the _Description de l'Égypte_ (_Antiquités_,
    vol. ii. pl. 4) does not go beyond the back wall of the second
    court. That of Lepsius goes to the back of the hypostyle hall.
    (_Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 92.) Ours is much more
    comprehensive--it goes three stages farther back; it was
    communicated to us by M. Brune, who measured the building in

    [338] Here M. Perrot is in error, as may be seen by reference to
    his own plan. The columns of the central passage of the
    hypostyle hall are similar in section to those of the two
    peristyles, except that their bases are flattened laterally in a
    somewhat unusual fashion.--ED.

[Illustration: FIG. 223.--Plan of the great Temple at Medinet-Abou.
(Communicated by M. Brune.)]

Was there a sanctuary behind this hypostyle hall? It would seem
rather, according to the recent investigations of Mariette, that upon
the major axis of the temple there were two small halls, each
supported by eight columns, like those in the Ramesseum; around these
many small chambers would be grouped in the fashion which is almost
universal in this part of an Egyptian religious building. The little
that can be discovered as to this point has its importance in
establishing a comparison between the temple of Rameses II. and that
of Rameses III., because it might prove that the similarity, which we
have mentioned as existing between the more public parts of the two
edifices, extended to the sanctuary and its dependencies in the rear.
The last of the great Theban Pharaohs certainly drew much of his
inspiration from the work of his illustrious predecessors. In their
present state of mutilation it is impossible to decide which was the
finer of the two in their complete state. To the fine hypostyle hall
of the Ramesseum, Medinet-Abou could oppose the Royal Pavilion which
rose in front of the temple and grouped itself so happily with the
first pylon, affording one of the most effective compositions in the
whole range of Egyptian architecture.

The rest of the temples in this neighbourhood and within the
enclosures at Karnak are all more or less intimately allied to the
type we have established, and need not be noticed in detail.[339]

    [339] A few of these buildings--that, for instance, on the right
    of the great lake--seem to have been very peculiar in
    arrangement, but their remains are in such a state of confusion
    that it is at present impossible to describe their plans.

We have good reason to believe that the type of temple which we have
described was a common one in other parts of Egypt than Thebes. The
temples of Memphis, of Heliopolis and of the Delta cities, have
perished and, practically, left no trace behind; but the great
buildings constructed by the Theban conquerors outside the limits of
Egypt proper, in Nubia, are in comparatively good preservation. One of
these, the Temple of _Soleb_, built by Thothmes III. and reconstructed
by Amenophis III., must have borne a strong resemblance to the
Ramesseum, so far as can be judged through the discrepancies in the
available plans of the first-named building. Cailliaud only allows it
one peristylar court, while Hoskins and Lepsius give it two.
According to Cailliaud, its hypostyle hall, which must have been a
very beautiful one, contained forty-eight columns. After it came
another hall, with a roof supported by twelve columns. This was
surrounded by small chambers, the remains of which are very confused.
In the plan given by Lepsius there are two hypostyle halls with a wall
between them, an arrangement which is also found at Abydos. The outer
one must have had twenty-four columns, the largest in the building,
and the second forty, of rather less diameter; the remainder of the
temple has disappeared.[340]

    [340] CAILLIAUD, _Voyage à Méroé_, plates, vol. ii. pl. 9-14.
    LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 116, 117. HOSKINS, _Travels in
    Ethiopia_, plates 40, 41, and 42. The plan given by Hoskins
    agrees more with that of Lepsius than with Cailliaud, but it
    only shows the beginning of the first hypostyle hall and nothing
    of the second. These divergences are easily understood when it
    is remembered that nothing but some ten columns of two different
    types remain _in situ_, and that the mounds of _débris_ are high
    and wide. In order to obtain a really trustworthy plan, this
    accumulation would have to be cleared away over the whole area
    of the temple. All the plans show a kind of gallery, formed of
    six columns, in front of the first pylon; it reminds us in some
    degree of the great corridor at Luxor; by its general form,
    however, rather than its situation.

We find analogous arrangements in the great temple of Napata
(_Gebel-Barkal_). Built by Amenophis III. when Napata was the seat of
an Egyptian pro-consul, and repaired by Tahraka when Ethiopia became
supreme over Egypt, this temple resembles the Theban buildings in its
plan. From a peristylar court enclosed between two pylons, we pass
into a hypostylar hall containing forty-six columns; behind this hall
comes the sanctuary, in its usual position, with its _entourage_ of
small chambers. We may call this the _classic type_ of Egypt.

The temples which we have hitherto examined are chiefly remarkable for
the simplicity of their plan. A single sanctuary forms the centre and,
so to speak, the heart of the whole composition. Pylons, peristylar
courts and hypostylar halls, are but anterooms and vestibules to this
all important chamber; while the small apartments which surround it
afford the necessary accommodation for the material adjuncts of
Egyptian worship. In the great temple at Karnak, the anterior and
posterior dependencies are developed to an extraordinary extent, but
this development is always in the direction of the length, or to speak
more accurately, of the depth of the building. The smaller faces of
the whole rectangle are continually carried farther from each other
by the additions of fresh chambers and architectural features, which
are distributed, with more or less regular alternation, on the right
and left of the major axis which always passes through the centre of
the _secos_. The building, therefore, in spite of many successive
additions always contrives to preserve the unity of its organic

But all the great buildings in Egypt which were constructed for the
service of religion were not so simply designed. A good instance of a
more complex arrangement is to be found in the great temple at Abydos
(Fig. 224). It was begun by Seti I. and finished by Rameses II.
Mariette freed it from the _débris_ and modern hovels which encumbered
it, and, thanks to his efforts, there are now few monuments in Egypt
whose inner arrangements can be more clearly and certainly perceived.

Its general shape is singular. The courts and the pronaos compose a
narrow and elongated rectangle, with which the parts corresponding to
the sanctuary and its dependent chambers form a right angle (see Fig.
224). This salient wing has no corresponding excrescence on the other
side. We might consider the building unfinished, but that there is no
sign whatever that the architect meant to complete it with another
wing at the opposite angle. The Egyptians were never greatly enamoured
of that exact symmetry which has become one of the first artistic
necessities of our time.

Still more surprising than the eccentricity of its plan, are the
peculiar arrangements which are to be found in the interior of this
temple. As at Medinet-Abou and the Ramesseum, there are two courts,
each preceded by a pylon. After these comes the pronaos. The courts
differ from those at Thebes in having no peristyles or colonnades. The
only thing of the kind is a row of square pillars standing before the
inner wall of the second court (see plan). This is a poor equivalent
for the majestic colonnades and files of caryatides which we have
hitherto encountered.

The suppression of the portico has a great effect upon the appearance
of these two courts. It deprives them of the rich shadows cast by the
long colonnades and their roofs of the Theban temples, and the long
walls must have seemed rather cold and monotonous in spite of the
bas-reliefs and paintings which covered them. Their absence, however,
is not allowed to affect the general lines of the plan.

[Illustration: FIG. 224.--Plan of the Temple at Abydos (from

We have given neither an elevation nor a section of the temple at
Abydos, because neither the one nor the other was to be had. The
building was hardly known until Mariette freed it from the _débris_
with which it was engulphed. He, too, studied rather as an
egyptologist than as an architect, and was content with making known
its internal arrangements by a plan. This plan does not appear to be
minutely exact. A little farther on we shall have to speak of a
peculiarity which exists at Abydos, but which is not hinted at in the
adjoining plan; some of the columns are coupled in the first hypostyle
hall. We take this fact from the _Description_, where the measurements
are given in a fashion which forbids all doubt of their fidelity.

It is when we arrive at the pronaos that we fail to recognize the
disposition to which we have grown accustomed. There is no central
nave, with its columns of extra size and more careful design, leading
to the closed door of the sanctuary. There are two hypostyle halls,
the first supported by twenty-four, the second by thirty-six columns.
They are separated by a wall pierced with seven doorways, each doorway
corresponding to one of the aisles between the columns. In the farther
wall of the second of these halls, there are seven more doorways,
corresponding to the last named, and opening upon seven oblong vaulted
saloons, all of one size and completely isolated one from another.

By their situation on the plan, by their form, and by the decoration
of their walls, these vaulted chambers declare themselves to be so
many sanctuaries. Each one of them is dedicated to some particular
deity, whose name and image appear in the decorations of the chamber
itself and also upon the lintel of the door outside. These names and
images are again repeated upon all the surfaces presented by the aisle
which leads up to the door.

The seven deities thus honoured, beginning at the right, are Horus,
Isis, Osiris, Amen, Harmachis, Ptah, and Seti himself, whom we thus
find assimilated with the greatest of the Egyptian gods. Each chamber
contains a collection of thirty-six pictures, which are repeated from
one to another with no changes beyond those rendered necessary by the
substitution of one god for another. These pictures deal with the
rites which would be celebrated by the king in each of the seven

Behind this septuple sanctuary there is a secondary hypostyle hall,
just as we find it behind the single _secos_ of the ordinary temple.
Its roof was supported by ten columns, and access to it was obtained
through the third sanctuary, that of Osiris. This part of the temple
is in a very fragmentary condition. Very little is left of the
bounding walls, but it has been ascertained that several of these
chambers were dedicated to one or other of the deities between whom
the naos was apportioned. Thus one of the chambers referred to was
placed under the protection of Osiris, another under that of Horus,
and a third under that of Isis.

The decoration of the southern wing of the temple seems never to have
been completed. It contains a long corridor, a rectangular court with
an unfinished peristyle, several small chambers with columns, and a
flight of steps leading up on to the flat roof. A dark apartment or
crypt, divided into two stories by a floor of large stone slabs, may
have been used as a storehouse.

[Illustration: FIG. 225.--Seti, with the attributes of Osiris, between
Amen, to whom he is paying homage, and Chnoum.]

