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Title: A History of Architecture in all Countries, Volume 1, 3rd ed. - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day
Author: Fergusson, James
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A History of Architecture in all Countries, Volume 1, 3rd ed. - From the Earliest Times to the Present Day" ***

                           Transcriber’s Note

When italics were used in the original book, the corresponding text has
been surrounded by _underscores_. Superscripts have been indicated by
preceding the superscripted letters with ^. When more than one character
in a row is superscripted, the letters have been surrounded with {}.
Ditto marks have been replaced by the text they represent. Some
corrections have been made to the printed text. These are listed in a
second transcriber’s note at the end of the text.



                        HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE

                           IN ALL COUNTRIES,


             BY JAMES FERGUSSON, D.C.L., F.R.S., M.R.A.S.,
                             _&c. &c. &c._

[Illustration: Section of the Parthenon, showing the Author’s views as
to the admission of light.]

                        IN FIVE VOLUMES.—VOL. I.

                            _THIRD EDITION._

                   EDITED BY R. PHENÉ SPIERS, F.S.A.,

                     JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET,

                _The right of Translation is reserved._

                       FERGUSSON’S ARCHITECTURE.


 _Third Edition, with 330 Illustrations, 2 vols., medium 8vo_, 31s. 6d.


                  By the late JAMES FERGUSSON, F.R.S.

   A New Edition, Revised and Enlarged. With a Special Account of the
                        Architecture of America.

  By ROBERT KERR, Professor of Architecture at King’s College, London.


                               BY THE SAME.

 _New and Cheaper Edition, with 400 Illustrations, medium 8vo._, 31s. 6d.




A sketch of the life of the late Mr. James Fergusson, and an article by
Prof. Kerr on the peculiar qualifications with which he was endowed for
the position he took as an architectural historian, having appeared in
the preface of the third edition of the “History of the Modern Styles of
Architecture,” published in 1891, it is not necessary to do more than
refer to them. A brief summary, however, of the several works he
published on the History of the Architectural Styles may possibly be of
some interest here as a record.

Mr. Fergusson’s first work dealing with the History of the Styles of
Architecture was a large octavo volume, published in 1849, under the
title of “An Historical Enquiry into the True Principles of Beauty in
Art, more especially with reference to Architecture.” About one-third of
the volume was devoted to an introduction, to which Mr. Fergusson
attached so much importance that, in his preface he stated he considered
it to be the text, and the rest of the work (viz., the description of
the various styles) merely the illustration of what was there stated.
The pith of this introduction was subsequently published in his later
works, and a valuable chapter added to it on “Ethnography as Applied to
Architecture.” The work contained only the history of the Early Styles
from Egyptian to Roman, but it had been the intention of its author to
treat of the Christian, Pagan, and Modern Styles of Architecture in
subsequent volumes.

This intention was never carried out, but the book formed the basis of
another work published in 1855, entitled, “The Handbook of
Architecture,” which included the history of the Indian, Chinese,
Assyrian, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Sassanian, and Saracenic Styles, in
the first volume, and of Christian Art in the second. A second edition,
a reprint only of this, appeared in 1859, and shortly afterwards, in
1862, a third volume was published, dealing with the History of the
Modern Styles. On the revision and expansion of the work in 1873, this
third volume became the fourth as hereinafter explained.

In 1865 and 1867 the materials of the “Handbook” were rearranged to form
an historical sequence, instead of a topographical one, and a new work
was published under the title of the “History of Architecture”; the
first part devoted to Ancient Architecture from Egyptian to Roman; the
second to Christian; and the third part to Pagan Architecture, including
Saracenic, Indian, Chinese, and Mexican.

In 1874 a second edition of this work appeared (from which the whole of
the Indian and Chinese sections were omitted and published separately in
1876 as a third volume, under the title of “Indian and Eastern
Architecture”), and many additions were made to the Assyrian and
Byzantine chapters.

In the present edition (1893), which constitutes _the third edition_ of
the “History of Architecture,” the editor has endeavoured to the best of
his ability to follow the course which Mr. Fergusson himself adopted in
publishing new editions, viz., to rewrite those portions which
subsequent discoveries had proved to be either incorrect or doubtful.
For instance, in Egyptian Architecture the accurate measurements of the
pyramids made by Mr. Flinders Petrie, and his correction of Lepsius’s
theories as regards the Labyrinth, have placed information at the
editor’s disposal which was unknown to Mr. Fergusson. Corrections of
this kind are inserted in the text. On the other hand, absolutely
nothing new has appeared on Assyrian Architecture, and, therefore, Mr.
Fergusson’s theories respecting the restoration of the Assyrian palaces
have been retained; the tendency of the opinion of archæologists having,
however, developed rather in the direction of vaulted roofs to the
principal halls, footnotes have been appended giving the views of
foreign archæologists on the subject, between which and Mr. Fergusson’s
views the student is left to judge.

In Persian work the accuracy of Mr. Fergusson’s views respecting the
arrangement of the plans of the Persian palaces, which were first
promulgated in 1855, has been confirmed by later explorations at
Persepolis, Susa, and Pasargadæ, and footnotes giving the records of the
same are appended.

The results of recent discoveries in Greece and Italy have been
recorded, sometimes in the text, sometimes in footnotes; and changes
have been made in the chapter on Parthian and Sassanian Architecture, M.
Dieulafoy’s photographs having enabled the editor to correct some of the
woodcuts copied from Coste’s illustrations.

Important changes have been made in the Second Part, devoted to
Christian Architecture; the Byzantine style has been placed first, not
only for chronological reasons as the first perfected Christian style,
but from the impossibility of otherwise following the development of the
Early Christian styles in Italy during the fifth and following

The Romanesque, or Early Christian, style in Italy has been included in
Book II., together with the later developments of style in that country;
this has enabled the editor to bring the description of St. Mark’s,
Venice, into the first chapter under Italy, to which chronologically it
belongs, instead of placing it after the Pointed Italian Gothic style.
The Italian Byzantine chapter has been omitted, and the two or three
buildings described under it transferred to the Byzantine-Romanesque
chapter. By the new arrangement it is possible now to follow almost
chronologically the various phases of style in Italy.

In the Book on the Byzantine style, some of the examples in Jerusalem
ascribed to Constantine have been transferred to Justinian’s time; but
this has naturally followed another very important change—the
description of the so-called Mosque of Omar, the Dome of the Rock, has
been transferred to the Saracenic style. It is well known that Mr.
Fergusson had few supporters in his theories respecting the builders of
this structure, and Prof. Hayter Lewis’s work has now removed all doubt
as to its having been the work of the Caliph Abd el Melik and his
followers. This change has necessitated a complete revision of the
description of the Holy Sepulchre, for which Prof. Willis’s and Prof.
Hayter Lewis’s works have furnished the chief authorities.

Various corrections have been made in the dates ascribed to the Mosques
in Cairo, and the French Expedition in Tunis has enabled the editor to
add a plan and view of the great Mosque of Kerouan, the most sacred
Mahomedan edifice after that of Mecca, and the one great early example
of which scarcely anything was known.

About forty woodcuts have been specially prepared for this new edition,
half of which are of subjects not before illustrated, the remainder
replacing those which were defective or absolutely incorrect. In
addition to these, various alterations where required have been made to
other woodcuts.

The several authorities consulted have been acknowledged in the course
of the work, but the editor desires here to express his obligations to
Mr. Fitzroy Doll, Mr. G. H. Birch, and Mr. Arthur Hill for advice on the
German, English, and Irish sections respectively.

                       PREFACE TO SECOND EDITION.

During the period that has elapsed since the first edition of this work
was published,[1] no important work on the History of Architecture has
appeared which throws any new light on either the theory or practice of
the art, and, except in India, no new buildings have been discovered and
no monographs published that materially add to our general stores of

The truth of the matter appears to be that the architectural productions
of all the countries mentioned in these two volumes have been examined
and described to a sufficient extent for the purposes of the general
historian. A great deal of course remains to be done before all the
information required for the student of any particular style can be
supplied, but nothing of any great importance probably remains to be
discovered in the countries of the Old World, nor anything that is at
all likely to alter any views or theories founded on what we at present

The one exception to this satisfactory state of things is our knowledge,
or rather want of knowledge, regarding the history of the ancient
architecture of the New World, treated of in the last few pages of this
work. No important addition has lately been made to the little we knew
before, and it is now to be feared that Mr. Squier’s long-expected work
on the Antiquities of Peru may never see the light, at least not under
the auspices of its author, and the Count de Waldeck’s work adds very
little, if anything, to what we knew before. What is really wanted is
that some one should make himself personally acquainted with all the
various styles existing between the upper waters of the Colorado and the
desert of Atacama to such an extent as to be able to establish the
relative sequence of their dates and to detect affinities where they
exist, or to point out differences that escape the casual observer.
Photography may in the next few years do something towards enabling
stay-at-home travellers to do a good deal towards this, but photography
will never do all, and local knowledge is indispensable for the exact
determination of many now obscure questions. The problem is in fact
identical with that presented to Indian antiquaries some thirty years
ago. At that time we knew less of the history of Indian architecture
than we now know of American, but at the present day the date of every
building and every cave in India can be determined with almost absolute
certainty to within fifty, or at the outside one hundred, years; the
sequence is everywhere certain, and all can be referred to the race and
religion that practised that peculiar style. In America there are the
same strongly marked local peculiarities of style as in India,
accompanied by equally easily detected affinities or differences, and
what has been done for India could, I am convinced, easily be
accomplished for America, and with even more satisfactory and more
important results to the history and ethnography of that great country.

The subject is well worthy of the attention of any one who may undertake
it, as it is the only means we now know of by which the ancient history
of the country can be recovered from the darkness that now enshrouds it
and the connexion of the Old world with the New—if any existed—can be
traced, but it is practically the only chapter in the history of
architecture which remains to be written.

Notwithstanding this paucity of new material, the completion of M.
Place’s great work on Khorsabad, Wood’s explorations at Ephesus, Dr.
Tristram’s travels in Moab, with other minor works, and new photographs
of other places, have furnished some twenty or thirty woodcuts to this
work, either of new examples or in substitution for less perfect
illustrations. More than this, the experience gained in the interval
from reading, and personal familiarity with buildings not before
visited, especially in Italy, have enabled me to add considerably to the
text and to correct or modify impressions based on less perfect
information. These, with a careful revision of the text throughout,
will, it is hoped, be found to render this edition an improvement to a
considerable extent over that which preceded it.

As mentioned in the preface to the volume containing the History of the
Modern Styles of Architecture, the scheme of the present edition is that
the two volumes now published shall contain a description of all the
ancient styles of architecture known to exist either in the Old or New
world, except India.

In the first edition the Indian styles occupied about 300 pages, and
were illustrated by 200 woodcuts. In the present one it is proposed to
double the extent of the text and to add such further illustrations as
may be found requisite fully to illustrate the subject. When this is
done it will form a separate volume, either the third of the general
History of Architecture, or a complete and independent work by itself,
and sold separately. If nothing unforeseen occurs to prevent it, it is
expected that the work will be published before the end of next year

The History of the Modern Styles of Architecture, published last year,
will then form the fourth and concluding volume of the work, or may be
considered as a complete and independent treatise, and, like the volume
containing the History of Indian Architecture, will be sold separately.

As stated in the preface to the first edition, it was originally
intended that chapters should be added on what were then known as Celtic
or Druidical remains. When, however, the subject came to be carefully
looked into for that purpose, it was found that the whole was such a
confused mass of conflicting theories and dreams, that no facts or dates
were so established that they could be treated as historical. The
consequence was that the materials collected for the purpose were, in
1872, published in a separate volume, entitled ‘Rude Stone Monuments,’
in the form rather of an argument than of a history.

As was to be expected, a work of that nature, and which attacked the
established faith in the Druids, has been exposed to a considerable
amount of hostile criticism, but nothing has yet appeared that at all
touches the marrow of the question, or invalidates any of the more
important conclusions therein arrived at. On the other hand, everything
that has since come to light has tended to confirm them in a most
satisfactory manner. Colonel Brunon’s researches, for instance, at and
around the Madras’en, in Algeria, have proved that the tumuli in that
cemetery belong to Roman times.[2] In India sculptured and inscribed
dolmens have been dug up and photographed, so that their age is no
longer doubtful, and others, as archaic in form as any, are found
belonging to reigning families of chiefs, and still used by them. Last,
not least, Dr. Schliemann’s explorations at Hissarlik have deprived the
prehistoric advocates of one of their most plausible arguments. At a
depth of 8½ metres from the surface he found the remains of a walled
city, with paved streets, and rich in gold, silver, and copper, with
their alloys electron and bronze, and every sign of a high civilization.
Above this, through four or five metres of successive deposits,
indicating probably a duration of twice as many centuries, no trace of
metal was found, but, as he expresses, an “ungeheure menge,” and, in
another place, a “kolossale menge,” an unlimited number of rude stone
implements of every sort. Above this again, the remains of the Greek
city of Ilium Novum.

If this were the case in Asia Minor in historic times, it is in vain to
argue that, when the imported civilization of the Romans passed away,
the Britons may not have returned to their old faith and old practices,
and adhered to them till a new conquest and a new faith led to their
being finally abandoned. It may, or it may not, have been so, but till
some better argument than has yet been brought forward is adduced to
prove that it was not so, the _à priori_ argument of improbability will
not now avail much. Whenever the facts, as stated in the ‘Rude Stone
Monuments,’ are admitted, or any better set of conclusions substituted
for them, their history may be added as a fifth volume to this work.
Till then, people must be content with the hazy nihilism of the
prehistoric myth.


Although the present work may in some respects be considered as only a
new edition of the ‘Handbook of Architecture,’ still the alterations,
both in substance and in form, have been so extensive as to render the
adoption of a new title almost indispensable. The topographical
arrangement, which was the basis of the ‘Handbook,’ has been abandoned,
and a historical sequence introduced in its place. This has entirely
altered the argument of the book, and, with the changes and additions
which it has involved, has rendered it practically a new work;
containing, it is true, all that was included in the previous
publication, but with a great deal that is new and little that retains
its original form.

The logical reasons for these changes will be set forth in their proper
place in the body of the work; but meanwhile, as the Preface is that
part of it which should properly include all personal explanations, I
trust I may not be considered as laying myself open to a charge of
egotism, if I avail myself of this conventional licence in explaining
the steps by which this work attained its present form.

It was my good fortune to be able to devote many years of my life to the
study of Architecture—as a fine art—under singularly favourable
circumstances: not only was I able to extend my personal observations to
the examples found in almost all the countries between China and the
Atlantic shore, but I lived familiarly among a people who were still
practising their traditional art on the same principles as those which
guided the architects of the Middle Ages in the production of similar
but scarcely more beautiful or more original works. With these
antecedents, I found myself in possession of a considerable amount of
information regarding buildings which had not previously been described,
and—what I considered of more value—of an insight into the theory of the
art, which was certainly even more novel.

Believing this knowledge and these principles to be of sufficient
importance to justify me in so doing, I resolved on publishing a work in
which they should be embodied; and, in furtherance of this idea, sixteen
years ago I wrote a book entitled ‘The True Principles of Beauty in
Art.’ The work was not—nor was it intended to be—popular in its form. It
was an attempt of a young author to do what he thought right and best,
without consulting the wishes of the public on the subject, and the
first result, as might have been—and indeed was—anticipated, was that no
publisher would undertake it. In consequence of this, only the first
volume was published by Longmans in 1849, and that at my own expense and
risk. The event proved that the booksellers were right. The book did not
sell, and it became a question whether it was worth my while to waste my
time and spend my money on a work which the public did not want, or
whether it would not be wiser to abandon it, and wait for some more
favourable opportunity. Various circumstances of no public interest
induced me at the time to adopt the latter course, and I felt I could do
so without any breach of faith, as the work, as then published, was
complete in itself, though it had been intended to add two more volumes
to the one already published.

Some years afterwards a proposal was made to me by Mr. Murray to utilise
the materials collected for the more ambitious work in the more popular
form of a Handbook of Architecture. The work was written in a very much
more popular manner than that I had previously adopted, or than I then
liked, or now think worthy of the subject; but the result proved that it
was a style much better suited to the public demand, for this time the
work was successful. Since its publication in 1855 a large number of
copies have been sold; the work has now for some years been out of
print, and a new edition is demanded. Under these circumstances the
question arose, whether it would be better to republish the Handbook in
its original form, with such additions and emendations as its
arrangement admitted of, or whether it would not be better to revert to
a form nearly approaching that adopted in the ‘True Principles,’ rather
than that followed in the composition of the Handbook, as one more
worthy of the subject, and better capable of developing its importance.

The immense advantages of the historical over the topographical method
are too self-evident to require being pointed out, whenever the object
is to give a general view of the whole of such a subject as that treated
of in these volumes, or an attempt is made to trace the connexion of the
various parts to one another. If the intention is only to describe
particular styles or separate buildings, the topographical arrangement
may be found more convenient: but where anything beyond this is
attempted, the historical method is the only one which enables it to be
done. Believing that the architectural public do now desire something
more than mere dry information with regard to the age and shape of
buildings, it has been determined to remodel the work and to adopt the
historical arrangement.

In the present instance there does not seem to be the usual objection to
such a rearrangement—that it would break the thread of continuity
between the old and the new publication—inasmuch as, whichever method
were adopted, the present work must practically be a new book. The mass
of information obtained during the last ten years has been so great that
even in the present volume a considerable portion of it had to be
rewritten, and a great deal added. In the second volume the alterations
will be even more extensive. The publication of the great national work
on Spanish antiquities,[3] of Parcerisa’s ‘Beauties, &c., of Spain,’[4]
and, above all, Mr. Street’s work,[5] have rendered Spanish architecture
as intelligible as that of any other country, though ten years ago it
was a mystery and a puzzle. Schulz’s[6] work has rendered the same
service for Southern Italy, while the publications of De Vogüé[7] and
Texier[8] will necessitate an entirely new treatment of the early
history of Byzantine art. The French have been busily occupied during
the last ten years in editing their national monuments; so have the
Germans. So that in Europe little of importance remains to be described.
In Asia, too, great progress has been made. Photography has rendered us
familiar with many buildings we only knew before by description, and
both the Hindu and Mahomedan remains of India are now generally
accessible to the public. Colonel Yule’s[9] work on Burmah and M.
Mouhot’s[10] on Siam have made us acquainted with the form of the
buildings of those countries, and China too has been opened to the
architectural student. When the Handbook was written there were many
places and buildings regarding which no authentic information was
available. That can hardly be said to be the case now as respects any
really important building, and the time, therefore, seems to have
arrived when their affiliation can be pointed out, if it ever can be,
and the study of architecture may be raised from dry details of
measurements to the dignity of an historical science.

In the present work it is intended that the first two volumes shall
cover the same extent of ground as was comprised in the two volumes of
the ‘Handbook,’ as originally published, with such enlargement as is
requisite to incorporate all recent additions to our knowledge; and
chapters will be added on Celtic—or, as they are vulgarly called,
Druidical—remains omitted in the ‘Handbook.’ The ‘History of Modern
Architecture’ will thus form the third volume of the work; and when—if
ever—it comes to be reprinted, it is intended to add a Glossary of
architectural terms, and other matters necessary to complete the book.
When all this is done, the work will be increased from 1500 pages, which
is the number comprised in the three volumes as at present published, to
more than 2000 pages, and the illustrations will be augmented in at
least an equal ratio.[11] Notwithstanding all this, it is too evident
that even then the work can only be considered as an introduction to the
subject, and it would require a work at least ten times as large to do
full justice even to our present knowledge of the history of
architecture. Any one at all familiar with the literature of the subject
can see at once why this is so. Viollet le Duc, for instance, is now
publishing a dictionary of French architecture from the eleventh to the
sixteenth century. The work will consist, when complete, of ten volumes,
and probably 5000 illustrations. Yet even this will by no means exhaust
the history of the style in one country of Europe during the five
centuries indicated. It would require at least as many volumes to
illustrate, even imperfectly, the architectural history of England
during the same period. Germany would fill an equal number; and the
mediæval architecture of Italy and Spain could not be described in less

In other words, fifty volumes and 20,000 woodcuts would barely suffice
to complete what must in the present work be compressed into 500 pages,
with a like number of illustrations.

Under these circumstances it will be easily understood that this book is
far from pretending to be a complete or exhaustive history of the art.
It is neither an atlas nor a gazetteer, but simply a general map of the
architectural world, and—if I may be allowed the small joke—on
Mercator’s projection. It might with propriety be called an abridgment,
if there existed any larger history from which it could be supposed to
be abridged. At one time I intended to designate it ‘An Historical
Introduction to the Study of Architecture, considered as a Fine Art;’
but though such a title might describe correctly enough the general
scope of the work, its length is objectionable, and, like every
periphrasis, it is liable to misconstruction.

The simple title of ‘History’ has therefore been adopted, under the
impression that it is entitled to such a denomination until at least
some narrative more worthy of the subject takes its place. Considering
the limits it thus became necessary to impose on the extent of the work,
it must be obvious that the great difficulty of its composition was in
the first place to compress so vast a subject into so small a compass;
and next, to determine what buildings to select for illustration, and
what to reject. It would have been infinitely easier to explain what was
necessary to be said, had the number of woodcuts been doubled. Had the
text been increased in the same ratio a great many things might have
been made clear to all, which will now, I fear, demand a certain amount
of previous knowledge on the part of my readers. To have done this,
however, would have defeated some of the great objects of the present
publication, which is intended to convey a general view of the history
and philosophy of the subject, without extending the work so as to make
it inconveniently large, or increasing the price so as to render it
inaccessible to a large number of readers. The principle consequently
that has been adopted in the selection of the illustrations is, first,
that none of the really important typical specimens of the art shall be
passed over without some such illustrations as shall render them
intelligible; and, after this, those examples are chosen which are
remarkable either for their own intrinsic merit, or for their direct
bearing in elucidation of the progress or affinities of the style under
discussion; all others being sternly rejected as irrelevant,
notwithstanding the almost irresistible temptation at times to adorn my
pages with fascinating illustrations. The reader who desires information
not bearing on the general thread of the narrative must thus have
recourse to monographs, or other special works, which alone can supply
his wants in a satisfactory manner.

It may tend to explain some things which appear open to remark in the
following pages, if I allude here to a difference of opinion which has
frequently been pointed out as existing between the views I have
expressed and those generally received regarding several points of
ancient history or ethnology. I always have been aware that this
discrepancy exists; but it has appeared to me an almost inevitable
consequence of the different modes of investigation pursued. Almost all
those who have hitherto written on these subjects have derived their
information from Greek and Roman written texts; but, if I am not very
much mistaken, these do not suffice. The classic authors were very
imperfectly informed as to the history of the nations who preceded or
surrounded them; they knew very little of the archæology of their own
countries, and less of their ethnography. So long, therefore, as our
researches are confined to what they had written, many important
problems remain unsolved, and must ever remain as unsolvable as they
have hitherto proved.

My conviction is, that the lithic mode of investigation is not only
capable of supplementing to a very great extent the deficiencies of the
graphic method, and of yielding new and useful results, but that the
information obtained by its means is much more trustworthy than anything
that can be elaborated from the books of that early age. It does not
therefore terrify me in the least to be told that such men as Niebuhr,
Cornewall Lewis, or Grote, have arrived at conclusions different from
those I have ventured to express in the following pages. Their
information is derived wholly from what is written, and it does not seem
ever to have occurred to them, or to any of our best scholars, that
there was either history or ethnography built into the architectural
remains of antiquity.

While they were looking steadily at one side of the shield, I fancy I
have caught a glimpse of the other.

It has been the accident of my life—I do not claim it as a merit—that I
have wandered all over the Old World. I have seen much that they never
saw, and I have had access to sources of information of which they do
not suspect the existence. While they were trying to reconcile what the
Greek or Roman authors said about nations who never wrote books, and
with regard to whom they consequently had little information, I was
trying to read the history which these very people had recorded in
stone, in characters as clear and far more indelible than those written
in ink. If, consequently, we arrived at different conclusions, it may
possibly be owing more to the sources from which the information is
derived than to any difference between the individuals who announce it.

Since the invention of printing, I am quite prepared to admit that the
“litera scripta” may suffice. In an age like the present, when
nine-tenths of the population can read, and every man who has anything
to say rushes into print, or makes a speech which is printed next
morning, every feeling and every information regarding a people may be
dug out of its books. But it certainly was not so in the Middle Ages,
nor in the early ages of Greek or Roman history. Still less was this so
in Egypt, nor is it the case in India, or in many other countries; and
to apply our English nineteenth century experience to all these seems to
me to be a mistake. In those countries and times, men who had a
hankering after immortality were forced to build their aspirations into
the walls of their tombs or of their temples. Those who had poetry in
their souls, in nine cases out of ten expressed it by the more familiar
vehicle of sculpture or painting rather than in writing. To me it
appears that to neglect these in trying to understand the manners and
customs, or the history of an ancient people, is to throw away one-half,
and generally the most valuable half, in some cases the whole, of the
evidence bearing on the subject. So long as learned men persist in
believing that all that can be known of the ancient world is to be found
in their books, and resolutely ignore the evidence of architecture and
of art, we have little in common. I consequently feel neither abashed
nor ashamed at being told that men of the most extensive book-learning
have arrived at different conclusions from myself—on the contrary, if it
should happen that we agreed in some point to which their contemporary
works did not extend, I should rather be inclined to suspect some
mistake, and hesitate to put it down.

There is one other point in which I fancy misconception exists, of a
nature that may probably be more easily removed by personal explanation
than by any other means. It is very generally objected to my writings
that I neither understand nor appreciate the beauties of Gothic
architecture, and consequently criticise it with undue severity. I
regret that such a feeling should prevail, partly because it is
prejudicial to the dissemination of the views I am anxious to
promulgate, but more because at a time when in this country the
admiration of Gothic art is so nearly universal, it alienates from me
the best class of men who love the art, and prevents their co-operating
with me in the improvement of our architecture, which is the great
object which we all have at heart.

If I cannot now speak of Gothic architecture with the same enthusiasm as
others, this certainly was not the case in the early part of my career
as a student of art. Long after I turned my attention to the subject, I
knew and believed in none but the mediæval styles, and was as much
astonished as the most devoted admirer of Gothic architecture could be,
when any one suggested that any other forms could be compared with it.
If I did not learn to understand it then, it was not for want of earnest
attention and study. I got so far into its spirit that I thought I saw
then how better things could be done in Gothic art than had been done
either in the Middle Ages or since; and I think so now. But if it is to
be done, it must be by free thought, not by servile copying.

My faith in the exclusive pre-eminence of mediæval art was first shaken
when I became familiar with the splendid remains of the Mogul and Pathan
emperors of Agra and Delhi, and saw how many beauties of even the
pointed style had been missed in Europe in the Middle Ages. My
confidence was still further weakened when I saw what richness and
variety the Hindu had elaborated not only without pointed arches, but
indeed without any arches at all. And I was cured when, after a personal
inspection of the ruins of Thebes and Athens, I perceived that at least
equal beauty could be obtained by processes diametrically opposed to
those employed by the mediæval architects.

After so extended a survey, it was easy to perceive that beauty in
architecture did not reside in pointed or in round arches, in bracket
capitals or horizontal architraves, but in thoughtful appropriateness of
design and intellectual elegance of detail. I became convinced that no
form is in itself better than any other, and that in all instances those
are best which are most appropriate to the purposes to which they are

So self-evident do these principles—which are the basis of the reasoning
employed in this book—appear to me, that I feel convinced that there are
very few indeed even of the most exclusive admirers of mediæval art who
would not admit them, if they had gone through the same course of
education as has fallen to my lot. My own conviction is, that the great
difference which seems to exist between my views and those of the
parties opposed to them arises almost entirely from this accident of

In addition to this, however, we must not overlook the fact that for
three centuries all the architects in Europe concurred in believing that
the whole of their art began and ended in copying classical forms and
details. When a reaction came, it was not, unfortunately, in the
direction of freedom; but towards a more servile imitation of another
style, which—whether better or worse in itself—was not a style of our
age, nor suited to our wants or feelings.

It is perhaps not to be wondered at, that after three centuries of
perseverance in one particular groove, men should have ceased to have
any faith in the possibility of reason or originality being employed in
architectural design. As, however, I can adduce in favour of my views
3000 years of perfect success in all countries and under all
circumstances, against 300 years of absolute failure in consequence of
the copying system, though under circumstances the most favourable to
success in other respects, there seems at least an _à priori_
probability that I may be right and that the copyists may be mistaken.

I may be deceiving myself, but I cannot help fancying that I perceive
signs of a reaction. Some men are becoming aware of the fact that
“archæology is not architecture,” and would willingly see something done
more reasonable than an attempt to reproduce the Middle Ages. The
misfortune is, that their enlightenment is more apt to lead to
despondency than to hope. “If,” they ask, “we cannot find what we are
looking for in our own national style, where are we to look for it?” The
obvious answer, that it is to be found in the exercise of common sense,
where all the rest of the world have found it, seems to them beside the
mark. Architecture with most people is a mystery—something different
from all other arts; and they do not see that it is and must be subject
to the same rules as they all are, and must be practised in the same
manner, if it is to be successful.

Whether the nation will or will not soon awaken to the importance of
this prosaic anti-climax, one thing at least seems certain and most
hopeful. Men are not satisfied with what is doing; a restless, inquiring
spirit is abroad, and if people can only be induced to think seriously
about it, I feel convinced that they will be as much astonished at their
present admiration of Gothic town-halls and Hyde Park Albert Memorials,
as we are now at the Gothic fancies of Horace Walpole and the men of his


Although every possible care has been taken in selecting the best
authorities for the statements in the text of the work, as well as the
subjects for illustration, still no one acquainted with the state of the
literature of architecture will need to be told that in many branches
few materials exist for a correct description of the style, and that the
drawings which are available are frequently so inexact, and with scales
so carelessly applied, that it is impossible at times to avoid error.
The plans throughout the book are on too small a scale to render any
minute errors apparent, but being drawn to a uniform scale of 100 feet
to 1 inch, or 1/1200 of the real size, they are quite sufficient as a
means of comparison, even when not mathematically correct. They suffice
to enable the reader to judge of the relative size of two buildings by a
mere inspection of the plans, as correctly as he could by seeing the
buildings themselves, without actually measuring them in all their

As a general rule, the sections or elevations of buildings, throughout
the book, are drawn to a scale double that of the plans, viz., 50 feet
to 1 inch, or 1/600 of the real dimensions; but, owing to the great size
of many of them, it has been found impossible to carry out this in all
instances: where it has not been effected the departure from the rule is
always noted, either below the woodcut or in the text.

No lineal dimensions are quoted in the text except such as it is
believed can be relied upon, and in all instances these are reduced to
English feet. The superficial measures also in the text, like the plans,
are quite sufficient for comparison, though not to be relied upon as
absolutely correct. One great source of uncertainty as regards them is
the difficulty of knowing at times what should be included in the
building referred to. Should, for instance, the Lady Chapel at Ely be
considered an integral part of the Cathedral, or the Chapter-house at
Wells? Should the sacristies attached to Continental cathedrals be
considered as part of the church? or such semi-detached towers as the
south-western one at Bourges? What constitutes the temple at Karnac, and
how much of this belongs to the Hypostyle Hall? These and fifty other
questions occur in almost every instance which may lead two persons to
very different conclusions regarding the superficial dimensions of a
building, even without the errors inherent in imperfect materials.

When either the drawing from which the woodcut is taken was without a
scale, or the scale given could not be depended upon, “No scale” has
been put under the woodcut, to warn the reader of the fact. When the
woodcut was either too large for the page, or too small to be distinct
if reduced to the usual scale, a scale of feet has been added under it,
to show that it is an exception to the rule.

Capitals, windows, and details which are meant to illustrate forms or
construction, and not particular buildings, are drawn to any scale that
seemed best to express the purpose for which they are inserted; when
they are remarkable for size, or as individual examples, a scale has
been added; but this is the exception, not the rule.

Every pain has been taken to secure the greatest possible amount of
accuracy, and in all instances the sources from which the woodcuts have
been taken are indicated. Many of the illustrations are from original
drawings, and of buildings never before published.

                          CONTENTS OF VOL. I.





 I. INTRODUCTORY                                                      52

 II. TURANIAN RACES—Religion, Government, Morals, Literature, Arts,   55
 and Sciences

 III. SEMITIC RACES—Religion, Government, Morals, Literature, Arts,   64
 and Sciences

 IV. CELTIC RACES—Religion, Government Morals, Literature Arts, and   70

 V. ARYAN RACES—Religion, Government, Morals, Literature, Arts, and   75

 VI. CONCLUSION                                                       83

                      PART I.—ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE.

 INTRODUCTORY                                                         87

 OUTLINE OF EGYPTIAN CHRONOLOGY                                       90

                     BOOK I.—EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

 I. INTRODUCTORY                                                      91


 III. FIRST THEBAN KINGDOM—The Labyrinth—Tombs—Shepherds             110

 IV. PHARAONIC KINGDOM—Thebes—Rock-cut Tombs and                     118
 Temples—Mammeisi—Tombs—Obelisks—Domestic Architecture

 V. GREEK AND ROMAN PERIOD—Decline of art—Temples at                 139

 VI. ETHIOPIA—Kingdom of Meroë—Pyramids                              147

                     BOOK II.—ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE.

 I. INTRODUCTORY                                                     151

 II. CHALDEAN TEMPLES                                                157

 III. ASSYRIAN PALACES—Wurka—Nineveh—Nimroud—Khorsabad—Palace of     168
 Sennacherib, Koyunjik—Palace of Esarhaddon—Temples and Tombs

 IV. PERSIA—Pasargadæ—Persepolis—Susa—Fire Temples—Tombs             194

 V. INVENTION OF THE ARCH                                            214

 VI. JUDEA—Temple of Jerusalem                                       219

 VII. ASIA MINOR—Historical notice—Tombs at Smyrna—Doganlu—Lycian    229

                     BOOK III.—GRECIAN ARCHITECTURE.

 I. GREECE—Historical notice—Pelasgic art—Tomb of Atreus—Other       240

 II. HELLENIC GREECE—HISTORY OF THE ORDERS—Doric Temples in          251
 Greece—Doric Temples in Sicily—Ionic Temples—Corinthian
 Temples—Dimensions of Greek Temples—Doric order—Ionic
 order—Corinthian order—Caryatides—Forms of temples—Mode of
 lighting temples—Temple of Diana at Ephesus—Municipal


 I. ETRURIA—Historical notice—Temples—Rock-cut tombs—Tombs at        289
 Castel d’Asso—Tumuli—The arch

 II. ROME—INTRODUCTION                                               302

 III. ROMAN ARCHITECTURE—Origin of style—The arch—Orders: Doric,     305
 Ionic, Corinthian, Composite—Temples—The Pantheon—Roman Temple at
 Athens—at Baalbec

 IV. BASILICAS, THEATRES AND BATHS—Basilicas of Trajan and           327
 Maxentius—Provincial basilicas—Theatre at
 Orange—Colosseum—Provincial amphitheatres—Baths of Diocletian

 France—Arches at Trèves—Pillars of Victory—Tombs—Minerva
 Medica—Provincial tombs—Eastern tombs—Domestic

 VI. PARTHIAN AND SASSANIAN ARCHITECTURE—Historical notice—Palaces   389
 of Al Hadhr and Diarbekr—Domes—Serbistan—Firouzabad—Tâk
 Kesra—Palaces at Mashita—Rabbath Ammon, etc.


                     BOOK I.—BYZANTINE ARCHITECTURE.

 I. INTRODUCTORY                                                     415

 II. BASILICAS—Churches at Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and                 419
 Thessalonica—Rectangular churches in Syria and Asia Minor, with
 wooden roofs and with stone vaults

 III. CIRCULAR OR DOMICAL BUILDINGS—Circular churches with wooden    432
 roofs and with true domes in Syria and Thessalonica—Churches of
 SS. Sergius and Bacchus and Sta. Sophia, Constantinople—Civic

 IV. NEO-BYZANTINE STYLE—Sta. Irene, Constantinople—Churches at      453
 Ancyra, Trabala, and Constantinople—Churches at Thessalonica and
 in Greece—Domestic Architecture

 V. ARMENIA—Churches at Dighour, Usunlar, Pitzounda, Bedochwinta,    466
 Mokwi, Etchmiasdin, and Kouthais—Churches at Ani and

 VI. ROCK-CUT CHURCHES—Churches at Tchekerman, Inkerman, and         481
 Sebastopol—Excavations at Kieghart and Vardzie

 VII. MEDIÆVAL ARCHITECTURE OF RUSSIA—Churches at                    484

                             BOOK II.—ITALY.

 I. INTRODUCTORY—Division and Classification of the Mediæval Styles  500
 of Architecture in Italy

 II. EARLY CHRISTIAN STYLE—Basilicas at Rome—Basilica of St.         504
 Peter—St. Paul’s—Basilicas at Ravenna—St. Mark’s, Venice—Dalmatia
 and Istria—Torcello

 III. CIRCULAR ROMANESQUE CHURCHES—Circular Churches—Tomb of Sta.    542
 Costanza—Churches at Perugia, Nocera, Ravenna, Milan—Secular

 IV. LOMBARD AND ROUND-ARCHED GOTHIC—Chapel at Friuli—Churches at    558
 Piacenza, Asti, and Novara—St. Michele, Pavia—St. Ambrogio,
 Milan—Cathedral, Piacenza—Churches at Verona—Churches at
 Toscanella—Circular Churches—Towers

 V. BYZANTINE-ROMANESQUE—Cathedral of Naples—San Miniato,            582
 Florence—Cathedrals of Pisa and Zara—Cathedrals of Troja, Bari,
 Bittonto—San Nicole, Bari—Cloisters of St. John Lateran—Baptistery
 of Mont St. Angelo—San Donato, Zara—Towers—Civic Architecture

 VI. POINTED ITALIAN GOTHIC—Fresco paintings—Churches at Vercelli,   607
 Asti, Verona, and Lucca—Cathedral at Siena—Sta. Maria,
 Florence—Church at Chiaravalle—St. Petronio, Bologna—Cathedral at
 Milan—Certosa, near Pavia—Duomo at Ferrara

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.

 NO.                                                                 PAGE

               _Frontispiece._—Elevation of Façade of
               Cologne Cathedral.

               _Vignette to Title-page._—Section of the
               Parthenon, showing the Author’s views as to
               the admission of light.

 1-6.          Diagrams (technical)                                  8-34

 7.            Section of Great Pyramid                                98

 8.            Section of King’s Chamber and of Passage in            101
               Great Pyramid

 9, 10.        Pyramid of Sakkara                                     103

 11.           Doorway in Tomb at the Pyramids                        106

 12.           Sarcophagus of Mycerinus                               106

 13.           Plan of Temple near the Sphinx                         107

 14.           Plans of houses, Kahun                                 113

 15.           Tomb at Beni-Hasan                                     114

 16.           Proto-Doric Pillar at Beni-Hasan                       115

 17.           Reed Pillar from Beni-Hasan                            115

 18.           Lotus Pier, Zawyet-el-Mayyitûr                         115

 19.           Rameseum at Thebes                                     120

 20.           Central pillar, from Rameseum                          121

 21.           Section of Palace of Thothmes III., Thebes             123

 22.           Plan of Hypostyle Hall at Karnac                       124

 23.           Section of central portion of same                     124

 24.           Caryatide Pillar, from the Great Court at              125

 25.           South Temple of Karnac                                 126

 26.           Section through Hall of Columns of same                126

 27.           Pillar, from Sedinga                                   127

 28.           Plan of smaller Temple, Abydus                         128

 29.           Plan of Temple of Abydus                               128

 30.           Plan and Section of Rock-cut Temple at                 130

 31.           Mammeisi at Elephantine                                132

 32.           Plan and Section of Tomb of Meneptah at                134

 33.           Lateran obelisk                                        135

 34.           Pavilion at Medeenet-Habû                              137

 35.           View of Pavilion at Medeenet-Habû                      137

 36.           Elevation of an Egyptian House                         138

 37.           Plan of Temple at Edfû                                 140

 38.           View of Temple at Edfû                                 141

 39.           Bas-relief at Tel el Amarna                            142

 40.           Façade of Temple at Denderah                           142

 41.           Pillar, from the Portico at Denderah                   143

 42.           Plan of Temple at Kalábsheh                            143

 43.           Section of Temple at Kalábsheh                         144

 44.           View of Temple at Philæ                                145

 45.           Plan of Temple at Philæ                                145

 46.           Pyramids at Meroë                                      148

 47.           Obelisks at Axum                                       150

 48.           Diagram of elevation of Temple at Mugheyr              159

 49.           Plan of Temple at Mugheyr                              159

 50.           Diagram elevation of Birs Nimroud                      160

 51.           Diagram plan of Birs Nimroud                           160

 52.           Observatory at Khorsabad                               162

 53.           Plan of Observatory, Khorsabad                         162

 54.           Representation of a Temple, Koyunjik                   164

 55.           Elevation of a portion of the external Wall            165
               of Wuswus, at Wurka

 56.           Plan of portion of Wuswus                              165

 57.           Elevation of Wall at Wurka                             166

 58.           Plan of North-West Palace at Nimroud                   170

 59.           Plan of Palace at Khorsabad                            171

 60.           Terrace Wall at Khorsabad                              173

 61.           Plan of the Palace at Khorsabad                        174

 62.           Existing remains of Propylæa at Khorsabad              175

 63.           Enlarged plan of the three principal Rooms             176
               at Khorsabad

 64.           Restored section of principal Rooms at                 177

 65.           Restoration of Northern Angle of Palace                178
               Court, Khorsabad

 66.           City Gateways, Khorsabad                               180

 67.           City Gateway at Khorsabad                              181

 68.           Interior of a Yezidi House at Bukra, in the            182

 69.           Hall of South-West Palace, Nimroud                     184

 70.           Central Palace, Koyunjik                               185

 71.           Pavement Slab from the Central Palace,                 186

 72.           Pavilion, from the Sculptures at Khorsabad             187

 73.           Assyrian Temple, North Palace, Koyunjik                188

 74.           Bas-relief, representing façade of Assyrian            188

 75.           Exterior of a Palace, from a Bas-relief at             189

 76.           King’s Tent (Koyunjik)                                 190

 77.           Horse tent (Nimroud)                                   190

 78.           Stylobate of Temple, Khorsabad                         191

 79.           Section of same                                        191

 80.           Sacred Symbolic Tree of the Assyrians                  192

 81.           Obelisk of Divanubara                                  192

 82.           Plan of Platform at Pasargadæ                          195

 83.           Elevation of same                                      195

 84.           Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadæ                               196

 85.           Plan of Tomb of Cyrus                                  197

 86.           Section of Tomb of Cyrus                               198

 87.           View from top of Great Stairs at Persepolis            199

 88.           Stairs to Palace of Xerxes                             200

 89.           Propylæa at Persepolis                                 202

 90.           Palace of Darius                                       202

 91.           Façade of Palace of Darius at Persepolis               203

 92.           Tomb of Darius at Naksh-i-Rustam                       204

 93.           Palace of Xerxes, Persepolis                           205

 94.           Restored Plan of Great Hall of Xerxes at               206

 95.           Pillar of Western Portico                              207

 96.           Pillar of Northern Portico                             207

 97.           Restored Section of Hall of Xerxes                     208

 98.           Restored Elevation of Capital at Susa                  209

 99.           Frieze of Archers at Susa                              210

 100.          Khabah at Istakr                                       212

 101.          Section of Tomb near the Pyramids of Gizeh             215

 102.          Vaulted Drain beneath the South-East Palace            215
               at Nimroud

 103.          Arch at Dêr-el-Bahree                                  216

 104.          Arch of the Cloaca Maxima, Rome                        216

 105.          Arches in the Pyramids at Meroë                        217

 106.          Diagram plan of Solomon’s Palace                       220

 107.          Diagram sections of the House of the Cedars            221
               of Lebanon

 108.          The Tabernacle, showing one half ground plan           222
               and one half as covered by the curtains

 109.          South-East View of the Tabernacle, as                  223
               restored by the Author

 110.          Plan of Solomon’s Temple, showing the                  224
               disposition of the chambers in two storeys

 111.          Plan of Temple at Jerusalem, as rebuilt by             225

 112.          View of the Temple from the East, as it                226
               appeared at the time of the Crucifixion

 113.          Elevation of Tumulus at Tantalais                      230

 114.          Plan and Section of Chamber in Tumulus at              230

 115.          Section of Tomb of Alyattes                            230

 116.          Rock-cut Frontispiece at Doganlu                       233

 117.          Lycian Tomb                                            234

 118, 119,     Rock-cut Lycian Tombs                        235, 236, 236

 121.          Ionic Lycian Tomb                                      237

 122.          Elevation of the Monument and Section of the           239
               Tomb at Amrith

 123.          West View of the Acropolis restored                    240

 124.          Section and Plan of Tomb of Atreus at Mycenæ           243

 125.          Fragment of Pillar of same                             244

 126.          Gateway at Thoricus                                    245

 127.          Arch at Delos                                          245

 128.          Wall in Peloponnesus                                   246

 129.          Gateway at Assos                                       246

 130.          Doorway at Missolonghi                                 247

 131.          Gate of Lions, Mycenæ                                  247

 132.          Plan of Palace at Tiryns                               248

 133.          Plan of the Acropolis at Athens                        251

 134.          Temple at Ægina restored                               252

 135.          Ancient Corinthian Capital                             258

 136, 137,     Doric Column of the Temple at Delos, the               260
 138.          Parthenon at Athens, and the Temple at

 139.          The Parthenon, Athens                                  262

 140.          Ionic order of Erechtheium                             264

 141.          Ionic order in Temple of Apollo at Bassæ               265

 142.          Section of Capital of same                             265

 143.          Order of the Choragic Monument of                      266
               Lysicrates, Athens

 144.          Order of the Tower of the Winds                        267

 145.          Caryatide Figure in the British Museum                 268

 146.          Caryatide Figure from the Erechtheium                  268

 147.          Telamones at Agrigentum                                269

 148.          Small Temple at Rhamnus                                269

 149.          Plan of Temple of Apollo at Bassæ                      270

 150.          Plan of Parthenon at Athens                            270

 151.          Plan of the Great Temple at Selinus                    270

 152.          Plan of Great Temple at Agrigentum                     271

 153.          Section of the Parthenon                               273

 154.          Part Section, part Elevation, of Great                 273
               Temple at Agrigentum

 155.          Plan of Erechtheium                                    274

 156.          Elevation of West End of Erechtheium                   274

 157.          View of Erechtheium                                    275

 158.          Restored plan of Erechtheium                           276

 159.          Plan of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus                 277

 160.          Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, Athens                279

 161.          Plan of Theatre at Dramyssus                           280

 162.          View of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, as             282
               restored by the Author

 163.          Plan of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, from           283
               a drawing by the Author

 164.          Lion Tomb at Cnidus                                    284

 165.          Rock-cut and Structural Tombs at Cyrene                286

 166.          Tombs at Cyrene                                        287

 167.          Plan and Elevation of an Etruscan Temple               292

 168.          Tombs at Castel d’Asso                                 295

 169.          Mouldings from Tombs at same                           295

 170.          Plan of Regulini Galeassi Tomb                         296

 171.          Sections of same                                       297

 172.          Section of a Tomb at Cervetri                          298

 173.          View of principal Chamber in the Regulini              298
               Galeassi Tomb

 174.          Plan of Cocumella, Vulci                               299

 175.          View of same                                           299

 176.          Tomb of Aruns, Albano                                  300

 177.          Gateway at Arpino                                      301

 178.          Aqueduct at Tusculum                                   301

 179.          Doric Order                                            308

 180.          Ionic Order                                            309

 181.          Corinthian Order                                       310

 182.          Composite Order                                        312

 183.          Corinthian Base, found in Church of St.                312
               Praxede in Rome

 184.          Doric Arcade                                           313

 185.          View in Courtyard of Palace at Spalato                 314

 186.          Temple of Mars Ultor                                   316

 187.          Plan of Maison Carrée at Nîmes                         317

 188.          Plan of Temple of Diana at Nîmes                       317

 189.          View of the Interior of same                           318

 190.          Plan of Pantheon at Rome                               319

 191.          Half Elevation, half Section, of the                   320
               Pantheon at Rome

 192.          Plan of Temple at Tivoli                               322

 193.          Restored Elevation of Temple at Tivoli                 322

 194.          Plan and elevation of Temple in Diocletian’s           323
               Palace at Spalato

 195.          Ruins of the Temple of Jupiter Olympius at             324

 196.          Plan of same                                           324

 197.          Plan of Small Temple at Baalbec                        325

 198.          Elevation of same                                      325

 199.          Plan of Trajan’s Basilica at Rome                      328

 200.          Restored Section of Trajan’s Basilica                  328

 201.          Plan of Basilica of Maxentius                          330

 202.          Longitudinal Section of same                           330

 203.          Transverse Section of same                             330

 204.          Pillar of Maxentian Basilica                           331

 205.          Plan of the Basilica at Trèves                         332

 206.          Internal View of same                                  332

 207.          External View of same                                  333

 208.          Plan of Basilica at Pompeii                            333

 209.          Plan of the Theatre at Orange                          335

 210.          View of same                                           336

 211.          Elevation and Section of part of the Flavian           338
               Amphitheatre, at Rome

 212.          Quarter-plan of the Seats and quarter-plan             338
               of the Basement of the Flavian Amphitheatre

 213.          Elevation of Amphitheatre at Verona                    341

 214.          Baths of Caracalla, as restored by A. Blouet           344

 215.          Arch of Trajan at Beneventum                           347

 216.          Arch of Titus at Rome                                  348

 217.          Arch of Septimius Severus                              348

 218.          Porte St. André at Autun                               349

 219.          Plan of Porta Nigra at Trèves                          350

 220.          View of same                                           350

 221.          Bridge at Chamas                                       351

 222.          Column at Cussi                                        354

 223.          Capital of Column at Cussi                             354

 224.          Tomb of Cæcilia Metella                                355

 225.          Columbarium near the Gate of St. Sebastian,            356

 226.          Section of Sepulchre at San Vito                       357

 227.          Section and Elevation of Tomb of Sta.                  358
               Helena, Rome

 228.          Plan of Minerva Medica at Rome                         360

 229.          Section of Minerva Medica                              360

 230.          Rib of Roof of Minerva Medica                          360

 231.          Tomb at St. Rémi                                       361

 232.          Monument at Igel, near Trèves                          362

 233.          Khasné, Petra                                          364

 234.          Section of Tomb at Khasné                              365

 235.          Corinthian Tomb, Petra                                 366

 236.          Rock-cut interior at Petra                             367

 237.          Façade of Herod’s Tombs                                368

 238.          So-called “Tomb of Zechariah”                          368

 239.          The so-called Tomb of Absalom                          369

 240.          Angle of Tomb of Absalom                               369

 241.          Façade of the Tomb of the Judges                       370

 242.          Tomb at Mylassa                                        371

 243.          Tomb at Dugga                                          372

 244.          Plan of the Kubr Roumeïa                               373

 245.          View of the Madracen                                   373

 246.          Palace of Diocletian at Spalato                        377

 247.          Golden Gateway at Spalato                              379

 248.          House of Pansa at Pompeii                              381

 249.          Wall Decoration at Pompeii                             383

 250.          Aqueduct of Segovia                                    386

 251.          Aqueduct of Tarragona                                  386

 252.          Bridge of Trajan, Alcantara, Spain                     387

 253.          Plan of Palace at Al Hadhr                             390

 254.          Elevation of part of the Palace of Al Hadhr            391

 255.          Plan of the Mosque at Diarbekr                         392

 256.          Façade of South Palace at Diarbekr                     393

 257.          View in the Court showing North Palace                 394

 258.          Plan of Palace at Serbistan                            396

 259.          Section of Palace at Serbistan                         396

 260.          Plan of Palace at Firouzabad                           397

 261.          Doorway at Firouzabad                                  397

 262.          Part of External Wall, Firouzabad                      398

 263.          Plan of Tâk Kesra at Ctesiphon                         399

 264.          Elevation of Great Arch of same                        399

 265.          Sketch Plan of Palace at Mashita                       400

 266.          Interior of ruined Triapsal Hall of Palace             402
               of same

 267.          One compartment of Western Octagon Tower of            403
               the Persian Palace at Mashita

 268.          Part of West Wing Wall of External Façade of           404
               Palace at Mashita

 269.          Elevation of External Façade of the Palace             405
               at Mashita, as restored by the Author

 270.          Plan of Palace at Rabbath Ammon in Moab                407

 271.          Section of Palace at same                              407

 272.          Arch of Chosroes at Takt-i-Bostan                      408

 273.          Plan of Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem            419

 274.          Plan of Eski Djuma, Thessalonica                       420

 275.          Plan of St. Demetrius, Thessalonica                    421

 276.          Arches in St. Demetrius at Thessalonica,               421
               A.D. 500 to 520.

 277.          Pillar in Church of St. John, Constantinople           422

 278.          Plan of Church in Baquoza                              423

 279.          Section of Church at Baquoza                           423

 280.          Plan of Church and Part of Monastic                    423
               Buildings at Kalat Sema’n

 281.          Plan of Church at Roueiha                              424

 282.          Section of Church at Roueiha                           424

 283.          Plan of Church at Qalb Louzeh                          425

 284.          Apse of Church at Qalb Louzeh                          425

 285.          Plan of Chapel at Babouda                              426

 286.          Elevation of Chapel at Babouda                         426

 287.          Façade of Church at Tourmanin                          427

 288.          Plan of Church at Pergamus                             428

 289.          Section of Church at Tafkha                            429

 290.          Plan of Church at Tafkha                               429

 291.          Section on C D of same                                 429

 292.          Half Front Elevation, Tafkha                           429

 293.          Plan of Great Church at Hierapolis                     430

 294.          Plan of Church at Hierapolis                           430

 295.          Section of same. With monogram found on its            431

 296.          Plan of Church on Mount Gerizim                        432

 297.          Plan of Cathedral at Bosra                             432

 298.          Section of Double Church at Kalat Sema’n               433

 299.          Plan of Church, Kalat Sema’n                           433

 300.          Diagram of Byzantine Arrangement                       434

 301.          Diagram of Byzantine Pendentives                       434

 302.          Interior of Tomb of Galla Placidia, Ravenna            435

 303.          Interior of Chapel in Archiepiscopal Palace,           435

 304.          Plan of the Church of St. George at                    435

 305.          Section of same                                        436

 306.          View of same                                           436

 307.          Plan of Kalybe at Omm-es-Zeitoun                       437

 308.          View of same                                           437

 309.          Plan of Church at Ezra                                 438

 310.          Section of Church at Ezra                              438

 311.          Plan of Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus              439

 312.          Section of Church of S. Sergius                        439

 313.          Capital from Church of same                            439

 314.          Entablature from same                                  439

 315.          Plan of Sta. Sophia. Upper Storey and Ground           441

 316.          Elevation of Façade of same                            442

 317.          Section of Sta. Sophia from E. to W.                   443

 318.          Lower Order of Sta. Sophia                             445

 319.          Upper Order of Sta. Sophia                             446

 320.          Elevation of House at Refadi                           448

 321.          Plan of House at Moudjeleia                            448

 322.          Window at Chaqqa                                       448

 323.          Interior of the Golden Gateway                         449

 324.          Golden Gateway (West side)                             450

 325.          Roof of one of the Compartments of the Gate            450

 326.          Tomb at Hass                                           451

 327.          Half Section, half Elevation of Dome of Sta.           453
               Irene at Constantinople

 328.          Church of St. Clement, Ancyra                          455

 329.          Plan of St. Clement, Ancyra                            455

 330.          Plan of Church at Trabala                              456

 331.          Church of Moné tés Choras                              456

 332.          Plan of the Theotokos                                  457

 333.          Elevation of Church of Theotokos                       457

 334.          Apse of Church of the Apostles, Thessalonica           458

 335.          Plan of Catholicon: Dochiariu                          459

 336.          Plan of Panagia Lycodemo                               460

 337.          Church of Panagia Lycodemo                             460

 338.          Cathedral at Athens                                    461

 339.          Plan of the Church at Mistra                           462

 340.          Church at Mistra                                       462

 341.          Apse from Mistra                                       463

 342.          Palace of the Hebdomon, Constantinople                 464

 343.          View of Church at Dighour                              467

 344.          Plan of Church at Dighour                              468

 345.          Section of Dome at Dighour                             468

 346.          Plan of Church at Usunlar                              469

 347.          West Elevation of same                                 469

 348.          Plan of Church at Pitzounda                            469

 349.          Section of Church at Pitzounda                         470

 350.          View of Church at Pitzounda                            470

 351.          Plan of Church at Bedochwinta                          471

 352.          Plan of Church at Mokwi                                471

 353.          Plan of Church at Etchmiasdin                          472

 354.          Plan of Church of Kouthais                             472

 355.          Window at Kouthais                                     472

 356.          Plan of Cathedral at Ani                               473

 357.          Section of Cathedral at Ani                            473

 358.          Side Elevation of same                                 474

 359.          East Elevation of Chapel at Samthawis                  475

 360.          Niche at Samthawis                                     475

 361.          Plan of Tomb at Ani                                    475

 362.          Tomb at Ani                                            475

 363.          Tomb at Varzahan                                       476

 364.          Capital at Ani                                         477

 365.          Capital at Gelathi                                     477

 366.          Window in small Church at Ish Khan, Tortoom,           478

 367.          Window in same                                         478

 368.          Jamb of Doorway at same                                479

 369.          Cave of Inkerman                                       482

 370.          Rock-cut Church at Inkerman                            482

 371.          View in Church Cave, near Sebastopol                   482

 372.          Plan of Church of St. Basil, Kief                      486

 373.          Plan of St. Irene, Kief                                486

 374.          Plan of Cathedral at Kief                              486

 375.          East End of the Church at Novogorod                    487

 376.          Cathedral at Tchernigow                                488

 377.          Village Church near Novogorod                          489

 378.          Village Church near Tzarskoe Selo                      490

 379.          Interior of Church at Kostroma                         491

 380.          Interior of Church near Kostroma                       492

 381.          Doorway of the Troitzka Monastery, near                493

 382.          Plan of the Church of the Assumption, Moscow           493

 383.          Plan of the Church of St. Basil (Vassili               493
               Blanskenoy), Moscow

 384.          View of the same                                       494

 385.          View of Church at Kurtea d’Argyisch                    495

 386.          Plan of same                                           495

 387.          Tower of Ivan Veliki, Moscow, with the                 496
               Cathedrals of the Assumption and the
               Archangel Gabriel

 388.          Tower of Boris, Kremlin, Moscow                        497

 389.          Sacred Gate, Kremlin, Moscow                           498

 390.          Plan of Church at Djemla                               509

 391.          Plan of Church at Announa                              509

 392.          Plan of Church at Ibrim in Nubia                       510

 393.          Plan of Basilica at Orleansville                       510

 394.          Plan of White Convent near Siout                       511

 395.          Plan of the Church of San Clemente at Rome             513

 396.          Plan of the original Basilica of St. Peter             516
               at Rome

 397.          Basilica of St. Peter, before its                      518

 398.          View of the Interior of St. Paul’s at Rome,            520
               before the fire

 399.          Plan of Sta. Maria Maggiore                            521

 400.          View of Sta. Maria Maggiore                            522

 401.          Plan of Sta. Agnese                                    522

 402.          Section of Sta. Agnese                                 522

 403.          Plan of St. Lorenzo, Fuori le Mura, Rome               523

 404.          Interior view of same                                  524

 405.          Plan of Sta. Pudentiana                                525

 406.          Section of Sta. Pudentiana                             525

 407.          Capital of Sta. Pudentiana                             525

 408.          Half Section, half Elevation, of the Church            526
               of San Vincenzo alle Tre Fontane, Rome

 409.          Plan of St. Apollinare in Classe                       528

 410.          Arches in Church of St. Apollinare Nuovo               528

 411.          Part of Apse in St. Apollinare in Classe,              529

 412.          View of Exterior of same                               529

 413.          Plan of St. Mark’s, Venice                             531

 414.          Capital in Apse of same                                532

 415.          View of St. Mark’s, Venice                             533

 416.          Section of St. Mark’s, Venice                          534

 417.          Plan of St. Antonio, Padua                             536

 418.          Church at Parenzo in Istria                            537

 419.          Capital of Pillar at Parenzo                           538

 420.          Plan of Church at Torcello                             539

 421.          Apse of Basilica at Torcello                           540

 422.          Plan of Baptistery of Constantine                      544

 423.          Plan of Tomb of Sta. Costanza, Rome                    544

 424.          Plan of San Stefano Rotondo                            545

 425.          Plan of Sti. Angeli, Perugia                           545

 426.          Section of Sti. Angeli, Perugia                        546

 427.          Plan of Baptistery at Nocera dei Pagani                546

 428.          Section of same                                        547

 429.          Plan of St. Vitale, Ravenna                            548

 430.          Section of St. Vitale, Ravenna                         548

 431.          Capital from same                                      549

 431_a_.       Capital from same                                      550

 432.          Plan of S. Lorenzo at Milan                            551

 433.          Half-section, half-elevation of the                    552
               Baptistery at Novara

 434.          Plan of Tomb of Galla Placidia, Ravenna                553

 435.          Capital of shafts forming peristyle round              554
               Theodoric’s Tomb, Ravenna

 436.          Plan of Tomb of Theodoric                              554

 437.          Elevation of Tomb of Theodoric                         554

 438.          Palazzo delle Torre, Turin                             556

 439.          Chapel at Friuli                                       559

 440.          Plan of San Antonio, Piacenza                          560

 440a.         Section of same                                        561

 441.          Plan and Section of Baptistery at Asti                 561

 442.          Plan of the Cathedral at Novara                        562

 443.          Elevation and Section of same                          563

 444.          Section of San Michele, Pavia                          564

 445.          View of the Apse of same                               565

 446.          Plan of San Ambrogio, Milan                            566

 447.          Atrium of San Ambrogio, Milan                          567

 448.          Façade of the Cathedral at Piacenza                    568

 449.          Apse of the Cathedral, Verona                          570

 450.          Façade of San Zenone, Verona                           571

 451.          Plan of Sta. Maria, Toscanella                         573

 452.          View of the Interior of same                           573

 453.          Elevation of the Exterior of same                      574

 454.          Plan of the Duomo, Brescia                             575

 455.          Elevation of Duomo at Brescia                          575

 456.          Section of Duomo at Brescia                            576

 457.          Plan of San Tomaso in Limine                           576

 458.          Section of San Tomaso                                  576

 459.          Tower of Sta. Maria-in-Cosmedin                        578

 460.          Plan of the Old and New Cathedrals at Naples           583

 461.          Plan of San Miniato, Florence                          584

 462.          Section of same                                        584

 463.          Elevation of same                                      585

 464.          Transverse section of same                             586

 465.          View of the Cathedral at Pisa                          587

 466.          Plan of Zara Cathedral                                 588

 467.          View of Zara Cathedral                                 589

 468.          Façade of Cathedral at Troja                           591

 469.          Plan of Cathedral at Bari                              591

 470.          East End of Cathedral at Bari                          592

 471.          Apse of San Pellino                                    592

 472.          Church at Caserta Vecchia                              592

 473.          West Front of Bittonto Cathedral                       593

 474.          West Front of the Church of San Nicolo in              594

 475.          View of the Interior of San Nicolo, Bari               595

 476.          Plan of Crypt at Otranto                               596

 477.          View in Crypt at Otranto                               596

 478.          Window in the South side of the Cathedral              597
               Church in Matera

 479.          Doorway of Church of Pappacoda, Naples                 598

 480.          Cloister of St. John Lateran                           599

 481.          Plan of Church at Molfetta                             600

 482.          Section of Church at Molfetta                          600

 483.          Section of Baptistery, Mont St. Angelo                 601

 484.          Plan of same                                           601

 485.          Tomb of Bohemund at Canosa                             601

 486.          Plans of San Donato, Zara                              603

 487.          Section of San Donato, Zara                            603

 488.          Leaning Tower at Pisa                                  604

 489.          Tower of Gaeta                                         604

 490.          Plan of Castel del Monte                               606

 491.          Part Section, part Elevation, of Castel del            606

 492.          Plan of the Church at Vercelli                         610

 493.          Church at Asti                                         611

 494.          Plan of Sta. Anastasia, Verona                         612

 495.          One Bay of Sta. Anastasia, Verona                      612

 496.          One Bay, externally and internally, of the             613
               Church of San Martino, Lucca

 497.          Plan of Cathedral at Siena                             614

 498.          Façade of the Cathedral at Siena                       615

 499.          Plan of the Cathedral at Florence                      617

 500.          Section of Dome and part of Nave of the                618
               Cathedral at Florence

 501.          Part of the Flank of Cathedral at Florence             619

 502.          Dome at Chiaravalle, near Milan                        620

 503.          Section of Eastern portion of Church at                621

 504.          Plan of the part executed of St. Petronio,             623

 505.          Section of San Petronio, Bologna                       624

 506.          Plan of the Cathedral of Milan                         625

 507.          Section of Cathedral of Milan                          627

 508.          View of the Interior of same                           628

 509.          Plan of designed Façade of same                        629

 510.          View of the Certosa, near Pavia                        630

 511.          Duomo at Ferrara                                       632

 512.          View of St. Francesco, Brescia                         633







                                PART I.

                               SECTION I.

Like every other object of human inquiry, Architecture may be studied
from two distinct points of view. Either it may be regarded statically,
and described scientifically as a thing existing, without any reference
to the manner in which it was invented; or it may be treated
historically, tracing every form from its origin and noting the
influence one style has had upon another in the progress of time.

The first of these methods is more technical, and demands on the part of
the student very considerable previous knowledge before it can be
successfully prosecuted. The other, besides being more popular and
easily followed, has the advantage of separating the objects of study
into natural groups, and tracing more readily their connection and
relation to one another. The great superiority, however, of the
historical mode of study arises from the fact that, when so treated,
Architecture ceases to be a mere art, interesting only to the artist or
his employer, but becomes one of the most important adjuncts of history,
filling up many gaps in the written record and giving life and reality
to much that without its presence could with difficulty be realised.

A still more important use of architecture, when followed as a history,
is found in its ethnographic value. Every different race of men had
their own peculiar forms in using the productions of this art, and their
own mode of expressing their feelings or aspirations by its means. When
properly studied, it consequently affords a means as important as
language for discriminating between the different races of mankind—often
more so, and one always more trustworthy and more easily understood.

In consequence of these advantages, the historical mode is that which
will be followed in this work. But before entering upon the narrative,
it will be well if a correct definition of what Architecture really is
can be obtained. Without some clear views on the technical position of
the art, much that follows will be unintelligible and the meaning of
what is said may be mistaken.

A great deal of the confusion of ideas existing on the subject of
Architecture arises from the fact that writers have been in the habit of
speaking of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture as three similar fine
arts, practised on the same principles. This error arose in the 16th
century, when in a fatal hour painters and sculptors undertook also the
practice of architecture, and builders ceased to be architects. This
confusion of ideas has been perpetuated to the present hour, and much of
the degraded position of the art at this day is owing to the mistake
then made. It cannot therefore be too strongly insisted upon that there
is no essential connection between painting and sculpture on the one
hand and architecture on the other.

The two former rank among what are called Phonetic arts. Their business
is to express by colour or form ideas that could be—generally have
been—expressed by words. With the Egyptians their hieroglyphical
paintings were their only means of recording their ideas. With us, such
a series of pictures as Hogarth’s ‘Mariage à la Mode’ or ‘The Rake’s
Progress’ are novels written with the brush; and many of our Mediæval
cathedrals possess whole Bibles carved in stone. Poetry, Painting, and
Sculpture are three branches of one form of art, refined from Prose,
Colour, and Carving, and form a group apart, interchanging ideas and
modes of expression, but always dealing with the same class of images
and appealing to the same class of feelings.

Distinct and separate from these Phonetic arts is another group,
generally known as the Technic arts, comprising all those which minister
to the primary wants of mankind under such various heads as food,
clothing, and shelter. Between these two groups is a third called the
Æsthetic arts, forming, as it were, a flux between the Technic and
Phonetic arts, fusing the whole into one homogeneous mass. They take
their rise from the fact that to every want which the technic arts are
designed to supply, Nature has attached a gratification which is capable
of refining all the useful arts into fine arts. Thus the Technic art of
agriculture is capable of supplying food in its simple form; but by the
refinements of cookery and of wine-making, simple meats and drinks are
capable of affording endless gratification to the senses. Simple
clothing to keep out the cold requires little art, but embroidery,
dyeing, lace-making, and fifty other arts employ the hands of millions,
and the gratification afforded by their use, the thoughts of as many
more. Shelter, too, is easily provided, but ornamental and ornamented
shelter, or in other words architecture, is one of the most prominent of
the fine arts. Music, though hardly known as a useful art, is the most
typical of the Æsthetic arts, and, “married to immortal verse,” steps
upwards into the region of the Phonetic arts, just as building, when
used for ornament, is raised out of the domain of the Technic arts.

Like music, colour and form may be so arranged as to afford infinite
pleasure to the senses without their having any phonetic value; but when
used, as sculpture and paintings are and have been in all ages, to tell
a tale or to express emotion, they rank high among the Phonetic arts;
and though able to express certain impressions even more vividly than
can be done by words, they cannot rise to the high intellectual position
that can be attained either by Poetry or Eloquence when expressed only
in that verbal language which is the highest gift of God to man.

                           II.—BEAUTY IN ART.

The term Beauty in Art is little else than a synonym for Perfection, but
perfection in these three classes of arts is far from being the same
thing, or of anything like the same value, as an intellectual
expression. The beauty of a machine, however complicated, arises mainly
from its adaptability to use; while a mosaic of exquisite colours, or an
elevated piece of instrumental music, raises emotions of a far higher
class: and a painting or a poem may appeal to all that is great or noble
in human nature.

If, for instance, we take a dozen arts at random, and divide them into
twelve equal component parts, as they belong to each of the three
divisions, Technic, Æsthetic, or Phonetic. If we further assign one as
the relative intellectual value of the Technic element, two as that due
to the Æsthetic, and three as the proportionate importance of the
Phonetic, we obtain the index number in the fourth column of the table
below, which is probably not far from expressing the true relative value
of each. Of course there are adventitious circumstances which may raise
the proportionate value of any art very considerably, and, on the other
hand, neglect of cultivation may depress others below their true value;
but the principles on which the table is formed are probably those by
which a correct estimate may be most easily obtained.

                                Technic. Æsthetic. Phonetic.
      Heating, Ventilation, &c.       11     1             — = 13
      Turnery, Joinery, &c.            9     3             — = 15
      Gastronomy                       7     5             — = 17
      Jewellery                        7     4             1 = 18
      Clothing                         5     6             1 = 20
      Ceramique                        5     5             2 = 21
      Gardening                        4     6             2 = 22
      Architecture                     4     4             4 = 24
      Music                            2     6             4 = 26
      Painting and Sculpture           3     3             6 = 27
      Drama                            2     2             8 = 30
      Epic                             —     2            10 = 34
      Eloquence                        —     1            11 = 35

The first three arts enumerated in the above table are evidently utterly
incapable of Phonetic expression, and the first hardly even can be
raised to the second class, though air combined with warmth does afford
pleasure to the senses. Joinery may convey an idea of perfection from
the mode in which it is designed or executed; while gastronomy, as above
mentioned, does really afford important gratification to the senses,
approaching nearly in importance to the plain food-supplying art of
cookery. Jewellery may combine extreme mechanical beauty of execution
with the most harmonious arrangement of colour, and may also be made to
express a meaning, though only to a very limited extent. Clothing
depends on both colour and form for its perfection more than even beauty
of material, and may be made to express gaiety or sorrow, though perhaps
more from association than from any inherent qualities. The arts of the
potter can exhibit not only perfection in execution, but practically
depend both in colour and form, especially the latter, to raise their
products out of the category of mere Technic arts; while the paintings
on them, which are indispensable to the highest class of ceramique,
render them capable of taking their place among those objects which
affect a Phonetic mode of utterance. As mentioned above, floriculture
and landscape gardening may, besides their use, afford infinite pleasure
to the senses and even express gaiety or gloom, and, from mere
prettiness, may rise towards something like sublimity in expression.

Architecture is, however, the central art of the group, which in its
highest form combines all the three classes in nearly equal proportions,
but not always necessarily so. The Pyramids of Egypt, for instance,
though Technically the most wonderful buildings in the world, have very
little Æsthetic, and hardly more than one of Phonetic, value. The great
temple at Baalbec,—and in fact all the Roman temples, may be classed as
containing six parts of Technic value for mechanical excellence of size
and construction, four for beauty of form and detail, but certainly not
more than two parts for any expression of religion or intellect they may
exhibit, making up twenty for the index of their artistic value. Cologne
cathedral takes very nearly the same position in the scale, but Rheims,
Bourges, and the more perfect Gothic cathedrals may be classed higher,
as five Technic, three Æsthetic, and four Phonetic, making twenty-three
altogether as their index; and they are only surpassed by such a
building as the Parthenon at Athens, which, though not so large and
imposing as some others, is, so far as we know, the most perfect
building yet erected by man. It owes this perfection mainly to the equal
balance of parts. There is nothing so difficult or startling in its
construction as there is in most Gothic cathedrals; but what there is is
mechanically perfect, both in design and execution. Its form is nearly
perfect, combining stability with simplicity and at the same time
avoiding monotony or any appearance of greater strength than is
absolutely necessary. Its details are all as exquisite in form as the
Temple itself, and it was at one time coloured to an extent we can
hardly now realise, but which must, when complete, have made it one of
the most perfect examples of Æsthetic art. The walls of the cella were
almost certainly covered with Phonetic paintings similar to those in the
Lesche at Delphi; and the pediment, the metopes, the friezes, were all
sculptured to such an extent as to render the Phonetic expression of the
building at least equal to either its Technic or its Æsthetic
excellence. It is easy to conceive a building, such as a trophy or a
mausoleum, in which painting and sculpture shall be relatively more
important than they are in this instance, and in which consequently the
index may be raised above twenty-four; but if this were so, it ought
probably to be classed among works of sculpture or painting rather than
as an object of architecture.

In music the Æsthetic element naturally prevails over the other two, but
Technic cleverness of execution often affords to some as much pleasure
as the harmony of the sounds produced; and, on the other hand, in its
power of expressing joy or sorrow and of exciting varied emotions at
will, it rivals frequently the more distinct and permanent power of
words themselves, when unaccompanied by Æsthetic forms of art. It is of
course, however, in the outpourings of his imagination or in the logical
products of his reason that man rises highest, and stands most
distinctly apart from the rest of created beings; and though all may not
be capable of appreciating it, it is when both Technic and Æsthetic
adjuncts are laid aside, and man listens only to the voice of reason,
that he reaches what, as far as we can now see, is the highest form of
his artistic development.

Of course there are many other forms in which this might be expressed,
and many will be inclined to dispute the correctness of the figures
assigned to each art. They are, in fact, only approximations, and as a
first attempt can hardly be expected to meet all the conditions of the
problem. The truth of the matter is, it would have been better to use
algebraic symbols and to allow every one to translate them into numbers
according to his own fancy, but in the present state of matters such an
attempt would have savoured of affectation. The art of criticism is not
sufficiently advanced for this, but if two or three would follow up what
is here indicated it might be placed on a basis from which to proceed
higher. Meanwhile, perhaps the annexed diagram may serve to explain the
relation of the three classes of art to one another, and the way in
which they overlap and mix together so as to make up a perfect art. Like
the preceding table, it will require several editions, the work of
several minds, before it can be perfected, but it probably is not far
from representing the truth as at present known.

There is still another relation of these arts to one another which must
not be overlooked before proceeding further, as a knowledge of it is
indispensable in forming a correct judgment of their respective merits.
Like the Sciences, the Technic Arts hardly depend, after the first steps
have been taken, on individual prowess for their advancement. An
astronomer, a chemist, or a natural historian, now starts from the
highest point reached by any of his predecessors, and he has only to
observe and calculate, to analyse and put together again, in order to
advance our knowledge. A giant may of course make a rapid stride in
advance, but a hundred dwarfs will, if they persevere steadily in the
right path, not only overtake him, but probably advance far beyond
anything the most gigantic intellect can accomplish in science. So it is
also in the mechanical arts. The immense strides that have of late years
been made in improving all the machines employed in manufactures have
not been made by the greatest intellects, but by thousands of men
suggesting new contrivances and acquiring skill by steady improvement in
manipulation. In ship-building, for instance, one of the most complex of
the useful arts, no one can tell who the men were who converted the rude
galleys in which our forefathers sailed to Crecy and Agincourt into the
gigantic commercial steamers and war-ships of the present day. It was
the result of thousands of intellects working steadily towards a
well-defined aim, and accomplishing a triumph by a process which must
always be successful in the Technic arts when persevered in long enough.

[Illustration: Diagram No. 1.]

The case is somewhat different with the Æsthetic arts. Some men are
insensible to the harmony of colour and are not offended by the crudest
contrasts. Others do not perceive concords in music, and the most
violent discords give them no pain; others, on the contrary, are endowed
with the utmost sensibility on these points, and are consequently not
only able to appreciate the beauty of the arts arising out of colour or
sound, but of advancing what to those who cannot understand them is an
inexplicable mystery.

When from the Æsthetic Arts we turn to the Sciences and Technic Arts, we
find, as just pointed out, that the individual becomes much less
important and the process everything. Every astronomer now knows more
than Newton; every chemist than John Dalton. Any ordinary mechanic can
start from a higher point than was reached by a Watt or an Arkwright or
a Stephenson, and can surpass them. But no man can mount on the
shoulders of such men as Handel or Mozart or Beethoven, and surpass
them; and the higher we ascend in the scale of arts the more important
does the individual become and the less so the process. A Phidias, a
Raphael, a Shakespeare, are yet unsurpassed, and possibly never may be.
All men may be taught to carve, to colour, and to write mechanically,
and may even be instructed to practise these processes so as to afford
pleasure to themselves and others; but when from this we rise to
Phonetic painting, sculpture, or poetry, and the still higher region of
philosophy, the individual becomes all in all, and his special genius
there stamps the true value on the production.

In this respect, again, Architecture is singularly happy as a means of
study. As a Technic art it is practised in the same progressive
principles as all its sister arts, irrespective of individuality. As an
Æsthetic art it is hardly so individual as music, because its forms and
colours are permanent and capable of being repeated with such
improvements as each experiment suggests in every subsequent building;
but when it attempts Phonetic forms of utterance, these are seldom so
absolutely integral that they cannot be separated from the building and
judged of apart. A Greek Temple or a Mediæval cathedral without painting
and sculpture may be poor and inanimate, but still so beautiful in its
form, so grand from its mass, and so imposing from its durability, that
in its Technic-Æsthetic form alone it may command our admiration, more
perhaps than any other work of human hands, except of course, as said
before, the highest intellectual forms of Phonetic art. Architecture
thus combines in itself the steady progressive perfectibility of a
Technic art quite independent of the intellectual capabilities of the
architect, combined with the Æsthetic appreciation of form and colour
which is mostly universal, and can at all events be generally inculcated
and learned. But its greatest glory is that it can enlist in its service
the higher branches of Phonetic sculpture and painting, which can be
exercised only by specially gifted individuals. It is difficult to
conceive all these qualities being equally combined in the person of any
one architect, and in practice it is by no means necessary for success
that it should be so, though, if possible, the combination would no
doubt be advantageous. In criticising, on the contrary, it is always
necessary to separate and distinguish between the mechanical, the
sensuous, and the intellectual part of a design. Without this an
intelligent appreciation of its merits or defects can hardly be

Notwithstanding all that has been pointed out already, and the
advantages of its central position among the sister arts, combined with
its own intrinsic merits, Architecture would never have attained to the
high position it now occupies had it not been fitted with an aim which
raised it far above all utilitarian feelings. In all ages, though
certainly not among all nations, Architecture has been employed as one
of the principal forms of worship. The desire to erect a temple to their
Gods worthy to be their dwelling-place has exalted even the rude arts of
savages into something worthy of admiration, and when such a nation as
the Egyptians were inspired with the same desire, they produced, even in
the earliest ages, temples which still excite feelings of admiration and
of awe. Had the practice of architecture been restricted to supplying
only the ordinary wants of mortals, it never would have risen to be the
noble art it now is. Neither the palaces of the greatest kings, nor the
wants of the proudest municipalities, nor the emporia of the richest
commerce would have supplied that lofty aim which is indispensable for
any great intellectual effort. But when, freed from all trammels of use
or expense, the object is to erect a casket worthy to enshrine the
sacred image of a god whom men feared but adored, the aspiration
elevates the work far beyond its useful purpose. It is when men seek to
erect a hall in which worshippers may meet to render that homage which
is their greatest privilege and their highest aspiration, when all that
man can conceive that is great and beautiful is enlisted to create
something worthy of the purpose, that temples have been erected which
rank among the most successful works man has yet produced. Had any
exigencies of use or economy controlled the design of the Parthenon, or
of any of our Mediæval cathedrals, they must have taken a much lower
place in the scale than they now occupy. Their architects were, however,
in fact as free from any utilitarian influences as the poets who
composed the ‘Iliad’ or ‘Paradise Lost.’


If what has just been said above is understood, it may be sufficient to
make it possible to give a more definite answer than has usually been
done to two questions to which hitherto no satisfactory reply has been
accorded in modern times. “_What_,” it is frequently asked, _“is the
true definition of the word Architecture, or of the Art to which it
applies?” “What are the principles which ought to guide us in designing
or criticising Architectural objects?”_

Fifty years ago the answers to these questions generally were, that
Architecture consisted in the closest possible imitation of the forms
and orders employed by the Romans; that a church was well designed
exactly in the proportion in which it resembled a heathen temple; and
that the merit of a civic building was to be measured by its imitation,
more or less perfect, of some palace or amphitheatre of classic times.

In the beginning of this century these answers were somewhat modified by
the publication of Stuart’s works on Athens; the word Grecian was
substituted for Roman in all criticisms, and the few forms that remain
to us of Grecian art were repeated _ad nauseam_ in buildings of the most
heterogeneous class and character.

At the present day churches have been entirely removed from the domain
of classic art, and their merit is made to depend on their being correct
reproductions of mediæval designs. Museums and town halls still
generally adhere to classic forms, alternating between Greek and Roman.
In some of our public buildings an attempt has recently been made to
reproduce the Middle Ages, while in our palaces and clubhouses that
compromise between classicality and common sense which is called Italian
is generally adhered to. These, it is evident, are the mere changing
fashions of art. There is nothing real or essential in this Babel of
styles, and we must go deeper below the surface to enable us to obtain a
true definition of the art or of its purposes. Before attempting this,
however, it is essential to bear in mind that two wholly different
systems of architecture have been followed at different periods in the
world’s history.

The first is that which prevailed since the art first dawned, in Egypt,
in Greece, in Rome, in Asia, and in all Europe, during the Middle Ages,
and generally in all countries of the world down to the time of the
Reformation in the 16th century, and still predominates in remote
corners of the globe wherever European civilisation or its influences
have not yet penetrated. The other being that which was introduced with
the revival of classic literature contemporaneously with the reformation
of religion, and still pervades all Europe and wherever European
influence has established itself.

In the first period the art of architecture consisted in designing a
building so as to be most suitable and convenient for the purposes
required, in arranging the parts so as to produce the most stately and
ornamental effect consistent with its uses, and in applying to it such
ornament as should express and harmonise with the construction, and be
appropriate to the purposes of the building; while at the same time the
architects took care that the ornament should be the most elegant in
itself which it was in their power to design.

Following this system, not only the Egyptian, the Greek, and the Gothic
architects, but even the indolent and half-civilised inhabitants of
India, the stolid Tartars of Thibet and China, and the savage Mexicans,
succeeded in erecting great and beautiful buildings. No race, however
rude or remote, has failed, when working on this system, to produce
buildings which are admired by all who behold them, and are well worthy
of the most attentive consideration. Indeed, it is almost impossible to
indicate one single building in any part of the world, designed during
the prevalence of this true form of art, which was not thought
beautiful, not alone by those who erected it, but which does not remain
a permanent object of admiration and of study even for strangers in all
future ages.

The result of the other system is widely different from this. It has now
been practised in Europe for more than three centuries, and by people
who have more knowledge of architectural forms, more constructive skill,
and more power of combining science and art in effecting a great object,
than any people who ever existed before. Notwithstanding this, from the
building of St. Peter’s at Rome to that of our own Parliament Houses,
not one building has been produced that is admitted to be entirely
satisfactory, or which permanently retains a hold on general admiration.
Many are large and stately to an extent almost unknown before, and many
are ornamented with a profuseness of which no previous examples exist;
but with all this, though they conform with the passing fashions of the
day, they soon become antiquated and out of date, and men wonder how
such a style could ever have been thought beautiful, just as we wonder
how any one could have admired the female costumes of the last century
which captivated the hearts of our grandfathers.

It does not require us to go very deeply into the philosophy of the
subject to find out why this should be the case; the fact simply being
that no sham was ever permanently successful, either in morals or in
art, and no falsehood ever remained long without being found out, or
which, when detected, inevitably did not cease to please. It is
literally impossible that we should reproduce either the circumstances
or the feelings which gave rise to classical art and made it a reality;
and though Gothic art was a thing of our country and of our own race, it
belongs to a state of society so totally different from anything that
now exists, that any attempt at reproduction now must at best be a
masquerade, and never can be a real or earnest form of art. The
designers of the Eglinton Tournament carried the system to a perfectly
legitimate conclusion when they sought to reproduce the costumes and
warlike exercises of our ancestors; and the pre-Raphaelite painters were
equally justified in attempting to do in painting that which was done
every day in architecture. Both attempts failed signally, because we had
progressed in the arts of war and painting, and could easily detect the
absurdity of these practices. It is in architecture alone of all the
arts that the false system remains, and we do not yet perceive the
impossibility of its leading to any satisfactory result.

[Illustration: No. 2.]

Bearing all this in mind, let us try if we can come to a clearer
definition of what this art really is, and in what its merits consist.
Let us suppose the Diagram (Woodcut No. 2) to represent an ordinary
house, such as is found in many of our London streets. The first
division, A, is the most prosaic form of building, no more thought being
bestowed on it than if it were a garden wall. The second division, B, is
better; the cornices and string-course indicate the levels of the
several floors into which the building is divided; the quoins of the
door and windows are emphasized by the use of a better or different
coloured brick, and the arched forms given to door and window on ground
floor suggest increased strength. In the third division, C, this has
been carried still further; the rustication of the stonework on the
lower storey gives an appearance of greater solidity, and the importance
given to the cornices, the addition of architrave mouldings round
windows, with pediments to those of the first floor, and the decoration
of the parapet carry the house out of the domain of building into that
of architecture. The fourth division carries this still farther; the
whole design is here divided into three stages—the ground floor being
treated as a podium or base to the two floors above, the whole being
crowned by an attic storey; greater importance is given to the front by
the slight projection of two wings; the entrance doorway is emphasized,
and by means of cornices, quoins, and pilasters, a play of light and
shade is given to an elevation which virtually lies in one plane. In
this instance not only is a greater amount of ornament applied, but the
parts are so disposed as in themselves to produce a more agreeable
effect; and although the height of the floors remains the same, and the
amount of light introduced very nearly so, still the slight grouping of
the parts is such as to produce a better class of architecture than
could be done by the mere application of any amount of ornament. The
diagram deals with one phase of the subject, “a town house,” and with
the elevation only, the style being that generally known as Italian; if
it is admitted that the last division is an object of architecture,
which the first is not, it follows from this analysis that architecture
commences when some embellishment is added to the building which was not
strictly a structural necessity. The value of the embellishment, from an
architectural point of view, depends on—the extent to which, in its
application, the structural features have been recognised,—the
appropriateness of the ornament,—the careful study of proportion and
balance of the several parts, and,—in a certain measure, the extent to
which some known precedent has been followed.

Recurring, for instance, to the Parthenon, to illustrate this principle
farther. The proportions of length to breadth, and of height to both
these, are instances of carefully-studied proportion and balance; and
still more so is the arrangement of the porticoes and the disposition of
the peristyle. If all the pillars were plain square piers, and all the
mouldings square and flat, still the Parthenon could not fail, from the
mere disposition of its parts, to be a pleasing and imposing building.
So it is with a Gothic cathedral. The proportion of length to breadth,
the projection of the transepts, the different height of the central and
side aisles, the disposition and proportion of the towers, are all
instances of proportion and balance, and beautiful even if without
ornament. Many of the older abbeys, especially those of the Cistercians,
are as devoid of ornament as a modern barn; but from the mere
disposition of their parts they are always pleasing and, if large, are
imposing objects of architecture. Stonehenge is an instance of
ornamental construction wholly without ornament, yet it is almost as
imposing an architectural object as any of the same dimensions in any
part of the world. It is, however, when ornament is added to this, and
when that ornament is elegant itself and appropriate to the construction
and to the purposes of the building, that the temple or the cathedral
ranks among the highest objects of the art and becomes one of the
noblest works of man.

Even without structural decoration, a building may, by mere dint of
ornament, become an architectural object, though it is far more
difficult to attain good architecture by this means, and in true styles
it has seldom been attempted. Still, such a building as the town hall at
Louvain, which if stripped of its ornaments would be little better than
a factory, by richness and appropriateness of ornament alone has become
a very pleasing specimen of the art. In modern times it is too much the
fashion to attempt to produce architectural effects not only without
attending to ornamental construction, but often in defiance of, and in
concealing that which exists. When this is done, the result must be bad
art; but nevertheless it is architecture, however execrable it may be.

If these premises are correct, the art of the builder consists in merely
putting materials together so as to attain the desired end in the
speediest and simplest fashion. The art of the civil or military
engineer consists in selecting the best and most appropriate materials
for the object he has in view, and using these in the most scientific
manner, so as to ensure an economical but satisfactory result. Where the
engineer leaves off, the art of the architect begins. His object is to
arrange the materials of the engineer, not so much with regard to
economical as to artistic effects, and by light and shade, and outline,
to produce a form that in itself shall be permanently beautiful. He then
adds ornament, which by its meaning doubles the effect of the
disposition he has just made, and by its elegance throws a charm over
the whole composition.

Viewed in this light, it is evident that there are no objects that are
usually delegated to the civil engineer which may not be brought within
the province of the architect. A bridge, an aqueduct, the embankment of
a lake, or the roof of a station, are all as legitimate subjects for
architectural ornament as a temple or a palace. They were all so treated
by the Romans and in the Middle Ages, and are so treated up to the
present day in the remote parts of India, and wherever true art

It is not essential that the engineer should know anything of
architecture, though it is certainly desirable he should do so; but, on
the other hand, it is indispensably necessary that the architect should
understand construction. Without that knowledge he cannot design; and
although it has been conceived by some that it would be better to
delegate the mechanical task to the engineer, and so restrict himself
entirely to the artistic arrangement and ornamentation of his design,
such a course would be fatal to the development of architectural style.
It is true that in some of the works above stated, it is generally
thought desirable to confide them to engineers; but in the few cases in
which architects have been called in to co-operate with them, as in the
roofs of the Great Western and Midland Railway Stations, the result has
been so satisfactory as to suggest the advantage of such combination. In
the Great Exhibition of 1851, the happiest feature, the semicircular
roof of the transept, was suggested by the late Sir Charles Barry, and
the developments of that form in the nave and transepts of the Crystal
Palace constitute still the most beautiful features of that building. In
works of a monumental character, such as town-halls, museums, or public
galleries, which are designed to last for centuries, the strict economy
of material, which is sometimes deemed necessary in engineering works,
is not advisable, because mass, stability, and durability—three elements
into which we enter later on—are of the very essence of their
architectural character. In these and other works of a simple character,
such as private houses, the calculations are not of so elaborate a
nature as to be outside the architect’s knowledge; and although of late
years the use of iron girders, stanchions, and columns has introduced a
new factor among building materials which occasionally may call for the
assistance of an expert to substantiate the architect’s calculations, it
has hitherto been the custom to conceal these features, so that they
have not entered the phase of architectural design. In course of time,
when an increased knowledge of the properties of iron is acquired, we
may hope to see a great development in its artistic treatment, so that
it may eventually rise to the dignity and assume the character, which in
the architectural styles of bygone times, all other materials have

In addition, however, to the convenient arrangement and artistic
treatment of a building, and its proper and sound construction, there is
still a third element which requires the special endowment of an artist
for its exercise. No architectural object can be considered as complete,
or as having attained the highest excellence till it is endowed with a
voice through the aid of phonetic sculpture and painting.

In a few words, therefore, a perfect building may be defined as one that

   1st, as Technic principles:
     Convenience of general arrangements,
     Proper distribution of materials and sound construction.

   2nd, as Æsthetic principles of design:
     Artistic conception combined with
     Ornamented construction, and

   3rd, for Phonetic adjuncts:
     Sculpture, or
     Painting, employed as voices to tell the story of the building,
       and explain the purposes for which it was designed, or those
       to which it is dedicated.

Besides these, however, which are the principal theoretic
characteristics of architecture, there are several minor technical
principles which it may be convenient to enumerate before proceeding

It may also be well to give such examples as shall make what has just
been indicated theoretically, clearer than can be done by the mere
enunciation of abstract principles.


The first and most obvious element of architectural grandeur is size—a
large edifice being always more imposing than a small one; and when the
art displayed in two buildings is equal, their effect is almost in the
direct ratio of their dimensions. In other words, if one temple or
church is twice or three times as large as another, it is twice or three
times as grand or as effective. The Temple of Theseus differs very
little, except in dimensions, from the Parthenon, and, except in that
respect, hardly differed at all from the Temple of Jupiter at Elis; but
because of its smaller size it must rank lower than the greater
examples. In our own country many of our smaller abbeys or parish
churches display as great beauty of design or detail as our noblest
cathedrals, but, from their dimensions alone, they are insignificant in
comparison, and the traveller passes them by, while he stands awe-struck
before the portals or under the vault of the larger edifices.

The pyramids of Egypt, the topes of the Buddhists, the mounds of the
Etruscans, depend almost wholly for their effect on their dimensions.
The Romans understood to perfection the value of this element, and used
it in its most unsophisticated simplicity to obtain the effect they
desired. In the Middle Ages the architects not only aspired to the
erection of colossal edifices, but they learnt how they might greatly
increase the apparent dimensions of a building by a scientific
disposition of the parts and a skilful arrangement of ornament, thereby
making it look very much larger than it really was. It is, in fact, the
most obvious and most certain, though it must be confessed perhaps the
most vulgar, means of obtaining architectural grandeur; but a true and
perfect example can never be produced by dependence on this alone, and
it is only when size is combined with beauty of proportion and elegance
of ornament that perfection in architectural art is attained.


Next to size the most important element is stability. By this is meant,
not merely the strength required to support the roof or to resist the
various thrusts and pressures, but that excess of strength over mere
mechanical requirement which is necessary thoroughly to satisfy the
mind, and to give to the building a monumental character, with an
appearance that it could resist the shocks of time or the violence of
man for ages yet to come.

No people understood the value of this so well as the Egyptians. The
form of the Pyramids is designed wholly with reference to stability, and
even the Hypostyle Hall at Karnac excites admiration far more by its
massiveness and strength, and its apparent eternity of duration, than by
any other element of design. In the Hall all utilitarian exigencies and
many other obvious means of effect are sacrificed to these, and with
such success that after more than 3000 years’ duration still enough
remains to excite the admiration which even the most unpoetical
spectators cannot withhold from its beauties.

In a more refined style much of the beauty of the Parthenon arises from
this cause. The area of each of the pillars in the portico of the
Pantheon at Rome is under 20 feet, that of those of the Parthenon is
over 33 feet, and, considering how much taller the former are than the
latter, it may be said that the pillars at Athens are twice as massive
as those of the Roman temple, yet the latter have sufficed not only for
the mechanical, but for many points of artistic stability; but the
strength and solidity of the porticos of the Parthenon, without taking
into consideration its other points of superiority, must always render
it more beautiful than the other.

The massiveness which the Normans and other early Gothic builders
imparted to their edifices arose more from clumsiness and want of
constructive skill than from design; but, though arising from so ignoble
a cause, its effect is always grand, and the rude Norman nave often
surpasses in grandeur the airy and elegant choir which was afterwards
added to it. In our own country no building is more entirely
satisfactory than the nave at Winchester, where the width of the pillars
exceeds that of the aisles, and the whole is Norman in outline, though
Gothic in detail. On the other hand no building of its dimensions and
beauty of detail can well be so unsatisfactory as the choir at Beauvais.
Though it has stood the test of centuries, it looks so frail, requires
so many props to keep it up, and is so evidently an overstrained
exercise of mechanical cleverness, that though it may excite wonder as
an architectural _tour de force_, it never can satisfy the mind of the
true artist, or please to the same extent as less ambitious examples.

Even when we descend to the lowest walks of architecture we find this
principle prevailing. It would require an immense amount of design and
good taste to make the thin walls and thinner roof of a brick and slated
cottage look as picturesque or so well as one built of rubble-stone, or
even with mud walls, and a thatched roof: the thickness and solidity of
the one must always be more satisfactory than the apparent flimsiness of
the other. Here, as in most cases, necessity controls the architect; but
when fettered by no utilitarian exigencies, there is no safer or readier
means of obtaining an effect than this, and when effect alone is sought
it is almost impossible for an architect to err in giving too much
solidity to his building. Size and stability are alone sufficient to
produce grandeur in architectural design, and, where sublimity is aimed
at, they are the two elements most essential to its production, and are
indeed the two without which it cannot possibly be attained.


As the complement to stability, the length of time during which
architectural objects are calculated to endure confers on them an
impress of durability which can hardly be attained by any of the sister
arts. Sculpture may endure as long, and some of the Egyptian examples of
that art found near the Pyramids are as old as anything in that country,
but it is not their age that impresses us so much as the story they have
to tell. The Pyramids, on the other hand, in the majesty of their simple
Technic grandeur, do challenge a quasi-eternity of duration with a
distinctness that is most impressive, and which there, as elsewhere, is
one of the most powerful elements of architectural expression.

