built by Senwosri (Usertesen) II. (2684-2666 B.C.), was abandoned when the pyramid was completed. The houses were all built in unburnt brick, and in those cases where the rooms exceeded 8 or 9 ft. in width, columns in stone or wood were employed to assist in carrying the roof, which was constructed of beams carrying smaller timbers covered over with a flat roof of mud. The plans of the houses were not unlike those found in Pompeii, with open courts and porticoes and no external windows. The streets ran at right angles to one another, and the houses varied in size from the workman’s hut, of one room, to the overseer’s house with several rooms and courts; the principal residence, in the centre, occupied by the governor of the town, being of still larger dimensions.
Fig. 6.—Exterior of the Pylon of the Temple of Edfu.
|Fig. 7.—Façade of the|
Great Hall of Columns of
the Ptolemaic temple at
Further knowledge of the Egyptian dwellings is chiefly derived from the “soul-houses” recently discovered by Petrie, and from the paintings in the tombs, which suggest that they corresponded to that class of residence which in Rome was known as a villa, viz. a series of detached buildings built in immense enclosures, with porticoes round, groves of trees, artificial lakes, &c. The walls, gates and buildings were all built probably in unburnt brick, and the whole site, if on the borders of the river, raised on great mounds. In this respect they accord with the houses of the fellah at the present day, which are raised on the accumulation of centuries, for when, owing to the rise of the Nile, the houses succumb to the moisture creeping up, another house is built on the top. The representations in paintings show that the houses were chiefly built in unburnt brick, and they sometimes were of two or three storeys in height, with windows in the upper floors, and a flat roof with a kind of dormer known as the Mulhuf, turned towards the north-west to ventilate the house. The paintings frequently represent the store-rooms, or granaries; and the preservation of those built by Rameses the Great, in the rear of the Ramesseum at Thebes, as granaries to hold corn, enables us to follow their construction. These granaries consist of a series of long cellars, about 12 to 14 ft. wide, placed side by side, and roofed over with elliptical barrel vaults. The reason for the elliptical form and the method of their construction is given in the article Vault (q.v.).
The pavilion of Medinet Abū was built in stone, and consequently has been preserved more or less complete to our day. It consisted of three storeys with a flat roof and battlement round, said to be in imitation of those on a Syrian fortress, as they are quite unlike anything else in Egypt. The floors were in wood, but there are traces of a stone staircase. The windows, of large size, were filled with thin stone slabs pierced with vertical slits, like those of the hall of columns at Karnak.
(R. P. S.)
About 3800 B.C. the earlier inhabitants of Chaldaea or Babylonia were invaded and absorbed by a Semitic race, whose first monarch was Sargon of Agade (Akkad). 1800 years later, emigrations took place northward, and founded Nineveh on the banks of the Tigris, about 250 m. north of Babylon. 1200 years later, the Assyrians began building the magnificent series of palaces from which were brought the winged man-headed bulls and the sculptured slabs now in the British Museum. The leading characteristics of the style, and the nature of the structures, temples and palaces, evolved by the Chaldaeans (or first Babylonian empire), the Assyrians, and the new Babylonian empire, are similar; they are best known by those which represent a culmination of the style in north Mesopotamia, and are therefore described here.