These farthest apartments seem to have been arranged in no sort of
order. We shall not here enter into such matters as the construction
of the seven parallel vaults in the naos; for that a future
opportunity will be found;[341] at present our business is to make the
differences between the temple at Abydos and that of Khons and its
congeners, clearly understood. The distinction lies in the seven
longitudinal subdivisions, beginning with the seven doors in the
façade of the hypostyle hall, and ending in the vaulted chambers which
form the same number of sanctuaries. Seen from outside, the temple
would not betray its want of unity; it was surrounded by a single
wall, the complex naos was prefaced by courts and pylons in the same
fashion as in the temples of Thebes which we have already noticed, and
it would not be until the building was entered and explored that the
fact would become evident that it was seven shrines in one, seven
independent temples under one roof.[342]

    [341] Full particulars of the more obscure parts of the temple
    at Abydos will be found in Mariette's first volume.

    [342] Upon the funerary character of the great temple at Abydos,
    see EBERS, _Ægypten_, vol. ii. pp. 234, 235.

At Thebes also we find a temple which, by its internal arrangements,
resembles that of Abydos. It is called sometimes the _Palace_ and
sometimes the _Temple of Gournah_; in the inscriptions it is called
the _House of Seti_. Two propylons, one about fifty yards in front of
the other, form an outwork to the main building, with which they are
connected by an avenue of sphinxes. It is probable that they were
originally the doorways through brick walls, now demolished, which
formed successive enclosures round the temple. The dromos led up to
the pronaos, which was reached by a few steps. The front of the naos
is a portico of simple design, consisting of ten columns between two
square pilasters, the whole being 166 feet long by 10 feet deep. Eight
of these line columns are still erect. The wall at the back of the
portico is pierced by three doorways, to which three distinct
compartments or divisions of the interior correspond (see plan, Fig.

The only feature in which these compartments resemble one another is
their independence. They are isolated from one another by walls which
run from front to back of the naos. The most important and elaborate
of the three compartments is the middle one. Its entrance doorway
opens directly upon a hall which is the largest in the whole temple.
It is eighteen metres long, its roof is supported by six columns
similar to those of the portico already mentioned, and ranged around
it are nine small chambers, the pictures in which illustrate the
apotheosis of Seti, who, often indued with the attributes of Osiris,
is sometimes shown doing homage to the Theban triad of gods, and more
especially to Amen-Ra, sometimes as himself the object of worship. The
central one of these chambers opens upon a hall where the roof is
supported by four square pillars, and upon this hall again four small
apartments open. These can hardly be mere storehouses, but they have
suffered so greatly that no certain opinion can be formed as to their
real purposes.

The right-hand compartment is in a very bad state, but enough of it
remains to show that its arrangements were quite different from those
of its neighbour and much less complex. So far as we can judge, the
larger part of it was taken up with a peristylar court or hall
seventy-six feet long and forty-six wide. Behind this the site of
three rectangular chambers may be distinguished. Every wall which is
still standing bears representations of Rameses II. paying his
devotions to the Theban gods.

[Illustration: FIG. 226.--Plan of the Temple of Gournah.]

The left compartment is in better preservation than the right, and its
arrangements are more like those of the central part of the naos. It
is not so large, however, and it contains no hypostyle hall. It has
six chambers placed in two sets of three, the one set behind the
other. Here we find Rameses I., the founder of the dynasty, honoured
by his son Seti I. and his grandson Rameses II.

[Illustration: FIG. 227.--Façade of the _naos_ of the Temple of
Gournah (from the _Description de l'Égypte_, _Antiquités_, vol. ii.
pl. 42).]

[Illustration: FIG. 228.--Longitudinal section of the Temple of
Gournah, from the portico of the _naos_ to the back wall (from
Lepsius's _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 86).]

The great temples of Abydos and Gournah were built by the same
sovereigns, Seti I. and Rameses II. Perhaps, too, their plans were
traced by the same architect. The resemblance between them is so great
that they may be looked upon as variants of one type, of a type which
is distinguished by the juxtaposition of similar parts grouped
laterally one by the side of the other. Each of the chapels which we
have described was self-contained, the subsidiary chambers which were
required for the routine of worship were grouped round it, either on
one side, as at Abydos, or in the angles of the sanctuary itself, as
at Gournah. With such slight differences of detail as this, the two
buildings were built upon the same principle. At Gournah the division
is tripartite, and the three compartments vary in their arrangements;
at Abydos they are seven in number, and exactly similar in design. A
temple thus cut into three parts, or seven, reminds us of the
seed-pods of certain plants, in which the fertilizing grain is divided
between several cells. But whether these are numerous or few, the naos
never has any great depth. It seems as if the absence of a true
organic centre arrested the development of the building; we find no
signs of an edifice which, like the temple of Amen at Karnak, might be
developed almost to infinity without losing its unity.

On the other hand, there were a few temples in which a severe and
extreme unity was the distinguishing characteristic. In Upper Egypt
and Nubia a few examples of the class are still to be seen. As a rule
they date from the eighteenth dynasty, but there were a few temples of
the same kind erected under the Ptolemies.[343] It seems probable,
therefore, that they were common to all the periods of Egyptian
history, and to the conquered provinces, as well as to Egypt proper.
They were erected within, and in the neighbourhood of, those cities
whose importance was not sufficient to demand such great monumental
works as the temples of Thebes or Abydos, of Memphis or Sais. We might
call them chapels, raised either to the honour of the local deities,
or for the purpose of commemorating the passage of some conquering
prince and the homage paid by him to the deity to whom he looked for
protection and victory.

    [343] We may cite as a peripteral temple of the Ptolemaic epoch
    the building at Edfou, called, in the _Description_, the _Little
    Temple_ (_Antiquités_, vol. i. plates 62-65). It differs from
    the Pharaonic temples of the same class in having square piers
    only at the angles, the rest of the portico being supported by

In these chapels there are neither internal peristyles nor hypostyles;
there are none of those subsidiary chambers among which it is
sometimes so easy to lose our way. There is, in fact, nothing but a
rectangular chamber and a portico about it, and, in most cases, it
would appear that a short dromos, consisting of a few pairs of
sphinxes, lent dignity to the approach.

The best proportioned and perhaps the most interesting building of
this class is the little sandstone temple built by Amenophis III. at
Elephantiné, upon the southern frontier of Egypt. It was discovered at
the end of the last century by the draughtsmen of the French
Expedition, and named by them the _Temple of the South_.[344] This
little building no longer exists. It was destroyed in 1822 by the
Turkish Governor of Assouan, who had a mania for building. Happily the
plans and drawings, which we reproduce, seem to have been made with
great care.

    [344] _Description de l'Égypte, Antiquités_, vol. i. plates

[Illustration: FIG. 229.--Plan of the Temple of Elephantiné.
(_Description de l'Égypte_, i. 35.)]

The total area of the temple, at the floor level of the cella, was 40
feet by 31. It was raised upon a well-built rectangular base of almost
the same lateral dimensions,[345] and 7 feet 6 inches high to the
pavement of the portico. From the earth level to the top of the
cornice the temple was 21 feet 6 inches in height. A flight of steps,
enclosed between two walls of the same height as the stylobate, led up
to the portico. The portico itself was composed of square piers and
round columns. Two of the latter were introduced in the centre of each
of the smaller faces of the building, while the side galleries were
enclosed by seven square piers, inclusive of those at the angles. A
dwarf wall about three feet in height bounded the gallery on the
outside, and afforded a base for the piers; the circular columns on
each side of the entrance alone stood directly upon the pavement of
the gallery, and were thus higher by about three feet than either the
piers or the columns in the corresponding façade at the rear. The
oblong chamber enclosed by this portico had two entrances, one at the
top of the steps, the other at the back.[346] The first named was
indicated as the true entrance to the building by the slight salience
of its jambs and lintel, by the increased size of the columns in front
of it, and by its position with regard to the steps.

    [345] This base contained a crypt, no doubt for the sake of
    economising the material. There seems to have been no means of
    access to it, either from without or within.

    [346] Our plan, etc. shows the temple as it must have left the
    hands of the architect, according to the authors of the
    _Description de l'Égypte_. Jomard (pl. 35, Fig. 1) has imported
    a small chamber into his plan, placing it behind the large hall
    as a sort of _opisthodomos_; but he bids us remark that it was
    constructed of different materials, and in a different _bond_,
    from the rest of the temple. It showed no trace of the
    sculptured decoration which covered all the rest of the temple.
    This chamber was therefore a later addition, and one only
    obtained at the expense of the continuous portico, the back part
    of which was enclosed with a wall in which the columns became
    engaged. According to Jomard, this alteration dates from the
    Roman period, but however that may be, in our examination of the
    temple we may disregard an addition which appears to have been
    so awkwardly managed.

One more peculiarity must be noticed. Neither in piers nor in walls do
we find that inward slope which is almost universal in Egyptian
exteriors. The lines are vertical and horizontal. This is not the
effect of caprice; the architect had a good reason for neglecting the
traditions of his profession. By avoiding the usual inclination
towards the centre, he gave to his small creation a dignity which it
would otherwise have missed, and, in some degree, concealed its
diminutive size.

[Illustration: FIG. 230.--View in perspective of the Temple of
Elephantiné (from the _Description de l'Égypte_, i. 35).]

In spite of its modest dimensions, this temple was without neither
beauty nor grandeur. Its stylobate raised it well above the plain,
while the steps in front gave meaning and accent to its elevation. The
wide spacing of the columns in front allowed the richly decorated
doorway to be seen in effective grouping with the long perspectives of
the side galleries. The piers on the flanks were more closely spaced
than the columns of the _façade_, and the contrast was heightened by
the simplicity of their form. The dignity of the entablature and the
bold projection of the cornice added to the effect of the whole, and
emphasized the well-balanced nature of the composition. The Egyptian
architects never produced a building better calculated to please
modern tastes. Its symmetry and just proportion appeal directly to
those whose artistic ideas are founded upon the creations of the
Greeks and Romans.

[Illustration: FIG. 231.--Longitudinal section of the Temple of
Elephantiné (from the _Description_, i. 35).]

This sympathy was conspicuously felt by those who discovered the
little monument. "The arrangement," says Jomard, "is a model of
simplicity and purity.... The Temple of Elephantiné is pleasing as a
whole, and commands our attention." But the purity and harmony of its
lines are not its only claims to our admiration. The pleasure which it
causes us to feel is partly the result of its resemblance to a
well-known and much admired type, that of the Greek temple. In all
essentials the arrangements are the same, a cella raised upon an
important base and surrounded by a colonnade.