When Horace sang—

                    “Vixêre fortes ante Agamemnona
                    Multi, sed omnes illacrimabiles
                        Urgentur ignotique longâ
                    Nocte, carent quia vate sacro,”

he overlooked the fact that long before Troy was dreamt of, Egyptian
kings had raised pyramids which endure to the present day, and the
Pharaohs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties had filled the
valley of the Upper Nile with temples and palaces and tombs which tell
us not only the names of their founders, but reveal to us their thoughts
and aspirations with a distinctness that no sacred poet could as well
convey. From that time onward the architects have covered the world with
monuments that still remain on the spot where they were erected, and
tell all, who are sufficiently instructed to read their riddles aright,
what nations once occupied these spots, what degree of civilisation they
had reached, and how, in erecting these monuments on which we now gaze,
they had attained that quasi-immortality after which they hankered.

Sculpture and painting, when allied with architecture, may endure as
long, but their aim is not to convey to the mind the impression of
durability which is so strongly felt in the presence of the more massive
works of architectural art. Even when ruined and in decay the buildings
are almost equally impressive, while ruined sculptures or paintings are
generally far from being pleasing objects, and, whatever their other
merits may be, certainly miss that impression obtained from the
durability of architectural objects.


Another very obvious mode of obtaining architectural effect is by the
largeness or costliness of the materials employed. A terrace, or even a
wall, if composed of large stones, is in itself an object of
considerable grandeur, while one of the same lineal dimensions and of
the same design, if composed of brick or rubble, may appear a very
contemptible object.

Like all the more obvious means of architectural effect, the Egyptians
seized on this and carried it to its utmost legitimate extent. All their
buildings, as well as their colossi and obelisks, owe much of their
grandeur to the magnitude of the materials employed in their
construction. The works called Cyclopean found in Italy and Greece have
no other element of grandeur than the size of the stones or rather
masses of rock which the builders of that age were in the habit of
using. In Jerusalem nothing was so much insisted upon by the old
writers, or is so much admired now, as the largeness of the stones
employed in the building of the Temple and its substructions.

We can well believe how much value was attached to this when we find
that in the neighbouring city of Baalbec stones were used of between 60
and 70 ft. in length, weighing as much as the tubes of the Britannia
Bridge, for the mere bonding course of a terrace wall. Even in a more
refined style of architecture, a pillar, the shaft of which is of a
single stone, or a lintel or architrave of one block, is always a
grander and more beautiful object than if composed of a number of
smaller parts. Among modern buildings, the poverty-stricken design of
the church of St. Isaac at St. Petersburg is redeemed by the grandeur of
its monolithic columns, whilst the beautiful design of the Madeleine at
Paris is destroyed by the smallness of the materials in which it is
expressed. It is easy to see that this arises from the same feeling to
which massiveness and stability address themselves. It is the expression
of giant power and the apparent eternity of duration which they convey;
and in whatever form that may be presented to the human mind, it always
produces a sentiment tending towards sublimity, which is the highest
effect at which architecture or any other art can aim.

The Gothic architects ignored this element of grandeur altogether, and
sought to replace it by the display of constructive skill in the
employment of the smaller materials they used, but it is extremely
questionable whether in so doing they did not miss one of the most
obvious and most important principles of architectural design.

Besides these, value in the mere material is a great element in
architectural effect. We all, for instance, admire an ornament of pure
gold more than one that is only silver gilt, though few can detect the
difference. Persons will travel hundreds of miles to see a great diamond
or wonderful pearl, who would not go as many yards to see paste models
of them, though if the two were laid together on the table very few
indeed could distinguish the real from the counterfeit.

When we come to consider such buildings as the cathedral at Milan or the
Taje Mehal at Agra, there can be no doubt but that the beauty of the
material of which they are composed adds very much to the admiration
they excite. In the latter case the precious stones with which the
ornamental parts of the design are inlaid, convey an impression of
grandeur almost as directly as their beauty of outline.

It is, generally speaking, because of its greater preciousness that we
admire a marble building more than one of stone, though the colour of
the latter may be really as beautiful and the material at least as
durable. In the same manner a stone edifice is preferred to one of
brick, and brick to wood and plaster; but even these conditions may be
reversed by the mere question of value. If, for instance, a brick and a
stone edifice stand close together, the design of both being equally
appropriate to the material employed, our judgment may be reversed if
the bricks are so beautifully moulded, or made of such precious clay, or
so carefully laid, that the brick edifice costs twice as much as the
other; in that case we should look with more respect and admiration on
the artificial than on the natural material. From the same reason many
elaborately carved wooden buildings, notwithstanding the smallness of
their parts and their perishable nature, are more to be admired than
larger and more monumental structures, and this merely in consequence of
the evidence of labour and consequent cost that have been bestowed upon

Irrespective of these considerations, many building materials are
invaluable from their own intrinsic merits. Granite is one of the best
known, from its hardness and durability, marble from the exquisite
polish it takes, and for its colour, which for internal decoration is a
property that can hardly be over-estimated. Stone is valuable on account
of the largeness of the blocks that can be obtained and because it
easily receives a polish sufficient for external purposes. Bricks are
excellent for their cheapness and the facility with which they can be
used, and they may also be moulded into forms of great elegance, so that
beauty may be easily attained; but sublimity is nearly impossible in
brickwork, without at least such dimensions as have rarely been
accomplished by man. The smallness of the material is such a manifest
incongruity with largeness of the parts, that even the Romans, though
they tried hard, could never quite overcome the difficulty.

Plaster is another artificial material. Except in monumental erections
it is superior to stone for internal purposes, and always better than
brick from the uniformity and smoothness of its surface, the facility
with which it is moulded, and its capability of receiving painted or
other decorations to any extent.

Wood should be used externally only on the smallest and least monumental
class of buildings, and even internally is generally inferior to
plaster. It is dark in colour, liable to warp and split, and
combustible, which are all serious objections to its use, except for
flooring, doors, and such purposes as it is now generally applied to.

Cast iron is another material rarely brought into use, though more
precious than any of those above enumerated, and possessing more
strength, though probably less durability. Where lightness combined with
strength is required, it is invaluable, but though it can be moulded
into any form of beauty that may be designed, it has hardly yet ever
been so used as to allow of its architectural qualities being

All these materials are nearly equally good when used honestly each for
the purpose for which it is best adapted; they all become bad either
when employed for a purpose for which they are not appropriate, or when
one material is substituted in the place of or to imitate another.
Grandeur and sublimity can only be reached by the more durable and more
massive class of materials, but beauty and elegance are attainable in
all, and the range of architectural design is so extensive that it is
absurd to limit it to one class either of natural or of artificial
materials, or to attempt to prescribe the use of some and to insist on
that of others, for purposes to which they are manifestly inapplicable.


Construction has been shown to be the chief aim and object of the
engineer; with him it is all in all, and to construct scientifically and
at the same time economically is the beginning and end of his
endeavours. It is far otherwise with the architect. Construction ought
to be his handmaid, useful to assist him in carrying out his design, but
never his mistress, controlling him in the execution of that which he
would otherwise think expedient. An architect ought always to allow
himself such a margin of strength that he may disregard or play with his
construction, and in nine cases out of ten the money spent in obtaining
this solidity will be more effective architecturally than twice the
amount expended on ornament, however elegant or appropriate that may be.

So convinced were the Egyptians and Greeks of this principle, that they
never used any other constructive expedient than a perpendicular wall or
prop, supporting a horizontal beam; and half the satisfactory effect of
their buildings arises from their adhering to this simple though
expensive mode of construction. They were perfectly acquainted with the
use of the arch and its properties, but they knew that its employment
would introduce complexity and confusion into their designs, and
therefore they wisely rejected it. Even to the present day the Hindus
refuse to use the arch, though it has long been employed in their
country by the Mahometans. As they quaintly express it, “An arch never
sleeps;” and it is true that by its thrust and pressure it is always
tending to tear a building to pieces; in spite of all counterpoises,
whenever the smallest damage is done, it hastens the ruin of a building,
which, if more simply constructed, might last for ages.

The Romans were the first who introduced a more complicated style. They
wanted larger and more complex buildings than had been before required,
and they employed brick and concrete to a great extent even in their
temples and most monumental buildings. They obtained both space and
variety by these means, with comparatively little trouble or expense;
but we miss in all their works that repose and harmony which is the
great charm that pervades the buildings of their predecessors.

The Gothic architects went even beyond the Romans in this respect. They
prided themselves on their constructive skill, and paraded it on all
occasions, and often to an extent very destructive of true architectural
design. The lower storey of a French cathedral is generally very
satisfactory; the walls are thick and solid, and the buttresses, when
not choked up with chapels, just sufficient for shadow and relief; but
the architects of that country were seized with a mania for clerestories
of gigantic height, which should appear internally mere walls of painted
glass divided by mullions. This could only be effected either by
encumbering the floor of the church with piers of inconvenient thickness
or by a system of buttressing outside. The latter was the expedient
adopted; but notwithstanding the ingenuity with which it was carried
out, and the elegance of many of the forms and ornaments used, it was
singularly destructive of true architectural effect. It not only
produces confusion of outline and a total want of repose, but it is
eminently suggestive of weakness, and one cannot help feeling that if
one of these props were removed, the whole would tumble down like a
house of cards.

This was hardly ever the case in England: the less ambitious dimensions
employed in this country enabled the architects to dispense in a great
measure with these adjuncts, and when flying buttresses are used, they
look more as if employed to suggest the idea of perfect security than as
necessary to stability. Owing to this cause the French have never been
able to construct a satisfactory vault: in consequence of the weakness
of their supports they were forced to stilt, twist, and dome them to a
most unpleasing extent, and to attend to constructive instead of
artistic necessities. With the English architects this never was the
case; they were always able to design their vaults in such forms as they
thought would be most beautiful artistically, and, owing to the greater
solidity of their supports, to carry them out as at first designed.[12]

It was left for the Germans to carry this system to its acme of
absurdity. Half the merit of the old Round arched Gothic cathedrals on
the Rhine consists in their solidity and the repose they display in
every part. Their walls and other essential parts are always in
themselves sufficient to support the roofs and vaults, and no
constructive contrivance is seen anywhere; but when the Germans adopted
the pointed style, their builders—they can hardly be called
architects—seemed to think that the whole art consisted in supporting
the widest possible vaults on the thinnest possible pillars and in
constructing the tallest windows with the most attenuated mullions. The
consequence is, that though their constructive skill still excites the
wonder of the mason or the engineer, the artist or the architect turns
from the cold vaults and lean piers of their later cathedrals with a
painful feeling of unsatisfied expectation, and wonders why such
dimensions and such details should produce a result so utterly

So many circumstances require to be taken into consideration, that it is
impossible to prescribe any general rules in such a subject as this, but
the following table will explain to a certain extent the ratio of the
area to the points of support in sixteen of the principal buildings of
the world.[13] As far as it goes, it tends to prove that the
satisfactory architectural effect of a building is nearly in the inverse
ratio to the mechanical cleverness displayed in its construction.

                       |        |        |Ratio in|    Nearest
                       |  Area. | Solids.|Decimals| Vulgar Fractions.
                       |  Feet. |  Feet. |        |
 Hypostyle Hall, Karnac| 63,070 | 18,681 |   .296 |  Three-tenths.
 St. Peter’s, Rome     |227,000 | 59,308 |   .261 |  One-fourth.
 Spires Cathedral      | 56,737 | 12,076 |   .216 |  One-fifth.
 Sta. Maria, Florence  | 81,802 | 17,056 |   .201 |  One-fifth.
 Bourges Cathedral     | 61,590 | 11,091 |   .181 |  One-sixth.
 St. Paul’s, London    | 84,311 | 11,311 |   .171 |  One-sixth.
 Ste. Geneviève, Paris | 60,287 |  9,269 |   .154 |  One-sixth.
 Parthenon, Athens     | 23,140 |  4,430 |   .148 |  One-seventh.
 Chartres Cathedral    | 68,261 |  8,886 |   .130 |  One-eighth.
 Salisbury Cathedral   | 55,853 |  7,012 |   .125 |  One-eighth.
 Paris, Notre Dame     | 61,108 |  7,852 |   .122 |  One-eighth.
 Temple of Peace       | 68,000 |  7,600 |   .101 |  One-ninth.
 Milan Cathedral       |108,277 | 11,601 |   .107 |  One-tenth.
 Cologne Cathedral     | 91,164 |  9,554 |   .104 |  One-tenth.
 York Cathedral        | 72,860 |  7,376 |   .101 |  One-tenth.
 St. Ouen, Rouen       | 47,107 |  4,637 |   .097 |  One-tenth.

At the head of the list stands the Hypostyle Hall, and next to it
practically is the Parthenon, which being the only wooden-roofed
building in the list, its ratio of support in proportion to the work
required is nearly as great as that of the Temple at Karnac. Spires only
wants better details to be one of the grandest edifices in Europe, and
Bourges, Paris, Chartres, and Salisbury are among the most satisfactory
Gothic cathedrals we possess. St. Ouen, notwithstanding all its beauty
of detail and design, fails in this one point, and is certainly
deficient in solidity. Cologne and Milan would both be very much
improved by greater massiveness: and at York the lightness of the
supports is carried so far that it never can be completed with the
vaulted roof originally designed, for the nave at least.

The four great Renaissance cathedrals, at Rome, Florence, London, and
Paris, enumerated in this list, have quite sufficient strength for
architectural effect, but the value of this is lost from concealed
construction, and because the supports are generally grouped into a few
great masses, the dimensions of which cannot be estimated by the eye. A
Gothic architect would have divided these masses into twice or three
times the number of the piers used in these churches, and by employing
ornament designed to display and accentuate the construction, would have
rendered these buildings far more satisfactory than they are.

In this respect the great art of the architect consists in obtaining the
greatest possible amount of unencumbered space internally, consistent in
the first place with the requisite amount of permanent mechanical
stability, and next with such an appearance of superfluity of strength
as shall satisfy the mind that the building is perfectly secure and
calculated to last for ages.


It is extremely difficult to lay down any general rules as to the forms
best adapted to architectural purposes, as the value of a form in
architecture depends wholly on the position in which it is placed and
the use to which it is applied. There is in consequence no prescribed
form, however ugly it may appear at present, that may not one day be
found to be the very best for a given purpose; and, in like manner, none
of those most admired which may not become absolutely offensive when
used in a manner for which they are unsuited. In itself no simple form
seems to have any inherent value of its own, and it is only by
combination of one with another that they become effective. If, for
instance, we take a series of twenty or thirty figures, placing a cube
at one end as the most solid of angular and a sphere at the other as the
most perfect of round shapes, it would be easy to cut off the angles of
the cube in successive gradations till it became a polygon of so many
sides as to be nearly curvilinear. On the other hand by modifying the
sphere through all the gradations of conic sections, it might meet the
other series in the centre without there being any abrupt distinction
between them. Such a series might be compared to the notes of a piano.
We cannot say that any one of the base or treble notes is in itself more
beautiful than the others. It is only by a combination of several notes
that harmony is produced, and gentle or brilliant melodies by their
fading into one another, or by strongly marked contrasts. So it is with
forms: the square and angular are expressive of strength and power;
curves of softness and elegance; and beauty is produced by effective
combination of the right-lined with the curvilinear. It is always thus
in nature. Rocks and all the harder substances are rough and angular,
and marked by strong contrasts and deep lines. Among trees, the oak is
rugged, and its branches are at right angles to its stem, or to one
another. The lines of the willow are rounded, and flowing. The forms of
children and women are round and full, and free from violent contrasts;
those of men are abrupt, hard, and angular in proportion to the vigour
and strength of their frame.

In consequence of these properties, as a general rule the square or
angular parts ought always to be placed below, where strength is wanted,
and the rounded above. If, for instance, a tower is to be built, the
lower storey should not only be square, but should be marked by
buttresses, or other strong lines, and the masonry rusticated, so as to
convey even a greater appearance of strength. Above this, if the square
form is still retained, it may be with more elegance and less
accentuation. The form may then change to an octagon, that to a polygon
of sixteen sides, and then be surmounted by a circular form of any sort.
These conditions are not absolute, but the reverse arrangement would be
manifestly absurd. A tower with a circular base and a square upper
storey is what almost no art could render tolerable, while the other
pleases by its innate fitness without any extraordinary effort of

On the other hand, round pillars are more pleasing as supports for a
square architrave, not so much from any inherent fitness for the purpose
as from the effect of contrast, and flat friezes are preferable to
curved ones of the late Roman styles from the same cause. The angular
mouldings introduced among the circular shafts of a Gothic coupled
pillar, add immensely to the brilliancy of effect. Where everything is
square and rugged, as in a Druidical trilithon, the effect may be
sublime, but it cannot be elegant; where everything is rounded, as in
the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, the perfection of elegance may be
attained, but never sublimity. Perfection, as usual, lies between these


The properties above enumerated may be characterised as the mechanical
principles of design. Size, stability, construction, material, and many
such, are elements at the command of the engineer or mason, as well as
of the architect, and a building remarkable for these properties only,
cannot be said to rise above the lowest grade of architectural
excellence. They are invaluable adjuncts in the hands of the true
artist, but ought never to be the principal elements of design.

After these, the two most important resources at the command of the
architect are Proportion and Ornament; the former enabling him to
construct ornamentally, the latter to ornament his construction; both
require knowledge and thought, and can only be properly applied by one
thoroughly imbued with the true principles of architectural design.

As proportion, to be good, must be modified by every varying exigence of
a design, it is of course impossible to lay down any general rules which
shall hold good in all cases; but a few of its principles are obvious
enough, and can be defined so as to enable us to judge how far they have
been successfully carried out in the various buildings enumerated in the
following pages.

To take first the simplest form of the proposition, let us suppose a
room built, which shall be an exact cube—of say 20 feet each way—such a
proportion must be bad and inartistic; and besides, the height is too
great for the other dimensions, apparently because it is impossible to
get far enough away to embrace the whole wall at one view, or to see the
springing of the roof, without throwing the head back and looking
upwards. If the height were exaggerated to thirty or forty feet, the
disproportion would be so striking, that no art could render it
agreeable. As a general rule, a room square in plan is never pleasing.
It is always better that one side should be longer than the other, so as
to give a little variety to the design. Once and a half the width has
often been recommended, and with every increase of length an increase of
height is not only allowable, but indispensable. Some such rule as the
following seems to meet most cases:—“The height of a room ought to be
equal to half its width, plus the square root of its length.” Thus a
room 20 feet square ought to be between 14 and 15 feet high; if its
length be increased to 40 feet, its height must be at least 16½; if 100,
certainly not less than 20. If we proceed further, and make the height
actually exceed the width, the effect is that of making it look narrow.
As a general rule, and especially in all extreme cases, by adding to one
dimension, we take away in appearance from the others. Thus, if we take
a room 20 feet wide and 30 or 40 feet in height, we make it narrow; if
40 wide and 20 high, we make a low room. By increasing the length, we
diminish the other two dimensions.

This, however, is merely speaking of plain rooms with plain walls, and
an architect may be forced to construct rooms of all sorts of unpleasing
dimensions, but it is here that his art comes to his aid, and he must be
very little of an artist if he cannot conceal, even when unable entirely
to counteract, the defects of his dimensions. A room, for instance, that
is a perfect cube of 20 feet may be made to look as low as one only 15
feet high, by using a strongly marked horizontal decoration, by breaking
the wall into different heights, by marking strongly the horizontal
proportions, and obliterating as far as possible all vertical lines. The
reverse process will make a room only 10 feet high look as lofty as one
of 15.

Even the same wall-paper (if of strongly marked lines) if pasted on the
sides of two rooms exactly similar in dimensions, but with the lines
vertical in the one case, in the other horizontal, will alter the
apparent dimensions of them by several feet. If a room is too high, it
is easy to correct this by carrying a bold cornice to the height
required, and stopping there the vertical lines of the wall, and above
this coving the roof, or using some device which shall mark a
distinction from the walls, and the defect may become a beauty. In like
manner, if a room is too long for its other dimensions, this is easily
remedied either by breaks in the walls where these can be obtained, or
by screens of columns across its width, or by only breaking the height
of the roof. Anything which will divide the length into compartments
will effect this. The width, if in excess, is easily remedied by
dividing it, as the Gothic architects did, into aisles. Thus a room 50
feet wide and 30 high, may easily be restored to proportion by cutting
off 10 or 12 feet on each side, and lowering the roofs of the side
compartments, to say 20 feet. If great stability is not required, this
can be done without encumbering the floor with many points of support.
The greater the number used the more easily the effect is obtained, but
it can be done almost without them.

Externally it is easier to remedy defects of proportion than it is
internally. It is easier than on the inside to increase the apparent
height by strongly marked vertical lines, or to bring it down by the
employment of a horizontal decoration.

[Illustration: No. 3.]

If the length of a building is too great, this is easily remedied by
projections, or by breaking up the length into square divisions. Thus, A
A is a long building, but B B is a square one, or practically (owing to
the perspective) less than a square in length, in any direction at right
angles to the line of vision; or, in other words, to a spectator at A’
the building would look as if shorter in the direction of B B than in
that of A A, owing to the largeness and importance of the part nearest
the eye. If 100 feet in length by 50 feet high is a pleasing dimension
for a certain design, and it is required that the building should be 500
feet long, it is only necessary to break it into five parts, and throw
three back and two forward, or the contrary, and the proportion becomes
as before.

The Egyptians hardly studied the science of proportion at all; they
gained their effects by simpler and more obvious means. The Greeks were
masters in this as in everything else, but they used the resources of
the art with extreme sobriety—externally at least—dreading to disturb
that simplicity which is so essential to sublimity in architecture. But
internally, where sublimity was not attainable with the dimensions they
employed, they divided the cells of their temples into three aisles, and
the height into two, by placing two ranges of columns one above the
other. By these means they were enabled to use such a number of small
parts as to increase the apparent size most considerably, and at the
same time to give greater apparent magnitude to the statue, which was
the principal object for which the temple was erected.

The Romans do not seem to have troubled themselves with the science of
proportion in the designs of their buildings, though nothing can well be
more exquisite than the harmony that exists between the parts in their
orders, and generally in their details. During the Middle Ages, however,
we find, from first to last, the most earnest attention paid to it, and
half the beauty of the buildings of that age is owing to the successful
results to which the architects carried their experiments in balancing
the parts of their structures the one against the other, so as to
produce that harmony we so much admire in them.

[Illustration: No. 4.]

The first great invention of the Gothic architects (though of Greek
origin) was that of dividing the breadth of the building internally into
three aisles, and making the central one higher and wider than those on
each side. By this means height and length were obtained at the expense
of width: this latter, however, is never a valuable property
artistically, though it may be indispensable for the utilitarian
exigencies of the building. They next sought to increase still further
the height of the central aisle by dividing its sides into three equal
portions which by contrast added very much to the effect: but the
monotony of this arrangement was soon apparent: besides, it was
perceived that the side aisles were so low as not to come into direct
comparison with the central nave. To remedy this they gradually
increased its dimensions, and at last hit on something very like the
following proportions. They made the height of the side aisle half that
of the central (the width being also in the same proportion); the
remaining portions they divided into three, making the triforium
one-third, the clerestory two-thirds of the whole. Thus the three
divisions are in the proportion of 1, 2, and 3, each giving value to the
other, and the whole adding very considerably to all the apparent
dimensions of the interior. It would have been easy to have carried the
system further and, by increasing the number of the pillars
longitudinally and the number of divisions vertically, to have added
considerably to even this appearance of size; but it would then have
been at the expense of simplicity and grandeur: and though the building
might have looked larger, the beauty of the design would have been

One of the most striking exemplifications of the perfection of the
Gothic architects in this department of their art is shown in their
employment of towers and spires. As a general rule, placing a tall
building in juxtaposition with a low one exaggerates the height of the
one and the lowness of the other; and as it was by no means the object
of the architects to sacrifice their churches for their towers, it
required all their art to raise noble spires without doing this. In the
best designs they effected it by bold buttresses below, and the moment
the tower got free of the building, by changing it to an octagon and
cutting it up by pinnacles, and lastly by changing its form into that of
a spire, using generally smaller parts than are found in the church. By
these devices they prevented the spire from competing in any way with
the church. On the contrary, a spire or group of spires gave dignity and
height to the whole design, without deducting from any of its

The city of Paris contains an instructive exemplification of these
doctrines—the façade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame (exclusive of the
upper storey of the towers), and the Arc de l’Etoile being two buildings
of exactly the same dimensions; yet any one who is not aware of this
fact would certainly estimate the dimensions of the cathedral as at
least a third, if not a half, in excess of the other. It may be said
that the arch gains in sublimity and grandeur what it loses in apparent
dimensions by the simplicity of its parts. The façade of the cathedral,
though far from one of the best in France, is by no means deficient in
grandeur; and had it been as free from the trammels of utilitarianism as
the arch, might easily have been made as simple and as grand, without
losing its apparent size. In the other case, by employing in the arch
the principles which the Gothic architects elaborated with such pains,
the apparent dimensions might have been increased without detracting
from its solidity, and it might thus have been rendered one of the
sublimest buildings in the world.

The interior of St. Peter’s at Rome is an example of the neglect of
these principles. Its great nave is divided into only four bays, and the
proportions and ornaments of these, borrowed generally from external
architecture, are so gigantic, that it is difficult to realise the true
dimensions of the church, except by the study of the plan; and it is not
too much to assert, that had a cathedral of these dimensions been built
in the true Gothic style, during the 13th or 14th century, it would have
appeared as if from one-third to one-half larger, and might have been
the most sublime, whereas St. Peter’s is now only the largest temple
ever erected.

It would be easy to multiply examples to show to what perfection the
science of proportion was carried by the experimental processes above
described during the existence of the true styles of architecture, and
how satisfactory the result is, even upon those who are not aware of the
cause; and, on the other hand, how miserable are the failures that
result either from the ignorance or neglect of its rules. Enough, it is
hoped, has been said to show that not only are the apparent proportions
of a building very much under the control of an architect independent of
its lineal dimensions, but also that he has it in his power so to
proportion every part as to give value to all those around it, thus
producing that harmony which in architecture, as well as in music or in
painting, is the very essence of a true or satisfactory utterance.

                          XI.—CARVED ORNAMENT.

Architectural ornament is of two kinds, _constructive_ and _decorative_.
By the former is meant all those contrivances, such as capitals,
brackets, vaulting shafts, and the like, which serve to explain or give
expression to the construction; by the latter, such as mouldings, frets,
foliage, &c., which give grace and life either to the actual
constructive forms, or to the constructive decoration.

In mere building or engineering, the construction being all in all, it
is left to tell its own tale in its own prosaic nakedness; but in true
architecture construction is always subordinate, and as architectural
buildings ought always to possess an excess of strength it need not show
itself unless desired; but even in an artistic point of view it always
is expedient to express it. The vault, for instance, of a Gothic
cathedral might just as easily spring from a bracket or a corbel as from
a shaft, and in early experiments this was often tried; but the effect
was unsatisfactory, and a vaulting shaft was carried down first to the
capital of the pillar, and afterwards to the floor: by this means the
eye was satisfied, the thin reed-like shafts being sufficient to explain
that the vault rested on the solid ground, and an apparent propriety and
stability were given to the whole. These shafts not being necessary
constructively, the artist could make them of any form or size he
thought most proper, and consequently, instead of one he generally used
three small shafts tied together at various intervals. Afterwards merely
a group of graceful mouldings was employed, which satisfied not only the
exigencies of ornamental construction, but became a real and essential
decorative feature of the building.

In like manner it was good architecture to use flying buttresses, even
where they were not essential to stability. They explained externally
that the building was vaulted, and that its thrusts were abutted and
stability secured. The mistake in their employment was where they became
so essential to security, that the constructive necessities controlled
the artistic propriety of the design, and the architect found himself
compelled to employ either a greater number, or buttresses of greater
strength than he would have desired had he been able to dispense with

The architecture of the Greeks was so simple, that they required few
artifices to explain their construction; but in their triglyphs their
mutules, the form of their cornices and other devices, they took pains
to explain, not only that these parts had originally been of wood but
that the temple still retained its wooden roof. Had they ever adopted a
vault, they would have employed a totally different system of
decoration. Having no constructive use whatever, these parts were wholly
under the control of the architects, and they consequently became the
beautiful things we now so much admire.

With their more complicated style the Romans introduced many new modes
of constructive decoration. They were the first to employ vaulting
shafts. In all the great halls of their Baths, or of their vaulted
Basilicas, they applied a Corinthian pillar as a vaulting shaft to the
front of the pier from which the arch appears to spring, though the
latter really supported the vault. All the pillars have now been
removed, but without at all interfering with the stability of the
vaults; they were mere decorative features to explain the construction,
but indispensable for that purpose. The Romans also suggested most of
the other decorative inventions of the Middle Ages, but their
architecture never reached beyond the stage of transition. It was left
for the Gothic architects freely to elaborate this mode of architectural
effect, and they carried it to an extent never dreamt of before; but it
is to this that their buildings owe at least half the beauty they

The same system of course applies to dwelling-houses, and to the meanest
objects of architectural art. The string-course that marks externally
the floor-line of the different storeys is as legitimate and
indispensable an ornament as a vaulting shaft, and it would also be well
that the windows should be grouped so as to indicate the size of the
rooms, and at least a plain space left where a partition wall abuts, or
better still a pilaster or buttress, or line of some sort, ought to mark
externally that feature of internal construction.

The cornice is as indispensable a termination of the wall as the capital
is of a pillar; and suggests not only an appropriate support for the
roof, but eaves to throw the rain off the wall. The same is true with
regard to pediments or caps over windows: they suggest a means of
protecting an opening from the wet; and porches over doorways are
equally obvious contrivances. Everything, in short, which is actually
constructive, or which suggests what was or may be a constructive
expedient, is a legitimate object of decoration, and affords the
architect unlimited scope for the display of taste and skill, without
going out of his way to seek it.

The difficulty in applying ornaments borrowed from other styles is, that
although they all suggest construction, it is not _the_ construction of
the buildings to which they are applied. To use Pugin’s clever
antithesis, “they are constructed ornament, not ornamented
construction,” and as such can never satisfy the mind. However beautiful
in themselves, they are out of place, there is no real or apparent use
for their being there; and, in an art so essentially founded on
utilitarian principles and common sense as architecture is, any offence
against constructive propriety is utterly intolerable.

The other class, or decorative ornaments, are forms invented for the
purpose, either mere lithic forms, or copied from the vegetable kingdom,
and applied so as to give elegance or brilliancy to the constructive
decoration just described.

The first and most obvious of these are mere mouldings, known to
architects as Scotias, Cavettos, Ogees, Toruses, Rolls, &c.—curves
which, used in various proportions either horizontally or vertically,
produce when artistically combined, the most pleasing effect.

In conjunction with these, it is usual to employ a purely conventional
class of ornament, such as frets, scrolls, or those known as the bead
and reel, or egg and dart mouldings; or in Gothic architecture the
billet or dog-tooth or all the thousand and one forms that were invented
during the Middle Ages.

In certain styles of art, vegetable forms are employed even more
frequently than those last described. Among these, perhaps the most
beautiful and perfect ever invented was that known as the honeysuckle
ornament, which the Greeks borrowed from the Assyrians, but made so
peculiarly their own. It has all the conventional character of a purely
lithic, with all the grace of a vegetable form; and, as used with the
Ionic order, is more nearly perfect than any other known.

The Romans made a step further towards a more direct imitation of nature
in their employment of the acanthus leaf. As applied to a capital, or
where the constructive form of the bell beneath it is still distinctly
seen, it is not only unobjectionable, but productive of the most
pleasing effect. Indeed it is doubtful if anything of its class has yet
been invented so entirely satisfactory as the Roman Corinthian order, as
found, for instance, in the so-called Temple of Jupiter Stator at Rome.
The proportions of the order have never yet been excelled, and there is
just that balance between imitation of nature and conventionality which
is indispensable. It is not so pure or perfect as a Grecian order, but
as an example of rich decoration applied to an architectural order it is

With their disregard of precedent and untrammelled wildness of
imagination, the Gothic architects tried every form of vegetable
ornament, from the purest conventionalism, where the vegetable form can
hardly be recognised, to the most literal imitation of nature.

While confining himself to purely lithic forms, an architect can never
sin against good taste, though he may miss many beauties; with the
latter class of ornament he is always in danger of offence, and few have
ever employed it without falling into mistakes. In the first place,
because it is impossible to imitate perfectly foliage and flowers in
stone; and secondly, because if the pliant forms of plants are made to
support, or do the work of, hard stone, the incongruity is immediately
apparent, and the more perfect the imitation the greater the mistake.

[Illustration: No. 5.]

[Illustration: No. 6.]

In the instance (Woodcut No. 5), any amount of literal imitation that
the sculptor thought proper may be indulged in, because in it the stone
construction is so apparent everywhere, that the vegetable form is the
merest supplement conceivable; or in a hollow moulding round a doorway,
a vine may be sculptured with any degree of imitation that can be
employed; for as it has no more work to do than the object represented
would have in the same situation, it is a mere adjunct, a statue of a
plant placed in a niche, as we might use the statue of a man: but if in
the woodcut (No. 6) imitations of real leaves were used to support the
upper moulding, the effect would not be so satisfactory; indeed it is
questionable if in both these last examples a little more
conventionality would not be desirable.

In too many instances, even in the best Gothic architecture, the
construction is so overlaid by imitative vegetable forms as to be
concealed, and the work is apparently done by leaves or twigs, but in
the earliest and purest style this is almost never the case. As a
general rule it may be asserted that the best lithic ornaments are those
which approach nearest to the grace and pliancy of plants, and that the
best vegetable forms are those which most resemble the regularity and
symmetry of such as are purely conventional.

Although the Greeks in one or two instances employed human figures to
support entablatures or beams, the good taste of such an arrangement is
more than questionable. They borrowed it, with the Ionic order, from the
Assyrians, with whom the employment of caryatides and animal forms was
the rule, not the exception, in contradistinction from the Egyptians,
who never adopted this practice.[14] Even the Romans avoided this
mistake, and the Gothic architects also as a general rule kept quite
clear of it. Whenever they did employ ornamented figures for
architectural purposes, they were either monsters, as in gargoyles or
griffons; or sometimes, in a spirit of caricature, they used dwarfs or
deformities of various sorts; but their sculpture, properly so called,
was always provided with a niche or pedestal, where it might have been
placed after the building was complete, or from which it might be
removed without interfering with the architecture.

                        XII.—DECORATIVE COLOUR.

Colour is one of the most invaluable elements placed at the command of
the architect to enable him to give grace or finish to his designs. From
its nature it is of course only an accessory, or mere ornament; but
there is nothing that enables him to express his meaning so cheaply and
easily, and at the same time with such brilliancy and effect. For an
interior it is absolutely indispensable; and no apartment can be said to
be complete till it has received its finishing touches from the hand of
the painter. Whether exteriors ought or ought not to be similarly
treated admits of more doubt.

Internally the architect has complete command of the situation: he can
suit his design to his colours, or his colours to his design. Walls,
roof, floor, furniture, are all at his disposal, and he can shut out any
discordant element that would interfere with the desired effect.

Externally this is seldom, if ever the case. A façade that looks
brilliant and well in noonday sun may be utterly out of harmony with a
cold grey sky, or with the warm glow of a setting sun full upon it: and
unless all other buildings and objects are toned into accordance with
it, the effect can seldom be harmonious.

There can be now no reasonable doubt that the Greeks painted their
temples both internally and externally, but as a general rule they
always placed them on heights where they could only be seen relieved
against the sky; and they could depend on an atmosphere of almost
uniform, unvarying brightness. Had their temples been placed in groves
or valleys, they would probably have given up the attempt, and certainly
never would have ventured upon it in such a climate as ours.

Except in such countries as Egypt and Greece, it must always be a
mistake to apply colour by merely painting the surface of the building
externally; but there are other modes of effecting this which are
perfectly legitimate. Coloured ornaments may be inlaid in the stone of
the wall without interfering with the construction, and so placed may be
made more effective and brilliant than the same ornaments would be if
carved in relief. Again, string-courses and mouldings of various
coloured stones or marbles might frequently be employed with better
effect than can be obtained in some situations by depth of cutting and
boldness of projection. Such a mode of decoration can, however, only be
partial; if the whole building is to be coloured, it must be done
constructively, by using different coloured materials, or the effect
will never be satisfactory.

In the Middle Ages the Italians carried this mode of decoration to a
considerable extent; but in almost all instances it is so evidently a
veneer overlying the construction that it fails to please; and a
decoration which internally, where construction is of less importance,
would excite general admiration, is without meaning on the outside of
the same wall.

At the same time it is easy to conceive how polychromy might be carried
out successfully, if, for instance, a building were erected, the pillars
of which were of red granite or porphyry, the cornices or string-courses
of dark coloured marbles, and the plain surfaces of lighter kinds, or
even of stone. A design so carried out would be infinitely more
effective than a similar one executed in materials of only one colour,
and depending for relief only on varying shadows of daylight. There is
in fact just the same difficulty in lighting monochromatic buildings as
there is with sculpture. A coloured painting, on the other hand,
requires merely sufficient light, and with that expresses its form and
meaning far more clearly and easily than when only one colour is
employed. The task, however, is difficult; so much so, indeed, that
there is hardly one single instance known of a complete polychromatic
design being successfully carried out anywhere, though often attempted.
The other mode of merely inlaying the ornaments in colour instead of
relieving them by carving as seldom fails.

Notwithstanding this, an architect should never neglect to select the
colour of his materials with reference to the situation in which his
building is to stand. A red brick building may look remarkably well if
nestling among green trees, while the same building would be hideous if
situated on a sandy plain, and relieved only by the warm glow of a
setting sun. A building of white stone or white brick is as
inappropriate among the trees, and may look bright and cheerful in the
other situation.

In towns colours might be used of very great brilliancy, and if done
constructively, there could be no greater improvement to our
architecture; but its application is so difficult that no satisfactory
result has yet been attained, and it may be questioned whether it will
be ever successfully accomplished.

With regard to interiors there can be no doubt. All architects in all
countries of the world resorted to this expedient to harmonise and to
give brilliancy to their compositions, and have depended on it for their
most important effects.

The Gothic architects carried this a step further by the introduction of
painted glass, which was a mode of colouring more brilliant than had
been ever before attempted. This went beyond all previous efforts,
inasmuch as it coloured not only the objects themselves, but also the
light in which they were seen. So enamoured were they of its beauties,
that they sacrificed much of the constructive propriety of their
buildings to admit of its display, and paid more attention to it than to
any other part of their designs. Perhaps they carried this predilection
a little beyond the limits of good taste; but colour is in itself so
exquisite a thing, and so admirable a vehicle for the expression of
architectural as well as of æsthetic beauty, that it is difficult to
find fault even with the abuse of what is in its essence so legitimate
and so beautiful.

                     XIII.—SCULPTURE AND PAINTING.

Carved ornament and decorative colour come within the especial province
of the architect. In some styles, such as the Saracenic, and in many
buildings, they form the Alpha and the Omega of the decoration. But, as
mentioned above, one of the great merits of architecture as an art is
that it affords room for the display of the works of the sculptor and
the painter, not only in such a manner as not to interfere with its own
decorative construction, but so as to add meaning and value to the
whole. No Greek temple and no Gothic cathedral can indeed be said to be
perfect or complete without these adjuncts; and one of the principal
objects of the architects in Greece or in the Middle Ages was to design
places and devise means by which these could be displayed to advantage,
without interfering either with the construction or constructive
decoration. This was perhaps effected more successfully in the Parthenon
than in any other building we are acquainted with. The pediments at
either end were noble frames for the exhibition of sculpture, and the
metopes were equally appropriate for the purpose; while the plain walls
of the cella were admirably adapted for paintings below and for a
sculptured frieze above.

The deeply recessed portals of our Gothic cathedrals, their galleries,
their niches and pinnacles, were equally appropriate for the exuberant
display of this class of sculpture in a less refined or fastidious age;
while the mullion-framed windows were admirably adapted for the
exhibition of a mode of coloured decoration, somewhat barbarous, it must
be confessed, but wonderfully brilliant.

The system was carried further in India than in any other country except
perhaps Egypt. Probably no Hindu temple was ever erected without being
at least intended to be adorned with Phonetic sculpture, and many of
them are covered with it from the plinth to the eaves, in strong
contrast with the Mahomedan buildings that stand side by side with them,
and which are wholly devoid of any attempt at this kind of decoration.
The taste of these Hindu sculptures may be questionable, but such as
they are they are so used as never to interfere with the architectural
effect of the building on which they are employed, but always so as to
aid the design irrespective of the story they have to tell. There is
probably no instance in which their removal or their absence would not
be felt as an injury from an architectural point of view.

It is difficult now to ascertain whether Phonetic painting was used to
the same extent as sculpture in ancient times. From its nature it is
infinitely more perishable, and a bucket of whitewash will in half an
hour obliterate the work of years, and, strange to say, there are ages,
both in the East and the west, where men’s minds are so attuned that
they consider whitewash a more fitting decoration than coloured
paintings of the most elaborate and artistic character. While this is so
we need hardly wonder that our means of forming a distinct opinion on
this subject are somewhat limited.

Be this as it may, it is still one of the special privileges of
architecture that she is able to attract to herself these phonetic arts,
and one of the greatest merits a building can possess is its affording
appropriate places for their display without interfering in any way with
the special department of the architect. But it is always necessary to
distinguish carefully between what belongs to the province of each art
separately. The work of the architect ought to be complete and perfect
without either sculpture or painting, and must be judged as if they were
absent; but he will not have been entirely successful unless he has
provided the means by which the value of his design may be doubled by
their introduction. It is only by the combination of the Phonetic
utterance with the Technic and Æsthetic elements that a perfect work of
art has been produced, and that architecture can be said to have reached
the highest point of perfection to which it can aspire.


Considerable confusion has been introduced into the reasoning on the
subject of architectural Uniformity from the assumption that the two
great schools of art—the classical and the mediæval—adopted contrary
conclusions regarding it, Formality being supposed to be the
characteristic of the former, Irregularity of the latter. The Greeks, of
course, when building a temple or monument, which was only one room or
one object, made it exactly symmetrical in all its parts; but so did the
Gothic architects when building a church or chapel or hall, or any
single object: in ninety-nine instances out of a hundred, a line drawn
down the centre divides it into two equal and symmetrical halves; and
when an exception to this occurs, there is some obvious motive for it.

But where several buildings of different classes were to be grouped, or
even two temples placed near one another, the Greeks took the utmost
care to prevent their appearing parts of one design or one whole; and
when, as in the instance of the Erechtheium,[15] three temples are
placed together, no Gothic architect ever took such pains to secure for
each its separate individuality as the Grecian architect did. What has
given rise to the error is, that all the smaller objects of Grecian art
have perished, leaving us only the great monuments without their

If we can conceive the task assigned to a Grecian architect of erecting
a building like one of our collegiate institutions, he would without
doubt have distinguished the chapel from the refectory, and that from
the library, and he would have made them of a totally different design
from the principal’s lodge, or the chambers of the fellows and students;
but it is more than probable that, while carefully distinguishing each
part from the other, he would have arranged them with some regard to
symmetry, placing the chapel in the centre, the library and refectory as
pendants to one another, though dissimilar, and the residences so as to
connect and fill up the whole design. The truth seems to be that no
great amount of dignity can be obtained without a certain degree of
regularity; and there can be little doubt that artistically it is better
that mere utilitarian convenience should give way to the exigencies of
architectural design than that the latter should be constrained to yield
to the mere prosaic requirements of the building. The chance-medley
manner in which many such buildings were grouped together in the Middle
Ages tells the story as clearly, and may be productive of great
picturesqueness of effect, but not of the same nobility as might have
been obtained by more regularity. The highest class of design will never
be reached by these means.

It is not difficult to discover, at least to a certain extent, that the
cause of this is that no number of separate units will suffice to make
one whole. A number of pebbles will not make a great stone, nor a number
of rose-bushes an oak; nor will any number of dwarfs make up a giant. To
obtain a great whole there must be unity, to which all the parts must
contribute, or they will remain separate particles. The effect of unity
is materially heightened when to it is added uniformity: the mind then
instantly and easily grasps the whole, knows it to be one, and
recognises the ruling idea that governed and moulded the whole together.
It seems only to be by the introduction of uniformity that sufficient
simplicity for greatness can be obtained, and the evidence of design
made so manifest that the mind is satisfied that the building is no mere
accumulation of separate objects, but the production of a master-mind.

In a palace irregularity seems unpardonable. The architect has there
practically unlimited command of funds and of his arrangements, and he
can easily design his suites of rooms so as to produce any amount of
uniformity he may require: the different heights of the different
storeys and the amount of ornament on them, with the employment of wings
for offices, is sufficient to mark the various purposes of the various
parts; but where the system is carried so far in great public buildings,
that great halls, libraries, committee-rooms, and subordinate residences
are all squeezed into one perfectly uniform design, the building loses
all meaning, and fails from the opposite error.

The rule seems to be, that every building or every part of one ought
most distinctly and clearly to express not only its constructive
exigencies, but also the uses for which it is destined; on the other
hand, that mere utility, in all instances where architectural effect is
aimed at, ought to give way to artistic requirements; and that an
architect is consequently justified, in so far as his means will admit,
in producing that amount of uniformity and regularity which seems
indispensable for anything like grandeur of effect. In villas and small
buildings all we look for is picturesqueness and meaning combined with
elegance; but in larger and more monumental erections we expect
something more; and this can hardly be obtained without the introduction
of some new element which shall tell, in the first place, that artistic
excellence was the ruling idea of the design, and in the next should
give it that perfect balance and symmetry which seems to be as inherent
a quality of the higher works of nature as of true art.

                        XV.—IMITATION OF NATURE.

The subject of the imitation of Nature is one intimately connected with
those mooted in the preceding paragraphs, and regarding which
considerable misunderstanding seems to prevail. It is generally assumed
that in architecture we ought to copy natural objects as we see them,
whereas the truth seems to be that we ought always to copy the
processes, never the forms of Nature. The error apparently has arisen
from confounding together the imitative arts of painting and sculpture
with the constructive art of architecture. The former have no other mode
of expression than by copying, more or less literally, the forms of
Nature; the latter, as explained above, depends wholly on a different
class of elements for its effect; but at the same time no architect can
either study too intently, or copy too closely, the methods and
processes by which Nature accomplishes her ends; and the most perfect
building will be that in which these have been most closely and
literally followed.

To take one prominent instance:—So far as we can judge, the human body
is the most perfect of Nature’s works; in it the groundwork of skeleton
is never seen, and though it can hardly be said to be anywhere
concealed, it is only displayed at the joints or more prominent points
of support, where the action of the frame would be otherwise
unintelligible. The muscles are disposed not only where they are most
useful, but so as to form groups gracefully rounded in outline. The
softness and elegance of these are further aided by the deposition of
adipose matter, and the whole is covered with a skin which with its
beautiful texture conceals the more utilitarian construction of the
internal parts. In the trunk of the body the viscera are disposed wholly
without symmetry or reference to beauty of any sort—the heart on one
side, the liver on the other, and the other parts exactly in those
positions and in those forms by which they may most directly and easily
perform the essential functions for which they are designed. But the
whole is concealed in a perfectly symmetrical sheath of the most
exquisitely beautiful outline. It may be safely asserted that a building
is beautiful and perfect exactly in the ratio in which the same amount
of concealment and the same amount of display of construction is
preserved, where the same symmetry is shown as between the right and
left sides of the human body—the same difference as between the legs and
arms, where the parts are applied to different purposes, and where the
same amount of ornament is added, to adorn without interfering with what
is useful. In short, there is no principle involved in the structure of
man which may not be taken as the most absolute standard of excellence
in architecture.

It is in Nature’s highest works that we find the symmetry of proportion
most prominent. When we descend to the lower types of animals we lose it
to a great extent, and among trees and vegetables generally find it only
in a far less degree, and sometimes miss it altogether. In the mineral
kingdom among rocks and stones it is altogether absent. So universal is
this principle in Nature that we may safely apply it to our criticism on
art, and say that a building is perfect as a whole in proportion to its
motived regularity, and departs from the highest type in the ratio in
which symmetrical arrangement is neglected. It may, however, be
incorrect to say that an oak-tree is a less perfect work of creation
than a human being, but it is certain that it is lower in the scale of
created beings. So it may be said that a picturesque group of Gothic
buildings may be as perfect as the stately regularity of an Egyptian or
classic temple; but if it is so, it is equally certain that it belongs
to a lower and inferior class of design.

This analogy, however, we may leave for the present. The one point which
it is indispensable to insist on here is, that man can progress or tend
towards success only by following the principles and copying, so far as
he can understand them, the processes which Nature employs in her works;
but he can never succeed in anything by copying forms without reference
to principles. If we could find Nature making trees like stones, or
animals like trees, or birds like fishes, or fishes like mammalia, or
using any parts taken from one kingdom for purposes belonging to
another, it would then be perfectly legitimate for us to use man’s
stature as the modulus for a Doric, or woman’s as that of an Ionic
column—to build cathedrals like groves, and make windows like leaves, or
to estimate their beauty by their resemblance to such objects; but all
such comparisons proceed on an entire mistake of what imitation of
Nature really means.

It is the merest and most absolute negation of reason to apply to one
purpose things that were designed for another, or to imitate them when
they have no appropriateness; but it is our highest privilege to
understand the processes of Nature. To apply these to our own wants and
purposes is the noblest use of human intellect and the perfection of
human wisdom.

So instinctively, but so literally, has this correct process of
imitating Nature been followed in all true styles of architecture, that
we can always reason regarding them as we do with reference to natural
objects. Thus, if an architect finds in any quarter of the globe a Doric
or Corinthian capital with a few traces of a foundation, he can, at a
glance, tell the age of the temple or building to which it belonged. He
knows who the people were who erected it, to what purpose it was
dedicated, and proceeds at once to restore its porticos, and without
much uncertainty can reproduce the whole fabric. Or if he finds a few
Gothic bases in situ, with a few mouldings or frusta of columns, by the
same process he traces the age, the size, and the purposes of the
building before him. A Cuvier or an Owen can restore the form and
predicate the habits of an extinct animal from a few fragments of bone,
or even from a print of a foot. In the same manner an architect may,
from a few fragments of a building, if of a true style of architecture,
restore the whole of its pristine forms, and with almost the same amount
of certainty. This arises wholly because the architects of former days
had correct ideas of what was meant by imitation of Nature. They added
nothing to their buildings which was not essential; there was no detail
which had not its use, and no ornament which was not an elaboration or
heightening of some essential part, and hence it is that a true building
is as like to a work of Nature as any production of man’s hands can be
to the creations of his Maker.


There is one property inherent in the productions of architectural art,
which, while it frequently lends to them half their charm, at the same
time tends more than anything else to warp and distort our critical
judgments regarding them. We seldom can look at a building of any age
without associating with it such historical memories as may cling to its
walls; and our predilections for any peculiar style of architecture are
more often due to educational or devotional associations than to purely
artistic judgments. A man must be singularly ignorant or strangely
passionless who can stand among the fallen columns of a Grecian temple,
or wander through the corridors of a Roman amphitheatre, or the aisles
of a ruined Gothic abbey, and not feel his heart stirred by emotions of
a totally different class from those suggested by the beauty of the
mouldings or the artistic arrangement of the building he is

The enthusiasm which burst forth in the 15th century for the classical
style of art, and then proved fatal to the Gothic, was not so much an
architectural as a literary movement. It arose from the re-discovery—if
it may be so called—of the poems of Homer and Virgil, of the histories
of Thucydides and Tacitus, of the Philosophy of Aristotle and the
eloquence of Cicero. It was a vast reaction against the darkness and
literary degradation of the Middle Ages, and carried the educated
classes of Europe with it for the next three centuries. So long as
classical literature only was taught in our schools, and classical
models followed in our literature, classical architecture could alone be
tolerated in our buildings, and this generally without the least
reference either to its own peculiar beauties, or its appropriateness
for the purposes to which it was applied.

A second reaction has now taken place against this state of affairs. The
revival of the rites and ceremonies of the mediæval Church, our reverent
love of our own national antiquities, and our admiration for the rude
but vigorous manhood of the Middle Ages,—all have combined to repress
the classical element both in our literature and our art, and to exalt
in their place Gothic feelings and Gothic art, to an extent which cannot
be justified on any grounds of reasonable criticism.

Unless the art-critic can free himself from the influence of these
adventitious associations, his judgments lose half their value; but, on
the other hand, to the historian of art they are of the utmost
importance. It is because architecture so fully and so clearly expresses
the feelings of the people who practised it that it becomes frequently a
better vehicle of history than the written page; and it is these very
associations that give life and meaning to blocks of stone and mounds of
brick, and bring so vividly before our eyes the feelings and the
aspirations of the long-forgotten past.

The importance of association in giving value to the objects of
architectural art can hardly be overrated either by the student or
historian. What has to be guarded against is that unreasoning enthusiasm
which mistakes the shadow for the reality, and would force us to admire
a rude piece of clumsy barbarism erected yesterday, and to which no
history consequently attaches, because something like it was done in
some long past age. Its reality, its antiquity, and its weather stains
may render its prototype extremely interesting, even if not beautiful;
while its copy is only an antiquarian toy, as ugly as it is absurd.

                            XVII.—NEW STYLE.

There is still one other point of view from which it is necessary to
look at this question of architectural design before any just conclusion
can be arrived at regarding it. It is in fact necessary to answer two
other questions, nearly as often asked as those proposed at the
beginning of Section III. “Can any one invent a new style?”—“Can we ever
again have a new and original style of architecture?” Reasoning from
experience alone, it is easy to answer these questions. No individual
has, so far as we know, ever invented a new style in any part of the
world. No one can even be named who during the prevalence of a true
style of art materially advanced its progress, or by his individual
exertion did much to help it forward; and we may safely answer, that as
this has never happened before, it is hardly probable that it will ever
occur now.

If this one question must be answered in the negative, the other may as
certainly be answered in the affirmative, inasmuch as no nation in any
age or in any part of the globe has failed to invent for itself a true
and appropriate style of architecture whenever it chose to set about it
in the right way, and there certainly can be no great difficulty in our
doing now what has been so often done before, if we only set to work in
a proper spirit, and are prepared to follow the same process which
others have followed to obtain this result.

What that process is, may perhaps be best explained by such an example
as that of ship-building before alluded to, which, though totally
distinct, is still so nearly allied to architecture, as to make a
comparison between the two easy and intelligible.

Let us, for instance, take a series of ships, beginning with those in
which William the Conqueror invaded our shores, or the fleet with which
Edward III. crossed over to France. Next take the vessels which
transported Henry VIII. to his meeting with Francis I., and then pass on
to the time of the Spanish Armada and the sea fights of Van Tromp and De
Ruyter, and on to the times of William III., and then through the
familiar examples till we come to such ships as the ‘Wellington’ and
‘Marlborough’ of yesterday, and the ‘Warrior’ or ‘Minotaur’ of to-day.
In all this long list of examples we have a gradual, steady, forward
progress without one check or break. Each century is in advance of the
one before it, and the result is as near perfection as we can well

But if we ask who effected these improvements, or who invented any part
of the last-named wonderful fabrics, we must search deep indeed into the
annals of the navy to find out. But no one has inquired and no one cares
to know, for the simple reason that, like architecture in the Middle
Ages, it is a true and living art, and the improvements were not
effected by individuals, but by all classes—owners, sailors,
shipwrights, and men of science, all working together through centuries,
each lending the aid of his experience or of his reasoning.

If we place alongside of this series of ships a list of churches or
cathedrals, commencing with Charlemagne and ending with Charles V., we
find the same steady and assured progress obtained by the same identical
means. In this instance, princes, priests, masons, and mathematicians,
all worked steadily together for the whole period, striving to obtain a
well-defined result.

In the ship the most suitable materials only are employed in every part,
and neither below nor aloft is there one single timber nor spar nor one
rope which is superfluous. Nor in the cathedral was any material ever
used that was not believed to be the most suitable for its purpose; nor
any form of construction adopted which did not seem the best to those
who employed it; nor any detail added which did not appear necessary for
the purpose it was designed to express? the result being, that we can
look on and contemplate both with the same unmitigated satisfaction.

The one point where this comparison seems to halt is, that ship-building
never became a purely fine art, which architecture really is. The
difference is only one of aim, which it would be as easy to apply to the
one art as it has been to the other. Had architecture never progressed
beyond its one strictly legitimate object of house-building, it would
never have been more near a fine art than merchant ship-building, and
palaces would only have been magnified dwelling-places. Castles and
men-of-war advanced both one stage further towards a fine art. Size and
power were impressed on both, and in this respect they stand precisely
equal to one another. Here ship-building halted, and has not progressed
beyond, while architecture has been invested with a higher aim. In all
ages men have sought to erect houses more dignified and stately than
those designed for their personal use. They attempted the erection of
dwelling-places for their Gods, or temples worthy of the worship of
Supreme Beings; and it was only when this strictly useful art threw
aside all shadow of utilitarianism, and launched boldly forth in search
of the beautiful and the sublime, that it became a truly fine art, and
took the elevated position which it now holds above all other useful
arts. It would have been easy to supply the same motive to
ship-building. If we could imagine any nation ever to construct ships of
God, or to worship on the bosom of the ocean, ships might easily be made
such objects of beauty that the cathedral could hardly compete with

It is not, however, only in architecture or in ship-building that this
progress is essential, for the progress of every art and every science
that is worthy of the name is owing to the same simple process of the
aggregation of experiences; whether we look to metallurgy or mechanics,
cotton-spinning or coining, their perfection is due to the same cause.
So also the sciences—astronomy, chemistry, geology—are all cultivated by
the same means. When the art or science is new, great men stand forth
and make great strides; but when once it reaches maturity, and becomes
the property of the nation, the individual is lost in the mass, and a
thousand inferior brains follow out steadily and surely the path which
the one great intellect has pointed out, but which no single mind,
however great, could carry to its legitimate conclusion.

So far as any reason or experience yet known can be applied to this
subject, it seems clear that no art or science ever has been or can be
now advanced by going backwards, and copying earlier forms, or those
applicable to other times or other circumstances; and that progress
towards perfection can only be obtained by the united efforts of many
steadily pursuing a well-defined object. Whenever this is done, success
appears to be inevitable, or at all events every age is perfectly
satisfied with its own productions. Where forward progress is the law,
it is certain that the next age will surpass the present; but the living
cannot conceive anything more perfect than what they are doing, or they
would apply it. Everything in any true art is thoroughly up to the
highest standard of its period, and instead of the dissatisfied
uncertainty in which we are wandering in all matters concerning
architecture, we should be exulting in our own productions, and proud in
leaving to our posterity the progress we have made, feeling assured that
we have paved the way for them to advance to a still higher standard of

As soon as the public are aware of the importance of this rule, and of
its applicability to architecture, a new style must be the inevitable
result; and if our civilisation is what we believe it to be, that style
will not only be perfectly suited to all our wants and desires, but also
more beautiful and more perfect than any that has ever existed before.


If we turn from these speculations to ask what prospect there is of the
public appreciating correctly this view of the matter, or setting
earnestly about carrying it out, the answer can hardly be deemed
satisfactory; in fact, if it were left to the public, very little
progress, except from an utilitarian point of view, would probably be

The study of the classical languages, to which so much importance is
attached in our public schools, and in our own and most foreign
universities, tended at one time in another way to draw attention from
the formation of a true style of architecture by fixing it exclusively
on Greek and Roman models. The Renaissance in the 15th century, as
pointed out above, arose much more from admiration of classic literature
than from any feeling for the remains of buildings which had been
neglected for centuries, and were far surpassed by those which succeeded
them. The same feelings perpetuated by early association are the great
cause of the hold that classic art still has on the educated classes in

On the other hand, the revival of the Gothic style fifty years ago
enlisted the sympathy of the clergy, not only in England, but on the
continent of Europe, when they arrived at the conclusion that the Gothic
style was the one most suited for church-building purposes; and
attempted to establish a point that no deviation from Gothic models
should be tolerated.

Beyond these there was another class of men who had but little sympathy
with Greece or Rome, and still less with mediæval monasticism or
feudalism, but who in their own strong sense were inclined to take a
more reasonable view of the matter, and these men have for years been
erecting in London, Manchester, Leeds, and in other cities of England a
series of warehouses and other buildings designed wholly with reference
to their uses, and ornamented only in their construction, and which
consequently are—as far as their utilitarian purposes will allow—as
satisfactory as anything of former days.

In addition to these, and within the last fifteen to twenty years, a
very great progress has taken place in domestic architecture, not only
in London and its suburbs, but throughout England, where buildings have
been erected of a new and an original type, peculiarly applicable to the
requirements of English domestic life, and of great variety and
picturesque design; and these remarks apply not only to mansions, but to
the residences of a much humbler and more simple kind.

In civil engineering, the lowest and most prosaic branch of
architectural art, our progress has been brilliant and rapid. Of this no
better example can be given than the four great bridges erected over the
Thames. The old bridges of Westminster and Blackfriars, and those of
Waterloo and London, were erected at nearly equal intervals during one
century, and the steady progress which they exhibit is greater than that
of almost any similar branch of art during any equal period of time.

In this department our progress is so undeniable that we saw old London
Bridge removed without regret, though it was a work of the same age and
of the same men who built all our greatest and best cathedrals, and in
its own line was quite as perfect and as beautiful as they. But it had
outlived its age, and we knew we could replace it by a better—so its
destruction was inevitable; and if we had made the same progress in the
higher that we have in the lower branches of the building art, we should
see a Gothic cathedral pulled down with the same indifference, content
to know that we could easily replace it by one far nobler and more
worthy of our age and intelligence. No architect during the Middle Ages
ever hesitated to pull down any part of a cathedral that was old and
going to decay, and to replace it with something in the style of the
day, however incongruous that might be; and if we were progressing as
they were, we should have as little compunction in following the same

In the confusion of ideas and of styles which now prevails, it is
satisfactory to be able to contemplate, in the Crystal Palace at
Sydenham, at least one great building carried out wholly on the
principles of Gothic or of any true style of art. No material is used in
it which is not the best for its purpose, no constructive expedient
employed which was not absolutely essential, and it depends wholly for
its effect on the arrangement of its parts and the display of its
construction. So essentially is its principle the same which, as we have
seen, animated Gothic architecture, that we hardly know even now how
much of the design belongs to Sir Joseph Paxton, how much to the
contractors, or how much to the subordinate officers employed by the
Company. Here, as in a cathedral, every man was set to work in that
department which it was supposed he was best qualified to superintend.
There was room for every art and for every intellect, and clashing and
interference were impossible. This, however, was only the second of the
series. The third was entrusted to an Engineer officer, who had no
architectural education, and who had never thought twice on the subject
before he was set to carry out his very inchoate design for the 1862
Exhibition. He failed of course, for architecture is not a Phonetic art
depending on inspiration, but a technic art based on experience. As
re-erected on Muswell Hill the building was immensely improved, and far
superior to its predecessor, but was burnt down before the public had
time to realise its form. As being rebuilt, it probably will be still
one step further in advance, and if the series were carried to a
hundred, with more leisure and a higher aim, we might perhaps learn to
despise many things we now so servilely copy, and might create a style
surpassing anything that ever went before. We have certainly more
wealth, more constructive skill, and more knowledge than our
forefathers; and, living in the same climate and being of the same race,
there seems no insuperable difficulty in our doing at least as much if
not more than they accomplished.

Art, however, will not be regenerated by buildings so ephemeral as
Crystal Palaces or so prosaic as Manchester warehouses, nor by anything
so essentially utilitarian as the works of our engineers. The one hope
is that having commenced at the bottom, the true system may extend
upwards, and come at last to be applied to our palaces and even to
churches, and that the whole nation may lend its aid to work out the
great problem. The prospect of this being done may seem distant, but as
soon as the general significance of the problem is fully appreciated by
the public, the result seems inevitable; and with the means of diffusing
knowledge which we now possess, we may perhaps be permitted to fancy
that the dawn is at hand, and that after our long wanderings in the
dark, daylight may again enlighten our path and gladden our hearts with
the vision of brighter and better things in art than a false system has
hitherto enabled us to attain.

These remarks might easily be extended to any desired length, and in
fact this part of the work ought to be enlarged till it equalled the
narrative part, if it had any pretension to be a complete treatise on
the Art of Architecture. In that case, the static or descriptive part of
a treatise on any art is equally important with the dynamic or narrative
part. In most instances more so; but in this respect architecture is
exceptional, and the narrative form is by far the more important of the
two divisions into which the subject naturally divides itself.

If, for instance, any one were writing a treatise on Naval Architecture,
it is more than probable that he would not allude to any vessel not
afloat at the time of his writing. If he mentioned the triremes of the
Romans or the galleys of the Venetians, it would be in an introductory
chapter intended for the amusement, not the instruction, of his readers.
In like manner, if an engineer undertakes to write on the art of
bridge-building, harbour-making, or on roads or canals, he is only
careful to cite the best existing examples in use, and would be
considered pedantic if he wasted his time, or that of his readers, in
recounting what was done in these departments by the Romans or the
Chinese. If the fine art architecture was with us as well up to the mark
of the intelligence of the day as these more utilitarian branches of the
profession, the same course would be the proper one to pursue in writing
with regard to it. Unfortunately, however, we have no architecture of
our own, and it is impossible to make the various styles in practice
either intelligible or interesting, except by tracing them back to their
origin, and explaining the steps by which they reached perfection.

If architecture was practised by us on the same principles that guided
either the Classic or Gothic architects in their designs, a static
treatise on it would not only be the most instructive but the most
pleasing form of teaching its elements. Owing, however, to the system of
copying which is now the basis of all designs, this is no longer the
case, and the consequently abnormal position of the art renders the
study of its principles almost impossible, and memory must supply the
place of pure reason for their elucidation, thus giving to the narrative
branch of the subject a somewhat exaggerated importance, even when
looked at from a merely technic point of view.

Besides this, however, the narrative form as applied to Architecture has
advantages of its own greater than those of any other art of the same
class, inasmuch as it is a great stone book in which most of the nations
of the earth have recorded their annals, and written their thoughts, and
even expressed their feelings in clearer and truer language than by any
other form of utterance. The pyramids and temples of Egypt are a truer
expression of the feelings and aspirations of their builders than we can
obtain from any other source. The Parthenon at Athens brings the age of
Pericles more clearly before our eyes in all its perfection of art than
any written page. The Flavian Amphitheatre and the Baths of Caracalla
enable us to realise imperial Rome more vividly than even the glowing
pages of Tacitus. Our Mediæval cathedrals are a living record of the
faith and feelings of peoples, who have left, besides these, but few
materials by which one could judge of their aspirations or of their
civilisation; while, if we wish to know in what India differed from
Europe in those ages, and in what respect she still resembled it, it is
to her contemporary temples that we must turn, and they tell us in a
language not to be mistaken wherein lay the differences, and still how
nearly alike the civilisations at one time were. All this, and
infinitely more, we may learn from a record, which, though often ruined
and nearly obliterated, never deceives. Where it first was placed, there
it still remains to tell to future generations what at that spot, at
some previous time, men thought and felt; what their state of
civilisation enabled them to accomplish, and to what stage they had
attained in their conception of a God.

Besides, however, the advantages to be obtained in an artistic point of
view from treating architecture in a narrative rather than in a static
form, there is, as pointed out above, still another, which, though of
minor importance, still adds immensely to the interest of the subject.
It is that, when so treated, the art affords one of the clearest and
most certain tests known of the ethnographic relations of people one to
another. It may, therefore, be as well, before proceeding further, to
explain as briefly as is consistent with intelligibility what is meant
by Architectural Ethnography.

                                PART II.


Ethnology, though one of the youngest, is perhaps neither the least
beautiful nor the least attractive of that fair sisterhood of sciences
whose birth has rewarded the patient industry and inflexible love of
truth which characterises the philosophy of the present day. It takes up
the history of the world at the point where it is left by its elder
sister Geology, and, following the same line of argument, strives to
reduce to the same scientific mode of expression the apparent chaos of
facts which have hitherto been looked upon as inexplicable by the
general observer.

It is only within the limits of the present century that Geology was
rescued from the dreams of cataclysms and convulsions which formed the
staple of the science in the last century; and that step by step, by
slow degrees, rocks have been classified and phenomena explained. All
that picturesque wildness with which the materials seemed at first sight
to be distributed over the world’s surface has been reduced to order,
and they now lie arranged as clearly, and as certainly in the mind of a
geologist, as if they had been squared by the tool of a mason and placed
in order by the hand of a mechanic. So it is with Ethnology. Race has
succeeded race;—all have been disturbed, some obliterated—many
contorted—and sometimes the older, apparently, superimposed upon the
newer. All at first sight is chaos and confusion, and it seems almost
hopeless to attempt to unravel the mysteries of the long-forgotten past.
It is true nevertheless, in Ethnology, as in the sister science, that no
change on the world’s surface has taken place without leaving its mark.
A race may be obliterated, or only crop up at the edge of some great
basin of population; but it has left its traces either as fossil remains
in the shape of buildings or works, or as impressions on language or on
the arts of those who supplanted the perishing race. When these are
read,—when all the phenomena are gathered together and classified, we
find the same perfection of Order, the same beautiful simplicity of law
pervading the same complex variety of results, which characterise all
the phenomena of nature, and the knowledge of which is the highest
reward of intellectual exertion.

Language has hitherto been the great implement of analysis which has
been employed to elucidate the affiliation of races; and the present
state of the science may be said to be almost entirely due to the acumen
and industry of learned linguists. Physiology has lent her aid; but the
objects offered for her examination are so few, especially in remote
ages, and the individual differences are so small, as compared with the
general resemblance, that, in the present state of that science, its aid
has not been of the importance which it may fairly be expected hereafter
to assume. In both sciences History plays an important part: in Geology,
by furnishing analogies without which it would be hardly possible to
interpret the facts; in Ethnology, by pointing out the direction in
which inquiries should be made, and by guiding and controlling the
conclusions which may have been arrived at. With the assistance of these
sciences, Ethnologists have accomplished a great deal, and may do more;
but Ethnology, based merely on Language[16] and Physiology, is like
Geology based only on Mineralogy and Chemistry. Without Palæontology,
that science would never have assumed the importance or reached the
perfection to which it has now attained; and Ethnology will never take
the place which it is really entitled to, till its results are checked,
and its conclusions elucidated, by the science of Archæology.

Without the aid and vivifying influence derived from the study of fossil
remains, Geology would lose half its value and more than half its
interest. It may be interesting to the man of science to know what rock
is superimposed upon another, and how and in what relative periods these
changes occurred; but it is far more interesting to watch the dawn of
life on this globe, and to trace its development into the present
teeming stage of existence. So it will be when, with the aid of
Archæology, Ethnologists are able to identify the various strata in
which mankind have been distributed; to fix identities of race from
similarities of Art; and to read the history of the past from the
unconscious testimony of material remains. When properly studied and
understood, there is no language so clear, or whose testimony is so
undoubted, as that of those petrified thoughts and feelings which men
have left engraved on the walls of their temples, or buried with them in
the chambers of their tombs. Unconsciously expressed, but imperishably
written, they are there to this hour. Any one who likes may read, and no
one who can translate them can for one moment doubt but that they are
the best, and frequently the only, records that remain of bygone races.

It is not difficult to explain why ethnographers have not hitherto
considered Archæology of that importance to their researches to which it
is undoubtedly entitled. We live in an age when all Art is a chaos of
copying and confusion; we are daily masquerading in the costume of every
nation of the earth, ancient and modern, and are unable to realise that
these dresses in which we deck ourselves were once realities. Because
Architecture, since the Reformation in the sixteenth century, has in
Europe been a mere _hortus siccus_ of dried specimens of the art of all
countries and of all ages, we cannot feel that, before that time, Art
was earnest and progressive; and that men then did what they felt to be
best and most appropriate, by the same processes by which Nature works.
We do not therefore perceive that, though in an infinitely lower grade,
we may reason of the works of man before a given date, with the same
certainty with which we can reason of those of Nature. When this great
fact is once recognised—and it is indisputable—Archæology and
Palæontology take their places side by side, as the guiding and
vivifying elements in the sister sciences of Ethnology and Geology; and
give to each of these a value they could never otherwise attain.

As may well be expected, however, when Archæology is employed to aid in
these researches, results are frequently arrived at, which at first
sight are discrepant from those to which the study of language alone has
hitherto led scientific men. But this is no proof either of the truth or
falsehood of the conclusions arrived at, or of the value or
worthlessness of the processes employed. Both are essential to the
question of knowledge, and it is by a skilful balancing of both classes
of evidence that truth is ultimately arrived at.

It would be out of place to attempt in an introduction like the present
anything approaching to a complete investigation of this subject. Nor is
it necessary. The various ethnographic relations of one style to another
will be pointed out as they arise in the course of the narrative, and
their influence traced to such an extent as may be necessary to render
them intelligible. But for the same reasons which made it expedient to
try, in the preceding pages, to define the meaning of the term
architecture and to point out its position and limits, it is believed
that it will add to the clearness of what follows if the typical
characteristics of the principal races[17] of mankind with whom the
narrative deals, are first defined as clearly, though as succinctly as

As the object of introducing the subject here is not to write an essay
on Ethnology, but to render the history of Architecture interesting and
intelligible, it may be expedient to avoid all speculation as to the
origin of mankind, or the mode in which the various races diverged from
one another and became so markedly distinct. Stretch the history of
Architecture as we will, we cannot get beyond the epoch of the Pyramid
builders (3500 B.C.), and when these were erected the various races of
mankind had acquired those distinctive characteristics which mark them
now. Not long afterwards, when the tombs at Beni Hassan were painted
(2500 B.C.), these distinctions were so marked and so well understood,
that these pictures might serve for the illustration of a book on
Ethnography at the present day. Nor will it be necessary in this
preliminary sketch to attempt more than to point out the typical
features of the four great building races of mankind. The Turanian, the
Semitic, the Celtic, and the Aryan. Even with regard to these, all that
will be necessary will be to point out the typical characteristics
without even attempting to define too accurately their boundaries, and
leaving the minuter gradations to be developed in the sequel.

The one great fact which it is essential to insist on here is, that if
we do not take into account its connexion with Ethnography, the History
of Architecture is a mere dry, hard recapitulation of uninteresting
facts and terms; but when its relation to the world’s history is
understood,—when we read in their buildings the feelings and aspirations
of the people who erected them, and above all through their arts we can
trace their relationship to, and their descent from one another, the
study becomes one of the most interesting, as well as one of the most
useful which can be presented to an inquiring mind.


The result of recent researches has enabled the ethnographer to divide
and arrange prehistoric man into three great groups or periods, which in
Europe at least seem to have succeeded to one another; though at what
time has not yet been determined even approximately; nor is it known how
long any of the three subsisted before it was superseded by the next,
nor how far the one overlapped the other, or indeed, whether, as was
almost certainly the case, at some time all three may not have subsisted

The first is called the Stone age, from the rude race who then peopled
Europe having no knowledge of the use of metals. All the cutting parts
of their implements were formed of flint or other hard stones, probably
fitted with wooden or bone handles, and used as tools of these

These were succeeded by a people having a knowledge of the use of copper
and tin, with the possession of gold, and perhaps silver. Their
principal weapons and tools were formed of a compound of the two
first-named metals; and their age has consequently been called the age
of Bronze.

Both these were superseded, perhaps in historic times, by a people
having a knowledge of the properties and use of Iron. Hence their epoch
came to be distinguished by the name of that metal.

There seems no doubt but that the people of the Stone age were
generally, if not exclusively, of that great family which we now know as
the Turanian.

The race who introduced bronze seem to have been the ancestors of the
Celtic races who afterwards peopled so large a portion of Europe.

The Aryans were those who introduced the use of iron, and with it
dominated over and expelled the older races.

If any prehistoric traces of the Semitic races are to be found, they
must be looked for in Western Asia or in Africa; they certainly had no
settlements in Europe.

Further researches may perhaps at some future time enable us to fix
approximative dates to these various migrations. At present we know that
men using flint implements lived in the valleys of the Garonne and
Dordogne when the climate of the south of France was as cold as that of
Lapland, or perhaps Greenland; when the reindeer was their principal
domestic animal, and the larger animals of the country belonged to
species many of which had ceased to inhabit those regions before the
dawn of history. On the other hand, we may assert with certainty that
the climate of Egypt has not varied since the age of the Pyramid
builders; and there is nothing in the history of either Greece or Italy
that would lead us to believe that any remarkable alteration in the
climate of these countries has taken place in historic times.

These questions, however, hardly come within the scope of the present
work. The men of the Stone age have left nothing which can be styled
architecture, unless we include in that term the rude tumuli of earth
with which they covered the remains of their dead. It is also extremely
uncertain if we can identify any building of stone as belonging
certainly to the age of Bronze. All the rude cromlechs, dolmens,
menhirs, &c., which usher in the early dawn of civilisation in Europe,
belong, it is true to the earlier races, but seem to have been erected
by them at a time when the Aryan races had taught them the use of iron,
and they had learnt to appreciate the value of stone as a monumental
record. This, however, was at a period long subsequent to the use of
iron in Egypt and the East, and long after architecture had attained
maturity; and its history became easily and distinctly legible in the
Valley of the Nile.[18]

The great feature in the history of the Turanian races is that they
were the first to people the whole world beyond the limits of the
original cradle of mankind. Like the primitive unstratified rocks of
geologists, they form the substructure of the whole world, frequently
rising into the highest and most prominent peaks, sometimes
overflowing whole districts and occupying a vast portion of the
world’s surface;—everywhere underlying all the others, and affording
their disintegrated materials to form the more recent strata that now
overlie and frequently obliterate them,—in appearance at least.

In the old world the typical Turanians were the Egyptians; in the modern
the Chinese and Japanese; and to these we are perhaps justified in
adding the Mexicans. If this last adscription stands good, we have at
three nearly equidistant points (120 degrees apart) on the earth’s
surface, and under the tropic of Cancer, the three great culminating
points of this form of civilisation. The outlying strata in Asia are the
Tamuls, who now occupy the whole of the south of India, and all the
races now existing in the countries between India and China. The
Turanians existed in the Valley of the Euphrates before the Semitic or
Aryan races came there. The Tunguses in the north are Turanians, and so
are the Mongols, the Turks, and all those tribes generally described as

In Europe the oldest people of this family we are acquainted with are
the Pelasgi and Etruscans, but the race also crops up in the Magyars,
the Finns, the Lapps, and in odd broken fragments here and there, but
everywhere overpowered by the more civilised Aryans, who succeeded and
have driven them into the remotest corners of the continent.

In Africa they have been almost as completely overpowered by the Semitic
race, and in America are now being everywhere as entirely overwhelmed as
they were in Europe by the Aryan races, and in all probability must
eventually disappear altogether.

Even if the linguist should hesitate to affirm that all their languages
can be traced to a common root, or present sufficient affinities for a
classification, the general features of the races enumerated above are
so alike the one to the other, that, for all real ethnographic purposes,
they may certainly be considered as belonging to one great group.
Whether nearly obliterated, as they are in most parts of Europe, or
whether they still retain their nationality, as in the eastern parts of
Asia, they always appear as the earliest of races, and everywhere
present peculiarities of feeling and civilisation easily recognised, and
which distinguish them from all the other races of mankind.

If they do not all speak cognate languages, or if we cannot now trace
their linguistic affinities, we must not too readily assume that
therefore they are distinct the one from the other. It must be more
philosophical to believe, what probably is the case, that the one
instrument of analysis we have hitherto used is not sufficient for the
purpose, and we ought consequently to welcome every other process which
will throw further light on the subject.

                       RELIGION OF THE TURANIANS.

It is perhaps not too much to assert that no Turanian race ever rose to
the idea of a God external to the world. All their gods were men who had
lived with them on the face of the earth. In the old world they were
kings,—men who had acquired fame from the extent of their power, or
greatness from their wisdom. The Buddhist reform taught the Turanian
races that virtue, not power, was true greatness, and that the humblest
as well as the highest might attain beatitude through the practice of

All the Turanians have a distinct idea of rewards and punishments after
death, and generally also of a preparatory purgatory by transmigration
through the bodies of animals, clean or unclean according to the actions
of the defunct spirit, but always ending in another world. With some
races transmigration becomes nearly all in all; in others it is nearly
evanescent, and Heaven and Hell take its place; but the two are
essentially doctrines of this race.

From the fact of their gods having been only ordinary mortals, and all
men being able to aspire to the godhead, their form of worship was
essentially anthropic and ancestral; their temples were palaces, where
the gods sat on thrones and received petitions and dispensed justice as
in life, and where men paid that homage to the image of the dead which
they would have paid to the living king. They were in fact the
idolators, _par excellence_. Their tombs were even more sacred than
their temples, and their reverence was more frequently directed to the
remains of their ancestors than to the images of their gods. Hence arose
that reverence for relics which formed so marked a feature in their
ritual in all ages, and which still prevails among many races almost in
the direct ratio in which Turanian blood can be traced in their veins.

Unable to rise above humanity in their conceptions of the deity, they
worshipped all material things. Trees with them in all times were
objects of veneration, and of especial worship in particular localities.
The mysterious serpent was with them a god, and the bull in most
Turanian countries a being to be worshipped. The sun, the moon, the
stars, all filled niches in their Pantheon; in fact, whatever they saw
they believed in, whatever they could not comprehend they worshipped.
They cared not to inquire beyond the evidence of their senses, and were
incapable of abstracting their conceptions. To the Turanians also is due
that peculiar reverence for localities made celebrated by great
historical events, or rendered sacred by being the scene of great
religious events, and hence to them must be ascribed the origin of
pilgrimages, and all their concomitant adjuncts and ceremonies.

It is to this race also that we owe the existence of human sacrifices.
Always fatalists, always and everywhere indifferent of life, and never
fearing death, these sacrifices never were to them so terrible as they
appear to more highly-organised races. Thus a child, a relative, or a
friend, was the most precious, and consequently the most acceptable
offering a man could bring to appease the wrath or propitiate the favour
of a god who had been human, and who was supposed to have retained all
the feelings of humanity for ever afterwards.

It is easy to trace their Tree and Serpent worship in every corner of
the old world from Anuradhapura in Ceylon, to Upsala in Sweden. Their
tombs and tumuli exist everywhere. Their ancestral worship is the
foundation at the present day of half the popular creeds of the world,
and the planets have hardly ceased to be worshipped at the present hour.
Most of the more salient peculiarities of this faith were softened down
by the great Buddhist reform in the sixth century B.C., and that
refinement of their rude primitive belief has been adopted by most of
the Turanian people of the modern world, and is now almost exclusively
the appanage of people having Turanian blood in their veins. Even,
however, through the gloss of their Buddhist refinements we can still
discern most of the old forms of faith, and even its most devoted
votaries are yet hardly more than half converted.


The only form of government ever adopted by any people of Turanian race
was that of absolute despotism,—with a tribe, a chief,—in a kingdom, a
despot. In highly civilised communities, like those of Egypt and China,
their despotism was tempered by bureaucratic forms, but the chief was
always as absolute as a Timour or an Attila, though not always strong
enough to use his power as terribly as they did. Their laws were real or
traditional edicts of their kings, seldom written, and never
administered according to any fixed form of procedure.

As a consequence or a cause of this, the Turanian race are absolutely
casteless; no hereditary nobility, no caste of priests ever existed
among them; between the ruler and the people there could be nothing, and
every one might aspire equally to all the honours of the State, or to
the highest dignity of the priesthood. “La carrière ouverte aux talens,”
is essentially the motto of these races or of those allied to them, and
whether it was the slave of a Pharaoh, or the pipe-bearer of a Turkish
sultan, every office except the throne is and always was open to the
ambitious. No republic, no limited monarchy, ever arose among them.
Despotism pure and simple is all they ever knew, or are even now capable
of appreciating.


Woman among the Turanian races was never regarded otherwise than as the
helpmate of the poor and the plaything of the rich; born to work for the
lower classes and to administer to the gratification of the higher. No
equality of rights or position was ever dreamt of, and the consequence
was polyandry where people were poor and women scarce, and polygamy
where wealth and luxury prevailed; and with these it need hardly be
added, a loss of half those feelings which ennoble man or make life

Neither loving nor beloved in the bosom of his own family,—too much of a
fatalist to care for the future,—neither enjoying life nor fearing
death,—the Turanian is generally free from those vices which contaminate
more active minds; he remains sober, temperate, truthful, and kindly in
all the relations of life. If, however, he has few vices, he has fewer
virtues, and both are far more passive than active in their nature,—in
fact, approach more nearly to the instincts of the lower animals than to
the intellectual responsibilities of the highest class of minds.


No Turanian race ever distinguished itself in literature, properly so
called. They all possessed annals, because they loved to record the
names, the dates, and the descent of their ancestors; but these never
rose to the dignity of history even in its simplest form. Prose they
could hardly write, because none of the greater groups ever appreciated
the value of an alphabet. Hieroglyphics, signs, symbols, anything
sufficed for their simple intellectual wants, and they preferred
trusting to memory to remember what a sign stood for, rather than
exercise their intellect to compound or analyse a complex alphabetical
arrangement. Their system of poetry helped them, to some extent, over
the difficulty; and, with a knowledge of the metre, a few suggestive
signs enabled the reader to remember at least a lyric composition. But
without a complex grammar to express and an alphabet to record their
conceptions it is hopeless to expect that either Epic or Dramatic Poetry
could flourish, still less that a prose narrative of any extent could be
remembered; and philosophy, beyond the use of proverbs, was out of the

In their most advanced stages they have, like the Chinese, invented
syllabaria of hideous complexity, and have even borrowed alphabets from
their more advanced neighbours. By some it is supposed that they have
even invented them; but though they have thus got over the mechanical
difficulties of the case, their intellectual condition remains the same,
and they have never advanced beyond the merest rudiments of a
literature, and have never mastered even the elements of any scientific


If so singularly deficient in the phonetic modes of literary expression,
the Turanian races made up for it to a great extent in the excellence
they attained in most of the branches of æsthetic art. As architects
they were unsurpassed, and in Egypt alone have left monuments which are
still the world’s wonder. The Tamul race in Southern, the Moguls in
Northern India, in Burmah, in China, and in Mexico, wherever these races
are found, they have raised monuments of dimensions unsurpassed; and,
considering the low state of civilisation in which they often existed,
displaying a degree of taste and skill as remarkable as it is

In consequence of the circumstance above mentioned of their gods having
been kings, and after death still only considered as watching over and
influencing the destiny of mankind, their temples were only exaggerated
palaces, containing halls, and chambers, and thrones, and all the
appurtenances required by the living, but on a scale befitting the
celestial character now acquired. So much is this the case in Egypt that
we hardly know by which name to designate them, and the same remark
applies to all.

Even more sacred, however, than their temples were their tombs. Wherever
a Turanian race exists or existed, there their tombs remain; and from
the Pyramids of Egypt to the mausoleum of Hyder Ali, the last Tartar
king in India, they form the most remarkable series of monuments the
world possesses, and all were built by people of Turanian race. No
Semite and no Aryan ever built a tomb that could last a century or was
worthy to remain so long.

The Buddhist reform altered the funereal tumulus into a relic shrine,
modifying this, as it did most of the Turanian forms of utterance, from
a literal to a somewhat more spiritual form of expression, but leaving
the meaning the same,—the Tope being still essentially a Tomb.

Combined with that wonderful appreciation of form which characterises
all the architectural works of the Turanians, they possessed an
extraordinary passion for coloured decoration and an instinctive
knowledge of the harmony of colours. They used throughout the primitive
colours in all their elemental crudeness; and though always brilliant,
are never vulgar, and are guiltless of any mistake in harmony. From the
first dawn of painting in Egypt to the last signboard in Constantinople
or Canton, it is always the same,—the same brilliancy and harmony
produced by the simplest means.

In sculpture they were not so fortunate. Having no explanatory
literature to which to refer, it was necessary that their statues should
tell their whole tale themselves; and sculpture does not lend itself to
this so readily as painting. With them it is not sufficient that a god
should be colossal, he must be symbolical; he must have more arms and
legs or more heads than common men; he must have wings and attributes of
power, or must combine the strength of a lion or a bull with the
intellect of humanity. The statue must, in short, tell the whole story
itself; and where this is attempted the result can only be pleasing to
the narrow faith of the unreflecting devotee. So far from being able to
express more than humanity, sculpture must attempt even less if it would
be successful; but this of course rendered it useless for the purposes
to which the Turanians wished to apply it.

The same remarks apply to painting, properly so called. This never can
attain its highest development except when it is the exponent of
phonetic utterances. In Greece the painter strove only to give form and
substance to the more purely intellectual creation of the poet, and
could consequently dispense with all but the highest elements of his
art. In Egypt the picture was all in all; it had no text to refer to,
and must tell the whole tale with all its adjuncts, in simple
intelligible prose, or be illegible, and the consequence is that the
story is told with a clearness that charms us even now. It is however,
only a story; and, like everything else Turanian, however great or
wonderful, its greatness and its wonder are of a lower class and less
intellectual than the utterances of the other great divisions of the
human family.

We have scarcely the means of knowing whether any Turanian race ever
successfully cultivated music to any extent. It is more than probable
that all their families can and always could appreciate the harmony of
musical intervals, and might be charmed with simple cadences; but it is
nearly certain that a people who did not possess phonetic poetry could
never rise to that higher class of music which is now carried to such a
pitch of perfection, that harmonic combinations almost supply the place
of phonetic expression and influence the feelings and passions to almost
the same extent.

There is also this further peculiarity about their arts, that they seem
always more instinctive than intellectual, and consequently are
incapable of that progress which distinguishes most of the works of man.
At the first dawn of art in Egypt, in the age of the Pyramid builders,
all the arts were as perfect and as complete as they were when the
country fell under the domination of the Romans. The earliest works in
China are as perfect—in some respects more so—as those of to-day; and in
Mexico, so soon as a race of red savages peopled a country so densely as
to require art and to appreciate magnificence, the arts sprung up among
them with as much perfection, we may fairly assume, as they would have
attained had they been practised for thousands of years under the same
circumstances and uninfluenced by foreigners. It is even more startling
to find that the arts of the savages who inhabited the south of France,
on the skirts of the glacial period, are identical with those of the
Esquimaux of the present day, and even at that early time attained a
degree of perfection which is startling, and could hardly be surpassed
by any people in the same condition of life at the present day.


There is no reason to suppose that any people occupying so low a
position in the intellectual scale could ever cultivate anything
approaching to abstract science, and there is no proof of it existing.
Living, however, as they did, on the verge of the tropics, in the most
beautiful climates of the world, and where the sky is generally serene
and unclouded, it was impossible but that they should become to some
extent astronomers.

It is not known that any of them ever formed any theory to account for
the phenomena they observed, but they seem to have watched the paths of
the planets, to have recorded eclipses, and generally to have noted
times and events with such correctness as enabled them to predict their
return with very considerable precision; but here their science stopped,
and it is not known that they ever attempted any other of the
multifarious branches of modern knowledge.

We have only very imperfect means of knowing what their agriculture was;
but it seems always to have been careful when once they passed from the
shepherd state, though whether scientific or not it is not easy to say.
On the point of artificial irrigation the Turanians have always been
singularly expert. Wherever you follow their traces, the existence of a
tunnel is almost as certain an indication of their pre-existence as that
of a tomb. It is amusing, as it is instructive, to see at this hour an
Arab Pacha breaking down in his attempts to restore the irrigation works
of the old Pharaohs, or an English Engineer officer blundering in his
endeavours to copy the works instinctively performed by a Mogul, or a
Spaniard trying to drain the lakes of Mexico. Building and irrigation
were the special instincts of this old people, and the practical
intellect of the higher races seems hardly yet to have come up to the
point where these arts were left by the early Turanian races, while the
perfection they attained in them is the more singular from the contrast
it affords to what they did, or rather, did not do, in other branches of
art or science.

                          III.—SEMITIC RACES.

From the extraordinary influence the Semitic races have had in the
religious development of mankind, we are apt to consider them as
politically more important than they really ever were. At no period of
their history do they seem to have numbered more than twenty or thirty
millions of souls. The principal locality in which they developed
themselves was the small tract of country between the Tigris, the
Mediterranean and the Red Sea; but they also existed as a separate race
in Abyssinia, and extended their colonies along the northern coast of
Africa. Their intellectual development has been in all ages so superior
to that of the Turanian races, that they have subdued them mentally
wherever they came in contact with them; and notwithstanding their
limited geographical extension, they have influenced the intellect of
the Aryan tribes to a greater extent than almost any of their own

If anything were required to justify the ethnographer in treating the
various families of mankind as distinct and separate varieties, it would
be the study of the history of the Semitic race. What they were in the
time of Abraham, that they are at the present day. A large section of
them sojourned in Egypt, among people of a different race, and they came
out as unmixed as oil would do that is floated on water. For the last
two thousand years they have dwelt dispersed among the Gentiles, without
a nationality, almost without a common language, yet they remain the
same in feature, the same in intellectual development and feeling, they
exhibit the same undying repugnance to all except those of their own
blood, which characterised the Arab and the Jew when we first recognise
their names in history. So unchangeable are they in this respect, that
it seems in vain to try to calculate how long this people must have
lived by themselves, separated from other races, that they should have
thus acquired that distinctive fixity of character nothing can alter or
obliterate, and which is perhaps even more wonderful intellectually than
are the woolly hair and physical characteristics of the negro, though
not so obvious to the superficial observer.


From the circumstance of our possessing a complete series of the
religious literature of the Semitic race, extending over the two
thousand years which elapsed between Moses and Mahomet, we are enabled
to speak on this point with more precision than we can regarding the
doctrines of almost any other people.

The great and distinguishing tenet of this race when pure is and always
seems to have been the unity of God, and his not being born of man.
Unlike the gods of the Turanians, their Deity never was man, never
reigned or lived on earth, but was the Creator and Preserver of the
universe, living before all time, and extending beyond all space; though
it must be confessed they have not always expressed this idea with the
purity and distinctness which might be desired.

It is uncertain how far they adhered to this purity of belief in
Assyria, where they were more mixed up with other races than they have
ever been before or since. In Syria, where they were superimposed upon
and mixed with a people of Turanian origin, they occasionally worshipped
stones and groves, serpents, and even bulls; but they inevitably
oscillated back to the true faith and retained it to the last. In
Arabia, after they became dominant, they cast off their Turanian
idolatries, and rallied as one man to the watchword of their race,
“There is no God but God,” expressed with a clearness that nothing can
obscure, and clung to it with a tenacity that nothing could shake or
change. Since then they have never represented God as man, and hardly
ever looked upon Him as actuated by the feelings of humanity.

The channel of communication between God and man has always been, with
all the Semitic races, by means of prophecy. Prophets are sent, or are
inspired, by God, to communicate His will to man, to propound His laws,
and sometimes to foretell events; but in all instances without losing
their character as men, or becoming more than messengers for the special
service for which they are sent.

With the Jews, but with them only, does there seem to have been a priest
caste set aside for the special service of God; not selected from all
the people, as would have been the case with the casteless Turanians,
but deriving their sanctity from descent, as would have been the case
with the Aryans; still they differed from the Aryan institution inasmuch
as the Levites always retained the characteristics of a tribe, and never
approached the form of an aristocracy. They may therefore be considered
ethnographically as an intermediate institution, partaking of the
characteristics of the other two races.

The one point in which the Semitic form of religion seems to come in
contact with the Turanian is that of sacrifice—human, in early times
perhaps, even till the time of Abraham, but afterwards only of oxen and
sheep and goats in hecatombs; and this apparently not among the Arabs,
but only with the Jews and the less pure Phœnicians.

From their having no human gods they avoided all the palatial temples or
ceremonial forms of idolatrous worship. Strictly speaking, they have no
temples. There was one holy place in the old world, the Hill of Zion at
Jerusalem, and one in the new dispensation, the Kaaba at Mecca. Solomon,
it is true, adorned the first to an extent but little consonant with the
true feeling of his race, but the Kaaba remains in its primitive
insignificance; and neither of these temples, either then or now, derive
their sanctity from the buildings. They are the spots where God’s
prophets stood and communicated His will to man. It is true that in
after ages a Roman Tetrarch and a Turkish Sultan surrounded these two
Semitic cells with courts and cloisters, which made them wonders of
magnificence in the cities where they existed; but this does not affect
the conclusion that no Semitic race ever erected a durable building, or
even thought of possessing more than one temple at a time, or cared to
emulate the splendour of the temple-palaces of the Turanians.


Although no Semitic race was ever quite republican, which is a purely
Aryan characteristic, they never sank under such an unmitigated
despotism as is generally found among the Turanians. When in small
nuclei, their form of government is what is generally called
patriarchal, the chief being neither necessarily hereditary, nor
necessarily elective, but attaining his headship partly by the influence
due to age and wisdom, or to virtue, partly to the merits of his
connexions, and sometimes of his ancestors; but never wholly to the
latter without some reference at least to the former.

In larger aggregations the difficulty of selection made the chiefship
more generally hereditary; but even then the power of the King was
always controlled by the authority of the written law, and never sank
into the pure despotism of the Turanians. With the Jews, too, the sacred
caste of the Levites always had considerable influence in checking any
excesses of kingly power; but more was due in this respect to their
peculiar institution of prophets, who, protected by the sacredness of
their office, at all times dared to act the part of tribunes of the
people, and to rebuke with authority any attempt on the part of the King
to step beyond the limits of the constitution.


One of the most striking characteristics in the morals of the Semitic
races is the improvement in the position of woman, and the attempt to
elevate her in the scale of existence. If not absolutely monogamic,
there is among the Jews, and among the Arabic races where they are pure,
a strong tendency in this direction; and but for the example of those
nations among whom they were placed, they might have gone further in
this direction, and the dignity of mankind have been proportionately

Their worst faults arise from their segregation from the rest of
mankind. With them war against all but those of their own race is an
obligation and a pleasure, and it is carried on with a relentless
cruelty which knows no pity. To smite root and branch, to murder men,
women, and children, is a duty which admits of no hesitation, and has
stained the character of the Semites in all ages. Against this must be
placed the fact that they are patriotic beyond all other races, and
steadfast in their faith as no other people have ever been; and among
themselves they have been tempered to kindness and charity by the
sufferings they have had to bear because of their uncompromising hatred
and repugnance to all their fellow-men.

