Manual Of Egyptian Archaeology And Guide To The Study Of Antiquities In Egypt
by Gaston Camille Charles Maspero
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III. Columns with Hathor-head Capitals.—We find examples of the Hathor- headed column dating from ancient times, as at Deir el Bahari; but this order is best known in buildings of the Ptolemaic period, as at Contra Latopolis, Philae, and Denderah. The shaft and the base present no special characteristics. They resemble those of the campaniform columns. The capital is in two divisions. Below we have a square block, bearing on each face a woman's head in high relief and crowned with a naos. The woman has the ears of a heifer. Her hair, confined over the brow by three vertical bands, falls behind the ears, and hangs long on the shoulders. Each head supports a fluted cornice, on which stands a naos framed between two volutes, and crowned by a slender abacus (fig. 71). Thus each column has for its capital four heads of Hathor. Seen from a distance, it at once recalls the form of the sistrum, so frequently represented in the bas- reliefs as held in the hands of queens and goddesses. It is in fact a sistrum, in which the regular proportions of the parts are disregarded. The handle is gigantic, while the upper part of the instrument is unduly reduced. This notion so pleased the Egyptian fancy that architects did not hesitate to combine the sistrum design with elements borrowed from other orders. The four heads of Hathor placed above a campaniform capital, furnished Nectenebo with a composite type for his pavilion at Philae (fig. 72). I cannot say that the compound is very satisfactory, but the column is in reality less ugly than it appears in engravings.

Shafts of columns were regulated by no fixed rules of proportion or arrangement. The architect might, if he chose, make use of equal heights with very different diameters, and, regardless of any considerations apart from those of general harmony, might design the various parts according to whatever scale best suited him. The dimensions of the capital had no invariable connection with those of the shaft, nor was the height of the shaft dependent on the diameter of the column. At Karnak, the campaniform columns of the hypostyle hall measure 10 feet high in the capital, and 55 feet high in the shaft, with a lower diameter of 11 feet 8 inches. At Luxor, the capital measures 11-1/2 feet, the shaft 49 feet, and the diameter at the spring of the base 11-1/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the shaft and capital measure 35 feet, and the spring diameter is 6-1/2 feet. The lotus-bud or clustered column gives similar results. At Karnak, in the aisles of the hypostyle hall, the capital is 10 feet high, the shaft 33 feet, and the base diameter 6-3/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the capital is 5- 1/2 feet high, the shaft 24-1/2 feet, and the base diameter 5 feet 10 inches. We find the same irregularity as to architraves. Their height is determined only by the taste of the architect or the necessities of the building. So also with the spacing of columns. Not only does the inter- columnar space vary considerably between temple and temple, or chamber and chamber, but sometimes—as in the first court at Medinet Habu—they vary in the same portico. We have thus far treated separately of each type; but when various types were associated in a single building, no fixed relative proportions were observed. In the hypostyle hall at Karnak, the campaniform columns support the nave, while the lotus-bud variety is relegated to the aisles (fig. 73). There are halls in the temple of Khonsu where the lotus- bud column is the loftiest, and others where the campaniform dominates the rest. In what remains of the Medamot structure, campaniform and lotus-bud columns are of equal height. Egypt had no definite orders like those of Greece, but tried every combination to which the elements of the column could be made to lend themselves; hence, we can never determine the dimensions of an Egyptian column from those of one of its parts.

[12] For an account of the excavations at Bubastis, see Eighth and Tenth Memoirs of the Egypt Exploration Fund, by M.E. Naville.

[13] French "Promenoir"; this is perhaps best expressed by "Processional Hall," in accordance with the description of its purpose on p. 67. —A.B.E.


Most of the famous sanctuaries—Denderah, Edfu, Abydos—were founded before Men a by the Servants of Hor.[14] Becoming dilapidated or ruined in the course of ages, they have been restored, rebuilt, remodelled, one after the other, till nothing remains of the primitive design to show us what the first Egyptian architecture was like. The funerary temples built by the kings of the Fourth Dynasty have left some traces.[15] That of the second pyramid of Gizeh was so far preserved at the beginning of the last century, that Maillet saw four large pillars standing. It is now almost entirely destroyed; but this loss has been more than compensated by the discovery, in 1853, of a temple situate about fifty yards to the southward of the sphinx (fig. 74). The facade is still hidden by the sand, and the inside is but partly uncovered. The core masonry is of fine Turah limestone. The casing, pillars, architraves, and roof were constructed with immense blocks of alabaster or red granite (Note 9). The plan is most simple: In the middle (A) is a great hall in shape of the letter T, adorned with sixteen square pillars 16 feet in height; at the north-west corner of this hall is a narrow passage on an inclined plane (B), by which the building is now entered;[16] at the south-west corner is a recess (C) which contains six niches, in pairs one over the other. A long gallery opening at each end into a square chamber, now filled with rubbish (E), completes the plan. Without any main door, without windows, and entered through a passage too long to admit the light of day, the building can only have received light and air through slanting air-slits in the roofing, of which traces are yet visible on the tops of the walls (e, e) on each side of the main hall (Note 10). Inscriptions, bas-reliefs, paintings, such as we are accustomed to find everywhere in Egypt, are all wanting; and yet these bare walls produce as great an impression upon the spectator as the most richly decorated temples of Thebes. Not only grandeur but sublimity has been achieved in the mere juxtaposition of blocks of granite and alabaster, by means of purity of line and exactness of proportion.

Some few scattered ruins in Nubia, the Fayum, and Sinai, do not suffice to prove whether the temples of the Twelfth Dynasty merited the praises lavished on them in contemporary inscriptions or not. Those of the Theban kings, of the Ptolemies, and of the Caesars which are yet standing are in some cases nearly perfect, while almost all are easy of restoration to those who conscientiously study them upon the spot. At first sight, they seem to present an infinite variety as to arrangement; but on a closer view they are found to conform to a single type. We will begin with the sanctuary. This is a low, small, obscure, rectangular chamber, inaccessible to all save Pharaoh and the priests. As a rule it contained neither statue nor emblem, but only the sacred bark, or a tabernacle of painted wood placed upon a pedestal. A niche in the wall, or an isolated shrine formed of a single block of stone, received on certain days the statue, or inanimate symbol of the local god, or the living animal, or the image of the animal, sacred to that god. A temple must necessarily contain this one chamber; and if it contained but this one chamber, it would be no less a temple than the most complex buildings. Very rarely, however, especially in large towns, was the service of the gods thus limited to the strictly necessary. Around the sanctuary, or "divine house," was grouped a series of chambers in which sacrificial and ceremonial objects were stored, as flowers, perfumes, stuffs, and precious vessels. In advance of this block of buildings were next built one or more halls supported on columns; and in advance of these came a courtyard, where the priests and devotees assembled. This courtyard was surrounded by a colonnade to which the public had access, and was entered through a gateway flanked by two towers, in front of which were placed statues, or obelisks; the whole being surrounded by an enclosure wall of brickwork, and approached through an avenue of sphinxes. Every Pharaoh was free to erect a hall still more sumptuous in front of those which his predecessors had built; and what he did, others might do after him. Thus, successive series of chambers and courts, of pylons and porticoes, were added reign after reign to the original nucleus; and—vanity or piety prompting the work—the temple continued to increase in every direction, till space or means had failed.

The most simple temples were sometimes the most beautiful. This was the case as regards the sanctuaries erected by Amenhotep III. in the island of Elephantine, which were figured by the members of the French expedition at the end of the last century, and destroyed by the Turkish governor of Asuan in 1822. The best preserved, namely, the south temple (fig. 75), consisted of but a single chamber of sandstone, 14 feet high, 31 feet wide, and 39 feet long. The walls, which were straight, and crowned with the usual cornice, rested on a platform of masonry some 8 feet above the ground. This platform was surrounded by a parapet wall, breast high. All around the temple ran a colonnade, the sides each consisting of seven square pillars, without capital or base, and the two facades, front and back, being supported by two columns with the lotus-bud capital. Both pillars and columns rose direct from the parapet; except on the east front, where a flight of ten or twelve steps, enclosed between two walls of the same height as the platform, led up to the cella. The two columns at the head of the steps were wider apart than those of the opposite face, and through the space thus opened was seen a richly-decorated door. A second door opened at the other end, beneath the portico. Later, in Roman times, this feature was utilised in altering the building. The inter-columnar space at the end was filled up, and thus was obtained a second hall, rough and bare, but useful for the purposes of the temple service. These Elephantine sanctuaries bring to mind the peripteral temples of the Greeks, and this resemblance to one of the most familiar forms of classical architecture explains perhaps the boundless admiration with which they were regarded by the French savants. Those of Mesheikh, of El Kab, and of Sharonah are somewhat more elaborate. The building at El Kab is in three divisions (fig. 76); first, a hall of four columns (A); next, a chamber (B) supported by four Hathor-headed pillars; and in the end wall, opposite the door, a niche (C), approached by four steps. Of these small oratories the most complete model now remaining belongs to the Ptolemaic period; namely, the temple of Hathor at Deir el Medineh (fig. 77). Its length is just double its breadth. The walls are built with a batter inclining inwards,[17] and are externally bare, save at the door, which is framed in a projecting border covered with finely-sculptured scenes. The interior is in three parts: A portico (B), supported by two lotus flower columns; a pronaos (C), reached by a flight of four steps, and separated from the portico by a wall which connects the two lotus flower columns with two Hathor-headed pilasters in antis; lastly, the sanctuary (D), flanked by two small chambers (E, E), which are lighted by square openings cut in the ceiling. The ascent to the terrace is by way of a staircase, very ingeniously placed in the south corner of the portico, and furnished with a beautiful open window (F). This is merely a temple in miniature; but the parts, though small, are so well proportioned that it would be impossible to conceive anything more delicate or graceful.