The general arrangement of the Elephantiné structure has even its name
in the technical language of the Greek architects, they would call it
a _peripteral_ temple, because the colonnade goes completely round it.
Nowhere else do we find such a striking resemblance between Greece and
Egypt. But for the mouldings, the sculptured decorations, and the
inscribed texts, we should be tempted to see in it a building of the
Ptolemaic period, Greek in conception and plan, but decorated in the
Egyptian taste. Such a mistake would, however, be impossible in these
days, and even at the end of the last century. The French _savants_
knew enough to prevent them falling into such an error. They were
unable to read the hieroglyphics, but the general physiognomy of the
building told them that it could boast of a venerable antiquity. In
coming to this conclusion they were right, but they should have
stopped there instead of attempting to establish a direct connection,
as cause and effect, between the Egyptian building and the temples of
Greece. We shall not here discuss the delicate question of the
indebtedness of Greek artists to those of Egypt, but we may allow
ourselves to make two observations. In the first place, the temples
built upon this plan were very small, and must have attracted very
little notice indeed from strangers dazzled by the wonders of Sais,
Memphis, and Thebes; and the buildings in those great cities did not
offer the peculiar characteristics which, we are asked to believe,
inspired the early Greek architects. In the second place, if there had
been any direct imitation of an Egyptian model, we should have found
in the copy at least some passing trace of those square piers which
were so continually and successfully used by the Egyptian architects;
but in the Greek peripteral temples the external colonnades are always
made up exclusively of circular columns. The Greek architect hardly
ever made use of the square pier, except in the form of a pilaster, to
give strength to the extremities of a wall.

Would it not be much simpler to admit that we have here one of those
coincidences which are so frequent in the history of the arts? Human
nature is pretty much the same all over the world. When human skill
has been employed at different times and in different countries, in
supplying similar wants and solving almost identical problems, it has
been led to results which vary only in the minor details. These
variations are more or less marked according to race characteristics
or material surroundings. When examined closely the circumstances of
mankind are never found unchanged from one period or one race to
another, but a superficial resemblance is enough to ensure that their
artistic creations shall have many important points in common. In no
pursuit does the human mind turn in a narrower circle than in
architecture. The purpose of the building on the one hand, and the
qualities of the material on the other, exercise a great influence
upon form. But the purposes for which important buildings are erected
are very few, neither are the materials at the command of the
architect very many. The possible combinations are therefore far from
numerous. Take two races placed in conditions of climate and
civilization which may fairly be called analogous; put the same
materials in the hands of their architects and give them the same
programme to carry out; is it not almost certain that they would
produce works with many features in common, and that without any
knowledge of each other's work? From this point of view only, as it
seems to us, should the type of building just described be regarded.
If the temple at Elephantiné had possessed no other interest but that
belonging to it as an example of Egyptian temple building, we might
have omitted all mention of it, or at least devoted but a few words to
it. And yet such types are scarce. The French explorers found a second
temple of the same class not far from the first; now, however, it
exists only in their drawings.[347] A third has been discovered in
Nubia, which must resemble the two at Elephantiné very strongly; we
mean the temple constructed by Thothmes III. on the left bank of the
river, at Semneh. Although it has suffered greatly, traces of a
portico are to be found about the cella, and it has been ascertained
that this portico consisted both of square piers and columns.[348]
Finally, at El-kab (Eilithya), in Upper Egypt, there is a temple
constructed upon the same plan; it differs from that at Elephantiné in
having only two circular columns, those upon the façade; all the rest
of the peristyle consists of square piers.[349] The oldest part of the
temple built by Thothmes II. and Thothmes III. at Medinet-Abou
presents an analogous arrangement. The sanctuary is there surrounded
on three sides by a portico of square piers (Fig. 222).

    [347] In the _Description de l'Égypte_ it is called _The
    Northern Temple_ (see vol. i. pl. 38, Figs. 2 and 3). The only
    difference noted by Jomard was in the ornamentation of the

    [348] LEPSIUS _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 113.

    [349] _Description, Antiquités_, vol. i. pl. 71, Figs. 1, 2, 3,
    4; letterpress, vol. i. ch. vi. This temple is 50 feet long, 31
    wide, and 15 feet 8 inches high.

There is nothing to forbid the supposition that these temples were
once much more numerous in the valley of the Nile, but it appears
certain that they were always of small dimensions. If like those of
Sais and Memphis, the temples of Thebes had vanished and left no trace
behind, we might have been led to believe that some of the great
religious buildings of the Egyptians had been in this form; but we
have Luxor and Karnak, Medinet-Abou and the Ramesseum, Gournah and
Abydos; we have several important temples built in Ethiopia by
Egyptian conquerors, and others erected by the Ethiopian sovereigns in
imitation of Egyptian architecture.[350] When we compare these remains
with one another and call to mind the words of Strabo and of other
ancient travellers as to the monuments which have been destroyed, we
are forced to this general conclusion, that it was within the high
external walls of their buildings, around courts open to the sky or as
supports for wide and lofty halls, that the Egyptians loved to group
their mighty piers and columns. When the portico was outside it was so
placed because there was no room for it within. When the temple was
reduced to a single narrow chamber, so small that there was no room
for columns and that the walls could support the roof without help,
the colonnade was relegated to the exterior, where it served to give
importance to the cella, and to clothe and beautify it.

    [350] See LEPSIUS for plans of these buildings; _Denkmæler_,
    part i. plates 125, 127, and 128.

[Illustration: FIG. 232.--Temple of Amenophis III. at Eilithyia; from

The peripteral arrangement, which is a constant principle in Greek
architecture, is no more than a rare accident in that of Egypt. But in
spite of this difference the similarity, which might be called a
chance likeness, if the word chance had any place in history, is full
of interest for the historian of art.

The following facts are sufficient to prove that it was the small size
of these peripteral temples that first suggested the external
situation of their colonnades. As long as the cella was large enough
to admit supports of the ordinary diameter without encumbering the
space or destroying its proportions, we find the columns inside. Of
this the temple of Amenophis III. at Eilithyia, a plan and section of
which we take from Lepsius (Figs. 232 and 233),[351] is an instance.
It is prefaced by a chamber, very ruinous, and wider than it is deep.
It is now difficult to say whether this was an uncovered court or a
hypostyle hall.[352] Immediately abutting upon it comes the naos, a
rectangular chamber measuring internally 28 feet by 22 feet 6 inches.
The roof might very possibly have been supported by the four columns,
as their bases were 4 feet in diameter. A niche contrived in the
further wall of the naos acted the part of a _secos_.

    [351] _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 100.

    [352] The internal measurements of this chamber were 26 feet by
    33. Lepsius gives it four columns, but at present there are only
    the remains of one to be found. Almost the same arrangements are
    to be found in the Temple of _Sedeinga_. (LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_,
    part i. pl. 115.)

Here too we find a very simple form of temple, but the naos being
large enough to admit, and even to demand, the use of internal
columns, it never entered the architect's head to surround it with a
portico externally. Thus arranged, the chapel, as we have called these
buildings, was nothing more than an epitome of the temple, and there
is no need for insistance upon the variations which it presents upon a
single theme, upon a first principle which sometimes was developed
into a colossal structure like that at Karnak, sometimes reduced until
it resulted in buildings where a few paces carry the visitor from one
extremity to the other.

We may say the same of those subterranean temples which are called
_speos_ or _hemi-speos_, _grotto_, or _half-grotto_, according to
whether they are entirely rock cut, or prefaced by architectural
constructions. They are chiefly found in Lower Nubia, a fact which has
sometimes been explained by the natural configuration of the soil. In
that portion of the Nile Valley the river is embraced so closely by
the rocks between which it flows that it would, we are told, have been
difficult to find a site for a constructed temple. In this, however,
there is some exaggeration. If we examine a map of Nubia we shall find
many places where either one or the other of the two chains of hills
fall back from the river far enough to allow a considerable
intervening fringe of level ground. This is cropped and tilled by
little groups of natives, who live, as a rule, at the mouth of those
_wadis_, or dry torrent beds, which intersect the mountains. These
strips of arable land are always either level or of a very gentle
slope. It would, therefore, not be very difficult to obtain a site for
such little oratories as were required for the scanty population, for
the soldiers in the nearest military post, for the engineers and
workmen in some neighbouring quarry. Even supposing that it pleased
the king to choose some deserted site in a conquered province for the
erection of some durable memorial of his prowess, no very large
building would be required. Great temples were reserved for populous
cities, in which the king, the military commanders, and the priest
resided, in which the popular ceremonies of religion were performed.

[Illustration: FIG. 233.--Temple of Amenophis III. at Eilithyia;
longitudinal section, from Lepsius.]

The Egyptian architect did not hesitate to cut away part of the side
of a mountain when it was the only means open to him of obtaining a
level site for building. In this fashion Seti obtained a site for his
great temple at Abydos. The same thing might have been done, at much
less cost, for these little Nubian temples. It would always have been
easy with pick and chisel to adapt some ridge or cornice of the cliffs
for their reception, or to cut a sort of courtyard in the slope of the
hill, in which a small temple might have been erected. We must not
seek, then, for a reason for the multiplication of these rock temples
in the Nubian section of the Nile Valley either in natural conditions
or in the want of architectural resource. Even in Egypt proper there
are chapels cut in the flanks of the hills; near Beni-Hassan there is
the _Speos Artemidos_, and near Assouan, close to the quarries of
Gebel Silsilis,[353] there is another. Below the first cataract,
however, these grottos are as rare as they are numerous on the other
side of the frontier, where, indeed, they sometimes rise to a
magnificence of which nothing else in Egypt, unless it be the finest
of the sepulchral excavations at Thebes, can give an idea. How are we
to account for this difference, or rather contrast?

    [353] See, for Gebel Silsilis, LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl.

This question is more easily asked than answered. The following
explanation seems to us, however, the most probable.