This isolation has had the further effect of making them singularly
apathetic to all that most interests the other nations of the earth.
What their God has revealed to them through His prophets suffices for
them. “God is great,” is a sufficient explanation with them for all the
wonders of science. “God wills it,” solves all the complex problems of
the moral government of the world. If not such absolute fatalists as the
Turanians, they equally shrink from the responsibility of thinking for
themselves, or of applying their independent reason to the great
problems of human knowledge. They may escape by this from many
aberrations that trouble more active minds, but their virtues at best
can be but negative, and their vices unredeemed by the higher
aspirations that sometimes half ennoble even crime.


In this again we have an immense advance above all the Turanian races.
No Semitic people ever used a hieroglyph or mere symbol, or were content
to trust to memory only. Everywhere and at all times—so far as we
know—they used an alphabet of more or less complicated form. Whether
they invented this mode of notation or not is still unknown, but its use
by them is certain; and the consequence is that they possess, if not the
oldest, at least one of the very oldest literatures of the world.
History with them is no longer a mere record of names and titles, but a
chronicle of events, and with the moral generally elicited. The story
and the rhapsody take their places side by side, the preaching and the
parable are used to convey their lessons to the world. If they had not
the Epos and the Drama, they had lyric poetry of a beauty and a pathos
which has hardly ever been surpassed.

It was this possession of an alphabet, conjoined with the sublimity of
their monotheistic creed, that gave these races the only superiority to
which they have attained. It is this which has enabled them to keep
themselves pure and undefiled in all the catastrophes to which they have
been exposed, and that still enables their literature and their creed to
exert an influence over almost all the nations of the earth, even in
times when the people themselves have been held in most supreme


It may have been partly in consequence of their love of phonetic
literature, and partly in order to keep themselves distinct from those
great builders the Turanians, that the Semitic races never erected a
building worthy of the name; neither at Jerusalem, nor at Tyre or Sidon,
nor at Carthage, is there any vestige of Semitic Architectural Art. Not
that these have perished, but because they never existed. When Solomon
proposed to build a temple at Jerusalem, though plain externally, and
hardly so large as an ordinary parish church, he was forced to have
recourse to some Turanian people to do it for him, and by a display of
gold and silver and brass ornaments to make up for the architectural
forms he knew not how to apply.

In Assyria we have palaces of dynasties more or less purely Semitic,
splendid enough, but of wood and sunburnt bricks, and only preserved to
our knowledge from the accident of their having been so clumsily built
as to bury themselves and their wainscot slabs in their own ruins.
Though half the people were probably of Turanian origin, their temples
seem to have been external and unimportant till Sennacherib and others
learnt the art of using stone from the Egyptians, as the Syrians did
afterwards from the Romans. During the domination of the last-named
people, we have the temples of Palmyra and Baalbec, of Jerusalem and
Petra: everywhere an art of the utmost splendour, but with no trace of
Semitic feeling or Semitic taste in any part, or in any detail.

The Jewish worship being neither ancestral, nor the bodies of their dead
being held in special reverence, they had no tombs worthy of the name.
They buried the bodies of their patriarchs and kings with care, and knew
where they were laid; but not until after the return from the Babylonish
captivity did they either worship there, or mark the spot with any
architectural forms, though after that epoch we find abundant traces of
a tendency towards that especial form of Turanian idolatry. But even
then the adornment of their tombs with architectural magnificence cannot
be traced back to an earlier period than the time of the Romans; and all
that we find marked with splendour of this class was the work of that
people, and stamped with their peculiar forms of Art.

Painting and sculpture were absolutely forbidden to the Jews because
they were Turanian arts, and because their practice might lead the
people to idolatry, so that these nowhere existed: though we cannot
understand a people with any mixture of Turanian blood who had not an
eye for colour, and a feeling for beauty of form, in detail at least.
Music alone was therefore the one æsthetic art of the Semitic races,
and, wedded to the lyric verse, seems to have influenced their feelings
and excited their passions to an extent unknown to other nations; but to
posterity it cannot supply the place of the more permanent arts, whose
absence is so much felt in attempting to realise the feelings or
aspirations of a people like this.[19]

As regards the useful arts, the Semites were always more pastoral than
agricultural, and have not left in the countries they inhabited any
traces of such hydraulic works as the earlier races executed; but in
commerce they excelled all nations. The Jews—from their inland
situation, cut off from all access to the sea—could not do much in
foreign trade; but they always kept up their intercourse with Assyria.
The Phœnicians traded backwards and forwards with every part of the
Mediterranean, and first opened out a knowledge of the Atlantic; and the
Arabs first commenced, and for long afterwards alone carried on, the
trade with India. From the earliest dawn of history to the present hour,
commerce has been the art which the Semitic nations have cultivated with
the greatest assiduity, and in which they consequently have attained the
greatest, and an unsurpassed success.

In Asia and in Africa at the present day, all the native trade is
carried on by Arabs; and it need hardly be remarked that the monetary
transactions of the rest of the world are practically managed by the
descendants of those who, one thousand years before Christ, traded from
Eziongeber to Ophir.


Although, as before mentioned, Astronomy was cultivated with
considerable success both in Egypt and Chaldæa, among the more
contemplative Turanians, nothing can be more unsatisfactory than the
references to celestial events, either in the Bible or the Koran, both
betraying an entire ignorance of even the elements of astronomical
science; and we have no proof that the Phœnicians were at all wiser than
their neighbours in this respect.

The Semitic races seem always to have been of too poetical a temperament
to excel in mathematics or the mechanical sciences. If there is one
branch of scientific knowledge which they may be suspected of having
cultivated with success, it is the group of natural sciences. A love of
nature seems always to have prevailed with them, and they may have known
“the trees, from the cedar which is in Lebanon to the hyssop that
springeth out of the wall, and the names of all the beasts, and the
fowls, and the creeping things, and the fishes;” but beyond this we know
of nothing that can be dignified by the name of science among the
Semitic races. They more than made up however for their deficient
knowledge of the exact sciences by the depth of their insight into the
springs of human action, and the sagacity of their proverbial
philosophy; and, more than even this, by that wonderful system of
Theology before which all the Aryan races of the world and many of the
Turanian bow at the present hour, and acknowledge it the basis of their
faith and the source of all their religious aspirations.


It is extremely difficult to write anything very precise or very
satisfactory regarding the Celtic races, for the simple reason that,
within the limits of our historic knowledge, they never lived
sufficiently long apart from other races to develop a distinct form of
nationality, or to create either a literature or a polity by which they
could be certainly recognised. In this respect they form the most marked
contrast with the Semitic races. Instead of wrapping themselves up
within the bounds of the most narrow exclusiveness, the Celt everywhere
mixed freely with the people among whom he settled, and adopted their
manners and customs with a carelessness that is startling; while at the
same time he retained the principal characteristics of his race through
every change of circumstance and clime.

Almost the only thing that can be predicated of them with certainty is,
that they were either the last wave of the Turanians, or, if another
nomenclature is preferred, the first wave of the Aryans, who, migrating
westward from their parent seat in Asia, displaced the original and more
purely Turanian tribes who occupied Europe before the dawn of history.
But, in doing this, they seem to have mixed themselves so completely
with the races they were supplanting, that it is extremely difficult to
say now where one begins or where the other ends.

We find their remains in Asia Minor, whence Ethnologists fancy that they
can trace a southern migration along the northern coast of Africa,
across the Straits of Gibraltar, into Spain, and thence to Ireland. A
more certain and more important migration, however, crossed the
Bosphorus, and following the valley of the Danube, threw one branch into
Italy, where they penetrated as far south as Rome; while the main body
settled in and occupied Gaul and Belgium, whence they peopled Britain,
and may have met the southern colonists in the Celtic Island of the
west. From this they are now migrating, still following the course of
the sun, to carry to the New World the same brilliant thoughtlessness
which has so thoroughly leavened all those parts of the Old in which
they have settled, and which so sorely puzzles the purer but more
matter-of-fact Aryan tribes with which they have come in contact.


It may appear like a hard saying, but it seems nevertheless to be true,
to assert that no purely Celtic race ever rose to a perfect conception
of the unity of the Godhead. It may be that they only borrowed this from
the Turanians who preceded them; but whether imitative or innate, their
Theology admits of Kings and Queens of Heaven who were mortals on earth.
They possess hosts of saints and angels, and a whole hierarchy of
heavenly powers of various degrees, to whom the Celt turns with as
confiding hope and as earnest prayer as ever Turanian did to the gods of
his Pantheon. If he does not reverence the bodies of the departed as the
Egyptian or Chinese, he at least adopts the Buddhist veneration for
relics, and attaches far more importance to funereal rites than was ever
done by any tribe of Aryans.

The Celt is as completely the slave of a casteless priesthood as ever
Turanian Buddhist was, and loves to separate it from the rest of
mankind, as representing on earth the hierarchy in heaven, to which,
according to the Celtic creed, all may hope to succeed by practice of
their peculiar virtues.

To this may be added, that his temples are as splendid, his ceremonials
as gorgeous, and the formula as unmeaning as any that ever graced the
banks of the Nile, or astonished the wanderer in the valleys of Thibet
or on the shores of the Eastern Ocean.


It is still more difficult to speak of the Celtic form of government, as
no kingdom of this people ever existed by itself for any length of time;
and none, indeed, it may be suspected, could long hold together. It may,
however, be safely asserted, that no republican forms are possible with
a Celtic people, and no municipal institutions ever flourished among
them. The only form, therefore, we know of as peculiarly theirs, is
despotism; not necessarily personal, but rendered systematic by
centralised bureaucratic organisations, and tempered by laws in those
States which have reached any degree of stability or civilisation.

Nothing but a strong centralised despotism can long co-exist with a
people too impatient to submit to the sacrifices and self-denial
inherent in all attempts at self-government, and too excitable to be
controlled, except by the will of the strongest, though it may also be
the least scrupulous among them.

When in small bodies they are always governed by a chief, generally
hereditary, but always absolute; who is looked up to with awe, and
obeyed with a reverence that is unintelligible to the more independent
races of mankind.

With such institutions, of course a real aristocracy is impossible; and
the restraints of caste must always have been felt to be intolerable.
“La carrière ouverte aux talens” is their boast; though not to the same
extent as with the Turanians; and the selfish gratification of
individual ambition is consequently always preferred with them to the
more sober benefit of the general advancement of the community.


If the Celts never were either polygamic or polyandric, they certainly
always retained very lax ideas with regard to the marriage-vow, and
never looked on woman’s mission as anything higher than to minister to
their sensual gratification. With them the woman that fulfils this
quality best always commands their admiration most. Beauty can do no
wrong—but without beauty woman can hardly rise above the level of the
common herd.

The ruling passion in the mind of the Celt is war. Not like the
exclusive, intolerant Semite, a war of extermination or of proselytism,
but war from pure “gaieté de cœur” and love of glory. No Celt fears to
die if his death can gain fame or add to the stock of his country’s
glory; nor in a private fight does he fear death or feel the pain of a
broken head, if he has had a chance of shooting through the heart or
cracking the skull of his best friend at the same time. The Celt’s love
of excitement leads him frequently into excesses, and to a disregard of
truth and the virtues belonging to daily life, which are what really
dignify mankind; but his love of glory and of his country often go far
to redeem these deficiencies, and spread a halo over even his worst
faults, which renders it frequently difficult to blame what we feel in
soberness we ought to condemn.


If love and war are the parents of song, the bard and the troubadour
ought to have left us a legacy of verse that would have filled the
libraries of Europe; and so they probably would had not the original
Celt been too illiterate to care to record the expressions of his
feelings. As it is, nine-tenths of the lyric literature of Europe is of
Celtic origin. The Epos and the Drama may belong to the Aryan; but in
the art of wedding music to immortal verse, and pouring forth a
passionate utterance in a few but beautiful words, the Celtic is only
equalled by the Semitic race.

Their remaining literature is of such modern growth, and was so
specially copied from what had preceded it, or so influenced by the
contemporary effusions of other people, that it is impossible accurately
to discriminate what is due to race and what to circumstances. All that
can safely be said is, that Celtic literature is always more
epigrammatic, more brilliant, and more daring than that of the sober
Aryan; but its coruscations neither light to so great a depth, nor last
so long as less dazzling productions might do. They may be the most
brilliant, but they certainly do not belong to the highest class of
literary effort; nor is their effect on the destiny of man likely to be
so permanent.


The true glory of the Celt in Europe is his artistic eminence. It is
perhaps not too much to assert that without his intervention we should
not have possessed in modern times a church worthy of admiration, or a
picture or a statue we could look at without shame.

In their arts, too,—either from their higher status, or from their
admixture with Aryans,—we escape the instinctive fixity which makes the
arts of the pure Turanian as unprogressive as the works of birds or of
beavers. Restless intellectual progress characterises everything they
perform; and had their arts not been nipped in the bud by circumstances
over which they had no control, we might have seen something that would
have shamed even Greece and wholly eclipsed the arts of Rome.

They have not, it is true, that instinctive knowledge of colour which
distinguishes the Turanian, nor have they been able to give to music
that intellectual culture which has been elaborated by the Aryans: but
in the middle path between the two they excel both. They are far better
musicians than the former, and far better colourists than the last-named
races; but in modern Europe Architecture is practically their own. Where
their influence was strongest, there Architecture was most perfect; as
they decayed, or as the Aryan influence prevailed, the art first
languished, and then died.

Their quasi-Turanian theology required Temples almost as grand as those
of the Copts or Tamuls; and, like them, they sought to honour those who
had been mortals by splendour which mortals are assumed to be pleased
with; and the pomp of their worship always surpassed that with which
they honoured their Kings. Even more remarkable than this is the fact
that they could and did build Tombs such as a Turanian might have
envied, not for their size but for their art, and even now can adorn
their cemeteries with monuments which are not ridiculous.

When a people are so mixed up with other races as the Celts are in
Europe,—frequently so fused as to be undistinguishable,—it is almost
impossible to speak with precision with regard either to their arts or
influence. It must in consequence be safer to assert that where no
Celtic blood existed there no real art is found; though it is perhaps
equally true to assert that not only Architecture, but Painting and
Sculpture, have been patronised, and have flourished in the exact ratio
in which Celtic blood is found prevailing in any people in Europe; and
has died out as Aryan influence prevails, in spite of their methodical
efforts to indoctrinate themselves with what must be the spontaneous
impulse of genius, if it is to be of any value.


Of their sciences we know nothing till they were so steeped in the
civilisation of older races that originality was hopeless. Still, in the
stages through which the intellect of Europe has yet passed, they have
played their part with brilliancy. But now that knowledge is assuming a
higher and more prosaic phase, it is doubtful whether the deductive
brilliancy of the Celtic mind can avail anything against the inductive
sobriety of the Aryan. So long as metaphysics were science, and science
was theory, the peculiar form of the Celtic mind was singularly well
adapted to see through sophistry and to guess the direction in which
truth might lie. But now that we have only to question Nature, to
classify her answers, and patiently to record results, its mission seems
to have passed away. Truth in all its majesty, and Nature in all her
greatness, must now take the place of speculation, with its cleverness,
and man’s ideas of what might or should be, must be supplanted by the
knowledge of God’s works as they exist and the contemplation of the
eternal grandeur of the universe which we see around us.

Though these are the highest, they are at the same time the most sober
functions of the human mind; and while conferring the greatest and most
lasting benefit, not only on the individual who practises them, but also
on the human race, they are neither calculated to gratify personal
vanity, nor to reward individual ambition.

Such pursuits are not, therefore, of a nature to attract or interest the
Celtic races, but must be left to those who are content to sink their
personality in seeking the advantage of the common weal.


According to their own chronology, it seems to have been about the year
3101 B.C. that the Aryans crossed the Indus and settled themselves in
the country between that river and the Jumna, since known among
themselves as Arya Varta, or the Country of the Just, for all succeeding

More than a thousand years afterwards we find them, in the age of the
Ramayana, occupying all the country north of the Vindya range, and
attempting the conquest of the southern country,—then, as now, occupied
by Turanians,—and penetrating as far as Ceylon.

Eight hundred years later we see them in the Mahabharata, having lost
much of their purity of blood, and adopting many of the customs and much
of the faith of the people they were settled amongst; and three
centuries before Christ we find they had so far degenerated as to
accept, almost without a struggle, the religion of Buddha; which, though
no doubt a reform, and an important one, on the Anthropic doctrines of
the pure Turanians, was still essentially a faith of a Turanian people;
congenial to them, and to them only.

Ten centuries after Christ, when the Moslems came in contact with India,
the Aryan was a myth. The religion of the earlier people was everywhere
supreme, and with only a nominal thread of Aryanism running through the
whole, just sufficient to bear testimony to the prior existence of a
purer faith, but not sufficient to leaven the mass to any appreciable

The fate of the western Aryans differed essentially from that of those
who wandered eastward. Theoretically we ought to assume, from their less
complex language and less pure faith, that they were an earlier
offshoot; but it may be that in the forests of Europe they lost for a
while the civilised forms which the happier climate of Arya Varta
enabled the others to retain; or it may be that the contact with the
more nearly equal Celtic races had mixed the language and the faith of
the western races, before they had the opportunity or the leisure to
record the knowledge they brought with them.

Be this as it may, they first appear prominently in the western world in
Greece, where, by a fortunate union with the Pelasgi, a people
apparently of Turanian race, they produced a civilisation not purely
Aryan, and somewhat evanescent in its character, but more brilliant,
while it lasted, than anything the world had seen before, and in certain
respects more beautiful than anything that has illumined it since their

They next sprang forth in Rome, mixed with the Turanian Etruscans and
the powerful Celtic tribes of Italy; and lastly in Northern Europe,
where they are now working out their destiny, but to what issue the
future only can declare.

The essential difference between the eastern and western migration is
this—that in India the Aryans have sunk gradually into the arms of a
Turanian people till they have lost their identity, and with it all that
ennobled them when they went there, or could enable them now to
influence the world again.

In Europe they found the country cleared of Turanians by the earlier
Celts; and mingling their blood with these more nearly allied races,
they have raised themselves to a position half way between the two.
Where they found the country unoccupied they have remained so pure that,
as their number multiplies, they may perhaps regain something of the
position they had temporarily abandoned, and something of that science
which, it may be fancied, mankind only knew in their primeval seats.


What then was the creed of the primitive Aryans? So far as we can now
see, it was the belief in one great ineffable God,—so great that no
human intellect could measure His greatness,—so wonderful that no human
language could express His qualities,—pervading everything that was
made,—ruling all created things,—a spirit, around, beyond the universe,
and within every individual particle of it. A creed so ethereal could
not long remain the faith of the multitude, and we early find fire,—the
most ethereal of the elements,—looked to as an emblem of the Deity. The
heavens too received a name, and became an entity:—so did our mother
earth. To these succeeded the sun, the stars, the elements,—but never
among the pure Aryans as gods, or as influencing the destiny of man, but
as manifestations of His power, and reverenced because they were visible
manifestations of a Being too abstract for an ordinary mind to grasp.
Below this the Aryans never seem to have sunk.

With a faith so elevated of course no temple could be wanted; no human
ceremonial could be supposed capable of doing honour to a Deity so
conceived; nor any sacrifice acceptable to Him to whom all things
belonged. With the Aryans worship was a purely domestic institution;
prayer the solitary act of each individual man, standing alone in the
presence of an omniscient Deity. All that was required was that man
should acknowledge the greatness of God, and his own comparative
insignificance; should express his absolute trust and faith in the
beneficence and justice of his God, and a hope that he might be enabled
to live so pure, and so free from sin, as to deserve such happiness as
this world can afford, and be enabled to do as much good to others as it
is vouchsafed to man to perform.

A few insignificant formulæ served to mark the modes in which these
subjects should recur. The recitation of a time-honoured hymn refreshed
the attention of the worshipper, and the reading of a few sacred texts
recalled the duties it was expected he should perform. With these simple
ceremonies the worship of the Aryans seems to have begun and ended.

Even in later times, when their blood has become less pure, and their
feelings were influenced by association with those among whom they
resided, the religion of the Aryans always retained its intellectual
character. No dogma was ever admitted that would not bear the test of
reason, and no article of faith was ever assented to which seemed to
militate against the supremacy of intellect over all feelings and
passions. In all their wanderings they were always prepared to admit the
immeasurable greatness of the one incorporeal Deity, and the
impossibility of the human intellect approaching or forming any adequate
conception of His majesty.

When they abandoned the domestic form of worship, they adopted the
congregational, and then not so much with the idea that it was pleasing
to God, as in order to remind each other of their duties, to regulate
and govern the spiritual wants of the community, and to inculcate piety
towards God and charity towards each other.

It need hardly be added that superstition is impossible with minds so
constituted, and that science must always be the surest and the best
ally of a religion so pure and exalted, which is based on a knowledge of
God’s works, a consequent appreciation of their greatness, and an ardent
aspiration towards that power and goodness which the finite intellect of
man can never hope to reach.


The most marked characteristic of the Aryans is their innate passion for
self-government. If not absolutely republican, the tendency of all their
institutions, at all times, has been towards that form, and in almost
the exact ratio to the purity of the blood do they adopt this form of
autocracy. If kingly power was ever introduced among them, it was always
in the form of a limited monarchy; never the uncontrolled despotism of
the other races; and every conceivable check was devised to prevent
encroachments of the crown, even if such were possible among a people so
organised as the Aryans always have been.

With them every town was a municipality, every village a little
republic, and every trade a separate self-governing guild. Many of these
institutions have died out, or else fallen into neglect, in those
communities where equal rights and absolute laws have rendered each
individual a king in his own person, and every family a republic in

The village system which the Aryans introduced into India is still the
most remarkable of its institutions. These little republican organisms
have survived the revolutions of fifty centuries. Neither the
devastations of war nor the indolence of peace seems to have affected
them. Under Brahmin, Buddhist, or Moslem, they remain the same unchanged
and unchangeable institutions, and neither despotism nor anarchy has
been able to alter them. They alone have saved India from sinking into a
state of savage imbecility, under the various hordes of conquerors who
have at times overrun her; and they, with the Vedas and the laws
afterwards embodied by Menu, alone remain as records of the old Aryan
possessors of the Indian peninsula.

Municipalities, which are merely an enlargement of the Indian village
system, exist wherever the Romans were settled, or where the Aryan races
exist in Europe; and though guilds are fast losing their significance,
it was the Teutonic guilds that alone checked and ultimately supplanted
the feudal despotisms of the Celts.

Caste is another institution of these races, which has always more or
less influenced all their actions. Where their blood has become so
impure as it is in India, caste has degenerated into an abuse; but where
it is a living institution, it is perhaps as conducive to the proper
regulation of society as any with which we are acquainted. The one thing
over which no man can have any control is the accident of his birth; but
it is an immense gain to him that he should be satisfied with the
station in which he finds himself, and content to do his duty in the
sphere in which he was born. Caste, properly understood, never
interferes with the accumulation of wealth or power within the limits of
the class, and only recognises the inevitable accident of birth: while
the fear of losing caste is one of the most salutary checks which has
been devised to restrain men from acts unworthy of their social
position. It is an enormous gain to society that each man should know
his station and be prepared to perform the duties belonging to it,
without the restless craving of a selfish ambition that would sacrifice
everything for the sake of the personal aggrandisement of the
individual. It is far better to acknowledge that there is no sphere in
life in which man may not become as like unto the gods as in any other
sphere; and it is everywhere better to respect the public good rather
than to seek to gratify personal ambition.

The populations of modern Europe have become so mixed that neither caste
nor any other Aryan institution now exists in its pristine purity; but
in the ratio in which a people is Aryan do they possess an aristocracy
and municipal institutions; and, what is almost of more importance, in
that ratio are the people prepared to respect the gradations of caste in
society, and to sacrifice their individual ambition to the less
brilliant task of doing all the good that is possible in the spheres in
which they have been placed.

It is true, and so has been found, that an uncontrolled despotism is a
sharper, a quicker, and a better tool for warlike purposes, or where
national vanity is to be gratified by conquest or the display of power;
but the complicated, and it may be clumsy, institutions of the Aryans,
are far more lasting and more conducive to individual self-respect, and
far more likely to add to the sum of human happiness, and tend more
clearly to the real greatness and moral elevation of mankind, than any
human institution we are yet acquainted with.

So far as our experience now goes, the division of human society into
classes or castes is not only the most natural concomitant of the
division of labour, but is also the most beneficent of the institutions
of man; while the organisation of a nation into self-governing
municipalities is not only singularly conducive to individual
well-being, but renders it practically indestructible by conquest, and
even imperishable through lapse of time. These two are the most
essentially characteristic institutions of the Aryans.


In morals the Aryans were always monogamic, and with them alone does
woman always assume a perfect equality of position: mistress of her own
actions till marriage; when married, in theory at least, the equal
sharer in the property and in the duties of the household. Were it
possible to carry out these doctrines absolutely in practice, they would
probably be more conducive to human happiness than any of those
enumerated above; but even a tendency towards them is an enormous gain.

Their institutions for self-government, enumerated above, have probably
done more to elevate the Aryan race than can well be appreciated. When
every man takes, or may take, his share in governing the
commonwealth—when every man must govern himself, and respect the
independence of his neighbour—men cease to be tools, and become
independent reasoning beings. They are taught self-respect, and with
this comes love of truth—of those qualities which command the respect of
their fellow-men; and they are likewise taught that control of their
passions which renders them averse to war; while the more sober
occupations of life prevent the necessity of their seeking, in the
wildness of excitement, that relief from monotony which so frequently
drives other races into those excesses the world has had so often to
deplore. The existence of caste, even in its most modified form,
prevents individual ambition from having that unlimited career which
among other races has so often sacrificed the public weal to the
ambition of an individual.


The Aryan races employed an alphabet at so early a period of their
history that we cannot now tell when or how it was introduced among
them; and it was, even when we first become acquainted with it, a far
more perfect alphabet than that of the Semitic races, though apparently
formed on its basis. Nothing in it was dependent on memory. It possessed
vowels, and all that was necessary to enunciate sounds with perfect and
absolute precision. In consequence of this, and of the perfect structure
of their language, they were enabled to indulge in philosophical
speculation, to write treatises on grammar and logic, and generally to
assume a literary position which other races never attained to.

History with them was not a mere record of dates or collection of
genealogical tables, but an essay on the polity of mankind, to which the
narrative afforded the illustration; while their poetry had always a
tendency to assume more a didactic than a lyric form. It is among the
Aryans that the Epos first rose to eminence and the Drama was elevated
above a mere spectacle; but even in these the highest merit sought to be
attained was that they should represent vividly events which might have
taken place, even if they never did happen among men; while the Celts
and the Semites delight in wild imaginings which never could have
existed except in the brain of the poet. When the blood of the Aryan has
been mixed with that of other races, they have produced a literature
eminently imaginative and poetic; but in proportion to their purity has
been their tendency towards a more prosaic style of composition. The aim
of the race has always been the attainment of practical common sense,
and the possession of this quality is their pride and boast, and justly
so; but it is unfortunately antagonistic to the existence of an
imaginative literature, and we must look to them more for eminence in
works on history and philosophy than in those which require imagination
or creative power.


These remarks apply with more than double force to the Fine Arts than to
verbal literature. In the first place a people possessing such a power
of phonetic utterance never could look on a picture or statue as more
than a mere subsidiary illustration of the written text. A painting may
represent vividly one view of what took place at one moment of time, but
a written narrative can deal with all the circumstances and link it to
its antecedents and effects. A statue of a man cannot tell one-tenth of
what a short biography will make plain: and an ideal statue or ideal
painting may be a pretty Celtic plaything, but it is not what Aryans
hanker after.

With Architecture the case is even worse. Convenience is the first thing
which the practical common sense of the Aryan seeks, and then to gain
what he desires by the readiest and the easiest means. This done, why
should he do more? If, induced by a desire to emulate others, he has to
make his building ornamental, he is willing to copy what experience has
proved to be successful in former works, willing to spend his money and
to submit to some inconvenience; but in his heart he thinks it useless,
and he neither will waste his time in thinking on the subject, nor apply
those energies of his mind to its elaboration, without which nothing
great or good was ever done in Art.

In addition to this, the immaterial nature of their faith has always
deprived the Aryan races of the principal incentive to architectural
magnificence.[20] The Turanian and Celtic races always have the most
implicit faith in ceremonial worship and in the necessity of
architectural splendour as its indispensable accompaniment. On the other
hand, the more practical Aryan can never be brought to understand that
prayer is either more sincere or is more acceptable in one form of house
than in any other. He does not feel that virtue can be increased or vice
exterminated by the number of bricks or stones that may be heaped on one
another, or the form in which they may be placed; nor will his
conception of the Deity admit of supposing that He can be propitiated by
palaces or halls erected in honour of Him, or that a building in the
Middle Pointed Gothic is more acceptable than one in the Classic or any
other style.

This want of faith may be reasonable, but it is fatal to poetry in Art,
and, it is feared, will prevent the Aryans from attaining more
excellence in Architectural Art at the present time than they have done
in former ages.

It is also true that the people are singularly deficient in their
appreciation of colours. Not that actual colour-blindness is more common
with them than with other races, but the harmony of tints is unknown to
them. Some may learn, but none feel it; it is a matter of memory and an
exercise of intellect, but no more. So, too, with form. Other—even
savage—races cannot go wrong in this respect. If the Aryan is successful
in art, it is generally in consequence of education, not from feeling;
and, like all that is not innate in man, it yields only a secondary
gratification, and fails to impress his brother man, or to be a real
work of Art.

From these causes the ancient Aryans never erected a single building in
India when they were pure, nor in that part of India which they
colonised even after their blood became mixed; and we do not now know
what their style was or is, though the whole of that part of the
peninsula occupied by the Turanians, or to which their influence ever
extended, is, and always was, covered by buildings, vast in extent and
wonderful from their elaboration. This, probably, also is the true cause
of the decline of Architecture and other arts in Europe and in the rest
of the modern world. Wherever the Aryans appear Art flies before them,
and where their influence extends utilitarian practical common sense is
assumed to be all that man should aim at. It may be so, but it is sad to
think that beauty cannot be combined with sense.

Music alone, as being the most phonetic of the fine arts, has received
among the Aryans a degree of culture denied to the others; but even here
the tendency has been rather to develop scientific excellence than to
appeal to the responsive chords of the human heart. Notwithstanding
this, its power is more felt and greater excellence is attained in this
science than in any other. It also has escaped the slovenly process of
copying, with which the unartistic mind of the Aryans has been content
to fancy it was creating Art in other branches.

If, however, these races have been so deficient in the fine arts, they
have been as excellent in all the useful ones. Agriculture,
manufactures, commerce, ship-building, and road-making, all that tends
to accumulate wealth or to advance material prosperity, has been
developed to an extent as great as it is unprecedented, and promises to
produce results which as yet can only be dimly guessed at. A great, and,
so far as we can see, an inevitable revolution, is pervading the whole
world through the devotion of the Aryan races to these arts. We have no
reason for supposing it will be otherwise than beneficial, however much
we may feel inclined to regret that the beautiful could not be allowed
to share a little of that worship so lavishly bestowed on the useful.


It follows, as a matter of course, that, with minds so constituted, the
Aryans should have cultivated science with earnestness and success. The
only beauty they, in fact, appreciated was the beauty of scientific
truth; the only harmony they ever really felt was that of the laws of
nature; and the only art they ever cared to cultivate was that which
grouped these truths and their harmonies into forms which enabled them
to be easily grasped and appreciated. Mathematics always had especial
charms to the Aryan mind; and, more even than this, astronomy was always
captivating. So, also, were the mechanical, and so, too, the natural
sciences. It is to the Aryans that Induction owes its birth, and they
probably alone have the patience and the sobriety to work it to its
legitimate conclusions.

The true mission of the Aryan races appears to be to pervade the world
with the useful and industrial arts, and so tend to reproduce that unity
which has long been lost, to raise man, not by magnifying his individual
cleverness, but by accumulating a knowledge of the works of God, so
tending to make him a greater and wiser, and at the same time a humbler
and a more religious servant of his Creator.


When Auguste Comte proposed that classification which made the fortune
of his philosophy,—when he said that all mankind passed through the
theological state in childhood, the metaphysical in youth, and the
philosophical or positive in manhood,—and ventured to extend this
discovery to nations, he had a glimpse, as others have had before him,
of the beauty of the great harmony which pervades all created things.
But he had not philosophy enough to see that the one great law is so
vast and so remote, that no human intellect can grasp it, and that it is
only the little fragments of that great scheme which are found
everywhere which man is permitted to understand.

Had he known as much of ethnographical as he did of mathematical
science, he would have perceived that there is no warrant for this
daring generalisation; but that nations, in the states which he calls
the theological, the metaphysical, and the philosophical, exist now and
coexisted through all the ages of the world to which our historical
knowledge extends.

What the Egyptians were when they first appeared on the scene they were
when they perished under the Greek and Roman sway;—what the Chinese
always were they now are;—the Jews and Arabs are unchanged to this
day;—the Celts are as daringly speculative and as blindly superstitious
now as we always found them;—and the Aryans of the Vedas or of Tacitus
were very much the same sober, reasoning, unimaginative, and unartistic
people as they are at this hour. Progress among men, as among the
animals, seems to be achieved not so much by advances made within the
limits of the group, as by the supercession of the less finely organised
beings by those of a higher class;—and this, so far as our knowledge
extends, is accomplished neither by successive creations, nor by the
gradual development of one species out of another, but by the successive
prominent appearances of previously developed, though partially dormant

Ethnographers have already worked out this problem to a great extent,
and arrived at a very considerable degree of certainty, through the
researches of patient linguistic investigators. But language is in
itself too impalpable ever to give the science that tangible, local
reality which is necessary to its success; and it is here that
Archæology comes so opportunely to its aid. What men dug or built
remains where it was first placed, and probably retains the first
impressions it received: and so fixes the era and standing of those who
called it into existence; so that even those who cannot appreciate the
evidence derived from grammar or from words, may generally see at a
glance what the facts of the case really are.

It is even more important that such a science as Ethnology should have
two or more methods of investigation at its command. Certainty can
hardly ever be attained by only one process, unless checked and
elucidated by others, and nothing can therefore be more fortunate than
the possession of so important a sister science as that of Archæology to
aid in the search after scientific truth.

If Ethnology may thus be so largely indebted to Archæology, the converse
is also true; and she may pay back the debt with interest. As Archæology
and Architecture have hitherto been studied, they, but more especially
the latter, have been little more than a dry record of facts and
measurements, interesting to the antiquary, to the professional
architect, or to the tourist, who finds it necessary to get up a certain
amount of knowledge on the subject; but the utmost that has hitherto
been sought to be attained is a certain knowledge of the forms of the
art, while the study of it, as that of one of the most important and
most instructive of the sciences connected with the history of man, has
been as a rule neglected.

Without this the study of Architecture is a mere record of bricks and
stones, and of the modes in which they were heaped together for man’s
use. Considered in the light of an historical record, it acquires not
only the dignity of a science, but especial interest as being one of
those sciences which are most closely connected with man’s interests and
feelings, and the one which more distinctly expresses and more clearly
records what man did and felt in previous ages, than any other study we
are acquainted with.

From this point of view, not only every tomb and every temple, but even
the rude monoliths and mounds of savages, acquire a dignity and interest
to which they have otherwise no title; and man’s works become not only
man’s most imperishable record, but one of the best means we possess of
studying his history, or of understanding his nature or his aspirations.

Rightly understood, Archæology is as useful as any other branch of
science or of art, in enabling us to catch such glimpses as are
vouchsafed to man of the great laws that govern all things; and the
knowledge that this class of man’s works is guided and governed by those
very laws, and not by the chance efforts of unmeaning minds, elevates
the study of it to as high a position as that of any other branch of
human knowledge.

                        HISTORY OF ARCHITECTURE.

                     PART I.—ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE.


So long as the geographer confines himself to mapping out the different
countries of the world, or smaller portions of the earth’s surface, he
finds no difficulty in making a projection which shall correctly
represent the exact relative position of all the various features of the
land or sea. But when he attempts to portray a continent, some
distortion necessarily results; and when he undertakes a hemisphere,
both distortion and exaggeration become inevitable. It has consequently
been found necessary to resort to some conventional means of portraying
the larger surfaces of the globe. These avowedly do not represent
correctly the forms of the countries portrayed, but they enable the
geographer to ascertain what their distances or relative positions are
by the application of certain rules and formulæ of no great complexity.

The same thing is true of history. So long as the narrative is confined
to individual countries or provinces, it may be perfectly consecutive
and uninterrupted; but when two or three nations are grouped together,
frequent interruptions and recapitulations become necessary; and when
universal history is attempted, it seems impossible to arrange the
narrative so as to prevent these from assuming very considerable
importance. The utmost that can be done is to devise some scheme which
shall prevent the repetition from leading to tediousness, and enable the
student to follow the thread of any portion of the narrative without
confusion or the assumption of any special previous knowledge on his

Bearing these difficulties in mind, it will probably be found convenient
to divide the whole history of Architecture into four great divisions or

The first, which may be called “Ancient or Heathen Art,” to comprehend
all those styles which prevailed in the old world from the dawn of
history in Egypt till the disruption of the Roman Empire by the removal
of the capital from Rome to Constantinople in the 4th century.

The second to be called either “Mediæval,” or more properly “Christian
Art.” This again subdivides itself into three easily-understood
divisions. 1. The Byzantine or Eastern Christian style; 2. The
Romanesque or transitional style which prevailed between the Roman and
the Gothic styles; and 3. The Gothic or western Christian style. The
Byzantine style comes first because its development was so rapid that
already in the 6th century it had reached its culminating period, and
throughout the Middle Ages it exercised considerable influence in
various parts of Italy and France; an influence the extent of which it
is only possible to follow after its study. It is difficult, for
instance, to understand the churches in Ravenna or St. Mark’s in Venice,
or the churches at Périgueux, and in the Charente, until the churches of
Sta. Sophia and of St. Sergius, Constantinople, and of St. Demetrius,
Thessalonica, have been studied; and although it is advisable when
describing the style to carry it through its later developments in
Greece, in Russia, and in the East, these variations and developments
are not of a nature to distract the reader or cause him to lose sight of
the leading characteristics of the style. There is some difficulty in
knowing where to draw the line between the Romanesque and the Gothic
style; as generally accepted now, the term Romanesque includes all the
round-arched Gothic styles, and although many of the leading principles
of Gothic work are to be found entering into buildings constructed prior
to the introduction of the pointed arch into transverse and diagonal
ribbed arch vaulting, it was this latter which led to the great
development of the Gothic style in France, England, and elsewhere in the
12th and 13th centuries.

The third great division of the subject I would suggest might
conveniently be denominated “Pagan.”[21] It would comprise all those
minor miscellaneous styles not included in the two previous divisions.
Commencing with the Saracenic, it would include the Buddhist, Hindu, and
Chinese styles, the Mexican and Peruvian, and lastly that mysterious
group which for want of a better name I have elsewhere designated as
“Rude Stone Monuments.”[22] No very consecutive arrangement can be
formed for these styles. They generally have little connection with each
other, and are so much less important than the others that their mode of
treatment is of far less consequence. Nor is it necessary to attempt any
exact classification of these at present, as, owing to the convenience
of publication, it has been determined to form the Indian and allied
Eastern styles into a separate volume, which will include not only the
Buddhist and Hindu styles, but the Indian Saracenic, which, in a
strictly logical arrangement, ought to be classified with the western
style bearing the same name.

The styles of the New world, having as yet no acknowledged connection
with those of the Old, may be for the present treated of anywhere.

The fourth and last great division, forming the fourth volume of the
present work, is that of the “Modern or Copying Styles of Architecture,”
meaning thereby those which are the products of the renaissance of the
classical styles that marked the epoch of the cinquecento period. These
have since that time prevailed generally in Europe to the present day,
and are now making the tour of the world. Within the limits of the
present century it is true that the copying of the classical styles to
some extent were superseded by a more servile imitation of those of
mediæval art. The forms consequently changed, but the principles
remained the same.

It would of course be easy to point out minor objections to this or to
any scheme, but on the whole it will be found to meet the exigencies of
the case as we now know it, as well or perhaps better than any other.
The greatest difficulty in carrying it out is to ascertain how far the
geographical arrangement should be made to supersede the chronological
and ethnographical. Whether, for instance, Italy should be considered as
a whole, or if the buildings of the eastern coast should not be
described as belonging to the Byzantine, and those of the western coast
to the Gothic kingdom? Whether the description of the Temple at
Jerusalem should stop short with the rebuilding by Zorobabel, or be
continued till its final completion under Herod? If the former course is
pursued, we cut in two a perfectly consecutive narrative; if the latter,
we get far in advance of our chronological sequence.

In both of these instances, as in many others, it is a choice of
difficulties, and where frequently the least strictly logical mode of
proceeding may be found the most convenient.

After all, the real difficulty lies not so much in arranging the
materials as in weighing the relative importance to be assigned to each
division. In wandering over so vast a field it is difficult to prevent
personal predilection from interfering with purely logical criticism.
Although architecture is the most mechanical of the fine arts, and
consequently the most amenable to scientific treatment, still as a fine
art it must be felt to be appreciated, and when the feelings come into
play the reason is sometimes in danger. Though strict impartiality has
been aimed at in assigning the true limits to each of the divisions
above pointed out, few probably will be of the same opinion as to the
degree of success which has been achieved in the attempt.




                            Years.                                B.C.
  1st dynasty Thinite        252    Accession of Menes, 1st king. 3906
  2nd dynasty Thinite        302
  3rd dynasty Memphite       214      Ten dynasties of kings, reigning
  4th dynasty Memphite       284    sometimes contemporaneously in
  5th dynasty Elephantine    248    Upper and in Lower Egypt; at other
  6th dynasty Memphite       203    times both divisions were united
  7th dynasty Memphite 70 days?     under one king.
  8th dynasty Memphite       146      The total duration of their
  9th dynasty Heracleapolite 100?   reigns, as nearly as can be
 10th dynasty Heracleapolite 185    estimated, was 1335 years.

                       FIRST THEBAN KINGDOM.

 11th dynasty Thebans         43    Commenced                     2571
 12th dynasty Thebans        246 over Upper, 188 over Lower Egypt.

                        SHEPHERD INVASION.                        2340

 13th dynasty Diospolites    453      Five dynasties of Shepherd or
 14th dynasty Xoite          484    native kings reigning or existing
 15th dynasty Shepherds         284 contemporaneously in four series
 16th dynasty Hellenes       518    in different parts of Egypt during
 17th dynasty Shepherds         151 511 years.

                        GREAT THEBAN KINGDOM.

 18th dynasty Theban         393    Over all Egypt                1829
 19th dynasty Theban         194                                  1436
                                         Exode of Jews, 1312.
 20th dynasty Theban         135                                  1242
 21st dynasty Tanite         130                                  1107
 22nd dynasty Bubastite      120                                   977
                                   Temple of Jerusalem plundered, 972.
 23rd dynasty Tanite          89                                   857
 24th dynasty Saïte           44                                   768
 25th dynasty Ethiopian       44                                   724
 26th dynasty Saïte          155                                   680

 Persian Invasion under Cambyses                               526[23]

                                BOOK I.

                         EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

                               CHAPTER I.


In any consecutive narrative of the architectural undertakings of
mankind the description of what was done in Egypt necessarily commences
the series, not only because the records of authentic history are found
in the Valley of the Nile long before the traditions of other nations
had assumed anything like tangible consistency, but because, from the
earliest dawn down to the time when Christianity struck down the old
idolatry, the inhabitants of that mysterious land were essentially and
pre-eminently a building race. Were it not for this we should be left
with the dry bones of the skeleton of her history, which is all that is
left us of the dynasties of Manetho; or with the fables in which
ignorant and credulous European travellers expressed their wonder at a
civilisation they could not comprehend.

As the case now stands, the monuments of Egypt give life and reality to
their whole history. It is impossible for any educated man capable of
judging of the value of evidence to wander among the Pyramids and tombs
of Memphis, the Temples of Thebes, or the vast structures erected by the
Ptolemys or Cæsars, and not to feel that he has before him a chapter of
history more authentic than we possess of any nation at all approaching
it in antiquity, and a picture of men and manners more vivid and more
ample than remains to us of any other people who have passed away.

As we wander among the tombs or temples of Egypt we see the very
chisel-marks of the mason, and the actual colours of the painter which
were ordered by a Khufu, or a Rameses, and we stand face to face with
works the progress of which they watched, and which they designed in
order to convey to posterity what their thoughts and feelings were, and
what they desired to record for the instruction of future generations.
All is there now, and all who care may learn what these old kings
intended should be known by their remotest posterity.

Immense progress has been made in unravelling the intricacies of
Egyptian history since the time when Champollion, profiting by the
discovery of Young, first translated the hieroglyphical inscriptions
that cover the walls of Egyptian buildings. Of late years it has been
too frequently assumed that his works, with those of Rosellini, of
Wilkinson, and Lepsius, and the numerous other authors who have applied
themselves to Egyptology, had told us all we are ever likely to know of
her history. In so far as the epochs of the great Pharaonic dynasties of
Thebes are concerned this may be partially true, but it is only since M.
Mariette undertook the systematic exploration of the great Necropolis of
Memphis that we have been enabled to realise the importance of the older
dynasties, and become aware of the completeness of the records they have
left behind them. Much as we have learned during the last fifty years,
the recent explorations of Maspero, W. M. Flinders Petrie and others
have taught us that the soil of Egypt is not half exhausted yet; and
every day our knowledge is assuming a consistency and completeness as
satisfactory as it is wonderful.

Although there are still minor differences of opinion with regard to the
details of Egyptian chronology, still the divergences between the
various systems proposed are gradually narrowing in extent. The sequence
of events is certain, and accepted by all. The initial date, and the
adjustments depending on it, are alone in dispute. The truth is that
every subsequent step in the investigation has tended more and more to
prove the correctness of the data furnished by the lists of Manetho, and
the only important question is, “what is Manetho?” His work is lost. The
only real extracts we have from the original are those in ‘Josephus
contra Apion.’ The lists in Eusebius and Syncellus or Africanus have
avowedly been adjusted to suit preconceived theories of Biblical
chronology; but on the whole a great preponderance of evidence seems in
favour of assuming that he really intended to fix the year 3906 as the
initial year of the reign of Menes,[24] or some year within a very short
distance of that date. Some years ago this would have seemed to suffice,
but so many new monuments have been disinterred of late, so many new
names of kings added to our lists, that the tendency is now rather to
extend than to contract this limit of duration.

Be this as it may, what we really do know absolutely is that there was
an old kingdom of pyramid-builders, comprising the first ten dynasties
of Manetho, who reigned at Memphis. These, after a period of decadence,
were superseded by kings of a different race coming from the south; and
that these, after a short period of glory, were conquered by an Asiatic
race of hated Shepherd kings.

After five centuries of foreign domination, the Shepherds in their turn
were driven out, and the new kingdom founded. This, after witnessing the
glories of the 18th and 19th dynasties, declined during the next seven
dynasties till they were struck down by the Persian Cambyses.

A third period of architectural magnificence arose with the Ptolemys,
and was continued by the Cæsars on nearly the same scale of magnificence
as the second kingdom; but wanting its exuberant nationality, and far
below the quiet grandeur of the earlier epoch.

In counting backwards the dates of these dynasties, the first authentic
synchronism we meet with is that of Shishak, the first king of the 22nd
dynasty, contemporary with Rehoboam, about 970 B.C.

The next is the Exode of the Jews, which took place 1312 B.C., under the
reign of Meneptah II., the fourth king of the 19th dynasty of Manetho.
Many would place it earlier, but none probably would bring that event
down to a more modern date.

From this date Josephus tells us that Manetho counted 518 years to the
expulsion of the Shepherds, and 511 for the duration of their sojourn in
Egypt,[25] we thus get back to 2340 for the first year of Salatis. There
then remain only fifteen centuries and a half, in which we have to
arrange the two great Theban dynasties (the 11th and 12th), which
reigned for more than two centuries over the whole of Egypt; while the
12th seems to have extended some distance into the period occupied by
the Shepherds. We are thus left with little more than 1300 years over
which to spread the ten first dynasties, notwithstanding that some 60 or
70 of their royal sepulchral pyramids still adorn the banks of the Nile;
and we have many names to which no tombs can be attached, and many
pyramids may have perished during the 5000 years which have elapsed
since the greater number of them were erected.

Long as these periods may to some appear, they are certainly the
shortest that any one familiar with the recent progress of Egyptian
research would be willing to assign to them. But in whatever light they
may be viewed, they sink into utter insignificance when compared with
the periods that must have elapsed before Egypt could have reached that
stage of civilisation in which we find her when her existence first
dawns upon us. If one point in Egyptian history is proved with more
certainty than another, it is that the great Pyramids of Gizeh were
erected by the kings of the 4th dynasty: and it seems impossible to find
room for the now ascertained facts of Egyptian chronology, unless we
place their erection between 3000 and 3500 years before the Christian

No one can possibly examine the interior of the Great Pyramid without
being struck with astonishment at the wonderful mechanical skill
displayed in its construction. The immense blocks of granite brought
from Syene—a distance of 500 miles—polished like glass, and so fitted
that the joints can hardly be detected. Nothing can be more wonderful
than the extraordinary amount of knowledge displayed in the construction
of the discharging chambers over the roof of the principal apartment, in
the alignment of the sloping galleries, in the provision of ventilating
shafts, and in all the wonderful contrivances of the structure. All
these, too, are carried out with such precision, that, notwithstanding
the immense superincumbent weight, no settlement in any part can be
detected to the extent of an appreciable fraction of an inch. Nothing
more perfect, mechanically, has ever been erected since that time; and
we ask ourselves in vain, how long it must have taken before men
acquired such experience and such skill, or were so perfectly organised,
as to contemplate and complete such undertakings.

Around the base of the pyramid are found numerous structural tombs,
whose walls bear the cartouche of the same king—Khufu—whose name was
found by Colonel Howard Vyse in one of the previously unopened chambers
of the Great Pyramid.[26] These are adorned with paintings so numerous
and so complete, as to enable us to realise with singular completeness
the state of Egyptian society at that early period.

On their walls the owner of the tomb is usually represented seated,
offering first fruits on a simple table-altar to an unseen god. He is
generally accompanied by his wife, and surrounded by his stewards and
servants, who enumerate his wealth in horned cattle, in asses, in sheep
and goats, in geese and ducks. In other pictures some are ploughing and
sowing, some reaping or thrashing out the corn, while others are tending
his tame monkeys or cranes, and other domesticated pets. Music and
dancing add to the circle of domestic enjoyments, and fowling and
fishing occupy his days of leisure. No sign of soldiers or of warlike
strife appears in any of these pictures; no arms, no chariots or horses.
No camels suggest foreign travel. Everything there represented speaks of
peace at home and abroad,[27] of agricultural wealth and consequent
content. In all these pictures the men are represented with an ethnic
and artistic truth that enables us easily to recognise their race and
station. The animals are not only easily distinguishable, but the
characteristic peculiarities of each species are seized with a power of
generalisation seldom if ever surpassed; and the hieroglyphic system
which forms the legend and explains the whole, was as complete and
perfect then as at any future period.

More striking than even the paintings are the portrait-statues which
have recently been discovered in the secret recesses of these tombs;
nothing more wonderfully truthful and realistic has been done since that
time, till the invention of photography, and even that can hardly
represent a man with such unflattering truthfulness as these old
coloured terra-cotta portraits of the sleek rich men of the pyramid

Wonderful as all this maturity of art may be when found at so early a
period, the problem becomes still more perplexing when we again ask
ourselves how long a people must have lived and recorded their
experience before they came to realise and aspire to an eternity such as
the building of these pyramids shows that they sacrificed everything to
attain. One of their great aims was to preserve the body intact for 3000
years, in order that the soul might again be united with it when the day
of judgment arrived. But what taught them to contemplate such periods of
time with confidence, and, stranger still, how did they learn to realise
so daring an aspiration?

Nor is our wonder less when we ask ourselves how it happened that such a
people became so thoroughly organised at that early age as to be willing
to undertake the greatest architectural works the world has since seen
in honour of one man from among themselves? A king without an army, and
with no claim, so far as we can see, to such an honour beyond the common
consent of all, which could hardly have been obtained except by the
title of long inherited services acknowledged by the community at large.

It would be difficult to find any other example which so fully
illustrates the value of architecture as a mode of writing history as
this. It is possible there may have been nations as old and as early
civilised as the Egyptians: but they were not builders, and their memory
is lost. It is to their architecture alone that we owe the preservation
of what we know of this old people. And it is the knowledge so obtained
that adds such interest to the study of their art.

In the present state of our knowledge it may seem an idle speculation to
suggest that the Egyptian and Chinese are two fragments of one great
primordial race, widely separated now by the irruption of other Turanian
and Aryan races between them; but this at least is certain, that in
manners and customs, in arts and polity, in religion and civilisation,
these two peoples more closely resemble one another than any other two
nations which have existed since, even when avowedly of similar race and
living in proximity to one another.

At the earliest period at which Chinese history opens upon us, we find
the same amount of civilisation maintaining itself utterly
unprogressively to the present day. The same peaceful industry and
agricultural wealth accompanied by the same outwardly pleasing domestic
relations and apparent content. The same exceptional mode of writing.
The same want of power to assimilate with surrounding nations. Both
hating war, but reverencing their kings, and counting their chronology
by dynasties exactly as the Egyptians have always done. Their religions
seem wonderfully alike, and both are characterised by the same
fearlessness of death, and the same calm enjoyment in the contemplation
of its advent.[28]

In fact there is no peculiarity in the old kingdom of Egypt that has not
its counterpart in China at the present day, though more or less
modified, perhaps, by local circumstances; and there is nothing in the
older system which we cannot understand by using proper illustrations,
derived from what we see passing under our immediate observation in the
far East. The great lesson we learn from the study of the history of
China as bearing on that of Egypt is, that all idea of the impossibility
of the recorded events in the latter country is taken away by reference
to the other. Neither the duration of the Egyptian dynasties, nor the
early perfection of her civilisation, or its strange persistency, can be
objected to as improbable. What we know has happened in Asia in modern
times may certainly have taken place in Africa, though at an earlier

                              CHAPTER II.


Leaving these speculations to be developed more fully in the sequel, let
us now turn to the pyramids—the oldest, largest, and most mysterious of
all the monuments of man’s art now existing. All those in Egypt are
situated on the left bank of the Nile, just beyond the cultivated
ground, and on the edge of the desert, and all the principal examples
within what may fairly be called the Necropolis of Memphis. Sixty or
seventy of these have been discovered and explored, all which appear to
be royal sepulchres. This alone, if true would suffice to justify us in
assigning a duration of 1000 years at least to the dynasties of the
pyramid builders, and this is about the date we acquire from other

The three great pyramids of Gizeh are the most remarkable and the best
known of all those of Egypt. Of these the first, erected by Cheops, or,
as he is now more correctly named, Khufu, is the largest; but the next,
by Chephren (Khafra), his successor, is scarcely inferior in dimensions;
the third, that of Mycerinus (Menkaura), is very much smaller, but
excelled the two others in this, that it had a coating of beautiful red
granite from Syene, while the other two were revêted only with the
beautiful limestone of the country. Part of this coating still remains
near the top of the second; and Colonel Vyse[29] was fortunate enough to
discover some of the coping-stones of the Great Pyramid buried in the
rubbish at its base. These are sufficient to indicate the nature and
extent of the whole, and to show that it was commenced from the bottom
and carried upwards; not at the top, as it has sometimes been
thoughtlessly asserted.[30]

[Illustration: No. 7. Section of Great Pyramid.]

Since Colonel Vyse’s discovery, however, further casing-stones have been
found in situ by Mr. Flinders Petrie, whose measurements, taken in
1880-82, and published in the following year,[31] are the most accurate
yet made. The dimensions hitherto given have shown a difference of as
much as eighteen inches in the length of the sides, which, if the
pyramid had been set out on a perfectly clear level ground, would have
detracted from the perfection which has been claimed for its setting
out. This difference, however, it appears now, was due to the fact that
the various observers had measured from angle to angle of the corner
sockets, and had “assumed that the faces of the stones placed in them
rose up vertically from the edge of the bottom until they reached the
pavement (whatever level that might be), from which the sloping face
started upwards.” This, however, was not the case; the sloping sides of
the Pyramid continued down to the rock surface, and the base was
eventually partially covered over by a level pavement or platform;[32]
the parts covered over varying in extent according to the depth they
were carried down. Mr. Petrie utilized the angle sockets for the purpose
of obtaining the true diagonals of the casing, and having computed a
square which passed through the points of casing found on each side, and
having also its corners lying on the diagonals of the sockets, obtained
the dimensions of the original base of the Great Pyramid casing on the
artificial platform or pavement, which was as follows:—

                                Sq. In.    Ft. In.

                     North side  9069·4 or 755 9·4
                     East side   9067·7 or 755 7·7
                     South side  9069·5 or 755 8·6
                     West side   9068·6 or 755 8·8

The mean being 755 ft. 8·8 in., and the extreme difference being 1·7 of
an inch only.

The actual height of the Great Pyramid from level of platform was 481
ft. 4 in., and the angle of casing 51° 52ʺ.

In the Second Pyramid, the bottom corner of casing (which was in
granite) had a vertical base 10 or 12 in. high, against which the
pavement was laid; and the following were the dimensions obtained:—

                                Sq. In.    Ft. In.

                     North side  8471·9 or 705 11·9
                     East side   8475·2 or 706 3·2
                     South side  8476·9 or 706 4·9
                     West side   8475·5 or 706 3·5

The mean being 706 ft. 2·9 in., and the extreme difference in the length
of side 5 in.

The height was 472 ft., and the angle of casing 53° 10ʹ.

The Third Pyramid was never quite finished, and there is some difficulty
in determining the exact level of platform. The mean length of the sides
was calculated by Mr. Petrie as 346 ft. 1·6 in., its height 215 ft., and
the angle of its casing 51° 10ʹ.

From this it will be seen that the area of the Great Pyramid (more than
13 acres) is more than twice the extent of that of St. Peter’s at Rome,
or of any other building in the world.[33] Its height is equal to the
highest spire of any cathedral in Europe; for, though it has been
attempted to erect higher buildings, in no instance has this yet been
successfully achieved. Even the Third Pyramid covers more ground than
any Gothic cathedral, and the mass of materials it contains far
surpasses that of any erection we possess in Europe.

All the pyramids (with one exception) face exactly north, and have their
entrance on that side—a circumstance the more remarkable, as the later
builders of Thebes appear to have had no notion of orientation, but to
have placed their buildings and tombs so as to avoid regularity, and
facing in every conceivable direction. Instead of the entrances to the
pyramids being level, they all slope downwards—generally at angles of
about 26° to the horizon—a circumstance which has led to an infinity of
speculation, as to whether they were not observatories, and meant for
the observation of the pole-star, &c.[34] All these theories, however,
have failed, for a variety of reasons it is needless now to discuss; but
among others it may be mentioned that the angles are not the same in any
two pyramids, though erected within a few years of one another, and in
the twenty which were measured by Colonel Vyse they vary from 22° 35ʹ to
34° 5ʹ. The angle of the inclination of the side of the pyramid to the
horizon is more constant, varying only from 51° 10ʹ to 52° 32ʹ, and in
the Gizeh pyramid it would appear that the angle of the passage was
intended to have been about one-half of this.

Mr. Petrie gives a synopsis of the various theories connected with the
Great Pyramid, which applies not only to the outside form but to the
several chambers and passages in the interior. “There are three great
lines of theory,” he says,[35] “throughout the Pyramid, each of which
must stand or fall as a whole, they are scarcely contradictory, and may
almost subsist together;” these are (1) the Egyptian cubit (20·62 in.)
theory; (2) the π proportion or radius and circumference theory; (3) the
theory of areas, squares of lengths and diagonals.

Of the two first, and applying these only to the exterior by the cubit
theory, the outside form of pyramid is 280 cubits high and 440 cubits
length of side, or 7 in height to 11 of width. This is confirmed by the
π theory, where we get the very common proportion that the height is to
the circumference as the radius is to the circumference of a circle
inscribed within its base; thus taking the mean height of 481 ft. 4 in.,
we have 481·33 × 2 × 3·1416 = 3024, whilst the side 755·75 × 4 = 3023,
so near a coincidence that it can hardly be accidental, and if it was
intended, all the other external proportions follow as a matter of

Even if this theory should not be accepted as the true one, it has at
least the merit of being nearer the truth than any other yet proposed. I
confess it appears to me so likely that I would hardly care to go
further, especially as all the astronomical theories have signally
failed, and it seems as if it were only to some numerical fancy that we
must look for a solution of the puzzle.

Be this as it may, the small residuum we get from all these pyramid
discussions is, that they were built by the kings of the early dynasties
of the old kingdom of Egypt as their tombs. The leading idea that
governed their forms was that of durability—a quasi-eternity of duration
is what they aimed at. The entrances were meant to be concealed, and the
angle of the passages was the limit of rest at which heavy bodies could
be moved while obtaining the necessary strength where they opened at the
outside, and the necessary difficulty for protection inside, without
trenching on impossibility. By concealment of the entrance, the
difficulties of the passages, and the complicated but most ingenious
arrangement of portcullises, these ancient kings hoped to be allowed to
rest in undisturbed security for at least 3000 years. Perhaps they were
successful, though their tombs have since been so shamefully profaned.

To the principal dimensions of the Great Pyramid given above, it may be
added that the entrance is 55 ft. 8 in. above the base, on the 19th
course, which is deeper than the 11 to 14 courses above and below; at
present there remain 203 courses, to which must be added 12 to 14
missing. Their average height is nearly 2 ft. 6 in., but they diminish
in height—generally speaking, but not uniformly—towards the top. The
summit now consists of a platform 32 ft. 8 in. square; so that about 27
ft. is wanting, the present actual height being 454 ft. It contains two
chambers above-ground, and one cut in the rock at a considerable depth
below the foundations.

The passages and chambers are worthy of the mass; all are lined with
polished granite; and the ingenuity and pains that have been taken to
render them solid and secure, and to prevent their being crushed by the
superincumbent mass, raise our idea of Egyptian science higher than even
the bulk of the building itself could do.


  Fig. 1.

  Fig 2.

  No. 8. Section of King’s Chamber and of Passage in
  Great Pyramid. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Towards the exterior, where the pressure is not great, the roof is flat,
though it is probable that even there the weight is throughout
discharged by 2 stones, sloping up at a certain angle to where they
meet, as at the entrance. Towards the centre of the pyramid, however,
the passage becomes 28 feet high, the 7 upper courses of stone
overhanging one another as shown in the annexed section (fig. 1), so as
to reduce the bearing of the covering stone. Nowhere, however, is this
ingenuity more shown than in the royal chamber, which measures 17 ft. 1
in. by 34 ft. 3 in., and 19 ft. in height. The walls are lined and the
roof is formed of splendid slabs of Syenite, but above the roof 4
successive chambers, as shown in the annexed section (fig. 2), have been
formed, each divided from the other by slabs of granite, polished on
their lower surfaces, but left rough on the upper, and above these a 5th
chamber is formed of 2 sloping blocks to discharge the weight of the
whole. The first of these chambers has long been known; the upper four
were discovered and first entered by Colonel Vyse, and it was in one of
these that he discovered the name of the founder. This was not engraved
as a record, but scribbled in red paint on the stones, apparently as a
quarrymark, or as an address to the king, and accompanied by something
like directions for their position in the building. The interest that
attaches to these inscriptions consists in the certainty of their being
contemporary records, in their proving that Khufu was the founder of the
Great Pyramid, and consequently fixing its relative date beyond all
possibility of cavil. This is the only really virgin discovery in the
pyramids, as they have all been opened either in the time of the Greeks
or Romans, or by the Mahometans, and an unrifled tomb of this age is
still a desideratum. Until such is hit upon we must remain in ignorance
of the real mode of sepulture in those days, and of the purpose of many
of the arrangements in these mysterious buildings.

The portcullises which invariably close the entrances of the sepulchral
chamber in the pyramids are among the most curious and ingenious of the
arrangements of these buildings. Generally they consist of great cubical
masses of granite, measuring 8 or 10 ft. each way, and consequently
weighing 50 or 60 tons, and even more. These were fitted into chambers
prepared during the construction of the building, but raised into the
upper parts, and, being lowered after the body was deposited, closed the
entrance so effectually that in some instances it has been found
necessary either to break them in pieces, or to cut a passage round
them, to gain admission to the chambers. They generally slide in grooves
in the wall, to which they fit exactly, and altogether show a degree of
ingenuity and forethought very remarkable, considering the early age at
which they were executed.

In the Second Pyramid one chamber has been discovered partly
above-ground, partly cut in the rock. In the Third the chambers are
numerous, all excavated in the rock; and from the tunnels that have been
driven by explorers through the superstructures of these two, it is very
doubtful whether anything is to be found above-ground.[36]

All the old pyramids do not follow the simple outline of those at Gizeh.
That at Dahshur, for instance, rises to half the height, with a slope of
54° to the horizon, but is finished at the angle of 45°, giving it a
very exceptional appearance. The pyramids of Sakkara and Medum are of
the class known as mastaba pyramids, the term mastaba (Arabic for bench)
being given to the sloping-sided tombs of about 76° angle and from 10 to
20 ft. high.

                                 No. 9.

[Illustration: No. 10. Pyramid of Sakkara. (From Colonel Vyse’s work.)
Scale 100 ft to 1 in.]

The annexed plan and section of Sakkara (Woodcut Nos. 9 and 10), both to
the scale of 100 ft. to 1 in., show the peculiar nature of their
construction, which seems to have been cumulative; that is to say, they
have been enlarged in successive periods, the original casing of the
earlier portions having been traced. Mr. Petrie says: “Both of these
structures have been several times finished, each time with a
close-jointed polished casing of the finest white limestone, and then,
after each completion, it has been again enlarged by another coat of
rough masonry and another line casing outside.”

These two pyramids are the only two genuine stepped pyramids, all the
others having had an uniform casing on one slope (excepting Dahshur, as
above mentioned). The Pyramid of Sakkara is the only pyramid that does
not face exactly north and south. It is nearly of the same general
dimensions as the Third Pyramid, that of Mycerinus; but its outline, the
disposition of its chambers, and the hieroglyphics found in its
interior, all would seem to point it out as an imitation of the older
form of mausolea by some king of a far more modern date.


Mr. Flinders Petrie’s discoveries in 1891 determined the age and the
construction of the Pyramid of Medum,[37] erected by Seneferu, a king of
the third dynasty, being therefore the oldest pyramid known. Its
construction resembles that of the small pyramid of Rikheh and the
oblong step pyramid of Sakkara, that is to say, it is a cumulative
mastaba, the primal mastaba being about 150 ft. square, and from 37 to
45 ft. high. The outer coatings added were seven in number, and the
original mass was carried up and heightened as the circuit was
increased, and lastly an outer casing covered over all the steps which
had resulted during the construction. The average length of the base was
473 ft. 6 in., the total height being 301 ft. 7 in. According to Mr.
Petrie, the Pyramid of Medum, as those of Sakkara and Rikheh, were of a
transitional form, in which the original mastaba had been greatly
enlarged and subsequently covered over with a casing of pyramidal
outline. “That type once arrived at, there was no need for subsequent
kings to retain the mastaba form internally, and Khufu and his
successors laid out their pyramids of full size at first and built them
up at an angle of 51°, and not at 75°, that which is found in the
ordinary mastabas.” Mr. Petrie also discovered the temple of the pyramid
in the middle of its east side, and almost uninjured. It consisted of a
passage entered at the south end of east front, then a small chamber and
a courtyard adjoining the side of the pyramid, containing two steles and
one altar between them.

In the sepulchral pit of Rahotep, near the pyramid, Mr. Petrie found two
arches thrown across a passage to relieve the thrust of the overlapping
sides, which carries the use of that feature back to the 4th dynasty.


Around the Pyramids from Abouraash, north of Gizeh to Medum, south of
Sakkara, a distance of over 15 miles, forming the Necropolis of Memphis,
numberless smaller sepulchres are found, which appear to have been
appropriated to private individuals, as the pyramids were—so far as we
can ascertain—reserved for kings, or, at all events, for persons of
royal blood. These tombs are now known under the term of mastabas, to
which we have already referred. The mastaba is a rectangular building
varying in size from 15 to 150 ft. in width and length, and from 10 to
80 ft. in height. Their general form is that of a truncated pyramid with
an angle of 75° to the horizon, low, and looking exceedingly like a
house with sloping walls, with only one door leading to the interior,
though they may contain several apartments, and no attempt is made to
conceal the entrance. The chambers consist (1) of reception rooms and
(2) of serdabs, which are closed cells containing the terra-cotta
statuettes which represent the Ka’s or doubles of the deceased. These
chambers occupy a part only of the mastaba, the remainder being solid
masonry or brickwork. The body seems to have been hidden from
profanation by being hid in a pit sunk in the rock, the entrance to
which was concealed, and could be approached only through the solid core
of the mastaba.

Unlike the pyramids, the walls are covered with the paintings above
alluded to, and everything in this “eternal dwelling”[38] of the dead is
made to resemble the abodes of the living; as was afterwards the case
with the Etruscans. It is owing to this circumstance that we are able
not only to realise so perfectly the civil life of the Egyptians at this
period, but to fix the dates of the whole series by identifying the
names of the kings who built the pyramids with those on the walls of the
tombs that surround them.[39]

Like all early architecture, that of these tombs shows evident symptoms
of having been borrowed from a wooden original. The lintels of the
doorways are generally rounded, and the walls mere square posts, grooved
and jointed together, every part of it being as unlike a stone
architecture as can possibly be conceived. Yet the pyramids themselves,
and those tombs which are found outside them, are generally far removed
from the forms employed in timber structures; and it is only when we
find the Egyptians indulging in decorative art that we trace this more
primitive style. There are two doorways of this class in the British
Museum and many in that of Berlin. One engraved in Lepsius’s work
(Woodcut No. 11) gives a fair idea of this style of decorative art, in
the most elaborate form in which we now know it. It is possible that
some of its forms may have been derived from brick architecture, but the
lintel certainly was of wood, and so it may be suspected were the
majority of its features. It certainly is a transitional form, and
though we only find it in stone, none of its peculiarities were derived
from lithic arts. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of the
architectural forms of that day was the sarcophagus of Mycerinus,
unfortunately lost on its way to England. It represented a palace, with
all the peculiarities found on a larger scale in the buildings which
surround the pyramid, and with that peculiar cornice and still more
singular roll or ligature on the angles, most evidently a carpentry
form, but which the style retained to its latest day.

[Illustration: 11. Doorway in Tomb at the Pyramids. (From Lepsius.)]

[Illustration: 12. Sarcophagus of Mycerinus, found in Third Pyramid.]

In many of these tombs square piers are found supporting the roofs
sometimes, but rarely, with an abacus, and generally without any carved
work, though it is more than probable they were originally painted with
some device, upon which they depended for their ornament. In most
instances they look more like fragments of a wall, of which the
intervening spaces had been cut away, than pillars in the sense in which
we usually understand the word; and in every case in the early ages they
must be looked upon more as utilitarian expedients than as parts of an
ornamental style of architecture.


Till recently no temples had been discovered which could with certainty
be ascribed to the age of the pyramid builders; one, however, was
excavated in 1853, from the sand close beside the great Sphinx, with
which it was thought at one time to have been connected. Mr. Petrie,
however, found the remains of a causeway 15 ft. wide and over a quarter
of a mile long, leading to a second temple in front of the pyramid of
Khafra; as also the traces of other temples in front of the Great
Pyramid and of that of Menkaura. Further temples have been discovered at
Abouseer, Dahshur and other pyramids, so that, as Mr. Petrie says, p.
209, “to understand the purpose of the erection of the Pyramids it
should be observed that each has a temple on the eastern side of it. Of
the temples of the second and third Pyramids the ruins still remain; and
of the temple of the Great Pyramid the basalt pavement and numerous
blocks of granite show its site.” “The worship of the deified king was
carried on in the temple, looking toward the Pyramid which stood on the
west of it; just as private individuals worshipped their ancestors in
the family tombs” (already referred to) “looking towards the false
doors[40] which are placed in the west side of the tomb, and which
represent the entrances to the hidden sepulchres.”

[Illustration: 13. Plan of Temple near the Sphinx.]

The temple of the Sphinx,[41] (or, as it is now called, the granite
temple,) though at present almost buried, was apparently a free-standing
building, a mass of masonry, the outer surfaces of which were built in
limestone, and carved with long grooves, horizontal and vertical,
skilfully crossed, resembling therefore the carved fronts of many tombs
at Sakkara and Gizeh and the sarcophagus of Mycerinus (Woodcut No. 12).
The temple measured 140 ft. in each direction, and the walls were 40 ft.
high. It was arranged in two storeys, the upper one being an open court.
In the lower storey were: A, a hall 55 ft. long by 33 ft. wide and 18
ft. 6 in. high, with two rows of massive granite piers supporting beams
of the same material to carry the stone roof: B, a second hall into
which the first hall opened, and at right angles to it, measuring 81 ft.
long by 22 ft. wide and 19 ft. high, with one row of granite piers down
the centre; both of these being lighted by narrow slits just below the
granite roof:[42] C, a side chamber with six loculi, in two levels, each
19 ft. long: D, a sloping passage lined with granite and oriental
alabaster, leading to the causeway which placed it in communication with
the Second Pyramid, and: E, a hall 60 ft. long by 12 ft. wide and 30 ft.
high (rising therefore above the pavement of the upper court), with a
large recess at each end containing a statue. These recesses were high
above doors which led to smaller chambers also containing statues.

The internal walls were lined with immense blocks of granite from Syene
and of alabaster beautifully polished, but with sloping joints and
uneven beds, a form of masonry not unknown in that age. No sculpture or
inscription of any sort is found on the walls of the temple,[43] or
ornament or symbol in the sanctuary. Statues and tablets of Khafra, the
builder of the Second Pyramid, were found in the well, and this, and the
fact that the causeway extended to the temple in front of his pyramid,
shows clearly that it belonged to his time.[44]

In the present transitional state of our knowledge of the architectural
art of the pyramid builders, it is difficult to form any distinct
judgment as to its merits. The early Egyptians built neither for beauty
nor for use, but for eternity, and to this last they sacrificed every
other feeling. In itself nothing can be less artistic than a pyramid. A
tower, either round or square, or of any other form, and of the same
dimensions, would have been far more imposing, and if of sufficient
height—the mass being the same—might almost have attained sublimity; but
a pyramid never looks so large as it is, and not till you almost touch
it can you realise its vast dimensions. This is owing principally to all
its parts sloping away from the eye instead of boldly challenging
observation; but, on the other hand, no form is so stable, none so
capable of resisting the injuries of time or force, and none,
consequently, so well calculated to attain the object for which the
pyramids were erected. As examples of technic art, they are unrivalled
among the works of men, but they rank low if judged by the æsthetic
rules of architectural art.

The same may be said of the tombs around them: they are low and solid,
but possess neither beauty of form nor any architectural feature worthy
of attention or admiration, but they have lasted nearly uninjured from
the remotest antiquity, and thus have attained the object their builders
had principally in view in designing them.

Their temple architecture, on the other hand, may induce us to modify
considerably these opinions. The one described above—which is the only
one I personally have any knowledge of—is perhaps the simplest and least
adorned temple in the world. All its parts are plain—straight and
square, without a single moulding of any sort, but they are perfectly
proportioned to the work they have to do. They are pleasingly and
effectively arranged, and they have all that lithic grandeur which is
inherent in large masses of precious materials.

Such a temple as that near the Sphinx cannot compete either in richness
or magnificence with the great temples of Thebes, with their sculptured
capitals and storied walls, but there is a beauty of repose and an
elegance of simplicity about the older example which goes far to redeem
its other deficiencies, and when we have more examples before us they
may rise still higher in our estimation.

Whatever opinion we may ultimately form regarding their architecture,
there can be little doubt as to the rank to be assigned to their
painting and sculpture. In these two arts the Egyptians early attained a
mastery which they never surpassed. Judged by the rules of classic or of
modern art, it appears formal and conventional to such an extent as to
render it difficult for us now to appreciate its merits. But as a purely
Phonetic form of art—as used merely to enunciate those ideas which we
now so much more easily express by alphabetic writings—it is clear and
precise beyond any picture-writings the world has since seen. Judged by
its own rules, it is marvellous to what perfection the Egyptians had
attained at that early period, and if we look on their minor edifices as
mere vehicles for the display of this pictorial expression, we must
modify to some extent the judgment we would pass on them as mere objects
of architectural art.

                              CHAPTER III.

                         FIRST THEBAN KINGDOM.


                                               B.C. 2528?
              Sankhkara                 reigned 46 years.
              Amenemhat                 reigned 38 years.
              Osirtasen                 reigned 48 years.
              Amenemhat III. (Lampares) reigned  8 years.
                (Builder of Labyrinth.)
              His successors            reigned 42 years.
                                               B.C. 2340?

The great culminating period of the old kingdom of Egypt is that
belonging to the 4th and 5th dynasties. Nine-tenths of the monuments of
the pyramid-builders which have come down to our time belong to the five
centuries during which these two dynasties ruled over Egypt (B.C.

The 6th dynasty was of a southern and more purely African origin. On the
tablets of Apap[45] (Apophis), its most famous monarch, we find the
worship of Khem and other deities of the Theban period wholly unknown to
the pyramid kings. The next four dynasties are of _fainéant_ kings, of
whom we know little, not “Carent quia vate sacro,” but because they were
not builders, and their memory is lost. The 11th and 12th usher in a new
state of affairs. The old Memphite pyramid-building kingdom had passed,
with its peaceful contentment, and had given place to a warlike
idolatrous race of Theban kings, far more purely African, the prototypes
of the great monarchy of the 18th and 19th dynasties, and having no
affinity with anything we know of as existing in Asia in those times.

Their empire lasted apparently for more than 300 years in Upper Egypt;
but for the latter portion of that period they do not seem to have
reigned over the whole country, having been superseded in Lower Egypt by
the invasion of the hated Hyksos, or Shepherd kings, about the year 2300
B.C., and by whom they also were finally totally overthrown.

When we turn from the contemplation of the pyramids, and the monuments
contemporary with them, to examine those of the 12th dynasty, we become
at once aware of the change which has taken place. Instead of the
pyramids, all of which are situated on the western side of the Nile, we
have obelisks, which, without a single exception, are found on its
eastern side towards the rising sun, apparently in contradistinction to
the valley of the dead, which was towards the side on which he set. The
earliest and one of the finest of these obelisks is that still standing
at Heliopolis, inscribed with the name of Osirtasen, one of the first
and greatest kings of this dynasty. It is 67 ft. 4 in. in height,
without the pyramidion which crowns it, and is a splendid block of
granite, weighing 217 tons. It must have required immense skill to
quarry it, to transport it from Syene, and finally, after finishing it,
to erect it where it now stands and has stood for 4500 years.

We find the sculptures of the same king at Wady Halfah, near the second
cataract, in Nubia; and at Sarabout el Kadem, in the Sinaitic Peninsula.
He also commenced the great temple of Karnac at Thebes, which in the
hands of his successors became the most splendid in Egypt, and perhaps
it is not too much to say the greatest architectural monument in the
whole world.

As might be expected, from our knowledge of the fact that the Hyksos
invasion took place so soon after his reign, none of his structural
buildings now remain entire in which we might read the story of his
conquests, and learn to which gods of the Pantheon he especially devoted
himself. We must therefore fall back on Manetho for an account of his
“conquering all Asia in the space of nine years, and Europe as far as
Thrace.”[46] While there is nothing to contradict this statement, there
is much that renders it extremely probable.

                             THE LABYRINTH.

It is to this dynasty also that we owe the erection of the Labyrinth,
one of the most remarkable, as well as one of the most mysterious
monuments of Egypt. All Manetho tells us of this is, that Lampares, or
Mœris, “built it as a sepulchre for himself;” and the information we
derive from the Greeks on this subject is so contradictory and so full
of the wonderful, that it is extremely difficult to make out either the
plan or the purpose of the building. As long ago as 1843, the whole site
was excavated and thoroughly explored by the officers of the Prussian
expedition under Lepsius; but, like most of the information obtained by
that ill-conditioned party, such data as have been given are of the most
unsatisfactory and fragmentary form. The position which Lepsius claimed
for the Labyrinth has been found by Mr. Petrie[47] to be incorrect; the
remains supposed to be those of the walls and chambers are of much later
date, being only the houses and tombs of the population which destroyed
the great structure. The village thus created was established on the
outer portion of the site when the destruction of the buildings was
first commenced. Mr. Petrie calculates that the Labyrinth was
symmetrical with the pyramid, and had the same axis: that it occupied a
site of about 1000 feet wide by 800 ft. deep; thus covering an area
sufficiently large to accommodate all the Theban temples on the east
bank, and in addition one of the largest on the west bank. The essential
difference between the Labyrinth and all other temples was that it
consisted of a series of eighteen large peristylar courts with
sanctuaries and other chambers. Of these, according to Herodotus, there
were six, side by side, facing north; six others, opposite, facing
south, and a wall surrounding the whole. Herodotus, however, was allowed
to see portions only of the Labyrinth, probably those nearest to the
entrance. Beyond this, on the north side, Mr. Petrie suggests the
existence of a third series of peristylar courts (described by Strabo),
with sanctuaries and other chambers, and south of these, halls of
columns, and smaller halls, through which Strabo entered. In the hall of
twenty-seven columns, mentioned by Strabo, Mr. Petrie places the columns
in one row to form a vestibule to the entrances to the courts similar to
the temple of Abydos. The whole disposition of the plan, the style of
the courts and their peristyles must be conjectural, as no remains of
blocks of stone or columns in sufficient preservation have been found on
which to base a restoration. On some architrave blocks were found
inscriptions of Amenemhat III. and Sebekneferu. The last remains were
taken away within our own time by the engineers of the new railway, and
apparently with the consent of the officials of the Boulak Museum, who
reported that they had been quarried from the native rock.


The Hawara Pyramid, on the north of the Labyrinth, and erected by the
same King Amenemhat III., has been examined by Mr. Petrie and described
by him.[48] As the rock on which it was built was little more than
hardened sand, a pit was excavated, into which a monolithic chamber of
granite, brought from Upper Egypt, and weighing 100 tons, was lowered.
The sarcophagus and two other coffins having been placed in it, the
chamber was covered over with three granite beams, 4 feet thick, one of
which was raised in a hollow chamber, and supported there till after the
King’s death and the deposit of his body in the sarcophagus. Round the
granite monolith were built walls which carried two courses of stone
blocks, the lower horizontal, the upper courses sloping one against the
other, as in the Great Pyramid. The rest of the pyramid was constructed
in brick, and to prevent the brickwork settling down and splitting on
the pointed roof-stones, an arch of five courses of brick, measuring 3
feet deep, was thrown across, resting on bricks laid in mud between the
arch and the stonework. The brickwork above the arch was laid in sand,
and the whole pyramid covered with a casing of limestone. The size of
the pyramid Mr. Petrie calculates to have been about 334 ft. wide and
191 ft. high.

A second pyramid belonging to this dynasty, and erected by Osirtasen
II., has also been examined and described by Mr. Petrie.[49] This
pyramid (Illahun) is of peculiar construction, being partly composed of
the natural rock dressed into form to a height of 40 feet, above which
rose the built portion, which was different from that of any other
pyramid, being built with a framing of cross walls. The walls ran right
through the diagonals up to the top of the building, and had offset
walls at right angles to the sides, the walls being of stone in the
lower part, and brick above; the filling-in between the walls was of mud
and brick, and the whole pyramid, brick, stone, and rock, was covered
with a casing of limestone.

                           AN EGYPTIAN TOWN.

[Illustration: 14. Plans of Houses, Kahun.]

The most remarkable discovery made by Mr. Petrie in the Fayum[50] was
the finding of the plan, more or less complete, of the town or village
of Kahun, which was built for the workmen and overseers of the Illahun
pyramid, and deserted shortly after its completion. The plan would seem
to have been laid out from one design, and consisted: of an acropolis or
raised space, where the house of the chief controller of the works was
placed, and which might have been occupied by the King when he came to
inspect the works: a series of large houses (Woodcut No. 14), arranged
very much in the same way as those of Pompeii, and containing a great
number of halls, courts, and rooms; and many streets of workmen’s
dwellings of two or three rooms each. The walls were all built in crude
brick, the rooms being covered over with roofs formed of beams of wood,
on which poles were placed, and to these bundles of straw and reeds
lashed down, the whole being covered inside and outside with mud. In
those rooms, which exceeded 8 or 9 ft. in width, columns of stone or
wood were employed to assist in carrying the roof; such columns being
octagonal or with sixteen sides, fluted or ribbed like the reed or lotus
column at Beni-Hasan. The lower portion of a fluted column in wood was
found, existing still in situ on its base, which shows that description
of column to have had a wooden origin.


The most interesting series of monuments of this dynasty which have come
down to our time are the tombs of Beni-Hasan, in Middle Egypt. They are
situated on the eastern side of the Nile, as are also those of
Tel-el-Amarna, Sheykh-Said, Kôm-el-ahman, and others. The character of
the sculptures which adorn their walls approaches that found in the
tombs surrounding the pyramids, but the architecture differs widely.
They are all cheerful-looking halls, open to the light of day, many of
them with pillared porches, and all possessing pretensions to
architectural ornament, either internal or external.

[Illustration: 15. Tomb at Beni-Hasan.]

One of the most interesting of the tombs has in front of it a
portico-in-antis of two columns, in architecture so like the order
afterwards employed by the Greeks, as to have been frequently described
as the Proto-Doric order.[51] The same class of column is also used
internally, supporting a plain architrave beam, from which spring
curvilinear roofs of segmented form, which there is no doubt are
imitations of constructive arch forms.

[Illustration: 16. Proto-Doric Pillar at Beni-Hasan.]

[Illustration: 17. Reed Pillar from Beni-Hasan.]

[Illustration: 18. Lotus pier, Zawyet-el-Mayyitûr. (From Lepsius.)]

There is another form of pillar used at Beni-Hasan at that early age[52]
which is still further removed from stone than even the Proto-Doric. It
imitates a bundle of four reeds or lotus-stalks bound together near the
top, and bulging above the ligature so as to form a capital. Such a pier
must evidently have been originally employed in wooden architecture
only, and the roof which it supports is in this instance of light wooden
construction, having the slight slope requisite in the dry climate of
Egypt. In after ages this form of pillar became a great favourite with
the Egyptian architects, and was employed in all their great monuments,
but with a far more substantial lithic form than we find here, and in
conjunction with the hollow—or, as we should call it, Corinthian—formed
capital, of which no example is found earlier than the 18th dynasty.

These are meagre records, it must be confessed, of so great a kingdom;
but when we come to consider the remoteness of the period, and that the
dynasty was overthrown by the Shepherds, whose rule was of considerable
duration, it is perhaps in vain to expect that much can remain to be
disinterred which would enable us to realise more fully the
architectural art of this age.


Till very recently our knowledge of the Shepherd kings was almost
entirely derived from what was said of them by Manetho, in the extracts
from his writings so fortunately preserved by Josephus, in his answer to
Apion. Recent explorations have however raised a hope that even their
monuments may be so far recovered as to enable us to realise to some
extent at least who they were and what their aspirations.

Manetho tells us they came from the East, but fearing the then rising
power of the Assyrians, they fortified Avaris as a bulwark against them,
and used it during their sojourn in Egypt to keep up their
communications with their original seat. Recent explorations have
enabled M. Mariette to identify San, Zoan, or Tanis, a well-known site
on the Bubastite branch of the Nile, with this Avaris. And already he
has disinterred a sphinx and two seated statues which certainly belong
to the reign of the Shepherd king Apophis.[53]

The character of these differs widely from anything hitherto found in
Egypt. They present a physiognomy strongly marked with an Asiatic
type—an arched nose, rude bushy hair, and great muscular development;
altogether something wholly different from everything else found in
Egypt either before or afterwards.

This is not much, but it is an earnest that more remains to be
discovered, and adds another to the proofs that are daily accumulating,
how implicitly Manetho may be relied upon when we only read him
correctly, and how satisfactory it is to find that every discovery that
is made confirms the conclusions we had hesitatingly been adopting.

It appears from such fragmentary evidence as has hitherto been gleaned
from the monuments, that the Shepherds’ invasion was neither sudden nor
at once completely successful, if indeed it ever was so, for it is
certain that Theban and Xoite dynasties co-existed with the Shepherds
during the whole period of their stay, either from policy, like the
protected princes under our sway in India, or because their conquest was
not so complete as to enable them to suppress the national dynasties

Like the Tartars in China they seem to have governed the country by
means of the original inhabitants, but for their own purposes;
tolerating their religion and institutions, but ruling by the superior
energy of their race the peace-loving semi-Semitic inhabitants of the
Delta, till they were in their turn overthrown and expelled by the more
warlike but more purely African races of the southern division of the
Egyptian valley.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                           PHARAONIC KINGDOM.


          XVIIITH DYNASTY.         B.C. 1830

  Amenhotep I.         reigned 25 years.
  Thothmes I.          reigned 13 years.
  Amenhotep II.        reigned 20 years.
  Hatshepsu (Queen)    reigned 21 years.
  Thothmes II.         reigned 12 years.
  Thothmes III.        reigned 26 years.
  Thothmes IV.         reigned 10 years.
  Amenhotep III.       reigned 21 years.

    Interregnum of Sun-worshipping Kings.

  Horemheb (Horus)     reigned 36 years.

          XIXTH DYNASTY.

  Rameses I.           reigned 12 years.
  Meneptah I.          reigned 32 years.
  Rameses II.          reigned 68 years.
  Meneptah II.         reigned  5 years.

              Exode                B.C. 1312

          XXTH DYNASTY.

  Rhampsinitus-Rameses reigned 55 years.
  Ramessidæ            reigned 66 years.
  Amenophis            reigned 20 years.

The five centuries[54] which elapsed between the expulsion of the
Shepherds and Exode of the Jews comprise the culminating period of the
greatness and greatest artistic development of the Egyptians. It is
practically within this period that all the great buildings of the
“Hundred pyloned city of Thebes” were erected. Memphis was adorned
within its limits with buildings as magnificent as those of the southern
capital, though subsequently less fortunate in escaping the hand of the
spoiler; and in every city of the Delta wherever an obelisk or
sculptured stone is found, there we find almost invariably the name of
one of the kings of the 18th or 19th dynasties. In Arabia, too, and
above the cataracts of the far-off Meroë, everywhere their works and
names are found. At Arban,[55] on the Khabour, we find the name of the
third Thothmes; and there seems little doubt but that the Naharaina or
Mesopotamia was one of the provinces conquered by them, and that all
Western Asia was more or less subject to their sway.

Whoever the conquering Thebans may have been, their buildings are
sufficient to prove, as above mentioned, that they belonged to a race
differing in many essential respects from that of the Memphite kingdom
they had superseded.

The pyramid has disappeared as a form of royal sepulchre, to be replaced
by a long gloomy corridor cut in the rock; its walls covered with wild
and fetish pictures of death and judgment: a sort of magic hall, crowded
with mysterious symbols the most monstrous and complicated that any
system of human superstition has yet invented.

Instead of the precise orientation and careful masonry of the old
kingdom, the buildings of the new race are placed anywhere, facing in
any direction, and generally affected with a symmetriphobia that it is
difficult to understand. The pylons are seldom in the axis of the
temples; the courts seldom square; the angles frequently not right
angles, and one court succeeding another without the least reference to

The masonry, too, is frequently of the rudest and clumsiest sort, and
would long ago have perished but for its massiveness: and there is in
all their works an appearance of haste and want of care that sometimes
goes far to mar the value of their grandest conceptions.

In their manners, too, there seems an almost equal degree of
discrepancy. War was the occupation of the kings, and foreign conquest
seems to have been the passion of the people. The pylons and the walls
of the temples are covered with battle-scenes, or with the enumeration
of the conquests made, or the tribute brought by the subjected races.
While not engaged in this, the monarch’s time seems to have been devoted
to practising the rites of the most complicated and least rational form
of idolatry that has yet been known to exist among any body of men in
the slightest degree civilised.

If the monuments of Memphis had come down to our times as perfect as
those of Thebes, some of these differences might be found less striking.
On the other hand, others might be still more apparent; but judging from
such data as we possess—and they are tolerably extensive and complete—we
are justified in assuming a most marked distinction; and it is
indispensably necessary to bear it in mind in attempting to understand
the architecture of the valley of the Nile, and equally important in any
attempt to trace the affinities of the Egyptian with any other races of
mankind. So far as we can now see, it may be possible to trace some
affinities with the pyramid builders in Assyria or in Western Asia; but
if any can be dimly predicated of the southern Egyptian race, it is in
India and the farther east; and the line of communication was not the
Isthmus of Suez, but the Straits of Babelmandeb and the Indian Ocean.


Although, as already mentioned, numerous buildings of the great
Pharaonic dynasties are to be found scattered all along the banks of the
Nile, it is at Thebes only that the temples are so complete as to enable
us to study them with advantage, or to arrive at a just appreciation of
their greatness. That city was practically the capital of Egypt during
the whole of the 18th and 19th dynasties, and has been fortunate in
having had no great city built near it since it fell into decay; unlike
Memphis in this respect, which has been used as a quarry during the last
14 or 15 centuries. It has also had the advantage of a barrier of rocky
hills on its western limits, which has prevented the sand of the desert
from burying its remains, as has been the case at Abydus and elsewhere.

The ruins that still remain are found scattered over an area extending
about 2¼ miles north and south, and 3½ miles east and west. The
principal group is at Karnac, on the eastern bank of the Nile,
consisting of one great temple 1200 feet long, and five or six smaller
temples grouped unsymmetrically around it. About two miles farther south
is the temple at Luxor 820 feet long, and without any dependencies.

[Illustration: 19. Rameseum at Thebes. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

On the other side of the river is the great temple of Medeenet-Habû,
built by the first king of the 19th dynasty, 520 feet in length; the
Rameseum, 570 feet long, and the temple at Koorneh, of which only the
sanctuary and the foundations of the Propyla now exist. Of the great
temple of Thothmes and Amenophis very little remains above ground—it
having been situated within the limits of the inundation—except the two
celebrated colossi, one of which was known to the Greeks as the vocal
Memnon. When complete it probably was, next after Karnac, the most
extensive of Theban temples. There are several others, situated at the
foot of the Libyan hills, which would be considered as magnificent
elsewhere, but sink into insignificance when compared with those just

[Illustration: 20. Central Pillar, from Rameseum, Thebes.]

Most of these, like our mediæval cathedrals, are the work of successive
kings, who added to the works of their ancestors without much reference
to congruity of plan; but one, the Rameseum, was built wholly by the
great Rameses in the 15th century B.C., and though the inner sanctuary
is so ruined that it can hardly be restored, still the general
arrangement, as shown in the annexed woodcut, is so easily made out that
it may be considered as a typical example of what an Egyptian temple of
this age was intended to have been. Its façade is formed by two great
pylons, or pyramidal masses of masonry, which, like the two western
towers of a Gothic cathedral, are the appropriate and most imposing part
of the structure externally. Between these is the entrance doorway,
leading, as is almost invariably the case, into a great square
courtyard, with porticoes always on two, and sometimes on three, sides.
This leads to an inner court, smaller, but far more splendid than the
first. On the two sides of this court, through which the central passage
leads, are square piers with colossi in front, and on the right and left
are double ranges of circular columns, which are continued also behind
the square piers fronting the entrance. Passing through this, we come to
a hypostyle hall of great beauty, formed by two ranges of larger columns
in the centre, and three rows of smaller ones on each side. These
hypostyle halls almost always accompany the larger Egyptian temples of
the great age. They derive their name from having, over the lateral
columns, what in Gothic architecture would be called a _clerestory_,
through which the light is admitted to the central portion of the hall.
Although some are more extensive than this, the arrangement of all is
nearly similar. They all possess two ranges of columns in the centre, so
tall as to equal the height of the side columns together with that of
the attic which is placed on them. They are generally of different
orders; the central pillars having a bell-shaped capital, the under side
of which was perfectly illuminated from the mode in which the light was
introduced; while in the side pillars the capital was narrower at the
top than at the bottom, apparently for the sake of allowing its
ornaments to be seen.

Beyond this are always several smaller apartments, in this instance
supposed to be nine in number, but they are so ruined that it is
difficult to be quite certain what their arrangement was. These seem to
have been rather suited to the residences of the king or priests than to
the purposes of a temple, as we understand the word. Indeed,
Palace-Temple, or Temple-Palace, would be a more appropriate term for
these buildings than to call them simply Temples. They do not seem to
have been appropriated to the worship of any particular god, but rather
for the great ceremonials of royalty—of kingly sacrifice to the gods for
the people, and of worship of the king himself by the people, who seems
to have been regarded, if not as a god, at least as the representative
of the gods on earth.

Though the Rameseum is so grand from its dimensions, and so beautiful
from its design, it is far surpassed in every respect by the
palace-temple at Karnac, which is perhaps the noblest effort of
architectural magnificence ever produced by the hand of man.

Its principal dimensions are 1200 ft. in length, by about 360 in width,
and it covers therefore about 430,000 square ft., or nearly twice the
area of St. Peter’s at Rome, and more than four times that of any
mediæval cathedral existing. This, however, is not a fair way of
estimating its dimensions, for our churches are buildings entirely under
one roof; but at Karnac a considerable portion of the area was uncovered
by any buildings, so that no comparison is just. The great hypostyle
hall, however, is internally 330 ft. by 170, and, with its two pylons,
it covers more than 85,000 square feet—nearly as large as Cologne, one
of the largest of our northern cathedrals; and when we consider that
this is only a part of a great whole, we may fairly assert that the
entire structure is among the largest, as it undoubtedly is one of the
most beautiful, buildings in the world.