We cannot say as much for the temple which the Pharaohs of the Twentieth Dynasty erected to the south of Karnak, in honour of the god Khonsu (fig. 78); but if the style is not irreproachable, the plan is nevertheless so clear, that one is tempted to accept it as the type of an Egyptian temple, in preference to others more elegant or majestic. On analysis, it resolves itself into two parts separated by a thick wall (A, A). In the centre of the lesser division is the Holy of Holies (B), open at both ends and isolated from the rest of the building by a surrounding passage (C) 10 feet in width. To the right and left of this sanctuary are small dark chambers (D, D), and behind it is a hall of four columns (E), from which open seven other chambers (F, F). Such was the house of the god, having no communication with the adjoining parts, except by two doors (G) in the southern wall (A, A). These opened into a wide and shallow hypostyle hall (H), divided into nave and aisles. The nave is supported by four lotus- flower columns, 23 feet in height; the aisles each contain two lotus-bud columns 18 feet high. The roof of the nave is, therefore, 5 feet higher than that of the sides. This elevation was made use of for lighting purposes, the clerestory being fitted with stone gratings, which admitted the daylight. The court (I) was square, and surrounded by a double colonnade entered by way of four side-gates and a great central gateway flanked by two quadrangular towers with sloping fronts. This pylon (K) measures 105 feet in length, 33 feet in width, and 60 feet in height. It contains no chambers, but only a narrow staircase, which leads to the top of the gate, and thence up to the towers. Four long grooves in the facade, reaching to a third of its height, correspond to four quadrangular openings cut through. the whole thickness of the masonry. Here were fixed four great wooden masts, formed of joined beams and held in place by a wooden framework fixed in the four openings above mentioned. From these masts floated long streamers of various colours (fig. 79). Such was the temple of Khonsu, and such, in their main features, were the majority of the greater temples of Theban and Ptolemaic times, as Luxor, the Ramesseum, Medinet Habu, Edfu, and Denderah. Though for the most part half in ruins, they affect one with a strange and disquieting sense of oppression. As mystery was a favourite attribute of the Egyptian gods, even so the plan of their temples is in such wise devised as to lead gradually from the full sunshine of the outer world to the obscurity of their retreats. At the entrance we find large open spaces, where air and light stream freely in. The hypostyle hall is pervaded by a sober twilight; the sanctuary is more than half lost in a vague darkness; and at the end of the building, in the farthest of the chambers, night all but reigns completely. The effect of distance which was produced by this gradual diminution of light, was still further heightened by various structural artifices. The parts, for instance, are not on the same level. The ground rises from the entrance (fig. 80), and there are always a few steps to mount in passing from one part to another. In the temple of Khonsu the difference of level is not more than 5-1/4 feet, but it is combined with a lowering of the roof, which in most cases is very strongly marked. From the pylon to the wall at the farther end, the height decreases continuously. The peristyle is loftier than the hypostyle hall, and the hypostyle hall is loftier than the sanctuary. The last hall of columns and the farthest chamber are lower and lower still. The architects of Ptolemaic times changed certain details of arrangement. They erected chapels and oratories on the terraced roofs, and reserved space for the construction of secret passages and crypts in the thickness of the walls, wherein to hide the treasure of the god (fig. 81). They, however, introduced only two important modifications of the original plan. The sanctuary was formerly entered by two opposite doors; they left but one. Also the colonnade, which was originally continued round the upper end of the court, or, where there was no court, along the facade of the temple, became now the pronaos, so forming an additional chamber. The columns of the outer row are retained, but built into a wall reaching to about half their height. This connecting wall is surmounted by a cornice, which thus forms a screen, and so prevented the outer throng from seeing what took place within (fig. 82). The pronaos is supported by two, three, or even four rows of columns, according to the size of the edifice. For the rest, it is useful to compare the plan of the temple of Edfu (fig. 83) with that of the temple of Khonsu, observing how little they differ the one from the other.

Thus designed, the building sufficed for all the needs of worship. If enlargement was needed, the sanctuary and surrounding chambers were generally left untouched, and only the ceremonial parts of the building, as the hypostyle halls, the courts, or pylons, were attacked. The procedure of the Egyptians under these circumstances is best illustrated by the history of the great temple of Karnak. Founded by Usertesen I., probably on the site of a still earlier temple, it was but a small building, constructed of limestone and sandstone, with granite doorways. The inside was decorated with sixteen-sided pillars. The second and third Amenemhats added some work to it, and the princes of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Dynasties adorned it with statues and tables of offerings. It was still unaltered when, in the eighteenth century B.C., Thothmes I., enriched with booty of war, resolved to enlarge it. In advance of what already stood there, he erected two chambers, preceded by a court and flanked by two isolated chapels. In advance of these again, he erected three successive pylons, one behind the other. The whole presented the appearance of a vast rectangle placed crosswise at the end of another rectangle. Thothmes II. and Hatshepsut[18] covered the walls erected by their father with bas-relief sculptures, but added no more buildings. Hatshepsut, however, in order to bring in her obelisks between the pylons of Thothmes I., opened a breach in the south wall, and overthrew sixteen of the columns which stood in that spot. Thothmes III., probably finding certain parts of the structure unworthy of the god, rebuilt the first pylon, and also the double sanctuary, which he renewed in the red granite of Syene. To the eastward, he rebuilt some old chambers, the most important among them being the processional hall, used for the starting-point and halting-place of ceremonial processions, and these he surrounded with a stone wall. He also made the lake whereon the sacred boats were launched on festival days; and, with a sharp change of axis, he built two pylons facing towards the south, thus violating the true relative proportion which had till then subsisted between the body and the front of the general mass of the building. The outer enclosure was now too large for the earlier pylons, and did not properly accord with the later ones. Amenhotep III. corrected this defect. He erected a sixth and yet more massive pylon, which was, therefore, better suited for the facade. As it now stood (fig. 84), the temple surpassed even the boldest architectural enterprises hitherto attempted; but the Pharaohs of the Nineteenth Dynasty succeeded in achieving still more. They added only a hypostyle hall (fig. 85) and a pylon; but the hypostyle hall measured 170 feet in length by 329 feet in breadth. Down the centre they carried a main avenue of twelve columns, with lotus-flower capitals, being the loftiest ever erected in the interior of a building; while in the aisles, ranged in seven rows on either side, they planted 122 columns with lotus-bud capitals. The roof of the great nave rose to a height of 75 feet above the level of the ground, and the pylon stood some fifty feet higher still. During a whole century, three kings laboured to perfect this hypostyle hall. Rameses I. conceived the idea; Seti I. finished the bulk of the work, and Rameses II. wrought nearly the whole of the decoration. The Pharaohs of the next following dynasties vied with each other for such blank spaces as might be found, wherein to engrave their names upon the columns, and so to share the glory of the three founders; but farther they did not venture. Left thus, however, the monument was still incomplete. It still needed one last pylon and a colonnaded court. Nearly three centuries elapsed before the task was again taken in hand. At last the Bubastite kings decided to begin the colonnades, but their work was as feeble as their, resources were limited. Taharkah, the Ethiopian, imagined for a moment that he was capable of rivalling the great Theban Pharaohs, and planned a hypostyle hall even larger than the first; but he made a false start. The columns of the great nave, which were all that he had time to erect, were placed too wide apart to admit of being roofed over; so they never supported anything, but remained as memorials of his failure. Finally, the Ptolemies, faithful to the traditions of the native monarchy, threw themselves into the work; but their labours were interrupted by revolts at Thebes, and the earthquake of the year 27 B.C. destroyed part of the temple, so that the pylon remained for ever unfinished. The history of Karnak is identical with that of all the great Egyptian temples. When closely studied, the reason why they are for the most part so irregular becomes evident. The general plan is practically the same, and the progress of the building was carried forward in the same way; but the architects could not always foresee the future importance of their work, and the site was not always favourable to the development of the building. At Luxor (fig. 86), the progress went on methodically enough under Amenhotep III. and Seti I., but when Rameses II. desired to add to the work of his predecessors, a bend in the river compelled him to turn eastwards. His pylon is not parallel to that of Amenhotep III., and his colonnades make a distinct angle with the general axis of the earlier work. At Philae (fig. 87) the deviation is still greater. Not only is the larger pylon out of alignment with the smaller, but the two colonnades are not parallel with each other. Neither are they attached to the pylon with a due regard to symmetry. This arises neither from negligence nor wilfulness, as is popularly supposed. The first plan was as regular as the most symmetrically-minded designer could wish; but it became necessary to adapt it to the requirements of the site, and the architects were thenceforth chiefly concerned to make the best of the irregularities to which they were condemned by the configuration of the ground. Such difficulties were, in fact, a frequent source of inspiration; and Philae shows with what skill the Egyptians extracted every element of beauty and picturesqueness from enforced disorder.