Ethiopia was not Egypt. Although they were closely connected as early
as the sixth dynasty, the former never lost its character of a
conquered province. In Ethiopia men did not feel so sure of the morrow
as in Egypt proper. Between the sixth and the eleventh dynasty the
hold of Egypt upon Ethiopia had been lost at least once. Reconquered
by the kings of the first Theban period, it regained its independence
during the domination of the Hyksos; the eighteenth dynasty had,
therefore, to begin the work of subjugation all over again, and it did
its work more thoroughly than any of its predecessors. Then, when the
Egyptian sceptre ruled as far south as Napata and the great bend of
the Nile, the governors of the southern provinces must have been
continually employed in repelling the incursions of the negroes from
Upper Ethiopia, and in suppressing the warlike tribes who lived within
the conquered frontier. At such times the king himself must often have
been compelled to take the field and lead his armies in person. A
constructed temple, especially when of small size, would be in great
risk of destruction in a country exposed to the repeated incursions of
savage tribes; columns and piers would soon be overturned by their
ruthless arms. But chambers cut in the living rock would offer a much
stouter resistance; the decorations might be scraped down or daubed
over, but the time and patience required for any serious attack upon
the limestone or granite sides and piers would not be forthcoming.
Such damage as could be done in a short time and by the weapons of the
invaders could readily be repaired when the raid was over.

We think it probable, therefore, that subterranean architecture was
preferred throughout this region because the political condition of
the province was always more or less precarious, rather than because
the configuration of the country required it. Where security was
assured by the presence of a strong and permanent garrison, as at
Semneh and Kumneh, we find constructed temples just as we do in Egypt.
They are found, too, in those localities--Soleb and Napata for
instance--where there was a large urban population, and therefore
fortifications and troops for their defence. Everywhere else it was
found more convenient to confide the temple to the guardianship of its
own materials, the living rock, and to bury it in faces of the
cliffs. This kind of work, moreover, was perfectly easy to Egyptian
workmen. For many centuries they had been accustomed, as we have seen,
to hollow out the flanks of their mountains, and to decorate the
chambers thus obtained, for the last resting-places of their dead. In
the execution of such works they must have arrived at a degree of
practised skill which made it as easy for them to cut a speos like the
great temple at Ipsamboul, as to build one of the same size. This fact
probably had its weight in leading the conquerors of Nubia to fill it
with underground temples. Such a method of construction was at once
expeditious and durable, a double advantage, which would be greatly
appreciated in the early years of the occupation of the province. When
security was established, the same process continued to be used from
love for the art itself. When Rameses II. cut those two caves in the
rock at Ipsamboul, whose façades, with their gigantic figures, have
such an effect upon the travellers of to-day, it was neither because
he was pressed for time, nor because he was doubtful of the tenure of
his power. The military supremacy of Egypt and the security of her
conquests seemed to be assured. The Egyptian monarch carved the cliffs
of Ipsamboul into gigantic images of himself because he wished to
astonish his contemporaries and their posterity with the boldness and
novelty of the enterprise. At Thebes he had built, on the right hand
of the river, the hall of Karnak and the pylons of Luxor; on the left
bank, the _Temple of Seti_ and the Ramesseum. For these he could have
imagined no pendant more original or more imposing than the great
temple carved from a natural hill, in front of which statues of the
sovereign, higher than any of those which adorned the courtyards at
Thebes, would see countless generations of Egyptians pass before their
feet in their journeys up and down the Nile. The hypostyle hall at
Karnak was a marvel of constructed architecture, the great temple at
Ipsamboul was the masterpiece of that art which had been so popular
with the Egyptians from the earliest periods of their civilization,
the art which imitated the forms of a stone building by excavations in
the living rock.

Subterranean architecture had, of course, to go through a regular
course of development before it was capable of such works as the tomb
of Seti, at Thebes, and the temples of Ipsamboul. In the necropolis of
Memphis, and in that of the First Theban Empire, its ambition was
more easily satisfied. So, too, the first rock-cut temples were of
very modest dimensions. They date from the eighteenth dynasty. Two of
them are to be found in the neighbourhood of Ipsamboul but on the
other side of the river, one near the castle of Addeh, the other at
Feraïg. The latter was cut by the king Harmhabi (or Armaïs). It is
composed--as also is that of Addeh--of a hall supported by four
columns, two lateral chambers, and a sanctuary. There is an equally
small _speos_ in Egypt which dates from the same period; it is the
grotto at Beni-Hassan, which, ever since antique times, has been known
as the _Speos Artemidos_. The goddess Sekhet, to which it was
consecrated, had been identified with the Greek Artemis. It was begun
by Thothmes III., carried on by Seti I., and seems never to have been
finished. The temple proper is prefaced by a kind of portico of square
pillars cut, with the roof which they support, from the limestone
rock. A narrow passage about nine feet deep leads to the naos, which
is a quadrangular chamber about thirteen feet square, with a niche in
the further wall in which an image of the lion-headed goddess probably
stood.[354] The most important of the rock-cut chapels of Silsilis was
also inaugurated by Harmhabi and restored and embellished by Rameses
II.[355] The hemispeos at Redesieh, in the same district, is a work of
Seti I.[356]

    [354] _Description de l'Égypte, Antiquités_, vol. iv. pl. 65,
    Fig. 1. The French draughtsmen thought this building was a
    disused quarry, and give nothing but a picturesque view of the

    [355] LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 102; ROSELLINI (vol.
    iii. pl. 32, Fig. 3) gives a view of the interior of the
    Silsilis chapel.

    [356] LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 101.

[Illustration: FIG. 234.--The speos at Addeh; plan from Horeau.]

[Illustration: FIG. 235.--The speos at Addeh. Longitudinal section;
from Horeau.]

Only one subterranean temple later than the nineteenth dynasty is
known to us, namely, that which is cut in the flanks of the
Gebel-Barkal at Napata.[357] It is called the _Typhonium_, on account
of the grimacing figures which stand before the piers. It dates from
the time of Tahrak, and was one of the works with which the famous
Ethiopian decorated his capital in the hope that it might become a
formidable rival to those great Egyptian cities which he had taken and
occupied.[358] All the other rock-cut temples were the work of Rameses
II.; they are, as we ascend the Nile, Beit-el-Wali, near Kalabcheh
(Figs. 236 and 237); Gherf-Hossein, or Gircheh, Wadi-Seboua, Dayr, and

    [357] LEPSIUS, _Denkmæler_, part i. pl. 127.

    [358] There are also a hemispeos or two of the Ptolemaic period.
    That, for instance, of which the plans are given in plate 101 of
    Lepsius's first part, was begun by Ptolemy Euergetes II.

[Illustration: FIG. 236.--Plan of speos at Beit-el-Wali; from Prisse.]

[Illustration: FIG. 237.--Longitudinal section of the speos at
Beit-el-Wali; from Prisse.]

We may give Gherf-Hossein as a good example of the hemispeos (Figs.
238 and 239). It was approached from the river by a broad flight of
steps, decorated with statues and sphinxes, of which but a few
fragments now remain. A pylon gave access to a rectangular court, on
the right and left sides of which stood five piers faced with colossal
statues of Rameses II. These statues were about twenty-six feet high.
Next, and at a slightly higher level, came a hypostyle hall; its roof
was supported by twelve square piers, those forming the central avenue
being of caryatid form and higher than the others. The subterranean
part of the temple begins with a passage cut in the rock on the
further side of this hall. This passage leads to a long transverse
vestibule, from which open two lateral chambers, and three from its
further side. The furthest chamber on the major axis of the whole
building was the sanctuary. This is proved by its position, its shape,
and the niche which is cut in its further wall. Four deities are
sculptured in this niche, and in spite of the ill-usage to which they
have been subjected, one of them can still be identified as Ptah, the
chief god of the temple.[359]

    [359] This description has been mainly taken from the plate
    given by PRISSE (_Histoire de l'Art Égyptien_, vol. i.). There
    are discrepancies, however, between it and both the inscription
    of Isambert and the plan of HOREAU (_Panorama d'Égypte et
    Nubie_), discrepancies which may probably be referred to the bad
    condition of the structural part of the building. According to
    Prisse's measurements the dromos, from its commencement to the
    foot of the first pylon, was about fifty-five yards long, and
    the rest of the temple, to the back of the niche, was about as
    much again. The rock-cut part was only about ten yards deep.

[Illustration: FIG. 238.--Plan of the hemispeos of Gherf-Hossein; from

We find almost the same arrangements in the hemispeos of
Wadi-Asseboua.[360] That of Derri (Figs. 240 and 241) is more simple.
There are neither dromos nor pylon, properly speaking, and only four
caryatid pillars; but there is an open court with a hypostyle hall and
a sanctuary cut in the rock. At the back of the sanctuary there is a
stone bench upon which three statues were seated.

    [360] The resemblance between Prisse's plan of Gherf-Hossein and
    Horeau's plan of Wadi-Asseboua is so great as to suggest that
    one of the two writers may have made a mistake.

[Illustration: FIG. 239.--Gherf-Hossein, longitudinal section; from

The two temples of Ipsamboul are so well known and have been so often
illustrated and described, that they need not detain us long. The
chief thing to be noticed here is that they are without any external
and constructed part, and that from their position, high above the
river and close to it, it was impossible that they could have any
dromos; and yet between the doorway of the speos and the river bank
there were steps which are now either worn away by the action of the
floods or hidden by the _débris_ from the cliffs. The façades of these
temples were, however, as richly decorated and as monumental in their
way as those of the most sumptuous buildings in Thebes.

[Illustration: FIG. 240.--Plan of the hemispeos of Derri; from

[Illustration: FIG. 241.--Longitudinal section, Derri; from Horeau.]

The prototype of these façades is the Theban pylon. They have the same
trapeziform surfaces covered with figures and inscriptions,
circumscribed by a moulding and crowned by a cornice in bold relief;
they are inclined from the perpendicular, and they afford a background
to the statues of the king who caused them to be made. The chief
difference is in the situation of these statues. In the case of a
built temple they are monoliths, brought from a distance and erected
in front of the pylon. But space was wanting for such an arrangement
at Ipsamboul; besides which it was better, for many reasons, that the
whole edifice should be homogeneous, and that the statues should be
carved in the rock from which its chambers were to be cut. The way to
do this was obvious. The colossi had but to recede a pace or two so as
to be incorporated in the substance of the pylon itself.