The original part of this great group was, as before mentioned, the
sanctuary or temple built by Osirtasen, the great monarch of the 12th
dynasty, before the Shepherd invasion. It is the only thing that seems
to have been allowed to stand during the five centuries of Shepherd
domination, though it is by no means clear that it had not been pulled
down by the Shepherds, and reinstated by the first kings of the 18th
dynasty, an operation easily performed with the beautiful polished
granite masonry of the sanctuary. Be this as it may, Amenhotep, the
first king of the restored race, enclosed this in a temple about 120 ft.
square. Thothmes I. built in front of it a splendid hall, surrounded by
colossi, backed by piers; and Thothmes III. erected behind it a palace
or temple, which is one of the most singular buildings in Egypt. The
hall is 140 ft. long by 55 in width internally, the roof is supported by
two rows of massive square columns, and two of circular pillars of most
exceptional form, the capitals of which are reversed, and somewhat
resembling the form usually found in Assyria, but nowhere else in Egypt.
Like almost all Egyptian halls, it was lighted from the roof in the
manner shown in the section. With all these additions, the temple was a
complete whole, 540 ft. in length by 280 in width, at the time when the
Sun-worshippers broke in upon the regular succession of the great 18th

[Illustration: 21. Section of Palace of Thothmes III., Thebes.]

When the original line was resumed, Meneptah commenced the building of
the great hall, which he nearly completed. Rameses, the first king of
the 19th dynasty, built the small temple in front; and the so-called
Bubastite kings of the 22nd dynasty added the great court in front,
completing the building to the extent we now find it. We have thus, as
in some of our mediæval cathedrals, in this one temple a complete
history of the style during the whole of its most flourishing period;
and, either for interest or for beauty, it forms such a series as no
other country, and no other age, can produce. Besides those buildings
mentioned above, there are other temples to the north, to the east, and
more especially to the south, and pylons connecting these, and avenues
of sphinxes extending for miles, and enclosing-walls, and tanks, and
embankments—making up such a group as no city ever possessed before or
since. St. Peter’s, with its colonnades, and the Vatican, make up an
immense mass, but as insignificant in extent as in style when compared
with this glory of ancient Thebes and its surrounding temples.

[Illustration: 22. Plan of Hypostyle Hall at Karnac. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 23. Section of central portion of Hypostyle Hall at
Karnac. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The culminating point and climax of all this group of building is the
hypostyle hall of Meneptah. The plan and section of its central portion
on the next page, both to the usual scale, will explain its general
arrangement; but no language can convey an idea of its beauty, and no
artist has yet been able to reproduce its form so as to convey to those
who have not seen it an idea of its grandeur. The mass of its central
piers, illumined by a flood of light from the clerestory, and the
smaller pillars of the wings gradually fading into obscurity, are so
arranged and lighted as to convey an idea of infinite space; at the same
time, the beauty and massiveness of the forms, and the brilliancy of
their coloured decorations, all combine to stamp this as the greatest of
man’s architectural works; but such a one as it would be impossible to
reproduce, except in such a climate and in that individual style in
which, and for which, it was created.

[Illustration: 24. Caryatide Pillar, from the Great Court at

On the same side of the Nile, and probably at one time connected with it
by an avenue of sphinxes, stands the temple of Luxor, hardly inferior in
some respects to its great rival at Karnac; but either it was never
finished, or, owing to its proximity to the Nile, it has been ruined,
and the materials carried away. The length is about 830 ft., its breadth
ranging from 100 to 200 ft. Its general arrangement comprised, first, a
great court at a different angle from the rest, being turned so as to
face Karnac. In front of this stand two colossi of Rameses the Great,
its founder, and two obelisks were once also there, one of which is now
in Paris. Behind this was once a great hypostyle hall, but only the two
central ranges of columns are now standing. Still further back were
smaller halls and numerous apartments, evidently meant for the king’s
residence, rather than for a temple or place exclusively devoted to

The palace at Luxor is further remarkable as a striking instance of how
regardless the Egyptians were of regularity and symmetry in their plans.
Not only is there a considerable angle in the direction of the axis of
the building, but the angles of the courtyards are in scarcely any
instance right angles; the pillars are variously spaced, and pains seem
to have been gratuitously taken to make it as irregular as possible in
nearly every respect. All the portion at the southern end was erected by
Amenhotep III., the northern part completed by Rameses the Great, the
same who built the Rameseum already described as situated on the other
bank of the Nile.

Besides these there stood on the western side of the Nile the Memnonium,
or great temple of Amenhotep III., now almost entirely ruined. It was
placed on the alluvial plain, within the limits of the inundation, which
has tended on the one hand to bury it, and on the other to facilitate
the removal of its materials. Nearly the only remains of it now apparent
are the two great seated colossi of its founder, one of which, when
broken, became in Greek, or rather Roman times, the vocal Memnon, whose
plaintive wail to the rising sun, over its own and its country’s
desolation, forms so prominent an incident in the Roman accounts of

[Illustration: 25. South Temple of Karnac. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 26. Section through Hall of Columns, South Temple of
Karnac. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Not far from this stands the great temple known as that of
Medeenet-Habû, built by the first king of the 19th dynasty. Its
dimensions are only slightly inferior to those of the Rameseum, being
520 ft. from front to rear, and its propylon 107 ft. wide. Its two great
courts are, however, inferior in size to those of that building. The
inner one is adorned by a series of Caryatide figures (Woodcut No. 24),
which are inferior both in conception and execution to those of the
previous reigns; and indeed throughout the whole building there is an
absence of style, and an exaggeration of detail, which shows only too
clearly that the great age was passing away when it was erected. The
roof of its hypostyle hall, and of the chambers beyond it, is occupied
by an Arab village, which would require to be cleared away before it
could be excavated; much as this might be desired, the details of its
courts would not lead us to expect anything either very beautiful or new
from its disinterment. Further down the river, as already mentioned,
stood another temple, that of Koorneh, built by the same Meneptah who
erected the great hall of Karnac. It is, however, only a fragment, or
what may be called the residential part of a temple. The hypostyle hall
never was erected, and only the foundations of two successive pylons can
be traced in front of it. In its present condition, therefore, it is one
of the least interesting of the temples of Thebes, though elsewhere it
would no doubt be regarded with wonder.

Another building of this age, attached to the southern side of the great
temple of Karnac, deserves especial attention as being a perfectly
regular building, erected at one time, and according to the original
design, and strictly a temple, without anything about it that could
justify the supposition of its being a palace.

It was erected by the first king of the 19th dynasty, and consists of
two pylons, approached through an avenue of sphinxes. Within this is an
hypæthral court, and beyond that a small hypostyle hall, lighted from
above, as shown in the section (Woodcut No. 26). Within this is the
cell, surrounded by a passage, and with a smaller hall beyond, all
apparently dark, or very imperfectly lighted. The gateway in front of
the avenue was erected by the Ptolemys, and, like many Egyptian
buildings, is placed at a different angle to the direction of the
building itself. Besides its intrinsic beauty, this temple is
interesting as being far more like the temples erected afterwards under
the Greek and Roman domination than anything else belonging to that
early age.

At Tanis, or Zoan, near the mouth of the Nile, the remains of a temple
and of 13 obelisks can still be traced. At Soleb, on the borders of
Nubia, a temple now stands of the Third Amenhotep, scarcely inferior in
beauty or magnificence to those of the capital.

[Illustration: 27. Pillar, from Sedinga.]

At Sedinga, not far below the third cataract, are the remains of temples
erected by Amenhotep III. of the 18th dynasty, which are interesting as
introducing in a completed form a class of pillar that afterwards became
a great favourite with Egyptian architects (Woodcut No. 27). Before this
time we find these Isis heads either painted or carved on the face of
square piers, but so as not to interfere with the lines of the pillars.
Gradually they became more important, so as to form a double capital, as
in this instance. In the Roman times, as at Denderah (Woodcut No. 41, p.
143), all the four faces of the pier were so adorned, though it must be
admitted in very questionable taste.

It would be tedious to attempt to enumerate without illustrating all the
fragments that remain of temples of this age. Some are so ruined that it
is difficult to make out their plan. Others, like those of Memphis or
Tanis, so entirely destroyed, that only their site, or at most only
their leading dimensions, can be made out. Their loss is of course to be
regretted; but those enumerated above are sufficient to enable us to
judge both of the style and the magnificence of the great building

[Illustration: 28. Smaller Temple at Abydus.]

[Illustration: 29. Plan of Temple of Abydus.]

At Abydus the remains of two great temples have been found; one of
Rameses II., with great court surrounded by piers with osireide figures
on them; two halls of columns, a sanctuary, and other small chambers in
the rear. The other, completed only and decorated with sculpture by
Rameses II., the temple having been built by his father, Sethi I. This
second temple differs in the arrangement of its plan from other examples
(Woodcut No. 29); it was preceded by two great courts; at the further
end of the second court was a peristyle with twelve piers, from which,
through three doors, a hall of twenty-four columns was reached; the
columns here were so arranged as to suggest seven avenues, beyond which
were seven doors leading to a second hall with thirty-six columns,
similarly disposed to those in the first hall. These avenues led to
seven sanctuaries, the roofs of which were segmental, the arched form of
vault being cut out of solid blocks of stone (Woodcut No. 29A). Beyond
the sepulchral destination, which roofs of these sanctuaries suggest,
nothing is known from inscriptions as to their precise use. Through one
of the sanctuaries other halls of columns and chambers were reached
which lie in the rear of the building, and on the south side, and
approached from the second great hall of columns, many other halls,
chambers, and staircases leading to the roof. The special interest to
the Egyptologist, however, of this temple lies in the fact that it was
on the walls of one of these that the so-called tablet of Abydus was
discovered—now in the British Museum—which first gave a connected list
of kings, the predecessors of Rameses, and sufficiently extensive to
confirm the lists of Manetho in a manner satisfactory to the ordinary
inquirer. A second list, far more complete, has recently been brought to
light in the same locality, and contains the names of 76 kings,
ancestors of Meneptah, the father of Rameses. It begins, as all lists
do, with Menes; but even this list is only a selection, omitting many
names found in Manetho, but inserting others which are not in his
lists.[57] Before the discovery of this perfect list, the longest known
were that of the chamber of the ancestors of Thothmes III., at Karnac,
containing when perfect 61 names, of which, however, nearly one-third
are obliterated; and that recently found at Saccara, containing 58 names
originally, but of which several are now illegible.

It is the existence of these lists which gives such interest and such
reality to the study of Architecture in Egypt. Fortunately there is
hardly a building in that country which is not adorned with the name of
the king in whose reign it was erected. In royal buildings they are
found on every wall and every pillar. The older cartouches are simple
and easily remembered; and when we find the buildings thus dated by the
builders themselves, and their succession recorded by subsequent kings
on the walls of their temples, we feel perfectly certain of our
sequence, and nearly so of the actual dates of the buildings; they are,
moreover, such a series as no other country in the world can match
either for historic interest or Architectural magnificence.

                      ROCK-CUT TOMBS AND TEMPLES.

But in Egypt Proper and in Nubia the Egyptians were in the habit of
excavating monuments from the living rock, but with this curious
distinction, that, with scarcely an exception, all the excavations in
Egypt Proper are tombs, and no important example of a rock-cut temple
has yet been discovered. In Nubia, on the other hand, all the
excavations are temples, and no tombs of importance are to be found
anywhere. This distinction may hereafter lead to important historical
deductions, inasmuch as on the western side of India there are an
infinite number of rock-cut temples, but no tombs of any sort. Every
circumstance seems to point to the fact that, if there was any
connection between Africa and India, it was with the provinces in the
upper part of the Valley of the Nile, and not with Egypt Proper. This,
however, is a subject that can hardly be entered on here, though it may
be useful to bear in mind the analogy alluded to.

[Illustration: 30. Plan and Section of Rock-cut Temple at Abû Simbel.
Scale for plan 100 ft. to 1 in.; section 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Like all rock-cut examples all over the world, these Nubian temples are
copies of structural buildings only more or less modified to suit the
exigencies of their situation, which did not admit of any very great
development inside, as light and air could only be introduced from the
one opening of the doorway.

The two principal examples of this class of monument are the two at Abû
Simbel, the larger of which is the finest of its class known to exist
anywhere. Its total depth from the face of the rock is 150 ft., divided
into 2 large halls and 3 cells, with passages connecting them.

Externally the façade is about 100 ft. in height, and adorned by 4 of
the most magnificent colossi in Egypt, each 70 ft. in height, and
representing the king, Rameses II., who caused the excavation to be
made. It may be because they are more perfect than any others now found
in that country, but certainly nothing can exceed their calm majesty and
beauty, or be more entirely free from the vulgarity and exaggeration
which is generally a characteristic of colossal works of this sort.

The smaller temple at the same place has six standing figures of deities
countersunk in the rock, and is carved with exceeding richness. It is of
the same age with the large temple, but will not admit of comparison
with it owing to the inferiority of the design.

Besides these, there is a very beautiful though small example at
Kalabsheh (known as the Bayt el Wellee, “the house of the saint”),
likewise belonging to the age of Rameses II., and remarkable for the
beauty of its sculptural bas-reliefs, as well as for the bold
Proto-Doric columns which adorn its vestibule. There are also smaller
ones at Dêrr and Balagne, at the upper end of the valley. At Wâdy Saboua
and Gerf Hussên, the cells of the temple have been excavated from the
rock, but their courts and propylons are structural buildings added in
front—a combination only found once in Egypt, at Thebes (Dêr-el-Bahree),
and very rare anywhere else, although meeting the difficulties of the
case better than any other arrangement, inasmuch as the sanctuary has
thus all the imperishability and mystery of a cave, and the temple at
the same time has the space and external appearance of a building
standing in the open air.

This last arrangement is found also as a characteristic of the temples
of Gebel Barkal, in the kingdom of Meroë, showing how far the
rock-cutting practice prevailed in the Upper Valley of the Nile.

The plan on which the Temple of Dêr-el-Bahree is constructed is curious,
and differs entirely from that of any other in Egypt. It is built in
stages up a slope at the foot of the mountain, flights of steps leading
from one court to the other. The temple was built by Queen Hatshepsu or
Amen-noo-het, the sister of Thothmes II. and Thothmes III., and
consisted of three courts rising in terraces one above the other; at the
back of these were two ranges of porticoes, the upper one set back
behind the lower and built into the vertical face of the rock with which
the sanctuary and antechambers were cut. As all the temples above
mentioned are contemporary with the great structures in Egypt, it seems
strange that the eternity of a rock-cut example did not recommend this
form of temple to the attention of the Egyptians themselves. But with
the exception of Dêr-el-Bahree and a small grotto, called the Speos
Artemidos, near Beni-Hasan, and two small caves at Silsilis, near the
Cataract, the Egyptians seem never to have attempted it, trusting
apparently to the solidity of their masonic structures for that eternity
of duration they aspired to.


[Illustration: 31. Mammeisi at Elephantine.]

In addition to the temples above described, which are all more or less
complex in plan, and all made up of various independent parts, there
exists in Egypt a class of temples called _mammeisi_, dedicated to the
mysterious accouchement of the mother of the gods. Small temples of this
form are common to all ages, and belong as well to the 18th dynasty as
to the time of the Ptolemys. One of them, built by Amenhotep III. at
Elephantine, is represented in plan and elevation in the annexed cut. It
is of a simple peristylar form, with columns in front and rear, the
latter being now built into a wall, and seven square piers on each
flank. These temples are all small, and, like the Typhonia, which
somewhat resemble them, were used as detached chapels or cells,
dependent on the larger temples. What renders them more than usually
interesting to us is the fact that they were undoubtedly the originals
of the Greek peristylar forms, that people having borrowed nearly every
peculiarity of their architecture from the banks of the Nile. We possess
tangible evidence of peristylar temples and Proto-Doric pillars erected
in Egypt centuries before the oldest known specimen in Greece. We need
therefore hardly hesitate to award the palm of invention of these things
to the Egyptians, as we should probably be forced to do for most of the
arts and sciences of the Greeks if we had only knowledge sufficient to
enable us to trace the connecting links which once joined them together,
but which are now in most instances lost, or at least difficult to find.


Of the first 10 dynasties of Egyptian kings little now remains but their
tombs—the everlasting pyramids—and of the people they governed, only the
structures and rock-cut excavations which they prepared for their final

The Theban kings and their subjects erected no pyramids, and none of
their tombs are structural—all are excavated from the living rock; and
from Beni-Hasan to the Cataract the plain of the Nile is everywhere
fringed with these singular monuments, which, if taken in the aggregate,
perhaps required a greater amount of labour to excavate and to adorn
than did even all the edifices of the plain. Certain it is that there is
far more to be learnt of the arts, of the habits, and of the history of
Egypt from these tombs than from all the other monuments. No tomb of any
Theban king has yet been discovered anterior to the 18th dynasty; but
all the tombs of that and of the subsequent dynasty have been found, or
are known to exist, in the Valley of Bibán-el-Molook, on the western
side of the plain of Thebes.

It appears to have been the custom with these kings, so soon as they
ascended the throne, to begin preparing their final resting-place. The
excavation seems to have gone on uninterruptedly year by year, the
painting and adornment being finished as it progressed, till the hand of
death ended the king’s reign, and simultaneously the works of his tomb.
All was then left unfinished; the cartoon of the painter and the rough
work of the mason and plasterer were suddenly broken off, as if the hour
of the king’s demise called them, too, irrevocably from their labours.

The tomb thus became an index of the length of a king’s reign as well as
of his magnificence. Of those in the Valley of the Kings the most
splendid is that opened by Belzoni, and now known as that of Meneptah,
the builder of the hypostyle hall at Karnac. It descends, in a sloping
direction, for about 350 ft. into the mountain, the upper half of it
being tolerably regular in plan and direction; but after progressing as
far as the unfinished hall with two pillars, the direction changes, and
the works begin again on a lower level, probably because they came in
contact with some other tomb, or in consequence of meeting some flaw in
the rock. It now terminates in a large and splendid chamber with a coved
roof, in which stood, when opened by Belzoni, the rifled
sarcophagus;[58] but a drift-way has been excavated beyond this, as if
it had been intended to carry the tomb still further had the king
continued to reign.

[Illustration: 32. Plan and Section of Tomb of Meneptah at Thebes. Scale
for plan 100 ft. to 1 in.; section 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The tomb of Rameses Maiamoun, the first king of the 19th dynasty, is
more regular, and in some respects as magnificent as this, and that of
Amenhotep III. is also an excavation of great beauty, and is adorned
with paintings of the very best age. Like all the tombs, however, they
depend for their magnificence more on the paintings that cover the walls
than on anything which can strictly be called architecture, so that they
hardly come properly within the scope of the present work: the same may
be said of private tombs. Except those of Beni-Hasan, already
illustrated by Woodcuts Nos. 16 to 18, these tombs are all mere chambers
or corridors, without architectural ornament, but their walls are
covered with paintings and hieroglyphics of singular interest and
beauty. Generally speaking, it is assumed that the entrances of these
tombs were meant to be concealed and hidden from the knowledge of the
people after the king’s death. It is hardly conceivable, however, that
so much pains should have been taken, and so much money lavished, on
what was designed never again to testify to the magnificence of its
founder. It is also very unlike the sagacity of the Egyptians to attempt
what was so nearly impossible; for though the entrance of a pyramid
might be so built up as to be unrecognisable, a cutting in the rock can
never be repaired or disguised, and can only be temporarily concealed by
heaping rubbish over it. Supposing it to have been intended to conceal
the entrances, such an expedient was as clumsy and unlikely to have been
resorted to by so ingenious a people as it has proved futile, for all
the royal tombs in the valley of Bibán-el-Molook have been opened and
rifled in a past age, and their sites and numbers were matters of public
notoriety in the times of the Greeks and Romans. Many of the private
tombs have architectural façades, and certainly never were meant to be
concealed, so that it is not fair to assume that hiding their tombs’
entrances was ever a peculiarity of the Thebans, though it certainly was
of the earlier Memphite kings.


Another class of monuments, almost exclusively Egyptian, are the
obelisks, which form such striking objects in front of almost all the
old temples of the country.

Small models of obelisks are found in the tombs of the age of the
pyramid builders, and represented in their hieroglyphics; but the oldest
public monument of the class known to exist is that at Heliopolis,
erected by Osirtasen, the great king of the 12th dynasty. It is, like
all the others, a single block of beautiful red granite of Syene, cut
with all the precision of the age, tapering slightly towards the summit,
and of about the average proportion, being about 10 diameters in height;
exclusive of the top it is 67 ft. 4 in.

The two finest known to exist are, that now in the piazza of the
Lateran, originally set up by Thothmes III., 105 ft. in height, and that
still existing at Karnac, attributed to Thothmes II., 107 ft. in height.
Both are now ascribed to Queen Hatshepsu their sister, who is recorded
to have boasted that they were quarried, transported, and set up within
the short space of seven months. Those of Luxor, erected by Rameses the
Great, one of which is now in Paris, are above 77 ft. in height; and
there are two others in Rome, each above 80 ft.

Rome, indeed, has 12 of these monuments within her walls—a greater
number than exist, erect at least, in the country whence they came;
though judging from the number that are found adorning single temples,
it is difficult to calculate how many must once have existed in Egypt.
Their use seems to have been wholly that of monumental pillars,
recording the style and title of the king who erected them, his piety,
and the proof he gave of it in dedicating these monoliths to the deity
whom he especially wished to honour.

[Illustration: 33. Lateran Obelisk. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in., for
comparison with scale of other buildings.]

It has been already remarked that, with scarcely an exception, all the
pyramids are on the west side of the Nile, all the obelisks on the east;
with regard to the former class of monument, this probably arose from a
law of their existence, the western side of the Nile being in all ages
preferred for sepulture, but with regard to the latter it seems to be
accidental. Memphis doubtless possessed many monuments of this class,
and there is reason to believe that the western temples of Thebes were
also similarly adorned. They are, however, monuments easily broken; and,
from their form, so singularly useful for many building purposes, that
it is not to be wondered at if many of them have disappeared during the
centuries that have elapsed since the greater number of them were

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.

Except one small royal pavilion at Medeenet Habû, no structure now
remains in Egypt that can fairly be classed as a specimen of the
domestic architecture of the ancient Egyptians; but at the same time we
possess, in paintings and sculptures, so many illustrations of their
domestic habits, so many plans, elevations, and views, and even models
of their dwellings of every class, that we have no difficulty in forming
a correct judgment not only of the style, but of the details, of their
domestic architecture.

Although their houses exhibited nothing of the solidity and monumental
character which distinguished their temples and palaces, they seem in
their own way to have been scarcely less beautiful. They were of course
on a smaller scale, and built of more perishable materials, but they
appear to have been as carefully finished, and decorated with equal
taste to that displayed in the greater works. We know also, from the
tombs that remain to us, that, although the government of Egypt was a
despotism of the strictest class, still the wealth of the land was
pretty equally diffused among all classes, and that luxury and splendour
were by no means confined either to the royal family or within the
precincts of the palace. There is thus every reason to believe that the
cities which have passed away were worthy of the temples that adorned
them, and that the streets were as splendid and as tasteful as the
public buildings themselves, and displayed, though in a more ephemeral
form, the same wealth and power which still astonish us in the great
monuments that remain.

Mr. Maspero, in his work on Egyptian archæology, translated by Miss
Amelia B. Edwards[59] devotes a chapter to the description of the
existing remains of private dwellings and military architecture. The
examples of the former are of comparatively small buildings, and were
invariably built in crude or unburnt brick; in the neighbourhood of
Memphis Mr. Maspero found walls still standing, from 30 to 40 ft. in
height. The plans which are delineated on the walls of the tombs of the
18th dynasty enable us to judge of the extent and magnificence of the
more important examples. These as a rule would seem to have features
which are evidently derived from temple architecture, that is to say,
the palaces are preceded by pylons and the courts enclosed and
surrounded with porticoes. Of military architecture the oldest
fortresses are those at Abydos, El Kab, and Semneh; at Abydos the
earliest example consists of a parallelogram of crude brickwork
measuring 410 ft. by 223 ft. The walls, which now stand from 24 to 36
ft. high, have lost somewhat of their original height: they are about 6
ft. thick at the top and were not built in uniform layers, but in huge
vertical panels easily distinguished by the nature of the brickwork. In
one division the course of the bricks is strictly horizontal, in the
next it is slightly concave, and forms a very flat reversed arch, of
which the extrados rests on the ground. The alternation of these two
methods is regularly repeated. The object of this arrangement was
possibly to resist earthquake shocks.

[Illustration: 34. Pavilion at Medeenet Habû. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 35. View of Pavilion at Medeenet Habû.]

No building can form a greater contrast with the temple behind it than
does the little pavilion erected at Medeenet Habû by Rameses, the first
king of the 19th dynasty. As will be seen by the annexed plan (Woodcut
No. 34), it is singularly broken and varied in its outline, surrounding
a small court in the shape of a cross. It is 3 storeys in height, and,
properly speaking, consists of only 3 rooms on each floor, connected
together by long winding passages. There is reason, however, to believe
that this is only a fragment of the building, and foundations exist
which render it probable that the whole was originally a square of the
width of the front, and had other chambers, probably only in wood or
brick, besides those we now find. This would hardly detract from the
playful character of the design, and when coloured, as it originally
was, and with its battlements or ornaments complete, it must have formed
a composition as pleasing as it is unlike our usual conceptions of
Egyptian art.

The other illustration represents in the Egyptians’ own quaint style a
three-storeyed dwelling, the upper storey apparently being, like those
of the Assyrians, an open gallery supported by dwarf columns. The lower
windows are closed by shutters. In the centre is a staircase leading to
the upper storey, and on the left hand an awning supported on wooden
pillars, which seems to have been an indispensable part of all the
better class of dwellings. Generally speaking, these houses are shown as
situated in gardens laid out in a quaint, formal style, with pavilions,
and fishponds, and all the other accompaniments of gardens in the East
at the present day.

[Illustration: 36. Elevation of a House. From an Egyptian Painting.]

In all the conveniences and elegances of building they seem to have
anticipated all that has been done in those countries down to the
present day. Indeed, in all probability the ancient Egyptians surpassed
the modern in those respects as much as they did in the more important
forms of architecture.

                               CHAPTER V

                        GREEK AND ROMAN PERIOD.


          Decline of art—Temples at Denderah—Kalábsheh—Philæ.

The third stage of Egyptian art is as exceptional as the two which
preceded it, and as unlike anything else which has occurred in any other

From the time of the 19th dynasty, with a slight revival under the
Bubastite kings of the 22nd dynasty, Egypt sank through a long period of
decay, till her misfortunes were consummated by the invasion of the
Persians under Cambyses, 525 B.C. From that time she served in a bondage
more destructive, if not so galling, as that of the Shepherd domination,
till relieved by the more enlightened policy of the Ptolemys. Under them
she enjoyed as great material prosperity as under her own Pharaohs; and
her architecture and her arts too revived, not, it is true, with the
greatness or the purity of the great national era, but still with much
richness and material splendour.

This was continued under the Roman domination, and, judging from what we
find in other countries, we would naturally expect to find traces of the
influence of Greek and Roman art in the buildings of this age. So
little, however, is this the case, that before the discovery of the
reading of the hieroglyphic signs, the learned of Europe placed the
Ptolemaic and Roman temples of Denderah and Kalábsheh before those of
Thebes in order of date; and could not detect a single moulding in the
architectural details, nor a single feature in the sculpture and
painting which adorned their walls, which gave them a hint of the truth.
Even Cleopatra the beautiful is represented on these walls with
distinctly Egyptian features, and in the same tight garments and
conventional forms as were used in the portrait of Nophre Ari, Queen of
Rameses, or in those of the wives of the possessors of tombs in the age
of the pyramids, 3000 years before. Egypt in fact conquered her
conquerors, and forced them to adopt her customs and her arts, and to
follow in the groove she had so long marked out for herself, and
followed with such strange pertinacity.

Some of the temples of this age are, as far as dimensions and richness
of decorations are concerned, quite worthy of the great age, though
their plans and arrangements differ to a considerable extent. There is
no longer any hesitation as to whether they should be called temples or
palaces, for they all are exclusively devoted to worship,—and to the
worship of a heavenly God, not of a deified king.

What these arrangements are will be well understood from the annexed
plan of that of Edfû (Woodcut No. 37), which, though not the largest, is
the most complete of those remaining. It is 450 ft. in length and 155 in
width, and covers upwards of 70,000 ft.; its dimensions may be said to
be equal to those of the largest of our mediæval cathedrals (Cologne or
Amiens, for instance). Parts only—viz., the court C, and areas M M M—of
the whole structure are roofed, and therefore it can scarcely be
compared with buildings entirely under one roof.

[Illustration: 37. Plan of Temple at Edfû, Apollinopolis Magna. Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

In front of the temple are two large and splendid pylons, with the
gateway in the centre, making up a façade 225 ft. in extent. Although
this example has lost its crowning cornice, its sculptures and ornaments
are still very perfect, and it may altogether be considered as a fair
specimen of its class, though inferior in dimensions to many of those of
the Pharaonic age. Within these is a court, 140 ft. by 161, surrounded
by a colonnade on three sides, and on the fourth side the porch or
portico which, in Ptolemaic temples, takes the place of the great
hypostyle halls of the Pharaohs. It is lighted from the front over low
screens placed between each of the pillars, a peculiarity scarcely ever
found in temples of earlier date, though apparently common in domestic
edifices, or those formed of wood, certainly as early as the middle of
the 18th dynasty, as may be seen from the annexed woodcut (No. 39),
taken from a tomb of one of the sun-worshipping kings, who reigned
between Amenhotep III. and Horus. From this we pass into an inner and
smaller porch, and again through two passages to a dark and mysterious
sanctuary, surrounded by darker passages and chambers, well calculated
to mystify and strike with awe any worshipper or neophyte who might be
admitted to their gloomy precincts.

[Illustration: 38. View of Temple at Edfû as it was, before it was
cleared out and the dwellings on the roof removed.]

The celebrated temple at Denderah is similar to this, and slightly
larger, but it has no fore-court, no propylons, and no enclosing outer
walls. Its façade is given in the woodcut (No. 40). Its Isis-headed
columns are not equal to those of Edfû in taste or grace; but it has the
advantage of situation, and this temple is not encumbered either by sand
or huts, which still disfigure so many Egyptian temples. Its effect,
consequently, on travellers is always more striking.

The Roman temple at Kalábsheh (Woodcuts Nos. 42 and 43), above the
Cataract, is a fair specimen of these temples on a smaller scale. The
section (Woodcut No. 43) shows one of the modes by which a scanty light
was introduced into the inner cells, and their gradation in height. The
position, too, of its propylons is a striking instance of the
irregularity which distinguishes all the later Egyptian styles from that
of the rigid, proportion-loving pyramid builders of Memphis.

[Illustration: 39. Bas-relief at Tel el Amarna.]

[Illustration: 40. Façade of Temple at Denderah. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

This irregularity of plan was nowhere carried to such an extent as in
the Ptolemaic temple on the island of Philæ (Woodcut No. 45). Here no
two buildings, scarcely any two walls, are on the same axis or parallel
to one another. No Gothic architect in his wildest moments ever played
so freely with his lines or dimensions, and none, it must be added, ever
produced anything so beautifully picturesque as this. It contains all
the play of light and shade, all the variety, of Gothic art, with the
massiveness and grandeur of the Egyptian style; and as it is still
tolerably entire, and retains much of its colour, there is no building
out of Thebes that gives so favourable an impression of Egyptian art as
this. It is true it is far less sublime than many, but hardly one can be
quoted as more beautiful.

Notwithstanding its irregularity, this temple has the advantage of being
nearly all of the same age, and erected according to one plan, while the
greater buildings at Thebes are often aggregations of parts of different
ages; and though each is beautiful in itself, the result is often not
quite so harmonious as might be desired. In this respect the Ptolemaic
temples certainly have the advantage, inasmuch as they are all of one
age, and all completed according to the plan on which they were
designed; a circumstance which, to some extent at least, compensates for
their marked inferiority in size and style, and the littleness of all
the ornaments and details as compared with those of the Pharaonic
period. It must at the same time be admitted that this inferiority is
more apparent in the sculpture of the Ptolemaic age than in its
architecture. The general design of the buildings is frequently grand
and imposing, but the details are always inferior; and the sculpture and
painting, which in the great age add so much to the beauty of the whole,
are in the Ptolemaic age always frittered away, ill-arranged, unmeaning,
and injurious to the general effect instead of heightening and improving

[Illustration: 41. Pillar, from the Porticocat Denderah.]

[Illustration: 42. Plan of Temple at Kalábsheh. Scale 100 ft. 1 in.]

On the east side of the island is the very beautiful structure known as
“Pharaoh’s bed” (n). It is an oblong rectangular building of late date,
surrounded by an intercolumnar screen with 18 columns. It was roofed
with stone slabs supported on wooden beams, the sockets to receive which
still exist. There is a doorway on the west wall, and another on the
east wall opening on to a stone terrace or quay. Similar structures are
believed to have existed at Thebes, close to the river, and connected by
causeways with the temples; they may therefore have served as halls from
which the processions started after disembarking from the boats on the

Strange as it may at first sight appear, we know less of the manners and
customs of the Egyptian people during the Greek and Roman domination,
than we do of them during the earlier dynasties. All the buildings
erected after the time of Alexander which have come down to our time are
essentially temples. Nothing that can be called a palace or pavilion has
survived, and no tombs, except some of Roman date at Alexandria, are
known to exist. We have consequently no pictures of gardens, with their
villas and fish-ponds; no farms, with their cattle; no farmyards, with
their geese and ducks; no ploughing or sowing; no representations of the
mechanical arts; no dancing or amusements; no arms or campaigns.
Nothing, in short, but worship in its most material and least
intellectual form.

[Illustration: 43. Section of Temple at Kalábsheh. 50 ft. to 1 in.]

It is a curious inversion of the usually received dogmata on this
subject, but as we read the history of Egypt as written on her
monuments, we find her first wholly occupied with the arts of peace,
agricultural and industrious, avoiding war and priestcraft, and
eminently practical in all her undertakings. In the middle period we
find her half political, half religious; sunk from her early happy
position to a state of affairs such as existed in Europe in the Middle
Ages. In her third and last stage we find her fallen under the absolute
influence of the most degrading superstition. We know from her masters
that she had no political freedom and no external influence at this
time; but we hardly expected to find her sinking deeper and deeper into
superstition, at a time when the world was advancing forward with such
rapid strides in the march of civilisation, as was the case between the
ages of Alexander and that of Constantine. It probably was in
consequence of this retrograde course that her civilisation perished so
absolutely and entirely under the influence of the rising star of
Christianity; and that, long before the Arab conquest, not a trace of it
was left in any form. What had stood the vicissitudes of 3000 years, and
was complete and stable under Hadrian, had vanished when Constantine
ascended the throne.

[Illustration: 44. View of Temple at Philæ.]

[Illustration: 45. Plan of Temple at Philæ. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

If, however, their civilisation passed so suddenly away, their buildings
remain to the present day; and taken altogether, we may perhaps safely
assert that the Egyptians were the most essentially a building people of
all those we are acquainted with, and the most generally successful in
all they attempted in this way. The Greeks, it is true, surpassed them
in refinement and beauty of detail, and in the class of sculpture with
which they ornamented their buildings, while the Gothic architects far
excelled them in constructive cleverness; but with these exceptions no
other styles can be put in competition with them. At the same time,
neither Grecian nor Gothic architects understood more perfectly all the
gradations of art, and the exact character that should be given to every
form and every detail. Whether it was the plain flat-sided pyramid, the
crowded and massive hypostyle hall, the playful pavilion, or the
luxurious dwelling—in all these the Egyptians understood perfectly both
how to make the general design express exactly what was wanted, and to
make every detail, and all the various materials, contribute to the
general effect. They understood, also, better than any other nation, how
to use sculpture in combination with architecture, and to make their
colossi and avenues of sphinxes group themselves into parts of one great
design, and at the same time to use historical paintings, fading by
insensible degrees into hieroglyphics on the one hand, and into
sculpture on the other—linking the whole together with the highest class
of phonetic utterance. With the most brilliant colouring, they thus
harmonised all these arts into one great whole, unsurpassed by anything
the world has seen during the thirty centuries of struggle and
aspiration that have elapsed since the brilliant days of the great
kingdom of the Pharaohs.

                      SERAPEUM AND APIS MAUSOLEUM.

The remains of the Serapeum and the burial-places of the sacred bulls
(who, when alive, were worshipped at Memphis), were discovered by M.
Mariette in 1860-61. Of the former, sufficient traces were found to show
that it resembled in its arrangement the ordinary Egyptian temple, viz.,
with pylons, preceded by an avenue of sphinxes, and an enclosed space
behind, with halls and chambers, in one of which was the opening to the
inclined passage leading to the subterranean galleries. The earlier
tombs of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties were hewn in the rocky
platform. From the 22nd to the 25th dynasty the bulls were buried in a
subterranean gallery. The same system was adopted from the 26th dynasty
till the time of the later Ptolemies (_circa_ 50 B.C.), but the
galleries were of greater size and magnificence, having an extent of 400
yards, and the bulls were interred in immense granite sarcophagi placed
in niches, on both sides of the galleries, but never opposite to one
another. The chief historical value of the discovery rests in the
steles, or inscribed tablets, some 500 in number, placed there as
ex-votos by pious visitors, the principal examples of which are now in
the Gizeh Museum or in the Louvre.

                              CHAPTER VI.



                       Kingdom of Meroë—Pyramids.

It was long a question with the learned whether civilisation ascended or
descended the Nile—whether it was a fact, as the Greeks evidently
believed, that Meroë was the parent State whence the Egyptians had
migrated to the north, bringing with them the religion and the arts
which afterwards flourished at Thebes and Memphis—or whether these had
been elaborated in the fertile plains of Egypt, and only in later times
had extended to the Upper Nile.

Recent discoveries have rendered it nearly certain that the latter is
the correct statement of the facts—within historic times at least—that
the fertile and easily cultivated Delta was first occupied and
civilised; then Thebes, and afterwards Meroë. At the same time it is by
no means improbable that the Ethiopians were of the same stock as the
Thebans, though differing essentially from the Memphites, and that the
former may have regarded these remote kindred with respect, perhaps even
with a degree of half-superstitious reverence due to their remote
situation in the centre of a thinly-peopled continent, and have in
consequence invented those fables which the Greeks interpreted too

If any such earlier civilisation existed in these lands, its records and
its monuments have perished. No building is now found in Meroë whose
date extends beyond the time of the great king Tirhakah, of the 25th
Egyptian dynasty, B.C. 724 to 680, unless it be those bearing the name
of one king, Amoum Gori, who was connected with the intruding race of
sun-worshippers, which broke in upon the continuous succession of the
kings of the 18th dynasty. Their monuments were all purposely destroyed
by their successors; and almost the only records we have of them are the
grottoes of Tel el Amarna, covered with their sculptures, which bear, it
must be confessed, considerable resemblance in style to those found in
Ethiopia. Even this indication is too slight to be of much value; and we
must wait for some further confirmation before founding any reasoning
upon it.

The principal monuments of Tirhakah are two temples at Gibel Barkal, a
singular isolated mount near the great southern bend of the river. One
is a large first-class temple, of purely Egyptian form and design, about
500 ft. in length by 120 or 140 in width, consisting of two great
courts, with their propylons, and with internal halls and sanctuaries
arranged much like those of the Rameseum at Thebes (Woodcut No. 19), and
so nearly also on the same scale as to make it probable that the one is
a copy of the other.

The other temple placed near this, but as usual unsymmetrically,
consists of an outer hall, internally about 50 ft. by 60, the roof of
which is supported by four ranges of columns, all with capitals
representing figures of Typhon or busts of Isis. This leads to an inner
cell or sanctuary, cut in the rock.[60]


  46. Pyramids at Meroë. (From Hoskins’s ‘Travels in Ethiopia.’)

  FIG. 1.—Plan of Principal Group. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

  FIG. 2.—Section and Elevation of that marked A. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

There are smaller remains strewed about, indicating the existence of a
city on the spot, but nothing of architectural importance.

The most remarkable monuments of the Ethiopian kingdom are the pyramids,
of which three great groups have been discovered and described. The
principal group is at a place called Dankelah, the assumed site of the
ancient Meroë, in latitude 17° north. Another is at Gibel Barkal; the
third at Nourri, a few miles lower down than the last named, but
probably only another necropolis of the same city.

Compared with the great Memphite examples, these pyramids are most
insignificant in size—the largest at Nourri being only 110 ft. by 100;
at Gibel Barkal the largest is only 88 ft. square; at Meroë none exceed
60 ft. each way. They differ also in form from those of Egypt, being
much steeper, as their height is generally equal to the width of the
base. They also all possess the roll-moulding on their angles, and all
have a little porch or pronaos attached to one side, generally
ornamented with sculpture, and forming either a chapel, or more probably
the place where the coffin of the deceased was placed. We know from the
Greeks that, so far from concealing the bodies of their dead, the
Ethiopians had a manner of preserving them in some transparent
substance, which rendered them permanently visible after death.[61]

To those familiar with the rigid orientation of those of Lower Egypt,
perhaps the most striking peculiarity of the pyramids is the more than
Theban irregularity with which they were arranged, no two being ever
placed, except by accident, at the same angle to the meridian, but the
whole being grouped with the most picturesque diversity, as chance
appears to have dictated.

Among their constructive peculiarities it may be mentioned that they
seem all to have been first built in successive terraces, each less in
dimensions than that below it, something like the great pyramid at
Sakkara (Woodcut No. 9), these being afterwards smoothed over by the
external straight-lined coating.

Like the temples of Gibel Barkal, all these buildings appear to belong
to the Tirhakah epoch of the Ethiopian kingdom. It is extremely
improbable that any of them are as old as the time of Solomon, or that
any are later than the age of Cambyses, every indication seeming to
point to a date between these two great epochs, and to the connection of
African history with that of Asia.

The ruins at Wady-el-Ooatib, a little further up the Nile than Meroë,
should perhaps be also mentioned here, if only from the importance given
to them by Heeren, who thought he had discovered in them the ruins of
the temple of Jupiter Ammon. They are, however, all in the debased style
of the worst age of Ptolemaic or Roman art in that country. They are
wholly devoid of hieroglyphics, or any indication of sanctity or
importance, and there can be little doubt that they are the remains of a
caravansera on the great commercial route between Egypt and Axum, along
which the greater part of the trade of the East arrived at Alexandria in
the days of its magnificence.

Although widely differing in date from the monuments just
described—except the last—this may be the place to mention a group of
the most exceptional monuments of the world—the obelisks of Axum. It is
said they were originally 55 in number, four of them equal to that shown
in the annexed woodcut, which represents the only one now standing; but
there are fragments of several of these lying about, and some of the
smaller ones still standing, all of the same class and very similar in
design to the large one. Its height, according to Lord Valentia, is 60
ft., its width at base nearly 10, and it is of one stone. The idea is
evidently Egyptian, but the details are Indian. It is, in fact, an
Indian nine-storeyed pagoda, translated in Egyptian in the first century
of the Christian era!

[Illustration: 47. Obelisks at Axum. (From Lord Valentia’s ‘Travels.’)]

The temple most like it in India is probably that at Budh Gya. That, in
its present form, is undoubtedly more modern, but probably retains many
of its original features. It also resembles the tower at Chittore,[62]
but towers are from their form such frail structures, that certainly
nine-tenths of those that once existed have perished; and it is only
because they are so frequent still in China and other Buddhist countries
that we are sure that the accounts are true which represent them as once
as frequent as in the country of their birth. Be this as it may, this
exceptional monolith exactly represents that curious marriage of Indian
with Egyptian art which we would expect to find in the spot where the
two people came in contact, and enlisted architecture to symbolise their
commercial union.

                                BOOK II.

                               CHAPTER I.

                         ASSYRIAN ARCHITECTURE.


It is by no means impossible that the rich alluvial plain of Shinar may
have been inhabited by man as early as the Valley of the Nile; but if
this were so, it is certain that the early dwellers in the land have
left no trace of their sojourn which has as yet rewarded the research of
modern investigators. So far indeed our knowledge at present extends, we
have proof of the existence of the primitive races of mankind in the
valleys of France and England at a far earlier period than we trace
their remains on the banks of either the Euphrates or the Nile. It is
true these European vestiges of prehistoric man are not architectural,
and have consequently no place here, except in so far as they free us
from the trammels of a chronology now admitted to be too limited in
duration, but which has hitherto prevented us from grasping, as we might
have done, the significance of architectural history in its earliest

Unfortunately for our investigation of Chaldean antiquity, the works of
Berosus, the only native historian we know of, have come down to us in
even a more fragmentary state than the lists of Manetho, and the
monuments have not yet enabled us to supply those deficiencies so
completely, though there is every prospect of their eventually doing so
to a considerable extent. In the meanwhile the most successful attempt
to restore the text which has been made, is that of Herr Gutschmid,[63]
and it is probable that the dates he assigns are very near the truth.
Rejecting the 1st dynasty of 86 Chaldeans and their 34,080 years as
mythical, or as merely expressing the belief of the historian that the
country was inhabited by a Chaldean race for a long time before the
Median invasion, he places that event 2458 B.C. His table of dynasties
then runs thus.—

                                      Years.            B.C.
              II.  8 Medes               224 commencing 2458
             III. 11 Chaldeans           258            2234
              IV. 49 Chaldeans           458            1976
               V.  9 Arabians            245            1518
              VI. 45 Assyrians           526            1273
             VII.  8 Assyrians           122             747
            VIII.  6 Chaldeans            87             625
                     Persian conquest                    538

As every advance that has been made, either in deciphering the
inscriptions or in exploring the ruins since this reading was proposed,
have tended to confirm its correctness, it may fairly be assumed to
represent very nearly the true chronology of the country from Nimrod to
Cyrus. Assuming this to be so, it is interesting to observe that the
conquest of Babylonia by the Medes only slightly preceded the invasion
of Egypt by the Hyksos, and that the fortification of Avaris “against
the Assyrians”[64] was synchronous with the rise of the great Chaldean
dynasty, most probably under Nimrod, B.C. 2234. If this is so, the whole
of the old civilisation of Egypt under the pyramid-building kings had
passed away before the dawn of history in Babylonia. The Theban kings of
the 12th dynasty had spread their conquests into Asia, and thus it seems
brought back the reaction of the Scythic invasion on their own hitherto
inviolate land, and by these great interminglings of the nations Asia
was first raised to a sense of her greatness.

What we learn from this table seems to be that a foreign invasion of
Medes—whoever they may have been—disturbed the hitherto peaceful tenor
of the Chaldean kingdom some twenty-five centuries before the Christian

They, in their turn, were driven out to make place for the Chaldean
dynasties, which we have every reason to suppose were those founded by
Nimrod about the year 2235 B.C.

This kingdom seems to have lasted about seven centuries without any
noticeable interruption, and then to have been overthrown by an invasion
from the west about the year 1518 B.C. Can this mean the Egyptian
conquest under the kings of the great 18th dynasty?

The depression of the Chaldeans enabled the Assyrians to raise their
heads and found the great kingdom afterwards known as that of Nineveh,
about the year 1273. For six centuries and a half they were the great
people of Asia, and during the latter half of that period built all
those palaces which have so recently been disinterred.

They were struck down in their turn by the kings of Babylonia, who
established the second Chaldean kingdom about the year 625, but only to
give place to the Persians under Cyrus in the year 538, after little
more than a century of duration.

As in the Valley of the Nile, the first kingdom was established near the
mouths of the Euphrates, and flourished there for centuries before it
was superseded by the kingdom of Nineveh, in the same manner as Thebes
had succeeded to the earlier seat of power in the neighbourhood of

Owing to the fortunate employment of sculptured alabaster slabs to line
the walls of the palaces during the great period of Assyrian prosperity,
we are enabled to restore the plan of the royal palaces of that period
with perfect certainty, and in consequence of the still more fortunate
introduction of stone masonry during the Persian period—after they had
come into contact with the Greeks—we can understand the construction of
these buildings, and restore the form of many parts which, being
originally of wood, have perished. The Plains of Shinar possessed no
natural building material of a durable nature, and even wood or fuel of
any kind seems to have been so scarce that the architects were content
too frequently to resort to the use of bricks only dried in the sun. The
consequence is that the buildings of the early Chaldeans are now
generally shapeless masses, the plans of which it is often extremely
difficult to follow, and in no instance has any edifice been discovered
so complete that we can feel quite sure we really know all about it.
Fortunately, however, the temples at Wurka and Mugheyr become
intelligible by comparison with the Birs Nimroud and the so-called tomb
of Cyrus, and the palaces of Nineveh and Khorsabad from the
corresponding ones at Susa and Persepolis. Consequently, if we attempt
to study the architecture of Chaldea, of Assyria, or of Persia, as
separate styles, we find them so fragmentary, owing to the imperfection
of the materials in which they were carried out, that it is difficult to
understand their forms. But taken as the successive developments of one
great style, the whole becomes easily intelligible; and had the southern
excavations been conducted with a little more care, there is perhaps no
feature that would have been capable of satisfactory explanation. Even
as it is, however, the explorations of the last fifteen years have
enabled us to take a very comprehensive view of what the architecture of
the valley of the Euphrates was during the 2000 years it remained a
great independent monarchy. It is a chapter in the history of the art
which is entirely new to us, and which may lead to the most important
results in clearing our ideas as to the origin of styles. Unfortunately,
it is only in a scientific sense that this is true. Except the buildings
at Persepolis, everything is buried or heaped together in such confusion
that the passing traveller sees nothing. It is only by study and
comparison that the mind eventually realises the greatness and the
beauty of the most gorgeous of Eastern monarchies, or that any one can
be made to feel that he actually sees the sculptures which a
Sardanapalus set up, or the tablets which a Nebuchadnezzar caused to be

Owing to the fragmentary nature of the materials, it must perhaps be
admitted that the study of the ancient architecture of Central Asia is
more difficult and less attractive than that of other countries and more
familiar forms. On the other hand, it is an immense triumph to the
philosophical student of art to have penetrated so far back towards the
root of Asiatic civilisation. It is besides as great a gain to the
student of history to have come actually into contact with the works of
kings whose names have been familiar to him as household words, but of
whose existence he had until lately no tangible proof.

In addition to this it must be admitted that the Assyrian exploration
commenced in 1843 by M. Botta, at Khorsabad, and brought to a temporary
close by the breaking out of the war in 1855, have added an entirely new
chapter to our history of architecture; and, with the exception of that
of Egypt, probably the most ancient we can ever now hope to obtain. It
does not, it is true, rival that of Egypt in antiquity, as the Pyramids
still maintain a pre-eminence of 1000 years beyond anything that has yet
been discovered in the valley of the Euphrates, and we now know,
approximately at least, what we may expect to find on the banks of that
celebrated river. There is nothing certainly in India that nearly
approaches these monuments in antiquity, nor in China or the rest of
Asia; and in Europe, whatever may be maintained regarding primæval man,
we can hardly expect to find any building of a date prior to the Trojan
war. All our histories must therefore begin with Egypt and
Assyria—beyond them all is speculation, and new fields of discovery can
hardly be hoped for.

The Assyrian discoveries are also most important in supplying data which
enable us to understand what follows, especially in the architectural
history of Greece. No one now probably doubts that the Dorian Greeks
borrowed the idea of their Doric order from the pillars of Beni-Hasan
(Woodcuts Nos. 15 and 16) or Nubia—or rather perhaps from the rubble or
brick piers of Memphis or Naucratis,[65] from which these rock-cut
examples were themselves imitated. But the origin of the Ionic element
was always a mystery. We knew indeed that the Greeks practised it
principally in Asia Minor—hence its name; but we never knew how
essentially Asiatic it was till the architecture of Nineveh was revealed
to us, and till, by studying it through the medium of the buildings at
Persepolis, we were made to feel how completely the Ionic order was a
Grecian refinement on the wooden and somewhat Barbaric orders of the
Euphrates valley.

It is equally, or perhaps almost more, important to know that in Chaldea
we are able to trace the origin of those Buddhist styles of art which
afterwards pervaded the whole of Eastern Asia, and it may be also the
germs of the architecture of Southern India.[66] These affinities,
however, have not yet been worked out, hardly even hinted at; but they
certainly will one day become most important in tracing the origin of
the religious development of the further East.

In these researches neither the literature nor the language of the
country avail us much. If the affinities are ever traced, it will be
through the architecture, and that alone; but there is every prospect of
its proving sufficient for the purpose when properly explored.

It will hardly be necessary even to allude to the decipherment of the
mysterious written characters of the Chaldeans. There is probably no one
now living, who has followed up the course of the inquiry with anything
like a proper degree of study, who has any doubt regarding the general
correctness of the interpretation of the arrow-headed inscriptions.
Singularly enough, the great difficulty is with regard to proper names,
which as a rule were not spelt phonetically, but were made up of
symbols. This is provoking, as these names afford the readiest means of
comparing the monuments with our histories; and the uncertainty as to
their pronunciation has induced many to fancy that the foundation of the
whole system is unstable. But all this is becoming daily less and less
important as the history itself is being made out from the monuments
themselves. It may also be true that, when it is attempted to translate
literally metaphysical or astrological treatises, there may still be
differences of opinion as to the true meaning of a given passage; but
plain historical narratives can be read with nearly as much certainty as
a chapter of Herodotus or of Plutarch; and every day is adding to the
facility with which they can be deciphered, and to the stock of
materials and facts with which the readings may be checked or rectified.

From the materials already collected, combined with the chronology above
sketched out, we are enabled to divide the architectural history of the
Middle Asiatic countries during the period of their ancient greatness
into three distinct and well-defined epochs.

1st. The ancient Babylonian or Chaldean period, ranging from B.C. 2234
to 1520, comprising the ruins at Wurka, Mugheyr, Abu Shahrein, Niffer,
Kaleh Sherghat, &c. Temples, tombs, and private dwellings, all typical
of a Turanian or Scythic race.

2nd. The Assyrian and second Chaldean kingdoms, founded about 1290 B.C.,
and extending down to the destruction of Babylon by Cyrus, 538 B.C.,
comprising all the buildings of Nimroud, Koyunjik, Khorsabad, and those
of the second Babylon. An architecture essentially palatial, without
tombs, and few temples, betokening the existence of a Semitic race.

3rd. The Persian, commencing with Cyrus, 538 B.C., and ending with
Alexander, B.C. 333, comprising Pasargadæ, Susa, and Persepolis. An
architecture copied from the preceding: palatial, with rock tombs and
small temples. Aryan it may be, but of so strangely mixed a character
that it is almost impossible to distinguish it from its sister styles.
Either it seems to be that Cyrus and his descendants were of Turanian
blood, governing an Aryan people, or that they were Aryan, but that
there was so strong an infusion of Turanians among their subjects that
they were forced to follow their fashions. Perhaps a little of both: but
taking the evidence as it now stands, it seems as if the first
hypothesis is that nearest the truth. These rock-cut tombs, and the
splendour of their sepulchral arrangements generally, savour strongly of
Scythic blood; and their gorgeous palaces, their love of art, the
splendour of their state and ceremonial, all point to feelings far more
prevalent among the Turanians than to anything ever found among kings or
people of an Aryan race.

None of these styles, however, are perfectly pure, or distinct one from
the other. The three races always inhabited the country as they do now.
And as at this hour the Turkish governor issues his edicts in Turkish,
Arabic, and Persian, so did Darius write the history of his reign on the
rocks at Behistun in Persian, Assyrian, and the old Scythic or Median
tongue. The same three races occupied the country then as they do now.
But each race was supreme in the order just given, and the style of each
predominated during the period of their sway, though impregnated with
the feelings and peculiarities of the other two. It is this, indeed,
which gives the architecture of the country in that age its peculiar
value to the archæologist. The three great styles of the world are here
placed in such close juxtaposition, that they can be considered as a
whole, illustrating and supplementing each other, but still sufficiently
distinct never to lose their most marked characteristics. The materials
are still, it must be confessed, somewhat scanty to make all this clear;
but every day is adding to them, and, even now, no one familiar with
architectural analysis can be mistaken in recognising the leading
features of the investigation.

                              CHAPTER II.

                           CHALDEAN TEMPLES.


               Nimrod                     B.C. 2234 ?
               Urukh. Bowariyeh, Wurka         2093
               Ilgi                            2070
               Chedorlaomer                    1976
               Ismi Dagon                      1850
               Shamas Vul. Kaleh Sherghat      1800
               Sin Shada. Wuswus?              1700
               Sur Sin                         1660
               Purna Puryas                    1600
               Arab conquerors                 1500 ?[67]

Already the names of fifteen or sixteen kings belonging to these old
dynasties have been recovered, and the remains of some ten or twelve
temples have been identified as founded by them; but unfortunately none
of these are in a sufficiently perfect state to afford any certainty as
to their being entirely of this age, and all are in such a state of ruin
that, making use of all the information we possess, we cannot yet
properly restore a temple of the old Chaldean epoch.

Notwithstanding this, it is a great gain to the history of architecture
to have obtained so much knowledge as we have of temples which were only
known to us before from the vague descriptions of the Greeks, and which
are the earliest forms of a type of temples found afterwards continually
cropping up in the East.

It would be contrary to all experience to suppose that a people of
Turanian origin should be without temples of some sort, but, except the
description by the Greeks of the temple or tomb of Belus, we have
nothing to guide us. We have now a fair idea what the general outline of
their temples was, and even if we cannot trace their origin, we can at
least follow their descendants. There seems now no doubt but that many,
perhaps most, of the Buddhist forms of architecture in India and further
eastward, were derived from the banks of the Euphrates. Many of the
links are still wanting; but it is something to know that the Birs
Nimroud is the type which two thousand years afterwards was copied at
Pagahn in Burmah, and Boro Buddor in Java; and that the descent from
these can easily be traced in those countries and in China to the
present day.

The principal reason why it is so difficult to form a distinct idea of
this old form of temple is, that the material most employed in their
construction was either crude, sun-dried, or very imperfectly-burnt
bricks; or when a better class of bricks was employed, as was probably
the case in Babylon, they have been quarried and used in the
construction of succeeding capitals. A good deal also is owing to the
circumstance that those who have explored them have in many cases not
been architects, or were persons not accustomed to architectural
researches, and who consequently have failed to seize the peculiarities
of the building they were exploring.

Under these circumstances, it is fortunate that the Persians did for
these temples exactly what they accomplished for the palace forms of
Assyria. They repeated in stone in Persia what had been built in the
valley of the Euphrates and Tigris with wood or with crude bricks. It
thus happens that the so-called tomb of Cyrus in Pasargadæ enables us to
verify and to supply much that is wanting in the buildings at Babylon,
and to realise much that would be otherwise indistinct in their forms.

The oldest temple we know of at present is the Bowariyeh at Wurka
(Erek), erected by Urukh, at least 2000 years B.C.; but now so utterly
ruined, that it is difficult to make out what it originally was like. It
seems, however, to have consisted of two storeys at least: the lowest
about 200 feet square, of sun-dried bricks; the upper is faced with
burnt bricks, apparently of a more modern date. The height of the two
storeys taken together is now about 100 feet, and it is nearly certain
that a third or chamber storey existed above the parts that are now

The Mugheyr Temple[69] is somewhat better preserved, but in this case it
is only the lower storey that can be considered old. The cylinders found
in the angles of the upper part belong to Nabonidus, the last king of
the later Babylonian kingdom; and the third storey only exists in
tradition. Still, from such information as we have, we gather that its
plan was originally a rectangle 198 feet by 133, with nine buttresses in
the longer and six in the shorter faces. The walls slope inwards in the
ratio of 1 in 10. Above them was a second storey 119 feet by 75, placed
as is usual nearer one end of the lower storey, so as to admit of a
staircase being added at the other. It is 47 feet distant from the
south-eastern end, and only 28 or 30 from the other; but whether the
whole of this was occupied by a flight of steps or not is by no means
clear. Taken altogether, the plan and probable appearance of the
building when complete may have been something like that represented in
Woodcuts Nos. 48 and 49, though there are too many elements of
uncertainty to make it a restoration which can altogether be depended

[Illustration: 48. Diagram of Elevation of Temple at Mugheyr. 100 ft. to
1 in.]

[Illustration: 49. Plan of Temple at Mugheyr. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The typical example of this class of temples is the Birs Nimroud,[70]
near Babylon. It is true that as it now stands every brick bears the
stamp of Nebochadnassar, by whom it was repaired, perhaps nearly
rebuilt; but there is no reason for supposing that he changed the
original plan, or that the sacred form of these temples had altered in
the interval. It owes its more perfect preservation to the fact of the
upper storey having been vitrified, after erection, by some process we
do not quite understand. This now forms a mass of slag, which has to a
great extent protected the lower storeys from atmospheric influences.

In so far as it has been explored, the lower storey forms a perfect
square, 272 feet each way. Above this are six storeys, each 42 feet less
in horizontal dimensions. These are not placed concentrically on those
below them, but at a distance of only 12 feet from the south-eastern
edge, and consequently 30 feet from the N.W., and 21 feet from the two
other sides.

[Illustration: 50. Diagram Elevation of Birs Nimroud. Scale 100 ft. to 4

[Illustration: 51. Diagram Plan of Birs Nimroud. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The height of the three upper storeys seems to have been ascertained
with sufficient correctness to be 15 feet each, or 45 feet together.
Unfortunately no excavation was undertaken to ascertain the height of
the lowest and most important storey. Sir Henry Rawlinson assumes it at
26; and I have ventured to make it 45, from the analogy of the tomb of
Cyrus and the temple at Mugheyr. The height of the two intermediate
storeys, instead of being 22 feet 6 inches, as we might expect, was 26,
which seems to have resulted from some adjustment due to the chambers
which ranged along their walls on two sides. The exact form and
dimensions of these chambers were not ascertained, which is very much to
be regretted, as they seem the counterpart of those which surrounded
Solomon’s Temple and the Viharas in India, and are consequently among
the most interesting peculiarities of this building.

No attempt was made to investigate the design of the upper storey,
though it does not seem that it would be difficult to do so, as
fragments of its vaulted roof are strewed about the base of the
tower-like fragment that remains, from which a restoration might be
effected by any one accustomed to such investigations.[71] What we do
know is that it was the cella or sanctuary of the temple.[72] There
probably also was a shrine on the third platform.

This temple, as we know from the decipherment of the cylinders which
were found on its angles, was dedicated to the seven planets or heavenly
spheres, and we find it consequently adorned with the colours of each.
The lower, which was also richly panelled, was black, the colour of
Saturn; the next, orange, the colour of Jupiter; the third, red,
emblematic of Mars; the fourth, yellow, belonging to the sun; the fifth
and sixth, green and blue respectively, as dedicated to Venus and
Mercury; and the upper probably white, that being the colour belonging
to the Moon, whose place in the Chaldean system would be uppermost.

Access to each of these storeys was obtained by stairs, probably
arranged as shown in the plan; these have crumbled away or been removed,
though probably traces of them might still have been found if the
explorations had been more complete.

Another temple of the same class was exhumed at Khorsabad about twenty
years ago by M. Place. It consisted, like the one at Borsippa, of seven
storeys, but, in this instance, each was placed concentrically on the
one below it: and instead of stairs on the sloping face, a ramp wound
round the tower, as we are told was the case with the temple of Belus at
Babylon. The four lower storeys are still perfect: each of them is
richly panelled and coloured as above mentioned, and in some parts even
the parapet of the ramp still remains _in situ_. The three upper storeys
are gone, but may be easily restored from those below, as was done by M.
Place, as shown in the annexed woodcut. According to him, it was an
observatory, and had no cella on its summit. If this was the case it was
a Semitic temple, and belongs to a quite different religion from that
whose temples we have been describing. But unfortunately there is no
direct evidence to determine whether it had such a chamber or not. My
own impressions on the subject are decidedly at variance with those of
M. Place, but until some bas-reliefs are discovered containing
representations of these temples and of their cells, we shall probably
hardly ever know exactly what the form of the crowning member really
was. From the imitations in modern times we seem to see dimly that it
was conical, and possibly curvilinear. The dimensions of this tower at
Khorsabad were, 150 feet square at the base and 135 high from the
pavement to the platform on its summit. Its base, however, was at a
considerable elevation above the plain, so that when seen from below it
must have been an imposing object.

[Illustration: 52. Observatory at Khorsabad, from Places ‘Ninive et
l’Assyrie.’ Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 53. Plan of Observatory, Khorsabad. Scale 100 ft. to 1

The inscriptions at Borsippa and elsewhere mention other temples of the
same class, and no doubt those of Babylon were more magnificent than any
we have yet found; but they must always have been such prominent
objects, and the materials of which they were composed so easily
removed, that it is doubtful if anything more perfect will now be found.

The Mujelibé, described by Rich, and afterwards explored without success
by Layard, is probably the base of the great temple of Belus described
by the Greeks; but even its dimensions can now hardly be ascertained, so
completely is it ruined. It seems, however, to be a parallelogram of
about 600 feet square,[73] and rising to a height of about 140 feet; but
no trace of the upper storeys exist, nor indeed anything which would
enable us to speak with certainty of the form of the basement itself. If
this is the height of the basement, however, analogy would lead us to
infer that the six storeys rose to a height of about 450 feet; and with
the ziggurah or sikra on their summit, the whole height may very well
have been the stadium mentioned by Strabo.[74]

As before mentioned, p. 158, we have fortunately in the tomb of Cyrus at
Pasargadæ (Woodcuts Nos. 84-86) a stone copy of these temples; in this
instance, however, so small that it can hardly be considered as more
than a model, but not the less instructive on that account. Like the
Birs Nimroud, the pyramid consists of six storeys: the three upper of
equal height, in this instance 23½ inches; the next two are equal to
each other, and, as in the Birs Nimroud, in the ratio of 26 to 15, or 41
inches. The basement is equal to the three upper put together, or 5 ft.
9 in., making a total of 18 ft. 4 in.[75] The height of the cella is
equal to the height of the basement, but this may be owing to the small
size of the whole edifice, it being necessary to provide a chamber of a
given dimension for the sepulchre. In the larger temples, it may be
surmised that the height was divided into four nearly equal parts; one
being given to the basement, one to the two next storeys, one to the
three upper storeys, and the fourth to the chamber on the summit.

There is one other source from which we may hope to obtain information
regarding these temples, and that is, the bas-reliefs on the walls of
the Assyrian palaces. They drew architecture, however, so badly, that it
is necessary to be very guarded in considering such representations as
more than suggestions; but the annexed woodcut (No. 54) does seem to
represent a four-storeyed temple, placed on a mound, with very tolerable
correctness, and if the upper storey had not been broken away the
drawing might have given us a valuable hint as to the form and purposes
of the cella, which was the principal object of the erection. Its
colouring, too, is gone; but the certain remains of symbolical colours
at Borsippa and Khorsabad confirm so completely the Greek accounts of
the seven-coloured walls of Ecbatana that with the other indications of
the same sort extant that branch of the inquiry may be considered as

[Illustration: 54. Representation of a Temple. (From a Bas-relief from

It is to be hoped that now that the thread is caught, it will be
followed up till this form of temple is thoroughly investigated; for to
the philosophical student of architectural history few recent
discoveries are of more interest. There hardly seems a doubt but that
many temples found further eastward are the direct lineal descendants of
these Babylonian forms, though we as yet can only pick up here and there
the missing links of the chain of evidence which connects the one with
the other. We know, however, that Buddhism is essentially the religion
of a Turanian people, and it has long been suspected that there was some
connection between the Magi of Central Asia and the priests of that
religion, and that some of its forms at least were elaborated in the
valley of the Euphrates. If the architectural investigation is fully
carried out, I feel convinced we shall be able to trace back to their
source many things which hitherto have been unexplained mysteries, and
to complete the history of this form of temple and of the religion to
which it belonged, from the Bowariyeh at Wurka, built 2000 years B.C.,
to the Temple of Heaven erected in the city of Pekin within the limits
of the present century.

[Illustration: 55. Elevation of a portion of the external Wall of Wuswus
at Wurka (From Loftus.)]

[Illustration: 56. Plan of portion of Wuswus.]

The only exception to the class of temple mounds found in Chaldea is the
ruin of Wuswus, at Wurka,[76] which seems to partake of the character of
a palace. Whether it is or not is by no means clear, as the interior is
too much ruined for its plan to be traced with certainty, and its date
cannot be fixed from any internal evidence. Some of the bricks used in
its construction bear the name of Sin Shada 1700 B.C., but it is
suspected they may have been brought from an older edifice. The same
sort of panelling was used by Sargon at Khorsabad 1000 years after the
assumed date; and panelling very like it is used even in the age of the
Pyramids (Woodcuts Nos. 11 and 12), 1000 years at least before that
time. With more knowledge we may recognise minor features which may
enable us to discriminate more exactly, but at present we only know that
this class of panelling was used for the adornment of external walls
from the earliest ages down at least to the destruction of Babylon. It
was probably used with well-marked characteristics in progression of
style; but these we have yet to ascertain. Externally the Wuswus is a
parallelogram 256 ft. by 173. Like almost every building in the
Euphrates valley in those ancient times, instead of the sides facing the
cardinal points of the compass, as was the case in Egypt in the Pyramid
age, the angles point towards them. In this case the entrance is in the
north-east face. The centre apparently was occupied by a court; and
opposite the entrance were two larger and several smaller apartments,
the larger being 57 ft. by 30. The great interest of the building lies
in the mode in which the external walls were ornamented (Woodcuts Nos.
56 and 57). These were plastered and covered by an elaborate series of
reedings and square sinkings, forming a beautiful and very appropriate
mode of adorning the wall of a building that had no external openings.

[Illustration: 57. Elevation of Wall at Wurka (From the Report of the
Assyrian Excavation Fund.)]

This system is carried still further in a fragment of a wall in the same
city, but of uncertain date. In this instance these reedings—there are
no panels in the smaller fragment—and the plain surfaces are ornamented
by an elaborate mosaic of small cones about 3 or 3½ in. long. The butt
or thicker end of these is dipped in colour, and they are then built up
into patterns as shown in the woodcut No. 58. It is probable that the
walls of the Wuswus were adorned with similar patterns in colours, but
being executed in less durable materials, have perished. Indeed, from
the accounts which we have, as well as from the remains, we are
justified in asserting that this style of architecture depended for its
effect on colour as much, at least, if not more, than on form. Could
colour be made as permanent this might frequently be wise, but too great
dependence on it has deprived us of half the knowledge we might
otherwise possess of the architectural effects of other times.

                              CHAPTER III.

                           ASSYRIAN PALACES.


     Shalmaneser I. founded Nimroud                      B.C. 1290
     Tiglathi Nin, his son (Ninus?)                           1270
     Tiglath Pileser                                          1150
     Asshur-bani-pal (north-west palace, Nimroud)              886
     Shalmaneser II. (central palace, do.)                     859
     Shamas Iva                                                822
     Iva Lush IV                                               810
     Tiglath Pileser II. (south-eastern palace, Nimroud)       744
     Shalmaneser IV                                            726
     Sargon (palace, Khorsabad)                                721
     Sennacherib (palace, Koyunjik)                            704
     Esarhaddon (south-western palace, Nimroud)                680
     Sardanapalus (central palace, Koyunjik)                   667
     Destruction of Nineveh                                    625

All the knowledge which we in reality possess regarding the ancient
palatial architecture of the Euphrates valley[77] is derived from the
exploration of the palaces erected by the great Assyrian dynasty of
Nineveh during the two centuries and a half of its greatest prosperity.
Fortunately it is a period regarding the chronology of which there is no
doubt, since the discovery of the Assyrian Canon by Sir Henry
Rawlinson,[78] extending up to the year 900 B.C.: this, combined with
Ptolemy’s Canon, fixes the date of every king’s reign with almost
absolute certainty. It is also a period regarding which we feel more
real interest than almost any other in the history of Asia. Almost all
the kings of that dynasty carried their conquering arms into Syria, and
their names are familiar to us as household words, from the record of
their wars in the Bible. It is singularly interesting not only to find
these records so completely confirmed, but to be able to study the
actual works of these very kings, and to analyse their feelings and
aspirations from the pictures of their actions and pursuits which they
have left on the walls of their palaces.

From the accounts left us by the Greeks we are led to suppose that the
palaces of Babylon were superior in beauty and magnificence to those of
Nineveh; and, judging from the extent and size of the mounds still
remaining there, it is quite possible that such may have been the case;
but they are so completely ruined, and have been so long used as
quarries, that it is impossible to restore, even in imagination, these
now formless masses.

One thing seems nearly certain, which is, that no stone was used in
their construction. If, consequently, their portals were adorned with
winged bulls or lions, they must have been in stucco. If their walls
were covered with scenes of war or the chase, as those of Nineveh, they
must have been painted on plaster; so that, though their dimensions may
have been most imposing and their splendour dazzling, they must have
wanted the solidity and permanent character so essential to true
architectural effect.

It is the employment of stone which alone has enabled us to understand
the arrangements of the Assyrian palaces. Had not their portals been
marked by their colossal genii, we should hardly have known where to
look for them; and if the walls of their apartments had not been
wainscoted with alabaster slabs, we should never have been able to trace
their form with anything like certainty. Practically, all we know of
Assyrian art is due to the fact of their having so suitable a material
as alabaster close at hand, and to the skill with which they knew how to
employ it. Had their walls only been plastered, the mounds of Khorsabad
and Nimroud would have remained as mysterious now as they were before
Layard and Botta revealed to us their splendours.


Notwithstanding the wonderful results that were achieved in the ten or
twelve years during which the Assyrian explorations were pursued with
activity, it is by no means impossible but that much more still remains
to reward an energetic and skilful research in these mounds. Still,
seven palaces have been more or less perfectly exhumed; four at Nimroud,
two at Koyunjik, and one at Khorsabad. Among these we have the palaces
of Sennacherib and Sardanapalus, of Esarhaddon, Sargon, Shalmaneser, and
probably of Tiglath Pileser. Consequently the palaces of all the great
kings, whose names are so familiar to us, are laid bare. Beyond these,
the palace of Asshur-bani-pal worthily commences the series before the
kings of Assyria came into contact with the inhabitants of Syria, and
consequently before their Biblical record begins. It may be that other
works of the same kings may be discovered, or the buildings of some less
celebrated monarch, but if we do not know all that is to be known, we
may rest assured that we already have acquired the greater part of the
knowledge that is to be obtained from these explorations.


[Illustration: 58. North-West Palace at. Nimroud.[79] Scale 100 ft. to 1

The oldest of the buildings hitherto excavated in Assyria is the
North-West Palace at Nimroud, built by Asshur-bani-pal, about the year
884 B.C. Though not the largest, it more than makes up for this
deficiency by the beauty of its sculptures and the general elegance of
its ornaments. As will be seen by the annexed woodcut (No. 58), the
excavated portion of the palace is nearly a square, about 330 ft. each
way. The principal entrance was on the north, at the head of a noble
flight of steps leading from the river to the level of the terrace on
which the palace stood. From this, two entrances, adorned with winged
bulls, led to a great hall, 152 ft. in length by 32 in width, at the
upper end of which was situated the throne, and at the lower a smaller
apartment or vestibule opened on the terrace that overlooked the river.
Within the great hall was one of smaller dimensions, opening into the
central court of the palace, the entrance of which was so arranged as to
ensure privacy, proving that it partook of the nature of the private
apartment or hareem of the palace. To the eastward of this was a suite
of apartments, three deep, decreasing in width as they receded from the
light, but so arranged that the inner apartments must have been entirely
dark had the walls been carried to the ceiling. As will, however, be
presently explained in describing Khorsabad, it is more than probable
that the walls extended to only half the height of the rooms, and formed
terraces with dwarf pillars on their summits, between which light was
introduced, and they in fact formed the upper storey of the building. To
the south was a double suite, apparently the banqueting halls of the
palace; and to the westward a fourth suite, more ruined, however, than
the rest, owing to its being situated so near the edge of the terrace.
As far as can be made out, the rooms on this face seem to have been
arranged three deep: the outer opening on the terrace by three portals,
the central one of which had winged bulls, but the lateral seem to have
been without these ornaments; the whole façade being about 330 ft. in
extent, north and south.

[Illustration: 59. Plan of Palace at Khorsabad, showing the excavations
as they were left by M. Botta. No scale.]

All these apartments were lined with sculptured slabs, representing
mostly either the regal state of the sovereign, his prowess in war, or
amusements during peace, but many of them were wholly devoted to
religious subjects. Beyond these apartments were many others, covering
at least an equal extent of ground, but their walls having been only
plastered and painted, the sun-burnt bricks of which they were built
have crumbled again to their original mud. It is evident, however, that
they were inferior to those already described, both in form and size,
and applied to inferior purposes.

The mound at Nimroud was so much extended after this palace was built,
and so covered by subsequent buildings, that it is now impossible to
ascertain either the extent or form of this, which is the only palace of
the older dynasty known. It will therefore perhaps be as well to turn at
once to Khorsabad, which, being built wholly by one king, and not
altered afterwards, will give a clearer idea of the position and
arrangements of an Assyrian palace than we can obtain from any one on
the Nimroud mound. It has besides this the advantage of being the only
one so complete and so completely excavated as to enable us to form a
correct idea of what an Assyrian palace really was and of all its


The city of Khorsabad was situated about fifteen miles from Nineveh, in
a northerly direction, and was nearly square in plan, measuring about an
English mile each way. Nearly in the centre of the north-western wall
was a gap, in which was situated the mound on which the palace stood. It
seems to have been a peculiarity common to all Assyrian palaces to be so
situated. Their builders wisely objected to being surrounded on all
sides by houses and walls, and at the same time sought the protection of
a walled enclosure to cover the gateways and entrances to their palaces.
At Koyunjik and Nimroud the outer face of the palace was covered and
protected by the river Tigris; and here the small brook Kausser flows
past the fort, and, though now an insignificant stream, it is by no
means improbable that it was dammed up so as to form a lake in front of
the palace when inhabited. This piece of water may have been further
deepened by excavating from it the earth necessary to raise the mound on
which the palace stood.

[Illustration: 60. Terrace wall at Khorsabad.]

That part of the mound in this instance which projected between the
walls was a square of about 650 ft. each way, raised about 30 ft. above
the level of the plain, and protected on every side by a supporting wall
cased with stone of very beautiful masonry (Woodcut No. 60). Behind
this, and inside the city, was a somewhat lower mound, about 300 ft. in
width and 1300 or 1400 ft. in length, on which were situated the great
portals of the palace, together with the stables and offices, and,
outside the walls of the palace properly so called, the hareem.

All the principal apartments of the palace properly so called were
revêted with sculptural slabs of alabaster, generally about 9 ft. in
height, like those at Nimroud; these either represent the wars or the
peaceful amusements of King Sargon, commemorate his magnificence, or
express his religious feelings.

The great portals that gave access to the palace of Khorsabad from the
city were among the most magnificent of those yet discovered. The façade
in which they stood presented a frontage of 330 ft., in which were three
portals; the central one flanked by great human-headed bulls 19 ft. in
height, and on each side two other bulls 15 ft. high, with a giant
strangling a lion between them, as shown in the woodcut (No. 62),
representing what still remained of them when uncovered by M. Botta, and
now forming one of the principal ornaments of the British Museum. These
portals were reached from the city by a flight of steps, now entirely
destroyed, but which there can be little difficulty in restoring from
what we find at Persepolis and elsewhere.

[Illustration: 61. Plan of Palace at Khorsabad, as completely excavated
by M. Place. The parts tinted were actually found. Those in outline are

These portals led to the great outer court of the palace, measuring 315
ft. by 280 between the buttresses with which it was adorned all round.
On the right hand were six or seven smaller courts surrounded by the
stables and outhouses of the palace, which were approached by a ramp on
the outside, at the head of which was a block of buildings containing
the cellarage, and generally the stores of eatables. On the left hand of
this court were the metal stores, each room having been appropriated to
iron, copper, or other such materials, and behind them, outside the
palace, was the hareem.[81]

In the northern angle, a rather insignificant passage formed a means of
communication between this great outer court and the next, which was 360
ft. long by 200 wide, and probably open to the country, at least in
front of the great portals. On the inner side of this second court a
magnificent portal opened into what appears to have been the residential
portion of the palace, measuring nearly 300 by 500 ft. over all.

[Illustration: 62. Existing Remains of Propylæa at Khorsabad.]

The proper entrance to this court was by the ramp before alluded to,
which was indeed the only access to the palace for chariots and
horsemen. From the second court, through the only vaulted passage in the
palace, access was obtained to the state apartments looking over the
country. The three principal of these are shown to a larger scale in the
woodcut (No. 63), with their dimensions figured upon them. The next
woodcut (No. 64) is a restored section of these apartments, showing what
their arrangement was, and the mode in which it is conceived they were
roofed, according to the information gathered on the spot, and what we
find afterwards practised at Persepolis and elsewhere.[82]

[Illustration: 63. Enlarged Plan of the Three Principal Rooms at
Khorsabad. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

It will be observed that the area covered by the walls is of nearly the
same extent as that of the rooms themselves, so that the galleries
formed in fact an upper storey to the palace; and thus, in the heat of
the day, the thickness of the walls kept the inner apartments free from
heat and glare, while in the evenings and mornings the galleries formed
airy and light apartments, affording a view over the country, and open
on every side to the breezes that at times blow so refreshingly over the
plains. It will also be observed that by this arrangement the direct
rays of the sun could never penetrate into the halls themselves, and
that rain, or even damp, could easily be excluded by means of curtains
or screens.

[Illustration: 64. Restored Section of Principal Rooms at Khorsabad. 152

[Illustration: 65. Restoration of Northern Angle of Palace Court,
Khorsabad. (From a Drawing by the Author.)]

The whole of these state-rooms were revêted with sculptured alabaster
slabs, as shown in the section; above which the walls were decorated
with conventional designs painted on stucco, remains of which were found
among the débris.

The external face of this suite, as seen from the north-eastern court,
was probably something very like what is shown in the woodcut (No. 66),
though there are less materials for restoring the exterior than there
are for the internal parts of the palace. The arched entrance to the
court, shown on the left, is certain: so also, I conceive, is the mode
in which the light was introduced into the apartments. The details of
the pillars are not so certain, though not admitting of much latitude of

As before mentioned, outside the palace stood the hareem, of a somewhat
irregular form, but measuring 400 ft. by 280, (on left of plan, woodcut
No. 61). The whole of its external walls are adorned with reeded
pilasters and panels like those of the Wuswus at Wurka (Woodcut No. 61),
which is not the case with any other part of the palace. It has only one
small external opening from the terrace, and another, which may be
called a concealed one, from the great outer court. Internally its
arrangements are very remarkable. First there is an outer court into
which these two entrances open, and within that two other courts, on
whose side are extended what may be called three complete suites of
apartments, very similar to each other in arrangement, though varied in
dimensions. It looks as if each was appropriated to a queen, and that
their relative magnificence accorded with the dignity of the person to
whom it was assigned. But are we justified in assuming that Sargon had
three queens, and only that number of legitimate wives? Assuming this,
however, there is still room in this hareem for any number of concubines
and their attendants.

The central court of the hareem is one of the richest discoveries that
rewarded M. Place’s industry. It was adorned with six free-standing
statues—the smaller court with two—and the walls were wainscoted with
enamelled tile representing the king, his vizier, lions, eagles, vines
and fruits, and other objects in a bright yellow colour on a blue
ground. The whole is, in fact, one of the most curious and interesting
discoveries yet made in these palaces.

As it can hardly admit of a doubt that this was really the hareem of the
palace, it is curious that such a building as the observatory described
above (p. 162), should have been erected in its immediate proximity.
Every one ascending the ramp or standing on its summit must have looked
into its courts, unless they were covered with awnings or roofs in some
manner we do not quite understand; and we can hardly assume that such a
tower was intended as the praying place of the king and the king only.
The fact is undoubted, however we may explain it.

[Illustration: 66. City Gateways, Khorsabad. (From M. Place.)]

From the above description it will be observed that in every case the
principal part, the great mass, of the palace was the terrace on which
it stood, which was raised by artificial means to a height of 30 ft. and
more, and, as shown in the illustration (Woodcut No. 60), carefully
revêted with stone. On this stood the palace, consisting principally of
one great block of private apartments situated around an inner square
court. From this central mass two or three suites of apartments
projected as wings, so arranged as to be open to the air on three sides,
and to give great variety to the outline of the palace as seen from
below, and great play of light and shade in every aspect under which the
building could be surveyed. So far also as we can judge, the whole
arrangements were admirably adapted to the climate, and the ornaments
not only elegant in themselves, but singularly expressive and
appropriate to the situations in which they are found.

Another most important discovery of M. Place is that of the great arched
gates of the city. These were apparently always constructed in pairs—one
for the use of foot-passengers, the other for wheeled carriages, as
shown by the marks of wheels worn into the pavement in the one case,
while it is perfectly smooth in the other.

Those appropriated to carriages had plain jambs rising perpendicularly
12 or 15 ft. These supported a semicircular arch, 18 ft. in diameter,
adorned on its face with an archivolt of great beauty, formed of blue
enamelled bricks, with a pattern of figures and stars of a warm yellow
colour, relieved upon it.

[Illustration: 67. City Gateway at Khorsabad. (From M. Place.)]

The gateways for foot-passengers were nearly of the same dimensions,
about 14 or 15 ft. broad, but they were ornamented by winged bulls with
human heads, between which stood giants strangling lions. In the example
illustrated in the annexed woodcut (No. 67), the arch sprang directly
from the backs of the bulls, and was ornamented by an archivolt similar
to that over the carriage entrances, and which is perhaps as beautiful a
mode of ornamenting an arch as is to be found anywhere.

Other arches have been found in these Assyrian excavations, but none of
such extent as these, and none which show more completely how well the
Assyrians in the time of Sargon (721 B.C.) understood not only the
construction of the arch, but also its use as a decorative architectural

[Illustration: 68. Interior of a Yezidi House at Bukra, in the Sinjar.]

There must always be many points, even in royal residences, which would
be more easily understood if we knew the domestic manners and usages
prevalent among the common people of the same era and country. This
knowledge we actually can supply in the present case, to a great extent,
from modern Eastern residences. Such a mode of illustration in the West
would be out of the question; but in the East, manners and customs,
processes of manufacture and forms of building, have existed unchanged
from the earliest times to the present day. This immutability is the
greatest charm of the East, and frequently enables us to understand what
in our own land would have utterly faded away and been obliterated. In
the Yezidi house, for instance, borrowed from Mr. Layard’s work, we see
an exact reproduction, in every essential respect, of the style of
building in the days of Sennacherib. Here we have the wooden pillars
with bracket capitals, supporting a mass of timber intended to be
covered with a thickness of earth sufficient to prevent the rain or heat
from penetrating to the dwelling. There is no reason to doubt that the
houses of the humbler classes were in former times similar to that here
represented; and this very form amplified into a palace, and the walls
and pillars ornamented and carved, would exactly correspond with the
principal features of the palace of the great Assyrian king.


Having said so much of Khorsabad, it will not be necessary to say much
about the palace at Koyunjik, built by Sennacherib, the son of the
Khorsabad king.

As the great metropolitan palace of Nineveh, it was of course of far
greater extent and far more magnificent than the suburban palace of his
father. The mound itself on which it stands is about 1½ mile in
circumference (7800 ft.); and, as the whole was raised artificially to
the height of not less than 30 ft., it is in itself a work of no mean

The principal palace stood at the south-western angle of this mound, and
as far as the excavation has been carried seems to have formed a square
of about 600 ft. each way—double the lineal dimensions of that at
Nimroud. Its general arrangements were very similar to those at
Khorsabad, but on a larger scale. It enclosed within itself two or three
great internal courts, surrounded with sixty or seventy apartments, some
of great extent. The principal façade, facing the east, surpassed any of
those of Khorsabad, both in size and magnificence, being adorned by ten
winged bulls of the largest dimensions, with a giant between each of the
two principal external ones, in the manner shown in the woodcut (No.
62), besides smaller sculptures—the whole extending to a length of not
less than 350 ft. The principal façade at Khorsabad, as above mentioned,
extended 330 ft., but the bulls and the portals there were to those at
Koyunjik in the proportion of 30 to 40, which nearly indeed expresses
the relative magnificence of the two palaces. Inside the great portal at
Koyunjik was a hall, 180 ft. in length by 42 in width, with a recess at
each end, through which access was obtained to two courtyards, one on
the right and one on the left; and beyond these to the other and
apparently the more private apartments of the palace, which overlooked
the country and the river Tigris, flowing to the westward of the
palace—the principal entrance, as at Khorsabad, being from the city.[84]

It is impossible, of course, to say how much further the palace
extended, though it is probable that nearly all the apartments which
were revêted with sculptures have been laid open; but what has been
excavated occupies so small a portion of the mound that it is impossible
to be unimpressed with the conviction that it forms but a very small
fraction of the imperial palace of Nineveh. Judging even from what has
as yet been uncovered, it is, of all the buildings of antiquity, alone
surpassed in magnitude by the great palace-temple at Karnac; and when we
consider the vastness of the mound on which it was raised, and the
richness of the ornaments with which it was adorned, a doubt arises
whether it was not as great, or at least as expensive, a work as the
great palace-temples of Thebes. The latter, however, were built with far
higher motives, and designed to last through ages, while the palace at
Nineveh was built only to gratify the barbaric pride of a wealthy and
sensual monarch, and perished with the ephemeral dynasty to which he

                         PALACE OF ESARHADDON.

Another Assyrian palace, of which considerable remains still exist, is
that of Esarhaddon, commonly known as the South-west Palace at Nimroud.
Like the others, this too has been destroyed by fire, and the only part
that remains sufficiently entire to be described is the entrance or
southern hall. Its general dimensions are 165 ft. in length by 62 ft. in
width, and it consequently is the largest hall yet found in Assyria. The
architects, however, either from constructive necessities or for
purposes of state, divided it down the centre by a wall supporting dwarf
columns,[85] forming a central gallery, to which access was had by
bridge galleries at both ends, a mode of arrangement capable of great
variety and picturesqueness of effect, and of which there is little
doubt that the builders availed themselves to the fullest extent. This
led into a courtyard of considerable dimensions, surrounded by
apartments, but they are all too much destroyed by fire to be

[Illustration: 69. Hall of South-West Palace. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Another great palace, built, as appears from the inscriptions, by a son
of Esarhaddon, has been discovered nearly in the centre of the mound at
Koyunjik. Its terrace-wall has been explored for nearly 300 ft. in two
directions from the angle near which the principal entrance is placed.
This is on a level 20 ft. lower than the palace itself, which is reached
by an inclined passage nearly 200 ft. in length, adorned with sculpture
on both sides. The palace itself, as far as its exploration has been
carried, appears similar in its arrangements to those already described;
but the sculptures with which it is adorned are more minute and
delicate, and show a more perfect imitation of nature, than the earlier
examples, though inferior to them in grandeur of conception and breadth
of design.

[Illustration: 70. Central Palace, Koyunjik. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The architectural details also display a degree of elegance and an
amount of elaborate finish not usually found in the earlier examples, as
is well illustrated by the Woodcut No. 71, representing one of the
pavement slabs of the palace. It is of the same design, and similarly
ornamented, but the finish is better, and the execution more elaborate,
than in any of the more ancient examples we are acquainted with.

Besides these, there were on the mound at Nimroud a central palace built
by Tiglath Pileser, and one at the south-eastern angle of the mound,
built by a grandson of Esarhaddon; but both are too much ruined for its
being feasible to trace either their form or extent. Around the great
pyramid, at the north-west angle of the mound, were buildings more
resembling temples than any others on it—all the sculptures upon them
pointing apparently to devotional purposes, though in form they differed
but little from the palaces. At the same time there is certainly nothing
in them to indicate that the mound at the base of which they were
situated was appropriated to the dead, or to funereal purposes. Between
the north-west and south-west palaces there was also raised a terrace
higher than the rest, on which were situated some chambers, the use of
which it is not easy to determine.

[Illustration: 71. Pavement Slab from the Central Palace, Koyunjik.]

Notwithstanding the impossibility that now exists of making out all the
details of the buildings situated on the great mounds of Nimroud and
Koyunjik, it is evident that these great groups of buildings must have
ranked among the most splendid monuments of antiquity, surrounded as
they were by stone-faced terraces, and approached on every side by noble
flights of stairs. When all the palaces with their towers and temples
were seen gay with colour, and crowded with all the state and splendour
of an Eastern monarch, they must have formed a scene of such dazzling
magnificence that one can easily comprehend how the inhabitants of the
little cities of Greece or Judea were betrayed into such extravagant
hyperbole when speaking of the size and splendour of the great cities of

[Illustration: 72. Pavilion, from the Sculptures at Khorsabad.]

The worst feature of all this splendour was its ephemeral
character—though perhaps it is owing to this very fact that we now know
so much about it—for, like the reed that bends to the storm and recovers
its elasticity, while the oak is snapped by its violence, these relics
of a past age have retained to some extent their pristine beauty. Had
these buildings been constructed like those of the Egyptians, their
remains would probably have been applied to other purposes long ago; but
having been overwhelmed so early and forgotten, they have been preserved
to our day; nor is it difficult to see how this has occurred. The
pillars that supported the roof being of wood, probably of cedar, and
the beams on the under side of the roof being of the same material,
nothing was easier than to set fire to them. The fall of the roofs,
which were probably composed, as at the present day, of five or six feet
of earth, and which is requisite to keep out heat as well as wet, would
alone suffice to bury the building up to the height of the sculptures.
The gradual crumbling of the thick walls consequent on their unprotected
exposure to the atmosphere would add three or four feet to this: so that
it is hardly too much to suppose that green grass might have been
growing over the buried palaces of Nineveh before two or three years had
elapsed from the time of their destruction and desertion. When once this
had taken place, the mounds afforded far too tempting positions not to
be speedily occupied by the villages of the natives; and a few centuries
of mud-hut building would complete the process of entombment so
completely as to protect the hidden remains perfectly for the centuries
during which they have lain buried. These have now been recovered to
such an extent as enables us to restore their form almost as certainly
as we can those of the temples of Greece or Rome, or of any of the great
nations of antiquity.

[Illustration: 73. Assyrian Temple, North Palace, Koyunjik. (From

[Illustration: 74. Bas-relief, representing façade of Assyrian Palace.
(From British Museum.)]

It is by no means improbable that at some future period we may be able
to restore much that is now unintelligible, from the representations of
buildings on the sculptures, and to complete our account of their style
of architecture from illustrations drawn by the Assyrians themselves.
One or two of these have already been published. The annexed woodcut,
for instance (No. 72), of a bas-relief representing a little
fishing-pavilion on the water’s edge, exhibits in a rude manner all the
parts of an Assyrian order with its entablature, and the capital only
requires to be slightly elongated to make it similar to those found at

Another from the North Palace, Koyunjik, repeats the same arrangement,
with pillars which must be considered as early examples of the
Corinthian order, and, if we may trust the drawing, it likewise
represents an aqueduct with horizontally constructed arches of pointed

A third representation (No. 74) from the same palace seems intended to
portray a complete palace façade, with its winged bulls in the entrance
and its colossal lions on the front. Above these animals, but not
apparently meant to be represented as resting on them, are pillars in
antis, as in the two previous illustrations.[86] Unfortunately the
cornice is broken away, and the whole is more carelessly executed than
is usual in these sculptures.

[Illustration: 75. Exterior of a Palace, from a Bas-relief at Koyunjik.]

Another curious representation (Woodcut No. 75) is that of a palace of
two storeys, from a bas-relief at Koyunjik, showing a range of openings
under the roof in both storeys, each opening being divided into three
parts by two Ionic columns between square piers, and are probably meant
to represent such an arrangement as that shown in Woodcuts Nos. 72 and
73. On the right the upper storey is a correct representation of the
panelled style of ornamentation above alluded to as recently discovered
at Khorsabad and elsewhere, and which we know from recent discoveries to
have been so favourite a mode of decorating walls in that age.

The most remarkable fact, however, that we gather from all these
illustrations is, that the favourite arrangement was a group of pillars
“distyle in antis,” as it is technically termed, viz., two circular
pillars between two square piers. It is frequently found elsewhere in
the façade of tombs, but here it seems to have been repeated over and
over again to make up a complete design. For a temple such an
arrangement would have been inadmissible: for a palace it seems
singularly appropriate and elegant.

[Illustration: 76. King’s Tent. (From Bas-relief, British Museum.)]

Further comparisons will no doubt do much to complete the subject; and
when the names written over these bas-reliefs are definitively
deciphered, we may find that we really possess contemporary
representations, if not of Jerusalem, at least of Lachish, of Susa, and
other cities familiar to us both from ancient and from modern history.

[Illustration: 77. Horse-Tent (Nimroud).]

We have no representation of the dwellings of private individuals so
complete as to enable us to understand them, but there are several of
royal camps which are interesting. Among the most curious of these are
the representations of the tents of the king and his nobles. One of
these is shown in Woodcut No. 76, though how it was constructed is by no
means clear. It seems to have been open in the centre to the air, but
covered at either end by a sort of hood so arranged as to catch the
passing breeze, and afford protection from rain at the same time. The
annexed woodcut (No. 77), representing the front and one side of the
royal horse-tent, gives a good idea of the luxury and elegance that was
carried into the detail even of subordinate structures.

                           TEMPLES AND TOMBS.

Except the Chaldean-formed temples, which have been described in the
previous chapter, there are no religious edifices sufficiently complete
to enable us to form a distinct idea of what the architectural
arrangements of these temples were. As belonging to a Semitic people we
should expect them to be few and insignificant.

So little remains of the temple at Khorsabad, that it is difficult to
say what its original form may have been; the terrace, however, which
supported it is interesting, as it shows almost the only instance of a
perfect Assyrian moulding or cornice betraying a similarity to the forms
of Egyptian architecture which we do not find elsewhere. The curve,
however, is not exactly that of an Egyptian cornice, being continued
beyond the vertical tangent; but this may have arisen from the terrace
being only six feet in height, which placed the curve below the line of
sight, and so required a different treatment from one placed so high
above it as is usually the case in Egypt.