The idea of the rock-cut temple must have occurred to the Egyptians at an early period. They carved the houses of the dead in the mountain side; why, therefore, should they not in like manner carve the houses of the gods? Yet the earliest known Speos-sanctuaries date from only the beginning of the Eighteenth Dynasty. They are generally found in those parts of the valley where the cultivable land is narrowest, as near Beni Hasan, at Gebel Silsileh, and in Nubia. All varieties of the constructed temple are found in the rock-cut temple, though more or less modified by local conditions. The Speos Artemidos is approached by a pillared portico, but contains only a square chamber with a niche at the end for the statue of the goddess Pakhet. At Kalaat Addah (fig. 88), a flat narrow facade (A) faces the river, and is reached by a steep flight of steps; next comes a hypostyle hall (B), flanked by two dark chambers (C), and lastly a sanctuary in two storeys, one above the other (D). The chapel of Horemheb (fig. 89), at Gebel Silsileh, is formed of a gallery parallel to the river (A), supported by four massive pillars left in the rock. From this gallery, the sanctuary chamber opens at right angles. At Abu Simbel, the two temples are excavated entirely in the cliff. The front of the great speos (fig. 90) imitates a sloping pylon crowned with a cornice, and guarded as usual by four seated colossi flanked by smaller statues. These colossi are sixty-six feet high. The doorway passed, there comes a first hall measuring 130 feet in length by 60 feet in width, which corresponds to the usual peristyle. Eight Osiride statues backed by as many square pillars, seem to bear the mountain on their heads. Beyond this come (1) a hypostyle hall; (2) a transverse gallery, isolating the sanctuary, and (3) the sanctuary itself, between two smaller chambers. Eight crypts, sunk at a somewhat lower level than that of the main excavation, are unequally distributed to right and left of the peristyle. The whole excavation measures 180 feet from the doorway to the end of the sanctuary. The small speos of Hathor, about a hundred paces to the northward, is of smaller dimensions. The facade is adorned with six standing colossi, four representing Rameses II., and two his wife, Nefertari. The peristyle and the crypts are lacking (fig. 91), and the small chambers are placed at either end of the transverse passage, instead of being parallel with the sanctuary. The hypostyle hall, however, is supported by six Hathor-headed pillars. Where space permitted, the rock- cut temple was but partly excavated in the cliff, the forepart being constructed outside with blocks cut and dressed, and becoming half grotto, half building. In the hemi-speos at Derr, the peristyle is external to the cliff; at Beit el Wally, the pylon and court are built; at Gerf Husein and Wady Sabuah, pylon, court, and hypostyle hall are all outside the mountain, The most celebrated and original hemi-speos is that built by Queen Hatshepsut, at Deir el Bahari, in the Theban necropolis (fig. 92),[19] The sanctuary and chapels which, as usual, accompany it, were cut about 100 ft. above the level of the valley. In order to arrive at that height, slopes were made and terraces laid out according to a plan which was not understood until the site was thoroughly excavated.

Between the hemi-speos and the isolated temple, the Egyptians created yet another variety, namely, the built temple backed by, but not carried into, the cliff. The temple of the sphinx at Gizeh, and the temple of Seti I. at Abydos, may be cited as two good examples. I have already described the former; the area of the latter (fig. 93) was cleared in a narrow and shallow belt of sand, which here divides the plain from the desert. It was sunk up to the roof, the tops of the walls but just showing above the level of the ground. The staircase which led up to the terraced roof led also to the top of the hill. The front, which stood completely out, seemed in nowise extraordinary. It was approached by two pylons, two courts, and a shallow portico supported on square pillars. The unusual part of the building only began beyond this point. First, there were two hypostyle halls instead of one. These are separated by a wall with seven doorways. There is no nave, and the sanctuary opens direct from the second hall. This, as usual, consists of an oblong chamber with a door at each end; but the rooms by which it is usually surrounded are here placed side by side in a line, two to the right and four to the left; further, they are covered by "corbelled" vaults, and are lighted only from the doors. Behind the sanctuary are further novelties. Another hypostyle hall (K) abuts on the end wall, and its dependencies are unequally distributed to right and left. As if this were not enough, the architect also constructed, to the left of the main building, a court, five chambers of columns, various passages and dark chambers—in short, an entire wing branching off at right angles to the axis of the temple proper, with no counterbalancing structures on the other side. These irregularities become intelligible when the site is examined. The cliff is shallow at this part, and the smaller hypostyle hall is backed by only a thin partition of rock. If the usual plan had been followed, it would have been necessary to cut the cliff entirely away, and the structure would have forfeited its special characteristic—that of a temple backed by a cliff—as desired by the founder. The architect, therefore, distributed in width those portions of the edifice which he could not carry out in length; and he even threw out a wing. Some years later, when Rameses II. constructed a monument to his own memory, about a hundred yards to the northward of the older building, he was careful not to follow in his father's footsteps. Built on the top of an elevation, his temple had sufficient space for development, and the conventional plan was followed in all its strictness.

Most temples, even the smallest, should be surrounded by a square enclosure or temenos.[20] At Medinet Habu, this enclosure wall is of sandstone—low, and embattled. The innovation is due to a whim of Rameses III., who, in giving to his monument the outward appearance of a fortress, sought to commemorate his Syrian victories. Elsewhere, the doorways are of stone, and the walls are built in irregular courses of crude bricks. The great enclosure wall was not, as frequently stated, intended to isolate the temple and screen the priestly ceremonies from eyes profane. It marked the limits of the divine dwelling, and served, when needful, to resist the attacks of enemies whose cupidity might be excited by the accumulated riches of the sanctuary. As at Karnak, avenues of sphinxes and series of pylons led up to the various gates, and formed triumphal approaches. The rest of the ground was in part occupied by stables, cellarage, granaries, and private houses. Just as in Europe during the Middle Ages the population crowded most densely round about the churches and abbeys, so in Egypt they swarmed around the temples, profiting by that security which the terror of his name and the solidity of his ramparts ensured to the local deity. A clear space was at first reserved round the pylons and the walls; but in course of time the houses encroached upon this ground, and were even built up against the boundary wall. Destroyed and rebuilt century after century upon the self-same spot, the debris of these surrounding dwellings so raised the level of the soil, that the temples ended for the most part by being gradually buried in a hollow formed by the artificial elevation of the surrounding city. Herodotus noticed this at Bubastis, and on examination it is seen to have been the same in many other localities. At Ombos, at Edfu, at Denderah, the whole city nestled inside the precincts of the divine dwelling. At El Kab, where the temple temenos formed a separate enclosure within the boundary of the city walls, it served as a sort of donjon, or keep, in which the garrison could seek a last refuge. At Memphis and at Thebes, there were as many keeps as there were great temples, and these sacred fortresses, each at first standing alone in the midst of houses, were, from the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty, connected each with each by avenues of sphinxes. These were commonly andro-sphinxes, combining the head of a man and the body of a lion; but we also find crio-sphinxes, which united a ram's head with a lion's body (fig. 94). Elsewhere, in places where the local worship admitted of such substitution, a couchant ram, holding a statuette of the royal founder between his bent forelegs, takes the place of the conventional sphinx (fig. 95). The avenue leading from Luxor to Karnak was composed of these diverse elements. It was one mile and a quarter in length, and there were many bends in it; but this fact affords no fresh proof of Egyptian "symmetrophobia." The enclosures of the two temples were not oriented alike, and the avenues which started squarely from the fronts of each could never have met had they not deviated from their first course. Finally, it may be said that the inhabitants of Thebes saw about as much of their temples as we see at the present day. The sanctuary and its immediate surroundings were closed against them; but they had access to the facades, the courts, and even the hypostyle halls, and might admire the masterpieces of their architects as freely as we admire them now.

[14] Hor-shesu, "followers," or "servants of Horus," are mentioned in the Turin papyrus as the predecessors of Mena, and are referred to in monumental inscriptions as representing the pre-historic people of Egypt. It is to the Hor-shesu that Professors Maspero and Mariette attribute the making of the Great Sphinx.—A.B.E.

[15] For a full description of the oldest funerary chapel known, that of King Sneferu, see W.M.F. Petrie's Medum.

[16] Conf. Mr. Petrie's plan of this temple in Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, Plate VI.—A.B.E.

[17] That is to say, the wall is vertical on the inside; but is built much thicker at the bottom than at the top, so that on the outside it presents a sloping surface, retiring with the height of the wall.—A.B.E.

[18] "Hatshepsut," more commonly known as "Hatasu;" the new reading is, however, more correct. Professor Maspero thinks that it was pronounced "Hatshopsitu."—A.B.E.

[19] For full illustrated account of the complete excavation of this temple, see the Deir el Bahari publications of the Egypt Exploration Fund.

[20] Temenos, i.e., the enclosure wall of the Temple, within which all was holy ground.—A.B.E.


Ancient tradition affirmed that the earliest Egyptian temples contained neither sculptured images, inscriptions, nor symbols; and in point of fact, the Temple of the Sphinx is bare. But this is a unique example. The fragments of architraves and masonry bearing the name of Khafra, which were used for building material in the northern pyramid of Lisht, show that this primitive simplicity had already been abandoned by the time of the Fourth Dynasty. During the Theban period, all smooth surfaces, all pylons, wall- faces, and shafts of columns, were covered with figure-groups and inscriptions. Under the Ptolemies and the Caesars, figures and hieroglyphs became so crowded that the stone on which they are sculptured seems to be lost under the masses of ornament with which it is charged. We recognise at a glance that these scenes are not placed at random. They follow in sequence, are interlinked, and form as it were a great mystic book in which the official relations between gods and men, as well as between men and gods, are clearly set forth for such as are skilled to read them. The temple was built in the likeness of the world, as the world was known to the Egyptians. The earth, as they believed, was a flat and shallow plane, longer than its width. The sky, according to some, extended overhead like an immense iron ceiling, and according to others, like a huge shallow vault. As it could not remain suspended in space without some support, they imagined it to be held in place by four immense props or pillars. The floor of the temple naturally represented the earth. The columns, and if needful the four corners of the chambers, stood for the pillars. The roof, vaulted at Abydos, flat elsewhere, corresponded exactly with the Egyptian idea of the sky. Each of these parts was, therefore, decorated in consonance with its meaning. Those next to the ground were clothed with vegetation. The bases of the columns were surrounded by leaves, and the lower parts of the walls were adorned with long stems of lotus or papyrus (fig. 96), in the midst of which animals were occasionally depicted. Bouquets of water-plants emerging from the water (fig. 97), enlivened the bottom of the wall-space in certain chambers. Elsewhere, we find full-blown flowers interspersed with buds (fig. 98), or tied together with cords (fig. 99); or those emblematic plants which symbolise the union of Upper and Lower Egypt under the rule of a single Pharaoh (fig. 100); or birds with human hands and arms, perched in an attitude of adoration on the sign which represents a solemn festival; or kneeling prisoners tied to the stake in couples, each couple consisting of an Asiatic and a negro (fig. 101). Male and female Niles (fig. 102), laden with flowers and fruits, either kneel, or advance in majestic procession, along the ground level. These are the nomes, lakes, and districts of Egypt, bringing offerings of their products to the god. In one instance, at Karnak, Thothmes III. caused the fruits, flowers, and animals indigenous to the foreign lands which he had conquered, to be sculptured on the lower courses of his walls (fig. 103). The ceilings were painted blue, and sprinkled with five-pointed stars painted yellow, occasionally interspersed with the cartouches of the royal founder. The monotony of this Egyptian heaven was also relieved by long bands of hieroglyphic inscriptions. The vultures of Nekheb and Uati, the goddesses of the south and north, crowned and armed with divine emblems (fig. 104), hovered above the nave of the hypostyle halls, and on the under side of the lintels of the great doors, above the head of the king as he passed through on his way to the sanctuary. At the Ramesseum, at Edfu, at Philae, at Denderah, at Ombos, at Esneh, the depths of the firmament seemed to open to the eyes of the faithful, revealing the dwellers therein. There the celestial ocean poured forth its floods navigated by the sun and moon with their attendant escort of planets, constellations, and decani; and there also the genii of the months and days marched in long procession. In the Ptolemaic age, zodiacs fashioned after Greek models were sculptured side by side with astronomical tables of purely native origin (fig. 105). The decoration of the architraves which supported the massive roofing slabs was entirely independent of that of the ceiling itself. On these were wrought nothing save boldly cut inscriptions, in which the beauty of the temple, the names of the builder-kings who had erected it, and the glory of the gods to whom it was consecrated, are emphatically celebrated. Finally, the decoration of the lowest part of the walls and of the ceiling was restricted to a small number of subjects, which were always similar: the most important and varied scenes being suspended, as it were, between earth and heaven, on the sides of the chambers and the pylons.