At Ipsamboul there are, as we have seen, two temples close to one
another. Their façades, though conceived in the same spirit, executed
by the same processes, and having a good deal in common in their
design, are yet by no means similar. That of the temple of Hathor,
generally called the _Smaller Temple_, is on a smaller scale than the
_Great Temple_, but perhaps its design is the happier and more skilful
of the two. The front is 90 feet wide and nearly 40 high. It is
ornamented by six colossal upright statues, four of them Rameses
himself, the other two his wife Nefert-Ari. These statues, which are
about 34 feet high, are separated one from another by eight
buttresses, two of them acting as jambs for the door, above which they
unite and become a wide band of flat carving marking the centre of the
façade. The gentle salience of these buttresses forms a framework for
the statues (see Fig. 242), which are chiselled with great care and
skill in the fine yellow sandstone of which the mountain consists.

The façade of the Great Temple is much larger. It is about 130 feet
wide by 92 high. It is not divided by buttresses like the other, but
it has a bold cornice made up of twenty-two cynocephalic figures
seated with their hands upon their knees. Each of these animals is
sculptured in the round, and is only connected with the face of the
rock by a small part of its posterior surface. They are not less than
seven feet high. A frieze, consisting of a dedicatory inscription
carved in deep and firmly drawn hieroglyphs runs below the cornice.
Above the doorway a colossal figure of Ra is carved in the rock, and
on each side of him Rameses is depicted in low relief, in the act of
adoration. This group occupies the middle of the façade. But the most
striking feature of the building is supplied by the four colossi of
Rameses placed two and two on either side of the door. They are the
largest in Egypt. From the sole of the feet to the apex of the pschent
which the king bears on his head, they are about sixty-five feet in
height. Rameses is seated, his hands upon his thighs, in the pose
ordinarily made use of for the royal statues at the entrances of the
temples. In spite of these enormous dimensions the workmanship is very
fine. The countenance, especially, is remarkable for its combination
of force and sweetness, an expression which has been noticed by all
the travellers who have written upon Ipsamboul.

[Illustration: FIG. 242.--Façade of the smaller temple at Ipsamboul.]

[Illustration: FIG. 243.--Plan of the smaller temple.]

[Illustration: FIG. 244.--Perspective of the principal chamber in the
smaller temple; from Horeau.]

[Illustration: FIG. 245.--Longitudinal section of the smaller temple;
from Horeau.]

[Illustration: FIG. 246.--Plan of the Great Temple.]

The interiors of the two temples are still more different than the
exteriors, and, in this instance, the variations are entirely in
favour of the greater monument. The total depth of the smaller edifice
is about ninety feet. A single hall, supported by six square
Hathor-headed pillars, precedes the sanctuary. The latter is nothing
but a narrow gallery, in the middle of which a small chamber or niche
is cut, in which the rock-carved cow of Hathor may be seen with a
statue between its legs. The other temple is a great deal larger. Its
total length is about 180 feet. The first hall is 60 feet long and 53
wide; the roof is supported by eight pillars, against each of which a
colossal figure 33 feet high is placed. A doorway in the middle of the
further side leads to a second chamber not quite so large as the
first, and supported by four thick square pillars. Three openings in
its furthest side lead to a third chamber, as wide as the second, but
only 10 feet deep. Through this the innermost parts of the speos are
reached; they consist of three small chambers, those on the left and
right being very small indeed, while that in the centre, the adytum,
is about 13 feet by 23. In the middle of this chamber was an altar, or
table for offerings; at the back of it a bench with four seated
statues. The walls of both temples are covered with pictures like
those of Luxor, Karnak, and the Ramesseum. They represent the
battles and triumphs of Rameses, and the king seated upon the laps of
goddesses, who act as the tenderest of nurses.

[Illustration: FIG. 247.--Perspective of the principal hall in the
Great Temple; from Horeau.]

[Illustration: FIG. 248.--Façade of the Great Temple at Ipsamboul.]

Besides the halls which form the main body of the temple, the plan
shows eight lateral chambers, some perpendicular to the major axis of
the building, others falling upon it obliquely. Several of these do
not seem to have been finished. There are indications that they were
utilized as depositories for the objects worshipped in the temple.

[Illustration: FIG. 249.--Longitudinal section of the Great Temple;
from Horeau.]

We have now briefly noticed the principal rock-cut temples in Egypt
and Nubia. Neither in plan nor in decoration do they materially differ
from the temples of wrought masonry. The elements of the building are
the same, and they are arranged in the same order--an avenue of
sphinxes when there is room for it, colossi before the entrance, a
colonnaded court, a hypostyle hall acting as a _pronaos_, a _naos_
with its _secos_, or sanctuary; but sometimes one, sometimes many of
these divisions are excavated in the living rock. Sometimes only the
sanctuary is subterranean, sometimes the hypostyle hall is included,
and at Ipsamboul the whole temple is in the mountain, from the _secos_
to those colossal statues which generally form the preface to the
pylon of the constructed temple.

Except in the case of the peristylar court, the interior of the
rock-cut temple did not differ so much in appearance from that of the
constructed edifice as might at first be imagined. We have already
explained how scantily lighted was the interior of the Egyptian
temple; its innermost chambers were plunged in almost complete
darkness, so that the absolute night which was involved in their being
excavated in the heart of a mountain was no very great change from
the obscurity caused by the thick walls and heavy roofs of the
edifices in the plain. In the case of a hemi-speos the internal effect
must have been almost identical with that of any other religious
building. In the great temple of Ipsamboul the daylight does not
penetrate beyond the second hall; from that point onwards artificial
light is necessary to distinguish objects, but the Egyptians were so
thoroughly accustomed to a mysterious solemnity of shadow, to a "dim
religious light," in their temples, that the darkness of the speos
would seem no drawback in their eyes.

The column occurs very seldom in these subterranean temples.[361] Even
those chambers which correspond to the hypostyle hall by their places
in the excavation and the general characteristics of their form, are
hardly ever supported by anything but the rectangular piers in use in
the early ages of the monarchy; but these piers are often clothed with
an elaborate decoration which is unknown in the works of the primitive
architects. This preference for the pier is easily to be explained by
the necessity for having supports of sufficient strength and solidity
to bear the weight of the superincumbent mountain.

    [361] There are two polygonal columns resembling those at
    Beni-Hassan in the small speos at Beit-el-Wali (Fig. 237).

Another and more constant peculiarity of the underground temples, is
the existence in them of one or more seated statues carved from masses
of rock expressly left in the furthest recesses of the excavation.
These statues, which represent the presiding deity of the place and
his acolytes, do not occur in the constructed temples. In the latter
the tabernacle which stood in the _secos_ was too small to hold
anything larger than a statuette or emblem. We think that the cause of
this difference may be guessed. At the time these rock temples were
cut, the Pharaohs to whom they owed their existence no doubt assigned
a priest or priests to each. But their position, sometimes in desert
solitudes, as in the case of the _Speos Artemidos_, sometimes in
places only inhabited for an intermittent period, in the quarries at
Silsilis for instance, or in provinces which had been conquered by
Egypt and might be lost to her again, rendered it impossible that they
could be served and guarded in the ample fashion which was easy enough
in the temples of Memphis, Abydos and Thebes. All these considerations
suggested that, instead of a shrine containing some small figure or
emblem, statues of a considerable size, from six to eight or ten feet
high, should be employed, and that they should be actually chiselled
in the living rock itself and left attached to it by the whole of
their posterior surfaces. By their size and by their incorporation
with the rock out of which both they and their surroundings were cut,
such statues would defend themselves efficiently against all attempts
on the part of enemies. In spite of their age several of these statues
came down to us in a sufficiently good state of preservation to allow
Champollion and his predecessors to recognize with certainty the
divine personages whom they represented. During the last fifty years
they have suffered as much at the hands of ignorant and stupid
tourists as they did in the whole of the many centuries during which
they were exposed to all the vicissitudes of Egyptian history.[362]

    [362] For _Beit-el-Wali_ and _Gircheh_, see plates 13, 30 and 31
    in GAU, _Antiquités de la Nubie_. It seems that the statues,
    when they were drawn by him, were in a fairly good state.

[Illustration: FIG. 250.--Dayr-el-Bahari; according to M. Brune.]

Our study of the Egyptian temple would not be complete without a few
words upon the buildings called _Dayr-el-Bahari_.[363] By their
extent, their picturesqueness, and the peculiar nature of their
situation, these ruins have always had a great effect upon foreign
visitors. Those who know Thebes will, perhaps, be surprised at our
having said so little about them hitherto, especially as they are
older than most of the buildings over which we have been occupied. We
have not yet described them because they do not belong to any of the
categories which we have been treating; they form a class by
themselves; their general arrangement has no parallel in Egypt, and
therefore we have reserved them to the last.

    [363] These words mean _Convent of the North_. The name is
    derived from an abandoned Coptic convent which existed among the
    ruins of the ancient building.

The building in question is situated at the foot of the Libyan chain,
in a deep amphitheatre hollowed out by nature in the yellow limestone
rocks which rise on the north-west of the necropolis. On two sides, on
the right and at the back, it rests against perpendicular walls of
rock cut by the pickaxe and dominating over the built part of the
temple. On the left this natural wall is absent and is replaced by an
inclosure of bricks (Figs. 250 and 251).