[Illustration: 78. Elevation of Stylobate of temple.]

[Illustration: 79. Section of Stylobate of Temple.]

The bas-relief on the next page is perhaps the best sculptured
representation that exists of what we might fancy an Assyrian temple to
have been. The emblem so enshrined is probably the Asheerah, or grove,
to the worship of which the Israelites at all times showed such a
tendency to relapse, and is one of the most frequent objects of
adoration among the Assyrians.

As a Semitic people we should hardly expect to find any tombs among
them, and indeed, unless the pyramid at the north-west angle of the
Nimroud mound is the tomb of Sardanapalus, mentioned by the Greeks,[87]
it is not clear that a single Assyrian sepulchre has yet been
discovered. Those that crowd and choke the ruins of Wurka and Mugheyr
and other cities of Babylonia are the remains of a Turanian people who
always respected their dead, and paid especial attention to the
preservation of their bodies. The pyramid at Nimroud seems to have been
explored with sufficient care to enable us to affirm that no stairs or
inclined plane led to its summit, and without these it certainly was not
one of those observatory temples before alluded to. Still, it is so
singular to have one monument, and one only, of its class, that it is
difficult to form a satisfactory opinion on the subject.

It stands at the north-west angle of the mound, and measures 167 ft.
each way; its base, 30 ft. in height, is composed of beautiful stone
masonry, ornamented by buttresses and offsets, above which the wall was
continued perpendicularly in brickwork. In the centre of the building,
and on the level of the base or terrace, a long vaulted gallery or
tunnel was discovered, but it contained no clue to the destination of
the building.

[Illustration: 80. Sacred Symbolic Tree of the Assyrians. (From Lord
Aberdeen’s Black Stone.)]

[Illustration: 81. Obelisk of Divanubara. (From Layard’s ‘Nineveh.’)]

The whole now rises to a height of about 120 ft. from the plain, and is
composed of sun-dried bricks, with courses of kiln-burnt bricks between
them, at certain intervals towards the summit, which render it probable
that it originally was not a pyramid in the usual sense of the term, but
a square tower, rising in three or four storeys, each less than the
lower one, as in the traditional temple of Belus at Babylon, or like the
summit of the obelisk represented in the woodcut (No. 81), which most
probably is a monolithic reproduction of such a sepulchral tower as
this, rather than an obelisk like those of Egypt.

Other obelisks have since been discovered, some of which look even more
like miniature models of structural buildings than this one does.

Till further information is obtained, it will hardly be possible to say
much that is satisfactory with regard to either the tombs, temples, or
minor antiquities of the Assyrian people. Their architecture was
essentially Palatial—as that of the Greeks was Templar—and to that alone
our remarks might almost be confined. Fortunately, however, sculpture
was another art to which they were specially addicted, and to their
passion for this we owe most of our knowledge of their manners and
customs. To this art also we are indebted for our ability to restore
many details of their palaces and buildings, which without its aid would
have been altogether unintelligible.

Judged by the same rules of criticism which we apply to Classic or
Mediæval art, the architecture of the Assyrians must, it is feared, rank
very low. But for gorgeous Barbaric splendour of effect it seems
difficult to imagine anything that could well have been grander or more
imposing than the palaces of Nineveh must have been when entire and
filled with the state and magnificence of the monarchs of the Assyrian

                              CHAPTER IV.



  Cyrus founds Pasargadæ                                     B.C. 560
  Cambyses’ buildings at ditto                                    525
  Darius builds palace at Persepolis                              521
  Xerxes builds halls at Persepolis and Susa                      485
  Artaxerxes Longimanus                                           465
  Darius Nothus                                                   424
  Artaxerxes Mnemon repairs buildings at Persepolis and Susa      405
  Destruction of Persian Empire by Alexander                      331

There still remains a third chapter to write before the survey of the
architecture of the central region of Asia is complete—before indeed a
great deal which has just been assumed can become capable of proof. By a
fortunate accident the Persians used stone where the Assyrians used only
wood, and consequently many details of their architecture have come down
to our day which would otherwise have passed away had the more
perishable materials of their predecessors been made use of.

Whatever else the ancient world may owe to the learning of the
Egyptians, it seems certain that they were the first to make use of
stone as a constructive building material. As before mentioned, the
Egyptians used a stone Proto-Doric pillar at least 1000 years before the
Greeks or the Etruscans, or any other ancient people we know of, dreamt
of such a thing. The Babylonians and Assyrians never seem to have used
stone constructively, except as the revêtement of a terrace wall; and it
was not till after the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses that we find any
Asiatic nations using a pillar of stone in architecture, or doing more
than building a wall, or heaping mass on mass of this material without
any constructive contrivance. The Indians first learned this art from
the Bactrian Greeks, and many civilised Asiatic nations still prefer
wood for their palaces and temples, as the Assyrians did, and only use
stone as “a heap.” It must have been difficult, however, for any
intelligent people to visit the wonderful stone temples of Thebes and
Memphis without being struck by their superior magnificence and
durability; and we consequently find the Persians on their return,
though reproducing their old forms, adopting the new material, which,
fortunately for them and for our history, was found in abundance in the
neighbourhood of their capitals.

Even, however, on the most cursory inspection, it is easy to see how
little the arts of the Assyrians were changed by their successors. The
winged lions and bulls that adorn the portals at Persepolis are
practically identical with those of Nineveh. The representations of the
king on his throne with his attendants are so similar, that but for the
locality it would require considerable knowledge to discriminate between
Sennacherib and Xerxes. The long procession of tribute bearers—the
symbolical animals slain by the king; the whole ornamentation, in fact,
is so slightly altered from what existed in Assyria, that we are
startled to find how little change in these sculptures the new dynasty
had introduced; and if this is the case with them, and their position
and arrangement are nearly identical, we may feel very certain that the
architecture was also the same.

It appears at first sight to have been otherwise; but on closer
examination it appears quite certain that this even is due more to the
material employed than to any alteration in form. Something may be due
to the fact that the buildings we now find on the platform at Persepolis
may have been dedicated to somewhat different purposes than were those
of Nineveh; but even this is not quite clear. If the great square courts
of the Ninevite palaces were roofed over, as Layard suggested—and as
probably was the case—they would exactly represent the square halls of
Persepolis. But as all the intermediate buildings of sun-dried brick
have been washed off the bare rock by the winter rains of Persia, we can
only speculate on what they might have been, without daring to lay too
much stress on our convictions.


In their present state the remains at Pasargadæ are, perhaps, more
interesting to the antiquary than to the architect, the palaces on the
plain being so ruined that their architectural arrangements cannot be
understood or restored.

[Illustration: 82. Plan of Platform at Pasargadæ.]

[Illustration: 83. Elevation of Platform at Pasargadæ.]

On the side of a hill overlooking the plain is a platform of masonry
(Woodcut No. 82) which originally supported either a temple or
fire-altar, but this has now entirely disappeared, and the structure is
only remarkable for the beauty of its masonry and the large dimensions
of the stones with which it is built. These are drafted (Woodcut No.
83), not only at their joints but often on their faces, with the same
flat sinking as is found in all the Jewish works at Jerusalem, and
sometimes in Greek buildings of the best age. Thus an ornament of great
beauty and elegance is formed out of what would otherwise be merely a
plain mass of masonry.

The tomb of Cyrus has already been referred to (p. 164) as a copy in
stone of one of the ziggurats or terrace-temples. But it must be borne
in mind that the most celebrated example of this form is as often called
the tomb, as the temple of Belus;[88] and among a Turanian people the
tomb and the temple may be considered as one and the same thing. The
tomb is surrounded on three sides[89] by a portico of columns standing
14 feet apart: no stone capitals have been found, but it is probable
that the columns carried wooden bracket-capitals to diminish the bearing
of the wooden architrave or beam which supported the roof. Beyond the
portico there are the traces of a second enclosure 25 feet wide, which,
from its width, was probably an open court.

[Illustration: 84. Tomb of Cyrus. (From Texier’s ‘Arménie et la

On the plain are the remains of buildings, three of which were palaces,
and one the ruin of a tomb. The plan of one of them, called the palace
of Cyrus, has been measured and published by M. Texier, MM. Flandin &
Coste, and M. Dieulafoy, and although the restoration given by the
latter goes somewhat farther than the remains will account for, there
are certain features in which they all agree, and which show that it
contained at least two porches or porticoes and a great hall of columns
not dissimilar from the examples found at Persepolis. The angle piers or
responds of two porticoes still exist in situ; on one of them in the
upper stone is cut the socket in which the architrave of the portico
rested, the form of this socket having a peculiar value, as it shows
more clearly than the socket in the respond of the portico of the palace
of Darius, that the Persian architrave was composed of two or more beams
placed one over the other, and overhanging, as in the tomb of Darius. A
second pier has an inscription which enables us to ascribe its erection
to Cyrus. A column, 34 feet high, of the great hall still remains, which
shows that at all events in this case the central hall rose above the
porticoes, deriving its light therefore through clerestory windows. No
capitals have been found,[90] and it is possible therefore they were in
wood, as we have suggested may have been the case in the portico of the
tomb of Cyrus.

[Illustration: 85. Plan of Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadæ. (From Texier.)]

[Illustration: 86. Section of Tomb of Cyrus. (From Texier.)]

To the east of this palace, and distant about 170 yards, are the remains
of a second palace with a hall of columns, and measuring 124 by 49 ft.,
and on the west side of it is the stone jamb of a doorway similar to
those at Persepolis, and carved with the well-known bas-relief of Cyrus.
The third palace has been excavated by Mr. Weld Blundell, and the
foundations of its walls traced, measuring 187 by 131 ft., with a hall
of 24 columns.


At Nineveh, as we have seen, all the pillars, the roofs, and the
constructive parts of the building, which were of wood,[91] have
disappeared, and left nothing but the massive walls, which, falling and
being heaped the one on the other, have buried themselves and their
ornaments till the present day. At Persepolis, on the contrary, the
brick walls, being thinner and exposed on the bare surface of the naked
rock, have been washed away by the storms and rains of 2000 years,
leaving only the skeletons of the buildings. In the rocky country of
Persia, however, the architect fortunately used stone; and we have thus
at Persepolis, if the expression may be used, all the bones of the
building, but without the flesh; and at Nineveh, the flesh, but without
the bones that gave it form and substance.

[Illustration: 87. View from top of Great Stairs at Persepolis.]

The general appearance of the ruins, as they at present stand, will be
seen from the woodcut (No. 87).[92] The principal mass in the foreground
on the left is the Propylæa of Xerxes, and behind that and to the right
stand the pillars of the Chehil Minar, or Great Hall of Xerxes. Between
these are seen in the distance the remains of the smaller halls of
Darius and Xerxes.

[Illustration: 88. Stairs to Palace of Xerxes.]

The most striking features in this view are the staircases that led from
the plain to the platform, and from the lower level to that on which the
great hall stood. Indeed, among these ruins, nothing is more remarkable
than these great flights of steps. The builders of those days were, so
far as we know, the only people who really understood the value of this
feature. The Egyptians seem wholly to have neglected it, and the Greeks
to have cared little about it; but it was not so at Nineveh, where, so
far as we can understand from the indistinct traces left, the stairs
must have been one of the most important parts of the design. But they
were so situated that they were not buried when the buildings were
ruined, and consequently have been removed. At Jerusalem, too, we read
that when the Queen of Sheba saw “the ascent by which Solomon went up to
the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.” Indeed, in all
the ancient temples and palaces of this district, more attention is paid
to this feature than to almost any other; and from their favourable
situation on artificial terraces, the builders were enabled to apply
their stairs with far more effect than any others in ancient or in
modern times.

The lower or great staircase at Persepolis is plain, and without any
sculpture, but is built of the most massive Cyclopean masonry, and of
great width and very easy acclivity. That in front of the great hall is
ornamented with sculpture, in three tiers, representing the people of
the land bringing presents and the subject nations tribute, to lay at
the feet of the monarch, combined with mythological representations; the
whole bearing a very considerable resemblance to the sculptures on the
walls of the Assyrian palaces, though the position is different. The
arrangement of these stairs, too, is peculiar, none of them being at
right angles to the buildings they approach, but all being double,
apparently to permit of processions passing the throne, situated in the
porches at their summit, without interruption, and without altering the
line of march.

One of these flights, leading to the platform of Xerxes’ palace, is
shown in the woodcut (No. 88). In arrangement it is like the stairs
leading to the great terrace, but very much smaller, and is profusely
adorned with sculpture.

The principal apartment in all the buildings situated on the platform is
a central square hall, the floor of which is studded with pillars placed
equidistant the one from the other. The smallest have 4 pillars, the
next 16, then 36, and one has 100 pillars on its floor; but to avoid
inventing new names, we may call these respectively, distyle,
tetrastyle, hexastyle, and decastyle halls, from their having 2, 4, 6,
or 10 pillars on each face of the phalanx, and because that is the
number of the pillars in their porticoes when they have any.

The building at the head of the great stairs is a distyle hall, having 4
pillars supporting its roof. On each side of the first public entrance
stands a human-headed winged bull, so nearly identical with those found
in Assyrian palaces as to leave no doubt of their having the same
origin. At the opposite entrance are two bulls without wings, but drawn
with the same bold, massive proportions which distinguish all the
sculptured animals in the palaces of Assyria and Persia. The other, or
palace entrance, is destroyed, the foundation only remaining; but this,
with the foundations of the walls, leaves no room to doubt that the
annexed woodcut (No. 89) is a true representation of its
ground-plan.[93] Nor can it be doubted that this is one of those
buildings so frequently mentioned in the Bible as a “gate,” not the door
of a city or buildings, but a gate of justice, such as that where
Mordecai sat at Susa—where Abraham bought his field—where Ruth’s
marriage was judged of—and, indeed, where public business was generally

[Illustration: 89. Propylæa. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

There are three other distyle halls or gates on the platform: one to the
westward of this, very much ruined; one in the centre of the whole
group, which seems to have had external porticoes; and a third on the
platform in front of the palace of Xerxes.

[Illustration: 90. Palace of Darius. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

There are two tetrastyle halls, one of which, erected by Darius (woodcut
No. 90), is the most interesting of the smaller buildings on the
terrace. It is the only building that faces the south, and is approached
by a flight of steps, represented with the whole façade of the palace as
it now stands in the woodcut (No. 91). These steps led to a tetrastyle
porch, two ranges in depth, which opened into the central hall with its
16 columns, around which were arranged smaller rooms or cells, either
for the occupation of the king, if it was a palace, or of the priests if
a temple. In the western side a staircase and doorway were added,
somewhat unsymmetrically, by Artaxerxes.

These remains would hardly suffice to enable us to restore the external
appearance of the palace; but fortunately the same king who built the
palace for his use on this mound, repeated it in the rock as an “eternal
dwelling” for himself after death. The tomb known as that of Darius at
Naksh-i-Rustam (woodcut No. 92), is an exact reproduction, not only of
the architectural features of the palace, but to the same scale, and in
every respect so similar, that it seems impossible to doubt but that the
one was intended as a literal copy of the other. Assuming it to be so,
we learn what kind of cornice rested on the double bull capitals. And
what is still more interesting, we obtain a representation of a prayer
platform, which we have described elsewhere as a Talar,[94] but the
meaning of which we should hardly know but for this representation.

The other tetrastyle hall is similar to this, but plainer and somewhat

[Illustration: 91. Façade of Palace of Darius at Persepolis. Scale of 20
ft. to 1 in.]

Turning from these to the hexastyle halls, the smallest but most perfect
(Woodcut No. 91) is that standing on the southern edge of the upper
platform, the inscriptions on which certainly prove it to have been
built by Xerxes.

[Illustration: 92. Tomb of Darius at Naksh-i-Rustam, representing the
façade of his Palace surmounted by a Talar.]

The platform on which it stands is approached by two flights of steps,
that on the east being the one represented in the woodcut No. 84,—there
are also indications of a tetrastyle hall or gate having existed on its
summit,—while that to the west is much simpler. The hall itself had a
portico of 12 columns, and on each side a range of smaller apartments,
the two principal of which had their roof supported by 4 pillars each.

[Illustration: 93. Palace of Xerxes. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The building is one of great beauty in itself, but its greatest value is
that it enables us to understand the arrangement of the great hall of
Xerxes—the Chehil Minar—the most splendid building of which any remains
exist in this part of the world. From the annexed plan (Woodcut No. 94)
it will be seen that the arrangement of the whole central part is
identical with that of the building just described. There can be no
possible doubt about this, as the bases of all the 72 columns still
exist in situ, as well as the jambs of the two principal doorways, which
are shaded darker in the plan. The side and rear walls only are restored
from the preceding illustration. The only difference is, that instead of
the two distyle halls on either side, this had hexastyle porticoes of 12
pillars each, similar to that in front; the angles between which were in
all probability filled up with rooms or buildings, as suggested in the

[Illustration: 94. Restored Plan of Great Hall of Xerxes at Persepolis.
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Two orders of pillars were employed to support the roof of this splendid
building; one, represented in Woodcut No. 91, with double bull capitals,
like those of the porch of Darius’s palace. They are 67 ft. 4 in. in
height from the floor to the back of the bull’s neck, or 64 ft. to the
under side of the beam that lay between the bulls. The other order, with
the Ionic volutes (woodcut No. 96), was also that employed in the
northern portico, and generally in the interior throughout this
building, and is nearly identical, as far as the base and shaft are
concerned, except in the height of the latter. The capital, however,
differs widely, and is 16 ft. 6 in. in height, making an order
altogether 9 ft. 7 in. less than that used externally, the difference
being made up by brackets of wood, which supported the beams of the
roof, internally at least, though externally the double bull capital
probably surmounted these Ionic-like scrolls.

There is no reason to doubt that these halls also had platforms or
talars like the smaller halls, which would also serve to shelter any
opening in the roof, though in the present instance it seems very
doubtful if any such openings or skylights existed or were indeed

Thus arranged, the section of the buildings would be as shown in the
woodcut (No. 97); and presuming this structure to have been sculptured
and painted as richly as others of its age and class, which it no doubt
was, it must have been not only one of the largest, but one of the most
splendid buildings of antiquity. In plan it was a rectangle of about 300
ft. by 350, and consequently covered 105,000 square ft.; it was thus
larger than the hypostyle hall at Karnac, or any of the largest temples
of Greece or Rome. It is larger, too, than any mediæval cathedral except
that of Milan; and although it has neither the stone roof of a
cathedral, nor the massiveness of an Egyptian building, still its size
and proportions, combined with the lightness of its architecture and the
beauty of its decorations, must have made it one of the most beautiful
buildings ever erected. Both in design and proportion it far surpassed
those of Assyria, and though possessing much of detail or ornament that
was almost identical, its arrangement and proportions were so superior
in every respect that no similar building in Nineveh can be compared
with this, the great architectural creation of the Persian Empire.

[Illustration: 95. Pillar of Western Portico.]

[Illustration: 96. Pillar of Northern Portico.]

There is no octastyle hall at Persepolis, and only one decastyle. In
this instance the hall itself measured about 225 ft. each way, and had
100 pillars on its floor; still, it was low in proportion, devoid of
lateral porticoes, and consequently by no means so magnificent a
building as the great hall of Xerxes. The portico in front was two
ranges in depth, and flanked by gigantic bulls; but as the whole height
was barely 25 ft., it could not have been a remarkable or pleasing
object. The sculptures on the jambs of the doorways are the most
interesting part of this building; these represent the king on his
throne, and various mythological subjects, on a more extensive scale
than those similarly situated in the other buildings of the platform.
Indeed, it is probable that in the other palaces these subjects were
painted on the internal walls, as was done in those Assyrian halls which
were not revêted with slabs. With an appropriateness that cannot be too
much praised, sculpture seems always to have been used in parts of the
building exposed to atmospheric injury, and, because of the exposure, to
have been employed there in preference to painting.

[Illustration: 97. Restored Section of Hall of Xerxes. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

Besides these buildings on the platform there are the remains of several
others on the plain, and within the precincts of the town of Istakr is a
building still called the Hareem of Jemsheed, and which may in reality
have been the residence of the Achæmenian kings. It certainly belongs to
their age, and from the irregularity of its form, and its general
proportions, looks very much more like a residence, properly so called,
than any of the monumental erections on the neighbouring platform of

Looked at from an architectural point of view the principal defect of
the interior arrangement, especially of the smaller Persepolitan halls,
is that their floor is unnecessarily crowded with pillars. As these had
to support only a wooden roof, some might have been dispensed with, or a
more artistic arrangement have been adopted. This would no doubt have
been done but for the influence of the Assyrian style, in which frequent
pillars were indispensable to support the heavy flat roofs, and as they
were of timber a greater number were required than would have been the
case if of stone. Those of wood also looked less cumbersome and less in
the way than those made of more durable materials.

It is also a defect that the capitals of the pillars retain at
Persepolis so much of the form of their wooden prototypes. In wood such
capitals as those depicted (Woodcuts No. 96 or No. 98) would not be
offensive. In stone they are clumsy; and the Greeks showed their usual
discrimination when they cut away all the volutes but one pair and
adopted a stone construction for the entablature.

Notwithstanding these defects, there is a grandeur of conception about
the Persepolitan halls which entitles them to our admiration. Their
greatest point of interest to the architectural student consists
probably in their being examples of a transition from a wooden to a
stone style of art, and in their enabling us to complete and understand
that art which had been elaborated in the valley of the Euphrates during
previous centuries; but which, owing to the perishable nature of the
materials employed, has almost wholly passed away, without leaving
sufficient traces to enable all its characteristics to be understood or


The explorations of Mr. Loftus at Susa in 1850 laid bare the foundations
of a palace almost identical both in plan and dimensions with the Chehil
Minar at Persepolis. It was, however, much more completely ruined, the
place having long been used as a quarry by the inhabitants of the
neighbouring plains, so that now only the bases of the pillars remain in
situ, with fragments of the shafts and capitals strewed everywhere
about, but no walls or doorways, or other architectural members to
enable us to supply what is wanting at Persepolis.

[Illustration: 98. Restored Elevation of Capital at Susa. (From

The bases seem to be of the same form and style as those at Persepolis,
but rather more richly carved. The capitals are also more elaborate, but
more essentially wooden in their form, and betray their origin not only
in the exuberance of their carving but also in the disproportion of the
capital to the shaft. In wood so large a capital does not look
disproportioned to so slender a shaft; in stone the effect is most
disagreeable, and was to a certain extent remedied at Persepolis so soon
as the result was perceived. Whether the Persians would ever have been
able to shake off entirely the wooden original is not quite clear, but
the Greeks, being bound by no such association, cut the knot at once,
and saved them the trouble.

[Illustration: 99. Frieze of Archers.]

In 1885, M. Marcel Dieulafoy turned his attention to the excavations as
left by Loftus, and conceiving the idea that the principal entrance
should be sought for on the south side of the palace, he cut his
trenches in a north-east direction and discovered the traces of the
walls enclosing the court in front of the palace. These walls were faced
with enamelled beton blocks. Portions of these enamels had disappeared,
but sufficient remained, as the walls had fallen on their faces, to
allow of their being placed in their relative positions. From these
fragments M. Dieulafoy was able to put together a frieze of lions not
dissimilar to those found in the palace of Sargon at Khorsabad, with
decorative borders above and below, the whole crowned by a battlement,
also in enamelled colours. The lower portion of the wall was covered
with unglazed bricks of two colours, red and white, arranged in diaper
patterns. Continuing the trench, M. Dieulafoy discovered the great
staircase placed at the south side of the tumulus, a staircase of even
greater dimensions than the well-known example of Persepolis. Mr.
Loftus’s researches had already proved that the palace consisted of a
central hall of thirty-six columns, with three porticoes of twelve
columns, similar, therefore, to the great hall of Xerxes. M. Dieulafoy’s
discoveries have shown that the central hall was enclosed with a wall,
thus confirming the late Mr. Fergusson’s theory as to the restoration of
the palace of Xerxes (see p. 206). On the east side leading to the royal
entrance of the great hall, M. Dieulafoy discovered the remains of the
great frieze of archers (Woodcut No. 99), now in the Louvre; these were
executed in bright enamelled colours on beton bricks. The figures, which
are about 5 ft. in height, are modelled in low relief, arrayed in
processional order, each man grasping a lance in his hand and carrying,
slung on his shoulder, a bow and quiver full of arrows. The shape of
each man’s dress is the same, but the colours and patterns alternate; in
one case the dress is studded with rosettes, in the other with squares
containing the earliest heraldic device known, a representation of three
towers on a hill.

These enamels, as also those of the lions and of fragments of the
crenelated staircase, are now all in the Louvre, and retain sufficient
of their pristine effect to suggest a scheme of colour and of decorative
treatment of the greatest beauty.[96] The inscriptions round the bases
of the pillars had already informed us that the hall was erected by
Darius and Xerxes, but repaired and restored by Artaxerxes Mnemon, who
added the inscriptions. This has been confirmed by another inscription
under the lions on the pylons; these M. Dieulafoy attributes to Xerxes,
as fragments of enamelled bricks of burnt clay, and not beton, and
therefore of an earlier building, have been utilised as a filling-in. In
all probability the hall of this palace is the identical hall in which
the scenes described in the Book of Esther took place. The foundations
of other parts of this palace might be no doubt laid bare by further
excavations; but the ruin of the place has been so complete, that little
of interest in an architectural point of view can be looked for. Below
these Persian ruins are probably buried the remains of long-preceding
dynasties, which deeper excavations would lay bare, and which would in
all probability afford a rich harvest to the historical explorer.

                             FIRE TEMPLES.

Near the town of Istakr, and opposite the tombs of Naksh-i-Rustam,
stands a small tower-like building, represented in Woodcut No. 100. The
lower part is solid; the upper contains a small square apartment, roofed
by two great flat slabs of stone. Access to this chamber is obtained by
a doorway situated at some distance from the ground.

Both the traditions of the place and the knowledge we have of their
religious practices point to this as one of the fire temples of the
ancient Persians. Its roof is internally still black, probably with the
smoke of ancient fires, and though simple and insignificant as an
architectural monument, it is interesting as the only form of a temple
apart from regal state which the ancient Persians possessed.

[Illustration: 100. Khabah at Istakr. No scale.]

Another, almost identical in form, is found at Pasargadæ,[97] and a
third exists (according to Stolze) near Maubandajan, at the foot of the
Kuh Pir-i-mard, eleven miles to east of Fasa. Perrot suggests it may
have been the tomb of Hytaspes, father of Darius. The celebrated Kaabah
at Mecca, to which all the Moslem world now bow in prayer, is probably a
fourth, while the temple represented in Woodcut No. 81, from Lord
Aberdeen’s Black Stone, may be a representation of such a structure as
these, with its curtains and paraphernalia complete. It is too evident,
however, that the Persians were not a temple-building people,[98] and
the examples that have come down to our time are too few and too
insignificant on which to found any theory.


Little requires to be said of the tombs of the Persians; that of Darius
is represented in plan and elevation in Woodcut No. 92, and, as before
remarked, it is a literal copy on the rock of the façade of his palace.
Internally, three small cells contained the remains of the king, with
those of the persons, probably his favourite wife or wives for whom he
had destined that honour. Close by this, at Naksh-i-Rustam, are four
others, and in the rock behind Persepolis are three more tombs of the
Achæmenian kings, identical with these in all essential respects; but
still with such a difference in workmanship and detail as would enable a
careful architectural student easily to detect a sequence, and so affix
to each, approximately at least, the name of the king whose sepulchre it
is. Unfortunately, that of Darius only is inscribed; but his position in
the dynasty is so well known, that, starting from that point, it would
be easy to assign each of these tombs to the king who excavated it for
his own resting-place.

Although these tombs of the Achæmenians are not remarkable for their
magnificence, they are interesting in an architectural point of view,
inasmuch as—as pointed out above—they enable us to restore their
structural buildings in a manner we would hardly be able to do without
their assistance. They are also interesting ethnographically as
indicating that these kings of Persia were far from being the pure
Aryans the language of their inscriptions would lead us to suspect they
might be. There are not, so far as is yet known, any series of rock-cut
sepulchres belonging to any dynasty of pure Aryan blood. Nor would any
king of Semitic race attempt anything of the sort. Their evidence,
therefore, as far as it goes—and it is tolerably distinct—seems to prove
that the Achæmenian kings were of Turanian race. They only, and not any
of their subjects in Persia, seem to have adopted this style of
grandeur, which, as we shall presently see, was common in Asia Minor,
and other countries subject to their sway, but who were of a different
race altogether.

                               CHAPTER V.

                         INVENTION OF THE ARCH.

Before leaving this early section of architecture, it may be as well
briefly to refer to the invention of the true arch, regarding which
considerable misconception still exists.

It is generally supposed that the Egyptians were ignorant of the true
principles of the arch, and only employed two stones meeting one another
at a certain angle in the centre when they wished to cover a larger
space than could conveniently be done by a single block. This, however,
seems to be a mistake, as many of the tombs and chambers around the
pyramids and the temples at Thebes are roofed by stone and brick arches
of a semicircular form, and perfect in every respect as far as the
principles of the arch are concerned.

Several of these have been drawn by Lepsius, and are engraved in his
work; but, as no text accompanies them, and the drawings are not on a
sufficient scale to make out the hieroglyphics, where any exist, their
date cannot now be ascertained. Consequently, these examples cannot yet
be used as the foundation of any argument on the subject, though the
curved form of the roofs in the Third Pyramid would alone be sufficient
to render it more than probable that during the period of the 4th
dynasty the Egyptians were familiar with this expedient.[99]

At Beni-Hasan, during the time of the 12th dynasty, curvilinear forms
reappear in the roofs (Woodcut No. 16), used in such a manner as to
render it almost certain that they are copied from roofs of arcuate
construction. Behind the Rameseum at Thebes there are a series of arches
in brick, which seem undoubtedly to belong to the same age as the
building itself; and Sir G. Wilkinson mentions a tomb at Thebes, the
roof of which is vaulted with bricks, and still bears the name of
Amenoph I., of the 18th dynasty.[100]

The temple at Abydus, erected by Rameses II., shows the same peculiarity
as the tombs at Beni-Hasan, of a flat segmental arch thrown across
between the stone architraves. In this instance it is also a copy in
stone, but such as must have been originally copied from one of brick
construction. There is also every reason to believe that the apartments
of the little pavilion at Medeenet Habû (Woodcuts Nos. 32 and 33) were
covered with semicircular vaults, though these have now

In Ethiopia Mr. Hoskins found stone arches vaulting the roofs of the
porches to the pyramids, perfect in construction, and, what is still
more singular, showing both circular and pointed forms (Woodcut No.
105). These, as before remarked, are probably of the time of Tirhakah,
or at all events not earlier than the age of Solomon, nor later than
that of Cambyses.

[Illustration: 101. Section of Tomb near the Pyramids of Gizeh.]

In the age of Psammeticus we have several stone arches in the
neighbourhood of the pyramids; one, in a tomb at Sakkara, has been
frequently drawn; but one of the most instructive is that in a tomb
discovered by Colonel Campbell (Woodcut No. 101), showing a very
primitive form of an arch composed of 3 stones only, and above which is
another arch of regular construction of 4 courses. In his researches at
Nimroud, Layard discovered vaulted drains and chambers below the
north-west and south-east edifices, which were consequently as old as
the 8th or 9th century before our era, and contemporary with those in
the pyramids of Meroë. They were of both circular and pointed forms, and
built apparently with great care and attention to the principles of the
arch (Woodcut No. 102).

[Illustration: 102. Vaulted Drain beneath the South-East Palace at

The great discovery of this class is that of the city gates at
Khorsabad, which, as mentioned at p. 181, were spanned by arches of
semicircular form, so perfect both in construction and in the mode in
which they were ornamented, as to prove that in the time of Sargon the
arch was a usual and well-understood building expedient, and one
consequently which we may fairly assume to have been long in use.

[Illustration: 103. Arch at Dêr-el-Bahree. (Lepsius.)]

On the other hand, we have in the temple at Dêr-el-Bahree in Thebes,
built by Thothmes III., a curious example of the retention of the old
form, when at first sight it would appear as though the true arch would
have been a more correct expedient. In this example, the lower arch is
composed of stones bracketing forward horizontally, though the form of
the arch is semicircular; and above this is a discharging arch of two
stones used as in the Pyramids. The upper arch is so arranged as to
relieve the crown of the lower—which is its weakest part—of all weight,
and at the same time to throw the whole pressure on the outer ends of
the arch stones, exactly where it is wanted. The whole thus becomes
constructively perfect, though it is a more expensive way of attaining
the end desired than by an arch.

The truth seems to be, the Egyptians had not at this age invented
voussoirs deeper in the direction of the radii of the arch than in that
of its perimeter; and the arch with them was consequently not generally
an appropriate mode of roofing. It was the Romans with their tiles who
first really understood the true employment of the arch.

So far as we can now understand from the discoveries that have been
made, it seems that the Assyrians used the pointed arch for tunnels,
aqueducts, and generally for underground work where they feared great
superincumbent pressure on the apex, and the round arch above-ground
where that was not to be dreaded; and in this they probably showed more
science and discrimination than we do in such works.

[Illustration: 104. Arch of the Cloaca Maxima, Rome. Scale 50 ft. to 1

In Europe the oldest arch is probably that of Cloaca Maxima at Rome,
constructed under the early kings. It is of stone in 3 rims, and shows
as perfect a knowledge of the principle as any subsequent example. Its
lasting uninjured to the present day proves how well the art was then
understood, and, by inference, how long it must have been practised
before reaching that degree of perfection.

From all this it becomes almost certain that the arch was used as early
as the times of the pyramid-builders of the 4th dynasty, and was copied
in the tombs of Beni-Hasan in the 12th; though it may be that the
earliest existing example cannot be dated further back than the first
kings of the 18th dynasty; from that time, however, there can be no
doubt that it was currently used, not only in Egypt, but also in
Ethiopia and Assyria.

It would, indeed, be more difficult to account for the fact of such
perfect builders as the Egyptians being ignorant of the arch if such
were the case; though, at the same time, it is easy to understand why
they should use it so sparingly, as they did in their monumental

Even in the simplest arch, that formed of only two stones, such as is
frequently found in the pyramids, and over the highest chamber (Woodcut
No. 8), it will be evident that any weight placed on the apex has a
tendency to lower the summit, and press the lower ends of the stones
outwards. Where there was the whole mass of the pyramid to abut against,
this was of no consequence, but in a slighter building it would have
thrust the walls apart, and brought on inevitable ruin.

The introduction of a third stone, as in the arch (Woodcut No. 101),
hardly remedied this at all, the central stone acting like a wedge to
thrust the two others apart; and even the introduction of 2 more stones,
making 5, as in Woodcut No. 105, only distributed the pressure without
remedying the defect; and without the most perfect masonry every
additional joint was only an additional source of weakness.

[Illustration: 105. Arches in the Pyramids at Meroë. (From Hoskins.)]

This has been felt by the architects of all ages and in all countries:
still, the advantage of being able to cover large spaces with small
stones or bricks is so great, that many have been willing to run the
risk; and all the ingenuity of the Gothic architects of the Middle Ages
was applied to overcoming the difficulty. But even the best of their
buildings are unstable from this cause, and require constant care and
attention to keep them from falling.

The Indian architects have fallen into the other extreme, refusing to
use the arch under any circumstances, and preferring the smallest
dimensions and the most crowded interiors, to adopting what they
consider so destructive an expedient. As mentioned in the Introduction
(page 22), their theory is that “an arch never sleeps,” and is
constantly tending to tear a building to pieces: and, where aided by
earthquakes and the roots of trees, there is only too much truth in
their belief.

The Egyptians seem to have followed a middle course, using arches either
in tombs, where the rock formed an immovable abutment; or in pyramids
and buildings, where the mass immensely overpowered the thrust; or
underground, where the superincumbent earth prevented movement.

They seem also to have used flat segmental arches of brickwork between
the rows of massive architraves which they placed on their pillars; and
as all these abutted one another, like the arches of a bridge, except
the external ones, which were sufficiently supported by the massive
walls, the mode of construction was a sound one. This is exactly that
which we have re-introduced during the last 30 years, in consequence of
the application of cast-iron beams, between which flat segmental arches
of brick are thrown, when we desire to introduce a more solid and
fire-proof construction than is possible with wood only.

In their use of the arch, as in everything else, the building science of
the Egyptians seems to have been governed by the soundest principles and
the most perfect knowledge of what was judicious and expedient, and what
should be avoided. Many of their smaller edifices have no doubt perished
from the scarcity of wood forcing the builders to employ brick arches,
but they wisely avoided the use of these in all their larger
monuments—in all, in fact, which they wished should endure to the latest

                              CHAPTER VI.



                          Moses      B.C. 1312
                          Solomon         1013
                          Ezekiel          573
                          Zerubbabel       520
                          Herod             20
                          Titus        A.D. 70

The Jews, like the other Semitic races, were not a building people, and
never aspired to monumental magnificence as a mode of perpetuating the
memory of their greatness. The palace of Solomon was wholly of cedar
wood, and must have perished of natural decay in a few centuries, if it
escaped fire and other accidents incident to such temporary structures.
Their first temple was a tent, their second depended almost entirely on
its metallic ornaments for its splendour, and it was not till the Greeks
and Romans taught them how to apply stone and stone carving for this
purpose that we have anything that can be called architecture in the
true sense of the term.

This deficiency of monuments is, however, by no means peculiar to the
Jewish people. As before observed, we should know hardly anything of the
architecture of Assyria but for the existence of the wainscot slabs of
their palaces, though they were nearly a purely Semitic people, but
their art rested on a Turanian basis. Neither Tyre nor Sidon have left
us a single monument; nor Utica nor Carthage one vestige that dates
anterior to the Roman period. What is found at Jerusalem, at Baalbec, at
Palmyra, or Petra, even in the countries beyond the Jordan, is all
Roman. What little traces of Phœnician art are picked up in the
countries bordering on the Mediterranean are copies, with Egyptian or
Grecian details, badly and unintelligently copied, and showing a want of
appreciation of the first principles of art that is remarkable in that
age. It is therefore an immense gain if by our knowledge of Assyrian art
we are enabled, even in a moderate degree, to realise the form of
buildings which have long ceased to exist, and are only known to us from
verbal descriptions.

[Illustration: 106. Diagram Plan of Solomon’s Palace. Scale of 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

The most celebrated secular building of the Jews was the palace which
Solomon was occupied in building during the thirteen years which
followed his completion of the Temple. As not one vestige of this
celebrated building remains, and even its site is a matter of dispute,
the annexed plan must be taken only as an attempt to apply the knowledge
we have acquired in Assyria and Judea to the elucidation of the
descriptions of the Bible and Josephus,[102] and as such may be
considered of sufficient interest to deserve a place in the History of

The principal apartment here, as in all Eastern palaces, was the great
audience hall, in this instance 150 feet in length by 75 in width; the
roof composed of cedar, and, like the Ninevite palaces, supported by
rows of cedar pillars on the floor. According to Josephus, who, however,
never saw it, and had evidently the Roman Stoa Basilica of the Temple in
his eye, the section would probably have been as shown in diagram A. But
the contemporary Bible narrative, which is the real authority, would
almost certainly point to something more like the Diagram B in the
annexed woodcut.

[Illustration: 107. Diagram Sections of the House of the Cedars of

Next in importance to this was the Porch, which was the audience or
reception hall, attached to the private apartments; these two being the
Dewanni Aum and Dewanni Khas of Eastern palaces, at this day. The Hall
of Judgment we may venture to restore with confidence, from what we find
at Persepolis and Khorsabad; and the courts are arranged in the diagram
as they were found in Ninevite palaces. They are proportioned, so far as
we can now judge, to those parts of which the dimensions are given by
the authorities, and to the best estimate we can now make of what would
be most suitable to Solomon’s state, and to such a capital as Jerusalem
was at that time.

From Josephus we learn that Solomon built the walls of this palace “with
stones 10 cubits in length, and wainscoted them with stones that were
sawed and were of great value, such as are dug out of the earth for the
ornaments of temples and the adornment of palaces.”[103] These were
ornamented with sculptures in three rows, but the fourth or upper row
was the most remarkable, being covered with foliage in relief, of the
most exquisite workmanship; above this the walls were plastered and
ornamented with paintings in colour: all of which is the exact
counterpart of what we find at Nineveh.

From the knowledge we now possess of Assyrian palaces it might indeed be
possible to restore this building with fairly approximate correctness,
but it would hardly be worth while to attempt this except in a work
especially devoted to Jewish art. For the present it must suffice to
know that the affinities of the architecture of Solomon’s age were
certainly Assyrian; and from our knowledge of the one we may pretty
accurately realise the form of the other.

                          TEMPLE OF JERUSALEM.

Although not one stone remains upon another of the celebrated Temple of
Jerusalem, still, the descriptions in the Bible and Josephus are so
precise, that now that we are able to interpret them by the light of
other buildings, its history can be written with very tolerable

The earliest temple of the Jews was the Tabernacle, the plan of which
they always considered as divinely revealed to them through Moses in the
desert of Sinai, and from which they consequently never departed in any
subsequent erections. Its dimensions were for the cella, or Holy of
Holies, 10 cubits or 15 ft. cube; for the outer temple, two such cubes
or 15 ft. by 30. These were covered by the sloping roofs of the tent,
which extended 5 cubits in every direction beyond the temple itself,
making the whole 40 cubits or 60 ft. in length by 20 cubits or 30 ft. in
width. These stood within an enclosure 100 cubits long by 50 cubits

[Illustration: 108. The Tabernacle, showing one half ground plan and one
half as covered by the curtains.]

When Solomon (B.C. 1015) built the Temple, he did not alter the
disposition in any manner, but adopted it literally, only doubling every
dimension. Thus the Holy of Holies became a cube of 20 cubits; the Holy
place, 20 by 40; the porch and the chambers which surrounded it 10
cubits each, making a total of 80 cubits or 120 ft. by 40 cubits or 60
ft., with a height of 30 as compared with 15, which was the height of
the ridge of the Tabernacle, and it was surrounded by a court the
dimensions of which were 200 cubits in length by 100 in width.

Even with these increased dimensions the Temple was a very insignificant
building in size: the truth being that, like the temples of Semitic
nations, it was more in the character of a shrine or of a treasury
intended to contain certain precious works in metal.

[Illustration: 109. South-East View of the Tabernacle, as restored by
the Author.]

The principal ornaments of its façade were two brazen pillars, Jachin
and Boaz, which seem to have been wonders of metal work, and regarding
which more has been written, and it may be added, more nonsense, than
regarding almost any other known architectural objects. The truth of the
matter appears to be that the translators of our Bibles in no instance
were architects, and none of the architects who have attempted the
restoration were learned as Hebrew scholars; and consequently the truth
has fallen to the ground between the two. A brazen pillar, however, 18
cubits high and 12 cubits in circumference—6 ft. in diameter—is an
absurdity that no brass-founder ever could have perpetrated. In the
Hebrew, the 15th verse reads: “He cast two pillars of brass, 18 cubits
was the height of the one pillar, and a line of 12 cubits encompassed
the other pillar.”[105] The truth of the matter seems to be that what
Solomon erected was a screen (chapiter) consisting of two parts, one 4
cubits, the other 5 cubits in height, and supported by two pillars of
metal, certainly not more than 1 cubit in diameter, and standing 12
cubits apart: nor does it seem difficult to perceive what purpose this
screen was designed to effect. As will be observed, in the restoration
of the Tabernacle (Woodcut No. 109), the whole of the light to the
interior is admitted from the front. In the Temple the only light that
could penetrate to the Holy of Holies was from the front also; and
though the Holy place was partially lighted from the sides, its
principal source of light must have been through the eastern façade. In
consequence of this there must have been a large opening or window in
this front, and as a window was a thing that they had not yet learned to
make an ornamental feature in architectural design, they took this mode
of screening and partially, at least, hiding it.

It becomes almost absolutely certain that this is the true solution of
the riddle, when we find that when Herod rebuilt the Temple in the first
century B.C., he erected a similar screen for the same purpose in front
of his Temple. Its dimensions, however, were one-third larger. It was 40
cubits high, and 20 cubits across, and it supported five beams instead
of two;[106] not to display the chequer-work and pomegranates of
Solomon’s screen, but to carry the Golden Vine, which was the principal
ornament of the façade of the Temple in its latest form.[107]

[Illustration: 110. Plan of Solomon’s Temple, showing the disposition of
the chambers in two storeys.]

Although it is easy to understand how it was quite possible in metal
work to introduce all the ornaments enumerated in the Bible, and with
gilding and colour to make these objects of wonder, we have no examples
with which we can compare them, and any restoration must consequently be
somewhat fanciful. Still, we must recollect that this was the “bronze
age” of architecture. Homer tells us of the brazen house of Priam, and
the brazen palace of Alcinous; the Treasuries at Mycenæ were covered
internally with bronze plates; and in Etruscan tombs of this age metal
was far more essentially the material of decoration than carving in
stone, or any of the modes afterwards so frequently adopted. The altar
of the Temple was of brass. The molten sea, supported by twelve brazen
oxen; the bases, the lavers, and all the other objects in metal work,
were in reality what made the Temple so celebrated; and very little was
due to the mere masonry by which we should judge of a Christian church
or any modern building.

No pillars are mentioned as supporting the roof, but every analogy
derived from Persian architecture, as well as the constructive
necessities of the case, would lead us to suppose they must have
existed, four in the sanctuary and eight in the pronaos.

[Illustration: 111. Plan of Temple at Jerusalem, as rebuilt by Herod.
Scale 200 ft. to 1 in.]

The temple which Ezekiel saw in a vision on the banks of the Chebar was
identical in dimensions with that of Solomon, in so far as naos and
pronaos were concerned. But a passage round the naos was introduced,
giving access to the chambers, which added 10 cubits to its dimensions
every way, making it 100 cubits by 60. The principal court, which
contained the Altar and the Temple properly so called, had the same
dimensions as in Solomon’s Temple; but he added, in imagination at
least, four courts, each 100 cubits or 150 ft. square. That on the east
certainly existed, and seems to have been the new court of Solomon’s
Temple,[108] and is what in that of Herod became the court of the
Gentiles. The north and south courts were never apparently carried out.
They did not exist in Solomon’s Temple, and there is evidence to show
that they were not found in Zerubbabel’s.[109] That on the north-west
angle was the citadel of the Temple, where the treasures were kept, and
which was afterwards replaced by the Tower Antonia.

[Illustration: 112. View of the Temple from the East, as it appeared at
the time of the Crucifixion. (From a drawing by the Author.)]

When the Jews returned from the Captivity they rebuilt the Temple
exactly as it had been described by Ezekiel, in so far as dimensions are
concerned, except that, as just mentioned, they do not seem to have been
able to accomplish the northern and southern courts.

The materials, however, were probably inferior to the original Temple;
and we hear nothing of brazen pillars in the porch, nor of the splendid
vessels and furniture which made the glory of Solomon’s Temple, so that
the Jews were probably justified in mourning over its comparative

In the last Temple we have a perfect illustration of the mode in which
the architectural enterprises of that country were carried out. The
priests restored the Temple itself, not venturing to alter a single one
of its sacred dimensions, only adding wings to the façade so as to make
it 100 cubits wide, and it is said 100 cubits high, while the length
remained 100 cubits as before.[111] At this period, however, Judea was
under the sway of the Romans and under the influence of their ideas, and
the outer courts were added with a magnificence of which former builders
had no conception, but bore strongly the impress of the architectural
magnificence of the Romans.

An area measuring 600 feet each way was enclosed by terraced walls of
the utmost lithic grandeur. On these were erected porticoes unsurpassed
by any we know of. One, the Stoa Basilica, had a section equal to that
of our largest cathedrals, and surpassed them all in length, and within
this colonnaded enclosure were ten great gateways, two of which were of
surpassing magnificence: the whole making up a rich and varied pile
worthy of the Roman love of architectural display, but in singular
contrast with the modest aspirations of a purely Semitic people.

It is always extremely difficult to restore any building from mere
verbal description, and still more so when erected by a people of whose
architecture we know so little as we do of that of the Jews. Still, the
woodcut on the opposite page is probably not very far from representing
the Temple as it was after the last restoration by Herod, barring of
course the screen bearing the Vine mentioned above, which is omitted.
Without attempting to justify every detail, it seems such a mixture of
Roman with Phœnician forms as might be expected and is warranted by
Josephus’s description. There is no feature for which authority could
not be quoted, but the difficulty is to know whether or not the example
adduced is the right one, or the one which bears most directly on the
subject. After all, perhaps, its principal defect is that it does not
(how can a modern restoration?) do justice to the grandeur and beauty of
the whole.

As it has been necessary to anticipate the chronological sequence of
events in order not to separate the temples of the Jews from one
another, it may be as well before proceeding further to allude to
several temples similarly situated which apparently were originally
Semitic shrines but rebuilt in Roman times. That at Palmyra, for
instance, is a building very closely resembling that at Jerusalem, in so
far at least as the outer enclosure is concerned.[112] It consists of a
cloistered enclosure of somewhat larger dimensions, measuring externally
730 ft. by 715, with a small temple of an anomalous form in the centre.
It wants, however, all the inner enclosures and curious substructures of
the Jewish fane; but this may have arisen from its having been rebuilt
in late Roman times, and consequently shorn of these peculiarities. It
is so similar, however, that it must be regarded as a cognate temple to
that at Jerusalem, though re-erected by a people of another race.

A third temple, apparently very similar to these, is that of Kangovar in
Persia.[113] Only a portion now remains of the great court in which it
stood, and which was nearly of the same dimensions as those of Jerusalem
and Palmyra, being 660 ft. by 568. In the centre are the vestiges of a
small temple. At Aizaini in Asia Minor[114] is a fourth, with a similar
court; but here the temple is more important, and assumes more
distinctly the forms of a regular Roman peristylar temple of the usual
form, though still small and insignificant for so considerable an

The mosque of Damascus was once one of these great square
temple-enclosures, with a small temple, properly so called, in the
centre. It may have been as magnificent, perhaps more so, than any of
these just enumerated, but it has been so altered by Christian and
Moslem rebuildings, that it is almost impossible now to make out what
its original form may have been.

None of these are original buildings, but still, when put together and
compared the one with the other, and, above all, when examined by the
light which discoveries farther east have enabled us to throw on the
subject, they enable us to restore this style in something like its
pristine form. At present, it is true, they are but the scattered
fragments of an art of which it is feared no original specimens now
remain, and which can only therefore be recovered by induction from
similar cognate examples of other, though allied, styles of art.

                              CHAPTER VII.

                              ASIA MINOR.


        Historical notice—Tombs at Smyrna—Doganlu—Lycian tombs.

It is now perhaps in vain to expect that any monuments of the most
ancient times, of great extent or of great architectural importance,
remain to be discovered in Asia Minor; still, it is a storehouse from
which much information may yet be gleaned, and whence we may expect the
solution of many dark historical problems, if ever they are to be solved
at all.

Situated as that country is, in the very centre of the old world,
surrounded on three sides by navigable seas opening all the regions of
the world to her commerce, possessing splendid harbours, a rich soil,
and the finest climate of the whole earth, it must not only have been
inhabited at the earliest period of history, but must have risen to a
pitch of civilisation at a time preceding any written histories that we
possess. We may recollect that, in the time of Psammeticus, Phrygia
contended with Egypt for the palm of antiquity, and from the monuments
of the 18th dynasty we know what rich spoil, what beautiful vases of
gold, and other tributes of a rich and luxurious people, the Pout and
Roteno and other inhabitants of Asia Minor brought and laid at the feet
of Thothmes and other early kings eighteen centuries at least before the
Christian era.

At a later period (716 to 547 B.C.) the Lydian empire was one of the
richest and most powerful in Asia; and contemporary with this and for a
long period subsequent to it, the Ionian colonies of Greece surpassed
the mother country in wealth and refinement, and almost rivalled her in
literature and art. Few cities of the ancient world surpassed Ephesus,
Sardis, or Halicarnassus in splendour; and Troy, Tarsus, and Trebisond
mark three great epochs in the history of Asia Minor which are
unsurpassed in interest and political importance by the retrospect of
any cities of the world. Excepting, however, the remains of the Greek
and Roman periods—the great temples of the first, and the great theatres
of the latter period—little that is architectural remains in this once
favoured land. It happens also unfortunately that there was no great
capital city—no central point—where we can look for monuments of
importance. The defect in the physical geography of the country is that
it has no great river running through it—no vast central plain capable
of supporting a population sufficiently great to overpower the rest and
to give unity to the whole.

[Illustration: 113. Elevation of Tumulus at Tantalais. (From Texier’s
‘Asie Mineure.’) 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 114. Plan and Section of Chamber in Tumulus at

So far as our researches yet reach, it would seem that the oldest
remains still found in Asia Minor are the tumuli of Tantalais, on the
northern shore of the Gulf of Smyrna. They seem as if left there most
opportunely to authenticate the tradition of the Etruscans having sailed
from this port for Italy. One of these is represented in Woodcuts Nos.
113 and 114. Though these tumuli are built wholly of stone, no one
familiar with architectural resemblances can fail to see in them a
common origin with those of Etruria. The stylobate, the sloping sides,
the inner chamber, with its pointed roof, all the arrangements, indeed,
are the same, and the whole character of the necropolis at Tantalais
would be as appropriate at Tarquinii or Cæræ as at Smyrna.

[Illustration: 115. Section of Tomb of Alyattes. (From Spiegelthal.) No

Another tumulus of equal interest historically is that of Alyattes, near
Sardis, described with such care by Herodotus,[115] and which was
explored 35 years ago by Spiegelthal, the Prussian consul at
Smyrna.[116] According to the measurements of Herodotus, it was either
3800 or 4100 ft. in circumference; at present it is found to be 1180 ft.
in diameter, and consequently about 3700 ft. in circumference at the top
of the basement, though of course considerably more below. It is
situated on the edge of a rocky ridge, which is made level on one side
by a terrace-wall of large stones, 60 ft. in height; above this the
mound rises to the height of 142 ft.: the total height above the plain
being 228 ft. The upper part of the mound is composed of alternate
layers of clay, loam, and a kind of rubble concrete. These support a
mass of brickwork, surmounted by a platform of masonry; on this one of
the steles described by Herodotus still lies, and one of the smaller
ones was found close by.

The funereal chamber was discovered resting on the rock at about 160 ft.
from the centre of the mound. Its dimensions were 11 ft. by 7 ft. 9 in.,
and 7 ft. high; the roof flat and composed of large stones, on which
rested a layer of charcoal and ashes, 2 ft. in thickness, evidently the
remains of the offerings which had been made after the chamber was
closed, but before the mound had been raised over it.

There are in the same locality an immense number of tumuli of various
dimensions, among which Herr Spiegelthal fancies he can discriminate
three classes, belonging to three distinct ages; that of Alyattes
belonging to the most modern. This is extremely probable, as at this
time (B.C. 561) the fashion of erecting tumuli as monuments was dying
out in this part of the world, though it continued in less civilised
parts of Europe till long after the Christian era.

The tumuli that still adorn the Plain of Troy are probably contemporary
with the oldest of the three groups of those around the Gygean Lake.
Indeed, there does not seem much reason for doubting that they were
really raised over the ashes of the heroes who took part in that
memorable struggle, and whose names they still bear.

The recent explorations of these mounds do not seem to have thrown much
light on the subject, but if we can trust the account Chevalier gives of
his researches at the end of the last century, the case is clear enough,
and there can be very little doubt but that the Dios Tepe on the Sigæan
promontory is really the tomb of Achilles.[117] Intensely interesting
though they are in other respects, Schliemann’s discoveries on the site
of Troy have done very little to increase our knowledge of the
architecture of the period. This may partly be owing to his ignorance of
the art, and to his having no architect with him, but it does not appear
that any architectural mouldings were discovered earlier than those of
“Ilium Novum,” two or three centuries before Christ. The so-called
Temple of Minerva was without pillars or mouldings of any sort, and the
walls and gates of the old city were equally devoid of ornament. What
was found seems to confirm the idea that the Trojans were a
Turanian-Pelasgic people burying their dead in mounds, and revelling in
barbaric splendour, but not having reached that degree of civilisation
which would induce them to seek to perpetuate their forms of art in more
permanent materials than earth and metals.[118]

It is not clear whether any other great groups of tumuli exist in Asia
Minor, but it seems more than probable that in the earliest times the
whole of this country was inhabited by a Pelasgic race, who were the
first known occupants of Greece, and who built the so-called Treasuries
of Mycenæ and Orchomenos, and who sent forth the Etruscans to civilise
Italy. If this be so, it accounts for the absence of architectural
remains, for they would have left behind them no buildings but the
sepulchres of their departed great ones; and if their history is to be
recovered, it must be sought for in the bowels of the earth, and not in
anything existing above-ground.

Next to these in point of age and style comes a curious group of
rock-cut monuments, found in the centre of the land at Doganlu. They are
placed on the rocky side of a narrow valley, and are unconnected
apparently with any great city or centre of population. Generally they
are called tombs, but there are no chambers nor anything about them to
indicate a funereal purpose, and the inscriptions which accompany them
are not on the monuments themselves, nor do they refer to such a
destination. Altogether they are certainly among the most mysterious
remains of antiquity, and, beyond a certain similarity to the rock-cut
tombs around Persepolis, present no features that afford even a remote
analogy to other monuments which might guide us in our conjectures as to
the purpose for which they were designed. They are of a style of art
clearly indicating a wooden origin, and consist of a square
frontispiece, either carved into certain geometric shapes, or apparently
prepared for painting; at each side is a flat pilaster, and above a
pediment terminating in two scrolls. Some—apparently the more
modern—have pillars of a rude Doric order, and all indeed are much more
singular than beautiful. When more of the same class are discovered,
they may help us to some historic data: all that we can now advance is,
that, judging from the inscriptions on them and the traditions in
Herodotus, they would appear to belong to some race from Thessaly, or
thereabouts, who at some remote period crossed the Hellespont and
settled in their neighbourhood; they may be dated as far back as 1000,
and most probably 700 years at least before the Christian Era.

[Illustration: 116. Rock-cut Frontispiece at Doganlu. (From Texier’s
‘Asie Mineure.’)]

There are other rock-cut sculptures farther east, at Pterium and
elsewhere; but all these are figure sculptures, without architectural
form or details, and therefore hardly coming within the limits of this

The only remaining important architectural group in Asia Minor is that
of Lycia, made known in this country since the year 1838, by the
investigations of Sir Charles Fellows and others. Interesting though
they certainly are, they are extremely disheartening to any one looking
for earlier remains in this land,—inasmuch as all of them, and more
especially the older ones, indicate distinctly a wooden origin—more
strongly perhaps than any architectural remains in the Western world.
The oldest of them cannot well be carried farther back than the Persian
conquest of Cyrus and Harpagus. In other words, it seems perfectly
evident that up to that period the Lycians used only wood for their
buildings, and that it was only at that time, and probably from the
Greeks or Egyptians, that they, like the Persians themselves, first
learnt to substitute for their frail and perishable structures others of
a more durable material.

[Illustration: 117. Lycian Tomb. (From British Museum.)]

As already observed, the same process can be traced in Egypt in the
earliest ages. In Central Asia the change was effected by the Persians.
In India between the 2nd and 3rd centuries B.C. In Greece—in what was
not borrowed from the Egyptians—the change took place a little earlier
than in Lycia, or say in the 7th century B.C. What is important to
observe here is that, wherever the process can be detected, it is in
vain to look for earlier buildings. It is only in the infancy of stone
architecture that men adhere to wooden forms; and as soon as habit gives
them familiarity with the new material they abandon the incongruities of
the style, and we lose all trace of the original form, which never
reappears at an after age.

All the original buildings of Lycia are tombs or monumental erections of
some kind, and generally may be classed under two heads, those having
curvilinear and those having rectilinear roofs, of both which classes
examples are found structural—or standing alone—as well as rock-cut. The
woodcut (No. 117) represents a perfectly constructed tomb. It consists
first of a double podium, which may have been in all cases, or at least
generally, of stone. Above this is a rectangular chest or sarcophagus,
certainly copied from a wooden form; all the mortises and framing, even
to the pins that held them together, being literally rendered in the
stonework. Above this is a curvilinear roof of pointed form, which also
is in all its parts a copy of an original in wood.

The staves or bearers of the lower portion of the chest or sarcophagus
would suggest that the original feature was a portable ark, the upper
portion of which was framed in bamboo or some pliable wood tied together
by cross timbers or purlins which are carved on the principal front. A
somewhat similar scheme of construction is shown in the Chaityas of the
Buddhist temples, which are supposed to have been copies of wooden
structures not dissimilar to the Toda Mant huts which are built by the
Hindus down to the present day.[119]

[Illustration: 118. Rock-cut Lycian Tomb. (From Forbes and Spratt’s

[Illustration: 119. Rock-cut Lycian Tomb. (From Sir Charles Fellows’s

[Illustration: 120. Rock-cut Lycian Tomb. (From Texier’s ‘Asie

When these forms are repeated in the rock the stylobate is omitted, and
only the upper part represented, as shown in the annexed woodcut (No.

When the curvilinear roof is omitted, a flat one is substituted, nearly
similar to those common in the country at the present day, consisting of
beams of unsquared timber, laid side by side as close as they can be
laid, and over this a mass of concrete or clay, sufficiently thick to
prevent the rain from penetrating through. Sometimes this is surmounted
by a low pediment, and sometimes the lower framing also stands out from
the rock, so as to give the entrance of the tomb something of a
porchlike form. Both these forms are illustrated in the two woodcuts
(Nos. 119 and 120), and numerous varieties of them are shown in the
works of Sir Charles Fellows and others, all containing the same
elements, and betraying most distinctly the wooden origin from which
they were derived.

[Illustration: 121. Ionic Lycian Tomb. (From Texier’s ‘Asie Mineure.’)]

The last form that these buildings took was in the substitution of an
Ionic façade for these carpentry forms: this was not done apparently at
once, for, though the Ionic form was evidently borrowed from the
neighbouring Greek cities, it was only adopted by degrees, and even then
betrayed more strongly the wooden forms from which its entablature was
derived than is usually found in other or more purely Grecian examples.
As soon as it had fairly gained a footing, the wooden style was
abandoned, and a masonry one substituted in its stead. The whole change
took place in this country probably within a century; but this is not a
fair test of the time such a process usually takes, as here it was
evidently done under foreign influence and with the spur given by the
example of a stone-building people. We have no knowledge of how long it
took in Egypt to effect the transformation. In India, where the form and
construction of the older Buddhist temples resemble so singularly these
examples in Lycia, the process can be traced through five or six
centuries; and in Persia it took perhaps nearly as long to convert the
wooden designs of the Assyrians into even the imperfect stone
architecture of the Achæmenians. Even in their best and most perfect
buildings, however, much remained to be done before the carpentry types
were fairly got rid of and the style became entitled to rank among the
masonic arts of the world.

The remaining ancient buildings of Asia Minor were all built by the
Greeks and Romans, each in their own style, so that their classification
and description belong properly to the chapters treating of the
architectural history of those nations, from which they cannot properly
be separated, although it is at the same time undoubtedly true that the
purely European forms of the art were considerably modified by the
influence on them of local Asiatic forms and feelings. The Ionic order,
for instance, which arose in the Grecian colonies on the coast, is only
the native style of this country Doricised, if the expression may be
used. In other words, the local method of building had become so
modified and altered by the Greeks in adapting it to the Doric, which
had become the typical style with them, as to cause the loss of almost
all its original Asiatic forms. It thus became essentially a stone
architecture with external columns, instead of a style indulging only in
wooden pillars, and those used internally, as there is every reason to
suppose was the earlier form of the art. The Ionic style, thus composed
of two elements, took the arrangement of the temples from the Doric, and
their details from the Asiatic original. The Roman temples, on the
contrary, which have been erected in this part of the world, in their
columns and other details exactly follow the buildings at Rome itself:
while, as in the instances above quoted of Jerusalem, Palmyra, Kangovar,
and others, the essential forms and arrangements are all local and
Asiatic. The former are Greek temples with Asiatic details, the latter
Asiatic temples with only Roman masonic forms. The Greeks, in fact, were
colonists, the Romans only conquerors; and hence the striking difference
in the style of Asiatic art executed under their respective influence.
We shall have frequent occasion in the sequel to refer to this

Though not strictly within the geographical limits of this chapter,
there is a group of tombs at Amrith—the ancient Marathos, on the coast
of Syria—which are too interesting to be passed over; but so exceptional
in the present state of our knowledge, that it is difficult to assign
them their proper place anywhere.

The principal monument, represented in woodcut No. 122, is 31 ft. 8 in.
in height, composed of very large blocks of stone and situated over a
sepulchral cavern. There is no inscription or indication to enable us to
fix its date with certainty.[120] The details of its architecture might
be called Assyrian; but we know of nothing in that country that at all
resembles it. On the other hand there is a moulding on its base, which,
if correctly drawn, would appear to be of Roman origin; and there is a
look about the lions that would lead us to suspect they were carved
under Greek influence—after the age of Alexander at least.

[Illustration: 122. Elevation of the Monument and Section of the Tomb at
Amrith. (From Renan.[121])]

The interest consists in its being almost the only perfect survivor of a
class of monuments at one time probably very common; but which we are
led to believe from the style of ornamentation were generally in brick.
It is also suggestive, from its close resemblance to the Buddhist topes
in Afghanistan and India; the tall form of those, especially in the
first-named country, and their universally domical outline, point
unmistakably to some such original as this: and lastly, were I asked to
point out the building in the old world which most resembled the stele
which Herod erected over the Tombs of the Kings at Jerusalem, in
expiation of his desecration of their sanctity,[122] this is the
monument to which I should unhesitatingly refer.

[Illustration: 123. West View of the Acropolis restored. (From
Wordsworth’s ‘Athens.’[123])]

                               BOOK III.

                               CHAPTER I.



Historical notice—Pelasgic art—Tomb of Atreus—Other remains—Hellenic
  Greece—History of the orders—Doric order—the Parthenon—Ionic
  order—Corinthian order—Caryatides—Forms of temples—Mode of
  lighting—Municipal architecture—Theatres.

                        CHRONOLOGICAL MEMORANDA.


 Atridæ at Mycenæ, from                                B.C. 1207 to 1104

 Return of the Heraclidæ to Peloponnese                             1104

 Olympiads commence                                                  776

 Cypselidæ at Corinth—Building of temple   at                 655 to 581
 Corinth, from

 Selinus founded, and first temple   commenced                       626

 Ascendency of Ægina—Building of temple   at Ægina,           508 to 499

 Battle of Marathon                                                  490

 Battle of Salamis                                                   480

 Theron at Agrigentum. Commences great   temple                      480

 Cimon at Athens. Temple of Theseus built                            469

 Pericles at Athens. Parthenon finished                              438

 Temple of Jupiter at Olympia finished                               436

 Propylæa at Athens built, from                               437 to 432

 Selinus destroyed by Carthaginians                                  410

 Erechtheium at Athens finished                                      409

 Monument of Lysicrates at Athens                                    335

 Death of Alexander the Great                                        324

Till within a very recent period the histories of Greece and Rome have
been considered as the ancient histories of the world; and even now, in
our universities and public schools, it is scarcely acknowledged that a
more ancient record has been read on the monuments of Egypt and dug out
of the bowels of the earth in Assyria.

It is nevertheless true that the decipherment of the hieroglyphics on
the one hand, and the reading of the arrow-headed characters on the
other, have disclosed to us two forms of civilisation anterior to that
which reappeared in Greece in the 8th century before Christ. Based on
those that preceded it, the Hellenic form developed itself there with a
degree of perfection never before seen, nor has it, in its own peculiar
department, ever been since surpassed.

These discoveries have been of the utmost importance, not only in
correcting our hitherto narrow views of ancient history, but in
assisting to explain much that was obscure, or utterly unintelligible,
in those histories with which we were more immediately familiar. We now,
for the first time, comprehend whence the Greeks obtained many of their
arts and much of their civilisation, and to what extent the character of
these was affected by the sources from which they were derived.

Having already described the artistic forms of Egypt and Assyria, it is
not difficult to discover the origin of almost every idea, and of every
architectural feature, that was afterwards found in Greece. But even
with this assistance we should not be able to understand the phenomena
which Greek art presents to us, were it not that the monuments reveal to
us the existence of two distinct and separate races existing
contemporaneously in Greece. If the Greeks were as purely Aryan as their
language would lead us to believe, all our ethnographic theories are at
fault. But this is precisely one of those cases where archæology steps
in to supplement what philology tells us and to elucidate what that
science fails to reveal. That the language of the Greeks, with the
smallest possible admixture from other sources, is pure Aryan, no one
will dispute: but their arts, their religion, and frequently their
institutions, tend to ascribe to them an altogether different origin.
Fortunately the ruins at Mycenæ and Orchomenos are sufficient to afford
us a key to the mystery. From them we learn that at the time of the war
of Troy a people were supreme in Greece who were not Hellenes, but who
were closely allied to the Etruscans and other tomb-building, art-loving
races. Whether they were purely Turanian, or merely ultra-Celtic, may be
questioned; but one thing seems clear, that this people were then known
to the ancients under the name of Pelasgi, and it is their presence in
Greece, mixed up with the more purely Dorian races, which explains what
would otherwise be unintelligible in Grecian civilisation.

Except from our knowledge of the existence of a strong infusion of
Turanian blood into the veins of the Grecian people, it would be
impossible to understand how a people so purely Aryan in appearance came
to adopt a religion so essentially Anthropic and Ancestral. Their belief
in oracles, their worship of trees,[124] and many minor peculiarities,
were altogether abhorrent to the Aryan mind.

The existence of these two antagonistic elements satisfactorily explains
how it was that while art was unknown in the purely Dorian city of
Sparta, it flourished so exuberantly in the quasi-Pelasgic city of
Athens; why the Dorians borrowed their architectural order from Egypt,
and hardly changed its form during the long period they employed it; and
how it came to pass that the eastern art of the Persians was brought
into Greece, and how it was there modified so essentially that we hardly
recognise the original in its altered and more perfect form. It
explains, too, how the different States of Greece were artistic or
matter-of-fact in the exact proportion in which either of the two
elements predominated in the people.

Thus the poetry of Arcadia was unknown in the neighbouring State of
Sparta; but the Doric race there remained true to their institutions and
spread their colonies and their power farther than any other of the
little principalities of Greece. The institutions of Lycurgus could
never have been maintained in Athens; but, on the other hand, the
Parthenon was as impossible in the Lacedemonian State. Even in Athens
art would not have been the wonder that it became without that happy
admixture of the two races which then prevailed, mingling the common
sense of the one with the artistic feeling of the other, which tended to
produce the most brilliant intellectual development which has yet
dazzled the world with its splendour.

The contemporary presence of these two races perhaps also explains how
Greek civilisation, though so wonderfully brilliant, passed so quickly
away. Had either race been pure, the Dorian institutions might have
lasted as long as the village-systems of India or the arts of Egypt or
China; but where two dissimilar races mix, the tendency is inevitably to
revert to the type of one, and, though the intermixture may produce a
stock more brilliant than either parent, the type is less permanent and
soon passes away. So soon was it the case, in this instance, that the
whole of the great history of Greece may be said to be comprehended in
the period ranging between the battle of Marathon (B.C. 490) and the
peace concluded with Philip of Macedon by the Athenians (B.C. 346): so
that the son of a man who was born before the first event may have been
a party to the second. All those wonders of patriotism, of poetry, and
art, for which Greece was famous, crowded into the short space of a
century and a half, is a phenomenon the like of which the world has not
seen before, and is not likely to witness again.

                             PELASGIC ART.

As might be expected, from the length of time that has elapsed since the
Pelasgic races ruled in Greece, and owing to the numerous changes that
have taken place in that country since their day, their architectural
remains are few, and comparatively insignificant. It has thus come to
pass that, were it not for their tombs, their city walls, and their
works of civil engineering, such as bridges and tunnels—in which they
were pre-eminent—we should hardly now possess any material remains to
prove their existence or mark the degree of civilisation to which they
had reached.

[Illustration: 124. Section and Plan of Tomb of Atreus at Mycenæ. Scale
of plan 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The most remarkable of these remains are the tombs of the kings of
Mycenæ, a city which in Homeric times had a fair title to be considered
the capital of Greece, or at all events to be considered one of the most
important of her cities. The Dorians described these as treasuries, from
the number of precious objects found in them, as in the tombs of the
Etruscans, and because they looked upon such halls as far more than
sufficient for the narrow dwellings of the dead. The most perfect and
the largest of them now existing is known as the Treasury or Tomb of
Atreus at Mycenæ, shown in plan and section in the annexed woodcut. The
principal chamber is 48 ft. 6 in. in diameter, and is, or was when
perfect, of the shape of a regular equilateral pointed arch, a form well
adapted to the mode of construction, which is that of horizontal layers
of stones, projecting the one beyond the other, till one small stone
closed the whole, and made the vault complete.

As will be explained further on, this was the form of dome adopted by
the Jaina architects in India. It prevailed also in Italy and Asia Minor
wherever a Pelasgic race is traced, down to the time when the pointed
form again came into use in the Middle Ages, though it was not then used
as a horizontal, but as a radiating arch.

On one side of this hall is a chamber cut in the rock, the true
sepulchre apparently, and externally is a long passage leading to a
doorway, which, judging from the fragments that remain (Woodcut No.
125), must have been of a purely Asiatic form of art, and very unlike
anything found subsequent to this period in Greece.

[Illustration: 125. Fragment of Pillar in front of Tomb of Atreus at

To all appearance the dome was lined internally with plates of brass or
bronze, some nails of which metals are now found there; and the holes in
which the nails were inserted are still to be seen all over the place. A
second tomb or treasury of smaller dimensions was discovered by Dr.
Schliemann in 1878. Another of these tombs, erected by Minyas at
Orchomenos, described by Pausanias as one of the wonders of Greece,[125]
seems from the remains still existing to have been at least 20 ft. wider
than this one, and proportionably larger in every respect. All these
were covered with earth, and some are probably still hidden which a
diligent search might reveal. In fact Dr. Schliemann’s discoveries in
the Acropolis of Mycenæ and in the Troad prove that it is still possible
to discover an unrifled tomb even in Greece.

As domes constructed on the horizontal principle, these three are the
largest of which we have any knowledge, though there does not appear to
be any reasonable limit to the extent to which such a form of building
might be carried. When backed by earth,[126] as these were, it is
evident, from the mode of construction, that they cannot be destroyed by
any equable pressure exerted from the exterior.

The only danger to be feared is, what is technically called a rising of
the haunches; and to avoid this it might be necessary, where large domes
were attempted, to adopt a form more nearly conical than that used at
Mycenæ. This might be a less pleasing architectural feature, but it is
constructively a better one than the form of the radiating domes we
generally employ.

It is certainly to be regretted that more of the decorative features of
this early style have not been discovered. They differ so entirely from
anything else in Greece, and are so purely Asiatic in form, that it
would be exceedingly interesting to be able to restore a complete
decoration of any sort. In all the parts hitherto brought to light, an
Ionic-like scroll is repeated in every part and over every detail,
rather rudely executed, but probably originally heightened by colour.
Its counterparts are found in Assyria and at Persepolis, but nowhere
else in Greece.[127]

[Illustration: 126. Gateway at Thoricus. (From Dodwell’s ‘Greece.’)]

The Pelasgic races soon learnt to adopt for their doorways the more
pleasing curvilinear form with which they were already familiar from
their interiors. The annexed illustration (Woodcut No. 126) from a
gateway at Thoricus, in Attica, serves to show its simplest and earliest
form; and the illustration (Woodcut No. 129) from Assos, in Asia Minor,
of a far more modern date, shows the most complicated form it took in
ancient times. In this last instance it is merely a discharging arch,
and so little fitted for the purpose to which it is applied, that we can
only suppose that its adoption arose from a strong predilection for this

Another illustration of Pelasgic masonry is found at Delos (Woodcut No.
127), consisting of a roof formed by two arch stones, at a certain angle
to one another, similar to the plan adopted in Egypt, and is further
interesting as being associated with capitals of pillars formed of the
front part of bulls, as in Assyria, pointing again to the intimate
connection that existed between Greece and Asia at this early period of
the former’s history.

[Illustration: 127. Arch at Delos. (From Stuart’s ‘Athens.’)]

In all these instances it does not seem to have been so much want of
knowledge that led these early builders to adopt the horizontal in
preference to the radiating principle, as a conviction of its greater
durability, as well, perhaps, as a certain predilection for an ancient

In the construction of their walls they adhered, as a mere matter of
taste, to forms which they must have known to be inferior to others. In
the example, for instance, of a wall in the Peloponnesus (woodcut No.
128), we find the polygonal masonry of an earlier age actually placed
upon as perfect a specimen built in regular courses, or what is
technically called _ashlar_ work, as any to be found in Greece; and on
the other side of the gateway at Assos (Woodcut No. 129) there exists a
semicircular arch, shown by the dotted lines, which is constructed
horizontally, and could only have been copied from a radiating arch.

[Illustration: 128. Wall in Peloponnesus. (From Blouet’s ‘Voyage en

Their city walls are chiefly remarkable for the size of the blocks of
stone used and for the beauty with which their irregular joints and
courses are fitted into one another. Like most fortifications, they are
generally devoid of ornament, the only architectural features being the
openings. These are interesting, as showing the steps by which a
peculiar form of masonry was perfected, and which, in after ages, led to
important architectural results.

[Illustration: 129. Gateway at Assos. (From Texier’s ‘Asie Mineure.’)]

One of the most primitive of these buildings is a nameless ruin existing
near Missolonghi (Woodcut No. 130). In it the sides of the opening are
straight for the whole height, and, though making a very stable form of
opening, it is one to which it is extremely difficult to fit doors, or
to close by any known means. It was this difficulty that led to the next
expedient adopted of inserting a lintel at a certain height, and making
the jambs more perpendicular below, and more sloping above. This method
is already exemplified in the tomb of Atreus (Woodcut No. 124), and in
the Gate of the Lions at Mycenæ (Woodcut No. 131); but it is by no means
clear whether the pediments were always filled up with sculpture, as in
this instance, or left open. In the walls of a town they were probably
always closed, but left open in a chamber. In the gate at Mycenæ the two
lions stand against an altar[128] shaped like a pillar, of a form found
only in Lycia, in which the round ends of the timbers of the roof are
shown as if projecting into the frieze.

[Illustration: 130. Doorway at Missolonghi. (From Dodwell.)]

[Illustration: 131. Gate of Lions, Mycenæ.]

These are slight remains, it must be confessed, from which to
reconstruct an art which had so much influence on the civilisation of
Greece; but they are sufficient for the archæologist, as the existence
of a few fossil fragments of the bones of an elephant or a tortoise
suffice to prove the pre-existence of those animals wherever they have
been found, and enable the palæontologist to reason upon them with
almost as much certainty as if he saw them in a menagerie. Nor is it
difficult to see why the remnants are so few. When Homer describes the
imaginary dwelling of Alcinous—which he meant to be typical of a perfect
palace in his day—he does not speak of its construction or solidity, nor
tell us how symmetrically it was arranged; but he is lavish of his
praise of its brazen walls, its golden doors with their silver posts and
lintels—just as the writers of the Books of Kings and Chronicles praise
the contemporary temple or palace of Solomon for similar metallic

The palace of Menelaus is described by the same author as full of brass
and gold, silver and ivory. It was resplendent as the sun and moon, and
appeared to the eye of Telemachus like the mansion of Jupiter himself.

[Illustration: 132. Plan of Palace at Tiryns.]

On the architecture of the early Greek palaces considerable light has
been thrown through the researches of the late Dr. Schliemann at Tiryns,
on his second visit in 1884, when he was accompanied by Dr. Dörpfield,
who measured and drew out the plan which is here reproduced (Woodcut No.
132). The palace at Tiryns is assumed by Dr. Schliemann to have been
destroyed by fire in the 11th century B.C. It was built in the upper
citadel and faced the south. The citadel was entered through a propylæum
with outer and inner portico, both in antis. A second propylæum of
smaller dimensions on the south of the entrance court gave access to the
chief court of the palace; this court was surrounded by porticoes on
three sides, and on the fourth or south side, a vestibule consisting of
a portico-in-antis leading to an ante-chamber, and the megaron or men’s
hall. The ante-chamber was separated from the portico by three
folding-doors, hung on solid timber framing; a single door, probably
closed by a curtain only, led from the ante-chamber to the men’s hall,
measuring 48 ft. by 33 ft., the roof of which was supported on four
pillars or columns; a circle in the centre of these indicated probably
the hearth. There are various chambers on the west side, one of which,
the bath-room, measuring 13 ft. by 10 ft., had a floor consisting of a
gigantic block of limestone 2 ft. thick and weighing 14 to 15 tons. On
the east side of the men’s hall was a second court with vestibule or
south side leading to the women’s hall (thalamos), 24 ft. by 17 ft., and
various other rooms on the west side of it. To the south of the women’s
court was a third court which may be considered to be the court of
service, with a passage leading direct to the entrance propylon of the

The walls were built in rubble masonry and clay mortar (clay mixed with
straw or hay); the foundations were carried from 6 ft. to 8 ft. below
the ground. The walls were protected externally; first by a layer of
clay of various thicknesses and then with a plaster of lime about half
an inch thick. The upper portions of the walls generally consisted of
sun-dried bricks, and in order to give greater strength to the walls,
beams laid on thin slabs of stone (to give a horizontal bed) were built
into the outer surface. Blocks of hard limestone or breccia were used
for all the steps and door cills. The exposed angles of the walls and
the responds or antæ[129] of the columns were built of stone in the
lower part and wood above (in Troy they were always in wood with a stone
base). Opinions differ as to the lighting of the halls; the smaller
chambers were probably lighted through the door, as in Pompeii; but the
men’s and women’s halls must either have received their light through
openings at the side under the roof, or by a raised lantern over the
hearth before referred to.

No temples are mentioned by Homer, nor by any early writer; but the
funereal rites celebrated in honour of Patroclus, as described in the
XXIII. Book of the Iliad, and the mounds still existing on the Plains of
Troy, testify to the character of the people whose manners and customs
he was describing, and would alone be sufficient to convince us that,
except in their tombs, we should find little to commemorate their
previous existence.

The subject is interesting, and deserves far more attention than has
hitherto been bestowed upon it, and more space than can be devoted to it
here. Not only is this art the art of people who warred before Troy, but
our knowledge of it reveals to us a secret which otherwise might for
ever have remained a mystery. The religion of the Homeric poems is
essentially Anthropic and Ancestral—in other words, of Turanian origin,
with hardly a trace of Aryan feeling running through it. When we know
that the same was the case with the arts of those days, we feel that it
could not well be otherwise; but what most excites our wonder is the
power of the poet, whose song, describing the manners and feelings of an
extinct race, was so beautiful as to cause its adoption as a gospel by a
people of another race, tincturing their religion to the latest hour of
their existence.

We have very little means of knowing how long this style of art lasted
in Greece. The treasury built by Myron king of Sicyon at Olympia about
650 B.C. seems to have been of this style, in so far as we can judge of
it by the description of Pausanias.[130] It consisted of two chambers,
one ornamented in the Doric, one in the Ionic style, not apparently with
pillars, but with that kind of decoration which appears at that period
to have been recognised as peculiar to each. But the entire decorations
seem to have been of brass, the weight of metal employed being recorded
in an inscription on the building. The earliest example of a Doric
temple that we know of—that of Corinth—would appear to belong to very
nearly the same age, so that the 7th century B.C. may probably be taken
as the period when the old Turanian form of Pelasgic art gave way before
the sterner and more perfect creations of a purer Hellenic design.
Perhaps it might be more correct to say that the Hellenic history of
Greece commenced with the Olympiads (B.C. 776), but before that kingdom
bloomed into perfection an older civilisation had passed away, leaving
little beyond a few tombs and works of public utility as records of its
prior existence. It left, however, an undying influence which can be
traced through every subsequent stage of Grecian history, which gave
form to that wonderful artistic development of art, the principal if not
the only cause of the unrivalled degree of perfection to which it
subsequently attained.


  133. Plan of the Acropolis at Athens.

  A. Propylæa. B. Temple of Niké Apteros. C. Parthenon. D. Erechtheium.
    E. Foundations of old Temple of Athena, sixth century B.C.

                              CHAPTER II.

                            HELLENIC GREECE.

                         HISTORY OF THE ORDERS.

The culminating period of the Pelasgic civilisation of Greece was at the
time of the war with Troy—the last great military event of that age, and
the one which seems to have closed the long and intimate connection of
the Greek Pelasgians with their cognate races in Asia.

Sixty years later the irruption of the Thessalians, and twenty years
after that event the return of the Heracleidæ, closed, in a political
sense, that chapter in history, and gave rise to what may be styled the
Hellenic civilisation, which proved the great and true glory of Greece.

Four centuries, however, elapsed, which may appropriately be called the
dark ages of Greece, before the new seed bore fruit, at least in so far
as art is concerned. These ages produced, it is true, the laws of
Lycurgus, a characteristic effort of a truly Aryan race, conferring as
they did on the people who made them that power of self-government, and
capacity for republican institutions, which gave them such stability at
home and so much power abroad, but which were as inimical to the softer
glories of the fine arts in Sparta as they have proved elsewhere.

When, after this long night, architectural art reappeared, it was at
Corinth, under the Cypselidæ, a race of strongly-marked Asiatic
tendencies; but it had in the meantime undergone so great a
transformation as to well-nigh bewilder us. On its reappearance it was
no longer characterised by the elegant and ornate art of Mycenæ and the
cognate forms of Asiatic growth, but had assumed the rude, bold
proportions of Egyptian art, and with almost more than Egyptian

                        DORIC TEMPLES IN GREECE.

The age of the Doric temple at Corinth is not, it is true,
satisfactorily determined; but the balance of evidence would lead us to
believe that it belongs to the age of Cypselus, or about 650 B.C. The
pillars are less than four diameters in height, and the architrave—the
only part of the superstructure that now remains—is proportionately
heavy. It is, indeed, one of the most massive specimens of architecture
existing, more so than even the rock-cut prototype at Beni Hasan. As a
work of art, it fails from excess of strength, a fault common to most of
the efforts of a rude people, ignorant of the true resources of art, and
striving, by the expression of physical power alone, to attain its

Next in age to this is the little temple at Ægina.[131] Its date, too,
is unknown, though, judging from the character of its sculpture, it
probably belongs to the middle of the sixth century before Christ.

[Illustration: 134. Temple at Ægina restored. No scale.]

We know that Athens had a great temple on the Acropolis, contemporary
with these, and the frusta of its columns still remain, which, after its
destruction by the Persians, were built into the walls of the citadel.
It is more than probable that all the principal cities of Greece had
temples commensurate with their dignity before the Persian War. Many of
these were destroyed during that struggle; but it also happened then, as
in France and England in the 12th and 13th centuries, that the old
temples were thought unworthy of the national greatness, and of that
feeling of exaltation arising from the successful result of the greatest
of their wars, so that almost all those which remained were pulled down
or rebuilt. The consequence is, that nearly all the great temples now
found in Greece were built in the forty or fifty years which succeeded
the defeat of the Persians at Salamis and Platæa.

One of the oldest temples of this class is that best known as the
Theseion or Temple of Theseus at Athens, now recognised as the Temple of
Hephaistos mentioned in the “Attica” of Pausanias. By an analysis of the
architectural character of the Temple Dr. Dorpfield contends that it is
posterior to the Parthenon and not anterior, as is generally supposed.

Of all the great temples, the best and most celebrated is the Parthenon,
the only octastyle Doric Temple in Greece, and in its own class
undoubtedly the most beautiful building in the world. It is true it has
neither the dimensions nor the wondrous expression of power and eternity
inherent in Egyptian temples, nor has it the variety and poetry of the
Gothic Cathedral; but for intellectual beauty, for perfection of
proportion, for beauty of detail, and for the exquisite perception of
the highest and most recondite principles of art ever applied to
architecture, it stands utterly and entirely alone and unrivalled—the
glory of Greece and a reproach to the rest of the world.

Next in size and in beauty to this was the great hexastyle temple of
Jupiter at Olympia, finished two years later than the Parthenon. Its
dimensions were nearly the same, but having only six pillars in front
instead of eight, as in the Parthenon, the proportions were different,
this temple being 95 ft. by 230, the Parthenon 101 ft. by 227.

The excavations at Olympia, undertaken at the cost of the German
Government in 1876, not only laid bare the site of the Temple of
Jupiter, of which the lower frusta of half the column, the lower
portions of the walls of cella and nearly the whole of the pavement was
found in situ; but led to the recovery of a great portion of the
sculptures which decorated the metopes and filled the pediments, so that
it is not only possible to restore the complete design of the temple
itself but to obtain a distinct idea of its sculptural decoration. The
foundations of other Doric temples were found; of the Temple of Hera,
which seems originally to have been a wooden structure, the wood being
gradually replaced by stone when from its decay it required
renewal.[132] This temple was coeval if not more ancient than that of
Zeus; the interior of the cella would seem to have been subdivided into
bays or niches inside, similar to those of the Temple at Bassæ; a third
hexastyle Doric temple, the Metroum, was also discovered, and many
buildings dating from the Roman occupation.

To the same age belongs the exquisite little Temple of Apollo Epicurius
at Bassæ (47 ft. by 125), the Temple of Minerva at Sunium, the greater
temple at Rhamnus, the Propylæa at Athens, and indeed all that is
greatest and most beautiful in the architecture of Greece. The temple of
Ceres at Eleusis also was founded and designed at this period, but its
execution belongs to a later date.

The temple at Assos, though not of any great size, is interesting on
account of its having had the outer face of the architrave sculptured in
relief, requiring therefore an architectural frame which was obtained by
leaving a raised fillet along the bottom. The temple was
hexastyle-peristyle with pronaos but no posticum. The date is assumed to
be about 470 B.C., or shortly after the battle of Mycale.[133]

                        DORIC TEMPLES IN SICILY.

Owing probably to some local peculiarity, which we have not now the
means of explaining, the Dorian colonies of Sicily and Magna Græcia seem
to have possessed, in the days of their prosperity, a greater number of
temples, and certainly retain the traces of many more, than were or are
to be found in any of the great cities of the mother country. The one
city of Selinus alone possesses six, in two groups,—three in the citadel
and three in the city. Of these the oldest is the central one of the
first-named group. Its sculptures, first discovered by Messrs. Angell
and Harris, indicate an age only slightly subsequent to the foundation
of the colony, B.C. 636, and therefore probably nearly contemporary with
the example above mentioned at Corinth. The most modern is the great
octastyle temple, which seems to have been left unfinished at the time
of the destruction of the city by the Carthaginians, B.C. 410. It
measured 375 ft. by 166, and was consequently very much larger than any
temple of its class in Greece. The remaining four range between these
dates, and therefore form a tolerably perfect chronometric series at
that time when the arts of Greece itself fail us. The inferiority,
however, of provincial art, as compared with that of Greece itself,
prevents us from applying such a test with too much confidence to the
real history of the art, though it is undoubtedly valuable as a
secondary illustration.

At Agrigentum there are three Doric temples, two small hexastyles, whose
age may be about 500 to 480 B.C., and one great exceptional example,
differing in its arrangements from all the Grecian temples of the age.
Its dimensions are 360 ft. long by 173 broad, and consequently very
nearly the same as those of the great Temple of Selinus just alluded to.
Its date is perfectly known, as it was commenced by Theron, B.C. 480,
and left unfinished seventy-five years afterwards, when the city was
destroyed by the Carthaginians.

At Syracuse there still exist the ruins of a very beautiful temple of
this age; and at Segesta are remains of another in a much more perfect

Pæstum, in Magna Græcia, boasts of the most magnificent group of temples
after that at Agrigentum. One is a very beautiful hexastyle, belonging
probably to the middle of the fifth century B.C., built in a bold and
very pure style of Doric architecture, and still retains the greater
part of its internal columnar arrangement.

The other two are more modern, and are far less pure both in plan and in
detail, one having nine columns at each end, the central pillars of
which are meant to correspond with an internal range of pillars,
supporting the ridge of the roof. The other, though of a regular form,
is so modified by local peculiarities, so corrupt, in fact, as hardly to
deserve being ranked with the beautiful order which it most resembles.

                             IONIC TEMPLES.

We have even fewer materials for the history of the Ionic order in
Greece than we have for that of the Doric. The recent discoveries in
Assyria have proved beyond a doubt that the Ionic was even more
essentially an introduction from Asia[134] than the Doric was from
Egypt: the only question is, when it was brought into Greece. My own
impression is, that it existed there in one form or another from the
earliest ages, but owing to its slenderer proportions, and the greater
quantity of wood used in its construction, the examples may have
perished, so that nothing is now known to exist which can lay claim to
even so great an antiquity as the Persian War.

The oldest example, probably, was the temple on the Ilissus, now
destroyed, dating from about 484 B.C.; next to this is the little gem of
a temple dedicated to Niké Apteros, or the Wingless Victory, built about
fifteen years later, in front of the Propylæa at Athens. The last and
most perfect of all the examples of this order is the Erechtheium, on
the Acropolis; its date is apparently about 420 B.C., the great epoch of
Athenian art. Nowhere did the exquisite taste and skill of the Athenians
show themselves to greater advantage than here; for though every detail
of the order may be traced back to Nineveh or Persepolis, all are so
purified, so imbued with purely Grecian taste and feeling, that they
have become essential parts of a far more beautiful order than ever
existed in the land in which they had their origin.

The largest, and perhaps the finest, of Grecian Ionic temples was that
built about a century afterwards at Tegea, in Arcadia—a regular
peripteral temple of considerable dimensions, but the existence of which
is now known only from the description of Pausanias.[135]

As in the case, however, of the Doric order, it is not in Greece itself
that we find either the greatest number of Ionic temples or those most
remarkable for size, but in the colonies in Asia Minor, and more
especially in Ionia, whence the order most properly takes its name.

That an Ionic order existed in Asia Minor before the Persian War is
quite certain, but all examples perished in that memorable struggle; and
when it subsequently reappeared, the order had lost much of its purely
Asiatic character, and assumed certain forms and tendencies borrowed
from the simpler and purer Doric style.

If any temple in the Asiatic Greek colonies escaped destruction in the
Persian wars, it was that of Juno at Samos. It is said to have been
built by Polycrates, and appears to have been of the Doric order. The
ruins now found there are of the Ionic order, 346 ft. by 190 ft., and
must have succeeded the first mentioned. The apparent archaisms in the
form of the bases, &c., which have misled antiquarians, are merely
Eastern forms retained in spite of Grecian influence.

More remarkable even than this was the celebrated Temple of Diana at
Ephesus, said by Pliny to have been 425 ft. long by 220 ft. wide. Recent
excavations on the site, however, carried out by Mr. T. Wood, prove that
these dimensions apply only to the platform on which it stood. The
temple itself, measured from the outside of the angle pillars, was only
348 ft. by 164, making the area 57,072 ft., or about the average
dimensions of our mediæval cathedrals.

Besides these, there was a splendid decastyle temple, dedicated to
Apollo Didymæus, at Miletus, 156 ft. wide by 295 ft. in length; an
octastyle at Sardis, 261 ft. by 144 ft.; an exquisitely beautiful,
though small hexastyle, at Priene, 122 ft. by 64 ft.; and another at
Teos, and smaller examples elsewhere, besides many others which have no
doubt perished.

German explorations in Pergamon have brought to light the remains of the
Augustæum, a building consisting of two detached wings with columns of
the Ionic order resting on a lofty podium enriched with sculpture and
connected one with the other by a magnificent flight of steps, the whole
block measuring 125 ft. by 114 ft.[136]

                          CORINTHIAN TEMPLES.

The Corinthian order is as essentially borrowed from the bell-shaped
capitals of Egypt as the Doric is from their oldest pillars. Like
everything they touched, the Greeks soon rendered it their own by the
freedom and elegance with which they treated it. The acanthus-leaf with
which they adorned it is essentially Grecian, and we must suppose that
it had been used by them as an ornament, either in their metal or wood
work, long before they adopted it in stone as an architectural feature.

As in everything else, however, the Greeks could not help betraying in
this also the Asiatic origin of their art, and the Egyptian order with
them was soon wedded to the Ionic, whose volutes became an essential
though subdued part of this order. It is in fact a composite order, made
up of the bell-shaped capitals of the Egyptians and the spiral of the
Assyrians, and adopted by the Greeks at a time when national
distinctions were rapidly disappearing, and when true and severer art
was giving place to love of variety. At that time also mere ornament and
carving were supplanting the purer class of forms and the higher
aspirations of sculpture with which the Greeks ornamented their temples
in their best days.

In Greece the order does not appear to have been introduced, or at least
generally used, before the age of Alexander the Great; the oldest
authentic example, and also one of the most beautiful, being the
Choragic Monument of Lysicrates (B.C. 335), which, notwithstanding the
smallness of its dimensions, is one of the most beautiful works of art
of the merely ornamental class to be found in any part of the world. A
simpler example, but by no means so beautiful, is that of the porticoes
of the small octagonal building commonly called the Tower of the Winds
at Athens. The largest example in Greece of the Corinthian order is the
Temple of Jupiter Olympius at Athens. This, however, may almost be
called a Roman building, though on Grecian soil—having been commenced in
its present form under Antiochus Epiphanes, in the second century B.C.
by the Roman architect Cossutius, and only finished by Hadrian, to whom
probably we may ascribe the greatest part of what now remains. Its
dimensions are 135 ft. by 354 ft., and from the number of its columns,
their size and their beauty, it must have been when complete the most
beautiful Corinthian temple of the ancient world.

[Illustration: 135. Ancient Corinthian Capital. (From Branchidæ.)]