These scenes illustrate the official relations which subsisted between Egypt and the gods. The people had no right of direct intercourse with the deities. They needed a mediator, who, partaking of both human and divine nature, was qualified to communicate with both. The king alone, Son of the Sun, was of sufficiently high descent to contemplate the god in his temple, to serve him, and to speak with him face to face. Sacrifices could be offered only by him, or through him, and in his name. Even the customary offerings to the dead were supposed to pass through his hands, and the family availed themselves of his name in the formula suten ta hotep to forward them to the other world. The king is seen, therefore, in all parts of the temple, standing, seated, kneeling, slaying the victim, presenting the parts, pouring out the wine, the milk, and the oil, and burning the incense. All humankind acts through him, and through him performs its duty towards the gods. When the ceremonies to be performed required the assistance of many persons, then alone did mortal subordinates (consisting, as much as possible, of his own family) appear by his side. The queen, standing behind him like Isis behind Osiris, uplifts her hand to protect him, shakes the sistrum, beats the tambourine to dispel evil spirits, or holds the libation vase or bouquet. The eldest son carries the net or lassoes the bull, and recites the prayer while his father successively presents to the god each object prescribed by the ritual. A priest may occasionally act as substitute for the prince, but other men perform only the most menial offices. They are slaughterers or servants, or they bear the boat or canopy of the god. The god, for his part, is not always alone. He has his wife and his son by his side; next after them the gods of the neighbouring homes, and, in a general way, all the gods of Egypt. From the moment that the temple is regarded as representing the world, it must, like the world, contain all gods, both great and small. They are most frequently ranged behind the principal god, seated or standing; and with him they share in the homage paid by the king. Sometimes, however, they take an active part in the ceremonies. The spirits of On and Khonu[21] kneel before the sun, and proclaim his praise. Hor, Set, or Thoth conducts Pharaoh into the presence of his father Amen Ra, or performs the functions elsewhere assigned to the prince or the priest. They help him to overthrow the victim or to snare birds for the sacrifice; and in order to wash away his impurities, they pour upon his head the waters of youth and life. The position and functions of these co-operating gods were strictly defined in the theology. The sun, travelling from east to west, divided the universe into two worlds, the world of the north and the world of the south. The temple, like the universe, was double, and an imaginary line passing through the axis of the sanctuary divided it into two temples—the temple of the south on the right hand, and the temple of the north on the left. The gods and their various manifestations were divided between these two temples, according as they belonged to the northern or southern hemisphere. This fiction of duality was carried yet further. Each chamber was divided, in imitation of the temple, into two halves, the right half belonging to the south, and the left half to the north. The royal homage, to be complete, must be rendered in the temples of the south and of the north, and to the gods of the south and of the north, and with the products of the south and of the north. Each sculptured tableau must, therefore, be repeated at least twice in each temple—on a right wall and on a left wall. Amen, on the right, receives the corn, the wine, the liquids of the south; while on the left he receives the corn, the wine, and the liquids of the north. As with Amen, so with Maut, Khonsu, Mentu, and many other gods. Want of space frequently frustrated the due execution of this scheme, and we often meet with a tableau in which the products of north and south together are placed before an Amen who represents both Amen of the south and Amen of the north. These departures from decorative usage are, however, exceptional, and the dual symmetry is always observed where space permits.

In Pharaonic times, the tableaux were not over-crowded. The wall-surface intended to be covered was marked off below by a line carried just above the ground level decoration, and was bounded above by the usual cornice, or by a frieze. This frieze might be composed of uraei, or of bunches of lotus; or of royal cartouches (fig. 106) supported on either side by divine symbols; or of emblems borrowed from the local cult (by heads of Hathor, for instance, in a temple dedicated to Hathor); or of a horizontal line of dedicatory inscription engraved in large and deeply-cut hieroglyphs. The wall space thus framed in contained sometimes a single scene and sometimes two scenes, one above the other. The wall must be very lofty, if this number is exceeded. Figures and inscriptions were widely spaced, and the scenes succeeded one another with scarcely a break. The spectator had to discover for himself where they began or ended. The head of the king was always studied from the life, and the faces of the gods reproduced the royal portrait as closely as possible. As Pharaoh was the son of the gods, the surest way to obtain portraits of the gods was to model their faces after the face of the king. The secondary figures were no less carefully wrought; but when these were very numerous, they were arranged on two or three levels, the total height of which never exceeded that of the principal personages. The offerings, the sceptres, the jewels, the vestments, the head-dresses, and all the accessories were treated with a genuine feeling for elegance and truth. The colours, moreover, were so combined as to produce in each tableau the effect of one general and prevailing tone; so that in many temples there were chambers which can be justly distinguished as the Blue Hall, the Red Hall, or the Golden Hall. So much for the classical period of decoration.

As we come down to later times, these tableaux are multiplied, and under the Greeks and Romans they become so numerous that the smallest wall contained not less than four (fig. 107), five, six, or even eight registers. The principal figures are, as it were, compressed, so as to occupy less room, and all the intermediate space is crowded with thousands of tiny hieroglyphs. The gods and kings are no longer portraits of the reigning sovereign, but mere conventional types without vigour or life. As for the secondary figures and accessories, the sculptor's only care is to crowd in as many as possible. This was not due to a defect of taste, and to the prevalence of a religious idea which decided but enforced these changes. The object of decoration was not merely the delight of the eye. Applied to a piece of furniture, a coffin, a house, a temple, decoration possessed a certain magic property, of which the power and nature were determined by each being or action represented, by each word inscribed or spoken, at the moment of consecration. Every subject was, therefore, an amulet as well as an ornament. So long as it endured, it ensured to the god the continuance of homage rendered, or sacrifices offered, by the king. To the king, whether living or dead, it confirmed the favours granted to him by the god in recompense for his piety. It also preserved from destruction the very wall upon which it was depicted. At the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty, it was thought that two or three such amulets sufficed to compass the desired effect; but at a later period it was believed that their number could not be too freely multiplied, and the walls were covered with as many as the surface would contain. An average chamber of Edfu or Denderah yields more material for study than the hypostyle hall of Karnak; and the chapel of Antoninus Pius at Philae, had it been finished, would have contained more scenes than the sanctuary of Luxor and the passages by which it is surrounded.

Observing the variety of subjects treated on the walls of any one temple, one might at first be tempted to think that the decoration does not form a connected whole, and that, although many series of scenes must undoubtedly contain the development of an historic idea or a religious dogma, yet that others are merely strung together without any necessary link. At Luxor, and again at the Ramesseum, each face of the pylon is a battle-field on which may be studied, almost day for day, the campaign of Rameses II. against the Kheta, which took place in the fifth year of his reign. There we see the Egyptian camp attacked by night; the king's bodyguard surprised during the march; the defeat of the enemy; their flight; the garrison of Kadesh sallying forth to the relief of the vanquished; and the disasters which befell the prince of the Kheta and his generals. Elsewhere, it is not the war which is represented, but the human sacrifices which anciently celebrated the close of each campaign. The king is seen in the act of seizing his prostrate prisoners by the hair of their heads, and uplifting his mace as if about to shatter their heads at a single blow. At Karnak, along the whole length of the outer wall, Seti I. pursues the Bedawin of Sinai. At Medinet Habu Rameses III. destroys the fleet of the peoples of the great sea, or receives the cut-off hands of the Libyans, which his soldiers bring to him as trophies. In the next scene, all is peace; and we behold Pharaoh pouring out a libation of perfumed water to his father Amen. It would seem as if no link could be established between these subjects, and yet the one is the necessary consequence of the others. If the god had not granted victory to the king, the king in his turn would not have performed these ceremonies in the temple. The sculptor has recorded the events in their order:—first the victory, then the sacrifice. The favour of the god precedes the thank-offering of the king. Thus, on closer examination, we find this multitude of episodes forming the several links of one continuous chain, while every scene, including such as seem at first sight to be wholly unexplained, represents one stage in the development of a single action which begins at the door, is carried through the various halls, and penetrates to the farthest recesses of the sanctuary. The king enters the temple. In the courts, he is everywhere confronted by reminiscences of his victories; and here the god comes forth to greet him, hidden in his shrine and surrounded by priests. The rites prescribed for these occasions are graven on the walls of the hypostyle hall in which they were performed. These being over, king and god together take their way to the sanctuary. At the door which leads from the public hall to the mysterious part of the temple, the escort halts. The king crosses the threshold alone, and is welcomed by the gods. He then performs in due order all the sacred ceremonies enjoined by usage. His merits increase by virtue of his prayers; his senses become exalted; he rises to the level of the divine type. Finally he enters the sanctuary, where the god reveals himself unwitnessed, and speaks to him face to face. The sculptures faithfully reproduce the order of this mystic presentation:—the welcoming reception on the part of the god; the acts and offerings of the king; the vestments which he puts on and off in succession; the various crowns which he places on his head. The prayers which he recites and the favours which are conferred upon him are also recorded upon the walls in order of time and place. The king, and the few who accompany him, have their backs towards the entrance and their faces towards the door of the sanctuary. The gods, on the contrary, or at least such as do not make part of the procession, face the entrance, and have their backs turned towards the sanctuary. If during the ceremony the royal memory failed, the king needed but to raise his eyes to the wall, whereon his duties were mapped out for him.