Under such conditions we need feel no surprise at finding part of the
temple subterranean. In backing his work against the mountains in this
fashion the architect must have been partly impelled by a desire to
make use of the facilities which it afforded. The mausoleum of Hatasu,
unlike the other funerary chapels at Thebes, is, then, a triple
hemispeos. At a point immediately opposite to the door in the external
pylon, but at the other extremity of the building, a chamber about
sixty-five feet deep was excavated in the rock. This must have acted
the part of a sanctuary. Right and left of it, and at a shorter
distance from the entrance, there are two more groups of rock-cut
apartments. The whole arrangement may be compared to the system of
three apsidal chapels which is so common at the east end of European

In approaching this temple from the river bank, a dromos of sphinxes
had to be traversed of which very scanty traces are now to be found,
but in the time of the _Institut d'Égypte_ there were still two
hundred of them to be distinguished, a few of the last being shown in
the restoration figured upon the opposite page (Fig. 251). At the end
of the dromos, upon the spot where a few traces of the bounding walls
still remain, we have placed a pylon with a couple of obelisks in
front of it. We have done so not only because nearly all the important
temples had such a preface, but also because Sir Gardner Wilkinson
says that he saw the foundations of two obelisks and of a doorway.
After passing the pylon, a first courtyard was entered, which
communicated with a second by an inclined plane stretching almost
across its width.[364] Here the arrangements which constituted the
real originality of Dayr-el-Bahari began. The whole interior of the
temple, between the pylon and the commencement of the speos, consisted
of four courtyards, rising in terraces one above another like the
steps of a gigantic staircase. The walls upon which these inclined
planes and terraces were constructed are still to be traced in places.
In order to furnish the vast courts, we have supposed them to contain
seated statues at regular intervals along the inner faces of their
walls; in such matters of decorative detail a little conjecture may
perhaps be allowed.[365] As for the portico which ornamented the
further side of the second court, its remains were visible even before
the excavations of Mariette.[366]

    [364] This wide inclined plane agrees better, as it seems to us,
    with the indications in M. Brune's plan of the actual remains at
    Dayr-el-Bahari, than the narrow flight of steps given in his
    restoration; the effect, too, is better, more ample and

    [365] The same idea caused M. Brune to place sphinxes upon the
    steps between the courts; he thought that some small heaps of
    _débris_ at the ends of the steps indicated their situation; but
    M. Maspero, who recently investigated the matter, informs us
    that he found no trace of any such sphinxes.

    [366] We must refer those who wish to study the remains of this
    temple in detail to the work devoted to it by M. Mariette. The
    plan which forms plate 1 in the said work was drawn, in 1866, by
    an architect, M. Brune, who is now a professor at the École des
    Beaux Arts. M. Brune succeeded, by intelligent and conscientious
    examination of all the remains, in obtaining the materials for a
    restoration which gave us for the first time some idea of what
    this interesting monument must have been in the great days of
    Egypt. Plate 2 contains a restored plan; plate 3 a view in
    perspective of the three highest terraces and of the hill which
    forms their support. We have attempted to give an idea of the
    building as a whole. Our view is taken from a more distant point
    than that of M. Brune, but except in some of the less important
    details, it does not greatly differ from his.

[Illustration: FIG. 251.--Restoration in perspective of
Dayr-el-Bahari, by Ch. Chipiez.]

Those excavations have since 1858 led to the discovery of the porticos
of the third court. There seems to have been only a plain wall on the
left of this court, while on the right there was a long colonnade
which masked a number of chambers cut in the rock which rose
immediately behind it. Facing the entrance to the court there was also
a colonnade which was cut in two by the steps leading to the fourth
and highest terrace. In the middle of this terrace a line doorway
leading to the principal speos was raised. While all the rest of the
temple was of limestone, this doorway was built of fine red granite, a
distinction which is to be explained by its central situation, facing
the gateway in the pylon though far above it, and forming the
culminating point of the long succession of terraces and inclined
planes. The attention of the visitor to the temple would be instantly
seized by the beauty and commanding position of this doorway, which,
moreover, by its broad and mysterious shadows, suggested the secos
hidden in the flanks of the mountains, to which all the courts were
but the prelude.

These terraced courts have surprised all visitors to the cenotaph of
Hatasu. "No one will deny," says Mariette, "that the temple of
Dayr-el-Bahari is a strange construction, and that it resembles an
Egyptian temple as little as possible!"[367] Some have thought
foreign influence was to be traced in its arrangements. "Are we to
consider it an accident, asks Ebers, that the stepped building at
Dayr-el-Bahari was built shortly after an Egyptian army had, under
Thothmes, trodden the soil of Mesopotamia for the first time, and
found monumental buildings constructed in terraces in its great
cities? Why did the Egyptians, who as a rule were so fond of repeating
themselves that they became almost incapable of inventing new forms,
never imitate the arrangements of this imposing building elsewhere,
unless it was because its forms reminded them of their foreign enemies
and therefore seemed to be worthy of condemnation?"[368]

    [367] MARIETTE, _Dayr-el-Bahari_, letterpress, p. 10.

    [368] EBERS, _Ægypten_, p. 285.

We are content with asking the question and with calling attention to
its interest. The materials are wanting for a definite answer but the
suggestion of Professor Ebers is probable enough. Twelve or thirteen
centuries later the Persians, after their conquest of Egypt, carried
back with them the notion of those hypostyle halls which gave to the
buildings of Persepolis so different an aspect from those of Assyria,
although the decorative details were all borrowed from the latter
country. So too the Egyptians, in spite of the pride which they felt
in their ancient civilization, may have been unable to control their
admiration when they found themselves, in the wide plains of Persia,
before those lofty towers with their successive terraces, to which
access was obtained by majestic flights of steps. It seems by no means
unlikely that one of their architects should have attempted to
acclimatize an artistic conception which was so well calculated to
impress the imaginations of the people; and none of the sovereigns of
Egypt was better fitted to preside over such an attempt than the high
spirited and enterprising Hatasu, the queen who reared two obelisks in
the temple of Karnak, one of them being the highest that has remained
erect; who made the first recorded attempt at acclimatization;[369]
and who was the first to launch a fleet upon the waters of the Red

    [369] MASPERO, _Histoire Ancienne_, pp. 202, 203. The
    bas-reliefs at Dayr-el-Bahari represent the booty brought back
    by Hatasu from the expedition into Pount. Among this booty
    thirty-two perfume shrubs, in baskets, may be distinguished;
    these shrubs were planted by the orders of Hatasu in the gardens
    of Thebes. On the subject of Hatasu and her expedition, see
    MASPERO'S paper entitled: _De quelques Navigations des Égyptiens
    sur les Côtes de la Mer Érythrée_ (in the _Revue Historique_,

Whether Hatasu's architect was inspired by those artistic creations of
the Chaldees which, as time went on, were multiplied over the whole
basin of the Euphrates and even spread as far as northern Syria, or
whether he drew his ideas entirely from his own brain, his work was,
in either case, deserving of high praise. In most parts of the Nile
Valley sites are to be found which lend themselves readily to such a
building. The soil has a gentle slope, upon which the erection of
successive terraces would involve no architectural difficulties, and
there is no lack of rocky walls against which porticoes could be
erected, and in which subterranean chambers could be excavated. Upon a
series of wide platforms and easy gradients like these, the pompous
processions, which played such an important part in the Egyptian
ritual, could defile with great effect, while under every portico and
upon every landing place they could find resting places and the
necessary shelter from the sun. Why did such a model find no
imitators? Must we seek for the reason in the apparent reaction
against her memory which followed the death of Hatasu? "The Egyptian
people chose to look upon her as an usurper; they defaced the
inscriptions which celebrated her campaigns; they effaced her
cartouches and replaced her titles with those of her brothers."[370]

    [370] MASPERO, _Histoire Ancienne_, p. 203.

It is certain that nowhere in Egypt has any building of considerable
dimensions been discovered in which the peculiar arrangements of
Dayr-el-Bahari are repeated. At most it may be said that something of
the same kind is to be found in those rock-cut temples of Nubia which
are connected with the river bank by a dromos and flights of steps.
When the princes of the nineteenth dynasty wished to raise funerary
temples to their memory in their own capital, it would have been easy,
had they chosen, to find sites upon the slopes of the western chain
similar to that which Hatasu had employed with such happy results; but
they preferred a different combination. They erected their cenotaphs
in the plain, at some distance from the hills, and they chose a form
which did not essentially differ from that of the great temples on the
opposite bank of the Nile.

The religious architecture of Egypt, in all its richness and variety,
is known to us only through the monuments of the second Theban Empire,
through the great works of the kings belonging to the eighteenth and
nineteenth dynasties. We are tempted, however, to believe that the
architects of the Sait period must have introduced fresh beauties into
the plans, proportions, and decorations of those temples which the
princes of the twenty-sixth dynasty, in their desire that their
capital and the other cities of the Delta should rival or excel the
magnificence of Memphis and Thebes, confided to their skill. Both the
statues and the royal tombs of the Sait period have characteristics
which distinguish them from those of earlier epochs. In all that we
possess from this last period of artistic activity in Egypt, there is
a new desire for elegance, for grace, carried sometimes to an extreme
which is not free from weakness and affectation. It is probable that
the same qualities existed in the religious architecture of Sais.

Unhappily all the buildings constructed in Memphis and Lower Egypt
during the Sait supremacy have disappeared leaving hardly a trace
behind, and the Greek writers have left us nothing but vague accounts
to supply their place. Herodotus goes into ecstasies over the
propylæa, that is, the pylons and outer courts, which Amasis added to
the temple of Neith at Sais, and over the enormous size of the stones
employed. He describes in great detail a chapel carved out of a single
block of Syene granite, which Amasis transported from the quarries at
great cost in order that it might be erected in the sanctuary of the
said temple; unhappily it was so much injured on the journey that his
intention had to be abandoned.[371]

    [371] HERODOTUS, ii. 175.

All that we learn from the historian is that the Sait princes made use
of colossal stones in their buildings without much regard to their
appropriateness, but simply to impress their contemporaries with an
exaggerated idea of their wealth and power. The contractors of an
earlier age were also in the habit of employing blocks which seem
astonishing to us from their length and size, but they were never used
except when they were required, to cover a void or some other purpose;
the earlier architects never made the mistake of seeking for
difficulties merely to show how cleverly they could overcome them.

It is to be regretted that we know so little of the monument
attributed by Herodotus to Psemethek, and described by him in the
following terms:--"Having become master of the whole of Egypt,
Psammitichos constructed those propylæa of the temple of Hephaistos
which lie to the south of that building. In front of these propylæa he
also caused to be constructed an edifice in which Apis was nourished
as soon as he had manifested himself. It was a peristyle ornamented
with figures. Colossal statues, twelve cubits high, were employed as
supports, instead of columns."[372] We may assume that these colossi
were, as in other Egyptian buildings, placed immediately in front of
the real supports, and did not themselves uphold an entablature.
Herodotus was not an architect, and, in taking account merely of the
general effect, he doubtless used an expression which is not quite

    [372] HERODOTUS, ii. 153.