Judging, however, from some fragments found among the Ionic temples of
Asia Minor, it appears that the Corinthian order was introduced there
before we find any trace of it in Greece Proper. Indeed, _à priori_, we
might expect that its introduction into Greece was part of that reaction
which the elegant and luxurious Asiatics exercised on the severer and
more manly inhabitants of European Greece, and which was in fact the
main cause of their subjection, first to the Macedonians, and finally
beneath the iron yoke of Rome. As used by the Asiatics, it seems to have
arisen from the introduction of the bell-shaped capital of the
Egyptians, to which they applied the acanthus-leaf, sometimes in
conjunction with the honeysuckle ornament of the time, as in Woodcut No.
135, and on other and later occasions together with the volutes of the
same order, the latter combination being the one which ultimately
prevailed and became the typical form of the Corinthian capital.

                      DIMENSIONS OF GREEK TEMPLES.

Although differing so essentially in plan, the general dimensions of the
larger temples of the Greeks were very similar to those of the mediæval
cathedrals, and although they never reached the altitude of their modern
rivals, their cubic dimensions were probably in about the same ratio of

The following table gives the approximate dimensions, rejecting
fractions, of the eight largest and best known examples:—

   Juno, at Samos         346 feet long 190 feet wide = 65,740 feet.
   Jupiter, at Agrigentum 360 feet long 173 feet wide = 62,280 feet.
   Apollo, at Branchidæ   362 feet long 168 feet wide = 60,816 feet.
   Diana, at Ephesus      348 feet long 164 feet wide = 57,072 feet.
   Jupiter, at Athens     354 feet long 135 feet wide = 47,790 feet.
   Didymæus, at Miletus   295 feet long 156 feet wide = 45,020 feet.
   Cybele, at Sardis      261 feet long 144 feet wide = 37,884 feet.
   Parthenon, at Athens   228 feet long 101 feet wide = 23,028 feet.

There may be some slight discrepancies in this table from the figures
quoted elsewhere, and incorrectness arising from some of the temples
being measured on the lowest step and others, as the Parthenon, on the
highest; but it is sufficient for comparison, which is all that is
attempted in its compilation.

                              DORIC ORDER.

The Doric was the order which the Greeks especially loved and cultivated
so as to make it most exclusively their own; and, as used in the
Parthenon, it certainly is as complete and as perfect an architectural
feature as any style can boast of. When first introduced from Egypt, it,
as before stated, partook of even more than Egyptian solidity, but by
degrees became attenuated to the weak and lean form of the Roman order
of the same name. Woodcuts No. 136, 137, 138 illustrate the three stages
of progress from the oldest example at Corinth to the order as used in
the time of Philip at Delos, the intermediate being the culminating
point in the age of Pericles: the first is 4·47 diameters in height, the
next 6·025, the last 7·015; and if the table were filled up with all the
other examples, the gradual attenuation of the shaft would very nearly
give the relative date of the example. This fact is in itself sufficient
to refute the idea of the pillar being copied from a wooden post, as in
that case it would have been slenderer at first, and would gradually
have departed from the wooden form as the style advanced.[137] This is
the case in all carpentry styles. With the Doric order the contrary
takes place. The earlier the example the more unlike it is to any wooden
original. As the masons advanced in skill and power over their stone
material, it came more and more to resemble posts or pillars of wood.
The fact appears to be that, either in Egypt or in early Greece, the
pillar was originally a pier of brickwork, or of rubble masonry,
supporting a wooden roof, of which the architraves, the triglyphs, and
the various parts of the cornice, all bore traces down to the latest

Even as ordinarily represented, or as copied in this country, there is a
degree of solidity combined with elegance in this order, and an
exquisite proportion of the parts to one another and to the work they
have to perform, that command the admiration of every person of taste;
but, as used in Greece, its beauty was very much enhanced by a number of
refinements whose existence was not suspected till lately, and even now
cannot be detected but by the most practised eye.

[Illustration: 136. Temple at Delos.]

[Illustration: 137. Parthenon at Athens.]

[Illustration: 138. Temple at Corinth.]

The columns were at first assumed to be bounded by straight lines. It is
now found that they have an _entasis_, or convex profile, in the
Parthenon to the extent of 1/550 of the whole height, and are outlined
by a very delicate hyperbolic curve; it is true this can hardly be
detected by the eye in ordinary positions, but the want of it gives that
rigidity and poverty to the column which is observable in modern

In like manner, the architrave in all temples was carried upwards so as
to form a very flat arch, just sufficient to correct the optical
delusion arising from the interference of the sloping lines of the
pediment. This, I believe, was common to all temples, but in the
Parthenon the curve was applied to the sides also, though from what
motive it is not so easy to detect.

Another refinement was making all the columns slope slightly inwards, so
as to give an idea of strength and support to the whole. Add to this,
that all the curved lines used were either hyperbolas or parabolas. With
one exception only, no circular line was employed, nor even an ellipse.
Every part of the temple was also arranged with the most unbounded care
and accuracy, and every detail of the masonry was carried out with a
precision and beauty of execution which is almost unrivalled, and it may
be added that the material of the whole was the purest and best white
marble. All these delicate adjustments, this exquisite finish and
attention to even the smallest details, are well bestowed on a design in
itself simple, beautiful, and appropriate. They combine to render this
order, as found in the best Greek temples, as nearly faultless as any
work of art can possibly be, and such as we may dwell upon with the most
unmixed and unvarying satisfaction.

The system of definite proportion which the Greeks employed in the
design of their temples, was another cause of the effect they produce
even on uneducated minds. It was not with them merely that the height
was equal to the width, or the length about twice the breadth; but every
part was proportioned to all those parts with which it was related, in
some such ratio as 1 to 6, 2 to 7, 3 to 8, 4 to 9, or 5 to 10, &c. As
the scheme advances these numbers become undesirably high. In this case
they reverted to some such simple ratios as 4 to 5, 5 to 6, 6 to 7, and
so on.

We do not yet quite understand the process of reasoning by which the
Greeks arrived at the laws which guided their practice in this respect;
but they evidently attached the utmost importance to it, and when the
ratio was determined upon, they set it out with such accuracy, that even
now the calculated and the measured dimensions seldom vary beyond such
minute fractions as can only be expressed in hundredths of an inch.

Though the existence of such a system of ratios has long been suspected,
it is only recently that any measurements of Greek temples have been
made with sufficient accuracy to enable the matter to be properly
investigated and their existence proved.[139]

The ratios are in some instances so recondite, and the correlation of
the parts at first sight so apparently remote, that many would be
inclined to believe they were more fanciful than real.[140] It would,
however, be as reasonable in a person with no ear, or no musical
education, to object to the enjoyment of a complicated concerted piece
of music experienced by those differently situated, or to declare that
the pain musicians feel from a false note was mere affectation. The eyes
of the Greeks were as perfectly educated as our ears. They could
appreciate harmonies which are lost in us, and were offended at false
quantities which our duller senses fail to perceive. But in spite of
ourselves, we do feel the beauty of these harmonic relations, though we
hardly know why; and if educated to them, we might acquire what might
almost be considered a new sense. But be this as it may, there can be no
doubt but that a great deal of the beauty which all feel in
contemplating the architectural productions of the Greeks, arises from
causes such as these, which we are only now beginning to appreciate.

[Illustration: 139. The Parthenon. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

To understand, however, the Doric order, we must not regard it as a
merely masonic form. Sculpture was always used, or intended to be used,
with it. The Metopes between the triglyphs, the pediments of the
porticoes, and the acroteria or pedestals on the roof, are all unmeaning
and useless unless filled or surmounted with sculptured figures.
Sculpture is, indeed, as essential a part of this order as the
acanthus-leaves and ornaments of the cornice are to the capitals and
entablature of the Corinthian order; and without it, or without its
place being supplied by painting, we are merely looking at the dead
skeleton, the mere framework of the order, without the flesh and blood
that gave it life and purpose.

It is when all these parts are combined together, as in the portico of
the Parthenon (Woodcut No. 139), that we can understand this order in
all its perfection; for though each part was beautiful in itself, their
full value can be appreciated only as parts of a great whole.

Another essential part of the order, too often overlooked, is the
colour, which was as integral a part of it as its form. Till very
lately, it was denied that Greek temples were, or could be, painted: the
unmistakable remains of colour, however, that have been discovered in
almost all temples, and the greater knowledge of the value and use of it
which now prevails, have altered public opinion very much on the matter,
and most people now admit that some colour was used, though few are
agreed as to the extent to which it was carried.

It cannot now be questioned that colour was used everywhere internally,
and on every object. Externally too it is generally admitted that the
sculpture was painted and relieved by strongly coloured backgrounds; the
lacunaria, or recesses of the roof, were also certainly painted; and all
the architectural mouldings, which at a later period were carved in
relief, have been found to retain traces of their painted ornaments.

It is disputed whether the echinus or carved moulding of the capital was
so ornamented. There seems little doubt but that it was; and that the
walls of the cells were also coloured throughout and covered with
paintings illustrative of the legends and attributes of the divinity to
whom the temple was dedicated or of the purposes for which it was
erected. The plane face of the architrave was probably left white, or
merely ornamented with metal shields or inscriptions, and the shafts of
the columns appear also to have been left plain, or merely slightly
stained to tone down the crudeness of the white marble. Generally
speaking, all those parts which from their form or position were in any
degree protected from the rain or atmospheric influences seem to have
been coloured; those particularly exposed, to have been left plain. To
whatever extent, however, painting may have been carried, these coloured
ornaments were as essential a part of the Doric order as the carved
ornaments were of the Corinthian, and made it, when perfect, a richer
and more ornamental, as it was a more solid and stable, order than the
latter. The colour nowhere interfered with the beauty of its forms, but
gave it that richness and amount of ornamentation which is indispensable
in all except the most colossal buildings, and a most valuable adjunct
even to them.

                              IONIC ORDER.

The Ionic order, as we now find it, is not without some decided
advantages over the Doric. It is more complete in itself and less
dependent on sculpture. Its frieze was too small for much display of
human life and action, and was probably usually ornamented with lines of
animals,[141] like the friezes at Persepolis. But the frieze of the
little temple of Nikè Apteros is brilliantly ornamented in the same
style as those of the Doric order. It also happened that those details
and ornaments which were only painted in the Doric, were carved in the
Ionic order, and remain therefore visible to the present day, which
gives to this order a completeness in our eyes which the other cannot
boast of. Add to this a certain degree of Asiatic elegance and grace,
and the whole when put together makes up a singularly pleasing
architectural object. But notwithstanding these advantages, the Doric
order will probably always be admitted to be superior, as belonging to a
higher class of art, and because all its forms and details are better
and more adapted to their purpose than those of the Ionic.

[Illustration: 140. Ionic order of Erechtheium at Athens.]

The principal characteristic of the Ionic order is the Pelasgic or
Asiatic spiral, here called a volute, which, notwithstanding its
elegance, forms at best but an awkward capital. The Assyrian honeysuckle
below this, carved as it is with the exquisite feeling and taste which a
Greek alone knew how to impart to such an object, forms as elegant an
architectural detail as is anywhere to be found; and whether used as the
necking of a column, or on the crowning member of a cornice, or on other
parts of the order, is everywhere the most beautiful ornament connected
with it. Comparing this order with that at Persepolis (Woodcut No. 96),
the only truly Asiatic prototype we have of it, we see how much the
Doric feeling of the Greeks had done to sober it down, by abbreviating
the capital and omitting the greater part of the base. This process was
carried much farther when the order was used in conjunction with the
Doric, as in the Propylæa, than when used by itself, as in the
Erechtheium; still in every case all the parts found in the Asiatic
style are found in the Greek. The same form and feelings pervade both;
and, except in beauty of execution and detail, it is not quite clear how
far even the Greek order is an improvement on the Eastern one. The
Persepolitan base is certainly the more beautiful of the two; so are
many parts of the capital. The perfection of the whole, however, depends
on the mode in which it is employed; and it is perfectly evident that
the Persian order could not be combined with the Doric, nor applied with
much propriety as an external order, which was the essential use of all
the Grecian forms of pillars.

[Illustration: 141. Ionic order in Temple of Apollo at Bassæ.]

[Illustration: 142. Section of half of the Ionic Capital at Bassæ, taken
through the volute.]

When used between antæ or square piers, as seems usually to have been
the case in Assyria, the two-fronted form of the Ionic capital was
appropriate and elegant; but when it was employed, as in the
Erechtheium, as an angle column, it presented a difficulty which even
Grecian skill and ingenuity could not quite conquer. When the Persians
wanted the capital to face four ways they turned the side outwards, as
at Persepolis (Woodcut No. 96), and put the volutes in the angles—which
was at best but an awkward mode of getting over the difficulty.

The instance in which these difficulties have been most successfully met
is in the internal order at Bassæ. There the three sides are equal, and
are equally seen—the fourth is attached to the wall—and the junction of
the faces is formed with an elegance that has never been surpassed. It
has not the richness of the order of the Erechtheium, but it excels it
in elegance. Its widely spreading base still retains traces of the
wooden origin of the order, and carries us back towards the times when a
shoe was necessary to support wooden posts on the floor of an Assyrian

Notwithstanding the amount of carving which the Ionic order displays,
there can be little doubt of its having been also ornamented with colour
to a considerable extent, but probably in a different manner from the
Doric. My own impression is, that the carved parts were gilt, or picked
out with gold, relieved by coloured grounds, varied according to the
situation in which they were found. The existing remains prove that
colours were used in juxtaposition, to relieve and heighten the
architectural effect of the carved ornaments of this order.

In the Ionic temples at Athens the same exquisite masonry was used as in
the Doric; the same mathematical precision and care is bestowed on the
entasis of the columns, the drawing of the volutes, and the execution of
even the minutest details; and much of its beauty and effect are no
doubt owing to this circumstance, which we miss so painfully in nearly
all modern examples.

                           CORINTHIAN ORDER.

As before mentioned, the Corinthian order was only introduced into
Greece on the decline of art, and never rose during the purely Grecian
age to the dignity of a temple order. It most probably, however, was
used in the more ornate specimens of domestic architecture, and in
smaller works of art, long before any of those examples of it were
executed which we now find in Greece.

[Illustration: 143. Order of the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates.]

The most typical specimen we now know is that of the Choragic Monument
of Lysicrates (Woodcut No. 143), which, notwithstanding all its elegance
of detail and execution, can hardly be pronounced to be perfect, the
Egyptian and Asiatic features being only very indifferently united to
one another. The foliaged part is rich and full, but is not carried up
into the upper or Ionic portion, which is, in comparison, lean and poor;
and though separately the two parts are irreproachable, it was left to
the Romans so to blend the two together as to make a perfectly
satisfactory whole out of them.

In this example, as now existing, the junction of the column with the
capital is left a plain sinking, and so it is generally copied in modern
times; but there can be little doubt that this was originally filled by
a bronze wreath, which was probably gilt. Accordingly this is so
represented in the woodcut as being essential to the completion of the
order. The base and shaft have, like the upper part of the capital, more
Ionic feeling in them than the order was afterwards allowed to retain;
and altogether it is, as here practised, far more elegant, though less
complete, than the Roman form which superseded it.

[Illustration: 144. Order of the Tower of the Winds, Athens.]

The other Athenian example, that of the Tower of the winds (Woodcut No.
144), is remarkable as being almost purely Egyptian in its types, with
no Ionic admixture. The columns have no bases, the capitals no volutes,
and the water-leaf clings as closely to the bell as it does in the
Egyptian examples. The result altogether wants richness, and, though
appropriate on so small a scale, would hardly be pleasing on a larger.

The great example of the Temple of Jupiter Olympius differs in no
essential part from the Roman order, except that the corners of the
abacus are not cut off; and that, being executed in Athens, there is a
degree of taste and art displayed in its execution which we do not find
in any Roman examples. Strictly speaking, however, it belongs to that
school, and should be enumerated as a Roman, and not as a Grecian,


[Illustration: 145. Caryatide Figure in the British Museum.]

It has been already explained that the Egyptians never used caryatide
figures, properly so called, to support the entablatures of their
architecture, their figures being always attached to the front of the
columns or piers, which were the real bearing mass. At Persepolis, and
elsewhere in the East, we find figures everywhere employed supporting
the throne or the platform of the palaces of the kings; not, indeed, on
their heads, as the Greeks used them, but rather in their uplifted

The name, however, as well as their being only used in conjunction with
the Ionic order and with Ionic details, all point to an Asiatic origin
for this very questionable form of art. As employed in the little
Portico attached to the Erechtheium, these figures are used with so much
taste, and all the ornaments are so elegant, that it is difficult to
criticise or find fault; but it is nevertheless certain that it was a
mistake which even the art of the Greeks could hardly conceal. To use
human figures to support a cornice is unpardonable, unless it is done as
a mere secondary adjunct to a building. In the Erechtheium it is a
little too prominent for this, though used with as much discretion as
was perhaps possible under the circumstances. Another example of the
sort is shown in Woodcut No. 146, which, by employing a taller cap,
avoids some of the objections to the other; but the figure itself, on
the other hand, is less architectural, and so errs on the other side.

[Illustration: 146. Caryatide Figure from the Erechtheium.]

[Illustration: 147. Telamones at Agrigentum.]

Another form of this class of support is that of the Giants or
_Telamones_, instances of which are found supporting the roof of the
great Temple at Agrigentum, and in the baths of the semi-Greek city of
Pompeii. As they do not actually bear the entablature, but only seem to
relieve the masonry behind them, their employment is less objectionable
than that of the female figures above described; but even they hardly
fulfil the conditions of true art, and their place might be better
filled by some more strictly architectural feature.

                           FORMS OF TEMPLES.

The arrangements of Grecian Doric temples show almost less variety than
the forms of the pillars, and no materials exist for tracing their
gradual development in an historical point of view. The temples at
Corinth, and the oldest at Selinus, are both perfect examples of the
hexastyle arrangement to which the Greeks adhered in all ages; and
though there can be little doubt that the peripteral form, as well as
the order itself, was borrowed from Egypt, it still was so much modified
before it appeared in Greece, that it would be interesting, if it could
be done, to trace the several steps by which the change was effected.

In an architectural point of view this is by no means difficult. The
simplest Greek temples were mere cells, or small square apartments
suited to contain an image—the front being what is technically called
_distyle in antis_, or with two pillars between _antæ_, or square
pilaster like piers terminating the side walls. Hence the interior
enclosure of Grecian temples is called the cell or cella, however large
and splendid it may be.

[Illustration: 148. Small temple at Rhamnus.]

The next change was to separate the interior into a cell and porch by a
wall with a large doorway in it, as in the small temple at Rhamnus
(Woodcut No. 148), where the opening however can scarcely be called a
doorway, as it extends to the roof. A third change was to put a porch of
4 pillars in front of the last arrangement, or, as appears to have been
more usual, to bring forward the screen to the positions of the pillars
as in the last example, and to place the 4 pillars in front of this.
None of these plans admitted of a peristyle, or pillars on the flanks.
To obtain this it was necessary to increase the number of pillars of the
portico to 6, or, as it is termed, to make it hexastyle, the 2 outer
pillars being the first of a range of 13 or 15 columns, extended along
each side of the temple. The cell in this arrangement was a complete
temple in itself—distyle in antis, most frequently made so at both ends,
and the whole enclosed in its envelope of columns, as in Woodcut No.
149. Sometimes the cell was tetrastyle or with four pillars in front.

[Illustration: 149. Plan of Temple of Apollo at Bassæ. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

[Illustration: 150. Plan of Parthenon at Athens. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 151. Plan of the great Temple at Selinus. (From Hittorff,
‘Arch. Antique en Sicile.’) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

In this form the Greek temple may be said to be complete, very few
exceptions occurring to the rule, though the Parthenon itself is one of
these few. It has an inner hexastyle portico at each end of the cell;
beyond these outwardly are octastyle porticoes, with 17 columns on each

The great Temple at Selinus is also octastyle, but it is neither so
simple nor so beautiful in its arrangement; and, from the decline of
style in the art when it was built, is altogether an inferior example;
still, as one of the largest of Greek Doric temples, its plan is worthy
of being quoted as an illustration of the varying forms of these

Another great exception is the great temple at Agrigentum (Woodcuts Nos.
152 and 154), where the architect attempted an order on so gigantic a
scale that he was unable to construct the pillars with their architraves
standing free. The interstices of the columns are therefore built up
with walls pierced with windows, and altogether the architecture is so
bad, that even its colossal dimensions must have failed to render it at
any time a pleasing or satisfactory work of art.

A fourth exception is the double temple at Pæstum, with 9 pillars in
front, a clumsy expedient, but which arose from its having a range of
columns down the centre to support the ridge of the roof by a simpler
mode than the triangular truss usually employed for carrying the roof
between two ranges of column.

[Illustration: 152. Plan of Great Temple at Agrigentum. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

With the exception of the temple at Agrigentum, all these were
peristylar, or had ranges of columns all around them, enclosing the cell
as it were in a case, an arrangement so apparently devoid of purpose,
that it is not at first sight easy to account for its universality. It
will not suffice to say that it was adopted merely because it was
beautiful, for the forms of Egyptian temples, which had no pillars
externally, were as perfect, and in the hands of the Greeks would have
become as beautiful, as the one they adopted. Besides, it is natural to
suppose they would rather have copied the larger than the smaller
temples, if no motive existed for their preference of the latter. The
peristyle, too, was ill suited for an ambulatory, or place for
processions to circulate round the temple; it was too narrow for this,
and too high to protect the procession from the rain. Indeed, I know of
no suggestion except that it may have been adopted to protect the
paintings on the walls of the cells from the inclemency of the weather.
It hardly admits of a doubt that the walls were painted, and that
without protection of some sort this would very soon have been
obliterated. It seems also very evident that the peristyle was not only
practically, but artistically, most admirably adapted for this purpose.
The paintings of the Greeks were, like those of the Egyptians, composed
of numerous detached groups, connected only by the story, and it almost
required the intervention of pillars, or some means of dividing into
compartments the surface to be so painted, to separate these groups from
one another, and to prevent the whole sequence from being seen at once;
while, on the other hand, nothing can have been more beautiful than the
white marble columns relieved against a richly coloured plane surface.
The one appears so necessary to the other, that it seems hardly to be
doubted that this was the cause, or that the effect must have been most
surpassingly beautiful.

                       MODE OF LIGHTING TEMPLES.

The arrangement of the interior of Grecian temples necessarily depended
on the mode in which they were lighted. No one will, I believe, now
contend, as was once done, that it was by lamplight alone that the
beauty of their interiors could be seen; and as light certainly was not
introduced through the side walls, nor could be in sufficient quantities
through the doorways, it is only from the roof that it could be
admitted. At the same time it could not have been by a large horizontal
opening in the roof, as has been supposed, as that would have admitted
the rain and snow as well as the light; and the only alternative seems
to be one I suggested some years ago—of a clerestory,[142] similar
internally to that found in all the great Egyptian temples,[143] but
externally requiring such a change of arrangement as was necessary to
adapt it to a sloping instead of a flat roof. This could have been
effected by countersinking it into the roof, so as to make it in fact 3
ridges in those parts where the light was admitted, though the regular
slope of the roof was retained between these openings, so that neither
the ridge nor the continuity of the lines of the roof was interfered
with. This would effect all that was required, and in the most beautiful
manner; it moreover agrees with all the remains of Greek temples that
now exist, as well as with all the descriptions that have been handed
down to us from antiquity.

[Illustration: 153. Section of the Parthenon. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in]

[Illustration: 154. Part Section, part Elevation, of Great Temple at
Agrigentum. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

This arrangement will be understood from the section of the Parthenon
(Woodcut No. 153), restored in accordance with the above explanation,
which agrees perfectly with all that remains on the spot, as well as
with all the accounts we have of that celebrated temple. The same system
applies even more easily to the great hexastyle at Pæstum and to the
beautiful little Temple of Apollo at Bassæ, in Phigaleia (Woodcut No.
149), and in fact to all regular Greek temples. Indeed, it seems
impossible to account for the peculiarities of that temple except on
some such theory as this. Any one who studies the plan (Woodcut No. 149)
will see at once what pains were taken to bring the internal columns
exactly into the spaces between those of the external peristyle. The
effect inside is clumsy, and never would have been attempted were it not
that practically their position was seen from the outside, and this
could hardly have been so on any other hypothesis than that now
proposed. An equally important point in the examination of this theory
is that it applies equally to the exceptional ones. The side aisles, for
instance, of the great temple at Agrigentum were, as before mentioned,
lighted by side windows; the central one could only be lighted from the
roof, and it is easy to see how this could be effected by introducing
openings between the telamones, as shown in Woodcut No. 154.

In the great Temple of Jupiter Olympius (Woodcut No. 196), as described
by Vitruvius,[144] the nave had two storeys of columns all round, and
the middle was open to the sky. It is suggested, however, by Dr.
Dorpfield that the temple in Vitruvius’s time was incomplete, and that
subsequently when Hadrian erected the great chryselephantine statue in
it the nave may have lost its hypæthral source of light. (In that case
its light may have been introduced through the court or hypæthron in
front of the cell, such as is shown on the plan in Woodcut No. 196.)

The Ionic temples of Asia are all too much ruined to enable us to say
exactly in what manner, and to what extent, this mode of lighting was
applied to them, though there seems no doubt that the method there
adopted was very similar in all its main features.

[Illustration: 155. Plan of Erechtheium. (From Stuart.) Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

[Illustration: 156. Elevation of West End of Erechtheium. Scale 50 ft.
to 1 in.]

The little Temple of Nikè Apteros and the temple on the Ilissus, were
both too small to require any complicated arrangement of the sort, but
the Ionic temple of Pandrosus was lighted by windows which still remain
at the west end, so that it is possible the same expedient may have been
adopted to at least some extent in the Asiatic examples. The latter,
however, is, with one exception, the sole instance of windows in any
European-Greek temple, the only other example being in the very
exceptional temple at Agrigentum. It is valuable, besides, as showing
how little the Greeks were bound by rules or by any fancied laws of

As is shown in the plan, elevation, and view (Woodcuts Nos. 155, 156,
157), the Erechtheium consisted, properly speaking, of 3 temples grouped
together; and it is astonishing what pains the architect took to prevent
their being mistaken for one. The porticoes of two of them are on
different levels, and the third or caryatide porch is of a different
height and different style. Every one of these features is perfectly
symmetrical in itself, and the group is beautifully balanced and
arranged; and yet no Gothic architect in his wildest moments could have
conceived anything more picturesquely irregular than the whole becomes.
Indeed, there can be no greater mistake than to suppose that Greek
architecture was fettered by any fixed laws of formal symmetry: each
detail, every feature, every object, such as a hall or temple, which
could be considered as one complete and separate whole, was perfectly
symmetrical and regular; but no two buildings—no two apartments—if for
different purposes, were made to look like one. On the contrary, it is
quite curious to observe what pains they took to arrange their buildings
so as to produce variety and contrast, instead of formality or
singleness of effect. Temples, when near one another, were never placed
parallel, nor were even their propylæa and adjuncts ever so arranged as
to be seen together or in one line. The Egyptians, as before remarked,
had the same feeling, but carried it into even the details of the same
building, which the Greeks did not. In this, indeed, as in almost every
other artistic mode of expression, they seem to have hit exactly the
happy medium, so as to produce the greatest harmony with the greatest
variety, and to satisfy the minutest scrutiny and the most refined
taste, while their buildings produced an immediate and striking effect
on even the most careless and casual beholders.

[Illustration: 157. View of Erechtheium. (From Inwood.)]

Owing to the Erechtheium having been converted into a Byzantine church
during the Middle Ages, almost all traces of its original internal
arrangements have been obliterated, and this, with the peculiar
combination of three temples in one, makes it more than usually
difficult to restore. The annexed plan, however, meets all the
requirements of the case in so far as they are known. To the east was a
portico of 6 columns, between two of which stood an altar to Dione,
mentioned in the inscription enumerating the repairs in 409 B.C.;[145]
inside, according to Pausanias,[146] were three altars, the principal
dedicated to Poseidon, the others to Butes and Hephaistos. From its
form, it is evident the roof must have been supported by pillars, and
they probably also bore a clerestory, by which, I believe, with rare
exceptions, all Greek temples were lighted.


  158. Restored Plan of Erechtheium. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

  The dark parts remain; the shaded are restorations.

The Temple of Pandrosus was on a lower level, and was approached by a
flight of steps, corresponding with which was a chamber, containing the
well of salt water, and which apparently was the abode of the
serpent-god Erechthonios, mentioned by Herodotus.[147] The central cell
was lighted by the very exceptional expedient of 3 windows in the
western wall, which looked directly into it. Beyond this, on the south,
was the beautiful caryatide porch, where, if anywhere within the temple,
grew the olive sacred to Minerva. Unfortunately, our principal guide,
Pausanias, does not give us a hint where the olive-tree grew, and on the
whole I am inclined to believe it was in the enclosure outside the
western wall of the temple,[148] and to which a doorway leads directly
from the Temple of Pandrosus, as well as one under the north portico,
the use of which it is impossible to explain unless we assume that this
enclosure was really of exceptional importance.

                      TEMPLE OF DIANA AT EPHESUS.

A history of Grecian architecture can hardly be considered as complete
without some mention of the great Ephesian temple, which was one of the
largest and most gorgeous of all those erected by the Greeks, and
considered by them as one of the seven wonders of the world. Strange to
say, till very recently even its situation was utterly unknown; and even
now that it has been revealed to us by the energy and intelligence of
Mr. Wood, scarcely enough remains to enable him to restore the plan with
anything like certainty. This is the more remarkable, as it was found
buried under 17 to 20 feet of mud, which must have been the accumulation
of centuries, and might, one would have thought, have preserved
considerable portions of it from the hand of the spoiler.

[Illustration: 159. Plan of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus, embodying
Mr. T. Wood’s discoveries. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The annexed plan compiled from Mr. Wood’s researches embodies all the
information he has been able to obtain. The dimensions of the double
peristyle, and the number and position of its 96 columns, are quite
certain. So are the positions of the north, south, and west walls of the
cella; so that the only points of uncertainty are the positions of the
four columns necessary to make up the 100 mentioned by Pliny,[149] and
the internal arrangement of the cella itself and of the opisthodomus.

With regard to the first there seems very little latitude for choice.
Two must have stood between the antæ. The position of the other two must
be determined either by bringing forward the wall enclosing the stairs,
so as to admit of the intercolumniation east and west being the same as
that of the other columns, or of spacing them so as to divide the inner
roof of the pronaos into equal squares. I have preferred the latter as
that which appears to me the most probable.[150]

The west wall of the cella and the position of the statue having been
found, the arrangement of the pillars surrounding this apartment does
not admit of much latitude. Fragments of these pillars were found, but
not _in situ_, showing that they were in two heights and supported a
gallery. I have spaced them intermediately between the external pillars,
as in the Temple of Apollo at Bassæ (Woodcut No. 149), because I do not
know of any other mode by which this temple could be lighted, except by
an opaion, as suggested for that temple; and if this is so they must
have been so spaced. Carrying out this system it leaves an opisthodomus
which is an exact square, which is so likely a form for that apartment
that it affords considerable confirmation to the correctness of this
restoration that it should be so. The four pillars it probably contained
are so spaced as to divide it into nine equal squares.

Restored in this manner the temple appears considerably less in
dimensions than might have been supposed from Pliny’s text. His
measurements apply only to the lower step of the platform, which is
found to be 421 ft. by 238. But the temple itself, from angle to angle
of the peristyles, is only 342 ft. by 164, instead of 425 ft. by 220 of

Assuming this restoration to be correct there can be very little doubt
as to the position of the thirty-six columnæ cælatæ, of which several
specimens have been recovered by Mr. Wood, and are now in the British
Museum. They must have been the sixteen at either end and the four in
the pronaos, shown darker in the woodcut.

From the temple standing on a platform so much larger than appears
necessary, it is probable that pedestals with statues stood in front of
each column, and if this were so, the sculptures, with the columnæ
cælatæ and the noble architecture of the temple itself, must have made
up a combination of technic, æsthetic, and phonetic art such as hardly
existed anywhere else, and which consequently the ancients were quite
justified in considering as one of the wonders of the world.

                        MUNICIPAL ARCHITECTURE.

Very little now remains of all the various classes of municipal and
domestic buildings which must once have covered the land of Greece, and
from what we know of the exquisite feelings for art that pervaded that
people, they were certainly not less beautiful, though more ephemeral,
than the sacred buildings whose ruins still remain to us.

There are, however, two buildings in Athens which, though small, give us
most exalted ideas of their taste in such matters. The first, already
alluded to, usually known as the Tower of the Winds, is a plain
octagonal building about 45 ft. in height by 24 in width, ornamented by
2 small porches of 2 pillars each, of the Corinthian order, the capitals
of which are represented in Woodcut No. 141. Its roof, like the rest of
the building, is of white marble, and of simple but very elegant design,
and below this is a frieze of 8 large figures, symbolical of the 8
winds, from which the tower takes its name, they in fact being the
principal objects and ornaments of the building, the most important use
of which appears to have been to contain a clepsydra or water-clock.

[Illustration: 160. Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. No scale.]

The other building, though smaller, is still more beautiful. It is known
as the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates, and consists of a square base 12
ft. high by 9 ft. wide, on which stands a circular temple adorned by 6
Corinthian columns, which, with their entablature and the roof and
pedestal they support, make up 22 ft. more, so that the whole height of
the monument is only 34 ft. Notwithstanding these insignificant
dimensions, the beauty of its columns (Woodcut No. 143) and of their
entablature—above all, the beauty of the roof and of the finial
ornament, which crowns the whole and is unrivalled for elegance even in
Greek art—make up a composition so perfect that nothing in any other
style or age can be said to surpass it.[151] If this is a fair index of
the art that was lavished on the smaller objects, the temples hardly
give a just idea of all that have perished.


In extreme contrast with the buildings last described, which were among
the smallest, came the theatres, which were the largest, of the
monuments the Greeks seem ever to have attempted.

[Illustration: 161. Plan of Theatre at Dramyssus. Scale 100 ft. to 1

The annexed plan of one at Dramyssus, the ancient Dodona, will give an
idea of their forms and arrangements. Its dimensions may be said to be
gigantic, being 443 ft. across; but even this, though perhaps the
largest in Greece, is far surpassed by many in Asia Minor. What remains
of it, however, is merely the auditorium, and consists only of ranges of
seats arranged in a semicircle, but without architectural ornament. In
all the examples in Europe, the proscenium,[152] which was the only part
architecturally ornamented, has perished, so that, till we can restore
this with something like certainty, the theatres hardly come within the
class of Architecture as a fine art.

The theatre of Dionysus at Athens, which was excavated and laid bare in
1862-63, measures only 165 ft. in its greatest width. Built on the south
side of the Acropolis, the natural slope forming the rising ground was
utilised for the foundations of the tiers of seats which, in some cases,
and particularly at the back, were hewn in the rock; so that they were
carried back 294 ft. from the centre of the orchestra. In the theatre of
Epidaurus, which, according to Pausanias, was the most beautiful theatre
in the world, the lines of the seats are continued on each side of the
orchestra so as to form a horse-shoe on plan; the foundations of the
stage, the projecting side wings with staircases on each side, and other
buildings belonging to the stage are still preserved.

In Asia Minor some of the theatres have their proscenia adorned with
niches and columns, and friezes of great richness; but all these belong
to the Roman period, and, though probably copies of the mode in which
the Greeks ornamented theirs, are so corrupt in style as to prevent
their being used with safety in attempting to restore the earlier

Many circumstances would indeed induce us to believe that the proscenia
of the earlier theatres may have been of wood or bronze, or both
combined, and heightened by painting and carving to a great degree of
richness. This, though appropriate and consonant with the origin and
history of the drama, would be fatal to the expectation of anything
being found to illustrate its earliest forms.


Like the other Aryan races, the Greeks never were tomb-builders, and
nothing of any importance of this class is found in Greece, except the
tombs of the early Pelasgic races, which were either tumuli, or
treasuries, as they are popularly called. There are, it is true, some
headstones and small pillars of great beauty, but they are monolithic,
and belong rather to the department of Sculpture than of Architecture.
In Asia Minor there are some important tombs, some built and others cut
in the rock. Some of the latter have been described before in speaking
of the tombs of the Lycians. The built examples which remain almost all
belong to the Roman period, though the typical and by far the most
splendid example of Greek tombs was that erected by Artemisia to the
memory of her husband Mausolus at Halicarnassus. We scarcely know enough
of the ethnic relations of the Carians to be able to understand what
induced them to adopt so exceptional a mode of doing honour to their
dead. With pure Greeks it must have been impossible, but the inhabitants
of these coasts were of a different race, and had a different mode of
expressing their feelings.

[Illustration: 162. View of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, as restored
by the Author.]

Till Sir Charles Newton’s visit to Halicarnassus in 1856 the very site
of this seventh wonder of the world was a matter of dispute. We now know
enough to be able to restore the principal parts with absolute
certainty, and to ascertain its dimensions and general appearance within
very insignificant limits of error.[153]

The dimensions quoted by Pliny[154] are evidently extracted from a
larger work, said to have been written by the architect who erected it,
and which existed at his time. Every one of them has been confirmed in
the most satisfactory manner by recent discoveries, and enable us to put
the whole together without much hesitation.

[Illustration: 163. Plan of the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, from a
Drawing by the Author. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Sufficient remains of the quadriga, which crowned the monument, have
been brought home to give its dimensions absolutely. All the parts of
the Ionic order are complete. The steps of the pyramid have been found
and portions of the three friezes, and these, with Pliny’s dimensions
and description, are all that are required to assure us that its aspect
must have been very similar to the form represented in Woodcut No. 162.
There can be little doubt with regard to the upper storey, but in order
to work out to the dimensions given by Pliny (411 ft. in circumference)
and those found cut out in the rock (462 ft.), the lower storey must be
spread out beyond the upper to that extent, and most probably something
after the manner shown in the woodcut.

The building consisted internally of two chambers superimposed the one
on the other, each 52 ft. 6 in. by 42 ft.—the lower one being the
vestibule to the tomb beyond—the upper was surrounded by a peristyle of
36 columns. Externally the height was divided into three equal portions
of 37 ft. 6 in. each (25 cubits), one of which was allotted to the
base—one to the pyramid with its meta—and one to the order between them.
These with 14 ft., the height of the quadriga, and the same dimension
belonging to the lower entablature, made up the height of 140 Greek
feet[155] given it by Pliny.

[Illustration: 164. Lion Tomb at Cnidus. (From Newton.)]

Though its height was unusually great for a Greek building, its other
dimensions were small. It covered only 13,230 ft. The admiration
therefore which the Greeks expressed regarding it must have arisen,
first, from the unusual nature of its design and of the purpose to which
it was applied, or perhaps more still from the extent and richness of
its sculptured decorations, of the beauty of which we are now enabled to
judge, and can fully share with them in admiring.

Another, but very much smaller, tomb of about the same age was found by
Mr. Newton at Cnidus, and known as the Lion Tomb, from the figure of
that animal, now in the British Museum, which crowned its summit. Like
many other tombs found in Asia and in Africa, it follows the type of the
Mausoleum in its more important features. It possesses a base—a
peristyle—a pyramid of steps—and, lastly, an acroterion or pedestal
meant to support a quadriga or statue, or some other crowning object,
which appropriately terminated the design upwards.

Several examples erected during the Roman period will be illustrated
when speaking of the architecture of that people, all bearing the
impress of the influence the Mausoleum had on the tomb architecture of
that age; but unfortunately we cannot yet go backwards and point out the
type from which the design of the Mausoleum itself was elaborated. The
tombs of Babylon and Passargadæ are remote both geographically and
artistically, though not without certain essential resemblances. Perhaps
the missing links may some day reward the industry of some scientific


At Cyrene there is a large group of tombs of Grecian date and with
Grecian details, but all cut in the rock, and consequently differing
widely in their form from those just described. It is not clear whether
the circumstance of this city possessing such a necropolis arose from
its proximity to Egypt, and consequently from a mere desire to imitate
that people, or from some ethnic peculiarity. Most probably the latter,
though we know so little about them that it is difficult to speak with
precision on such a subject.[156]

These tombs are chiefly interesting from many of the details of the
architecture still retaining the colour with which they were originally
adorned. The triglyphs of the Doric order are still painted blue,[157]
as appears to have been the universal practice, and the pillars are
outlined by red lines. The metopes are darker, and are adorned with
painted groups of figures, the whole making up one of the most perfect
examples of Grecian coloured decoration which still remain.

[Illustration: 165. Rock-cut and structural Tombs at Cyrene. (From
Hamilton’s ‘Wanderings in North Africa.’)]

There is another tomb at the same place—this time structural—which is
interesting not so much for any architectural beauty it possesses as
from its belonging to an exceptional type. It consists now only of a
circular basement—the upper part is gone—and is erected over an
excavated rock-cut tomb. There seem to be several others of the same
class in the necropolis, and they are the only examples known except
those at Marathos, one of which is illustrated above (Woodcut No. 122).
As before hinted, the Syrian example does not appear to be very ancient,
but we want further information before speaking positively on this
subject. No one on the spot has attempted to fix with precision the age
of the Cyrenean examples; nor have they been drawn in such detail as is
requisite for others to ascertain the fact. They may be as late as the
time of the Romans, but can hardly be dated as prior to the age of
Alexander the Great.

[Illustration: 166. Tombs at Cyrene. (From Hamilton’s ‘North Africa.’)]

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.

We have nothing left but imperfect verbal descriptions of the domestic,
and even of the palatial architecture of Greece, and, consequently, can
only judge imperfectly of its forms. Unfortunately, too, Pompeii, though
but half a Greek city, belongs to too late and too corrupt an age to
enable us to use it even as an illustration; but we may rest assured
that in this, as in everything else, the Greeks displayed the same
exquisite taste which pervades not only their monumental architecture,
but all their works in metal or clay, down to the meanest object, which
have been preserved to our times.

It is probable that the forms of their houses were much more irregular
and picturesque than we are in the habit of supposing them to have been.
They seem to have taken such pains in their temples—in the Erechtheium,
for instance, and at Eleusis—to make every part tell its own tale, that
anything like forced regularity must have been offensive to them, and
they would probably make every apartment exactly of the dimensions
required, and group them so that no one should under any circumstances
be confounded with another.

This, however, with all the details of their domestic arts, must now
remain to us as mere speculation, and the architectural history of
Greece must be confined to her temples and monumental erections. These
suffice to explain the nature and forms of the art, and to assign to it
the rank of the purest and most intellectual of all the styles which
have yet been invented or practised in any part of the world.

                                BOOK IV.


                               CHAPTER I.



 Historical notice—Temples—Rock-cut Tombs—Tombs at Castel d’Asso—Tumuli.

                        CHRONOLOGICAL MEMORANDA.

         Migration from Asia Minor       about 12th cent. B.C.
         Tomb of Porsenna                       about B.C. 500
         Etruria becomes subject to Rome        about B.C. 330

The ethnographical history of art in Italy is in all its essential
features similar to that of Greece, though arriving at widely different
results from causes the influence of which it is easy to trace. Both are
examples of an Aryan development based on a Turanian civilisation which
it has superseded. In Greece—as already remarked—the traces of the
earlier people are indistinct and difficult to seize. In Italy their
features are drawn with a coarser hand, and extend down into a more
essentially historic age. It thus happens that we have no doubt as to
the existence of the Etruscan people—we know very nearly who they were,
and cannot be mistaken as to the amount and kind of influence they
exercised on the institutions and arts of the Romans.

The more striking differences appear to have arisen from the fact, that
Greece had some four or five centuries of comparative repose during
which to form herself and her institutions after the Pelasgic
civilisation was struck down at the time of the Dorian occupation of the
Peloponnesus. During that period she was undisturbed by foreign
invasion, and was not tempted by successful conquests to forsake the
gentler social arts for the more vulgar objects of national ambition.
Rome’s history, on the other hand, from the earliest aggregation of a
robber horde on the banks of the Tiber till she became the arbiter of
the destinies of the ancient world, is little beyond the record of
continuous wars. From the possession of the seven hills, Rome gradually
carried her sway at the edge of the sword to the dominion of the whole
of Italy and of all the then known world, destroying everything that
stood in the way of her ambition, and seeking only the acquisition of
wealth and power.

Greece, in the midst of her successful cultivation of the arts of
commerce and of peace, stimulated by the wholesome rivalry of the
different States of which she was composed, was awakened by the Persian
invasion to a struggle for existence. The result was one of the most
brilliant passages in the world’s history, and no nation was ever more
justified in the jubilant outburst of enthusiastic patriotism that
followed the repulse of the invader, than was Greece in that with which
she commenced her short but brilliant career. A triumph so gained by a
people so constituted led to results at which we still wonder, though
they cause us no surprise. If Greece attained her manhood on the
battle-fields of Marathon and Salamis, Rome equally reached the maturity
of her career when she cruelly and criminally destroyed Corinth and
Carthage, and the sequel was such as might be expected from such a
difference of education. Rome had no time for the cultivation of the
arts of peace, and as little sympathy for their gentler influences.
Conquest, wealth, and consequent power, were the objects of her
ambition—for these she sacrificed everything, and by their means she
attained a pinnacle of greatness that no nation had reached before or
has since. Her arts have all the impress of this greatness, and are
characterised by the same vulgar grandeur which marks everything she
did. Very different they are from the intellectual beauty found in the
works of the Greeks, but in some respects they are as interesting to
those who can read the character of nations in their artistic

In the earlier part of her career Rome was an Etruscan city under
Etruscan kings and institutions. After she had emancipated herself from
their yoke, Etruria long remained her equal and her rival in political
power, and her instructress in religion and the arts of peace. This
continued so long, and the architectural remains of that people are so
numerous, and have been so thoroughly investigated, that we have no
difficulty in ascertaining the extent of influence the older nation had
on the nascent empire. It is more difficult to ascertain exactly who the
Etruscans themselves were, or whence they came. But on the whole there
seems every reason to believe they migrated from Asia Minor some twelve
or thirteen centuries before the Christian era, and fixed themselves in
Italy, most probably among the Umbrians, or some people of cognate race,
who had settled there before—so long before, perhaps, as to entitle them
to be considered among the aboriginal inhabitants.

It would have been only natural that the expatriated Trojans should have
sought refuge among such a kindred people, though we have nothing but
the vaguest tradition to warrant a belief that this was the case. They
may too from time to time have received other accessions to their
strength; but they were a foreign people in a strange land, and scarcely
seem ever to have become naturalised in the country of their adoption.
But what stood still more in their way was the fact that they were an
old Turanian people in presence of a young and ambitious community of
Aryan origin, and, as has always been the case when this has happened,
they were destined to disappear. Before doing so, however, they left
their impress on the institutions and the arts of their conquerors to
such an extent as to be still traceable in every form. It may have been
that there was as much Pelasgic blood in the veins of the Greeks as
there was Etruscan in those of the Romans; but the civilisation of the
former had passed away before Greece had developed herself. Etruria, on
the other hand, was long contemporary with Rome: in early times her
equal, and sometimes her mistress, and consequently in a position to
force her arts upon her to an extent that was never effected on the
opposite shore of the Adriatic.


Nothing can prove more clearly the Turanian origin of the Etruscans than
the fact that all we know of them is derived from their tombs. These
exist in hundreds—it may almost be said in thousands—at the gates of
every city; but no vestige of a temple has come down to our days. Had
any Semitic blood flowed in their veins, as has been sometimes
suspected, they could not have been so essentially sepulchral as they
were, or so fond of contemplating death, as is proved by the fact that a
purely Semitic tomb is still a desideratum among antiquaries, not one
having as yet been discovered. What we should like to find in Etruria
would be a square pyramidal mound with external steps leading to a cella
on its summit; but no trace of any such has yet been detected. Their
other temples—using the word in the sense in which we usually understand
it—were, as might be expected, insignificant and ephemeral. So much so,
indeed, that except from one passage in Vitruvius,[158] and our being
able to detect the influence of the Etruscan style in the buildings of
Imperial Rome, we should hardly be aware of their existence. The truth
seems to be that the religion of the Etruscans, like that of most of
their congeners, was essentially ancestral, and their worship took the
form of respect for the remains of the dead and reverence for their
memory. Tombs consequently, and not temples, were the objects on which
they lavished their architectural resources. They certainly were not
idolaters, in the sense in which we usually understand the term. They
had no distinct or privileged priesthood, and consequently had no motive
for erecting temples which by their magnificence should be pleasing to
their gods or tend to the glorification of their kings or priests. Still
less were they required for congregational purposes by the people at

The only individual temple of Etruscan origin of which we have any
knowledge, is that of Capitoline Jupiter at Rome.[159] Originally small,
it was repaired and rebuilt till it became under the Empire a splendid
fane. But not one vestige of it now remains, nor any description from
which we could restore its appearance with anything like certainty.

From the chapter of the work of Vitruvius just alluded to, we learn that
the Etruscans had two classes of temples: one circular, like their
structural tombs, and dedicated to one deity; the other class
rectangular, but these, always possessing three cells, were devoted to
the worship of three gods.

[Illustration: 167. Plan and Elevation of an Etruscan Temple.]

The general arrangement of the plan, as described by Vitruvius, was that
shown on the plan above (Fig. 1), and is generally assented to by all
those who have attempted the restoration. In larger temples in Roman
times the number of pillars in front may have been doubled, and they
would thus be arranged like those of the portico of the Pantheon, which
is essentially an Etruscan arrangement. The restoration of the elevation
is more difficult, and the argument too long to be entered upon
here;[160] but its construction and proportions seem to have been very
much like those drawn in the above diagram (Fig. 2). Of course, as
wooden structures, they were richly and elaborately carved, and the
effect heightened by colours, but it is in vain to attempt to restore
them. Without a single example to guide us, and with very little
collateral evidence which can at all be depended upon, it is hardly
possible that any satisfactory restoration could now be made. Moreover,
their importance in the history of art is so insignificant, that the
labour such an attempt must involve would hardly be repaid by the

The original Etruscan circular temple seems to have been a mere circular
cell with a porch. The Romans surrounded it with a peristyle, which
probably did not exist in the original style. They magnified it
afterwards into the most characteristic and splendid of all their
temples, the Pantheon, whose portico is Etruscan in arrangement and
design, and whose cell still more distinctly belongs to that order; nor
can there be any doubt that the simpler Roman temples of circular form
are derived from Etruscan originals.[161] It would therefore be of great
importance if we could illustrate the later buildings from existing
remains of the older: but the fact is that such deductions as we may
draw from the copies are our only source of information respecting the

We know little of any of the civil buildings with which the cities of
Etruria were adorned, beyond the knowledge obtained from the remains of
their theatres and amphitheatres. The form of the latter was essentially
Etruscan, and was adopted by the Romans, with whom it became their most
characteristic and grandest architectural object. Of the amphitheatres
of ancient Etruria only one now remains in so perfect a state as to
enable us to judge of their forms. It is that at Sutrium, which,
however, being entirely cut in the rock, neither affords information as
to the mode of construction nor enables us to determine its age. The
general dimensions are 295 ft. in its greatest length by 265 in breadth,
and it is consequently much nearer a circular form than the Romans
generally adopted: but in other respects the arrangements are such as
appear to have usually prevailed in after times.

Besides these, we have numerous works of utility, but these belong more
strictly to engineering than to architectural science. The city walls of
the Etruscans surpass those of any other ancient nation in extent and
beauty of workmanship. Their drainage works and their bridges, as well
as those of the kindred Pelasgians in Greece, still remain monuments of
their industrial science and skill, which their successors never

On the whole, perhaps we are justified in asserting that the Etruscans
were not an architectural people, and had no temples or palaces worthy
of attention. It at least seems certain that nothing of the sort is now
to be found, even in ruins, and were it not that the study of Etruscan
art is a necessary introduction to that of Roman, it would hardly be
worth while trying to gather together and illustrate the few fragments
and notices of it that remain.


The tombs of the Etruscans now found may be divided into two
classes—first, those cut in the rock, and resembling dwelling-houses;
secondly, the circular tumuli, which latter are by far the most numerous
and important class.

Each of these may be again subdivided into two kinds. The rock-cut tombs
include, firstly, those with only a façade on the face of the rock and a
sepulchral chamber within; secondly, those cut quite out of the rock and
standing free all round. To this class probably once belonged an immense
number of tombs built in the ordinary way; but all these have totally
disappeared, and consequently the class, as now under consideration,
consists entirely of excavated examples.

The second class may be divided into those tumuli erected over chambers
cut in the tufaceous rock which is found all over Etruria, and those
which have chambers built above-ground.

In the present state of our knowledge it is impossible to say which of
these classes is the older. We know that the Egyptians buried in caves
long before the Etruscans landed in Italy, and at the same time raised
pyramids over rock-cut and built chambers. We know too that Abraham was
buried in the Cave of Machpelah in Syria. On the other hand, the tombs
at Smyrna (Woodcut No. 113), the treasuries of Mycenæ (Woodcut No. 124),
the sepulchre of Alyattes (Woodcut No. 115), and many others, are proofs
of the antiquity of the tumuli, which are found all over Europe and
Asia, and appear to have existed from the earliest ages.

The comparative antiquity of the different kinds of tombs being thus
doubtful, it will be sufficient for the purposes of the present work to
classify them architecturally. It may probably be assumed, with safety,
that all the modes which have been enumerated were practised by the
Etruscans at a period very slightly subsequent to their migration into

Of the first class of the rock-cut tombs—those with merely a façade
externally—the most remarkable group is that at Castel d’Asso. At this
place there is a perpendicular cliff with hundreds of these tombs ranged
along its face, like houses in a street. A similar arrangement is found
in Egypt at Benihasan, at Petra, and Cyrene, and around all the more
ancient cities of Asia Minor.

In Etruria they generally consist of one chamber lighted by the doorway
only. Their internal arrangement appears to be an imitation of a
dwelling chamber, with furniture, like the apartment itself, cut out of
the rock. Externally they have little or no pretension to architectural
decoration. It is true that some tombs are found adorned with
frontispieces of a debased Doric or Ionic order; but these were executed
at a much later period and under Roman domination, and cannot therefore
be taken as specimens of Etruscan art, but rather of that corruption of
style sure to arise from a conquered people trying to imitate the arts
of their rulers.

[Illustration: 168. Tombs at Castel d’Asso. (From the ‘Annale del

The general appearance of the second class of rock-cut tombs will be
understood from the woodcut (No. 168), representing two monuments at
Castel d’Asso. Unfortunately neither is complete, nor is there any
complete example known to exist of this class. Perhaps the apex was
added structurally and that these, like all such things in Etruria, have
perished. Possibly, if cut in the rock, the terminals were slender
carved ornaments, and therefore liable to injury. They are usually
restored by antiquaries in the shape of rectilinear pyramids, but so far
as I know, there is no authority for this. On the contrary, it is more
in accordance with what we know of the style and its affinities to
suppose that the termination of these monuments, even if added in
masonry, was curvilinear.

[Illustration: 169. Mouldings from Tombs at Castel d’Asso.]

One remarkable thing about the rock-cut tombs is the form of their
mouldings, which differ from any found elsewhere in Europe. Two of these
are shown in the annexed woodcut (No. 169). They are very numerous and
in great variety, but do not in any instance show the slightest trace of
a cornice, nor of any tendency towards one. On the contrary, in place of
this, we find nothing but a reverse moulding. It is probable that
similar forms may be found in Asia Minor, while something resembling
them actually occurs at Persepolis and elsewhere. It is remarkable that
this feature did not penetrate to Rome, and that no trace of its
influence is found there, as might have been expected.[162]


The simplest, and therefore perhaps the earliest, monument which can be
erected over the graves of the dead, by a people who reverence their
departed relatives, is a mound of earth or a cairn of stones, and such
seems to have been the form adopted by the Turanian or Tartar races of
mankind from the earliest days to the present hour. It is scarcely
necessary to remark how universal such monuments were among the ruder
tribes of Northern Europe. The Etruscans improved upon this by
surrounding the base with a _podium_, or supporting wall of masonry.
This not only defined its limits and gave it dignity, but enabled
entrances to be made in it, and otherwise converted it from a mere
hillock into a monumental structure. It is usually supposed that this
basement was an invariable part of all Etruscan tumuli, and when it is
not found, it is assumed that it has been removed, or that it is buried
in the rubbish of the mound. No doubt such a stone basement may easily
have been removed by the peasantry, or buried, but it is by no means
clear that this was invariably the case. It seems that the enclosure was
frequently a circle of stones or monumental steles, in the centre of
which the tumulus stood. The monuments have hitherto been so carelessly
examined and restored, that it is difficult to arrive at anything like
certainty with regard to the details of their structure. Nor can we draw
any certain conclusion from a comparison with other tumuli of cognate
races. The description by Herodotus of the tomb of Alyattes at Sardis
(Woodcut No. 115), those described by Pausanias as existing in the
Peloponnesus, and the appearances of those at Mycenæ and Orchomenos,
might be interpreted either way; but those at Smyrna (Woodcut No. 113),
and a great number at least of those in Etruria, have a structural
circle of stone as a supporting base to the mound.

[Illustration: 170. Plan of the Regulini Galeassi Tomb. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

These tumuli are found existing in immense numbers in every necropolis
of the Etruscans. A large space was generally set apart for the purpose
outside the walls of all their great cities. In these cemeteries the
tumuli are arranged in rows, like houses in streets. Even now we can
count them by hundreds, and in the neighbourhood of the largest
cities—at Vulci, for instance—almost by thousands.

Most of them are now worn down by the effect of time to nearly the level
of the ground, though some of the larger ones still retain an imposing
appearance. Nearly all have been rifled at some early period, though the
treasures still discovered almost daily in some places show how vast
their extent was, and how much even now remains to be done before this
vast mine of antiquity can be said to be exhausted.

One of the most remarkable among those that have been opened in modern
times is at Cervetri, the ancient Cære, known as the Regulini Galeassi
tomb, from the names of its discoverers.

[Illustration: 171. Sections of the Regulini Galeassi Tomb. (From
Canina’s ‘Etruria Antica.’) Scale for large section, 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Like a Nubian pyramid or Buddhist tope, it consists of an inner and
older tumulus, around and over which another has been added. In the
outer mound are five tombs either of dependent or inferior personages.
These were rifled long ago; but the outer pyramid having effectually
concealed the entrance to the principal tomb, it remained untouched till
very lately, when it yielded to its discoverers a richer collection of
ornaments and utensils in gold and bronze than has ever been found in
one place before.

The dimensions and arrangements of this tumulus will be understood from
Woodcuts Nos. 170, 171, and from the two sections of the principal tomb
which are annexed to them. These last display an irregularity of
construction very unusual in such cases, for which no cause can be
assigned. The usual section is perfectly regular, as in the annexed
woodcut (No. 172), taken from another tomb at the same place.

These chambers, like all those of the early Etruscans, are vaulted on
the horizontal principle, like the tombs at Mycenæ and Orchomenos,
though none are found in Italy at all equal to those of Greece in
dimensions or beauty of construction.

[Illustration: 172. Section of a Tomb at Cervetri. No scale.]

Woodcut No. 173 is a perspective view of the principal chamber in the
Regulini Galeassi tomb, showing the position of the furniture found in
it when first opened, consisting of biers or bedsteads, shields, arrows,
and vessels of various sorts. A number of vases are hung in a curious
recess in the roof, the form of which would be inexplicable but for the
utensils found in it. With this clue to its meaning we can scarcely
doubt that it represents a place for hanging such vessels in the houses
of the living.

All the treasures found in this tomb are in the oldest style of Etruscan
art, and are so similar to the bronzes and ornaments brought by Layard
from Assyria as to lead to the belief that they had a common origin. The
tomb, with its contents, probably dates from the 9th or 10th century
before the Christian era.

The largest tomb hitherto discovered in Etruria is now known as the
Cocumella, in the necropolis at Vulci. It is rather more than 240 ft. in
diameter, and originally could not have been less than 115 or 120 ft. in
height, though now it only rises to 50 ft.

[Illustration: 173. View of principal Chamber in the Regulini Galeassi

Near its centre are the remains of two solid towers, one circular, the
other square, neither of them actually central, nor are they placed in
such a way that we can understand how they can have formed a part of any
symmetrical design. A plan and a view of the present appearance of this
monument are given in Woodcuts 174 and 175.

[Illustration: 174. Plan of Cocumella, Vulci. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 175. View of Cocumella, Vulci.]

This tumulus, with its principal remaining features thus standing on one
side of the centre, may possibly assist us to understand the curious
description found in Pliny[163] of the tomb of Porsenna. This
description is quoted from Varro, being evidently regarded by Pliny
himself as not a little apocryphal. According to this account it
consisted of a square basement 300 ft. each way, from which arose five
pyramids, united at the summit by a bronze circle or cupola. This was
again surmounted by four other pyramids, the summits of which were again
united at a height of 300 ft. from the ground. From this point rose
still five more pyramids, whose height Varro (from modesty, as Pliny
surmises) omits to state, but which was estimated in Etruscan traditions
at the same height as the rest of the monument. This last statement,
which does not rest on any real authority, may well be regarded as
exaggerated; but if we take the total height as about 400 ft., it is
easy to understand that in the age of Pliny, when all the buildings were
low, such a structure, as high as the steeple at Salisbury, would appear
fabulous; but the vast piles that have been erected by tomb-building
races in other parts of the earth render it by no means improbable that
Varro was justified in what he asserted.[164]

Near the gate of Albano is found a small tomb of five pyramidal pillars
rising from a square base, exactly corresponding with Varro’s
description of the lower part of the tomb of Porsenna. It is called by
tradition the tomb of Aruns, the son of Porsenna, though the character
of the mouldings with which it is adorned would lead us to assign to it
a more modern date. It consists of a lofty podium, on which are placed
five pyramids, a large one in the centre and four smaller ones at the
angles. Its present appearance is shown in the annexed woodcut (No.

[Illustration: Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.

Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

176. Tomb of Aruns, Albano.]

There are not in Etruria any features sufficiently marked to
characterise a style of architecture, nor any pillars with their
accessories which can be considered to constitute an order. It is true
that in some of the rock-cut tombs square piers support the roof; and in
one or two instances rounded pillars are found, but these are either
without mouldings or ornamented only with Roman details, betraying the
lateness of their execution. The absence of built examples of the class
of tombs found in the rock prevents us from recognising any of those
peculiarities of construction which sometimes are as characteristic of
the style and as worthy of attention as the more purely ornamental

From their city gates, their aqueducts and bridges, we know that the
Etruscans used the radiating arch at an early age, with deep voussoirs
and elegant mouldings, giving it that character of strength which the
Romans afterwards imparted to their works of the same class. The Cloaca
Maxima of Rome (Woodcut No. 104) must be considered as a work executed
under Etruscan superintendence, and a very perfect specimen of the

At the same time the Etruscans used the pointed arch, constructed
horizontally, and seem to have had the same predilection for it which
characterised the cognate Pelasgian race in Greece. A gateway at Arpino
(Woodcut No. 177) is almost identical with that at Thoricus (Woodcut No.
126), but larger and more elegant; and there are many specimens of the
same class found in Italy. The portion of an aqueduct at Tusculum, shown
in Woodcut No. 178, is a curious transition specimen, where the two
stones meeting at the apex (usually called the Egyptian form, being the
first step towards the true arch) are combined with a substructure of
horizontal converging masonry.

In either of these instances the horizontal arch is a legitimate mode of
construction, and may have been used long after the principle of the
radiating arch was known. The great convenience of the latter, as
enabling large spaces to be spanned even with brick or the smallest
stones, and thus dispensing with the necessity for stones of very large
dimensions, led ultimately to its universal adoption. Subsequently, when
the pointed form of the radiating arch was introduced, no motive
remained for the retention of the horizontal method, and it was entirely

[Illustration: 177. Gateway at Arpino.]

[Illustration: 178. Aqueduct at Tusculum.]

                              CHAPTER II.


We now approach the last revolution that completed and closed the great
cycle of the arts and civilisation of the ancient world. We have seen
Art spring Minerva-like, perfect from the head of her great parent, in
Egypt. We have admired it in Assyria, rich, varied, but unstable; aiming
at everything, but never attaining maturity or perfection. We have tried
to trace the threads of early Pelasgic art in Asia, Greece, and Etruria,
spreading their influence over the world, and laying the foundation of
other arts which the Pelasgi were incapable of developing. We have seen
all these elements gathered together in Greece, the essence extracted
from each, and the whole forming the most perfect and beautiful
combinations of intellectual power that the world has yet witnessed. We
have now only to contemplate the last act in the great drama, the
gorgeous but melancholy catastrophe by which all these styles of
architecture were collected in wild confusion in Rome, and there
perished beneath the luxury and crimes of that mighty people, who for a
while made Rome the capital of Europe.

View them as we will, the arts of Rome were never an indigenous or
natural production of the soil or people, but an aggregation of foreign
styles in a state of transition from the old and time-honoured forms of
Pagan antiquity to the new development introduced by Christianity. We
cannot of course suppose that the Romans foresaw the result to which
their amalgamation of previous styles was tending; still they advanced
as steadily towards that result as if a prophetic spirit had guided them
to a well-defined conception of what was to be. It was not however
permitted to the Romans to complete this task. Long before the ancient
methods and ideas had been completely moulded into the new, the power of
Rome sank beneath her corruption, and a long pause took place, during
which the Christian arts did not advance in Western Europe beyond the
point they had reached in the age of Constantine. Indeed, in many
respects, they receded from it during the dark ages. When they
reappeared in the 10th and 11th centuries it was in an entirely new garb
and with scarcely a trace of their origin—so distinct indeed that it
appears more like a reinvention than a reproduction of forms long since
familiar to the Roman world. Had Rome retained her power and
pre-eminence a century or two longer, a style might have been elaborated
as distinct from that of the ancient world, and as complete in itself,
as our pointed Gothic, and perhaps more beautiful. Such was not the
destiny of the world; and what we have now to do is to examine this
transition style as we find it in ancient Rome, and familiarise
ourselves with the forms it took during the three centuries of its
existence, as without this knowledge all the arts of the Gothic era
would for ever remain an inexplicable mystery. The chief value of the
Roman style consists in the fact that it contains the germs of all that
is found in the Middle Ages, and affords the key by which its mysteries
may be unlocked, and its treasures rendered available. Had the
transition been carried through in the hands of an art-loving and
artistic people, the architectural beauties of Rome must have surpassed
those of any other city in the world, for its buildings surpass in scale
those of Egypt and in variety those of Greece, while they affect to
combine the beauties of both. In constructive ingenuity they far surpass
anything the world had seen up to that time, but this cannot redeem
offences against good taste, nor enable any Roman productions to command
our admiration as works of art, or entitle them to rank as models to be
followed either literally or in spirit.

During the first two centuries and a half of her existence, Rome was
virtually an Etruscan city, wholly under Etruscan influence; and during
that period we read of temples and palaces being built and of works of
immense magnitude being undertaken for the embellishment of the city;
and we have even now more remains of kingly than we have of consular

After expelling her kings and shaking off Etruscan influence, Rome
existed as a republic for five centuries, and during this long age of
barbarism she did nothing to advance science or art. Literature was
almost wholly unknown within her walls, and not one monument has come
down to our time, even by tradition, worthy of a city of a tenth part of
her power and magnitude. There is probably no instance in the history of
the world of a capital city existing so long, populous and peaceful at
home, prosperous and powerful abroad, and at the same time so utterly
devoid of any monuments or any magnificence to dignify her existence.

When, however, Carthage was conquered and destroyed, when Greece was
overrun and plundered, and Egypt, with her long-treasured art, had
become a dependent province, Rome was no longer the city of the Aryan
Romans, but the sole capital of the civilised world. Into her lap were
poured all the artistic riches of the universe; to Rome flocked all who
sought a higher distinction or a more extended field for their ambition
than their own provincial capitals could then afford. She thus became
the centre of all the arts and of all the science then known; and, so
far at least as quantity is concerned, she amply redeemed her previous
neglect of them. It seems an almost indisputable fact that, during the
three centuries of the Empire, more and larger buildings were erected in
Rome and her dependent cities than ever were erected in a like period in
any part of the world.

For centuries before the establishment of the Roman Empire, progressive
development and increasing population, joined to comparative peace and
security, had accumulated around the shores of the Mediterranean a mass
of people enjoying material prosperity greater than had ever been known
before. All this culminated in the first centuries of the Christian era.
The greatness of the ancient world was then full, and a more
overwhelming and gorgeous spectacle than the Roman Empire then displayed
never dazzled the eyes of mankind. From the banks of the Euphrates to
those of the Tagus, every city vied with its neighbour in the erection
of temples, baths, theatres, and edifices for public use or private
luxury. In all cases these display far more evidence of wealth and power
than of taste and refinement, and all exhibit traces of that haste to
enjoy, which seems incompatible with the correct elaboration of anything
that is to be truly great. Notwithstanding all this, there is a
greatness in the mass, a grandeur in the conception, and a certain
expression of power in all these Roman remains which never fail to
strike the beholder with awe and force admiration from him despite his
better judgment. These qualities, coupled with the associations that
attach themselves to every brick and every stone, render the study of
them irresistibly attractive. It was with Imperial Rome that the ancient
world perished; it was in her dominions that the new and Christian world
was born. All that was great in Heathendom was gathered within her
walls, tied, it is true, into an inextricable knot, which was cut by the
sword of those barbarians who moulded for themselves out of the
fragments that polity and those arts which will next occupy our
attention. To Rome all previous history tends; from Rome all modern
history springs: to her, therefore, and to her arts, we inevitably turn,
if not to admire, at least to learn, and if not to imitate, at any rate
to wonder at and to contemplate a phase of art as unknown to previous as
to subsequent history, and, if properly understood, more replete with
instruction than any other form hitherto known. Though the lesson we
learn from it is far oftener what to avoid than what to follow, still
there is such wisdom to be gathered from it as should guide us in the
onward path, which may lead us to a far higher grade than it was given
to Rome herself ever to attain.

                              CHAPTER III.

                          ROMAN ARCHITECTURE.


Origin of style—The arch—Orders: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian,
  Composite—Temples—The Pantheon—Roman temples at Athens—at Baalbec.

                        CHRONOLOGICAL MEMORANDA.


 Foundation of Rome                                             B.C. 753

 Tarquinius Priscus—Cloaca Maxima, foundation of Temple of           616
 Jupiter Capitolinus.

 Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus dedicated                             507

 Scipio—tomb at Literium                                             184

 Augustus—temples at Rome                                             31

 Marcellus—theatre at Rome—died                                       23

 Agrippa—portico of Pantheon—died                                     13

 Nero—burning and rebuilding of Rome—died                        A.D. 68

 Vespasian—Flavian amphitheatre built                                 70

 Titus—arch in Forum                                                  79

 Destruction of Pompeii                                               79

 Trajan—Ulpian Basilica and Pillar of Victory                         98

 Hadrian builds temple at Rome, Temple of   Jupiter Olympius         117
 at Athens, &c.

 Septimius Severus—arch at Rome                                      194

 Caracalla—baths                                                     211

 Diocletian—palace at Spalato                                        284

 Maxentius—Basilica at Rome                                          306

 Constantine—transfer of Empire to Constantinople                    328

The earliest inhabitants of Rome were an Aryan or, as they used to be
called, Indo-Germanic race, who established themselves in a country
previously occupied by Pelasgians. Their principal neighbour on one side
was Etruria, a Pelasgian nation. On the other hand was Magna Græcia,
which had been colonised in very early ages by Hellenic settlers of
kindred origin. It was therefore impossible that the architecture of the
Romans should not be in fact a mixture of the styles of these two
people. As a transition order, it was only a mechanical juxtaposition of
both styles, the real fusion taking place many long centuries
afterwards. Throughout the Roman period the two styles remain distinct,
and there is no great difficulty in referring almost every feature in
Roman architecture to its origin.

From the Greeks were borrowed the rectangular peristylar temple, with
its columns and horizontal architraves, though they seldom if ever used
it in its perfect purity, the cella of the Greek temples not being
sufficiently large for their purposes. The principal Etruscan temples,
as we have already shown, were square in plan, and the inner half
occupied by one or more cells, to the sides and back of which the
portico never extended. The Roman rectangular temple is a mixture of
these two: it is generally, like the Greek examples, longer than its
breadth, but the colonnade never seems to have entirely surrounded the
building. Sometimes it extends to the two sides as well as the front,
but more generally the cella occupies the whole of the inner part though
frequently ornamented by a false peristyle of three-quarter columns
attached to its walls.

Besides this, the Romans borrowed from the Etruscans or Greeks a
circular form of temple. As applied by the Romans it was generally
encircled by a peristyle of columns, though it is not clear that the
Etruscans so used it; this may therefore be an improvement adopted from
the Greeks on an Etruscan form. In early times these circular temples
were dedicated to Vesta, Cybele, or some god or goddess either unknown
or not generally worshipped by the Aryan races; but in later times this
distinction was lost sight of.

A more important characteristic which the Romans borrowed from the
Etruscans was the circular arch. It was known, it is true, to the
Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks; yet none of these people, perhaps
excepting the Assyrians, seem to have used it as a feature in their
ornamental architecture; but the Etruscans appear to have had a peculiar
predilection for it, and from them the Romans adopted it boldly, and
introduced it into almost all their buildings. It was not at first used
in temples of Grecian form, nor even in their peristylar circular ones.
In the civil buildings of the Romans it was a universal feature, but was
generally placed in juxtaposition with the Grecian orders. In the
Colosseum, for instance, the whole construction is arched; but a useless
network of ill-designed and ill-arranged Grecian columns, with their
entablatures, is spread over the whole. This is a curious instance of
the mixture of the two styles, and as such is very characteristic of
Roman art; but in an artistic point of view the place of these columns
would have been far better supplied by buttresses or panels, or some
expedient more correctly constructive.

After having thoroughly familiarised themselves with the forms of the
arch as an architectural feature, the Romans made a bold stride in
advance by applying it as a vault both to the circular and rectangular
forms of buildings. The most perfect examples of this are the rotunda of
the Pantheon and the basilica of Maxentius, commonly called the Temple
of Peace, strangely like each other in conception, though apparently so
distant in date. In these buildings the Roman architects so completely
emancipated themselves from the trammels of former styles as almost to
entitle them to claim the invention of a new order of architecture. It
would have required some more practice to invent details appropriate to
the purpose; still these two buildings are to this hour unsurpassed for
boldness of conception and just appreciation of the manner in which the
new method ought to be applied. This is almost universally acknowledged
so far as the interior of the Pantheon is concerned. In simple grandeur
it is as yet unequalled; its faults being principally those of detail.
It is not so easy, however, to form an opinion of the Temple of Peace in
its present ruined state; but in so far as we can judge from what yet
remains of it, in boldness and majesty of conception it must have been
quite equal to the other example, though it must have required far more
familiarity with the style adopted to manage its design as appropriately
as the simpler dome of the Pantheon.

These two buildings may be considered as exemplifying the extent to
which the Romans had progressed in the invention of a new style of
architecture and the state in which they left it to their successors. It
may however be worth while pointing out how, in transplanting Roman
architecture to their new capital on the shores of the Bosphorus, the
semi-Oriental nation seized on its own circular form, and, modifying and
moulding it to its purpose, wrought out the Byzantine style; in which
the dome is the great feature, almost to the total exclusion of the
rectangular form with its intersecting vaults. On the other hand, the
rectangular form was appropriated by the nations of the West with an
equally distinct rejection of the circular and domical forms, except in
those cases in which we find an Eastern people still incorporated with
them. Thus in Italy both styles continued long in use, the one in
baptisteries, the other in churches, but always kept distinct, as in
Rome. In France they were so completely fused into each other that it
requires considerable knowledge of architectural analysis to separate
them again into their component parts. In England we rejected the
circular form altogether, and so they did eventually in Germany, except
when under French influence. Each race reclaimed its own among the
spoils of Rome, and used it with the improvements it had acquired during
its employment in the Imperial city.


The first thing that strikes the student in attempting to classify the
numerous examples of Roman architecture is the immense variety of
purposes to which it is applied, as compared with previous styles. In
Egypt architecture was applied only to temples, palaces and tombs. In
Greece it was almost wholly confined to temples and theatres; and in
Etruria to tombs. It is in Rome that we first feel that we have not to
deal with either a Theocracy or a kingdom, but with a great people, who
for the first time in the world’s history rendered architecture
subservient to the myriad wants of the many-headed monster. It thus
happens that in the Roman cities, in addition to temples we find
basilicas, theatres and amphitheatres, baths, palaces, tombs, arches of
triumph and pillars of victory, gates, bridges, and aqueducts, all
equally objects of architectural skill. The best of these, in fact, are
those which from previous neglect in other countries are here stamped
with originality. These would have been noble works indeed had it not
been that the Romans unsuccessfully applied to them those orders and
details of architecture which were intended only to be applied to
temples by other nations. In the time of Constantine these orders had
nearly died out, and were only subordinately used for decorative
purposes. In a little while they would have died out altogether, and the
Roman would have become a new and complete style; but, as before
remarked, this did not take place, and the most ancient orders therefore
still remain an essential part of Roman art. We find the old orders
predominating in the age of Augustus, and see them gradually die out as
we approach that of Constantine.


Adopting the usual classification, the first of the Roman orders is the
Doric, which, like everything else in this style, takes a place about
half-way between the Tuscan wooden posts and the nobly simple order of
the Greeks. It no doubt was a great improvement on the former, but for
monumental purposes infinitely inferior to the latter. It was, however,
more manageable; and for forums or courtyards, or as a three-quarter
column between arcades, it was better adapted than the severer Greek
style, which, when so employed, not only loses almost all its beauty,
but becomes more unmeaning than the Roman. This fact was apparently
recognised; for there is not, so far as is known, a single Doric temple
throughout the Roman world. It would in consequence be most unfair to
institute a comparison between a mere utilitarian prop used only in
civil buildings and an order which the most refined artists in the world
spent all their ingenuity in rendering the most perfect, because it was
devoted to the highest religious purposes.

[Illustration: 179. Doric Order.]

The addition of an independent base made the order much more generally
useful, and its adoption brought it much more into harmony with the
other two existing orders, which would appear to have been the principal
object of its introduction. The keynote of Roman architecture was the
Corinthian order; and as, from the necessities of their tall,
many-storeyed buildings, the Romans were forced to use the three orders
together, often one over the other, it was indispensable that the three
should be reduced to something like harmony. This was accordingly done,
but at the expense of the Doric order, which, except when thus used in
combination, must be confessed to have very little claim to our


The Romans were much more unfortunate in their modifications of the
Ionic order than in those which they introduced into the Doric. They
never seem to have either liked or understood it, nor to have employed
it except as a _mezzo termine_ between the other two. In its own native
East this order had originally only been used in porticoes between piers
or _antæ_, where of course only one face was shown, and there were no
angles to be turned. When the Greeks adopted it they used it in temples
of Doric form, and in consequence were obliged to introduce a capital at
each angle, with two voluted faces in juxtaposition at right angles to
one another. In some instances—internally at least—as at Bassæ (Woodcut
No. 142) they used a capital with four faces. The Romans, impatient of
control, eagerly seized on this modification, but never quite got over
the extreme difficulty of its employment. With them the angular volutes
became mere horns, and even in the best examples the capital wants
harmony and meaning.

[Illustration: 180. Ionic Order.]

When used as a three-quarter column these alterations were not required,
and then the order resembled more its original form; but even in this
state it was never equal to the Greek examples, and gradually
deteriorated to the corrupt application of it in the Temple of Concord
in the Forum, which is the most degenerate example of the order now to
be found in Roman remains.


The fate of this order in the hands of the Romans was different from
that of the other two. The Doric and Ionic orders had reached their acme
of perfection in the hands of the Grecian artists, and seem to have
become incapable of further improvement. The Corinthian, on the
contrary, was a recent conception; and although nothing can surpass the
elegance and grace with which the Greeks adorned it, the new capital
never acquired with them that fulness and strength so requisite to
render it an appropriate architectural ornament. These were added to it
by the Romans, or rather perhaps by Grecian artists acting under their
direction, who thus, as shown in Woodcut No. 181, produced an order
which for richness combined with proportion and architectural fitness
has hardly been surpassed. The base is elegant and appropriate; the
shaft is of the most pleasing proportion, and the fluting gives it just
the requisite degree of richness and no more; while the capital, though
bordering on over-ornamentation, is so well arranged as to appear just
suited to the work it has to do. The acanthus-leaves, it is true,
approach the very verge of that degree of direct imitation of nature
which, though allowable in architectural ornaments, is seldom advisable;
they are, however, disposed so formally, and there still remains so much
that is conventional in them, that, though perhaps not justly open to
criticism on this account, they are nevertheless a very extreme example.

[Illustration: 181. Corinthian Order. From the Temple of Jupiter

The entablature is not so admirable as the column. The architrave is too
richly carved. It is evident, however, that this arose from the artist
having copied in carving what the Greeks had only painted, and thereby
produced a complexity far from pleasing.

The frieze, as we now find it, is perfectly plain; but this undoubtedly
was not the case when originally erected. It either must have been
painted (in which case the whole order of course was also painted), or
ornamented with scrolls or figures in bronze, which may probably have
been gilt.

The cornice is perhaps open to the same criticism as the architrave, of
being over-rich, though this evidently arose from the same cause, viz.,
reproducing in carving what was originally only painted; which to our
Northern eyes at least appears more appropriate for internal than for
external decoration, though, under the purer skies where it was
introduced and used, this remark may be hardly applicable.

The order of the portico of the Pantheon is, according to our notions, a
nobler specimen of what an external pillar should be than that of the
Temple of Jupiter Stator. The shafts are of one block, unfluted; the
capital plainer; and the whole entablature, though as correctly
proportional, is far less ornamented and more suited to the greater
simplicity of the whole.

The order of the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is another example
intermediate between these two. The columns are in this instance very
similar to those of the Pantheon, and the architrave is plain. The
frieze, however, is ornamented with more taste than any other in Rome,
and is a very pleasing example of those conventional representations of
plants and animals which are so well suited to architectural
purposes—more like Nature than those of the Greeks, but still avoiding
direct imitation sufficiently to escape the affectation of pretending to
appear what it is not and cannot be.

The Maison Carrée at Nîmes presents an example of a frieze ornamented
with exquisite taste, while at Baalbec, and in some other examples, we
have them so over-ornamented that the effect is far more offensive, from
utter want of repose, than the frieze in the Temple of Jupiter Stator
ever could be from its baldness.

Besides these there are at least fifty varieties of Corinthian capitals
to be found, either in Rome or in various parts of the Roman Empire, all
executed within the three centuries during which Rome continued to be
the imperial city. Some of them are remarkable for that elegant
simplicity which so evidently betrays the hand of a Grecian artist,
while others again show a lavish exuberance of ornament which is but too
characteristic of Roman art in general. Many, however, contain the germs
of something better than was accomplished in that age; and a collection
of them would afford more useful suggestions for designing capitals than
have yet been available to modern artists.

                            COMPOSITE ORDER.

Among their various attempts to improve the order which has just been
described, the Romans hit upon one which is extremely characteristic of
their whole style of art. This is known by the distinguishing name of
the Composite order, though virtually more like the typical examples of
the Corinthian order than many of those classed under the latter

The greatest defect of the Corinthian capital is the weakness of the
small volutes supporting the angles of the abacus. A true artist would
have remedied this by adding to their strength and carrying up the
fulness of the capital to the top. The Romans removed the whole of the
upper part and substituted an Ionic capital instead. Their only original
idea, if it may be so called, in art was that of putting two dissimilar
things together to make one which should combine the beauties of both,
though as a rule the one generally serves to destroy the other. In the
Composite capital they never could hide the junction; and consequently,
though rich, and in some respects an improvement on the order out of
which it grew, this capital never came into general use, and has seldom
found favour except amongst the blindest admirers of all that the Romans

[Illustration: 182. Composite Order.]

[Illustration: 183. Corinthian Base, found in Church of St. Praxede in

In the latter days of the Empire the Romans attempted another innovation
which promised far better success, and with very little more elaboration
would have been a great gain to the principles of architectural design.
This was the introduction of the Persian or Assyrian base, modified to
suit the details of the Corinthian or Composite orders. If they had
always used this instead of the square pedestals on which they mounted
their columns, and had attenuated the pillars slightly when used with
arcades, they would have avoided many of the errors they fell into. This
application, however, came too late to be generally used; and the forms
already introduced continued to prevail. At the same time it is evident
that a Persepolitan base for an Ionic and even for a Corinthian column
would be amongst the greatest improvements that could now be introduced,
especially for internal architecture.

                           COMPOSITE ARCADES.

The true Roman order, however, was not any of these columnar ordinances
we have been enumerating, but an arrangement of two pillars placed at a
distance from one another nearly equal to their own height, and having a
very long entablature, which in consequence required to be supported in
the centre by an arch springing from piers. This, as will be seen from
the annexed woodcut, was in fact merely a screen of Grecian architecture
placed in front of a construction of Etruscan design. Though not without
a certain richness of effect, still, as used by the Romans, these two
systems remain too distinctly dissimilar for the result to be pleasing,
and their use necessitated certain supplemental arrangements by no means
agreeable. In the first place, the columns had to be mounted on
pedestals, or otherwise an entablature proportional to their size would
have been too heavy and too important for a thing so useless and so
avowedly a mere ornament. A projecting keystone was also introduced into
the arch. This was unobjectionable in itself, but when projecting so far
as to do the duty of an intermediate capital, it overpowered the arch
without being equal to the work required of it.

[Illustration: 184. Doric Arcade.]

The Romans used these arcades with all the 3 orders, frequently one over
the other, and tried various expedients to harmonise the construction
with the ornamentation, but without much effect. They seem always to
have felt the discordance as a blemish, and at last got rid of it, but
whether they did so in the best way is not quite clear. The most obvious
mode of effecting this would no doubt have been by omitting the pillars
altogether, bending the architrave, as is usually done, round the arch,
and then inserting the frieze and cornices into the wall, using them as
a string-course. A slight degree of practice would soon have enabled
them—by panelling the pier, cutting off its angles, or some such
expedient—to have obtained the degree of lightness or of ornament they
required, and so really to have invented a new order.

This, however, was not the course that the Romans pursued. What they did
was to remove the pier altogether, and to substitute for it the pillar
taken down from its pedestal. This of course was not effected at once,
but was the result of many trials and expedients. One of the earliest of
these is observed in the Ionic Temple of Concord before alluded to, in
which a concealed arch is thrown from the head of each pillar, but above
the entablature, so as to take the whole weight of the superstructure
from off the cornice between the pillars. When once this was done it was
perceived that so deep an entablature was no longer required, and that
it might be either wholly omitted, as was sometimes done in the centre
intercolumniation, or very much reduced. There is an old temple at
Talavera in Spain, which is a good example of the former expedient; and
the Roman gateway at Damascus is a remarkable instance of the latter.
There the architrave, frieze and cornice are carried across in the form
of an arch from pier to pier, thus constituting a new feature in
architectural design.

[Illustration: 185. View in Courtyard of Palace at Spalato]

In Diocletian’s reign we find all these changes already introduced into
domestic architecture, as shown in Woodcut No. 185, representing the
great court of his palace at Spalato, where, at one end, the entablature
is bent into the form of an arch over the central intercolumniation,
while on each side of the court the arches spring directly from the
capitals of the columns.

Had the Romans at this period been more desirous to improve their
external architecture, there is little doubt that they would have
adopted the expedient of omitting the entire entablature: but at this
time almost all their efforts were devoted to internal improvement, and
not unfrequently at the expense of the exterior. Indeed the whole
history of Roman art, from the time of Augustus to that of Constantine,
is a transition from the external architecture of the Greeks to the
internal embellishment of the Christians. At first we see the cells of
the temple gradually enlarged at the expense of the peristyle, and
finally, in some instances, entirely overpowering them. Their basilicas
and halls become more important than their porticoes, and the exterior
is in almost every instance sacrificed to internal arrangements. For an
interior, an arch resting on a circular column is obviously far more
appropriate than one resting on a pier. Externally, on the contrary, the
square pier is most suitable, because a pillar cannot support a wall of
sufficient thickness. This defect was not remedied until the Gothic
architects devised the plan of coupling two or more pillars together;
but this point had not been reached at the time when with the fall of
Rome all progress in art was effectually checked for a time.


There is perhaps nothing that strikes the inquirer into the
architectural history of Rome more than the extreme insignificance of
her temples, as compared with the other buildings of the imperial city
and with some contemporary temples found in the provinces. The only
temple which remains at all worthy of such a capital is the Pantheon.
All others are now mere fragments, from which we can with difficulty
restore even the plans of the buildings, far less judge of their effect.
We have now no means of forming an opinion of the great national temple
of the Capitoline Jove, no trace of it, nor any intelligible
description, having been preserved to the present time. Its having been
of Etruscan origin, and retaining its original form to the latest day,
would lead us to suppose that the temple itself was small, and that its
magnificence, if any, was confined to the enclosure and to the
substructure, which may have been immense.

Of the Augustan age we have nothing but the remains of three temples,
each consisting of only three columns; and the excavations that have
been made around them have not sufficed to make even their plans
tolerably clear.

The most remarkable was that of Jupiter Stator in the Forum, the
beautiful details of which have been already alluded to and described.
This temple was octastyle in front. It was raised on a stylobate 22 ft.
in height, the extreme width of which was 98 ft., and this corresponds
as closely as possible with 100 Roman ft. The angular columns were 85
ft. from centre to centre. The height of the pillars was 48 ft., and
that of the entablature 12 ft. 6 in.[165] It is probable that the whole
height to the apex of the pediment was nearly equal to the extreme
width, and that it was designed to be so.

The pillars certainly extended on both flanks, and the temple is
generally restored as peristylar, but apparently without any authority.
From the analogy of the other temples it seems more probable that there
were not more than eight or ten pillars on each side, and that the apse
of the cella formed the termination opposite the portico.

The temple nearest to this in situation and style is that of Jupiter
Tonans.[166] The order in this instance is of slightly inferior
dimensions to that of the temple just described, and of very inferior
execution. The temple, too, was very much smaller, having only six
columns in front, and from its situation it could not well have had more
than that number on the flanks, so that its extreme dimensions were
probably about 70 ft. by 85.

The third is the Temple of Mars Ultor, of which a plan is annexed; for
though now as completely decayed as the other two, in the time of Ant.
Sabacco and Palladio there seem to have been sufficient remains to
justify an attempt at restoration. As will be seen, it is nearly square
in plan (112 ft. by 120). The cella is here a much more important part
than is usual in Greek temples, and terminates in an apse, which
afterwards became characteristic of all places of worship. Behind the
cella, and on each side, was a lofty screen of walls and arches, part of
which still remain, and form quite a new adjunct, unlike anything
hitherto met with attached to any temple now known.

[Illustration: 186. Temple of Mars Ultor. (From Cresy’s ‘Rome.’) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

The next class of temples, called pseudo-peripteral (or those in which
the cella occupies the whole of the after part), are generally more
modern, certainly more completely Roman, than these last. One of the
best specimens at Rome is the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina, a small
building measuring 72 ft. by 120. There is also a very elegant little
Ionic temple of this class called that of Fortuna Virilis; while the
Ionic Temple of Concord, built by Vespasian, and above alluded to,
appears also to have been of this class. So was the temple in the forum
at Pompeii; but the finest specimen now remaining to us is the so-called
Maison Carrée at Nîmes, which is indeed one of the most elegant temples
of the Roman world, owing probably a great deal of its beauty to the
taste of the Grecian colonists long settled in its neighbourhood. It is
hexastyle, with 11 columns in the flanks, 3 of which stand free, and
belong to the portico; the remaining 8 are attached to the walls of the
cella. The temple is small, only 45 ft. by 85; but such is the beauty of
its proportions and the elegance of its details that it strikes every
beholder with admiration.

[Illustration: 187. Plan of Maison Carrée at Nîmes. Scale 100 ft. to 1

The date of this temple has not been satisfactorily ascertained. From
the nail-holes of the inscription on the frieze it has been attempted to
make out the names of Caius and Lucius Cæsar, and there is nothing in
the style of its architecture to contradict this hypothesis. Even if the
buildings in the capital were such as to render this date ambiguous, it
would scarcely be safe to apply any argument derived from them to a
provincial example erected in the midst of a Grecian colony. But for
their evidence we might almost be inclined to fancy its style
represented the age of Trajan.

The temple of Diana in the same city is another edifice of singular
beauty of detail, and interesting from the peculiarity of its plan.
Exclusive of the portico it is nearly square, 70 ft. by 65, and consists
of a cella which is covered with a stone ribbed vault, the thrust of
which is counteracted by smaller vaults thrown across two side passages
or aisles which are, however, not thrown open to the cella. The columns
in the cella are detached from the wall, which is singularly interesting
as the origin of much which we find afterwards in Gothic work. (A
somewhat similar arrangement is found in the small temple at Baalbec
(Woodcut No. 197) where, however, the peristyle occupies the position
and serves the same purpose as the aisles at Nîmes, viz., to resist the
thrust of the vault over the cella.)

[Illustration: 188. Plan of Temple of Diana at Nîmes. Scale 100 ft. to 1

Throughout this building the details of the architecture are unsurpassed
for variety and elegance by anything found in the metropolis, and are
applied here with a freedom and elegance bespeaking the presence of a
Grecian mind even in this remote corner of the Empire. Another
interesting feature is the porch. This was supported by four slender
columns of singularly elegant design, but placed so widely apart that
they could not have carried a stone entablature. It is difficult to
guess what could have been the form of the wooden ones; but a mortice
which still exists in the walls of the temple shows that it must have
been eight or ten feet deep, and therefore probably of Etruscan form
(Woodcut No. 167); though it may have assumed a circular arched form
between the pillars.[167]

[Illustration: 189. View of the Interior of the Temple of Diana at
Nîmes. (From Laborde.)]

Another peculiarity is, that the light was introduced over the portico
by a great semicircular window, as is done in the Buddhist caves in
India; which, so far as I know, is the most perfect mode of lighting the
interior of a temple which has yet been discovered.

Not far from the Colosseum, in the direction of the Forum, are still to
be seen the remains of a great double temple built by the Emperor
Hadrian, and dedicated to Venus and Rome, and consisting of the ruins of
its two cells, each about 70 ft. square, covered with tunnel-vaults, and
placed back to back, so that their apses touch one another. These stand
on a platform 480 ft. long by 330 wide; and it is generally supposed
that on the edge of this once stood 56 great columns, 65 ft. in height,
thus moulding the whole into one great peripteral temple. Some fragments
of such pillars are said to be found in the neighbourhood, but not one
is now erect,—not even a base is in its place,—nor can any of its
columns be traced to any other buildings. This part, therefore, of the
arrangement is very problematical, and I should be rather inclined to
restore it, as Palladio and the older architects have done, with a
corridor of ten small columns in front of each of the cells. If we could
assume the plan of this temple to have been really peripteral, as
supposed, it must have been a building worthy of the imperial city and
of the magnificence of the emperor to whom its erection is ascribed.

More perfect and more interesting than any of these is the Pantheon,
which is undoubtedly one of the finest temples of the ancient world.
Externally its effect is very much destroyed by its two parts, the
circular and the rectangular, being so dissimilar in style and so
incongruously joined together. The portico especially, in itself the
finest which Rome exhibits, is very much injured by being prefixed to a
mass which overpowers it and does not harmonise with any of its lines.
The pitch, too, of its pediment is perhaps somewhat too high, but,
notwithstanding all this, its sixteen columns, the shaft of each
composed of a single block, and the simple grandeur of the details,
render it perhaps the most satisfactory example of its class.

[Illustration: 190. Plan of Pantheon at Rome. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The pillars are arranged in the Etruscan fashion, as they were
originally disposed in front of three-celled temples. As they now stand,
however, they are added unsymmetrically to a rotunda, and in so clumsy a
fashion that the two are certainly not part of the same design and do
not belong to the same age. Either it was that the portico was added to
the pre-existing rotunda, or that the rotunda is long subsequent to the
portico. Unfortunately the two inscriptions on the portico hardly help
to a solution of the difficulty. The principal one states that it was
built by M. Agrippa, but the “it” may refer to the rotunda only, and may
have been put there by those who in the time of Aurelius[168] repaired
the temple which had “fallen into decay from age.” This hardly could,
under any circumstances, be predicated of the rotunda, which shows no
sign of decay during the last seventeen centuries of ill-treatment and
neglect, and may last for as many more without injury to its stability,
but might be said of a portico which, if of wood, as Etruscan porticoes
usually were, may easily in 200 years have required repairs and
rebuilding. From a more careful examination on the spot, I am convinced
that the portico was added at some subsequent period to the rotunda. If
by Agrippa, then the dome must belong to Republican times; if by Severus
it may have been, as is generally supposed, the hall of the Baths of
Agrippa.[169] Altogether I know of no building whose date and
arrangements are so singular and so exceptional as this. Though it is,
and always must have been, one of the most prominent buildings in Rome,
and most important from its size and design, I know of no other building
in Rome whose date or original destination it is so difficult to

[Illustration: 191. Half Elevation, half Section, of the Pantheon at
Rome. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Internally perhaps the greatest defect of the building is a want of
height in the perpendicular part, which the dome appears to overpower
and crush. This mistake is aggravated by the lower part being cut up
into two storeys, an attic being placed over the lower order. The former
defect may have arisen from the architect wishing to keep the walls in
some proportion to the portico. The latter is a peculiarity of the age
in which I suppose this temple to have been remodelled, when two or more
storeys seem to have become indispensable requisites of architectural
design. We must ascribe also to the practice of the age the method of
cutting through the entablature by the arches of the great niches, as
shown in the sectional part of the last woodcut. It has already been
pointed out that this was becoming a characteristic of the style at the
time when the circular part of this temple was arranged as it at present

Notwithstanding these defects and many others of detail that might be
mentioned, there is a grandeur and a simplicity in the proportions of
this great temple that render it still one of the very finest and most
sublime interiors in the world, and the dimensions of its dome, 145 ft.
6 in. span by 147 in height, have not yet been surpassed by any
subsequent erection. Though it is deprived of its bronze covering[170]
and of the greater part of those ornaments on which it mainly depended
for effect, and though these have been replaced by tawdry and
incongruous modernisms, still nothing can destroy the effect of a design
so vast and of a form so simply grand. It possesses moreover one other
element of architectural sublimity in having a single window, and that
placed high up in the building. I know of no other temples which possess
this feature except the great rock-cut Buddhist basilicas of India. In
them the light is introduced even more artistically than here; but,
nevertheless, that one great eye opening upon heaven is by far the
noblest conception for lighting a building to be found in Europe.