Nor was this all. Each part of the temple had its accessory decoration and its furniture. The outer faces of the pylons were ornamented, not only with the masts and streamers before mentioned, but with statues and obelisks. The statues, four or six in number, were of limestone, granite, or sandstone. They invariably represented the royal founder, and were sometimes of prodigious size. The two Memnons seated at the entrance of the temple of Amenhotep III., at Thebes, measured about fifty feet in height. The colossal Rameses II. of the Ramesseum measured fifty-seven feet, and that of Tanis at least seventy feet. The greater number, however, did not exceed twenty feet. They mounted guard before the temple, facing outwards, as if confronting an approaching enemy. The obelisks of Karnak are mostly hidden amid the central courts; and those of Queen Hatshepsut were imbedded for seventeen feet of their height in masses of masonry which concealed their bases. These are accidental circumstances, and easy of explanation. Each of the pylons before which they are stationed had in its turn been the entrance to the temple, and was thrown into the rear by the works of succeeding Pharaohs. The true place of all obelisks was in front of the colossi, on each side of the main entrance.[22] They are always in pairs, but often of unequal height. Some have professed to see in them the emblem of Amen, the Generator; or a finger of the god; or a ray of the sun. In sober truth, they are a more shapely form of the standing stone, or menhir, which is raised by semi-civilised peoples in commemoration of their gods or their dead. Small obelisks, about three feet in height, are found in tombs as early as the Fourth Dynasty. They are placed to right and left of the stela; that is to say, on either side of the door which leads to the dwelling of the dead. Erected before the pylon-gates of temples, they are made of granite, and their dimensions are considerable. The obelisk of Heliopolis (fig. 108) measures sixty-eight feet in the shaft, and the obelisks of Luxor stand seventy-seven and seventy-five and a half feet high, respectively. The loftiest known is the obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut at Karnak, which rises to a height of 109 feet. To convey such masses, and to place them in equilibrium, was a sufficiently difficult task, and one is at a loss to understand how the Egyptians succeeded in erecting them with no other appliances than ropes and sacks of sand. Queen Hatshepsut boasts that her obelisks were quarried, shaped, transported, and erected in seven months; and we have no reason to doubt the truth of her statement.[23]

Obelisks were almost always square, with the faces slightly convex, and a slight slope from top to bottom. The pedestal was formed of a single square block adorned with inscriptions, or with cynocephali in high relief, adoring the sun. The point was cut as a pyramidion, and sometimes covered with bronze or gilt copper. Scenes of offerings to Ra Harmakhis, Hor, Tum, or Amen are engraved on the sides of the pyramidion and on the upper part of the prism. The four upright faces are generally decorated with only vertical lines of inscription in praise of the king (Note 11). Such is the usual type of obelisk; but we here and there meet with exceptions. That of Begig in the Fayum (fig. 109) is in shape a rectangular oblong, with a blunt top. A groove upon it shows that it was surmounted by some emblem in metal, perhaps a hawk, like the obelisk represented on a funerary stela in the Gizeh Museum. This form, which like the first is a survival of the menhir, was in vogue till the last days of Egyptian art. It is even found at Axum, in the middle of Ethiopia, dating from about the fourth century of our era, at a time when in Egypt the ancient obelisks were being carried out of the country, and none dreamed of erecting new ones. Such was the accessory decoration of the pylon. The inner courts and hypostyle halls of the temple contained more colossi. Some, placed with their backs against the outer sides of pillars or walls, were half engaged in the masonry, and built up in courses. At Luxor under the peristyle, and at Karnak between each column of the great nave, were also placed statues of Pharaoh; but these were statues of Pharaoh the victor, clad in his robe of state. The right of consecrating a statue in the temple was above all a royal prerogative; yet the king sometimes permitted private persons to dedicate their statues by the side of his own. This was, however, a special favour, and such monuments always bear an inscription stating that it is "by the king's grace" that they occupy that position. Rarely as this privilege was granted, it resulted in a vast accumulation of votive statues, so that in the course of centuries the courts of some temples became crowded with them. At Karnak, the sanctuary enclosure was furnished outside with a kind of broad bench, breast high, like a long base. Upon this the statues were placed, with their backs to the wall. Attached to each was an oblong block of stone, with a projecting spout on one side; these are known as "tables of offerings" (fig. 110). The upper face is more or less hollowed, and is often sculptured with bas-relief representations of loaves, joints of beef, libation vases, and other objects usually presented to the dead or to the gods. Those of King Ameni Entef Amenemhat, at Gizeh, are blocks of red granite more than three feet in length, the top of which is hollowed out in regular rows of cup-holes, each cup-hole being reserved for one particular offering. There was, in fact, an established form of worship provided for statues, and these tables were really altars upon which were deposited sacrificial offerings of meat, cakes, fruits, vegetables, and the like.

The sanctuary and the surrounding chambers contained the objects used in the ceremonial of worship. The bases of altars varied in shape, some being square and massive, others polygonal or cylindrical. Some of these last are in form not unlike a small cannon, which is the name given to them by the Arabs. The most ancient are those of the Fifth Dynasty; the most beautiful is one dedicated by Seti I., now in the Gizeh Museum. The only perfect specimen of an altar known to me was discovered at Menshiyeh in 1884 (fig. 111). It is of white limestone, hard and polished like marble. It stands upon a pedestal in the form of a long cone, having no other ornament than a torus about half an inch below the top. Upon this pedestal, in a hollow specially prepared for its reception, stands a large hemispherical basin. The shrines are little chapels of wood or stone (fig. 112), in which the spirit of the deity was supposed at all times to dwell, and which, on ceremonial occasions, contained his image. The sacred barks were built after the model of the Bari, or boat, in which the sun performed his daily course. The shrine was placed amidship of the boat, and covered with a veil, or curtain, to conceal its contents from all spectators. The crew were also represented, each god being at his post of duty, the pilot at the helm, the look-out at the prow, the king upon his knees before the door of the shrine. We have not as yet discovered any of the statues employed in the ceremonial, but we know what they were like, what part they played, and of what materials they were made. They were animated, and in addition to their bodies of stone, metal, or wood, they had each a soul magically derived from the soul of the divinity which they represented. They spoke, moved, acted—not metaphorically, but actually. The later Ramessides ventured upon no enterprises without consulting them. They stated their difficulties, and the god replied to each question by a movement of the head. According to the Stela of Bakhtan,[24] a statue of Khonsu places its hands four times on the nape of the neck of another statue, so transmitting the power of expelling demons. It was after a conversation with the statue of Amen in the dusk of the sanctuary, that Queen Hatshepsut despatched her squadron to the shores of the Land of Incense.[25] Theoretically, the divine soul of the image was understood to be the only miracle worker; practically, its speech and motion were the results of a pious fraud. Interminable avenues of sphinxes, gigantic obelisks, massive pylons, halls of a hundred columns, mysterious chambers of perpetual night—in a word, the whole Egyptian temple and its dependencies—were built by way of a hiding-place for a performing puppet, of which the wires were worked by a priest.

[21] That is, the spirits of the North, represented by On (Heliopolis), and of the South (Khonu).—A.B.E.

[22] At Tanis there seems to have been a close succession of obelisks and statues along the main avenue leading to the Temple, without the usual corresponding pylons. These were ranged in pairs; i.e., a pair of obelisks, a pair of statues; a pair of obelisks, a pair of shrines; and then a third pair of obelisks. See Tanis, Part I., by W.M.F. Petrie, published by the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1884.—A.B.E.

[23] This fact is recorded in the hieroglyphic inscription upon the obelisks.—A.B.E.

[24] This celebrated tablet, preserved in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, has been frequently translated, and is the subject of a valuable treatise by the late Vicomte de Rouge. It was considered authentic till Dr. Erman, in an admirable paper contributed to the Zeitschrift, 1883, showed it to have been a forgery concocted by the priests of Khonsu during the period of the Persian rule in Egypt, or in early Ptolemaic times. (See Maspero's Hist. Ancienne des Peuples de l'Orient, chap, vi., pp. 287, 288. Fourth Edition.)—A.B.E.

[25] The Land of Incense, called also in the inscriptions "The Land of Punt," was the country from which the Egyptians imported spices, precious woods, gums, etc. It is supposed to represent the southern coasts of the Red Sea, on either side the Bab el Mandeb. Queen Hatshepsut's famous expedition is represented in a series of coloured bas-relief sculptures on the walls of her great temple at Deir el Bahari, reproduced in Dr. Duemichen's work, The Fleet of an Egyptian Queen, and in Mariette's Deir el Bahari. For a full account of this temple, its decoration, and the expedition of Hatshepsut, see the Deir el Bahari publications of the Egypt Exploration Fund.