The most important point to be noticed in this short extract from the
Greek historian is the hint it contains of the attempts at originality
made by the later generations of Egyptians, by "men born too late in
too old a century," and of the means by which they hoped to rival
their predecessors. The architect of Psemethek borrowed a motive which
had long been disused, of which, however, there are many examples at
Thebes, and employed it under novel conditions.

The caryatid form of pier is generally found, in temples, in the
peristyles of the fore-courts or the hypostyles of the pronaos.
Psemethek made use of it for the decoration of what was no more than a
cattle stable.[373] The stable in question had, it must be confessed,
a god for its inhabitant, and so far it might be called a temple; but
it was a temple of a very peculiar kind, in which the arrangements
must have been very different from those required in the abode of an
inanimate deity. In it the god was present in flesh and blood, and
special arrangements were necessary in order to provide for his wants,
and to exhibit him to the crowd or conceal him, as the ritual
demanded. The problem was solved, apparently, in a method satisfactory
to the Egyptians, as the guide who attended Herodotus called his
attention to the building with an insistance which led the historian
to pay it special attention.

    [373] Herodotus uses the word αὐλή, of which stable or
    cattle-shed was one of the primitive meanings.

Herodotus does not tell us what form the caryatides took in this
instance. It is unlikely that they were Osiride figures of the king,
as in the Theban temples, but as Apis was the incarnation of Ptah,
the great deity of Memphis, they may very possibly have been carved in
the image of that god.

Between the days of Cambyses and those of Alexander, Egypt temporarily
recovered her independence more than once. The art of that
period--during which numerous works were carried out and many others
restored--was a prolongation of the art of the Sait princes. Its aims,
methods, and taste were entirely similar. We may, therefore, in spite
of the limits which we have imposed upon ourselves, mention a work
carried out no more than fifty years before the Greek conquest, in the
reign of Nectanebo I. We mean the small building which is sometimes
called the southern temple, in the island of Philæ. It is the oldest
building upon the island, all the rest being Ptolemaic or Roman.

Its arrangements are different to anything we have hitherto
encountered in religious architecture. There are no internal
subdivisions of any kind, nothing which resembles a secos. According
to all the plans which have been published, it contained only one
hall, or rather rectangular court, inclosed by fourteen graceful
columns and a low, richly-decorated wall, which forms a kind of screen
between the lower part of the columns. This screen does not extend
quite half-way up the columns; these latter support an entablature,
but there has never been a roof of any kind. There can be no doubt
that the building was consecrated to Isis, whose image is carved all
over it; but could an edifice thus open to the outward air and to
every prying eye be a temple? Ebers is disposed to look upon it as a
waiting-room.[374] Close to it the remains of a wide staircase are to
be traced, against which boats were moored, and upon which they
discharged their loads. Thus the faithful who came to be present at
the rites of Isis would assemble in the waiting-hall, whence they
would be conducted by the priests to that sanctuary which became the
object of so many pilgrimages in the later years of the Egyptian

    [374] _Égypte_, etc. p. 406.

Certain peculiarities in the management of the column, which grew into
frequent use in the Ptolemaic epoch, are here encountered for the
first time. This is not the place for its detailed consideration, but
one must point it out as a second result of the desire shown by the
architects of the period to achieve new developments without breaking
the continuity of the national traditions. Here, as in the monumental
cattle-shed at Memphis, there is no invention of new forms; all the
architectural elements introduced are to be found in earlier
buildings. It is the general aspect and physiognomy of the building
that is new. Whatever we may call it, the edifice erected by Nectanebo
at the southern point of the island is certainly novel in form; we
have found nothing like it either in Egypt or in Nubia, but the
repetition of its forms in a much later generation proves that it
answered to a real change in the national taste and to new aspirations
in the national genius. Painting, engraving, and photography have
given us countless reproductions of the picturesque building which
rises on the eastern shore of the island, amid a bouquet of
palm-trees. It has been variously called the _bed of Pharaoh_, the
_eastern temple_, the _great hypæthra_, the _summer-house of
Tiberius_, &c. It is nothing more than a replica of Nectanebo's
creation; it is larger and its proportions are more lofty, but its
plan is quite similar.[375] In the sketch lent to us by M. Hector
Leroux, the eastern temple is seen on the right, while the left of the
drawing is filled up with the pylons of the great temple of Isis (Fig.

    [375] The temple of _Kerdasch_ or _Gartasse_ in Nubia resembles
    the Eastern Temple at Philæ in plan; its date appears to be

[Illustration: FIG. 252.--The ruins on the Island of Philæ; from a
sketch by Hector Leroux.]

If we knew it better, we should probably find that the architecture of
the Sait period formed the transition between that of the second
Theban empire and that of the Ptolemies. We should find in it at least
hints and foreshadowings of those original features of which we shall
have to speak when we arrive at the Græco-Egyptian temples. Unhappily,
as none of the temples built by Psemethek, Amasis, and their
successors have been recovered from the sands of Egypt, we shall be
reduced to conjecture on this point. But must all hope of recovering
something from the ruins of Sais be abandoned? Mariette himself made
some excavations upon its site, and confessed that he was discouraged
by their result, or rather by their want of result. Perhaps, however,
deeper and more prolonged excavations might bring to light sufficient
indications of the ordonnance and plans of the more important
buildings to permit of some attempt at restoration being made.[376]

    [376] We have omitted to speak of those little temples known
    since the time of Champollion as _mammisi_ or places for
    accouchement, because the existing examples all belong to the
    Ptolemaic period. The best preserved is that of Denderah. It is
    probable, however, that the custom of building these little
    edifices by the side of those great temples where a triad of
    gods was worshipped dated back as far as the Pharaonic period.
    The mammisi symbolised the celestial dwelling in which the
    goddess gave birth to the third person of the triad. The authors
    of the _Description_ called them _Typhonia_, from the effigy of
    a grimacing deity which figures in their decoration. This deity
    has, however, nothing in common with Set-Typhon, the enemy of
    Osiris. We now know that his name was Bes, that he was imported
    into Egypt from the country of the Aromati, and that he presided
    over the toilette of women. (EBERS, _L'Égypte_, etc., p. 255.)

§ 4. General Characteristics of the Egyptian Temple.

We have now conducted our history of the Egyptian temple from the most
ancient monument to which that title can be given to the period when
Greek art, introduced into the country by the Macedonian conquest,
began to have an influence upon many of the important details, if not
upon the general aspects of the national architecture. The reader will
not be surprised to find that before we conclude our study we wish to
give a _résumé_ of the leading ideas which seem to be embodied in the
temple, and to define the latter as we see it in its finest and most
complete expression, in the buildings of the great Theban Pharaohs. We
cannot do better for our purpose than borrow the words of Mariette
upon the subject. No one has become more thoroughly acquainted with
the temples of the Nile valley. He visited them all at his leisure, he
explored their ruins and sounded most of them down to their
foundations, and he published circumstantial descriptions of Abydos,
Karnak, Dayr-el-Bahari, and Denderah. In these monographs and in the
_Itinéraire de la Haute-Égypte_, he returned to his definition again
and again, in a continual attempt to improve it, to make it clear and
precise. We shall freely extract from his pages all those expressions
which seem to us to give the best rendering of their author's ideas,
and to bring out most clearly the originality which belongs to the
monuments of which he treats.[377]

    [377] MARIETTE, _Itinérare_, pp. 13-16, 157-159; _Karnak_, p.
    19; _Voyage dans la Haute-Égypte_, vol. i. pp. 15, 16.

"The Egyptian temple must not be confused with that of Greece, with
the Christian church, or with the Mohammedan mosque. It was not a
place for the meeting of the faithful, for the recital of common
prayers; no public ritual was celebrated within it; no one was
admitted to it except the priests and the king. The temple was a kind
of royal oratory, a monument reared by the king in token of his own
piety, and in order to purchase the favour of the gods.

"The elaborate decoration with which all the walls of the temples are
covered is only to be explained by admitting this point of departure.
The essential element of this decoration is the picture; many pictures
are arranged symmetrically side by side, and tiers above tiers of
pictures cover the walls from floor to ceiling. This arrangement never
varies, and the same may be said of the general significance of the
pictures: on the one hand, the king, on the other, one or more
deities; these are the subjects of all the compositions. The king
makes an offering (meats, fruits, flowers, emblems) to the god and
asks for some favour at his hands; in his answer the deity grants the
favour demanded. The whole decoration of a temple consisted therefore
in an act of adoration on the part of the monarch repeated in various
forms. The temple was therefore the exclusive personal monument of the
prince by whom it was founded and decorated. This fact explains the
presence of those precious representations of battles which adorn the
external walls of certain temples.[378] The king ascribed all his
successes in the field to the immediate protection of the gods. In
combating the enemies of Egypt, in bringing them by thousands to the
capital, in employing them upon the construction of their temples, he
was performing an act as agreeable to the gods as when offering
incense, flowers, and the limbs of the animals sacrificed. By such
deeds he proved his piety and merited the continuation of those
favours for which the erection of a temple was meant to be an

    [378] The canal figured in front of the Chariot of Rameses, in
    Fig. 254 was, according to Ebers, the oldest of the Suez Canals,
    the one dug by Seti I. This canal was defended by
    fortifications, and is called in inscriptions _the Cutting_
    (_L'Égypte_, etc.).

The piety and gratitude of the monarch also found expression in the
splendour of the great festivals of which the temple was the scene
several times in the course of the year. "The ceremonies consisted for
the most part of great processions, issuing from the sanctuary to be
marshalled in the hypostyle hall, and afterwards traversing the open
courts which lay between the buildings of the temple and the great
wall which incloses the whole. They perambulated the terraced roofs,
they launched upon the lake the sacred barque with its many-coloured
streamers. Upon a few rare occasions the priests, with the sacred
images, sallied from the inclosure which ordinarily shielded their
rites from profane eyes, and, at the head of a brilliant flotilla,
directed their course to some other city, either by the Nile or by the
waterway which they called 'the sacred canal.'"[379]

    [379] To follow these processions was an act of piety. Upon a
    Theban stele we find the following words addressed to Amen-Ra:
    "I am one of those who follow thee when thou goest abroad." The
    stele of Suti and Har, architects at Thebes, translated into
    French by PAUL PIERRET, in _Recueil de Travaux_, p. 72.