Besides this great rotunda there are two other circular temples in or
near Rome. The one at Tivoli, shown in plan and elevation in the annexed
woodcuts (Nos. 192 and 193), has long been known and admired; the other,
near the mouth of the Cloaca Maxima, has a cell surrounded by twenty
Corinthian columns of singularly slender proportions. Both these
probably stand on Etruscan sites; they certainly are Etruscan in form,
and are very likely sacred to Pelasgic deities, either Vesta or Cybele.

[Illustration: 192. Plan of Temple at Tivoli. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 193. Restored Elevation of Temple at Tivoli. Scale 50 ft.
to 1 in.]

Both in dimensions and design they form a perfect contrast to the
Pantheon, as might be expected from their both belonging to the Augustan
age of art: consequently the cella is small, its interior is
unornamented, and all the art and expense is lavished on the external
features, especially on the peristyle; showing more strongly than even
the rectangular temple the still remaining predominance of Grecian
taste, which was gradually dying out during the whole period of the

It is to be regretted that the exact dates of both these temples are
unknown, for, as that at Tivoli shows the stoutest example of a
Corinthian column known and that in Rome the slenderest, it might lead
to some important deductions if we could be certain which was the older
of the two. It may be, however, that this difference of style has no
connection with the relative age of the two buildings, but that it is
merely an instance of the good taste of the age to which they belong.
The Roman example, being placed in a low and flat situation, required
all the height that could be given it; that at Tivoli, being placed on
the edge of a rock, required as much solidity as the order would admit
of to prevent its looking poor and insecure. A Gothic or a Greek
architect would certainly have made this distinction.

One more step towards the modern style of round temples was taken before
the fall of the Western Empire, in the temple which Diocletian built in
his palace at Spalato. Internally the temple is circular, 28 ft. in
diameter, and the height of the perpendicular part to the springing of
the dome is about equal to its width. This is a much more pleasing
proportion than we find in the Pantheon; perhaps the very best that has
yet been employed. Externally the building is an octagon, surrounded by
a low dwarf peristyle, very unlike that employed in the older examples.
This angularity is certainly a great improvement, giving expression and
character to the building, and affording flat faces for the entrances or
porches; but the peristyle is too low, and mars the dignity of the

[Illustration: 194. Plan and Elevation of Temple in Diocletian’s Palace
at Spalato. Scale for Plan 100 ft. to 1 in.; for Elevation 50 ft. to 1

To us its principal interest consists in its being so extremely similar
to the Christian baptisteries which were erected in the following
centuries, and which were copies, but very slightly altered, from
buildings of this class.


Even assuming that Hadrian completed the great Temple of Venus at Rome
in the manner generally supposed, it must have been very far surpassed
by the great Temple of Jupiter Olympius at Athens, which, though
probably not entirely erected, was certainly finished, by that Emperor.
It was octastyle in front,[172] with a double range of 20 columns on
each flank so that it could not well have had less than 106 columns, all
about 58 ft. in height, and of the most elegant Corinthian order,
presenting altogether a group of far greater magnificence than any other
temple we are acquainted with of its class in the ancient world. Its
lineal dimensions also, as may be seen from the plan (Woodcut No. 195),
were only rivalled by the two great Sicilian temples at Selinus and
Agrigentum (Woodcuts Nos. 151, 152). It was 135 ft. wide by 354 in
length, or nearly the same dimensions as the great Hypostyle Hall at
Karnac, from which, however, it differs most materially, that being a
beautiful example of an interior, this depending for all its
magnificence on the external arrangement of its columns. Mr. Penrose’s
discoveries in 1884 show that there was an opisthodomus at the rear and
a vestibule or court in front of the cella which may have been hypæthral
so as to admit light into the interior. This arrangement became so
common in the early Christian world that there must have been some
precedent for it; which, in addition to other reasons,[173] strongly
inclines me to believe that the arrangement shown in the plan is

[Illustration: 195. Ruins of the Temple of Jupiter Olympius at Athens.]

[Illustration: 196. Plan of Temple of Jupiter Olympius at Athens.]


The temples of Palmyra and Kangovar have been already mentioned in
speaking of that of Jerusalem, to which class they seem to belong in
their general arrangements, though their details are borrowed from Roman
architecture. This, however, is not the case with the temples at
Baalbec, which taken together and with their accompaniments, form the
most magnificent temple group now left to us of their class and age. The
great temple, if completed (which, however, probably it never was),
would have been about 160 ft. by 290, and therefore, as a Corinthian
temple, only inferior to that of Jupiter Olympius at Athens. Only nine
of its colossal columns are now standing, but the bases of most of the
others are _in situ_. Scarcely less magnificent than the temple itself
was the court in which it stood, above 380 ft. square, and surrounded on
three sides by recessed porticoes of most exuberant richness, though in
perhaps rather questionable taste. In front of this was a hexagonal
court of very great beauty, with a noble portico of 12 Corinthian
columns, with two square blocks of masonry at each end. The whole extent
of the portico is 260 ft., and of its kind it is perhaps unrivalled,
certainly among the buildings of so late a date as the period to which
it belongs.

[Illustration: 197. Plan of Small Temple at Baalbec. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 198. Elevation of Small Temple at Baalbec. Scale 50 ft.
to 1 in.]

The other, or smaller temple, stands close to the larger. Its
dimensions, to the usual scale, are shown in the plan (Woodcut No. 197).
It is larger than any of the Roman peripteral temples, being 117 ft. by
227 ft., or rather exceeding the dimensions of the Parthenon at Athens,
and its portico is both wider and higher than that of the Pantheon at
Rome. Had this portico been applied to that building, the slope of its
pediment would have coincided exactly with that of the upper sloping
cornice, and would have been the greatest possible improvement to that
edifice. As it is, it certainly is the best proportioned and the most
graceful Roman portico of the first class that remains to us in a state
of sufficient completeness to allow us to judge of its effect.

The interior of the cella was richly ornamented with niches and
pilasters, and covered with a ribbed and coffered vault, remarkable,
like every part of this edifice, rather for the profusion than for the
good taste of its ornaments.

One of the principal peculiarities of this group of buildings is the
immense size of some of the stones used in the substructure of the great
temple: three of these average about 63 ft. in length, 10 ft. 5 in. in
breadth, and 13 ft. in height. A fourth, of similar dimensions, is lying
in the quarry, which it is calculated must weigh alone more than 1100
tons in its rough state, or nearly as much as one of the tubes of the
Britannia Bridge. It is not easy to see why such masses were employed.
If they had been used as foundation stones their use would have been
apparent, but they are placed over several courses of smaller stones,
about half-way up the terrace wall, as mere binding stones, apparently
for show. It is true that in many places in the Bible and in Josephus
nothing is so much insisted upon as the immense size of the stones used
in the building of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem, the bulk of
the materials used appearing to have been thought a matter of far more
importance than the architecture. It probably was some such feeling as
this which led to their employment here, though, had these huge stones
been set upright, as the Egyptians would have placed them, we might more
easily have understood why so great an expense should have been incurred
on their account. As it is, there seems no reason for doubting their
being of the same age as the temples they support, though their use is
certainly exceptional in Roman temples of this class.

                              CHAPTER IV.

                    BASILICAS, THEATRES, AND BATHS.


Basilicas of Trajan and Maxentius—Provincial basilicas—Theatre at
  Orange—Colosseum—Provincial amphitheatres—Baths of Diocletian.


We have already seen that in size and magnificence the temples of Rome
were among the least remarkable of her public buildings. It may be
doubted whether in any respect, in the eyes of the Romans themselves,
the temples were as important and venerable as the basilicas. The people
cared for government and justice more than for religion, and
consequently paid more attention to the affairs of the basilicas than to
those of the temples. Our means for the restoration of this class of
buildings are now but small, owing to their slight construction in the
first instance, and to their materials having been so suitable for the
building of Christian basilicas as to have been extensively used for
that purpose. It happens, however, that the remains which we do possess
comprise what we know to be the ruins of the two most splendid buildings
of this class in Rome, and these are sufficiently complete to enable us
to restore their plans with considerable confidence. It is also
fortunate that one of these, the Ulpian or Trajan’s basilica, is the
typical specimen of those with wooden roofs; the other, that of
Maxentius, commonly called the Temple of Peace, is the noblest of the
vaulted class.


  199. Plan of Trajan’s Basilica at Rome. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.

  The part shaded darker is all that is uncovered.

[Illustration: 200. Restored Section of Trajan’s Basilica. Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

The rectangular part of Trajan’s basilica was 180 ft. in width and a
little more than twice that in length, but, neither end having yet been
excavated, its exact longitudinal measurement has not been ascertained.
It was divided into five aisles by four rows of columns, each about 35
ft. in height, the centre being 87 ft. wide, and the side-aisles 23 ft.
4 in. each. The centre was covered by a wooden roof of semicircular
form,[174] covered apparently with bronze plates richly ornamented and
gilt. Above the side aisles was a gallery, the roof of which was
supported by an upper row of columns. From the same columns also sprang
the arches of the great central aisle. The total internal height was
thus probably about 120 ft., or higher than any English cathedral,
though not so high as some German and French churches.

At one end was a great semicircular apse, the back part of which was
raised, being approached by a semicircular range of steps. In the centre
of this platform was the raised seat of the quæstor or other magistrate
who presided. On each side, upon the steps, were places for the
assessors or others engaged in the business being transacted. In front
of the apse was placed an altar, where sacrifice was performed before
commencing any important public business.[175]

Externally this basilica could not have been of much magnificence. It
was entered on the side of the Forum (on the left hand of the plan and
section) by one triple doorway in the centre and two single ones on
either side, flanked by shallow porticoes of columns of the same height
as those used internally. These supported statues, or rather, to judge
from the coins representing the building, rilievos, which may have set
off, but could hardly have given much dignity to, a building designed as
this was. At the end opposite the apse a similar arrangement seems to
have prevailed.

This mode of using columns only half the height of the edifice must have
been very destructive of their effect and of the general grandeur of the
structure, but it became about this time rather the rule than the
exception, and was afterwards adopted for temples and every other class
of buildings, so that it was decidedly an improvement when the arch took
the place of the horizontal architrave and cornice; the latter always
suggested a roof, and became singularly incongruous when applied as a
mere ornamental adjunct at half the height of the façade. The interior
of the basilica was, however, the important element to which the
exterior was entirely sacrificed, a transition in architectural design
which we have before alluded to, taking place much faster in basilicas,
which were an entirely new form of building, than in temples, whose
conformation had become sacred from the traditions of past ages.

[Illustration: 201. Plan of Basilica of Maxentius. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 202. Longitudinal Section of Basilica of Maxentius. Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 203. Transverse Section of Basilica of Maxentius. Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

The basilica of Maxentius, which was probably not entirely finished till
the reign of Constantine, was rather broader than that of Trajan, being
195 ft. between the walls, but it was 100 ft. less in length. The
central aisle was very nearly of the same width, being 83 ft. between
the walls, and 120 ft. in height. There was, however, a vast difference
in the construction of the two; so much so, that we are startled to see
how rapid the progress had been during the interval, of less than two
centuries, that had elapsed between the construction of the two

[Illustration: 204. Pillar of Maxentian Basilica. (From an old print
quoted by Letarouilly.)]

In this building no pillars were used with the exception of eight great
columns in front of the piers, employed merely as ornaments, or as
vaulting shafts were in Gothic cathedrals, to support in appearance,
though not in construction, the springing of the vaults.[176] The
side-aisles were roofed by three great arches, each 74 ft. in span, and
the centre by an immense intersecting vault in three compartments. The
form of these will be understood from the annexed sections (Woodcuts
Nos. 202 and 203), one taken longitudinally, the other across the
building. As will be seen from them, all the thrusts are collected to a
point and a buttress placed there to receive them: indeed almost all the
peculiarities afterwards found in Gothic vaults are here employed on a
far grander and more gigantic scale than the Gothic architects ever
attempted; but at the same time it must be allowed that the latter, with
smaller dimensions, often contrived by a more artistic treatment of
their materials to obtain as grand an effect and far more actual beauty
than ever were attained in the great transitional halls of the Romans.
The largeness of the parts of the Roman buildings was indeed their
principal defect, as in consequence of this they must all have appeared
smaller than they really were, whereas in all Gothic cathedrals the
repetition and smallness of the component parts has the effect of
magnifying their real dimensions.

The roofs of these halls had one peculiarity which it would have been
well if the mediæval architects had copied, inasmuch as they were all,
or at least might have been, honestly used as roofs without any
necessity for their being covered with others of wood, as all Gothic
vaults unfortunately were. It is true this is perhaps one of the causes
of their destruction, for, being only overlaid with cement, the rain
wore away the surface, as must inevitably be the case with any
composition of the sort exposed horizontally to the weather, and that
being gone, the moisture soon penetrated through the crevices of the
masonry, destroying the stability of the vault. Still, some of these in
Rome have resisted for fifteen centuries, after the removal of any
covering they ever might have had, all the accidents of climate and
decay, while there is not a Gothic vault of half their dimensions that
would stand for a century after the removal of its wooden protection.
The construction of a vault capable of resisting the destructive effects
of exposure to the atmosphere still remains a problem for modern
architects to solve. Until this is accomplished we must regard roofs
entirely of honest wood as preferable to the deceptive stone ceilings
which were such favourites in the Middle Ages.

[Illustration: 205. Plan of the Basilica at Trèves. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 206. Internal View of the Basilica at Trèves.]

The provincial basilicas of the Roman Empire have nearly all perished,
probably from their having been converted, first into churches, for
which they were so admirably adapted, and then rebuilt to suit the
exigencies and taste of subsequent ages. One example, however, still
exists in Trèves of sufficient completeness to give a good idea of what
such structures were. As will be seen by the annexed plan, it consists
of a great hall, 85 ft. in width internally, and rather more than twice
that dimension in length. The walls are about 100 ft. in height and
pierced with two rows of windows; but whether they were originally
separated by a gallery or not is now by no means clear. At one end was
the apse, rather more than a semicircle of 60 ft. in diameter. The floor
of the apse was raised considerably above that of the body of the
building, and was no doubt adorned by a hemicycle of seats raised on
steps, with a throne in the centre for the judge. The building has been
used for so many purposes since the time of the Romans, and has been so
much altered, that it is not easy now to speak with certainty of any of
its minor arrangements. Its internal and external appearance, as it
stood before the recent restoration, are well expressed in the annexed
woodcuts; and though ruined, it was the most complete example of a Roman
basilica to be found anywhere out of the capital. A building of this
description has been found at Pompeii, which may be considered a fair
example of a provincial basilica of the second class. Its plan is
perfectly preserved, as shown in Woodcut No. 208. The most striking
difference existing between it and those previously described is the
square termination instead of the circular apse. It must, however, be
observed that Pompeii was situated nearer to Magna Græcia than to Rome,
and was indeed far more a Greek than a Roman city. Very slight traces of
any Etruscan designs have been discovered there, and scarcely any
buildings of the circular form so much in vogue in the capital. Though
the ground-plan of this basilica remains perfect, the upper parts are
entirely destroyed, and we do not even know for certain whether the
central portion was roofed or not.[177]

[Illustration: 207. External View of the Basilica at Trèves.]

[Illustration: 208. Plan of Basilica at Pompeii. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

There is a small square building at Otricoli, which is generally
supposed to be a basilica, but its object as well as its age is so
uncertain that nothing need be said of it here. In the works of
Vitruvius, too, there is a description of one built by him at Fano, the
restoration of which has afforded employment for the ingenuity of the
admirers of that worst of architects. Even taking it as restored by
those most desirous of making the best of it, it is difficult to
understand how anything so bad could have been erected in such an age.

It is extremely difficult to trace the origin of these basilicas, owing
principally to the loss of all the earlier examples. Their name is
Greek, and they may probably be considered as derived from the Grecian
Lesche, or perhaps as amplifications of the cellæ of Greek temples,
appropriated to the purposes of justice rather than of religion; but
till we know more of their earlier form and origin, it is useless
speculating on this point. The greatest interest to us, arises rather
from the use to which their plan was afterwards applied, than from the
source from which they themselves sprang. All the larger Christian
churches in the early times were copies, more or less exact, of the
basilicas of which that of Trajan is an example. The abundance of
pillars, suitable to such an erection, that were found everywhere in
Rome, rendered their construction easy and cheap; and the wooden roof
with which they were covered was also as simple and as inexpensive a
covering as could well be designed. The very uses of the Christian
basilicas at first were by no means dissimilar to those of their heathen
originals, as they were in reality the assembly halls of the early
Christian republic, before they became liturgical churches of the
Catholic hierarchy.

The more expensive construction of the bold vaults of the Maxentian
basilica went far beyond the means of the early Church, established in a
declining and abandoned capital, and this form therefore remained
dormant for seven or eight centuries before it was revived by the
mediæval architects on an infinitely smaller scale, but adorned with a
degree of appropriateness and taste to which the Romans were strangers.
It was then used with a completeness and unity which entitle it to be
considered as an entirely new style of architecture.


The theatre was by no means so essential a part of the economy of a
Roman city as it was of a Grecian one. With the latter it was quite as
indispensable as the temple; and in the semi-Greek city of Herculaneum
there was one, and in Pompeii two, on a scale quite equal to those of
Greece when compared with the importance of the town itself. In the
capital there appears only to have been one, that of Marcellus,[178]
built during the reign of Augustus. It it is very questionable whether
what we now see—especially the outer arcades—belong to that age, or
whether the theatre may not have been rebuilt and these arcades added at
some later period. It is so completely built over by modern houses, and
so ruined, that it is extremely difficult to arrive at any satisfactory
opinion regarding it. Its dimensions were worthy of the capital, the
audience part being a semicircle of 410 ft. in diameter, and the scena
being of great extent in proportion to the other part, which is a
characteristic of all Roman theatres, as compared with Grecian edifices
of this class.

[Illustration: 209. Plan of the Theatre at Orange. Scale 100 ft. to 1

One of the most striking Roman provincial theatres is that of Orange, in
the south of France. Perhaps it owes its existence, or at all events its
splendour, to the substratum of Grecian colonists that preceded the
Romans in that country. Its auditorium is 340 ft. in diameter, but much
ruined, in consequence of the Princes of Orange having used this part as
a bastion in some fortification they were constructing.

[Illustration: 210. View of the Theatre at Orange.]

The stage is very tolerably preserved. It shows well the increased
extent and complication of arrangements required for the theatrical
representations of the age in which it was constructed, being a
considerable advance towards the more modern idea of a play, as
distinguished from the stately semi-religious spectacle in which the
Greeks delighted. The noblest part of the building is the great wall at
the back, an immense mass of masonry 340 ft. in extent and 116 ft. in
height, without a single opening above the basement, and no ornament
except a range of blank arches, about midway between the basement and
the top, and a few projecting corbels to receive the footings of the
masts that supported the velarium. Nowhere does the architecture of the
Romans shine so much as when their gigantic buildings are left to tell
their own tale by the imposing grandeur of their masses. Whenever
ornament is attempted, their bad taste comes out. The size of their
edifices, and the solidity of their construction, were only surpassed by
the Egyptians, and not always by them; and when, as here, the mass of
material heaped up stands unadorned in all its native grandeur,
criticism is disarmed, and the spectator stands awe-struck at its
majesty, and turns away convinced that truly “there were giants in those
days.” This is not, it is true, the most intellectual way of obtaining
architectural effect, but it has the advantage of being the easiest, the
most certain to secure the desired result, and at the same time the most


The deficiency of theatres erected by the Romans is far more than
compensated by the number and splendour of their amphitheatres, which,
with their baths, may be considered as the true types of Roman art,
although it is possible that they derived this class of public buildings
from the Etruscans. At Sutrium there is a very noble one cut out of the
tufa rock,[179] which was no doubt used by that people for festal
representations long before Rome attempted anything of the kind. It is
uncertain whether gladiatorial fights or combats of wild beasts formed
any part of the amusements of the arena in those days, though boxing,
wrestling, and contests of that description certainly did; but whether
the Etruscans actually proceeded to the shedding of blood and to
slaughter is more than doubtful.

Even in the remotest parts of Britain, in Germany and Gaul, wherever we
find a Roman settlement, we find the traces of their amphitheatres.
Their soldiery, it seems, could not exist without the enjoyment of
seeing men engaged in doubtful and mortal combats—either killing one
another, or torn to pieces by wild beasts. It is not to be wondered at
that a people who delighted so much in the bloody scenes of the arena
should feel but very little pleasure in the mimic sorrows and tame
humour of the stage. The brutal exhibition of the amphitheatre fitted
them, it is true, to be a nation of conquerors, and gave them the empire
of the world, but it brought with it feelings singularly inimical to all
the softer arts, and was perhaps the great cause of their ultimate

[Illustration: 211. Elevation and Section of part of the Flavian
Amphitheatre at Rome. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 212. Quarter-plan of the Seats and quarter-plan of the
Basement of the Flavian Amphitheatre. No scale.]

As might be expected, the largest and most splendid of these buildings
is that which adorns the capital; and of all the ruins which Rome
contains, none have excited such universal admiration as the Flavian
Amphitheatre. Poets, painters, rhapsodists, have exhausted all the
resources of their arts in the attempt to convey to others the
overpowering impression this building produces on their own minds. With
the single exception, perhaps, of the Hall at Karnac, no ruin has met
with such universal admiration as this. Its association with the ancient
mistress of the world, its destruction, and the half-prophetic destiny
ascribed to it, all contribute to this. In spite of our better judgment
we are forced to confess that

                 “The gladiators’ bloody circus stands
                 A noble wreck in ruinous perfection,”

and worthy of all or nearly all the admiration of which it has been the
object. Its interior is almost wholly devoid of ornament, or anything
that can be called architecture—a vast inverted pyramid. The exterior
does not possess one detail which is not open to criticism, and indeed
to positive blame. Notwithstanding all this, its magnitude, its form,
and its associations, all combine to produce an effect against which the
critic struggles in vain. Still, all must admit that the pillars and
their entablature are useless and are added incongruously, and that the
upper storey, not being arched like the lower, but solid, and with ugly
pilasters, is a painful blemish. This last defect is so striking that,
in spite of the somewhat dubious evidence of medals, I should feel
inclined to suspect that it was a subsequent addition, and meant wholly
for the purpose of supporting and working the great velarium or awning
that covered the arena during the representation, which may not have
been attempted when the amphitheatre was first erected.

Be this as it may, it certainly now very much mars the effect of the
building. The lower storeys are of bad design, but this is worse. But
notwithstanding these defects, there is no building of Rome where the
principle of reduplication of parts, of which the Gothic architects
afterwards made so much use, is carried to so great an extent as in
this. The Colosseum is principally indebted to this feature for the
effect which it produces. Had it, for instance, been designed with only
one storey of the height of the four now existing, and every arch had
consequently been as wide as the present four, the building would have
scarcely appeared half the size it is now seen to be. For all this,
however, when close under it, and comparing it with moving figures and
other objects, we could scarcely eventually fail to realise its
wonderful dimensions. In that case, a true sense of the vast size of the
building would have had to be acquired, as is the case with the façade
of St. Peter’s. Now it forces itself on the mind at the first glance. It
is the repetition of arch beyond arch and storey over storey that leads
the mind on, and gives to this amphitheatre its imposing grandeur, which
all acknowledge, though few give themselves the trouble to inquire how
this effect is produced.

Fortunately, too, though the face of the building is much cut up by the
order, the entablatures are unbroken throughout, and cross the building
in long vanishing lines of the most graceful curvatures. The oval, also,
is certainly more favourable for effect than a circular form would be. A
building of this shape may perhaps look smaller than it really is to a
person standing exactly opposite either end; but in all other positions
the flatter side gives a variety and an appearance of size, which the
monotonous equality of a circle would never produce.

The length of the building, measured over all along its greatest
diameter, is 620 ft., its breadth 513, or nearly in the ratio of 6 to 5,
which may be taken as the general proportion of these buildings, the
variations from it being slight, and apparently either mistakes in
setting out the work in ancient times, or in measuring it in modern
days, rather than an intentional deviation. The height of the three
lower storeys, or of what I believe to have been the original building,
is 120 ft.; the total height as it now stands is 157 ft. The arena
itself measures 287 ft. in length by 180 in breadth. The whole area of
the building has been calculated to contain 250,000 square feet, of
which the arena contains 40,000; then deducting 10,000 for the external
wall, 200,000 square feet will remain available for the audience. If we
divide this by 5,[180] which is the number of square feet it has been
found necessary to allow for each spectator in modern places of
amusement, room will be afforded for 40,000 spectators; at 4 feet, which
is a possible quantity, with continuous seats and the scant drapery of
the Romans, the amphitheatre might contain 50,000 spectators at one

The area of the supports has also been calculated at about 40,000 square
feet, or about one-sixth of the whole area; which for an unroofed
edifice of this sort[181] is more than sufficient, though the excess
accounts for the stability of the building.

Next in extent to this great metropolitan amphitheatre was that of
Capua; its dimensions were 558 ft. by 460; its height externally 95 ft.
It had three storeys, designed similarly to those of the Colosseum, but
all of the Doric order, and used with more purity than in the Roman

Next in age, though not in size, is that at Nîmes, 430 ft. by 378, and
72 in height, in two storeys. Both these storeys are more profusely and
more elegantly ornamented with pillars than those of either of the
amphitheatres mentioned above. The entablature is however broken over
each column, and pediments are introduced on each front. All these
arrangements, though showing more care in design and sufficient elegance
in detail, make this building very inferior in grandeur to the two
earlier edifices, whose simplicity of outline makes up, to a great
extent, for their faults of detail.

A more beautiful example than this is that at Verona. Its dimensions are
502 ft. by 401, and 98 ft. high, in three storeys beautifully
proportioned. Here the order almost entirely disappears to make way for
rustication, showing that it must be considerably more modern than
either of the three examples above quoted, though hardly so late as the
time of Maximianus, to whom it is frequently ascribed.[182] The arena of
this amphitheatre is very nearly perfect, owing to the care taken of it
during the Middle Ages, when it was often used for tournaments and other
spectacles; but of its outer architectural enclosure only four bays
remain, sufficient to enable an architect to restore the whole, but not
to allow of its effect being compared with that of more entire examples.

The amphitheatre at Pola, which is of about the same age as that of
Verona, and certainly belonging to the last days of the Western Empire,
presents in its ruin a curious contrast to the other. That at Verona has
a perfect arena and only a fragment of its exterior decoration, while
the exterior of Pola is perfect, but not a trace remains of its arena,
or of the seats that surrounded it. This is probably owing to their
having been of wood, and consequently having either decayed or been
burnt. Like that at Verona, it presents all the features of the last
stage of transition; the order is still seen, or rather is everywhere
suggested, but so concealed and kept subordinate that it does not at all
interfere with the general effect. But for these faint traces we should
possess in this amphitheatre one specimen entirely emancipated from
incongruous Grecian forms, but, as before remarked, Rome perished when
just on the threshold of the new style.

[Illustration: 213. Elevation of the Amphitheatre at Verona. Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

The dimensions of the amphitheatre at Pola are very nearly the same as
of that at Nîmes, being 436 ft. by 346. It has, however, three storeys,
and thus its height is considerably greater, being 97 ft. Owing to the
inequality of the ground on which it is built, the lower storey shows
the peculiarity of a sub-basement, which is very pleasingly managed, and
appears to emancipate it more from conventional forms than is the case
with its contemporary at Verona. The third storey, or attic, is also
more pleasing than elsewhere, as it is avowedly designed for the support
of the masts of the velarium. The pilasters and all Greek forms are
omitted, and there is only a groove over every column of the middle
storey to receive the masts. There is also a curious sort of open
battlement on the top, evidently designed to facilitate the working of
the awning, though in what manner is not quite clear. There is still one
other peculiarity about the building, the curvature of its lines is
broken by four projecting wings, intended apparently to contain
staircases; in a building so light and open as this one is in its
present state there can be no doubt but that the projections give
expression and character to the outline, though such additions would go
far to spoil any of the greater examples above quoted.

At Otricoli there is a small amphitheatre, 312 ft. by 230, in two
storeys, from which the order has entirely disappeared; it is therefore
possibly the most modern of its class, but the great flat pilasters that
replace the pillars are ungraceful and somewhat clumsy. Perhaps its
peculiarities ought rather to be looked on as provincialisms than as
genuine specimens of an advanced style. Still there is a pleasing
simplicity about it that on a larger scale would enable it to stand
comparison with some of its greater rivals.

Besides these, which are the typical examples of the style, there are
the “Castrense” at Rome, nearly circular, and possessing all the faults
and none of the beauties of the Colosseum; one at Arles, very much
ruined; and a great number of provincial ones, not only in Italy and
Gaul, but in Germany and Britain. Almost all these were principally if
not wholly excavated from the earth, the part above-ground being the
mound formed by the excavation. If they ever possessed any external
decoration to justify their being treated as architectural objects, it
has disappeared, so that in the state at least in which we now find them
they do not belong to the ornamental class of works of which we are at
present treating.


Next in splendour to the amphitheatres of the Romans were their great
thermal establishments: in size they were perhaps even more remarkable,
and their erection must certainly have been more costly. The
amphitheatre, however, has the great advantage in an architectural point
of view of being one object, one hall in short, whereas the baths were
composed of a great number of smaller parts, not perhaps very
successfully grouped together. They were wholly built of brick covered
with stucco (except perhaps the pillars), and have, therefore, now so
completely lost their architectural features that it is with difficulty
that even the most practised architect can restore them to anything like
their original appearance.

In speaking of the great Thermæ of Imperial Rome, they must not be
confounded with such establishments as that of Pompeii for instance. The
latter was very similar to the baths now found in Cairo or
Constantinople, and indeed in most Eastern cities. These are mere
establishments for the convenience of bathers, consisting generally of
one or two small circular or octagonal halls, covered by domes, and one
or two others of an oblong shape, covered with vaults or wooden roofs,
used as reception-rooms, or places of repose after the bath. These have
never any external magnificence beyond an entrance-porch; and although
those at Pompeii are decorated internally with taste, and are well
worthy of study, their smallness of size and inferiority of design do
not admit of their being placed in the same category as those of the
capital, which are as characteristic of Rome as her amphitheatres, and
are such as could only exist in a capital where the bulk of the people
were able to live on the spoils of the conquered world rather than by
the honest gains of their own industry.

Agrippa is said to have built baths immediately behind the Pantheon, and
Palladio and others have attempted restorations of them, assuming that
building to have been the entrance-hall. Nothing, however, can be more
unlikely than that, if he had first built the rotunda as a hall of his
baths, he should afterwards have added the portico, and converted it
from its secular use into a temple dedicated to all the gods.

As before remarked, the two parts are certainly not of the same age. If
Agrippa built the rotunda as a part of his baths, the portico was added
a century and a half or two centuries afterwards, and it was then
converted into a temple. If Agrippa built the portico, he added it to a
building belonging to Republican times, which may always have been
dedicated to sacred purposes. As the evidence at present stands, I am
rather inclined to believe the first hypothesis most correctly
represents the facts of the case.[183]

Nero’s baths, too, are a mere heap of shapeless ruins, and those of
Vespasian, Domitian, and Trajan in like manner are too much ruined for
their form, or even their dimensions, to be ascertained with anything
like correctness. Those of Titus are more perfect, but the very
discrepancies that exist between the different systems upon which their
restoration has been attempted show that enough does not remain to
enable the task to be accomplished in a satisfactory manner. They owe
their interest more to the beautiful fresco paintings that adorn their
vaults than to their architectural character. These paintings are
invaluable, as being the most extensive and perfect relics of the
painted decoration of the most flourishing period of the Empire, and
give a higher idea of Roman art than other indications would lead us to

The baths of Constantine are also nearly wholly destroyed, so that out
of the great Thermæ two only, those of Diocletian and of Caracalla, now
remain sufficiently perfect to enable a restoration to be made of them
with anything like certainty.

[Illustration: 214. Baths of Caracalla, as restored by A. Blouet.]

The great hall belonging to the baths of Diocletian is now the Church of
Sta. Maria degli Angeli, and has been considerably altered to suit the
changed circumstances of its use; while the modern buildings attached to
the church have so overlaid the older remains that it is not easy to
follow out the complete plan. This is of less consequence, as both in
dimensions and plan they are extremely similar to those of Caracalla,
which seem to have been among the most magnificent, as they certainly
are the best preserved, of these establishments.[184]

The general plan of the whole enclosure of the baths of Caracalla was a
square of about 1150 ft. each way, with a bold but graceful curvilinear
projection on two sides, containing porticoes, gymnasia, lecture-rooms,
and other halls for exercise of mind or body. In the rear were the
reservoirs to contain the requisite supply of water and below them the
hypocaust or furnace, by which it was warmed with a degree of scientific
skill we hardly give the Romans of that age credit for. Opposite to this
and facing the street was one great portico extending the whole length
of the building, into which opened a range of apartments, meant
apparently to be used as private baths, which extend also some way up
each side. In front of the hypocaust, facing the north-east, was a
semicircus or _theatridium_, 530 ft. long, where youths performed their
exercises or contended for prizes.

These parts were, however, merely the accessories of the establishment
surrounding the garden, in which the principal building was placed. This
was a rectangle 730 ft. by 380, with a projection covered by a dome on
the south-western side, which was 167 ft. in diameter externally, and
115 ft. internally. There were two small courts (A A) included in the
block, but nearly the whole of the rest appears to have been roofed

The modern building which approaches nearest in extent to this is
probably our Parliament Houses. These are about 830 ft. in length, with
an average breadth of about 300, and, with Westminster Hall, cover as
nearly as may be the same area as the central block of these baths. But
there the comparison stops; there is no building of modern times on
anything like the same scale arranged wholly for architectural effect as
this one is, irrespective of any utilitarian purpose. On the other hand,
the whole of the walls being covered with stucco, and almost all the
architecture being expressed in that material, must have detracted
considerably from the monumental grandeur of the effect. Judging,
however, from what remains of the stucco ornament of the roof of the
Maxentian basilica (Woodcut No. 202), it is wonderful to observe what
effects may be obtained with even this material in the hands of a people
who understand its employment. While stone and marble have perished, the
stucco of these vaults still remains, and is as impressive as any other
relic of ancient Rome.

In the centre was a great hall (B), almost identical in dimensions with
the central aisle of the basilica of Maxentius already described, being
82 ft. wide by 170 in length, and roofed in the same manner by an
intersecting vault in three compartments, springing from eight great
pillars. This opened into a smaller apartment at each end, of
rectangular form, and then again into two other semicircular halls
forming a splendid suite 460 ft. in length. This central room is
generally considered as the _tepidarium_, or warmed apartment, having
four warm baths opening out of it. On the north-east side was the
frigidarium, or cold water bath, a hall[185] of nearly the same
dimensions as the central Hall. Between this and the circular hall (D)
was the sudatorium or sweating-bath, with a hypocaust underneath, and
flue-tiles lining its walls. The laconicum or caldarium (D) is an
immense circular hall, 116 ft. in diameter, also heated by a hypocaust
underneath, and by flue tiles in the walls. This rotunda is said to be
of later date than Caracalla. There are four other rooms on this side,
which seem also to have been cold baths. None of these points have,
however, yet been satisfactorily settled, nor the uses of the smaller
subordinate rooms; every restorer giving them names according to his own
ideas. For our purpose it suffices to know that no groups of state
apartments in such dimensions, and wholly devoted to purposes of display
and recreation, were ever before or since grouped together under one
roof. The taste of many of the decorations would no doubt be faulty, and
the architecture shows those incongruities inseparable from its state of
transition; but such a collection of stately halls must have made up a
whole of greater splendour than we can easily realise from their bare
and weather-beaten ruins, or from anything else to which we can compare
them. Even allowing for their being almost wholly built of brick, and
for their being disfigured by the bad taste inseparable from everything
Roman, there is nothing in the world which for size and grandeur can
compare with these imperial places of recreation.[186]

                               CHAPTER V.



Arches at Rome; in France—Arch at Trèves—Columns of
  Victory—Tombs—Minerva Medica—Provincial tombs—Eastern tombs—Domestic

Triumphal Arches were among the most peculiar of the various forms of
art which the Romans borrowed from those around them, and used with that
strange mixture of splendour and bad taste which characterises all their

[Illustration: 215. Arch of Trajan at Beneventum. (From a plate in
Gailhabaud’s ‘Architecture.’)]

These were in the first instance no doubt borrowed from the Etruscans,
as was also the ceremony of the triumph with which they were ultimately
associated. At first they seem rather to have been used as festal
entrances to the great public roads, the construction of which was
considered one of the most important benefits a ruler could confer upon
his country. There was one erected at Rimini in honour of an important
restoration of the Flaminian way by Augustus; another at Susa in
Piedmont, to commemorate a similar act of the same Emperor. Trajan built
one on the pier at Ancona, when he restored that harbour, and another at
Beneventum, when he repaired the Via Appia, represented in the preceding
woodcut (No. 215). It is one of the best preserved as well as most
graceful of its class in Italy. The Arch of the Sergii at Pola in Istria
seems also to have been erected for a like purpose. That of Hadrian at
Athens, and another built by him at Antinoë in Egypt, were monuments
merely commemorative of the benefits which he had conferred on those
cities by the architectural works he had erected within their walls. By
far the most important application of these gateways, in Rome at least,
was to commemorate a triumph which may have passed along the road over
which the arch was erected, and perhaps in some instances they may have
been erected beforehand, for the triumphal procession to pass through,
and of which they would remain memorials.

[Illustration: 216. Arch of Titus at Rome. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The Arch of Titus at Rome is well known for the beauty of its detail, as
well as from the extraordinary interest which it derives from having
been erected to commemorate the conquest of Jerusalem, and consequently
representing in its bassi-rilievi the spoils of the Temple. From the
annexed elevation, drawn to the usual scale, it will be seen that the
building is not large, and it is not so well proportioned as that at
Beneventum, represented in the preceding woodcut, the attic being
overpoweringly high. The absence of sculpture on each side of the arch
is also a defect, for the real merit of these buildings is their being
used as frameworks for the exhibition of sculptural representations of
the deeds they were erected to commemorate.

In the later days of the Empire two side arches were added for
foot-passengers, in addition to the carriage-way in the centre. This
added much to the splendour of the edifice, and gave a greater
opportunity for sculptural decoration than the single arch afforded. The
Arch of Septimius Severus, represented to the same scale in Woodcut No.
217, is perhaps the best specimen of the class. That of Constantine is
very similar and in most respects equal to this—a merit which it owes to
most of its sculptures being borrowed from earlier monuments.

[Illustration: 217. Arch of Septimius Severus. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

More splendid than either of these is the Arch at Orange. It is not
known by whom it was erected, or even in what age: it is, however,
certainly very late in the Roman period, and shows a strong tendency to
treat the order as entirely subordinate, and to exalt the plain masses
into that importance which characterises the late transitional period.
Unfortunately its sculptures are so much destroyed by time and violence
that it is not easy to speak with certainty as to their age; but more
might be done than has hitherto been effected to illustrate this
important monument.

At Rheims there is an arch which was probably much more magnificent than
this. When in a perfect state it was 110 ft. in width, and had three
openings, the central one 17 ft. wide by 40 ft. high, and those on each
side 10 ft. in width, each separated by two Corinthian columns. From the
style of the sculpture it certainly was of the last age of the Roman
Empire, but having been built into the walls of the city, it has been so
much injured that it is difficult to say what its original form may have

Besides these there is in France a very elegant single-arched gateway at
St. Rémi, similar to and probably of the same age as that at Beneventum;
another at Cavallon, and one at Carpentras, each with one arch. There is
also one with two similar arches at Langres; and one, the Porta Nigra,
at Besançon, which shows so complete a transition from the Roman style
that it is difficult to believe that it does not belong to the

[Illustration: 218. Porte St. André at Autun.[187] (From Laborde’s
‘Monumens de la France.’)]

There still remains in France another class of arches, certainly not
triumphal, but so similar to those just mentioned that it is difficult
to separate the one from the other. The most important of these are two
at Autun, called respectively the Porte Arroux and the Porte St. André,
a view of which is given in Woodcut No. 218. Each of these has two
central large archways for carriages, and one on each side for
foot-passengers. Their most remarkable peculiarity is the light arcade
or gallery that runs across the top of them, replacing the attic of the
Roman arch, and giving a degree of lightness combined with height that
those never possessed. These gates were certainly not meant for defence,
and the apartment over them could scarcely be applied to utilitarian
purposes; so that we may, I believe, consider it as a mere ornamental
appendage, or as a balcony for display on festal occasions. It appears,
however, to offer a better hint for modern arch-builders than any other
example of its class.

[Illustration: 219. Plan of Porta Nigra at Trèves. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 220. View of the Porta Nigra at Trèves.]

Even more interesting than these gates at Autun is that called the Porta
Nigra at Trèves; for though far ruder in style and coarser in detail, as
might be expected from the remoteness of the province where it is found,
it is far more complete. Indeed it is the only example of its class
which we possess in anything like its original state. Its front consists
of a double archway surmounted by an arcaded gallery, like the French
examples. Within this is a rectangular court which seems never to have
been roofed, and beyond this a second double archway similar to the
first. At the ends of the court, projecting each way beyond the face of
the gateway and the gallery surmounting it, are two wings four storeys
in height, containing a series of apartments in the form of small
basilicas, all similar to one another, and measuring about 55 ft. by 22.
It is not easy to understand how these were approached, as there is no
stair and no place for one. Of course there must have been some mode of
access, and perhaps it may have been on the site of the apse, shown in
the plan (Woodcut No. 219), which was added when the building was
converted into a church in the Middle Ages. These apartments were
probably originally used as courts or chambers of justice, thus
realising, more nearly than any other European example I am acquainted
with, the idea of a gate of justice.

Notwithstanding its defects of detail, there is a variety in the outline
of this building and a boldness of profile that render it an extremely
pleasing example of the style adopted; and though exhibiting many of the
faults incidental to the design of the Colosseum, it possesses all that
repetition of parts and Gothic feeling of design which give such value
to its dimensions, though these are far from being contemptible, the
building being 115 ft. wide by 95 in height to the top of the wings.

[Illustration: 221. Bridge at Chamas. (From Laborde’s ‘Monumens de la

There probably were many similar gates of justice in the province, but
all have perished, unless we except those at Autun just described. I am
convinced that at that place there were originally such wings as these
at Trèves, and that the small church, the apse of which is seen on the
right hand (woodcut No. 220), stands upon the foundations of one of
these. A slight excavation on the opposite side would settle this point
at once. If it could be proved that these gateways at Autun had such
lateral adjuncts, it would at once explain the use of the gallery over
the arch, which otherwise looks so unmeaning, but would be intelligible
as a passage connecting the two wings together.

Another form also is that of an arch at the entrance of a bridge,
generally bearing an inscription commemorative of its building. Its
purpose is thus closely connected with that of the arches before
mentioned, which commemorate the execution of roads. Most of the great
bridges of Italy and Spain were so adorned; but unfortunately they have
either been used as fortifications in the Middle Ages, or removed in
modern times to make room for the increased circulation of traffic. That
built by Trajan on his noble bridge at Alcantara in Spain is well known;
and there exists a double-arched bridge at Saintes, in the south of
France. The most elegant and most perfect specimen, however, of this
class is that of St. Chamas in Provence, represented in woodcut No. 221.
It consists of two arches, one at each end of the bridge, of singular
elegance of form and detail. Although it bears a still legible
inscription, it is uncertain to what age it belongs, probably that of
the Antonines: and I would account for the purity of its details by
referring to the Greek element that pervades the south of France.
Whether this is so or not, it is impossible not to admire not only the
design of the whole bridge with its two arches, but the elegance with
which the details have been executed.

Used in this mode as commencements of roads, or entrances to bridges, or
as festal entrances to unfortified towns, there are perhaps no monuments
of the second class more appropriate or more capable of architectural
expression than these arches, though all of them have been more or less
spoiled by an incongruous order being applied to them. Used, however, as
they were in Rome, as monuments of victory, without offering even an
excuse for a passage through them, the taste displayed in them is more
than questionable: the manner, too, in which they were cut up by broken
cornices and useless columns placed on tall pedestals, with other
trivial details highly objectionable, deprive them of that largeness of
design which is the only true merit and peculiar characteristic of Roman
art, while that exquisite elegance with which the Greeks knew so well
how to dignify even the most trivial objects was in them almost entirely

                          COLUMNS OF VICTORY.

Columns of Victory are a class of monuments which seem to have been used
in the East in very early times, though their history it must be
confessed is somewhat fragmentary and uncertain, and they seem to have
been adopted by the Romans in those provinces where they had been
employed by the earlier inhabitants. Whatever the original may have
been, the Romans were singularly unsuccessful in their application of
the form. They never, in fact, rose above the idea of taking a column of
construction, magnifying it, and placing it on a pedestal, without any
attempt to modify its details or hide the original utilitarian purpose
for which the column was designed. When they attempted more than this,
they failed entirely in elaborating any new form at all worthy of
admiration. The Columna Rostrata, or that erected to celebrate naval
victories, was, so far as we can judge from representations (for no
perfect specimen exists), one of the ugliest and clumsiest forms of
column it is possible to conceive.

Of those of Victory, one of the most celebrated is that erected by
Diocletian at Alexandria. A somewhat similar one exists at Arsinoë,
erected by Alexander Severus; and a third at Mylassa in Caria. All these
are mere Corinthian columns of the usual form, and with the details of
those used to support entablatures in porticoes. However beautiful these
may be in their proper place, they are singularly inappropriate and
ungraceful when used as minarets or single columns.

[Illustration: 222. Column at Cussi. (From Laborde’s ‘Monumens de la

There are two in Rome not quite so bad as these, both being of the Doric
order. Had the square abacus in these been cut to a round form, and
ornamented with an appropriate railing, we might almost have forgotten
their original, and have fancied that they really were round towers with
balconies at the top. The great object of their erection was to serve as
vehicles for sculpture, though, as we now see them, or as they are
caricatured at Paris and elsewhere, they are little more than instances
of immense labour bestowed to very little purpose. As originally used,
these columns were placed in small courts surrounded by open porticoes,
whence the spectator could at two or perhaps at three different levels
examine the sculpture at his leisure and at a convenient distance, while
the absurdity of the column supporting nothing was not apparent, from
its not being seen from the outside. This arrangement is explained in
woodcut No. 200, which is a section through the basilica of Trajan,
showing the position of his column, not only with reference to that
building, but to the surrounding colonnade. The same was almost
certainly the case with the column of Marcus Aurelius, which, with
slight modifications, seems to have been copied from that of Trajan; but
even in the most favourable situations no monuments can be less worthy
of admiration or of being copied than these.

A far better specimen of this class is that at Cussi, near Beaune, in
France. It probably belongs to the time of Aurelian, but it is not known
either by whom it was erected or what victory it was designed to
celebrate; still that it is a column of victory seems undoubted; and its
resemblance to columns raised with the same object in India is quite

The arrangement of the base serving as a pedestal for eight statues is
not only elegant but appropriate. The ornament which covers the shaft
takes off from the idea of its being a mere pillar, and at the same time
is so subdued as not to break the outline or interfere with constructive

[Illustration: 223. Supposed Capital of Column at Cussi.]

The capital, of the Corinthian order, is found in the neighbourhood used
as the mouth of a well. In its original position it no doubt had a hole
through it, which being enlarged suggested its application to its
present ignoble purpose, the hole being no doubt intended either to
receive or support the statue or emblem that originally crowned the
monument, but of that no trace now remains.

There cannot be a more natural mode of monumental expression than that
of a simple upright stone set up by the victors to commemorate their
prowess and success. Accordingly steles or pillars erected for this
purpose are found everywhere, and take shapes as various as the
countries where they stand or the people who erected them. In Northern
Europe they are known as Cath or battle-stones, and as rude unhewn
monoliths are found everywhere. In India they are as elegant and as
elaborately adorned as the Kutub Minar at Delhi, but nowhere was their
true architectural expression so mistaken as in Rome. There, by
perverting a feature designed for one purpose to a totally different
use, an example of bad taste was given till then unknown, though in our
days it has become not uncommon.


In that strange collection of the styles of all nations which mingled
together makes up the sum of Roman art, nothing strikes the
architectural student with more astonishment than the number and
importance of their tombs. If the Romans are of Aryan origin, as is
generally assumed, they are the only people of that race among whom
tomb-building was not utterly neglected. The importance of the tombs
among the Roman remains proves one of two things. Either a considerable
proportion of Etruscan blood was mixed up with that of the dominant race
in Rome, or that the fierce and inartistic Romans, having no art of
their own, were led blindly to copy that of the people among whom they
were located.

Of the tombs of Consular Rome nothing remains except perhaps the
sarcophagus of Scipio; and it is only on the eve of the Empire that we
meet with the well-known one of Cæcilia Metella, the wife of Crassus,
which is not only the best specimen of a Roman tomb now remaining to us,
but the oldest architectural building of the imperial city of which we
have an authentic date. It consists of a bold square basement about 100
ft. square, which was originally ornamented in some manner not now
intelligible. From this rose a circular tower about 94 ft. in diameter,
of very bold masonry, surmounted by a frieze of ox-skulls with wreaths
joining them, and a well-profiled cornice: two or three courses of
masonry above this seem to have belonged to the original work; and above
this, almost certainly, in the original design rose a conical roof,
which has perished. The tower having been used as a fortress in the
Middle Ages, battlements have been added to supply the place of the
roof, and it has been otherwise disfigured, so as to detract much from
its beauty as now seen. Still we have no tomb of the same importance so
perfect, nor one which enables us to connect the Roman tombs so nearly
with the Etruscan. The only addition in this instance is that of the
square basement or podium, though even this was not unknown at a much
earlier period, as for instance in the tomb of Aruns (Woodcut No. 176).
The exaggerated height of the circular base is also remarkable. Here it
rises to be a tower instead of a mere circular base of stones for the
earthen cone of the original sepulchre. The stone roof which probably
surmounted the tower was a mere reproduction of the original earthen

[Illustration: 224. Tomb of Cæcilia Metella.]

Next in age and importance was the tomb of Augustus in the Campus
Martius. It is now so completely ruined that it is extremely difficult
to make out its plan, and those who drew and restored it in former days
were so careless in their measurements that even its dimensions cannot
be ascertained; it appears, however, to have consisted of a circular
basement about 300 ft. in diameter and about 60 ft. in height, adorned
with 12 large niches. Above this rose a cone of earth as in the Etruscan
tombs, not smooth like those, but divided into terraces, which were
planted with trees. We also learn from Suetonius that Augustus laid out
the grounds around his tomb and planted them with gardens for public use
during his lifetime. More like the practice of a true Mogul in the East
than the ruler of an Indo-Germanic people in Europe.

This tomb, however, was far surpassed, not only in solidity but in
splendour, by that which Hadrian erected for himself on the banks of the
Tiber, now known as the Mole of Hadrian, or more frequently the Castle
of St. Angelo. The basement of this great tomb was a square, about 340
ft. each way and about 75 ft. high. Above this rose a circular tower 235
ft. in diameter and 140 in height. The whole was crowned either by a
dome or by a conical roof in steps, which, with its central ornament,
must have risen to a height of not less than 300 ft. The circular or
tower-like part of this splendid building was ornamented with columns,
but in what manner restorers have not been quite able to agree; some
making two storeys, both with pillars, some, one of pillars and the
upper one of pilasters. It would require more correct measurements than
we have to enable us to settle this point, but it seems probable that
there was only one range of columns on a circular basement of some
height surmounted by an attic of at least equal dimensions. The order
might have been 70 ft., the base and attic 35 ft. each.

Internally the mass was nearly solid, there being only one sepulchral
apartment, as nearly as may be in the centre of the mass, approached by
an inclined plane, winding round the whole building, from the entrance
in the centre of the river face.

[Illustration: 225. Columbarium near the Gate of St. Sebastian, Rome.]

Besides these there was another class of tombs in Rome, called
columbaria, generally oblong or square rooms below the level of the
ground, the walls of which were pierced with a great number of little
pigeon-holes or cells just of sufficient size to receive an urn
containing the ashes of the body, which had been burnt according to the
usual Roman mode of disposing of the dead. Externally of course they had
no architecture, though some of the more important family sepulchres of
this class were adorned internally with pilasters and painted ornaments
of considerable beauty.

In the earlier ages of the Roman Empire these two forms of tombs
characterised with sufficient clearness the two races, each with their
distinctive customs, which made up the population of Rome. Long before
its expiration the two were fused together so thoroughly that we lose
all trace of the distinction, and a new form of tomb arose compounded of
the two older, which became the typical form with the early Christians,
and from them passed to the Saracens and other Eastern nations.

The new form of tomb retained externally the circular form of the
Pelasgic sepulchre, though constructive necessities afterwards caused it
to become polygonal. Instead however of being solid, or nearly so, the
walls were only so thick as was necessary to support the dome, which
became the universal form of roof of these buildings.

The sepulchres of Rome have as yet been far too carelessly examined to
enable us to trace all the steps by which the transformation took place,
but as a general rule it may be stated that the gradual enlargement of
the central circular apartment is almost a certain test of the age of a
tomb; till at last, before the age of Constantine, they became in fact
representations of the Pantheon on a small scale, almost always with a
crypt or circular vault below the principal apartment.

[Illustration: 226. Section of Sepulchre at San Vito. No scale.]

One of the most curious transitional specimens is that found near San
Vito, represented in Woodcut No. 226. Here, as in all the earlier
specimens, the principal apartment is the lower, in the square basement.
The upper, which has lost its decoration, has the appearance of having
been hollowed out of the frustum of a gigantic Doric column, or rather
out of a solid tower like the central one of the Tomb of Aruns (Woodcut
No. 176). Shortly after the age of this sepulchre the lower apartment
became a mere crypt, and in such examples as those of the sepulchres of
the Cornelia and Tossia families we have merely miniature Pantheons
somewhat taller in proportion, and with a crypt. This is still more
remarkable in a building called the Torre dei Schiavi, which has had a
portico attached to one side, and in other respects looks very like a
direct imitation of that celebrated temple. It seems certainly, however,
to have been built for a tomb.

Another tomb, very similar to that of the Tossia family, is called that
of Sta. Helena, the mother of Constantine. If it is not hers, it belongs
at any rate to the last days of the Empire, and may be taken as a fair
specimen of the tombs of that age and class. It is a vast transition
from the tomb of Cæcilia Metella, though, like all the changes
introduced by the Romans, it shows the never-failing tendency to
transfer all architectural embellishments from the exterior to the
interior of every style of building.

[Illustration: 227. Section and Elevation of Tomb of Sta. Helena, Rome.
No scale.]

It consists of a basement about 100 ft. square, containing the crypt. On
this stands a circular tower in two storeys. In the lower storey is a
circular apartment about 66 ft. in diameter, surrounded by eight niches;
in the upper the niches are external, and each is pierced with a window.
The dimensions of the tomb are nearly the same as those of Cæcilia
Metella, and it thus affords an excellent opportunity of comparing the
two extremes of the series, and of contrasting the early Roman with the
early Christian tomb.

The typical example of a sepulchre of this age is the tomb or baptistery
of Sta. Costanza, the daughter of Constantine (Woodcut No. 423.) In this
building the pillars that adorned the exterior of such a mausoleum, for
instance, as that of Hadrian, are introduced internally. Externally the
building never can have had much ornament. But the breaks between the
lower aisle and the central compartment, pierced with the clerestory,
must have had a very pleasing effect. In this example there is still
shown a certain degree of timidity, which does not afterwards reappear.
The columns are coupled and are far more numerous than they need have
been, and are united by a fragment of an entablature, as if the
architect had been afraid to place his vault directly on the capitals.
Notwithstanding these defects, it is a pleasing and singularly
instructive example of a completed transformation, and is just what we
miss in those secular buildings for which the Christians had no use.

Another building, which is now known as the Lateran Baptistery (Woodcut
No. 422), was also undoubtedly a place of sepulture. Its erection is
generally ascribed to Constantine, and it is said was intended by him to
be the place of his own sepulture. Whether this is correct or not, it
certainly belongs to his age, and exhibits all the characteristics of
the architecture of his time. Here the central apartment, never having
been designed to support a dome, is of a far lighter construction, an
upper order of pillars being placed on the lower, with merely a slight
architrave and frieze running between the two orders, the external walls
being slight in construction and octagonal in plan.[188] We must not in
this place pursue any further the subject of the transition of style, as
we have already trespassed within the pale of Christian architecture and
passed beyond the limits of Heathen art. So gradual, however, was the
change, and so long in preparation, that it is impossible to draw the
line exactly where the separation actually took place between the two.

                       TEMPLE OF MINERVA MEDICA.

One important building remains to be mentioned before leaving this part
of the subject. It commonly goes by the name of the Temple of Minerva
Medica, though this is certainly a misnomer.[189] Recently it has become
the fashion to assume that it was the hall of some bath; no building of
that class, however, was known to exist in the neighbourhood, and it is
extremely improbable that any should be found outside the Servian walls
in this direction; moreover, it is wanting in all the necessary
accompaniments of such an establishment.

It is here placed with the tombs, because its site is one that would
justify its being so classed, and its form being just such as would be
applicable to that purpose and to no other. It is not by any means
certain, however, that it is a tomb, though there does not seem to be
any more probable supposition. It certainly belongs to the last days of
the Roman Empire, if indeed it be not a Christian building, which I am
very much inclined to believe it is, for, on comparing it with the
Baptistery of Constantine and the tomb of Sta. Costanza, it shows a
considerable advance in construction on both these buildings, and a
greater similarity to San Vitale at Ravenna, and other buildings of
Justinian’s time, than to anything else now found in Rome.

As will be seen from the plan and section (Woodcuts Nos. 228 and 229),
it has a dome, 80 ft. in diameter, resting on a decagon of singularly
light and elegant construction. Nine of the compartments contain niches
which give great room on the floor, as well as great variety and
lightness to the general design. Above this is a clerestory of ten
well-proportioned windows, which give light to the building, perhaps not
in so effective a manner as the one eye of the Pantheon, though by a far
more convenient arrangement, to protect from the elements a people who
did not possess glass. So far as I know, all the domed buildings erected
by the Romans up to the time of Constantine, and indeed long afterwards,
were circular in the interior, though, like the temple built by
Diocletian at Spalato, they were sometimes octagonal externally. This,
however, is a Polygon both internally and on the outside, and the mode
in which the dome is placed on the polygon shows the first rudiments of
the pendentive system, which was afterwards carried to such perfection
by the Byzantine architects, but is nowhere else to be found in Rome. It
probably was for the purpose of somewhat diminishing the difficulties of
this construction that the architect adopted a figure with ten instead
of eight sides.

[Illustration: 228. Plan of Minerva Medica at Rome, as restored in
Isabelle’s ‘Édifices Circulaires,’ on the theory of its being a Bath.
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 229. Section of Minerva Medica (from Isabelle.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 230. Rib of the Roof of the Minerva Medica at Rome.]

This, too, is, I believe, the first building in which buttresses are
applied so as to give strength to the walls exactly at the point where
it is most wanted. By this arrangement the architect was enabled to
dispense with nearly one-half the quantity of material that was thought
necessary when the dome of the Pantheon was constructed, and which he
must have employed had he copied that building. Besides this, the dome
was ribbed with tiles, as shown in Woodcut No. 230, and the space
between the ribs filled in with inferior, perhaps lighter masonry,
bonded together at certain heights by horizontal courses of tiles where

[Illustration: 231. Tomb at St. Rémi. (From Laborde’s ‘Monumens de la

Besides the lightness and variety which the base of this building
derives from the niches, it is 10 ft. higher than its diameter, which
gives to it that proportion of height to width, the want of which is the
principal defect of the Pantheon. It is not known what the side
erections are which are usually shown in the ground-plans, nor even
whether they are coeval with the main central edifice. I suspect they
have never been very correctly laid down.

Taking it altogether, the building is certainly, both as concerns
construction and proportion, by far the most scientific of all those in
ancient Rome, and in these respects as far superior to the Pantheon as
it is inferior to that temple in size. Indeed there are few inventions
of the Middle Ages that are not attempted here or in the Temple of
Peace—but more in this than in the latter; so much so, indeed, that I
cannot help believing that it is much more modern than is generally

As might be expected from our knowledge of the race that inhabited the
European provinces of the Roman Empire, there are very few specimens of
tombs of any importance to be found in them. One very beautiful example
exists at St. Rémi, represented in the annexed woodcut (No. 231). It can
hardly, however, be correctly called a tomb, but is rather a cenotaph or
a monument, erected as the inscription on it tells us, by Sextus and
Marcus, of the family of the Julii, to their parents, whose statues
appear under the dome of the upper storey. There is nothing funereal
either in the inscription or the form, nor anything to lead us to
suppose that the bodies of the parents repose beneath its foundation.

The lower portion of this monument is the square basement which the
Romans always added to the Etruscan form of tomb. Upon this stands a
storey pierced with an archway in each face, with a three-quarter pillar
of the Corinthian order at every angle. The highest part is a circular
colonnade, a miniature copy of that which we know to have once encircled
Hadrian’s Mole.

The open arrangement of the arches and colonnade, while it takes off
considerably from the tomb-like simplicity appropriate to such
buildings, adds very much to the lightness and elegance of the whole.
Altogether the building has much more of the aspiring character of
Christian art than of the more solid and horizontal forms which were
characteristic of the style then dying out.

Another monument of very singular and exceptional form is found at Igel,
near Trèves, in Germany. It is so unlike anything found in Italy, or
indeed anything of the Roman age, that were its date not perfectly known
from the inscription upon it, one might rather be inclined to ascribe it
to the age of Francis I. than to the latter days of the Roman Empire.

The form is graceful, though the pilasters and architectural ornaments
seem somewhat misplaced. It is covered with sculptures from top to
bottom. These, however, as is generally the case with Roman funereal
monuments, have no reference to death, nor to the life or actions of the
person to whom the monument is sacred, but are more like the scenes
painted on a wall or ornamental stele anywhere. The principal object on
the face represented in the woodcut is the sun, but the subjects are
varied on each face, and, though much time-worn, they still give a very
perfect idea of the rich ornamentation of the monuments of the last age
of the Empire.

[Illustration: 232. Monument at Igel, near Trèves. (From Schmidt’s
‘Antiquities of Trèves.’)]

The Tour Magne at Nîmes is too important a monument to be passed over,
though in its present ruined state it is almost more difficult to
explain than any other Roman remains that have reached our times. It
consists of an octagonal tower 50 ft. in diameter, and now about 120 ft.
high. The basement is extended beyond this tower on every side by a
series of arches supporting a terrace to which access was obtained by an
external flight of steps, or rather an inclined plane. From the marks in
the walls it seems evident that this terrace originally supported a
peristyle, or, possibly, a range of chambers. Within the basement is a
great chamber covered by a dome of rubble masonry, to which no access
could be obtained from without, but the interior may have been reached
through the eye of the dome. From the terrace an important flight of
steps led upwards to—what? It is almost impossible to refrain from
answering, to a cella, like those which crowned the tomb temples of
Assyria. That the main object of the building was sepulchral seems
hardly doubtful, but we have no other instance in Europe of a tomb with
such a staircase leading to a chamber above it.

That Marseilles was a Phœnician and then a Phocian colony long before
Roman times seems generally to be admitted, and that in the Temple of
Diana (Woodcuts Nos. 188 and 189) and in this building there is an
Etruscan or Eastern element which can hardly be mistaken, and may lead
to very important ethnographical indications when more fully
investigated and better understood.

                             EASTERN TOMBS.

This scarcity of tombs in the western part of the Roman Empire is to a
great extent made up for in the East; but the history of those erected
under the Roman rule in that part of the world is as yet so little known
that it is not easy either to classify or to describe them; and as
nearly all those which have been preserved are cut in the rock, it is
sometimes difficult—as with other rock-cut objects all over the world—to
understand the form of building from which they were copied.

The three principal groups of tombs of the Roman epoch are those of
Petra, Cyrene, and Jerusalem. Though many other important tombs exist in
those countries, they are so little known that they must be passed over
for the present.

From the time when Abraham was laid in the cave of Machpelah until after
the Christian era, we know that burying in the rock was not the
exception but the general practice among the nations of this part of the
East. So far as can be known, the example was set by Egypt, which was
the parent of much of their civilisation. In Egypt the façades of their
rock-cut tombs were—with the solitary exception of those of Beni
Hasan[190]—ornamented so simply and unobtrusively as rather to belie
than to announce their internal magnificence. All the oldest Asiatic
tombs seem to have been mere holes in the rock, wholly without
architectural decorations.

[Illustration: 233. Khasné. (From Laborde’s ‘Petra and Mount Sinai.’)]

We have seen, however, how the Persian kings copied their palace façades
to adorn their last resting-places, and how about the same time in Lycia
the tomb-builders copied, first their own wooden structures, and
afterwards the architectural façades which they had learned from the
Greeks how to construct. But it was not till the Roman period that this
species of magnificence extended to the places enumerated above; when to
such an extent did it prevail at Petra as to give to that now deserted
valley the appearance of a petrified city of the dead.

The typical and most beautiful tomb of this place is that called the
Khasné or Treasury of Pharaoh—represented in elevation and section in
the annexed woodcuts, Nos. 233 and 234. As will be seen, it consists of
a square basement, adorned with a portico of four very beautiful
Corinthian pillars, surmounted by a pediment of low Grecian pitch. Above
this are three very singular turrets, the use and application of which
it is extremely difficult to understand. The central one is circular,
and is of a well-understood sepulchral form, the use of which, had it
been more important, or had it stood alone, would have been intelligible
enough; but what are the side turrets? If one might hazard so bold a
conjecture, I would suggest that the original from which this is derived
was a five-turreted tomb, like that of Aruns (Woodcut No. 176), or that
of Alyattes at Sardis, which in course of time became translated into so
foreign a shape as this; but where are the intermediate forms? and by
whom and when was this change effected? Before forming any theories on
this subject, it will be well to consider whether all these buildings
really are tombs. Most of them undoubtedly are so; but may not the name
_el Deir_, or the Convent, applied by the Arabs to one of the principal
rock-cut monuments of Petra, be after all the true designation? Are none
of them, in short, cells for priests, like the _viharas_ found in India?
All who have hitherto visited these spots have assumed at once that
everything cut in the rock must be a tomb, but I am much mistaken if
this is really the case with all.

[Illustration: 234. Section of Tomb at Khasné. (From Laborde’s ‘Mount
Sinai,’ p. 175.)]

To return, however, to the Khasné. Though all the forms of the
architecture are Roman, the details are so elegant and generally so well
designed as almost to lead to the suspicion that there must have been
some Grecian influence brought to bear upon the work. The masses of rock
left above the wings show how early a specimen of its class it is, and
how little practice its designers could have had in copying in the rock
the forms of their regular buildings.

[Illustration: 235. Corinthian Tomb, Petra. (From Laborde’s ‘Sinai,’ p.

A little further within the city is found another very similar in design
to this, but far inferior to it in detail and execution, and showing at
least a century of degradation, though at the same time presenting an
adaptation to rock-cut forms not found in the earlier examples.

A third is that above alluded to, called _el Deir_. This is the same in
general outline as the two former—of an order neither Greek nor Roman,
but with something like a Doric frieze over a very plain Corinthian
capital. In other respects it presents no new feature except the
apparent absence of a door, and on the whole it seems, if finished, to
deserve its name less than either of the other two.

[Illustration: 236. Rock-cut interior at Petra. (From Laborde’s ‘Sinai,’
p. 198.)]

Perhaps the most singular object among these tombs, if tombs they are,
is the flat façade with three storeys of pillars one over the
other—slightly indicated on the left of the Corinthian tomb in Woodcut
No. 235. It is like the proscenium of some of the more recent Greek
theatres. If it was really the frontispiece to a tomb, it was totally
unsuitable to the purpose, and is certainly one of the most complete
misapplications of Greek architecture ever made.

Generally speaking, the interiors of these buildings are so plain that
travellers have not cared either to draw or measure them; one, however,
represented in the annexed woodcut (No. 236), is richly ornamented, and,
as far as can be judged from what is published, is as unlike a tomb as
it is like a _vihara_. But, as before remarked, they all require
re-examination before the purpose for which they were cut can be
pronounced upon with any certainty.

[Illustration: 237. Façade of Herod’s Tombs, from a Photograph.]

The next group of tombs is that at Jerusalem. These are undoubtedly all
sepulchres. By far the greater number of them are wholly devoid of
architectural ornament. To the north of the city is a group known as the
Tombs of the Kings, with a façade of a corrupt Doric order, similar to
some of the latest Etruscan tombs.[191] These are now very much ruined,
but still retain sufficient traces of the original design to fix their
date within or subsequently to the Herodian period without much
possibility of doubt. A somewhat similar façade, but of a form more like
the Greek Doric, found in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, bears the name of
the Sepulchre of St. James.

[Illustration: 238. So-called “Tomb of Zechariah.”]

Close to this is a square tomb, known as that of Zechariah, cut in the
rock, but standing free. Each face is adorned with Ionic pillars and
square piers at the angles, the whole being crowned with a pyramidal
roof. Perhaps this building should properly be called a cenotaph, as it
is perfectly solid, and no cave or sepulchral vault has been found
beneath it, though judging from analogies one might yet be found if
properly looked for. A tomb with an architectural façade, similar to
that of the so-called Tomb of the Judges, does exist behind it cut in
rock, and is consequently of more modern construction. It may be to mark
this that the architectural monolith was left.

Close to this is another identical with it in as far as the basement is
concerned, and which is now popularly known as the Tomb of Absalom; but
in this instance the pyramid has been replaced with a structural spire,
and it is probable when this was done that the chamber which now exists
in its interior was excavated.

[Illustration: 239. The so-called Tomb of Absalom.]

One of the remarkable points in these tombs is the curious jumble of the
Roman orders which they present. The pillars and pilasters are Ionic,
the architraves and frieze Doric, and the cornice Egyptian. The capitals
and frieze are so distinctly late Roman, that we can feel no hesitation
as to their date being either of the age of Herod or subsequent to that
time. In an architectural point of view the cornice is too plain to be
pleasing if not painted; it probably therefore was so treated.

[Illustration: 240. Angle of Tomb of Absalom. (From De Saulcy.)]

Another class of these tombs is represented by the so-called Tomb of the
Judges (Woodcut No. 241). These are ornamented by a tympanum of a Greek
or Roman temple filled with a scroll-work of rich but debased pattern,
and is evidently derived from something similar, though Grecian in
design. In age it is certainly more recent than the so-called Tomb of
Zechariah, as one of precisely similar design is found cut into the face
of the rock out of which that monument was excavated.

[Illustration: 241. Façade of the Tomb of the Judges.]

The third group is that of Cyrene, on the African coast. Notwithstanding
the researches of Admiral Beechey and of M. Pacho,[192] and the still
more recent explorations of Messrs. Smith and Porcher, above referred to
(p. 285), they are still much less perfectly known to us than they
should be. Their number is immense, and they almost all have
architectural façades, generally consisting of two or more columns
between pilasters, like the grottoes of Beni-Hasan, or the Tomb of St.
James at Jerusalem. Many of them show powerful evidence of Greek taste,
while some may be as old as the Grecian era, though the greater part are
undoubtedly of Roman date, and the paintings with which many of them are
still adorned are certainly Roman in design. Two of them are illustrated
by Woodcuts Nos. 165 and 166: one as showing more distinct evidence of
Greek taste and colour than is to be found elsewhere, though it is
doubtful if it belongs to the Grecian period any more than the so-called
Tomb of St. James at Jerusalem; the other, though of equally uncertain
date, is interesting as being a circular monument built over a cave like
that at Amrith (Woodcut No. 122), and is the only other example now
known. None of them have such splendid architectural façades as the
Khasné at Petra; but the number of tombs which are adorned with
architectural features is greater than in that city, and, grouped as
they are together in terraces on the hill-side, they constitute a
necropolis which is among the most striking of the ancient world.
Altogether this group, though somewhat resembling that at Castel d’Asso,
is more extensive and far richer in external architecture.[193]

Time has not left us any perfect structural tombs in all these places,
though there can be little doubt but they were once numerous. Almost the
only tomb of this class constructed in masonry known to exist, and which
in many respects is perhaps the most interesting of all, is found in
Asia Minor, at Mylassa in Caria. In form it is something like the
free-standing rock-cut examples at Jerusalem. As shown in the woodcut
(No. 242), it consists of a square base, which supports twelve columns,
of which the eight inner ones support a dome, the outer four merely
completing the square. The dome itself is constructed in the same manner
as all the Jaina domes are in India (as will be explained hereafter when
describing that style), and, though ornamented with Roman details, is so
unlike anything else ever built by that people, and is so completely and
perfectly what we find reappearing ten centuries afterwards in the far
East, that we are forced to conclude that it belongs to a style once
prevalent and long fixed in these lands, though this one now stands as
the sole remaining representative of its class.

[Illustration: 242. Tomb at Mylassa. (From ‘Antiquities of Ionia,’
published by the Dilettanti Society.)]

Another example, somewhat similar in style, though remotely distant in
locality, is found at Dugga, near Tunis, in Africa. This, too, consists
of a square base, taller than in the last example, surmounted by twelve
Ionic columns, which are here merely used as ornaments. There were
probably square pilasters at the angles, like that at Jerusalem
(Woodcuts Nos. 238, 239), while the Egyptian form of the cornice is
similar to that found in these examples, though with the omission of the
Doric frieze.

It apparently originally terminated in a pyramid of steps like the
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, and a large number of structural tombs which
copied that celebrated model. Nothing of this now remains but the four
corner-stones, which were architecturally most essential to accentuate
the weak lines of a sloping pyramid in such a situation. Taken
altogether, perhaps no more graceful monument of its class has come down
to our days than this must have been when complete.

[Illustration: 243. Tomb of Dugga. (From a drawing by F. Catherwood.)]

Besides these there are in Algeria two tombs of very great interest,
both from their size and the peculiarity of their forms. The best known
is that on the coast a short distance from Algiers to the westward. It
is generally known as the Kubr Roumeïa, or Tomb of the Christian
Virgin—a name it acquired from its having four false doors, each of a
single stone divided into four panels, and the stile between them
forming a cross, which has consequently been assumed to be the Christian
symbol. The building itself, which is circular, and as nearly as may be
200 ft. in diameter, stands on a square platform measuring 210 ft. The
perpendicular part is ornamented by 60 engaged columns of the Ionic
order, and by the four false doors just mentioned; above this rose a
cone—apparently in 40 steps—making the total height about 130 ft. It is,
however, so ruined that it is very difficult to feel sure about its
exact dimensions or form.

[Illustration: 244. Plan of the Kubr Roumeïa. (From Berbrugger.) Scale
100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 245. View of Madracen. (From a plate in Blakesley’s ‘Four
Months in Algeria.’)]

From objects and scribblings of various kinds found in the interior, it
appears to have remained open till nearly the time of the Moslem
conquest, but shortly afterwards to have been closed, and to have defied
all the ingenuity of explorers till a passage was forced in 1866 by
Messrs. MacCarthy and Berbrugger, acting under the orders and at the
expense of the late Emperor Napoleon III.[194] The entrance was found
passing under the sill of the false door on the east from a detached
building standing outside the platform, and which seems to have been
originally constructed to cover and protect the entrance. From this a
winding passage, 560 ft. in length, led to the central chamber where it
is assumed the royal bodies were once deposited, but when opened no
trace of them remained, nor anything to indicate who they were, nor in
what manner they were buried.

The other tomb, the Madracen, is very similar to this one, but smaller.
Its peristyle is of a sort of Doric order, without bases, and surmounted
by a quasi-Egyptian cornice, not unlike that on the Tomb of Absalom at
Jerusalem (Woodcut No. 240), or that at Dugga (Woodcut No. 243).
Altogether its details are more elegant, and from their general
character there seems no reason for doubting that this tomb is older
than the Kubr Roumeïa, though they are so similar to each other that
their dates cannot be far distant.[195]

There seems almost no reason for doubting that the Kubr Roumeïa was the
“Monumentum commune Regiæ gentis” mentioned by Pomponius Mela,[196]
about the middle of the first century of our era, and if so, this could
only apply to the dynasty that expired with Juba II., A.D. 23, and in
that case the older monument most probably belonged to the previous
dynasty, which ceased to reign with Bocchus III., 33 years before the
birth of Christ.

One of the most interesting points connected with these Mauritanian
tombs is their curious similarity to that of Hadrian at Rome. The square
base, the circular colonnade, the conical roof, are all the same. At
Rome they are very much drawn out, of course, but that arose from the
“Mole” being situated among tall objects in a town, and more than even
that, perhaps, from the tendency towards height which manifested itself
so strongly in the architecture of that age.

The greatest similarity, however, exists in the interior. The long
winding corridor terminating in an oblong apartment in the centre is an
identical feature in both, but has not yet been traced elsewhere, though
it can be hardly doubted that it must have existed in many other

If we add to these the cenotaph at St. Rémi (Woodcut No. 231), we have a
series of monuments of the same type extending over 400 years; and,
though many more are wanted before we can fill up the gaps and complete
the series, there can be little doubt that the missing links once
existed which connected them together. Beyond this we may go still
further back to the Etruscan tumuli and the simple mounds of earth on
the Tartar steppes. At the other end of the series we are evidently
approaching the verge of the towers and steeples of Christian art; and,
though it may seem the wildest of hypotheses to assert that the design
of the spire of Strasbourg grew out of the mound of Alyattes, it is
nevertheless true, and it is only non-apparent because so many of the
steps in the progress from the one to the other have disappeared in the
convulsions of the interval.

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.

We know, not only from the descriptions and incidental notices that have
come down to us, but also from the remains found at Pompeii and
elsewhere, that the private dwellings of the Romans were characterised
by that magnificence and splendour which we find in all their works,
accompanied, probably, with more than the usual amount of bad taste.

In Rome itself no ancient house—indeed no trace of a domestic
edifice—exists except the palaces of the Cæsars on the Palatine Mount,
and the house of the Vestal Virgins[197] at its foot; and these even are
now a congeries of shapeless ruins, so completely destroyed as to make
it difficult even for the most imaginative of restorers to make much of
them. The extent of these ruins, however, coupled with the descriptions
that have been preserved, suffice to convince us that, of all the
palaces ever built, either in the East or the West, these were probably
the most magnificent and the most gorgeously adorned. Never in the
world’s history does it appear that so much wealth and power were at the
command of one man as was the case with the Cæsars; and never could the
world’s wealth have fallen into the hands of men more inclined to lavish
it for their own personal gratification than these emperors were. They
could, moreover, ransack the whole world for plunder to adorn their
buildings, and could command the best artists of Greece, and of all the
subject kingdoms, to assist in rendering their golden palaces the most
gorgeous that the world had then seen, or is likely soon to see again.
The whole area of the palace may roughly be described as a square
platform measuring 1500 ft. east and west, with a mean breadth of 1300
ft. in the opposite direction. Owing, however, to its deeply indented
and irregular outline, it hardly covers more ground than the Baths of

Recent excavations have laid bare nearly the whole of the western
portion of this area, and have disclosed the plan of the building, but
all has been so completely destroyed that it requires considerable skill
and imagination to reinstate it in its previous form. The one part that
remains tolerably perfect is the so-called house of Livia the wife of
Augustus, who is said to have lived in it after the death of her
husband. In dimensions and arrangement it is not unlike the best class
of Pompeian houses, but its paintings and decorations are very superior
to anything found in that city. They are, in fact, as might be expected
from their age and position, the finest mural decorations that have come
down to us, and as they are still wonderfully perfect, they give a very
high idea of the perfection of art attained in the Augustan age, to
which they certainly belong.

That part of the palace on the Palatine which most impresses the visitor
is the eastern half, which looks on one hand to the Amphitheatre, on the
other to the Baths of Caracalla, and overhangs the Circus Maximius.
Though all their marble or painted decorations are gone, the enormous
masses of masonry which here exist convey that impression of grandeur
which is generally found in Roman works. It is not of Æsthetic beauty
arising from ornamental or ornamented construction, but the Technic
expression of power and greatness arising from mass and stability. It is
the same feeling with which we contemplate the aqueducts and engineering
works of this great people; and, though not of the highest class, few
scenes of architectural grandeur are more impressive than the now ruined
Palace of the Cæsars.

Notwithstanding all this splendour, this palace was probably as an
architectural object inferior to the Thermæ. The thousand and one
exigencies of private life render it impossible to impart to a
residence—even to that of the world’s master—the same character of
grandeur as may be given to a building wholly devoted to show and public
purposes. In its glory the Palace of the Cæsars must have been the
world’s wonder; but as a ruin deprived of its furniture and ephemeral
splendour, it loses much that would tend to make it either pleasing or
instructive. We must not look for either beauty of proportion or
perfection of construction, or even for appropriateness of material, in
the hastily constructed halls of men whose unbounded power was only
equalled by the coarse vulgarity of their characters.


The only palace of the Roman world of which sufficient remains are still
left to enable us to judge either of its extent or arrangements is that
which Diocletian built for himself at Spalato, in Dalmatia, and in which
he spent the remaining years of his life, after shaking off the cares of
Empire. It certainly gives us a most exalted idea of what the splendour
of the imperial palace at Rome must have been when we find one
emperor—certainly neither the richest nor the most powerful—building,
for his retirement, a villa in the country of almost exactly the same
dimensions as the Escurial in Spain, and consequently surpassing in
size, as it did in magnificence, most of the modern palaces of Europe.

It is uncertain how far it resembles or was copied from that in Rome,
more especially as it must be regarded as a fortified palace, which
there is no reason to believe that at Rome was, while its model would
seem to have been the prætorian camp rather than any habitation built
within the protection of the city walls. In consequence of this its
exterior is plain and solid, except on the side next the sea, where it
was least liable to attack. The other three sides are only broken by the
towers that flank them, and by those that defend the great gates which
open in the centre of each face.

[Illustration: 246. Palace of Diocletian at Spalato. (From Adams.)]

The building is nearly a regular parallelogram, though not quite so. The
south side is that facing the sea, and is 592 ft. from angle to angle;
the one opposite being only 570 in length;[198] while the east and west
sides measure each 698 ft., the whole building thus covering about 9½
English acres.

The principal entrance to the palace is on the north, and is called the
Golden Gate, and, as represented in the annexed woodcut (No. 247), shows
all the peculiarities of Roman architecture in its last stage. The
horizontal architrave still remains over the doorway, a useless
ornament, under a bold discharging arch, which usurps its place and does
its duty. Above this, a row of Corinthian columns, standing on brackets,
once supported the archivolts of a range of niches—a piece of pleasing
decoration, it must be confessed, but one in which the original purpose
of the column has been entirely overlooked or forgotten.

Entering this portal, we pass along a street ornamented with arcades on
either side, till exactly in the centre of the building this is crossed
at right angles by another similar street, proceeding from the so-called
Iron and Brazen Gates, which are similar to the Golden Gate in design,
but are far less richly ornamented.

These streets divided the building into four portions: those to the
north are so much ruined that it is not now easy to trace their plan, or
to say to what purpose they were dedicated; but probably the one might
have been the lodgings of the guests, the other the residence of the
principal officers of the household.

The whole of the southern half of the building was devoted to the palace
properly so called. It contained two temples, as they are now
designated. That on the right is said to have been dedicated to Jupiter,
though, judging from its form, it would appear to have been designed
rather as the mausoleum of the founder than as a temple of that god. On
the assumption that it was a temple it has been illustrated at a
previous page.[199] Opposite to it is another small temple, dedicated,
it is said, to Æsculapius.

Between these two is the arcade represented in Woodcut No. 185, at the
upper end of which is the vestibule—circular, as all buildings dedicated
to Vesta, or taking their name from that goddess, should be. This opened
directly on to a magnificent suite of nine apartments, occupying the
principal part of the south front of the palace. Beyond these, on the
right hand, were the private apartments of the emperor, and behind them
his baths. The opposite side is restored as if it exactly corresponded,
but this is more than doubtful; and, indeed, there is scarcely
sufficient authority for many of the details shown in the plan, though
they are, probably, on the whole, sufficiently exact to convey a general
idea of the arrangements of a Roman imperial palace.

[Illustration: 247. Golden Gateway at Spalato. (From Sir Gardner
Wilkinson’s ‘Dalmatia.’)]

Perhaps, however, the most splendid feature in this palace was the great
southern gallery, 515 ft. in length by 24 in width, extending along the
whole seaward face of the building. Besides its own intrinsic beauty as
an architectural feature, it evinces an appreciation of the beauties of
nature which one would hardly expect in a Roman. This great arcade is
the principal feature in the whole design, and commands a view well
worthy the erection of such a gallery for its complete enjoyment.

                        POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM.

Failing to discover any example of domestic architecture in Rome, we
turn to Pompeii and Herculaneum, where we find numerous and most
interesting examples of houses of all classes, except, perhaps, the
best; for there is nothing there to compare with the Laurentian villa of
Pliny, or with some others of which descriptions have come down to us.
Pompeii, moreover, was far more a Grecian than a Roman city, and its
buildings ought to be considered rather as illustrative of those of
Greece, or at least of Magna Græcia, than of anything found to the
northward. Still these cities belonged to the Roman age, and, except in
taste and in minor arrangements, we have no reason to doubt that the
buildings did resemble those of Rome, at least to a sufficient extent
for illustration.

With scarcely an exception, all the houses of Pompeii were of one storey
only in height. It is true that in some we find staircases leading to
the roof, and traces of an upper storey, but where this latter is the
case the apartments would appear to have been places for washing and
drying clothes, or for some such domestic purpose rather than for living
or even sleeping rooms. All the principal apartments were certainly on
the ground floor, and as an almost inevitable corollary from this, they
all faced inwards, and were lighted from courtyards or _atria_, and not
from the outside; for, with a people who had not glass with which to
glaze their windows, it was impossible to enjoy privacy or security
without at the same time excluding both light and air, otherwise than by
lighting their rooms from the interior. Hence it arose that in most
instances the outside of the better class of houses was given up to
shops and smaller dwellings, which opened on to the street, while the
residence, with the exception of the principal entrance, and sometimes
one or two private doors that opened outwards, was wholly hidden from
view by their entourage.

Even in the smallest class of tradesmen’s houses which opened on the
street, one apartment seems always to have been left unroofed to light
at least two rooms on each side of it, used as bedrooms; but as the
roofs of all are now gone, it is not always easy to determine which were
so treated.

It is certain that, in the smallest houses which can have belonged to
persons at all above the class of shopkeepers, there was always a
central apartment, unroofed in the centre, into which the others opened.
Sometimes this was covered by two beams placed in one direction, and two
crossing them at right angles, framing the roof into nine compartments,
generally of unequal dimensions, the central one being open, and with a
corresponding sinking in the floor to receive the rain and drainage
which inevitably came through it. When this court was of any extent,
four pillars were required at the intersection of the beams, or angles
of the opening, to support the roof. In larger courts eight, twelve,
sixteen, or more columns were so employed, often apparently more as
decorative objects than as required by the constructive necessities of
the case, and very frequently the numbers of these on either side of the
apartment did not correspond. Frequently the angles were not right
angles, and the pillars were spaced unequally with a careless disregard
of symmetry that strikes us as strange, though in such cases this may
have been preferable to cold and formal regularity, and even more
productive of grace and beauty. Besides these courts, there generally
existed in the rear of the house another bounded by a dead wall at the
further extremity, and which in the smaller houses was painted, to
resemble the garden which the larger mansions possessed in this
direction. The apartments looking on this court were of course perfectly
private, which cannot be said of any of those looking inwards on the

The house called that of Pansa at Pompeii is a good illustration of
these peculiarities, and, as one of the most regular, has been
frequently chosen for the purpose of illustration.

[Illustration: 248. House of Pansa at Pompeii. (From Gell’s ‘Pompeii’)
Scale 100 ft to 1 in.]

In the annexed plan (Woodcut No. 248) all the parts that do not belong
to the principal mansion are shaded darker except the doubtful part
marked A, which may either have been a separate house, or the women’s
apartments belonging to the principal one, or, what is even more
probable, it may have been designed so as to be used for either purpose.
B is certainly a separate house, and the whole of the remainder of this
side, of the front, and of the third side, till we come opposite to A,
was let off as shops. At C we have the kitchen and servants’ apartments,
with a private entrance to the street, and an opening also to the
principal peristyle of the house.

Returning to the principal entrance or front door D, you enter through a
short passage into the outer court E, on each side of which are several
small apartments, used either by the inferior members of the household
or by guests. A wider passage than the entrance leads from this to the
peristyle, or principal apartment of the house. On the left hand are
several small rooms, used no doubt as sleeping apartments, which were
probably closed by half-doors open above and below, so as to admit air
and light, while preserving sufficient privacy, for Roman tastes at
least. In front and on the right hand are two larger rooms, either of
which may have been the triclinium or dining-room, the other being what
we should call the drawing-room of the house. A passage between the
kitchen and the central room leads to a verandah which crosses the whole
length of the house, and is open to the garden beyond.

As will be observed, architectural effect has been carefully studied in
this design, a vista nearly 300 ft. in length being obtained from the
outer door to the garden wall, varied by a pleasing play of light and
shade, and displaying a gradually increasing degree of spaciousness and
architectural richness as we advance. All these points must have been
productive of the most pleasing effect when complete, and of more beauty
than has been attained in almost any modern dwelling of like dimensions.

Generally speaking the architectural details of the Pompeian houses are
carelessly and ungracefully moulded, though it cannot be denied that
sometimes a certain elegance of feeling runs through them that pleases
in spite of our better judgment. It was not, however, on form that they
depended for their effect; and consequently it is not by that that they
must be judged. The whole architecture of the house was coloured, but
even this was not considered so important as the paintings which covered
the flat surfaces of the walls. Comparing the Pompeian decoration with
that of the baths of Titus, and those of the House of Livia, the only
specimens of the same age and class found in Rome, it must be admitted
that the Pompeian examples show an equally correct taste, not only in
the choice but in the application of the ornaments used, though in the
execution there is generally that difference that might be expected
between paintings executed for a private individual and those for the
Emperor of the Roman world. Notwithstanding this, these paintings, so
wonderfully preserved in this small provincial town, are even now among
the best specimens we possess of mural decoration. They excel the
ornamentation of the Alhambra, as being more varied and more
intellectual. For the same reason they are superior to the works of the
same class executed by the Moslems in Egypt and Persia, and they are far
superior to the rude attempts of the Gothic architects in the Middle
Ages; still they are probably as inferior to what the Greeks did in
their best days as the pillars of the Pompeian peristyles are to the
porticoes of the Parthenon. But though doubtless far inferior to their
originals, those at Pompeii are direct imitations of true Greek
decorative forms; and it is through them alone that we can form even the
most remote idea of the exquisite beauty to which polychromatic
architecture once attained, but which we can scarcely venture to hope it
will ever reach again.

[Illustration: 249. Wall Decoration at Pompeii. (From Rosengarten.)]

One curious point which has hitherto been too much overlooked is, that
in Pompeii there are two perfectly distinct styles of decoration. One of
these is purely Etruscan, both in form and colour, and such as is only
found in the tombs or on the authentic works of the Etruscans. The other
is no less essentially Greek, both in design and colour: it is far more
common than the Etruscan form, and is always easily to be distinguished
from it. The last-mentioned or Greek style of decoration may be again
divided into two varieties; one, the most common, consisting of
ornaments directly copied from Greek models; the other with a
considerable infusion of Roman forms. This Romanised variety of Greek
decoration represents an attenuated and lean style of architecture,
which could only have come into fashion from the continued use of iron
or bronze, or other metallic substances, for pillars and other
architectural members. Vitruvius reprobates it; and in a later age
Cassiodorus speaks of it in a manner which shows that it was practised
in his time. The general adoption of this class of ornament, both at
Pompeii and in the baths of Titus, proves it to have been a very
favourite style at that time. This being the case, it must have either
been a representation of metallic pillars and other architectural
objects then in use, or it must have been copied from painted
decorations. This is a new subject, and cannot be made clear, except at
considerable length and with the assistance of many drawings. It seems,
however, an almost undoubted fact that the Romans did use metal as a
constructive material. Were it only that columns of extreme tenuity are
represented in these paintings, we might be inclined to ascribe it to
mere incorrect drawing; but the whole style of ornament here shown is
such as is never found in stone or brick pillars, and which is only
susceptible of execution in metal. Besides this, the pillars in question
are always shown in the decorations as though simply gilt or bronzed,
while the representations of stone pillars are coloured. All this
evidence goes to prove that a style of art once existed in which metal
was generally employed in all the principal features, all material
traces of which are now lost. The disappearance of all remains of such a
style is easily accounted for by the perishable nature of iron from
rust, and the value and consequent peculation induced by bronze and
similar metals. We are, moreover, aware that much bronze has been
stolen, even in recent days, from the Pantheon and other buildings which
are known to have been adorned with it.

Another thing which we learn from these paintings is, that though the
necessities of street architecture compelled these city mansions to take
a rectilinear outline, whenever the Roman architects built in the
country they indulged in a picturesque variety of outline and of form,
which they carried perhaps as far as even the Gothic architects of the
Middle Ages. This indeed we might have expected, from their carelessness
in respect to regularity in their town-houses; but these were interiors,
and were it not for the painted representations of houses, we should
have no means of judging how the same architects would treat an exterior
in the country. From this source, however, we learn that in the exterior
arrangements, in situations where they were not cramped by confined
space, their plans were totally free from all stiffness and formality.
In this respect Roman taste coincided with that of all true architecture
in all parts of the world.

Each part of the design was left to tell its own tale and to express the
use to which each apartment was applied, though the whole were probably
grouped together with some reference to symmetry. There is certainly
nothing in these ancient examples to justify the precise regularity
which the architects of the Renaissance introduced into their classical
designs, in which they sought to obliterate all distinction between the
component parts in a vain attempt to make one great whole out of a great
number of small discordant fragments.

                         BRIDGES AND AQUEDUCTS.

Perhaps the most satisfactory works of the Romans are those which we
consider as belonging to civil engineering rather than to architecture.
The distinction, however, was not known in those earlier days. The
Romans set about works of this class with a purpose-like earnestness
that always ensures success, and executed them on a scale which leaves
nothing to be desired; while at the same time they entirely avoided that
vulgarity which their want of refinement allowed almost inevitably to
appear in more delicate or more ornate buildings. Their engineering
works also were free from that degree of incompleteness which is
inseparable from the state of transition in which their architecture was
during the whole period of the Empire. It is owing to these causes that
the substructions of the Appian way strike every beholder with
admiration and astonishment; and nothing impresses the traveller more,
on visiting the once imperial city, than the long lines of aqueducts
that are seen everywhere stretching across the now deserted plain of the
Campagna. It is true they are mere lines of brick arches, devoid of
ornament and of every attempt at architecture properly so called; but
they are so well adapted to the purpose for which they were designed, so
grand in conception, and so perfect in execution, that, in spite of
their want of architectural character, they are among the most beautiful
of the remains of Roman buildings.

The aqueducts were not, however, all so devoid of architectural design
as those of the Campagna. That, for instance, known as the Pont du Gard,
built to convey water to the town of Nîmes in France, is one of the most
striking works of antiquity. Its height above the stream is about 180
ft., divided into two tiers of larger arches surmounted by a range of
smaller ones, giving the structure the same finish and effect that an
entablature and cornice gives to a long range of columns. Without the
introduction of one single ornament, or of any member that was not
absolutely wanted, this arrangement converts what is a mere utilitarian
work into an architectural screen of a beauty hitherto unrivalled in its

The aqueducts of Segovia and Tarragona in Spain, though not perhaps so
grand, are quite as elegant and appropriate as this; and if they stood
across a line of well wooded and watered valleys, might form as
beautiful objects. Unfortunately the effect is much marred by the houses
and other objects that crowd their bases. Both these rise to about 100
ft. above the level of their foundation in the centre. That of Segovia
is raised on light piers, the effect of which is perhaps somewhat
spoiled by numerous offsets, and the upper tier is if anything too light
for the lower. These defects are avoided at Tarragona, the central
arches of which are shown in Woodcut No. 251. In this example the
proportion of the upper to the lower arcade is more perfect, and the
whole bears a character of lightness combined with constructive solidity
and elegance unrivalled, so far as I know, in any other work of its
class. It wants, however, the grandeur of the Pont du Gard; for though
its length is about the same, exceeding 800 ft., it has neither its
height nor the impression of power given by the great arches of that
building, especially when contrasted with those that are smaller.

[Illustration: 250. Aqueduct of Segovia. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 251. Aqueduct of Tarragona. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The Roman bridges were designed on the same grand scale as their
aqueducts, though from their nature they of course could not possess the
same grace and lightness. This was, however, more than compensated by
their inherent solidity and by the manifestation of strength imparted by
the Romans to all these structures. They seem to have been designed to
last for ever; and but for the violence of man, it would be hardly
possible to set limits to their durability. Many still remain in almost
every corner of the Roman Empire; and wherever found are easily
recognised by the unmistakable impress of Roman grandeur which is
stamped upon them.

One of the most remarkable of these is that which Trajan erected at
Alcantara, in Spain, represented in the annexed woodcut. The roadway is
perfectly level, as is generally the case in Roman bridges, though the
mode by which this is obtained, of springing the arches from different
levels, is perhaps not the most pleasing. To us at least it is
unfamiliar, and has never, I think, been adopted in modern times. In
such a case we should either have made the arches all equal—a mistake,
considering their different heights—or have built solidly over the
smaller arches to bring up the level, which would have been a far
greater error in construction than the other is in taste. The bridge
consists of six arches, the whole length of the roadway being 650 ft.;
the two central arches are about 100 ft. span; the roadway is 140 ft.
above the level of the stream which it crosses. The piers are well
proportioned and graceful; and altogether the work is as fine and as
tasteful an example of bridge-building as can be found anywhere, even in
these days of engineering activity.