By a singular coincidence the remains of the oldest building found at Nippur (Niffar), in lower Mesopotamia, bear a close resemblance to the oldest pyramid in Egypt, Medum, before it received its final casing. The latter, however, is known to have been a tomb, whereas the structure at Nippur was a temple, which took the form of a ziggurat or stage tower. It consisted of several storeys built one over the other, the upper storey in each case being set back behind the lower, in order to leave a terrace all round. In some cases the terrace was wider in front, to give space for staircases ascending from storey to storey. In consequence of the extreme flatness of the country and its liability to sudden inundations, it became necessary, when erecting buildings of any kind, to raise them on mounds of earth. The more important the structure, the higher was it deemed necessary to raise it, so as to make it the most conspicuous feature in the landscape. The result is that from Abu Shahrain, the most southern town, to Akarkuf (Aqarquf), 220 m. north, there are a series of immense mounds, sometimes nearly a mile in diameter, and rising to a height of 200 ft., crowned with the remains of towns, which, notwithstanding the thirty centuries more or less during which they have been exposed to the torrential rains and the destructive agencies of man, form still the most prominent features in the country. The structures which were raised on the mound, i.e. the temples and palaces with their enclosure walls, were all built with bricks made of the alluvial clay of the country, shaped in wooden moulds and dried in the heat of the sun, a heat so intense that they acquired sometimes the hardness of the inferior qualities of stone. The walls of the temples, palaces and enclosures had the same batter as that already referred to in the preceding section on Egypt. In the latter country they were reproduced in stone, of which there were many quarries on either side of the Nile; in Chaldaea they were obliged to content themselves with the preservation of their ziggurats by outer casings of burnt brick and with pavements of tiles for their terraces. In order to vary the monotony of their temple walls, and perhaps to give them greater strength, they built vertical bands or buttresses at intervals, or they sank panels in the walls to two depths, a natural decoration to which brick work lends itself; and these two methods, which were employed in early times, were followed by the Assyrians in the palaces of Nimrud, Nineveh and Khorsabad.
The earlier settlements were those founded between the mouths of the Tigris and the Euphrates, on what was then the shore of the Persian Gulf, now some 140 m. farther south. The principal towns where the remains of ziggurats have been found, all on the borders of the Euphrates, beginning with the most southern, are:—Abu Shahrain (Eridu); Mugheir (Ur of the Chaldees); Senkera (? Ellasar or Larsa); Warka (Erech); Tello (Eninnu); Nippur; Birs Nimrūd (Borsippa); Babil (Babylon); El Ohemir (Kish); Abu Habba (Sippara); and Akarkuf (Durkurigalsu).
Although the ziggurats at Warka, Nippur and Tello are probably of older foundation, the great temple of Borsippa at Birs Nimrud is in better preservation, having been restored or rebuilt by Nebuchadrezzar, and may be taken as a typical example. The ground storey was 272 ft. square, and, according to Fergusson, 45 ft. high. The upper storeys or stages receded back, one behind the other, so as to leave a terrace all round. Although it is not possible to trace more than four storeys, it is known from the description on a cylinder found on the site that there were seven storeys, dedicated to the planets, each coloured with the special tint prescribed. The total height was about 160 ft., and on the top was a shrine dedicated to the god Nebo. An invaluable record of the researches which have been made during the last three centuries or more is given in H. V. Hilprecht’s Explorations in Bible Lands during the 19th Century. Two or three of them might be mentioned here. At Warka Mr Kenneth Loftus uncovered a wall, strengthened by buttresses 15 ft. wide and projecting 18 in., between which were panels filled with a series of semicircular shafts side by side, both buttresses and shafts being decorated with geometrical patterns consisting of small earthenware cones embedded in the wall, the ends of which were enamelled in various colours. The design of these patterns is so unlike anything found in Assyrian work, but bears so close a resemblance to the geometrical designs carved on the columns at Diarbekr ascribed to the Parthians, that this wall may have been built at a much later period; and this becomes the more probable in view of the discoveries made subsequently at Tello and Nippur, where Parthian palaces have been found, crowning the summits of the ancient Chaldaean mounds. In both these towns the researches made in later years have been carried out far more methodically than previously, and, following the example of Schliemann, excavations have been made to great depths, careful notes being taken of the strata shown by the platforms at different levels. At Tello, de Sarzac discovered the magnificent collection of statues of diorite now in the Louvre, one of them (unfortunately headless) of Gudea, priest-king and architect of Lagash, seated and carrying on his lap a tablet, on which is engraved the plan of a fortified enclosure, whilst a divided scale and a stylos are carved in relief near the upper and right-hand side. A silver inlaid vase of Entemena, also priest-king of Lagash (about 3950 B.C.), and other treasures, were found on the same site.