"The ensigns of the gods, the coffers in which their effigies or
symbolic representations were inclosed, their shrines and sacred
barques were carried in these processions, of which the kings were the
reputed conductors. At other times all these objects were deposited in
the naos. Upon the occurrence of a festival, the priest to whom the
duty was delegated by the king entered the naos and brought out the
mysterious emblem which was hidden from all other eyes; he covered it
with a rich veil, and it was then carried under a canopy."

[Illustration: FIG. 253.--The battle against the Khetas, Luxor. (From
Champollion, pl. 328.)]

A ritual to which so much "pomp and circumstance" was attached
required material appliances on a great scale. The preservation of so
much apparatus required extensive store-rooms, which, like the
sanctuary itself, had to be kept in almost total darkness in order to
preserve the sacred vestments and other objects from the
deteriorating effects of sun, dust, heat, and the insects which they
engender. There is nothing in the texts which seems to hint at the
celebration of any rites in the dark parts of the temple by artificial
light, and no trace of the discoloration caused by smoke has been
found upon the walls. There seems to have been no necessity for
anything beyond the most subdued daylight within the chambers of the
temple. All the important part of the ritual was performed in the open
air, and the few liturgical acts in the naos were short and took place
before a very restricted audience. They consisted of a few prayers
said by the king or by the chief priest, and in the presentation of
the traditional offerings. The cares of maintenance and of preparation
for the periodical festivals had also to go on in that part of the
temple. Such duties, however, could be readily discharged by the
practised and disciplined priests in the half light of the sanctuary,
and even the almost total darkness of the apartments which were ranged
behind it.

[Illustration: FIG. 254.--Rameses II. returning in triumph from Syria.
On the external face of the northern wall of the Great Temple at
Karnak. (From Champollion, pl. 292.)]

"The temples show no trace of dwelling-places for the priests, nor of
places for initiation, nor of any contrivance for divination or the
giving of oracles. There is nothing to lead us to suppose that, except
the king and the priests, any of the public were admitted into the
building," at least beyond the hypostyle hall. Certain privileged
individuals or classes were admitted into the latter on the occasion
of a festival; others, less fortunate, were compelled to wait in the
courtyards. It was their right to be the first to see the god as he
emerged from the sanctuary on the shoulders of the priests. But in
spite of their vast dimensions, these halls would have been ill fitted
for the uses to which the spacious naves of a church or mosque are
put. The huge and closely spaced columns would embarras the movements
and intercept the view of those who crowded about their bases. It was
only in the central aisle that sufficient space was left for the easy
passage of a procession. The hypostyle hall was lofty and wide in
order that it might be a vestibule worthy of the god who dwelt in the
sanctuary beyond it, and in order that it might bear witness by its
magnificence to the piety, wealth, and power of the king who
constructed it. It offered no place in which the faithful could
assemble to listen to religious discourses, to unite in the expression
of their faith and hope, to sing and pray in common.

In virtue of the sanctuary which was its nucleus, the temple was the
dwelling of the god, the terrestrial resting-place to which the king,
his son and the nursling of the goddesses, came to offer him thanks
and to do homage in return for the protection and support which he
received. The temple was also, in virtue of those numerous chambers
which surrounded the sanctuary, a place for the preparation,
consecration, and preservation of holy objects; a huge sacristy to
which access was forbidden to all but those who were specially
attached to the service of the god and charged with the custody of the
sacred furniture.

Such being the origin and purpose of the temple, we need feel no
surprise at the triple fortification behind which it was entrenched.
This fortification consisted, in the first place, of the brick wall
which formed the outermost inclosure; secondly, of the wall of masonry
which embraced the temple proper, leaving a narrow passage only wide
enough for the walk of a sentry; thirdly, of the wall which divided
the really secret parts of the building from the pronaos. Now that the
line of the external wall is only indicated by a gentle swell of the
ground, now that the best preserved of the inner walls are broken down
in many places, and now that all the roofs and ceilings have fallen
and encumbered the floors, it is difficult enough to form a true idea
of the former appearance of the Egyptian temples. Could we see them as
they left their architects' hands, we should be struck by the jealous
severity of their isolation, by the austere monotony of the screen of
stone which was interposed between the eyes of the people and the
internal splendours of the building. In this we should find the chief
point of distinction between the temples of Egypt and those great
religious edifices of our own times with which we half involuntarily
compare all other works of the kind.

But the Greek temple was no more a church than its Egyptian rival. It
was not a place of assembly for public praise or religious teaching.
Its cella was an inclosed chamber, illuminated only by the door and by
a few openings contrived in the roof, and reserved for the god who
inhabited it. The two architects in fact, Egyptian and Greek, had the
same points of departure; the problems which they had to solve
strongly resembled each other, and yet they created types which
differed very greatly. The Greek temple was not isolated and hidden
behind a stone curtain; it could be seen from all sides in its
commanding position; its encircling bands of porticos seemed to invite
all comers to the shelter of their galleries, while they charmed all
eyes with the play of light and shadow afforded by their alternate
voids and solids. The colonnades reserved by the Egyptian for the
decoration of courts and halls were placed by the Greek upon the
external faces of his temples, and although the task of both
architects was to fulfil almost identical requirements, this
transposition of the elements employed was sufficient to cause a
profound difference in the outward expression, in the physiognomy, of
their several works.

[Illustration: FIG. 255.--The goddess Anouké suckling Rameses II.,
Beit-Wali; from Horeau.]

Another and perhaps still more characteristic difference is to be
found in the fact that the Greek temple is not susceptible, like that
of Egypt, of almost infinite extension. Greece never produced anything
like Karnak or Luxor; even in the centuries when the taste for the
colossal eclipsed the love for the great, she never dreamed or
imagined anything of the kind. The Greek temple had the unity of a
living organism. Given the main dimensions, the elements of which it
was to be composed could only vary within very narrow limits. In
accordance with the degree of luxury desired, the cella would be
either surrounded by a simple wall or would be encircled by a portico,
but this portico would only be a kind of adornment, a vesture which
would be more or less rich and ample according to circumstances.
Behind the long files of columns on either side, behind the double or
triple rows which veiled the two façades, the body of the temple could
always be discerned, just as the modelling of the human form may be
distinguished under the drapery of a statue, in spite of the folds
which cover it. The cella was proportioned to the sacred figure which
was to be its inhabitant, which, again, afforded a standard by which
the proportions and subjects of the groups which filled the pediments,
and of the bas-reliefs of the frieze, as well as the height of the
columns and the projection of the entablature, were determined.
Between all these parts there was an intimate and clearly defined

When a plant is seen bursting from the seed, we are able, if we know
the species to which it belongs, to say beforehand what its leaves,
its flower, and its fruit will be like, and to foretell the limits of
its height. It is the same, to a great extent, with the Greek temple.
The trench dug to receive the footing stones of the cella walls is the
hole into which the seed is thrown from which the whole temple is to
spring. These walls rise above the level of the ground, the building
progresses to completion, but from the day upon which the seed was
sown, from the day upon which the foundation was laid, the temple had
been virtually complete. Like an organic body, the Greek temple
inclosed within itself the principle of its own growth, the law which
governed its development, and forbade it in advance to exceed certain
definite limits.

Such was not the case with the Egyptian temple. In those of small or
moderate dimensions this unity and simplicity of plan exists to a
certain extent. The peripteral temple of Elephantiné and even the
temple of Khons may be given as instances of this; in them there is
much with which the most exclusive philo-Greek can sympathize. The
impression received from the ruins of Abydos or Gournah, still more
from those of Karnak or Luxor, is very different. There we find
several sanctuaries closely wedged together, all of the same size and
decorated in the same fashion, in one place the architect has built
seven in a row, and there was nothing to prevent him doubling the
number if he had chosen to do so. In another we find a succession of
courts, of hypostyle halls and chambers, of forests of columns.
Sometimes it requires considerable search to pitch upon the sanctuary,
which, again, is not the loftiest part of the building, being
dominated by hypostyle hall and pylons.

When Egypt had arrived at the summit of her greatness and wished to
erect temples to her gods which should be worthy both of herself and
of them, she found herself obliged either to sacrifice the unity of
the temple by dividing it up into distinct naves and sanctuaries, or
to hide the main parts by the accessories in such a fashion that the
sanctuary seems to be lost among the annexes which envelop it in front
and rear. The vestibule and other subsidiary parts mask the real
dwelling of the god. We are sometimes at a loss to decide the uses of
all the chambers of so vast and complex a structure, because our
knowledge of the circumstances of ancient Egyptian worship is still
far from complete. It is significant that even among such an imposing
pile of buildings as those of Karnak, egyptologists have found it
impossible to agree as to the situation of the heart and organic
centre of the whole. That centre exists; it existed before all those
sumptuous additions of which it was the cause. But it would seem that
its influence failed to make itself felt beyond a certain distance.
The temple was enlarged by additions made at its two extremities, in
the manner of an inorganic body, so that no limit could be logically
assigned to its development. Karnak, as it was left by the Pharaohs
and their successors, is the most colossal work of architecture which
has come down to us from antiquity, and yet our imagination can give
to it even greater dimensions than it actually possessed without
injury to its artistic expression. If the worship of which it was the
scene had endured a few centuries longer, it would have been easy to
add new pylons, new courts, and new hypostyle halls to those already
existing; but had the worship of Athene endured through as many ages
as that of Ptah or Amen, it would have been impossible to make
additions to the Parthenon as it left the hands of Ictinus and



Transcriber's Note:

Archaic and inconsistent spelling and punctuation retained.

Some of the figure and plate references appear to be incorrect.

Fig. 460 referenced in Fig. 56 does not exist. It is possibly
Figure 205 in Volume II.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A history of art in ancient Egypt, Vol. I (of 2)" ***

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