[Illustration: 252. Bridge of Trajan, at Alcantara, in Spain.]

The bridge which the same Emperor erected over the Danube was a far more
difficult work in an engineering point of view; but the superstructure
being of wood, resting only on stone piers, it would necessarily have
possessed much less architectural beauty than this, or indeed than many

These examples of this class of Roman works must suffice; they are so
typical of the style that it was impossible to omit them altogether,
though the subject scarcely belongs in strictness to the objects of this
work. The bridges and aqueducts of the Romans richly deserve the
attention of the architect, not only because they are in fact the only
works which the Romans, either from taste or from social position, were
enabled to carry out without affectation, and with all their originality
and power, but also because it was in building these works that the
Romans acquired that constructive skill and largeness of proportion
which enabled them to design and carry out works of such vast
dimensions, to vault such spaces, and to give to their buildings
generally that size and impress of power which form their chief and
frequently their only merit. It was this too that enabled them to
originate that new style of vaulted buildings which at one period of the
Middle Ages promised to reach a degree of perfection to which no
architecture of the world had ever attained. The Gothic style, it is
true, perished at a time when it was very far from completed; but it is
a point of no small interest to know where and under what circumstances
it was invented. We shall subsequently have to trace how far it advanced
towards that perfection at which it aimed, but to which it never
reached. Strangely enough, it failed solely because of the revival and
the pernicious influence of that very parent style to which it owed its
birth, and the growth and maturity of which we have just been
describing. It was the grandeur of the edifices reared at Rome in the
first centuries of the Empire which so impressed the architects of the
fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, that they abandoned their own
beautiful style to imitate that of the Romans, but with an incongruity
which seems inevitably to result from all imitations, as contrasted with
true creations, in architectural art.

[Illustration: Egyptian Vase. From a painting.]

                              CHAPTER VI.



Historical notice—Palaces of Al Hadhr and Diarbekr—Domes—Palaces of
  Serbistan—Firouzabad—Tâk Kesra—Mashita—Rabbath Ammon.


    Parthians subject to Persia                            B.C. 554
    Seleucus Nicator                                            301
    Arsaces                                                     250
    Mithridates                                             163-140
    Mithridates II                                           124-89
    Palace of Al Hadhr built (about)                       A.D. 200
    End of Parthian Empire                                      227
    Ardeshir, or Artaxerxes, establishes Sassanian dynasty      226
    Tiridates                                               286-342
    Serbistan (about)                                           350
    Bahram Gaur begins to reign                                 420
    Firouzabad (about)                                          450
    Khosru Nushirvan begins to reign                            531
    Khosru Nushirvan builds palace at Ctesiphon (about)         550
    Khosru Purviz Chosroes                                      591
    Palace at Mashita                                       614-627
    Battle of Cadesia                                           636

There still remains one other style to be described before leaving the
domain of Heathendom to venture into the wide realms of Christian and
Saracenic art with which the remainder of these two volumes is mainly
occupied. Unfortunately it is not one that was of great importance while
it existed, and it is one of which we know very little at present. This
arises partly from the fact that all the principal buildings of the
Sassanian kings were situated on or near the alluvial plains of
Mesopotamia and were therefore built either of sun-burnt or imperfectly
baked bricks, which consequently crumbled to dust, or, where erected
with more durable materials, these have been quarried by the succeeding
inhabitants of these fertile regions. Partly also it arises from the
Sassanians not being essentially a building race. Their religion
required no temples and their customs repudiated the splendour of the
sepulchre, so that their buildings were mainly palaces. One of these,
that at Dustagird, is described by all contemporary historians[200] as
one of the most gorgeous palaces of the East, but its glories were
ephemeral: gold and silver and precious hangings rich in colour and
embroidery made up a splendour in which the more stable arts of
architecture had but little part, and all perished in an hour when
invaded by the victorious soldiers of Heraclius, or the more destructive
hosts of Arabian invaders a few years afterwards. Whatever the cause
however, never was destruction more complete. Two or three ruined
palaces still exist in Persia and Mesopotamia. A fragment known as the
Tâk Kesra still remains to indicate the spot where Ctesiphon once stood,
but the site of Dustagird is still a matter of dispute. So little in
fact remains that we should hardly be able to form an idea of what the
style really was, but for the fortunate discovery of a palace at Mashita
in Moab, which seems undoubtedly to have been erected by the last great
king of this dynasty, and which is yet unsurpassed for beauty of detail
and richness of ornament by any building of its class and age.

As nearly as may be, one thousand years had elapsed since the completion
of the palaces at Persepolis and Susa and the commencement of this
building, and for the great part of that period the history of Persian
or Central Asian architecture is a blank. The Seleucidæ built nothing
that has come down to our times. The Parthians, too, have left us
little, so that it is practically only after a hiatus of nearly six
centuries, that we again begin to feel that the art had not entirely
perished in the populous countries of Central Asia; but even then our
history recommences so timidly and with buildings of such uncertain
dates as to be very far from satisfactory.

[Illustration: 253. Plan of Palace at Al Hadhr. (From a Sketch by Mr.
Layard.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

One of the oldest buildings known as belonging to the new school is the
palace of Al Hadhr, situated in the plain, about thirty miles from the
Tigris, nearly west from the ruins of Kaleh Shergat.

The city itself is circular in plan, nearly an English mile in diameter,
and surrounded by a stone wall with towers at intervals, in the centre
of which stands a walled enclosure, nearly square in plan, about 700 ft.
by 800. This is again subdivided into an outer and inner court by a wall
across its centre. The outer court is unencumbered by buildings, the
inner nearly filled with them.[201] The principal of these is that
represented in plan on Woodcut No. 253. It consists of three large and
four smaller halls placed side by side, with various smaller apartments
in the rear. All these halls are roofed by semicircular tunnel-vaults,
without ribs or other ornament, and they are all entirely open in front,
all the light and air being admitted from the one end.

There can be little doubt that these halls are copies, or intended to be
so, of the halls of the old Assyrian palaces; but the customs and
requirements of the period have led the architect on to a new class of
arrangements which renders the resemblance by no means apparent at first

[Illustration: 254. Elevation of part of the Palace of Al Hadhr. Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

The old halls had almost invariably their entrances on the longer side,
which with a vault required very thick external walls as abutments. This
was obviated in Al Hadhr by using the halls as abutments the one to the
other like the arches of a bridge; so that, if the two external arches
were firm, all the rest were safe. This was provided for by making the
outer halls smaller, as shown in the elevation (Woodcut No. 254), or by
strengthening the outer wall. But even then the architect seems to have
shrunk from weakening the intermediate walls by making too many openings
in them. Those which do exist are small and infrequent; so that there is
generally only one entrance to each apartment, and that so narrow as to
seem incongruous with the size of the room to which it leads.

The square apartment at the back would seem to have been a temple, as
the lintel over the entrance doorway (which faces the east) is carved
with the sun, the moon, and other religious emblems; and the double wall
round may have contained a stair or inclined plane leading to an upper
storey, or to rooms which certainly existed over the smaller halls at

All the details of the building are copied from the Roman—the archivolts
and pilasters almost literally so, but still so rudely executed as to
prove that it was not done under the direct superintendence of a Roman
artist. This is even more evident with regard to the griffins and
scroll-work, and the acanthus-leaves which ornament the capitals and
friezes. The most peculiar ornament, however, is the range of masks
carried round all the archivolts of the smaller arches. Of the nineteen
voussoirs of the larger arches, seven of them, according to Ross and
Ainsworth, had figures carved on them in relief of angels, or females,
apparently in the air, and with feet crossed and robes flying loose,
possibly emblematic of the seven planets. Even tradition is silent
regarding the date of these remarkable ruins; the town was besieged
unsuccessfully by Trajan in 116 A.D., and it is recorded to have been a
walled town containing a temple of the sun noted for its rich offerings.
This is probably the square building at the back of the great hall on
the left of the palace, and the existence of the carved religious
emblems on the lintel suggest that the palace was erected in front at a
later period. Professor Rawlinson, in his notes on the great
monarchies,[202] suggests about 200 A.D. as the probable date, and
ascribes its erection to the monarchs of the Parthian dynasty. There is
no doubt that the execution of the masonry with its fine joints is of a
totally different character from that which is found in Sassanian
buildings, which comes more under the head of rubble masonry, and was
entirely hidden, in the interior at least, by stucco. The ornament also
is of a rich character, Roman in its design, but debased Greek in its
execution. Mr. Loftus, during his researches in Chaldea, discovered at
Wurka (the ancient Erech in Mesopotamia), a large number of ornamental
details, in stone and in plaster, of precisely the same character as
those found at Al Hadhr. Among these remains he found a griffin
resembling those carved on the lintel of the square temple before
referred to, and quantities of Parthian coins, so that it is fair to
assume that Al Hadhr belongs to that dynasty.

[Illustration: 255. Plan of Mosque at Diarbekr.]

Another building which merits more attention than has hitherto been
bestowed upon it, is now used as the great mosque at Diarbekr. The
ancient portions consist of the façades only of two palaces, the north
and the south, which face one another at a distance of some 400 feet,
and form the boundaries of the great court (Woodcut No. 255). They are
apparently erected with materials taken from some more ancient building,
and whilst the capitals and friezes are of debased Roman character, the
carved shafts of the north palace (Woodcut No. 257) resemble in the
plaster design ornaments found at Wurka.

As will be seen in Woodcut No. 256, which represents the façade of the
South Palace, the openings of the ground storey are spanned by arches of
two different forms; and those of the upper storey by lintels carried on
corbels with relieving arch over; the latter a Byzantine treatment; the
former of a very much later date, and probably Saracenic: above the
openings and under the frieze are Cufic inscriptions. On the whole there
seems little doubt that the building we now see was erected, as it now
stands, at the age of the Cufic inscriptions,[203] whatever they may be,
but that the remains of some more ancient edifice was most skilfully
worked up in the new. Till, however, the building is carefully examined
by some thoroughly competent person, this must remain doubtful. The
building is rich, and so interesting that it is to be hoped that its
history and peculiarities will before long be investigated.

[Illustration: 256. Façade of South Palace at Diarbekr.]

With the accession of the Sassanians, A.D. 223, Persia regained much of
that power and stability to which she had been so long a stranger. The
capture of the Roman Emperor Valerian by the 2nd king of the race, A.D.
260, the Conquest of Armenia and victories over Galerius by the 7th
(A.D. 296), and the exploits of the 14th King, Bahram Gaur, his visit to
India and his alliance with its kings, all point to extended power
abroad; while the improvement in the fine arts at home indicates
returning prosperity and a degree of security unknown since the fall of
the Achæmenidæ.

These kings seem to have been of native race, and claimed descent from
the older dynasties: at all events they restored the ancient religion
and many of the habits and customs with which we are familiar as
existing before the time of Alexander the Great.

[Illustration: 257. View in the Court of the Great Mosque at Diarbekr.]

As before remarked, fire-worship does not admit of temples, and we
consequently miss that class of buildings which in all ages best
illustrates the beauties of architecture; and it is only in a few
scattered remains of palaces that we are able to trace the progress of
the style. Such as they are, they indicate considerable originality and
power, but at the same time point to a state of society when attention
to security hardly allowed the architect the free exercise of the more
delicate ornaments of his art.

The Sassanians took up the style where it was left by the builders of Al
Hadhr; but we only find it after a long interval of time, during which
changes had taken place which altered it to a considerable extent, and
made it in fact into a new and complete style.

They retained the great tunnel-like halls of Al Hadhr, but only as
entrances. They cut bold arches through the dividing walls, so as to
form them into lateral suites. But, above all, they learnt to place
domes on the intersections of their halls, not resting on drums, but on
pendentives,[204] and did not even attempt to bring down simulated lines
of support to the ground. Besides all these constructive peculiarities,
they lost all trace of Roman detail, and adopted a system of long
reed-like pilasters, extending from the ground to the cornice, below
which they were joined by small semicircular arches. They in short
adopted all the peculiarities which are found in the Byzantine style as
carried out at a later age in Armenia and the East. We must know more of
this style, and be able to ascribe authentic dates to such examples as
we are acquainted with, before we can decide whether the Sassanians
borrowed the style from the Eastern Romans, or whether they themselves
were in fact the inventors from whom the architects of the more western
nations took the hints which they afterwards so much improved upon.

The various steps by which the Romans advanced from the construction of
buildings like the Pantheon to that of the church of Sta. Sophia at
Constantinople are so consecutive and so easily traced as to be
intelligible in themselves without the necessity of seeking for any
foreign element which may have affected them. If it really was so, and
the architecture of Constantinople was not influenced from the East, we
must admit that the Sassanian was an independent and simultaneous
invention, possessing characteristics well worthy of study. It is quite
certain too that this style had a direct influence on the Christian and
Moslem styles of Asia, which exhibit many features not derivable from
any of the more Western styles.

[Illustration: 258. Plan of Palace at Serbistan. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 259. Section on line A B of Palace at Serbistan. (From
Dieulafoy.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

A few examples will render this clearer than it can be made in words.
The plan and section (Woodcuts Nos. 258 and 259) of a small but
interesting palace at Serbistan will explain most of the peculiarities
of the style. The entrances, it will be observed, are deep tunnel-like
arches, but the centre is covered by a dome resting on pendentives. In
the palace of Firouzabad these are constructed by throwing a series of
arches across the angles, one recessed behind the other, the lower ones
serving as centres for those above, until a circular base for the dome
has been obtained; but here in Serbistan they do not seem to have known
this expedient: the lower courses run through to the angle, and the
upper ones are brought forward in so irregular and unscientific a way as
to suggest that for their support they placed their reliance almost
entirely on the tenacious qualities of the mortar. That which, however,
would have formed the outer arch of the pendentive is wrought on the
stone down almost to the springing, as if the builder of Serbistan had
seen regular arched pendentives of some kind, but did not know how to
build them. This is the more remarkable because, as we shall see later
on, they knew how to construct semi-domes over their recesses or square
niches, and in regular coursed masonry; if they had applied these to the
angles, they would have invented the squinch, a kind of pendentive
employed in Romanesque work in the south of France. The dome is
elliptical, as are also the barrel vaults over the entrances, the
recesses in the central hall, and the vaults over the lateral halls. In
these lateral halls piers are built within the walls, forming a series
of recesses; these either have transverse arches thrown across them
where the lofty doorways come, or are covered with semidomes in regular
coursed masonry, the angles being filled in below them with small
arches. The lower portions of the piers consist of circular columns
about six feet high, behind which a passage is formed. The builders thus
obtained the means of counteracting the thrust of the vault, without
breaking the external outline by buttresses and without occupying much
room on the floor, while at the same time these projections added
considerably to the architectural effect of the interior. The date of
the building is not correctly known, but it most probably belongs to the
age of Shapour, in the middle of the fourth century.

The palace at Firouzabad is probably a century more modern, and is
erected on a far more magnificent scale, being in fact the typical
building of the style, so far at least as we at present know.

[Illustration: 260. Plan of Palace at Firouzabad. (From Dieulafoy.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 261. Doorway at Firouzabad. (From Flandin and Coste.)]

As will be seen in the plan, the great central entrance opens laterally
into two side chambers, and the inner of these into a suite of three
splendid domed apartments, occupying the whole width of the building.
Beyond this is an inner court, surrounded by apartments all opening upon

As will be perceived from Woodcut No. 261, representing one of the
doorways in the domed halls, the details have nothing Roman about them,
but are borrowed directly from Persepolis, with so little change that
the style, so far as we can now judge, is almost an exact reproduction,
except that the work is only surface ornament in plaster, and is an
irregular and a degraded copy of the original stone features at
Persepolis. The opening also is spanned by a circular arch under the
lintel of the Persian example, the former being the real constructive
feature, the latter a decorative imitation. The portion of the exterior
represented in Woodcut No. 262 tells the same tale, though for its
prototype we must go back still further to the ruins at Wurka—the
building called Wuswus at that place (see p. 165) being a palace
arranged very similarly to these, and adorned externally by panellings
and reeded pilasters, differing from these buildings only in detail and
arrangement, but in all essentials so like them as to prove that the
Sassanians borrowed most of their peculiarities from earlier native

The building itself is a perfectly regular parallelogram, 332 ft. by
180, without a single break, or even an opening of any sort, except the
one great arch of the entrance; and externally it has no ornament but
the repetition of the tall pilasters and narrow arches represented in
Woodcut No. 262. Its aspect is thus simple and severe, but more like a
gigantic Bastile than the palace of a gay, pavilion-loving people, like
the Persians.

Internally the arrangement of the halls is simple and appropriate, and,
though somewhat too formal, is dignified and capable of considerable
architectural display. On the whole, however, its formality is perhaps
less pleasing than the more picturesque arrangements of the palace at
Serbistan last described.

[Illustration: 262. Part of External Wall, Firouzabad. No scale.]

Another century probably elapsed before Khosru (Nushirvan) commenced the
most daring, though certainly not the most beautiful ever attempted by
any of his race; for to him we must ascribe the well-known Tâk Kesra
(Woodcuts Nos. 263, 264), the only important ruin that now marks the
site of the Ctesiphon of the Greeks—the great Modain of the Arabian

As it is, it is only a fragment of a palace, a façade similar in
arrangement to that at Firouzabad, but on a much larger scale, its width
being 312 ft., its height 105 to 110, and the depth of the remaining
block 170 ft. In the centre is a magnificent portal, the Aiwan, or
Throne room of the palace, vaulted over with an elliptical barrel vault
and similar to the smaller vestibules of Serbistan and Firouzabad; the
lower portion of the arch, the springing of which is about 40 ft. from
the ground, is built in horizontal courses up to 63 ft. above the
ground, above which comes the portion arched with regular voussoirs; by
this method not only was an enormous centering saved, but the thrust of
that portion built with voussoirs was brought well within the thickness
of the side walls. It is probable that the front portion of the arch,
about 20 ft. in depth, was built on walls erected temporarily for that
purpose; the remainder of the vault, however, was possibly erected
without centres, the bricks being placed flatwise and the rings being
inclined at an angle of about 10° towards the back of the front arch.
The tenacious quality of the mortar was probably sufficient to hold the
bricks in their places till the arch ring was complete, so that the
centering was virtually a template only, giving the correct form of the
ellipse, and constructed with small timbers so as to save expense. A
similar method of construction was found by Sir Henry Layard in the
drain vaults at Nimroud, and it exists in the granaries built by Rameses
II. in the rear of the Rameseum at Thebes. The lower or inner portion of
the great arch is built in four rings of bricks or tiles laid flatwise,
two of which are carried down to the springing of the whole arch: above
these in the upper portion of the arch comes a ring 3 feet in height,
regularly built in voussoir-shaped bricks breaking joint, on the surface
of which are cut a series of seventeen foils, the whole being crowned by
a slightly projecting moulding. These have nothing to do with the
construction, and are simply a novel method of decoration carved after
the arch was built.

[Illustration: 263. Plan of Tâk Kesra at Ctesiphon. (From Flandin and
Coste.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 264. Elevation of Great Arch of Tâk Kesra at Ctesiphon.
Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

The wall flanking the great arch on either side is decorated with
buttress shafts and blind arches, which are partially constructive, and
intended to support and strengthen those portions of the wall which were
simply screens, or to resist the thrust of the walls of the vaulted
chambers behind, consisting of one storey only. Decoratively they divide
up the front and were apparently introduced in imitation of the great
Roman amphitheatres. The position occupied by these semi-detached shafts
on the first storey (resting on the ledge left by the greater thickness
of wall of the lower storey), which are not in the axes of those below,
proves that the Sassanian architect thought more of their constructive
value as buttresses, than of their architectural value as superimposed

[Illustration: 265. Sketch Plan of Palace at Mashita.]

Though it may not perhaps be beautiful, there is certainly something
grand in a great vaulted entrance, 72 ft. wide by 85 ft. in height and
115 in depth, though it makes the doorway at the inner end and all the
adjoining parts look extremely small. It would have required the rest of
the palace to be carried out on an unheard-of scale to compensate for
this defect. The Saracenic architects got over the difficulty by making
the great portal a semidome, and by cutting it up with ornaments and
details, so that the doorway looked as large as was required for the
space left for it. Here, in the parent form, all is perfectly plain in
the interior, and painting alone could have been employed to relieve its
nakedness, which, however, it never would have done effectually.[205]

The ornaments in these and in all the other buildings of the Sassanians
having been executed in plaster, we should hardly be able to form an
idea of the richness of detail they once possessed but for the fortunate
discovery of a palace erected in Moab by Khosru Purviz, the last great
monarch of this line.[206]

As will be seen from the woodcut (No. 265), the whole building is a
square, measuring above 500 ft. each way, but only the inner portion of
it, about 170 ft. square, marked E E, has been ever finished or
inhabited. It was apparently originally erected as a hunting-box on the
edge of the desert for the use of the Persian king, and preserves all
the features we are familiar with in Sassanian palaces. It is wholly in
brick, and contains in the centre a triapsal hall, once surmounted by a
dome on pendentives like those at Serbistan or Firouzabad. On either
side were eight vaulted halls with intermediate courts almost identical
with those found at Eski Bagdad[207] or at Firouzabad. So far there is
nothing either remarkable or interesting, except the peculiarity of
finding a Persian building in such a situation, and in the fact that the
capitals of the pillars are of that full-curved shape which are first
found in the works of Justinian, which so far helps to fix the date of
the building.

It seems, however, that at a time when Chosroes possessed all Asia and
part of Africa, from the Indus to the Nile, and maintained a camp for
ten years on the shores of the Bosphorus, in sight of Constantinople,
that this modest abode no longer sufficed for the greatest monarch of
the day. He consequently determined to add to it the enclosure above
described, and to ornament it with a portal which should exceed in
richness anything of the sort to be found in Syria. Unfortunately for
the history of art, this design was never carried out. When the walls
were raised to the height of about twenty feet, the workmen were called
off, most probably in consequence of the result of the battle of Nineveh
in 627; and the stones remain half hewn, the ornament unfinished, and
the whole exactly as if left in a panic, never to be resumed.

[Illustration: 266. Interior of ruined triapsal Hall of Palace.]

The length of the façade—marked A A in plan, Woodcut No. 265—between the
plain towers, which are the same all round, is about 170 ft.,[208] the
centre of which was occupied by a square-headed portal flanked by two
octagonal towers. Each face of these towers was ornamented by an
equilateral triangular pediment, filled with the richest sculpture. In
that shown in Woodcut No. 267, two large animals are represented facing
one another on the opposite sides of a vase, on which are two doves, and
out of which springs a vine which spreads over the whole surface of the
triangle, interspersed with birds and bunches of grapes. In another
panel one of the lions is represented with wings, evidently the last
lineal descendant of those found at Nineveh and Persepolis, and in all
are curious hexagonal rosettes, carved with a richness far exceeding
anything found in Gothic architecture, but which are found repeated with
very little variation in the Jaina temples of western India.

[Illustration: 267. One Compartment of Western Octagon Tower of the
Persian Palace at Mashita.]

The wing walls of the façade are almost more beautiful than the central
part itself. As on the towers, the ornamentation consists of a series of
triangles filled with incised decorations and with rosettes in their
centres; while, as will be observed in Woodcut No. 265, the decoration
in each panel is varied, and all are unfinished. The cornice only exists
at one angle, and the mortice stones never were inserted that were meant
to keep it in its place. Enough however remains to enable us to see
that, as a surface decoration, it is nearly unrivalled in beauty and
appropriateness. As an external form I know nothing like it. It is only
matched by that between the arches of the interior of Sta. Sophia at
Constantinople, which is so near it in age that they may be considered
as belonging to the same school of art.

[Illustration: 268. Part of West Wing Wall of External Façade of Palace
at Mashita. (From a Photograph.)]

[Illustration: 269. Elevation of External Façade of the Mashita, as
restored by the Author.]

Notwithstanding the incomplete state in which this façade was left,
there does not seem much difficulty in restoring it within very narrow
limits of certainty. The elevation cannot have differed greatly from
that shown in Woodcut No. 269, on the preceding page. In the first place
there must have been a great arch over the entrance doorway—this is _de
rigueur_ in Sassanian art, and this must have been stilted or
horse-shoed, as without that it could not be made to fit on to the
cornice in the towers, and all the arches in the interior take, as I am
informed, that shape. Besides this there is at Takt-i-Gero[209] a
Sassanian arch of nearly the same age and equally classical in design,
which is, like this one, horse-shoed to the extent of one-tenth of its
diameter; and at Urgub, in Asia Minor, all the rock-cut excavations
which are of this or an earlier age have this peculiarity in a marked

Above this, the third storey, is a repetition of the lowest, on half its
scale—as in the Tâk Kesra,—but with this difference, that here the
angular form admits of its being carried constructively over the great
arch, so that it becomes a facsimile of an apse at Murano near
Venice,[211] which is adorned with the spoils of some desecrated
building of the same age, probably of Antioch or some city of Syria
destroyed by the Saracens. Above this the elevation is more open to
conjecture, but it is evident that the whole façade could not have been
less than 90 ft. in height, from the fact that the mouldings at the base
(Woodcut No. 265) are the mouldings of a Corinthian column of that
height, and no architect with a knowledge of the style would have used
such mouldings four and a half feet in height, unless he intended his
building to be of a height equal at least to that proportion. The domes
are those of Serbistan or of Amrith (Woodcut No. 122); but such domes
are frequent in Syria before this age, and became more so afterwards.

The great defect of the palace at Mashita as an illustration of
Sassanian art arises from the fact that, as a matter of course, Chosroes
did not bring with him architects or sculptors to erect this building.
He employed the artists of Antioch or Damascus, or those of Syria, as he
found them. He traced the form and design of what he wanted, and left
them to execute it, and they introduced the vine—which had been the
principal “motif” in such designs from the time of Herod till the Moslem
invasion—and other details of the Byzantine art with which Justinian had
made them familiar from his buildings at Jerusalem, Antioch, and
elsewhere. Exactly the same thing happened in India six centuries later.
When the Moslems conquered that country in the beginning of the
thirteenth century they built mosques at Delhi and Ajmere which are
still among the most beautiful to be found anywhere. The design and
outline are purely Saracenic, but every detail is Hindu, but, just as in
this case, more exquisite than anything the Moslems ever did afterwards
in that country.

Though it thus stands almost alone, the discovery of this palace fills a
gap in our history such as no other building occupies up to the present
time. And when more, and more correct, details have been procured, it
will be well worthy of a monograph, which can hardly be attempted now
from the scanty materials available. Its greatest interest, however,
lies in the fact that all the Persian and Indian mosques were derived
from buildings of this class. The African mosques were enlargements of
the _atria_ of Christian basilicas, and this form is never found there,
but it is the key to all that was afterwards erected to the eastward.

[Illustration: 270. Plan, Rabbath Ammon.]

The palace of Rabbath Ammon (Woodcuts Nos. 270, 271), also in Moab,
consists of a central court open to the sky, and four recesses or
transepts, one on each face; two of these are covered with elliptical
barrel vaults, and two with semidomes carried on pendentives. The
decoration of this palace is similar to that found at Mashita, but not
so rich in design or so good in its execution.

[Illustration: 271. Section through Palace of Rabbath Ammon.]

The remains of two other palaces have been found in Persia, one at
Imumzade, which consists of a dome on pendentives, and a second, called
the Tag Eiran, made known to us by M. Dieulafoy, and published in his
work on the ancient art of Persia.[212] The latter is probably a late
example, for it shows a considerable advance in construction, and is
lighted by clerestory windows between the brick transverse arches which
span the hall. The plan consisted of a central hall, covered over by a
dome carried on pendentives, and two wings; of the original building,
only one of these wings remains, and two sides of the central hall, in
both cases up to the springing of the real arch, the lower courses being
horizontal as in the arch at Ctesiphon.

[Illustration: 272. Arch of Chosroes at Takt-i-Bostan. (From Flandin and

In the dearth of Sassanian buildings there is one other monument that it
is worth while quoting before closing this chapter. It is an archway or
grotto, which the same Chosroes cut in the rock at Takt-i-Bostan, near
Kermanshah (Woodcut No. 272). Though so far removed from Byzantine
influence it is nearly as classical as the palace at Mashita. The flying
figures over the arch are evident copies of those adorning the triumphal
arches of the Romans, the mouldings are equally classical, and though
the costumes of the principal personages, and of those engaged in the
hunting scenes on either hand, partake more of Assyria than of Rome, the
whole betrays the influence of his early education and the diffusion of
Western arts at that time more than any other monument we know of. The
statue of Chosroes on his favourite black steed “Shubz diz,” is original
and interesting, and, with many of the details of this monument, it has
been introduced into the restoration of Mashita.

This, it must be confessed, is but a meagre account of the architecture
of a great people. Perhaps it may be that the materials do not exist for
making it more complete; but what is more likely is that they have not
yet been looked for, but will be found when attention is fairly directed
to the subject. In the meanwhile what has been said regarding it will be
much clearer and better understood when we come to speak of the
Byzantine style, which overlapped the Sassanian, and was to some extent
contemporary with it.

                                PART II.

                        CHRISTIAN ARCHITECTURE.


If a line were drawn north and south from Memel on the shores of the
Baltic to Spalato on the Adriatic, it would divide Europe into nearly
equal halves. All that part lying to the west of the line would be found
to be inhabited by nations of Celtic or Teutonic races, and all those to
the eastward of it by nations of Sclavonic origin, if—as we must do—we
exclude from present consideration those fragments of the effete
Turanian races which still linger to the westward, as well as the
intrusive hordes of the same family which temporarily occupy some fair
portions to the eastward of the line so drawn.

This line is not of course quite straight, for it follows the boundary
between Germany on the one hand, and Russia and Poland on the other as
far as Cracow, while it crosses Hungary by the line of the Raab and
separates Dalmatia from Turkey. Though Sclavonic influences may be
detected to the westward of the boundary, they are faint and underlie
the Teutonic element; but to the eastward, the little province of
Siebenburgen, in the north-east corner of Hungary, forms the only little
oasis of Gothic art in the desert of Panslavic indifference to
architectural expression. Originally it was a Roman, afterwards a
German, colony, and maintained its Gothic style throughout the Middle

From Spalato the line crosses the Adriatic to Fermo, and then following
very closely the 43rd parallel of latitude, divides Italy into two
nearly equal halves. Barbarian tribes settled to a certain extent to the
northward of this boundary and influenced the style of architecture in
some degree; while to the southward of it, their presence can with
difficulty be detected, except in a few exceptional cases, and for a
very limited time.

Architecturally all the styles of art practised during the Middle Ages
to the westward and northward of this boundary may be correctly and
graphically described as the Gothic style, using this term in a broad
sense. All those to the eastward may with equal propriety be designated
as the Byzantine style of art.

Anterior, however, to the former there existed a transitional style
known as Romanesque, but which was virtually at first nothing more than
debased Roman. It was, in fact, a modification of the classical Roman
form which was introduced between the reigns of Constantine and
Justinian, and was avowedly an attempt to adapt classical forms to
Christian purposes. At first the materials of ancient buildings sufficed
for its wants, and if after the 4th century the style did not lapse into
absolute barbarism it was due to the influence which the Proto-Byzantine
style began to exert and to the magnificent works erected by Greek
artists at Parenzo and Grado in Dalmatia, at Ravenna, Milan, and even in
Rome herself. To the eastward of the line of demarcation the transition
was perfected under the reign of Justinian (A.D. 527 to 564), when it
became properly entitled to the name of Byzantine. To the westward, in
Italy and the south of France, this first phase of the Romanesque
continued to be practised till the 6th or 7th centuries; but about that
time occurs an hiatus in the architectural history of Western Europe,
owing to the troubles which arose on the dissolution of the Roman Empire
and the irruption of the Barbarian hordes. When the art again
reappeared, it was strongly tinctured by Barbarian influences, and might
with propriety be designated the _Gothic style_, the essential
characteristic being that it is the architecture of a people differing
from the Romans or Italians in blood, and, it need hardly be added,
differing from them in a like ratio in their architectural conceptions.

The term “Gothic,” however, is so generally adopted throughout Europe to
designate the style in which the intersecting vault with pointed arches
is the main characteristic, that to depart from it, even when subdivided
into round arched and pointed arched Gothic, would only lead to
confusion. It would therefore seem better to retain the nomenclature
usually employed in modern architectural works, and to class all the
phases of the transitional style between the Roman and the Gothic
periods under the broad title of Romanesque. This would include what we
have termed Early Christian——Lombardi——Rhenish——those phases of the
style which in Italy and France are influenced by Byzantine detail——the
pure Romanesque or Romance of the south of France——the Norman style in
Italy, Sicily, and the North of France, and——Saxon and Norman in our own
country. The attempt to restrict the term Romanesque within the confines
of the 6th and 7th centuries, which was formerly attempted, has proved
to be illusory, as it has never been recognised by any student of
architecture. At the same time it is not necessary to insist on the term
when describing its various phases, and when they are better known under
other terms. It is, however, of importance, when writing a general
history of all styles, to keep strictly to some definite system, and not
to adopt the nomenclature which has in some cases been given by persons
writing monographs of the style of their own particular country. The
Germans, for instance, are inclined to call the architecture of such
cathedrals as Spires, Worms, etc., by the absurd name of Byzantine,
though no features in them have ever been borrowed from the Eastern
capital, nor do they resemble the buildings of that part of Europe.

The title Gothic, which was originally invented as a term of reproach,
and which was applied to the imaginary work of the western Barbarians
who at one time overthrew the western Empire and settled within its
limits, has no architectural or ethnological value, it being impossible
to point out any features, much less buildings, which the Goths
introduced, and which are not to be more correctly attributed to Roman
or Byzantine artists. If we except the tomb of Theodoric, all the works
in Ravenna are scarcely to be distinguished from the basilicas of the
Eastern Empire, and only embody such modifications as the material of
the country and a certain influence of debased Roman architecture in
Italy would naturally exert. The churches and thermæ which Theodoric is
said to have restored in Rome have no characteristics which are not
found in other buildings of the same class before his reign, and even in
Spain and the south of France, which was occupied more or less
continuously by the Visigoths for more than two centuries, there are no
features which they could claim to have invented.

The term Gothic, therefore, is misplaced, but inasmuch as the Goths
never invented any style, there is not likely, if this fact is
recognised, to be any confusion in its adoption.

The chief difficulty which presents itself in any attempt to classify
the work of the Romanesque and the Gothic styles is that of drawing a
line of demarcation between the two. It is not sufficient to take the
pointed arch, for in France a pointed arched barrel vault preceded the
round arched vault; and in the East, as we know, the pointed arch made
its appearance at a much earlier period: that characteristic, therefore,
must not be too rigidly insisted upon.

Beyond this general classification, the use of local names, when
available, will always be found most convenient. First, the country, or
architectural province, in which an example is found should be
ascertained, so that its locality may be marked, and if possible with
the addition of a dynastic or regal name to point out its epoch. When
the outline is sufficiently marked, it may be convenient, as the French
do, to speak of the style of the 13th century[214] as applied to their
own country. The terms they use always seem to be better than 1st, or
2nd, Middle Pointed, or even “Geometric,” “Decorated,” or
“Perpendicular,” or such general names as neither tell the country nor
the age, nor even accurately describe the style, though when they have
become general it may seem pedantic to refuse to use them. The system of
using local, combined, and dynastic names has been followed in
describing all the styles hitherto enumerated in this volume, and will
be followed in speaking of those which remain to be described; and as it
is generally found to be so convenient, whenever it is possible it will
be adhered to.

In order to carry out these principles, the division proposed for this
part of the subject is—

1st. To begin the history of Christian Art by tracing up the successive
developments of the earliest perfected style, the Byzantine, in the
countries lying to the eastward of the boundary line already defined.
Owing to the greater uniformity of race, the thread of the narrative is
far more easily followed to the eastward than we shall find to the
westward of the line. The Byzantine empire remained one and undivided
during the Middle Ages; and from that we pass by an easy gradation to
Russia, where the style continued to be practised till Peter the Great
superseded it by introducing the styles of Western Europe.

2nd. To treat of the early Christian style as it prevailed in Italy,
down to the age of Charlemagne, so long, in fact, as it remained a
debased Roman style influenced only by its connection with the Eastern
Empire. Continuing our description of the various phases of the style as
practised in Italy and in Istria and Dalmatia (the two countries with
which she was so intimately connected) down to the revival of classic
architecture: subdividing it into those sections which are suggested by
the predominant influence of Lombardic, Byzantine, or Gothic art, and
keeping as far as possible to a chronological sequence.

3rd. To take up the Romanesque style in France, and to follow it through
its various phases whilst it was being gradually absorbed in the
predominant impetus given to its successor, the Gothic style, by the
adoption of the pointed arch in intersecting vaulting during the 12th
century, and then its subsequent development in succeeding centuries,
till it perished under Francis I.

If this arrangement is not quite logical, it is certainly convenient, as
it enables us to grasp the complete history of the style in the country
where most of the more important features were invented and perfected.
Having once mastered the history of Gothic art in the country of its
birth, the sequence in which the other branches of the style are
followed become comparatively unimportant. The difficulty of arranging
them does not lie so much in the sequence as in the determination of
what divisions shall be considered as separate architectural provinces.
In a handbook, subdivision could hardly be carried too far; in a
history, a wider view ought to be taken. On the whole, perhaps, the
following will best meet the true exigencies of the case:—

4th. Belgium and Holland should be taken up after France as a separate
province during the Middle Ages, while at the same time forming an
intermediate link between that country and Germany.

5th. Though not without important ethnographical distinctions, it will
be convenient to treat all the German-speaking countries from the Alps
to the Baltic as one province. If Germany were taken up before France,
such a mode of treatment would be inadmissible; but following the
history of the art in that country, it may be done without either
confusion or needless repetition.

6th. Scandinavia follows naturally as a subordinate, and, unfortunately,
not very important, architectural subdivision.

7th. From this we pass by an easy gradation to the British Islands,
which in themselves contain three tolerably well-defined varieties of
style, popularly known as the Saxon, the Norman, or round-arched, and
the Gothic, or pointed-arched style of Architecture.

8th. Spain might have been made to follow France, as most of its
architectural peculiarities were borrowed from that country; but some
too own a German origin, while on the whole the new lessons to be
learned from a study of her art are so few, that it is comparatively
unimportant in what sequence the country is taken, and therefore it has
been found more convenient to place her last.

                                BOOK I.

                        BYZANTINE ARCHITECTURE.

                               CHAPTER I.



               Constantine founds Constantinople A.D. 324
               First Council of Nice                  325
               Julian the Apostate                    361
               Theodosius the Great                   379
               Theodosius II.                         408
               Marcian                                450
               Fall of Western Empire                 476
               Justinian I.                           527
               Justin II.                             565
               Heraclius                              610
               The Hejira                             622

The term Byzantine has of late years been so loosely and incorrectly
used—especially by French writers on architecture—that it is now
extremely difficult to restrict it to the only style to which it really
belongs. Wherever a certain amount of coloured decoration is employed,
or a peculiar form of carving found, the name Byzantine is applied to
churches on the Rhine or in France; although no similar ornaments are
found in the Eastern Empire, and though no connection can be traced
between the builders of the Western churches and the architects of
Byzantium, or the countries subject to her sway.

Strictly speaking, the term ought only to be applied to the style of
architecture which arose in Byzantium and the East after Constantine
transferred the government of the Roman Empire to that city. It is
especially the style of the Greek Church as contradistinguished from
that of the Roman Church, and ought never to be employed for anything
beyond its limits. The only obstacle to confining it to this definition
occurs between the ages of Constantine and Justinian. Up to the reign of
the last-named monarch the separation between the two churches was not
complete or clearly defined, and the architecture was of course likewise
in a state of transition, sometimes inclining to one style, sometimes to
the other. After Justinian’s time, the line may be clearly and sharply
drawn, and it would therefore be extremely convenient if the term “Greek
architecture” could be used for the style of the Greek Church from that
time to the present day.

If that term be inadmissible, the term “Sclavonic” might be applied,
though only in the sense in which the Gothic style could be designated
as Teutonic. Both, however, imply ethnographic distinctions which it
would not be easy to sustain. The term “Gothic” happily avoids these,
and so would “Greek,” but for the danger of its being confounded with
“Grecian,” which is the proper name for the classical style of the
ancient Greeks. If the employment of either of these terms is deemed
inadvisable, it will be necessary to divide the style into Old and New
Byzantine—the first comprehending the three centuries of transition that
elapsed from Constantine to the Persian war of Heraclius and the rise of
the Mahomedan power, which entirely changed the face of the Eastern
Empire,—the second, or Neo-Byzantine, including all those forms which
were practised in the East from the reappearance of the style, in or
after the 8th century, till it was superseded by the Renaissance.

Thus divided, the true or old Byzantine style might be regarded as the
counterpart of the early Romanesque or debased Roman style, except that,
owing to the rapid development in the East, the former culminated in the
erection of Sta. Sophia (A.D. 532-558); the Eastern Empire thus forming
a style of its own of singular beauty and perfection, which it left to
its Sclavonic successors to use or abuse as their means or tastes
dictated. The Western Empire, on the contrary, was in a state of decay
ending in a _débâcle_, from which the Romanesque style only partially
emerged during the reign of Charlemagne and his successors with a new
revival in the 11th century.

Though the styles of the East and the West became afterwards so
distinctly separate, we must not lose sight of the fact, that during the
age of transition (324-622) no clear line of demarcation can be traced.
Constantinople, Rome, and Ravenna were only principal cities of one
empire, throughout the whole of which the people were striving
simultaneously to convert a Pagan into a Christian style, and working
from the same basis with the same materials.[215] Prior to the age of
Constantine one style pervaded the whole empire. The buildings at
Palmyra, Jerash, or Baalbec, are barely distinguishable from those of
the capital, and the problem of how the Pagan style could be best
converted to Christian uses was the same for all. The consequence is,
that if we were at present writing a history which stopped with the
beginning of the 7th century, the only philosophical mode of treating
the question would be to consider the style as one and indivisible for
that period; but as the separation was throughout steadily, though
almost imperceptibly, making its way, and gradually became fixed and
permanent, it will be found more convenient to assume the separation
from the beginning. This method will no doubt lead to some repetition,
but that is a small inconvenience compared with the amount of clearness
obtained. At the same time, if any one were writing a history of
Byzantine architecture only, it would be necessary to include Ravenna,
and probably Venice and some other towns in Italy and Sicily, in the
Eastern division. On the other hand, in a history devoted exclusively to
the Romanesque styles, it would be impossible to omit the churches at
Jerusalem, Bethlehem, or Thessalonica, and elsewhere in the East. Under
these circumstances, it is necessary to draw an arbitrary line
somewhere; and for this purpose the western limits of the Turkish Empire
and of Russia will answer every practical purpose. Eastward of this line
every country in which the Christian religion at any time prevailed may
be considered as belonging to the Byzantine province.

During the first three centuries of the style (324-622) it will be
convenient to consider the whole Christian East as one architectural
province. When our knowledge is more complete, it may be possible to
separate it into several, but at present we are only beginning to see
the steps by which the style grew up, and are still very far from the
knowledge requisite for such limitations, even if it should hereafter be
discovered that a sufficient number exist. All the great churches with
which Constantine and his immediate successors adorned their new capital
have perished. Like the churches at Jerusalem and Bethlehem, they were
probably constructed with wooden roofs and even wooden architraves, and
thus soon became a prey to the flames in that most combustible of
capitals. Christian architecture has been entirely swept off the face of
the earth at Antioch, and very few and imperfect vestiges are found of
the seven churches of Asia Minor. Still, the recent researches of De
Vogüé in Northern Syria,[216] and of Texier in Thessalonica[217] show
how much unexpected wealth still remains to be explored, and in a few
years more this chapter of our history may assume a shape as much more
complete than what is now written, as it excels what we were compelled
to be content with when the Handbook was published, 1855.

Since therefore, under present circumstances, no ethnographic treatment
of the subject seems feasible, the clearest mode of presenting it will
probably be to adopt one purely technical.

For this purpose it will be found convenient, first, to separate the
Neo-Byzantine style from the older division, which, in order not to
multiply terms, may be styled the Byzantine _par excellence_; the first
chapter extending from Constantine, 324, to the Hejira, 622; and the
second from that time to the end of the Middle Ages.

In reference to the ecclesiastical architecture of the first division,
it is proposed to treat—

First, of churches of the basilican or rectangular forms, subdividing
them into those having wooden, and those having stone roofs.

Secondly, to describe circular churches in the same manner, subdividing
them similarly into those with wooden roofs, and those with stone roofs
or true domes.

This subdivision will not be necessary in speaking of the Neo-Byzantine
churches, since they all have stone roofs and true domes.

With regard to civil or domestic architecture very little can at present
be said, as so little is known regarding it, but we may hope that, a few
years hence, materials will exist for an interesting chapter on even
this branch of the subject.

                              CHAPTER II.



Churches at Bethlehem, Jerusalem, and Thessalonica—Rectangular Churches
  in Syria and Asia Minor, with wooden roofs and stone vaults.

Basilicas may be subdivided into two classes—that in which the nave is
divided from the side-aisles by pillars, carrying either entablatures or
arches, as the most purely Romanesque—and that which has piers
supporting arches only, and is transitional between the first style and
the more original forms which were elaborated out of it.

[Illustration: 273. Church of the Nativity at Bethlehem. (From
Bernardino Amico.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 inch.]

Of the former class one of the most authentic and perfect is that
erected at Bethlehem by Helena, the mother of Constantine, in front of
the cave of the Nativity. The nave seems to be a nearly unaltered
example of this age, with the advantage over the contemporary churches
at Rome, that all its pillars and their capitals were made for the
places they occupy, whereby the whole possesses a completeness and
justness of proportion not found in the metropolis. Its dimensions,
though sufficient for effect, are not large, being internally 103 ft.
across, by 215 ft. east and west. The choir with its three apses does
not seem to be part of the original arrangement, but to have been added
by Justinian when he renovated—Eutychius says rebuilt—the church. My
impression is that a detached circular building, external to the
basilica, originally contained the entrance to the cave. The frescoes
were added apparently in the 11th or 12th century.[218]

One of the principal points of interest connected with this church is,
that it enables us to realise the description Eusebius gives us of the
basilica which Constantine erected at Jerusalem in honour of the
Resurrection. Like this church it was five-aisled, but had galleries;
the apse also was on a larger scale than could well have been possible
in the Bethlehem church, and adorned with twelve pillars, symbolical of
the Apostles.

Of this building nothing now remains, and the only portion which could
be claimed as part of Constantine’s work is the western wall of the
Rotunda, which to a height of 15 to 20 ft. was cut out of the solid rock
in order to isolate the Holy Sepulchre in the centre. The so-called
tombs of Absalom and Zachariah in the valley of Jehoshaphat were
detached in a similar way from the rock behind them.[219]


[Illustration: 274. Eski Djuma, Thessalonica. (From Texier and Pullan.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

As before mentioned, it is to Constantinople, or Alexandria, or Antioch,
that we should naturally look to supply us with examples of the style of
the early transition, but as these fail, it is to Thessalonica alone—in
so far as we now know—that we can turn. In that city there are two
ancient examples. One, now known as the Eski Djuma or old mosque
(Woodcut No. 274), may belong to the 5th century, though there are no
very exact data by which to fix its age. It consists of a nave,
measuring, exclusive of narthex and bema, 93 ft. across by 120 ft.—very
much the proportion of the Bethlehem church, but having only three
aisles, the centre one 48 ft. in width. The other church, that of St.
Demetrius, is larger, but less simple. It is five-aisled, has two
internal transepts, and various adjuncts. Altogether it seems a
considerable advance towards the more complicated form of a Christian
church. Both these churches have capacious galleries, running above the
side aisles, and probably devoted to the accommodation of the women. The
date of St. Demetrius is most probably among the first years of the
sixth century.[220] The general ordinance of the columns will be
understood from the woodcut (No. 276). Generally they are placed on
elevated square or octagonal bases, or pedestals, as in the tepidaria of
the Thermæ in Rome, and all have a block (known as the dosseret), placed
above the capital, which is supposed to represent the entablature of the
Roman example, but is probably an original feature inserted over the
capital to support the springing of the arch. In this form it is found
very generally in the 5th and 6th centuries, after which it fell into
disuse, an increased depth being given to the abacus of the capital to
take its place.

[Illustration: 275. St. Demetrius, Thessalonica. (From Texier and
Pullan.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 inch.]

[Illustration: 276. Arches in St. Demetrius at Thessalonica, A.D. 500 to

So far as we now know, there is only one church of this class at
Constantinople—that known as St. John Studius,—a three-aisled basilica,
125 ft. long by 85 in width externally. Its date appears to be tolerably
well ascertained as A.D. 463, and from this circumstance, as well as its
being in the metropolis, it shows less deviation from the classical type
than the provincial examples just quoted. The lower range of columns
supporting the gallery still retain the classical outline and support a
horizontal entablature (Woodcut No. 277); the upper supporting arches
have very little resemblance to the classical type, and are wanting in
the architrave block or dosseret, which in fact never seems to have been
admired in the capital.

                         SYRIA AND ASIA MINOR.

The country where—so far at least as we at present know—the Byzantine
Basilica was principally developed was Northern Syria. Already in De
Vogüé’s work on Central Syria some dozen churches are indicated having
the aisles divided from the naves by pillars supporting arches. One of
these only—that at Soueideh—has five aisles, all the rest three. Almost
all have plain semicircular apses, sometimes only seen internally, like
those mentioned further on (page 510), but sometimes also projecting, as
was afterwards universally the fashion. Two at least have square
terminations (Kefr Kileh and Behioh), but this seems exceptional. Most
of them are almost the size of our ordinary parish churches—100 ft. by
60 or thereabouts—and all belong to the three centuries—the 4th, 5th,
and 6th—of which this chapter especially treats.

[Illustration: 277. Pillar in Church of St. John, Constantinople.]

The church at Baquoza may serve as a type of the class both in plan and
section (Woodcuts Nos. 278, 279). Its dimensions externally are 60 ft.
by 105; and besides the narthex—not shown in the section—it has four
lateral porches. It has also two square chapels or vestries at the end
of the aisles—an arrangement almost universal in these churches.

The most remarkable of the group, however, is that of St. Simeon
Stylites, at Kalat Sema’n, about 20 miles east of Antioch. Its
dimensions are very considerable, being 330 ft. long, north and south,
and as nearly as may be, 300 ft. east and west, across what may be
called the transepts. The centre is occupied by a great octagon, 93 ft.
across, on a rock in the centre of which the pillar of that eccentric
saint originally stood. This apparently was never roofed over, but stood
always exposed to the air of heaven.[221]

[Illustration: 278. Plan of Church in Baquoza. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 279. Section of Church in Baquoza. (From De Vogüé.) Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 280. Plan of Church and Part of Monastic Buildings at
Kalat Sema’n. (From De Vogüé.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

The greater part of the conventual buildings belonging to this church
still remain in a state of completeness,—a fact which will be startling
to those who are not aware how many of the great religious
establishments of Syria still stand entire, wanting only the roofs,
which were apparently the only parts constructed of wood.

The whole of the buildings at Kalat Sema’n seem to have been completed
within the limits of the 5th century, and not to have been touched or
altered since they were deserted, apparently in consequence of the
Mahomedan irruption in the 7th century. The most curious point is that
such a building should have remained so long in such a situation,
unknown to the Western world; for the notices hitherto published have
been meagre and unsatisfactory in the extreme, and De Vogüé is only able
to state that it was visited and described by the historian Evagrius in
the year 560 A.D.

[Illustration: 281. Plan of Church at Roueiha. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 282. Section of Church at Roueiha. (From De Vogüé.) Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

In the same province we find also the earliest examples of the use of
pier arches in a church to separate the nave from the aisles. These seem
to have been currently used in Northern Syria in the 6th century, though
not found in the West—at least not used in the same manner—for several
centuries later. Generally three such arches only were employed in the
length of the nave, and they consequently left the floor so open and
free, that it is very questionable if in churches of limited dimensions
the introduction of a much larger number by the Gothic architects was an
improvement. Taking it altogether, it is probable that such a church as
that at Roueiha (Woodcut No. 282) would, if literally reproduced, make a
better and cheaper church for an English parish than the Mediæval models
we are so fond of copying. A considerable amount of perspective effect
is obtained by throwing two transverse arches across the nave, dividing
it into three compartments, each including four windows in the
clerestory; and the whole design is simple and solid in a degree seldom
surpassed in buildings of its class. Its dimensions are 63 ft. by 150
over all externally.

In many of these churches the transverse arches of the nave are omitted;
and when, as at Qalb Louzeh (Woodcut No. 284), the clerestory is
accentuated by roofing shafts, the same effect of perspective is
obtained by other means, and perhaps as successfully. It is very
interesting, however, to find that as early as the 6th century the
architects were thoughtfully feeling their way towards those very
principles of design which many centuries afterwards enabled the Gothic
architects to produce their most successful effects. The introduction of
four windows over each great arch, and of a rooting-shaft between each
to support the beams of the roof, was a happy thought, and it is
wonderful it was so completely lost sight of afterwards.

[Illustration: 283. Plan of Church at Qalb Louzeh. Scale 100 ft. to 1

[Illustration: 284. Apse of Church at Qalb Louzeh. (From De Vogüé.)]

It is probable that the apse (Woodcut No. 284) was originally adorned
with paintings or mosaics, or at least that it was intended it should be
so ornamented; but even as it is, it is so well proportioned to the size
of the church, and to its position, and so appropriately ornamented,
that it is better than most of those found in Roman basilicas; and, for
a small church, is a more dignified receptacle for the altar than either
the French chevet or the English chancel.

Did our limits admit of it, it would be not only pleasant but
instructive to dwell longer on this subject; for few parts of our
inquiry can be more interesting than to find that, as early as the 6th
century, the Roman basilica had been converted into a Christian church,
complete in all its details, and—internally at least—in a style of
architecture as consistent and almost as far removed from its classical
prototype as the Mediæval Gothic itself.

[Illustration: 285. Chapel at Babouda. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

Externally, too, the style was becoming independent of classical models,
though hardly in the same degree. The porches of the churches were
generally formed in two storeys, the lower having a large central arch
of admission, the upper consisting of a colonnade which partially hid,
while it supported, an open screen of windows that admitted a flood of
light into the nave just in the position where it was most effective.
Without glass or mullions such a range of windows must have appeared
weak, and would have admitted rain; but when sheltered by a screen of
pillars, it was both convenient and artistic.

[Illustration: 286. Elevation of Chapel at Babouda. (From De Vogüé.)]

This mode of lighting is better illustrated at Babouda, where it is
employed in its simplest form. No light is admitted to the chapel except
through one great semicircular window over the entrance, and this is
protected externally by a screen of columns. This mode of introducing
light, as we shall afterwards see, was common in India at this age, and
earlier, all the Chaitya caves being lighted in the same manner; and for
artistic effect it is equal, if not superior, to any other which has yet
been invented. The light is high, and behind the worshipper, and thrown
direct on the altar, or principal part of the church. In very large
buildings it could hardly be applied, but for smaller ones it is
singularly effective.

The external effect of these buildings though not so original as the
interior, is still very far removed from the classical type, and
presents a variety of outline and detail very different from the
simplicity of a Pagan temple. One of the most complete is that at
Tourmanin (Woodcut No. 287), though that at Qalb Louzeh is nearly as
perfect, but simpler in detail. For a church of the 6th century it is
wonderful how many elements of later buildings it suggests; even the
western towers seem to be indicated, and, except the four columns of the
gallery, there is very little to recall the style out of which it arose.

[Illustration: 287. Façade of Church at Tourmanin. (From De Vogüé.)]

There are considerable remains of a wooden-roofed basilica at Pergamus,
which may be even older than those just described; but having been built
in brick, and only faced with stone—the whole of which is gone—it is
difficult to feel sure of the character of its details and mouldings. It
had galleries on either side of the nave, but how these were supported
or framed is not clear. It may have been by wooden posts or marble
pillars, and these would have either decayed or been removed. The two
square calcidica or vestries, which in the Syrian churches terminate the
side-aisles, are here placed externally like transepts, and beyond them
are two circular buildings with domical roofs and square apses. What
their use was is, however, doubtful. In fact, we know so little of the
architecture of that age in Asia Minor that this building stands quite
exceptionally; and very little use can be made of it, either as throwing
light on other buildings, or as receiving illustration from their
peculiarities. But seeing how much has been effected in this direction
of late, we may fully hope that this state of isolation will not long

[Illustration: 288. Church at Pergamus. (From a Plan by Ed. Falkener,
Esq.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

One other church of the 4th century is known to exist—at Nisibin. It is
a triple church, the central compartment being the tomb of the founder,
the first Armenian bishop of the place. Though much ruined, it still
retains the mouldings of its doorways and windows as perfect as when
erected, the whole being of fine hard stone. These are identical in
style with the buildings of Diocletian at Spalato; and as their date is
well known, they will, when published, form a valuable contribution to
the information we now possess regarding the architecture of this

                       CHURCHES WITH STONE ROOFS.

All the buildings above described—with the exception of the chapel at
Babouda—have wooden roofs, as was the case generally with the basilicas
and the temples of the classical age. The Romans, however, had built
temples with aisles and vaulted them as early as the age of Augustus, as
at Nîmes, for instance (Woodcut No. 189), and they had roofed their
largest basilicas and baths with intersecting vaults. We should not
therefore feel surprised if the Christians sometimes attempted the same
thing in their rectangular churches, more especially as the dome was
always a favourite mode of roofing circular buildings; and the problem
which the Byzantine architects of the day set themselves to solve was—as
we shall presently see—how to fit a circular dome of masonry to a
rectangular building.

One of the earliest examples of a stone-roofed church is that at Tafkha
in the Hauran. It is probably of the age of Constantine, though as
likely to be before his time as after it. Its date, however, is not of
very great importance, as its existence does not prove that the form was
adopted from choice by the Christians: the truth being that, in the
country where it is found, wood was never used as a building material.
All the buildings, both domestic and public, are composed wholly of
stone—the only available material for the purpose which the country
afforded. In consequence of this, when that tide of commercial
prosperity which rose under the Roman rule flowed across the country
from the Euphrates valley to the Mediterranean, the inhabitants had
recourse to a new mode of construction, which was practically a new
style of architecture. This consisted in the employment of arches
instead of beams. These were placed so near one another that flat stones
could be laid side by side from arch to arch. Over these a layer of
concrete was spread, and a roof was thus formed so indestructible that
whole towns remain perfect to the present day, as originally constructed
in the first centuries of the Christian era.[222]

[Illustration: 289. Section on A B, Tafkha. (From De Vogüé.) Scale 50
ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 290. Plan, Tafkha. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 291. Section on C D, Tafkha.]

[Illustration: 292. Half Front Elevation, Tafkha. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

One example must suffice to explain this curious mode of construction.
The church at Tafkha is 50 ft. square, exclusive of the apse. It is
spanned by four arches, 7 ft. 6 in. apart. On each side are galleries of
flat slabs resting on brackets, as shown in Woodcuts Nos. 289, 291,
which again are supported by smaller transverse arches. At one side is a
tower, but this is roofed wholly by bracketing, as if the architect
feared the thrust of the arch even at that height.

The defect of this arrangement as an architectural expedient is the
extreme frequency of the piers, 8 or 10 ft. being the greatest distance
practicable; but as a mechanical expedient it is singularly ingenious.
More internal space is obtained with a less expenditure of material and
danger from thrust than from any mode of construction—wholly of
stone—that we are acquainted with; and with a little practice it might
no doubt be much improved upon. The Indian architects, as we shall
presently see, attempted the same thing, but set about it in a
diametrically opposite way. They absolutely refused to employ the arch
under any circumstances, but bracketed forward till the space to be
covered was so limited that a single stone would reach across. By this
means they were enabled to roof spaces 20 or 25 ft. span without arches,
which is about the interval covered with their aid at Tafkha.[223]

[Illustration: 293. Great Church at Hierapolis. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.
(E. Falkener del.)]

[Illustration: 294. Church at Hierapolis. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in. (E. F.

Another circumstance which renders these Hauran examples interesting to
the architectural student is that they contain no trace or reminiscence
of wooden construction or adornment, so apparent in almost every other
style. In Lycia it is absurdly so. In Egypt, in Greece, in India, in
Persia—everywhere, in fact—we can trace back the principal form of
decoration to a wooden original; here alone all is lithic, and it is
probably the only example of the sort that the whole history of
architecture affords.

If there are any churches in the Byzantine province of the age of which
we are treating, whose naves are roofed by intersecting vaults, they
have not yet been described in any accessible work; but great
tunnel-vaults have been introduced into several with effect. One such is
found at Hierapolis, on the borders of Phrygia (Woodcut No. 293). It is
divided by a bold range of piers into three aisles, the centre one
having a clear width of 45 ft. 6 in. The internal dimensions of the
church are 177 ft. by 115. There are three great piers in the length,
which carry bold transverse ribs so as to break the monotony of the
vault, and have between them secondary arches, to carry the galleries.

[Illustration: 295. Section of Church at Hierapolis. Scale 50 ft. to 1
in. With monogram found on its walls. (From a Drawing by E. Falkener.)]

There is another church at the same place, the roof of which is of a
somewhat more complicated form. The internal length, 140 ft., is divided
into three by transverse arches; but its great peculiarity is that the
vault is cut into by semi-circular lunettes above the screen side-walls,
and through these the light is introduced. This arrangement will be
understood from the section (Woodcut No. 295). Taken altogether, there
is probably no other church of its age and class in which the vault is
so pleasingly and artistically arranged, and in which the mode of
introducing the light is so judicious and effective.

The age of these two last churches is not very well ascertained. They
probably belong to the 5th, and are certainly not later than the 6th,
century; but, before we can speak with certainty on the subject, more
examples must be brought to light and examined. From our present
knowledge it can hardly be doubted that a sufficient number do exist to
complete the chapter; and it is to be hoped they will be published,
since a history of vaults in the East, independent of domes, is still a

                              CHAPTER III.



Circular Churches with wooden roofs and with true domes in Syria and
  Thessalonica—Churches of St. Sergius and Bacchus and Sta. Sophia,
  Constantinople—Domestic Architecture—Tombs.

At the time of the erection of the churches described in the last
chapter, a circular domical style was being simultaneously elaborated in
the East, which not only gave a different character to the whole style,
but eventually entirely superseded the western basilican form, and
became an original and truly Byzantine art.

Constantine is said to have erected a church at Antioch which, from the
description given by Eusebius, was octagonal in plan.

On Mount Gerizim, on or near the site of the Samaritan temple, Justinian
built an octagonal church showing in its multifold chapels a
considerable advance towards Christian arrangements; it has, however
been so completely destroyed that only its foundation can now be traced,
from which the plan (Woodcut No. 296) was measured and worked out by Sir
Charles Wilson.

[Illustration: 296. Church on Mount Gerizim.]

[Illustration: 297. Cathedral at Bosra. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

At Bosra in the Hauran there is a church of perfectly well-ascertained
date—A.D. 512—which, when more completely illustrated, will throw
considerable light on the steps by which a Pagan temple was transformed
into a Christian church. It is a building externally square, but
internally circular (Woodcut No. 297). The central space is 91 ft. in
diameter, and was evidently covered with a wooden roof, according to M.
de Vogüé, supported on eight piers. The interest of the plan consists in
its showing the progress made in adapting this form to Christian
purposes, and it is to be hoped that further investigation may enable us
to supply all the steps by which the transformation took place. De Vogüé
is of opinion that there was a central dome carried on piers and columns
similar to the church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, with
aisles round and gallery over them, the latter covered with a timber
roof, the holes in which the rafters were fixed being still visible.
Owing to want of lateral support the dome fell down, and at a later
period a small basilica church was erected within the enclosure in front
of the apse; the proximity of the piers of this church suggests that it
was covered with stone slabs according to the custom of the country. The
inscription over the principal entrance door states that the church was
dedicated to SS. Sergius and Bacchus, and was completed in the 400th
year of Bosra (511-512 A.D.). Another example exists at Kalat Sema’n, in
Northern Syria, and presents a combination of an octagonal with a
rectangular church very common in Armenia and Georgia. As is generally
the case there, they are very small in dimensions, the whole group only
measuring 120 ft. by 73. Their actual destination is not known, but M.
de Vogüé suggests that the triapsal arrangement in the octagonal
building points to its having been erected as a baptistery. This group
is situated about 200 yards from the main buildings illustrated in
Woodcut (No. 280).

[Illustration: 298. Section of Double Church at Kalat Sema’n. (From De
Vogüé.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 299. Plan, Kalat Sema’n. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

                          CHURCHES WITH DOMES.

Whether the dome of the Pantheon at Rome (p. 320) was erected in the
time of the Antonines, or before the time of Augustus, as was formerly
supposed, it is evident that the Romans had conquered the difficulties
of domic construction long before the transference of the seat of power
to Byzantium; the Pantheon being, up to this hour, the largest (single)
dome ever constructed by the hand of man. Simple and grand as it
undoubtedly is, it had several glaring defects in its design which the
Byzantines set themselves to remedy. The first was that twice the
necessary amount of materials was consumed in its construction. The
second, that the mode of lighting by a hole in the roof, which also
admitted the rain and the snow, was most objectionable before the
invention of glass. The third, that a simply circular plan is always
unmeaning and inconvenient. A fourth, that a circular building can
hardly, by any contrivance, be made to fit on to any other buildings or

In the Minerva Medica (Woodcut No. 229) great efforts were made, but not
quite successfully, to remedy these defects. The building would not fit
on to any others, and, though an improvement on the design of the
Pantheon, was still far from perfect.

[Illustration: 300. Diagram of Byzantine Arrangement.]

[Illustration: 301. Diagram of Byzantine Pendentives.]

The first step the Byzantines made was to carry the dome on arches
resting on eight piers enclosing an octagon A (Woodcut No. 300); this
enabled them to obtain increased space, to provide nave, choir, and
transepts, and by throwing out niches on the diagonal lines, virtually
to obtain a square hall in the centre. The difference between the
octagon and circle is so slight, that by corbelling out above the
extrados of the arches, a circular base for the dome was easily obtained
B. The next step was to carry the dome on arches resting on four piers,
and their triumph was complete when by the introduction of
pendentives—represented by the shaded parts at D (Woodcut No. 301), they
were enabled to place the circular dome on a square compartment. The
pendentives and dome thus projected formed part of a sphere, the radius
of which was the half-diagonal of the square compartment. Constructively
it would probably have been easier to roof the space by an intersecting
vault; and even if of 100 or 150 ft. span it would without difficulty
have been effected. The difference between the intersecting vault and
the dome (as shown in Woodcuts 302 and 303; the former the tomb of Galla
Placidia, built 450 A.D., the latter the chapel of St. Peter Crysologus
attached to the archiepiscopal palace of about the same date, and both
in Ravenna) is perhaps the most striking contrast the history of
architecture affords between mechanical and ornamental construction.
Both are capable of being ornamented to the same extent and in the same
manner; but the difference of form rendered the dome a beautiful object
in itself wholly irrespective of ornament, whereas the same cannot
always be said of the intersecting barrel vault. Altogether, the effect
would have been architecturally so infinitely inferior, that we cannot
but feel grateful to the Byzantines that they persevered, in spite of
all mechanical temptations, till they reached the wonderful perfection
of the dome of Sta. Sophia.

[Illustration: 302. Tomb of Galla Placidia, Ravenna. (For plan see
Woodcut No. 434.)]

[Illustration: 303. Chapel in Archiepiscopal Palace, Ravenna.]

Among the earliest domical churches found in the East is that of St.
George at Thessalonica. It is also, perhaps, the finest example of its
class belonging strictly to that group which has been designated above
as the Eastern Romanesque.

[Illustration: 304. Plan of St. George at Thessalonica. Scale 100 ft. to
1 in.]

As will be seen from the plan it is a circular apartment, 79 ft. in
diameter, surrounded by walls 20 ft. in thickness, into which are cut
seven great niches; two apparently serving as entrances, opposite one of
which is a bema or presbytery of considerable importance and purely
Christian form. The dome is hemispherical, pierced at its base by eight
semi-circular lunettes, and externally covered and concealed by a wooden
roof. This form of roof is first found in the West at Nocera dei Pagani
(p. 547), but the dome there is only half the diameter of this one, and
of a very different form and construction. The dome of St. George’s
retains its internal decorations, which are among the earliest as well
as the most interesting Christian mosaics in existence.[224] The
architecture presented in them bears about the same relation to that in
the Pompeiian frescoes which the Jacobæan does to classical
architecture, and, mixed with Christian symbols and representations of
Christian saints, makes up a most interesting example of early Christian

[Illustration: 305. Section of Church of St. George at Thessalonica.
(From Texier and Pullan.) Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 306. View of Church of St. George at Thessalonica. (From
Texier and Pullan.)]

No inscriptions or historical indications exist from which the date of
the church can be fixed. We are safe, however, in asserting that it was
erected by Christians, for Christian purposes, subsequently to the age
of Constantine. If we assume the year 400 as an approximate date we
shall probably not err to any great extent, though the real date may be
somewhat later.

[Illustration: 307. Plan of Kalybe at Omm-es-Zeitoun (Syria). No Scale.]

How early a true Byzantine form of arrangement may have been introduced
we have no means of knowing; but as early as the year 285—according to
De Vogüé—we have a Kalybe[225] at Omm-es-Zeitoun, which contains all the
elements of the new style. It is square in plan, with a circular dome in
its centre for a roof. The wing walls which extend the façade are
curious, but not singular. One other example, at least, is found in the
Hauran, at Chaqqa, and there may be many more.

[Illustration: 308. View of Kalybe at Omm-es-Zeitoun. (From De Vogüé.)]

Still, in the Hauran they never seem quite to have fallen into the true
Byzantine system of construction, but preferred one less mechanically
difficult, even at the expense of crowding the floor with piers. In the
church at Ezra, for instance, the internal octagon is reduced to a
figure of sixteen sides before it is attempted to put a dome upon it,
and all thought of beauty of form, either internally or externally, is
abandoned in order to obtain mechanical stability—although the dome is
only 30 ft. in diameter.

As the date of this church is perfectly ascertained (510) it forms a
curious landmark in the style just anterior to the great efforts
Justinian was about to make, and which forced it so suddenly into its
greatest, though a short-lived, degree of perfection.

[Illustration: 309. Plan of Church at Ezra. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 310. Section of Church at Ezra. Scale 50 ft. to 1 in.]


As before mentioned, all the churches of the capital which were erected
before the age of Justinian, have perished, with the one exception of
that of St. John Studius mentioned above (page 421). This may in part be
owing to the hurried manner in which they were constructed, and the
great quantity of wood consequently employed, which might have risked
their destruction anywhere. It is, however, a curious, but
architecturally an important, fact that Byzantium possessed every
conceivable title to be chosen as the capital of the Empire, except the
possession of a good building-stone, or even apparently any suitable
material for making good bricks. Wood seems in all times to have been
the material most readily obtained and most extensively used for
building purposes, and hence the continual recurrence of fires, from
before the time of Justinian down to the present day. That monarch was
the first who fairly met the difficulty; the two churches erected during
his reign, which now exist, are constructed wholly without wood or
combustible materials of any sort—and hence their preservation.

The earliest of these two, popularly known as the “Kutchuk Agia Sophia,”
or lesser Sta. Sophia, was originally a double church, or more properly
speaking two churches placed side by side, precisely in the same manner
as the two at Kalat Sema’n (Woodcut No. 298). The basilica was dedicated
to the Apostles Peter and Paul; the domical church, appropriately, to
the Martyrs Sergius and Bacchus. The former has entirely disappeared,
from which I would infer that it was constructed with pillars and a
wooden roof.[226] The latter remains very nearly intact. The frescoes
and mosaics have, indeed, disappeared from the body of the church,
hidden, it is to be hoped, under the mass of whitewash which covers its
walls—in the narthex they can still be distinguished.

[Illustration: 311. Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus.]

[Illustration: 312. Section of Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus. Scale
50 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 313. Capital from Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus.
(From Lenoir.)]

[Illustration: 314. Entablature from Church of SS. Sergius and Bacchus.
(From Lenoir.)]

The existing church is nearly square in plan, being 109 ft. by 92 over
all, exclusive of the apse, and covering only about 10,000 sq. ft. It
has consequently no pretensions to magnificence on the score of
dimensions, but is singularly elegant in design and proportion.
Internally, the arrangement of the piers of the dome, of the galleries,
and of the pillars which support them, are almost identical with those
of St. Vitale at Ravenna, but the proportions of the Eastern example are
better, being 66 ft. in height by 52 in diameter, while the other, with
the same diameter, is nearly 20 ft. higher, and consequently too tall to
be pleasing.

The details of this church are generally well designed for the purposes
to which they are applied. There is a certain reminiscence of classical
feeling in the mouldings and foliage—in the latter, however, very faint.
The architrave block (No. 313) here seems almost to have superseded the
capital, and what was once a classical entablature has retained very
little of its pristine form (No. 314), and indeed was used
constructively only, for the support of a gallery, or some such
mechanical requirement. The arch had entirely superseded it as an
ornamental feature long before the age of Justinian.

                              STA. SOPHIA.

Although the building just described, and others that might be quoted,
probably contain the germs of all that is found in Sta. Sophia, they are
on so small a scale that it is startling to find Justinian attempting an
edifice so grand, and so daring in construction, without more experience
than he appears to have obtained. Indeed so exceptional does this great
structure appear, with our present knowledge, that we might almost feel
inclined at first sight to look upon it as the immediate creation of the
individual genius of its architect, Anthemius of Thralles; but there can
be little doubt that if a greater number of contemporary examples
existed we should be able to trace back every feature of the design to
its origin. The scale, however, on which it was carried out was
certainly original, and required great boldness on the part of the
architect to venture upon such a piece of magnificence. At all events,
the celebrated boast of its founder on contemplating his finished work
was more than justified. When Justinian exclaimed, “I have surpassed
thee, O Solomon,” he took an exaggerated view of the work of his
predecessor, and did not realize the extent to which his building
excelled the Jewish temple. The latter was only equal to a small church
with a wooden roof supported by wooden posts, and covering some 7200 sq.
ft. Sta. Sophia covers ten times that area, is built of durable
materials throughout, and far more artistically ornamented than the
temple of the Jews ever could have been. But Justinian did more than
accomplish this easy victory. Neither the Pantheon nor any of the
vaulted halls at Rome equal the nave of Sta. Sophia in extent, or in
cleverness of construction, or in beauty of design. Nor was there
anything erected during the ten centuries which elapsed from the
transference of the capital to Byzantium till the building of the great
mediæval cathedrals which can be compared with it. Indeed it remains
even now an open question whether a Christian church exists anywhere, of
any age, whose interior is so beautiful as that of this marvellous
creation of old Byzantine art.

The original church of Sta. Sophia which had been erected by Constantine
was, it seems, burnt to the ground in the fifth year of Justinian, A.D.
532, when he determined to re-erect it on the same spot with more
magnificence and with less combustible materials. So rapidly were the
works pushed forward, that in six years it was ready for dedication,
A.D. 537. Twenty years afterwards a portion of the dome fell down in
consequence of an earthquake; but this damage was repaired, and the
church re-dedicated, A.D. 563, in the form, probably very nearly, in
which we now find it.

[Illustration: 315. Plan of Sta. Sophia. Upper Storey and Ground Floor.
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

In plan it closely approaches an exact square, being 235 ft. north and
south by 250 east and west, exclusive of the narthex and apse. The
narthex itself is a splendid hall, 205 ft. in length internally, by 26
ft. wide, and two storeys in height. Beyond this there is an exo-narthex
which runs round the whole of the outer court, but this hardly seems to
be part of the original design. Altogether, the building, without this
or any adjuncts which may be after-thoughts, covers about 70,000 sq.
ft., or nearly the average area of a mediæval cathedral of the first

[Illustration: 316. Elevation Façade of Sta. Sophia at Constantinople.
(From Salzenberg.) Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Externally the building (Woodcut No. 316) possesses little architectural
beauty beyond what is due to its mass and the varied outline arising
from the mechanical contrivances necessary to resist the thrust of its
internal construction. It may be that, like the early Christian
basilicas at Rome, it was purposely left plain to distinguish it from
the external adornment of Heathen temples, or it may have been intended
to revêt it with marble, and add the external ornament afterwards.
Before we became acquainted with the ornamental exteriors of Syrian
churches, the former theory would seem the more plausible, though it can
hardly now be sustained; and when we consider that the second dedication
only took place the year before Justinian’s death, and how soon
troublous times followed, we may fairly assume that what we now see is
only an incomplete design. Whatever may be the case with the exterior,
all the internal arrangements are complete, and perfect both from a
mechanical and an artistic point of view. In such a design as this, the
first requirement was to obtain four perfectly stable arches on which
the dome might rest. The great difficulty was with the two arches
running transversely north and south. These are as nearly as may be 100
ft. span and 120 high to the crown, and 10 ft. on the face. Each of them
has a mass of masonry behind it for an abutment, 75 ft. long by 25 ft.
wide, only partially pierced by arches on the ground and gallery floor;
and as the mass might have been carried to any height, it ought, if
properly constructed, to have sufficed for an arch very much wider and
more heavily weighted than that which it supports. Yet the southern wall
is considerably bulged, and the whole of that side thrown out of the
perpendicular. This probably was the effect of the earthquake which
caused the fall of the dome in 559, since no further settlement seems to
have taken place. The longitudinal arches presented no difficulty. The
distance between the solid parts of the piers was 75 ft., and this was
filled up with a screen wall supporting the inner side of the arch; so,
unless that was crushed, the whole was perfectly stable. Pendentives
between these four arches ought not to have presented any difficulties.
It would, however, have been better, from an architectural point of
view, if they had been carried further up and forward, so as to hang a
weight inside the dome to counteract the outward thrust, as was
afterwards so successfully practised at Beejapore.[227] As it is, the
dome rests rather on the outer edge of the system, without sufficient
space for abutment. In itself the dome is very little lower than a
hemisphere, being 107 ft. across by 46 ft. in height. Externally, it
would have been better if higher; for internal effect this is
sufficient. Its base is pierced by forty small windows, so small and so
low as not to interfere in any way with the apparent construction, but
affording an ample supply of light—in that climate at least—to render
every part of the dome bright and cheerful.

[Illustration: 317. Section of Sta. Sophia from E. to W. Scale 100 ft.
to 1 in.]

Beyond the great dome, east and west, are two semi-domes of a diameter
equal to that of the great dome, and these are again cut into by two
smaller domes, so that the building, instead of being a Greek cross, as
usually asserted, is only 100 ft. across in the centre and 125 wide
beyond the central space each way. There is a little awkwardness in the
way in which the smaller semi-domes cut into the larger, and the three
windows of the latter are unconnected with any other part of the design,
which is unpleasing, but might easily be remedied in a second attempt.
These very irregularities, however, give a variety and appropriateness
to the design which has probably never been surpassed. A single dome of
the area of the central and two semi-domes would not have appeared
nearly so large, and would have overpowered everything else in the
building. As it is, the eye wanders upwards from the large arcades of
the ground floor to the smaller arches of the galleries, and thence to
the smaller semi-domes. These lead the eye on to the larger, and the
whole culminates in the great central roof. Nothing, probably, so
artistic has been done on the same scale before or since. In these
arrangements Sta. Sophia seems to stand alone.

If, however, the proportions of this church are admirable, the details
are equally so. All the pillars are of porphyry, verd antique, or
marbles of the most precious kinds. The capitals are among the most
admirable specimens of the style. It will be remembered that the
governing line of a classical Corinthian capital is a hollow curve, to
which acanthus-leaves or other projecting ornaments were applied. When
the columns were close together, and had only a beam to support, this
form of capital was sufficient; but when employed to carry the
constructive arches of the fabric its weakness became instantly
apparent. Long before Justinian’s time, the tendency became apparent to
reverse the curve and to incise the ornament. In Sta. Sophia the
transition is complete; the capitals are as full as elegance would
allow, and all the surfaces are flat, with ornaments relieved by
incision. In the lower tier of arches (Woodcut No. 318) this is boldly
and beautifully done, the marble being left to tell its own story. In
the upper tier, further removed from the eye, the interstices are filled
in with black marble so as to ensure the desired effect.

[Illustration: 318. Lower Order of Sta. Sophia. (From Salzenberg.)]

All the flat surfaces are covered with a mosaic of marble slabs of the
most varied patterns and beautiful colours; the domes, roofs, and curved
surfaces, with a gold-grounded mosaic relieved by figures or
architectural devices. Though much of the mosaic is now concealed,
enough is left to enable the effect of the whole to be judged of, and it
certainly is wonderfully grand and pleasing. The one thing wanting is
painted glass, like that which adorns the Dome of the Rock at Jerusalem,
to render this building as solemnly impressive as it is overpoweringly

Sta. Sophia is so essentially different from the greater number of
churches, that it is extremely difficult to institute a comparison
between them. With regard to external effect, Gothic cathedrals
generally excel it; but whether by accident or by the inherent necessity
of the style is by no means so clear. In so far as the interior is
concerned, no Gothic architect ever rose to the conception of a hall 100
ft. wide, 250 ft. in length, and 180 ft. high, and none ever disposed
each part more artistically to obtain the effect he desired to produce.
Where the Byzantine style might profit from the experience subsequently
gained by Gothic architects is in the use of mouldings. The one defect
in the decoration of Sta. Sophia is that it depends too much on colour.
It would have been better if the pier-arches, the window-frames, and the
string-courses generally had been more strongly accentuated by moulding
and panellings, but this is a slight defect among so many beauties.

[Illustration: 319. Upper Order of Sta. Sophia. (From Salzenberg.)]

A comparison with the great Renaissance cathedrals is more easy, but
results even more favourably to the Byzantine example. Two of these have
domes which are considerably larger—St. Peter’s at Rome and Sta. Maria
at Florence being each 126 ft.; St. Paul’s, London (108), is within a
foot of the same diameter, all the rest are smaller.[228] This, however,
is of less consequence than the fact that they are all adjuncts to the
design of the church. None of them are integral or supported by the rest
of the design, and all tend to dwarf the buildings they are attached to
rather than to heighten the general effect. With scarcely an exception
also all the Renaissance cathedrals employ internally great sprawling
pillars and pilasters, designed for external use by the Romans, which
not only diminish the apparent size of the building but produce an
effect of unreality and sham utterly fatal to true art.

In fact, turn it as we will, and compare it as we may with any other
buildings of its class, the verdict seems inevitable that Sta.
Sophia—internally at least, for we may omit the consideration of the
exterior, as unfinished—is the most perfect and most beautiful church
which has yet been erected by any Christian people. When its furniture
was complete the verdict would probably have been still more strongly in
its favour; but so few of the buildings described in these pages retain
these adjuncts in anything like completeness that they must be withdrawn
from both sides and our remarks be confined to the architecture, and
that only.

The church of Sta. Sophia at Thessalonica, according to Greek tradition,
was built by Justinian in the latter part of his reign.[229] It is a
church of considerable dimensions, measuring 140 ft. east and west by
118 ft. in width, with a dome 33 ft. in diameter. It possesses also an
upper gallery, and its arrangements generally are well considered and
artistic. There does not seem to be any documentary evidence of its age,
but judging from the details published in Texier, the date ascribed to
it seems probable. This has been further established lately from an
inscription found in the apse, which as well as the dome still retain
their ancient mosaics; the inscription is incomplete, but Messrs.
Duchesne and Bayet, in an appendix to their work on Mount Athos, ascribe
it to the second half of the 6th century. The church possesses one
special characteristic: above the pendentives is a low drum, circular
internally,[230] in which windows are pierced, but which, externally, is
carried up square: by this means the angle piers are well weighted and
are thus enabled to resist more effectually the thrust of the arches
carrying the pendentives. The two side walls also, which in Sta. Sophia
at Constantinople were built almost flush with the inner arch, leaving
outside a widely-projecting arch thrown across between the buttresses to
carry the buttresses of the dome, are here placed flush with the outside
of the arch, thus giving increased space to the interior.

                         DOMESTIC ARCHITECTURE.

The publication of the Count De Vogüé’s book has enabled us to realise
the civil and domestic architecture of Syria in the 5th and 6th
centuries with a completeness that, a very short time ago, would have
been thought impossible. Owing to the fact that every part of the
buildings in the Hauran was in stone, and that they were suddenly
deserted on the Mahomedan conquest, never, apparently, to be
re-occupied, many of the houses remain perfectly entire to the present
day, and in Northern Syria only the roofs are gone.

Generally they seem to have been two storeys in height, adorned with
verandahs supported by stone columns, the upper having a solid
screen-fence of stone about 3 ft. 6 in. high, intended apparently as
much to secure privacy to the sleeping apartments of the house as
protection against falling out. In some instances the lower storey is
twice the height of the upper, and contained the state apartments of the
house. In others, as in that at Refadi (Woodcut No. 320), it seems to
have been intended for the offices. In the plan of a house at Moudjeleia
(Woodcut No. 321) the principal block of the house is in two storeys,
with portico on ground floor and verandah over. The buildings at the
back with their courtyard were probably offices, and those in front by
the side of the main entrance warehouses or stores.

[Illustration: 320. Elevation of House at Refadi. (From De Vogüé.) Scale
20 ft. to 1 in.]

In some instances one is startled to find details which we are
accustomed to associate with much more modern dates; as, for instance,
this window (Woodcut No. 322) from the palace at Chaqqa, which there
seems no reason whatever for doubting belongs to the 3rd
century—anterior to the time of Constantine! It looks more like the
vagary of a French architect of the age of Francis I.

[Illustration: 321. Plan of house at Moudjeleia.]

[Illustration: 322. Window at Chaqqa. (From De Vogüé.)]

The building known as the Golden Gateway at Jerusalem and attributed to
Justinian, bears in its details many striking resemblances to those of
the 5th and 6th centuries in Central Syria, illustrated in De Vogüé’s
book. It is situated on the east side of the Haram enclosure, and
consists of a vestibule divided by columns into two aisles of three bays
each vaulted with a cupola[231] carried on arches, between which and the
capitals of the columns is found the Byzantine dosseret already referred
to. Within the eastern doorways (said to have been blocked up by Omar)
are two huge monoliths 14 ft. 6 in. and 11 ft. respectively, the
doorposts of an earlier gateway. Externally, on the entrance fronts
(east and west), the entablature of the pilasters is carried round the
circular-headed doorways which they flank; the earliest instance of this
development is found in the Palace of Diocletian at Spalato, and there
is a second example in the Roman gateway to the Mosque of Damascus,
which probably suggested the idea to the Byzantine builders; the sharp
stiff foliage of Greek type with which the ornament is carved on the
Golden Gate agrees in style and character with that in the church of St.
Demetrius at Thessalonica dating from the commencement of the 6th

[Illustration: 323. Interior of the Golden Gateway. (From a Drawing by
Catherwood. Originally published in Fisher’s ‘Oriental Album.’)]

Of similar style and character are the arch-moulds of the double gate on
the south wall of the Haram, and the cupolas of the interior vestibule,
the columns carrying them however being probably of earlier date and
possibly part of the substructure of Herod’s temple. The surface
decoration of these cupolas is similar to that found in Central Syria.

[Illustration: 324. Golden Gateway (west side). (From a Photograph.)]

The sepulchral remains of Syria, both structural and rock-cut, seem
nearly as numerous as the dwellings of the living, and are full of
interest, not only from their frequently bearing dates, but from their
presenting new types of tombs, or old types in such new forms as
scarcely to be recognizable.

[Illustration: 325. Roof of one of the Compartments of the Gate Huldah.
(From De Vogüé.)]

The oldest example, that of Hamrath in Souideh, dates from the 1st
century B.C., and consists of a tomb 28 ft. square decorated with
semi-detached Doric columns; the roof is gone, but it was probably
covered with one of pyramidal form like the tomb of Zechariah (Woodcut
No. 238).

The tomb of Diogenes at Hass (Woodcut No. 326), also square, consisted
of two storeys, with a portico on the ground storey on one side, and a
peristyle on all four sides of the upper storey, above which rose the
central walls carrying a pyramidal roof, not stepped, as in the
Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, but with projecting bosses on each stone.
The same class of roof is found on other tombs, being adopted probably
as the simplest method of covering over the tomb; these tombs date from
the 4th and 5th centuries, and in all cases the sepulchral chambers
within them are vaulted with large slabs of stone carried on stone ribs.

[Illustration: 326. Tomb at Hass]

Besides these, there is another class of tomb apparently very numerous,
in which the sepulchral chamber is below the ground, with vaulted
entrance rising to form a podium on which columns either two or four in
number are erected;[232] in the latter case the columns bearing an
entablature with small pyramidal roof; in the former a fragment of
architrave only, the two columns being sometimes tied together one-third
of the way down by a stone band with dentils carved on it: these tombs
are, many of them, dated, and belong to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

With our present limits it is only possible to characterize generally
the main features of the Byzantine style, and to indicate the sources
from which further information may be obtained. In the present instance
it is satisfactory to find that ample materials now exist for filling up
a framework which a few years ago was almost entirely a blank. Any one
who will master the works of De Vogüé, or Texier, or Salzenberg, and
other minor publications, may easily acquire a fair knowledge of the
older Byzantine style of architecture. Once it is grasped it will
probably be acknowledged that there are few more interesting chapters
than that which explains how a perfect Christian Church like that of
Sta. Sophia was elaborated out of the classical edifices of ancient
Rome. It will also probably be found that there are few more instructive
lessons to be learnt from the study of architectural history than the
tracing of the various contrivances which were so earnestly employed,
during the first two centuries of Christian supremacy, in attaining this

                              CHAPTER IV.

                          NEO-BYZANTINE STYLE.


Sta. Irene, Constantinople—Churches at Ancyra, Trabala, and
  Constantinople—Churches at Thessalonica and in Greece—Domestic

Santa Sophia at Constantinople was not only the grandest and most
perfect creation of the old school of Byzantine art, but it was also the
last. It seems as if the creative power of the Empire had exhausted
itself in that great effort, and for long after it the history is a
blank. We always knew that the two centuries which elapsed between the
ages of Constantine and Justinian were ages of great architectural
activity. We knew that hundreds, it may be thousands, of churches were
erected during that period. With the two subsequent centuries, however,
the case seems widely different. Shortly after Justinian’s death, the
troubles of the Empire, the Persian wars of Heraclius, and, more than
either, the rise of the Mahomedan power in the East, and of the Roman
pontificate under Gregory the Great in the West—all tended so to disturb
and depress the Byzantine kingdom as to leave little leisure and less
means for the exercise of architectural magnificence. It is therefore
hardly probable that we shall ever be in a position to illustrate the
7th and 8th centuries as we now know we can the 5th and 6th. Still,
building must have gone on, because when we again meet the style, it is
changed. One of the very earliest churches of the new school is that of
Sta. Irene at Constantinople, rebuilt as we now find it by Leo the
Isaurian (A.D. 718-740). It differs in several essential particulars
from the old style, and contains the germ of much that we find
frequently repeated. The change is not so great as might have taken
place in two centuries of building activity, but it is considerable. In
this church we find, apparently for the first time in a complete form,
the new mode of introducing the light to the dome through a
perpendicular drum, which afterwards became so universal that it serves
to fix the age of a building in the East with almost as much certainty
as the presence of a pointed arch does that of a building in the West.
As this invention is so important, it may be well to recapitulate the
steps by which it was arrived at.

[Illustration: 327. Half Section, half Elevation, of Dome of Sta. Irene
at Constantinople.]

The oldest mode of lighting a dome is practised in the Pantheon (Woodcut
No. 191), by simply leaving out the central portion. Artistically and
mechanically nothing could be better, but before the invention of glass
it was intolerably inconvenient whenever much rain or snow fell. A
change therefore was necessary, and it is found in the tomb or temple of
Marcellus, built during the reign of Constantine on the Via Prenestina
at Rome. It consists simply of boring four circular holes through the
dome a little above its springing. The next step is seen at Thessalonica
in the church of St. George (Woodcut No. 305). There eight semi-circular
lunettes are pierced in the dome, at its springing, and answer the
purpose very perfectly. The system culminated in Sta. Sophia, where
forty windows introduce a flood of light without its ever falling on the
eyes of the spectator. After this it seems to have been considered
desirable not to break the hemisphere of the dome, but to place the
windows in a perpendicular circular rim of masonry—called the drum—and
to introduce the light always through that. Externally there can be no
doubt but that this was an improvement; it gave height and dignity to
the dome in small churches, where, without this elevation, the feature
would have been lost. Internally, however, the advantage is
problematical: the separation of the dome from its pendentives destroyed
the continuity of the roof, and introduced the stilted effect so
objectionable in Renaissance domes. In the Neo-Byzantine churches the
dome became practically a skylight on the roof, the drum increasing in
height and the dome diminishing in dignity as the style progressed. As
all the churches are small, the feature is unobjectionable; but in
larger edifices it would have been found difficult to construct it, and
the artistic result would hardly have been pleasing, even had this
difficulty been got over. Be this as it may, its value as a chronometric
landmark is undoubted.

As a rule it may generally be asserted that, in all Christian domes
erected during the old Byzantine period, the light is introduced by
openings in the dome itself.[233] After that time, the light is as
generally admitted through windows in the drum, the dome itself being
cut into only in the rarest possible instances.

[Illustration: 328. St Clement, Ancyra. (From a Drawing by Ed.

[Illustration: 329. Church of St. Clement, Ancyra. Scale 100 ft. to 1

If these views are correct, the church of St. Clement at Ancyra is a
transitional specimen subsequent to Sta. Sophia, because the dome is
raised timidly (Woodcut No. 328) on a low drum pierced with four small
windows; but it is anterior to Sta. Irene, because the dome is still
pierced with twelve larger windows, after the manner of Sta. Sophia and
the older churches. All the details of its architecture, in so far as
they can be made out, bear out this description. They are further
removed from the classical type than the churches of Justinian, and the
whole plan (Woodcut No. 329) is more that which the Greek church
afterwards took than any of the early churches show. Its greatest
defect—though the one most generally inherent in the style—is in its
dimensions. It is only 64 ft. long, over all externally, by 58 ft. wide.
Yet this is a fair average size of a Greek church of that age.

Another church, very similar, is found at Myra, dedicated to St.
Nicholas. It exceeds that of St. Clement in size, and has a double
narthex considerably larger in proportion, but so ruined that it is
difficult to make out its plan, or to ascertain whether it is a part of
the original structure, or a subsequent addition. The cupola is raised
on a drum, and altogether the church has the appearance of being much
more modern than that at Ancyra.

A third church of the same class, and better preserved, is found at
Trabala in Lycia. It is of the same type as St. Clement, and similar in
its arrangements to Sta. Sophia, except in the omission of the
semi-domes, which seem never to have been adopted in the provinces,[234]
and indeed may be said to be peculiar to the metropolitan church.
Notwithstanding the beauty of that feature, it appears to have remained
dormant till revived by the Turks in Constantinople, and there alone.

In this example there are two detached octagonal buildings, either tombs
or sacristies; a form which, except in large detached buildings, does
not seem to have been so common as the circular, till after the time of

[Illustration: 330. Church at Trabala. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

Returning to the capital, we find one other remarkable peculiarity of
the Neo-Byzantine style in the attempt to allow the external surface of
an ordinary tunnel-vault to retain its form without any ridge whatever.
It can hardly be doubted that this is artistically a mistake. With domes
it was early felt to be so, and consequently we always find a flower or
pinnacle in iron, or some such ornament, marking the centre. In this the
Saracenic architects were especially successful—all their domes possess
a central ornament sufficient to relieve them, and generally of the most
beautiful proportions. With the extrados of a circular vault, however,
it is even worse than with a dome. A roof is felt to be a contrivance to
keep off the rain. It may be more or less sloping, according to the
materials of which it is constructed; but to make one part of each ridge
sloping, and the central portion flat, is a discord that offends the
eye, besides looking weak and unmeaning. A pointed arch would avoid the
evil, but a reverse or ogee curve is perhaps the most pleasing. In the
Neo-Byzantine age, however, between the 8th and the 12th centuries, the
eye seems to have got accustomed to it. It is common in the East,
especially at Constantinople and at Venice. In St. Mark’s and elsewhere
it became so familiar a form that it was copied and continued by the
Renaissance architects even to the end of the 16th century.

[Illustration: 331. Church of Moné tés Choras. (From Lenoir.) No scale.]

One of the best illustrations of these peculiarities is the church of
Moné tés Choras at Constantinople, now converted into a mosque and
called Kahriyeh Djamisi. The older part of it seems to belong to the
11th century, the side-aisles to the 12th, and though small, it
illustrates the style perfectly. The porch consists of five arches
covered with an intersecting vault, visible both externally and
internally. The last two bays are covered with cupolas which still
retain their mosaics internally, and those of singular beauty and
brilliancy, though, owing to the constructive defects of the
intermediate parts, the wet has leaked through, and the mosaics have
mostly peeled off. Externally the front is ornamented with courses of
stones alternating with two or three layers of tiles, and even in its
ruined state is effective and picturesque. Its principal interest is
that it shows what was the matrix[235] of the contemporary church of St.
Mark at Venice. Subsequent additions have much modified the external
appearance of St. Mark, but there can be very little doubt that
originally it was intended to be very like the façade shown in Woodcut
No. 331.

Not far from Moné tés Choras there are two other churches of the same
class and of about the same age. One, the Pantokrator, has been added to
at various times so as to cover a large space of ground, but it consists
consequently of small and ill-assorted parts. It retains, however, a
good deal of its marble pavements and other features of interest. The
other, known as the Fethîyeh Djamisi, is smaller and more complete, and
possesses some mosaics of considerable beauty.

[Illustration: 332. Plan of the Theotokos. Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.]

[Illustration: 333. Elevation of Church of the Theotokos. (From Lenoir,
‘Architecture Monastique.’) Enlarged scale.]

The best example of its class, however, in Constantinople is that known
as the Theotokos. Like those just mentioned it is very small, the church
itself being only 37 ft