The Egyptians regarded man as composed of various different entities, each having its separate life and functions. First, there was the body; then the Ka or double, which was a less solid duplicate of the corporeal form—a coloured but ethereal projection of the individual, reproducing him feature for feature. The double of a child was as a child; the double of a woman was as a woman; the double of a man was as a man. After the double (Ka) came the Soul (Bi or Ba), which was popularly represented as a human- headed bird; after the Soul came the "Khu," or "the Luminous," a spark from the divine fire. None of these elements were in their own natures imperishable. Left to themselves, they would hasten to dissolution, and the man would thus die a second time; that is to say, he would be annihilated. The piety of the survivors found means, however, to avert this catastrophe. By the process of embalmment, they could for ages suspend the decomposition of the body; while by means of prayer and offerings, they saved the Double, the Soul, and the "Luminous" from the second death, and secured to them all that was necessary for the prolongation of their existence. The Double never left the place where the mummy reposed: but the Soul and the "Khu" went forth to follow the gods. They, however, kept perpetually returning, like travellers who come home after an absence. The tomb was therefore a dwelling-house, the "Eternal House" of the dead, compared with which the houses of the living were but wayside inns; and these Eternal Houses were built after a plan which exactly corresponded to the Egyptian idea of the after-life. The Eternal House must always include the private rooms of the Soul, which were closed on the day of burial, and which no living being could enter without being guilty of sacrilege. It must also contain the reception rooms of the Double, where priests and friends brought their wishes or their offerings; the two being connected by a passage of more or less length. The arrangement of these three parts[26] varied according to the period, the place, the nature of the ground, and the caprice of each person. The rooms accessible to the living were frequently built above ground, and formed a separate edifice. Sometimes they were excavated in the mountain side, as well as the tomb itself. Sometimes, again, the vault where the mummy lay hidden, and the passages leading to that vault, were in one place, while the place of prayer and offering stood far off in the plain. But whatever variety there may be found as to detail and arrangement, the principle is always the same. The tomb is a dwelling, and it is constructed in such wise as may best promote the well-being, and ensure the preservation, of the dead.

[26] These three parts are (l) the chapel, (2) the passage, or shaft, (3) the sepulchral vault. If the latter was below the level of the chapel, as in the time of the Ancient Empire, the communication was by a sloping or vertical shaft.—A.B.E.


The most ancient monumental tombs are found in the necropolis of Memphis, between Abu Roash and Dahshur, and in that of Medum;[27] they belong to the mastaba type (Note 12). The mastaba (fig. 113) is a quadrangular building, which from a distance might be taken for a truncated pyramid. Many mastabas are from 30 to 40-feet in height, 150 feet in length, and 80 feet in width; while others do not exceed 10 feet in height or 15 feet in length. The faces are symmetrically inclined and generally smooth, though sometimes the courses retreat like steps. The materials employed are stone or brick. The stone is limestone, cut in blocks about two and a half feet long, two feet high, and twenty inches thick. Three sorts of limestone were employed: for the best tombs, the fine white limestone of Turah, or the compact siliceous limestone of Sakkarah; for ordinary tombs, the marly limestone of the Libyan hills. This last, impregnated with salt and veined with crystalline gypsum, is a friable material, and unsuited for ornamentation. The bricks are of two kinds, both being merely sun-dried. The most ancient kind, which ceased to be used about the time of the Sixth Dynasty, is small (8.7 X 4.3 X 5.5 inches), yellowish, and made of nothing but sand, mixed with a little clay and grit.

The later kind is of mud mixed with straw, black, compact, carefully moulded, and of a fair size (15.0 X 7.1 X 5.5 inches). The style of the internal construction differs according to the material employed by the architect. In nine cases out of ten, the stone mastabas are but outwardly regular in construction. The core is of roughly quarried rubble, mixed with rubbish and limestone fragments hastily bedded in layers of mud, or piled up without any kind of mortar. The brick mastabas are nearly always of homogeneous construction. The facing bricks are carefully mortared, and the joints inside are filled up with sand. That the mastaba should be canonically oriented, the four faces set to the four cardinal points, and the longer axis laid from north and south, was indispensable; but, practically, the masons took no special care about finding the true north, and the orientation of these structures is seldom exact. At Gizeh, the mastabas are distributed according to a symmetrical plan, and ranged in regular streets. At Sakkarah, at Abusir, and at Dahshur, they are scattered irregularly over the surface of the plateau, crowded in some places, and wide apart in others. The Mussulman cemetery at Siut perpetuates the like arrangement, and enables us to this day to realise the aspect of the Memphite necropolis towards the close of the ancient empire.

A flat, unpaved platform, formed by the top course of the core (Note 13), covers the top of the mass of the mastaba. This platform is scattered over with terracotta vases, nearly buried in the loose rubbish. These lie thickly over the hollow interior, but are more sparsely deposited elsewhere. The walls are bare. The doors face to the eastward side. They occasionally face towards the north or south side, but never towards the west. In theory, there should be two doors, one for the dead, the other for the living. In practice, the entrance for the dead was a mere niche, high and narrow, cut in the eastward face, near the north-east corner. At the back of this niche are marked vertical lines, framing in a closed space. Even this imitation of a door was sometimes omitted, and the soul was left to manage as best it might. The door of the living was made more or less important, according to the greater or less development of the chamber to which it led. The chamber and door are in some cases represented by only a shallow recess decorated with a stela and a table of offerings (fig. 114). This is sometimes protected by a wall which projects from the facade, thus forming a kind of forecourt open to the north. The forecourt is square in the tomb of Kaapir (fig. 114), and irregular in that of Neferhotep at Sakkarah (fig. 116). When the plan includes one or more chambers, the door sometimes opens in the middle of a small architectural facade (fig. 117), or under a little portico supported by two square pillars without either base or abacus (fig. 118). The doorway is very simple, the two jambs being ornamented with bas-reliefs representing the deceased, and surmounted by a cylindrical drum engraved with his name and titles. In the tomb of Pohunika at Sakkarah the jambs are two pilasters, each crowned with two lotus flowers; but this example is, so far, unique.

The chapel was usually small, and lost in the mass of the building (fig. 119), but no precise rule determined its size. In the tomb of Ti there is first a portico (A), then a square ante-chamber with pillars (B), then a passage (C) with a small room (D) on the right, leading to the last chamber (E) (fig. 120). There was room enough in this tomb for many persons, and, in point of fact, the wife of Ti reposed by the side of her husband. When the monument belonged to only one person, the structure was less complicated. A short and narrow passage led to an oblong chamber upon which it opened at right angles, so that the place is in shape of a T (fig. 121). The end wall is generally smooth; but sometimes it is recessed just opposite the entrance passage, and then the plan forms a cross, of which the head is longer or shorter (fig. 122). This was the ordinary arrangement, but the architect was free to reject it, if he so pleased. Here, a chapel consists of two parallel lobbies connected by a cross passage (fig. 123). Elsewhere, the chamber opens from a corner of the passage (fig. 124). Again, in the tomb of Ptahhotep, the site was hemmed in by older buildings, and was not large enough. The builders therefore joined the new mastaba to the older one in such wise as to give them one entrance in common, and thus the chapel of the one is enlarged by absorbing the whole of the space occupied by the other (fig. 125).

The chapel was the reception room of the Double. It was there that the relations, friends, and priests celebrated the funerary sacrifices on the days prescribed by law; that is to say, "at the feasts of the commencement of the seasons; at the feast of Thoth on the first day of the year; at the feast of Uaga; at the great feast of Sothis; on the day of the procession of the god Min; at the feast of shew-bread; at the feasts of the months and the half months, and the days of the week." Offerings were placed in the principal room, at the foot of the west wall, at the exact spot leading to the entrance of the "eternal home" of the dead. Unlike the Kiblah of the mosques, or Mussulman oratories, this point is not always oriented towards the same quarter of the compass, though often found to the west. In the earliest times it was indicated by a real door, low and narrow, framed and decorated like the door of an ordinary house, but not pierced through. An inscription graven upon the lintel in large readable characters, commemorated the name and rank of the owner. His portrait, either sitting or standing, was carved upon the jambs; and a scene, sculptured or painted on the space above the door, represented him seated before a small round table, stretching out his hand towards the repast placed upon it. A flat slab, or offering table, built into the floor between the two uprights of the doorway, received the votive meats and drinks.

The general appearance of the recess is that of a somewhat narrow doorway. As a rule it was empty, but occasionally it contained a portrait statue of the dead standing with one foot forward as though about to cross the gloomy threshold of his tomb, descend the few steps before him, advance into his reception room or chapel, and pass out into the sunlight (fig. 126). As a matter of fact, the stela symbolised the door leading to the private apartments of the dead, a door closed and sealed to the living. It was inscribed on door-posts and lintels, and its inscription was no mere epitaph for the information of future generations; all the details which it gave as to the name, rank, functions, and family of the deceased were intended to secure the continuity of his individuality and civil status in the life beyond death. A further and essential object of its inscriptions was to provide him with food and drink by means of prayers or magic formulae constraining one of the gods of the dead—Osiris or Anubis—to act as intermediary between him and his survivors and to set apart for his use some portion of the provisions offered for his sake in sacrifice to one or other of these deities. By this agency the Kas or Doubles of these provisions were supposed to be sent on into the next world to gladden and satisfy the human Ka indicated to the divine intermediary. Offerings of real provisions were not indispensable to this end; any chance visitor in times to come who should simply repeat the formula of the stela aloud would thereby secure the immediate enjoyment of all the good things enumerated to the unknown dead whom he evoked.

The living having taken their departure, the Double was supposed to come out of his house and feed. In principle, this ceremony was bound to be renewed year by year, till the end of time; but the Egyptians ere long discovered that this could not be. After two or three generations, the dead of former days were neglected for the benefit of those more recently departed. Even when a pious foundation was established, with a revenue payable for the expenses of the funerary repasts and of the priests whose duty it was to prepare them, the evil hour of oblivion was put off for only a little longer. Sooner or later, there came a time when the Double was reduced to seek his food among the town refuse, and amid the ignoble and corrupt filth which lay rejected on the ground. Then, in order that the offerings consecrated on the day of burial might for ever preserve their virtues, the survivors conceived the idea of drawing and describing them on the walls of the chapel (fig. 127). The painted or sculptured reproduction of persons and things ensured the reality of those persons and things for the benefit of the one on whose account they were executed. Thus the Double saw himself depicted upon the walls in the act of eating and drinking, and he ate and drank. This notion once accepted, the theologians and artists carried it out to the fullest extent. Not content with offering mere pictured provisions, they added thereto the semblance of the domains which produced them, together with the counterfeit presentment of the herds, workmen, and slaves belonging to the same. Was a supply of meat required to last for eternity? It was enough, no doubt, to represent the several parts of an ox or a gazelle—the shoulder, the leg, the ribs, the breast, the heart, the liver, the head, properly prepared for the spit; but it was equally easy to retrace the whole history of the animal—its birth, its life in the pasture-lands, its slaughter, the cutting up of the carcass, and the presentation of the joints. So also as regarded the cakes and bread-offerings, there was no reason why the whole process of tillage, harvesting, corn-threshing, storage, and dough-kneading should not be rehearsed. Clothing, ornaments, and furniture served in like manner as a pretext for the introduction of spinners, weavers, goldsmiths, and cabinet- makers. The master is of superhuman proportions, and towers above his people and his cattle. Some prophetic tableaux show him in his funeral bark, speeding before the wind with all sail set, having started on his way to the next world the very day that he takes possession of his new abode (fig. 128). Elsewhere, we see him as actively superintending his imaginary vassals as formerly he superintended his vassals of flesh and blood (fig. 129). Varied and irregular as they may appear, these scenes are not placed at random upon the walls. They all converge towards that semblance of a door which was supposed to communicate with the interior of the tomb. Those nearest to the door represent the sacrifice and the offering; the earlier stages of preparation and preliminary work being depicted in retrograde order as that door is left farther and farther behind. At the door itself, the figure of the master seems to await his visitors and bid them welcome.

The details are of infinite variety. The inscriptions run to a less or greater length according to the caprice of the scribe; the false door loses its architectural character, and is frequently replaced by a mere stela engraved with the name and rank of the master; yet, whether large or small, whether richly decorated or not decorated at all, the chapel is always the dining-room—or, rather, the larder—to which the dead man has access when he feels hungry.

On the other side of the wall was constructed a hiding-place in the form of either a high and narrow cell, or a passage without outlet. To this hiding- place archaeologists have given the Arab name of "serdab." Most mastabas contain but one; others contain three or four (fig. 130). These serdabs communicated neither with each other nor with the chapel; and are, as it were, buried in the masonry (fig. 131). If connected at all with the outer world, it is by means of an aperture in the wall about as high up as a man's head (fig. 132), and so small that the hand can with difficulty pass through it. To this orifice came the priests, with murmured prayers and perfumes of incense. Within lurked the Double, ready to profit by these memorial rites, or to accept them through the medium of his statues. As when he lived upon earth, the man needed a body in which to exist. His corpse, disfigured by the process of embalmment, bore but a distant resemblance to its former self. The mummy, again, was destructible, and might easily be burned, dismembered, scattered to the winds. Once it had disappeared, what was to become of the Double? The portrait statues walled up inside the serdab became, when consecrated, the stone, or wooden, bodies of the defunct. The pious care of his relatives multiplied these bodies, and consequently multiplied the supports of the Double. A single body represented a single chance of existence for the Double; twenty bodies represented twenty such chances. For the same reason, statues also of his wife, his children, and his servants were placed with the statues of the deceased, the servants being modelled in the act of performing their domestic duties, such as grinding corn, kneading dough, and applying a coat of pitch to the inside surfaces of wine-jars. As for the figures which were merely painted on the walls of the chapel, they detached themselves, and assumed material bodies inside the serdab. Notwithstanding these precautions, all possible means were taken to guard the remains of the fleshly body from natural decay and the depredations of the spoiler. In the tomb of Ti, an inclined passage, starting from the middle of the first hall, leads from the upper world to the sepulchral vault; but this is almost a solitary exception. Generally, the vault is reached by way of a vertical shaft constructed in the centre of the platform (fig. 133), or, more rarely, in a corner of the chapel. The depth of this shaft varies from 10 to 100 feet. It is carried down through the masonry: it pierces the rock; and at the bottom, a low passage, in which it is not possible to walk upright, leads in a southward direction to the vault. There sleeps the mummy in a massive sarcophagus of limestone, red granite, or basalt. Sometimes, though rarely, the sarcophagus bears the name and titles of the deceased. Still more rarely, it is decorated with ornamental sculpture. Some examples are known which reproduce the architectural decoration of an Egyptian house, with its doors and windows.[28] The furniture of the vault is of the simplest character,—some alabaster perfume vases; a few cups into which the priest had poured drops of the various libation liquids offered to the dead; some large red pottery jars for water; a head-rest of wood or alabaster; a scribe's votive palette. Having laid the mummy in the sarcophagus and cemented the lid, the workmen strewed the floor of the vault with the quarters of oxen and gazelles which had just been sacrificed. They next carefully walled up the entrance into the passage, and filled the shaft to the top with a mixture of sand, earth, and stone chips. Being profusely watered, this mass solidified, and became an almost impenetrable body of concrete. The corpse, left to itself, received no visits now, save from the Soul, which from time to time quitted the celestial regions wherein it voyaged with the gods, and came down to re- unite itself with the body. The sepulchral vault was the abode of the Soul, as the funerary chapel was the abode of the Double.

Up to the time of the Sixth Dynasty, the walls of the vault are left bare. Once only did Mariette find a vault containing half-effaced inscriptions from The Book of the Dead. In 1881, I however discovered some tombs at Sakkarah, in which the vault is decorated in preference to the chapel. These tombs are built with large bricks, a niche and a stela sufficing for the reception of sacrificial offerings. In place of the shaft, they contain a small rectangular court, in the western corner of which was placed the sarcophagus. Over the sarcophagus was erected a limestone chamber just as long and as wide as the sarcophagus itself, and about three and a half feet high. This was roofed in with flat slabs. At the end, or in the wall to the right, was a niche, which answered the purpose of a serdab; and above the flat roof was next constructed an arch of about one foot and a half radius, the space above the arch being filled in with horizontal courses of brickwork up to the level of the platform. The chamber occupies about two- thirds of the cavity, and looks like an oven with the mouth open. Sometimes the stone walls rest on the lid of the sarcophagus, the chamber having evidently been built after the interment had taken place (fig. 134). Generally speaking, however, these walls rest on brick supports, so that the sarcophagus may be opened or closed when required. The decoration, which is sometimes painted, sometimes sculptured, is always the same. Each wall was a house stocked with the objects depicted or catalogued upon its surface, and each was, therefore, carefully provided with a fictitious door, through which the Double had access to his goods. On the left wall he found a pile of provisions (fig. 135)[29] and a table of offerings; on the end wall a store of household utensils, as well as a supply of linen and perfumes, the name and quantity of each being duly registered. These paintings more briefly sum up the scenes depicted in the chapels of ordinary mastabas. Transferred from their original position to the walls of an underground cellar, they were the more surely guaranteed against such possible destruction as might befall them in chambers open to all comers; while upon their preservation depended the length of time during which the dead man would retain possession of the property which they represented.

[27] For an account of the necropolis of Medum, see W.M.F. Petrie's Medum.

[28] The sarcophagus of Menkara, unfortunately lost at sea when on its way to England, was of this type. See illustration No. 19, Chapter III., in Sir E. Wilson's Egypt of the Past.—A.B.E.

[29] This wall scene is from the tomb of Nenka, near Sakkarah. For a coloured facsimile on a large scale, see Professor Maspero's article entitled "Trois Annees de Fouilles," in Memoires de la Mission Archeologique Francaise du Caire, Pl. 2. 1884.—A.B.E.


[For the following translation of this section of Professor Maspero's book I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. W.M. Flinders Petrie, whose work on The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, published with the assistance of a grant from the Royal Society in 1883, constitutes our standard authority on the construction of these Pyramids.—A.B.E.]

The royal tombs have the form of pyramids with a square base, and are the equivalent in stone or brick of the tumulus of heaped earth which was piled over the body of the warrior chief in prehistoric times (Note 14). The same ideas prevailed as to the souls of kings as about those of private men; the plan of the pyramid consists, therefore, of three parts, like the mastaba, —the chapel, the passage, and the sepulchral vault.

The chapel is always separate. At Sakkarah no trace of it has been found; it was probably, as later on at Thebes, in a quarter nearer to the town. At Medum, Gizeh, Abusir, and Dahshur, these temples stood at the east or north fronts of the pyramids. They were true temples, with chambers, courts, and passages. The fragments of bas-reliefs hitherto found show scenes of sacrifice, and prove that the decoration was the same as in the public halls of the mastabas. The pyramid, properly speaking, contained only the passages and sepulchral vault. The oldest of which the texts show the existence, north of Abydos, is that of Sneferu; the latest belong to the princes of the Twelfth Dynasty. The construction of these monuments was, therefore, a continuous work, lasting for thirteen or fourteen centuries, under government direction. Granite, alabaster, and basalt for the sarcophagus and some details were the only materials of which the use and the quantity was not regulated in advance, and which had to be brought from a distance. To obtain them, each king sent one of the great men of his court on a mission to the quarries of Upper Egypt; and the quickness with which the blocks were brought back was a strong claim upon the sovereign's favour. The other material was not so costly. If mainly brick, the bricks were moulded on the spot with earth taken from the foot of the hill. If of stone, the nearest parts of the plateau provided the common marly limestone in abundance (Note 15). The fine limestone of Turah was usually reserved for the chambers and the casing, and this might be had without even sending specially for it to the opposite side of the Nile; for at Memphis there were stores always full, upon which they continually drew for public buildings, and, therefore, also for the royal tombs. The blocks being taken from these stores, and borne by boats to close below the hill, were raised to their required places along gently sloping causeways. The internal arrangement of the pyramids, the lengths of the passages and their heights, were very variable; the pyramid of Khufu (Cheops) rose to 475 feet above the ground, the smallest was not 30 feet high. The difficulty of imagining now what motives determined the Pharaohs to choose such different proportions has led some to think that the mass built was in direct proportion to the time occupied in building; that is to say, to the length of each reign. Thus it was supposed that the king would begin by hastily erecting a pyramid large enough to contain the essential parts of a tomb; and then, year by year, would add fresh layers around the first core, until the time when his death for ever arrested the growth of the monument. But the facts do not justify this hypothesis. The smallest of the pyramids of Sakkarah is that of Unas, who reigned thirty years; while the two imposing pyramids of Gizeh were raised by Khufu and Khafra (Chephren), who governed Egypt, the one for twenty-four, and the other for twenty-three years. Merenra, who died very young, had a pyramid as large as that of Pepi II., whose reign lasted more than ninety years (Note 16). The plan of each pyramid was laid down, once for all, by the architect, according to the instructions which he had received, and the resources placed at his disposal. He then followed it out to the end of the work, without increasing or reducing the scale (Note 17).


The pyramids were supposed to have their four faces to the four cardinal points, like the mastabas; but, either from bad management or neglect, the greater part are not oriented exactly, and many vary distinctly from the true north (Note 18). Without speaking of the ruins of Abu Roash or Zowyet el Aryan, which have not been studied closely enough, they naturally form six groups, distributed from north to south on the border of the Libyan plateau, from Gizeh to the Fayum, by Abusir, Sakkarah, Dahshur, and Lisht. The Gizeh group contains nine, including those of Khufu, Khafra, and Menkara, which were anciently reckoned among the wonders of the world. The ground on which the pyramid of Khufu stands was very irregular at the time of construction. A small rocky height which rose above the surface was roughly cut (fig. 136) and enclosed in the masonry, the rest being smoothed and covered with large slabs, some of which still remain (Note 19). The pyramid itself was 481 feet high and 755 feet wide, dimensions which the injuries of time have reduced to 454 feet and 750 feet respectively. It preserved, until the Arab conquest, a casing of stones of different colours (Note 20), so skilfully joined as to appear like one block from base to summit. The casing work was begun from the top, and the cap placed on first, the steps being covered one after the other, until they reached the bottom (Note 21). In the inside all was arranged so as to hide the exact place of the sarcophagus, and to baffle any spoilers whom chance or perseverance had led aright. The first point was to discover the entrance under the casing, which masked it. It was nearly in the middle of the north face (fig. 136), but at the level of the eighteenth course, at about forty- five feet from the ground. When the block which closed it was displaced, an inclined passage, 41.2 inches wide and 47.6 inches high, was revealed, the lower part of which was cut in the rock. This descended for 317 feet, passed through an unfinished chamber, and ended sixty feet farther in a blind passage. This would be a first disappointment to the spoilers. If, however, they were not discouraged, but examined the passage with care, they would find in the roof, sixty-two feet distant from the door, a block of granite (Note 22) among the surrounding limestone. It was so hard that the seekers, after having vainly tried to break or remove it, took the course of forcing a way through the softer stone around (Note 23). This obstacle past, they came into an ascending passage which joins the first at an angle of 120 deg. (Note 24), and is divided into two branches. One branch runs horizontally into the centre of the pyramid, and ends in a limestone chamber with pointed roof, which is called, without any good reason, "The Queen's Chamber." The other, continuing upward, changes its form and appearance. It becomes a gallery 148 feet long and 28 feet high, built of Mokattam stone, so polished and finely wrought that it is difficult to put a "needle or even a hair" into the joints (Note 25). The lower courses are vertical; the seven others "corbel" forwards, until at the roof they are only twenty-one inches apart. A fresh obstacle arose at the end of this gallery. The passage which led to the chamber of the sarcophagus was closed by a slab of granite (Note 26); farther on was a small vestibule divided in equal spaces by four portcullises of granite (Note 27), which would need to be broken. The royal sepulchre is a granite chamber with a flat roof, nineteen feet high, thirty-four feet long, and seventeen feet wide. Here are neither figures nor inscriptions; nothing but a granite sarcophagus, lidless and mutilated. Such were the precautions taken against invaders; and the result showed that they were effectual, for the pyramid guarded its deposit during more than four thousand years (Note 28). But the very weight of the materials was a more serious danger. To prevent the sepulchral chamber from being crushed by the three hundred feet of stone which stood over it, five low hollow spaces, one over the other, were left above it. The last is sheltered by a pointed roof, formed of two enormous slabs (Note 29) leaning one against the other. Thanks to this device, the central pressure was thrown almost entirely on the side faces, and the chamber was preserved. None of the stones which cover it have been crushed; none have yielded a fraction since the day when the workmen cemented them into their places (Note 30).

The pyramids of Khafra and Menkara were built on a different plan inside to that of Khufu. Khafra's had two entrances, both to the north, one from the platform before the pyramid, the other fifty feet above the ground. Menkara's still preserves the remains of its casing of red granite (Note 31). The entrance passage descends at an angle of twenty-six degrees, and soon runs into the rock. The first chamber is decorated with panels sculptured in the stone, and was closed at the further end by three portcullises of granite. The second chamber appears to be unfinished, but this was a trap to deceive the spoilers. A passage cut in the floor, and carefully hidden, gave access to a lower chamber. There lay the mummy in a sarcophagus of sculptured basalt. The sarcophagus was still perfect at the beginning of this century. Removed thence by Colonel Howard Vyse, it foundered on the Spanish coast with the ship which was bearing it to England.

The same variety of arrangement prevails in the groups of Abusir, and in one part of the Sakkarah group. The great pyramid of Sakkarah is not oriented with exactness. The north face is turned 4 deg. 21' E. of the true north. It is not a perfect square, but is elongated from east to west, the sides being 395 and 351 feet. It is 196 feet high, and is formed of six great steps with inclined faces, each retreating about seven feet; the step nearest the ground is thirty-seven and a half feet high, and the top one is twenty-nine feet high (fig. 137). It is built entirely of limestone, quarried from the neighbouring hills. The blocks are small and badly cut, and the courses are concave, according to a plan applied both to quays and to fortresses. On examining the breaches in the masonry, it is seen that the outer face of each step is coated with two layers, each of which has its regular casing (Note 32). The mass is solid, the chambers being cut in the rock below the pyramid. It has four entrances, the main one being in the north; and the passages form a perfect labyrinth, which it is perilous to enter. Porticoes with columns, galleries, and chambers, all end in a kind of pit, in the bottom of which a hiding place was contrived, doubtless intended to contain the most precious objects of the funeral furniture. The pyramids which surround this extraordinary monument have been nearly all built on one plan, and only differ in their proportions. The door (fig. 138, A) opens close below the first course, about the middle of the north face, and the passage (B) descends by a gentle slope between two walls of limestone. It is plugged up all along by large blocks (Note 33), which needed to be broken up before the first chamber could be entered (C). Beyond this chamber, it is carried for some way through the limestone rock; then it passes between walls, ceiling and floor of polished syenite; after which the limestone re-appears, and the passage opens into the vestibule (E). The part built of granite is interrupted thrice, at intervals of two to two and a half feet, by three enormous portcullises of granite (D). Above each of these a hollow is left, in which the portcullis stone could be held up by props, and thus leave a free passage (fig. 139). The mummy once placed inside, the workmen, as they left, removed the supports, and the portcullises fell into place, cutting off all communication with the outside. The vestibule was flanked on the east by a flat-roofed serdab (F) divided into three niches, and encumbered with chips of stone swept hastily in by the workmen when they cleared the chambers to receive the mummy. The pyramid of Unas has all three niches preserved; but in the pyramids of Teti and of Merenra, the separating walls have been neatly cut away in ancient times, without leaving any trace but a line of attachment, and a whiter colour in the stone where it had been originally covered. The sarcophagus chamber (G) extends west of the vestibule; the sarcophagus was placed there along the west wall, feet to the south, head to the north. The roof over the two main chambers was pointed (fig. 140). It was formed of large beams of limestone, joined at the upper ends, and supported below upon a low bench (1) which surrounded the chamber outside (Note 34). The first beams were covered by two others, and these by two more; and the six together (J) thoroughly protected the vestibule of the vault.

The pyramids of Gizeh belonged to the Pharaohs of the Fourth Dynasty, and those of Abusir to the Pharaohs of the Fifth. The five pyramids of Sakkarah, of which the plan is uniform, belonged to Unas and to the first four kings of the Sixth Dynasty, Teti, Pepi I., Merenra, and Pepi II., and are contemporary with the mastabas with painted vaults which I have mentioned above (p. 129). It is, therefore, no matter of surprise to find them inscribed and decorated. The ceilings are covered with stars, to represent the night-sky. The rest of the decoration is very simple. In the pyramid of Unas, which is the most ornamented, the decoration occupies only the end wall of the sepulchral chamber; the part against the sarcophagus was lined with alabaster, and engraved to represent great monumental doors, through which the deceased was supposed to enter his storerooms of provisions. The figures of men and of animals, the scenes of daily life, the details of the sacrifice, are not here represented, and, moreover, would not be in keeping; they belong to those places where the Double lived his public life, and where visitors actually performed the rites of offering; the passages and the vault in which the soul alone was free to wander needed no ornamentation except that which related to the life of the soul. The texts are of two kinds. One kind—of which there are the fewest— refer to the nourishment of the Double, and are literal transcriptions of the formulae by which the priests ensured the transmission of each object to the other world; this was a last resource for him, in case the real sacrifices should be discontinued, or the magic scenes upon the chapel walls be destroyed. The greater part of the inscriptions were of a different kind. They referred to the soul, and were intended to preserve it from the dangers which awaited it, in heaven and on earth. They revealed to it the sovereign incantations which protected it against the bites of serpents and venomous animals, the passwords which enabled it to enter into the company of the good gods, and the exorcisms which counteracted the influence of the evil gods. The destiny of the Double was to continue to lead the shadow of its terrestrial life, and fulfil it in the chapel; the destiny of the Soul was to follow the sun across the sky, and it, therefore, needed the instructions which it read on the walls of the vault. It was by their virtue that the absorption of the dead into Osiris became complete, and that they enjoyed hereafter all the immunity of the divine state. Above, in the chapel, they were men, and acted as men; here they were gods, and acted as gods.

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