Open main menu

Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/134

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
102
Part I.
EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

a temporary or preparatory stage, and that it was intended eventually to smooth the whole down to the more orthodox form of a straight-sided pyramid.


Tombs.

Around the pyramids, not only at Gizeh, but at Saccara—indeed, wherever they exist—numberless smaller sepulchres are found, which appear to have been appropriated to private individuals, as the pyramids were—so far as we can ascertain—reserved for kings or, at all events, for persons of royal blood. These have as yet been only partially explored and still more imperfectly described. Their general form is that of a truncated pyramid, low, and looking externally like a house with sloping walls, with only one door leading to the interior, though they may contain several apartments, and no attempt is made to conceal the entrance. The body seems to have been preserved from profanation by being hid in a well of considerable depth, the opening into which was concealed in the thickness of the walls.


10. Doorway in Tomb at the Pyramids.
(From Lepsius.)
Unlike the pyramids, the walls are covered with the paintings above alluded to, and everything in this "eternal dwelling"[1] of the dead is made to resemble the abodes of the living; as was afterwards the case with the Etruscans. It is owing to this circumstance that we are able not only to realize so perfectly the civil life of the Egyptians at this period, but to fix the dates of the whole series by identifying the names of the kings who built the pyramids with those on the walls of the tombs that surround them.[2]

Like all early architecture, that of these tombs shows evident symptoms of having been borrowed from a wooden original. The lintels of the doorways are generally rounded, and the walls mere square posts, grooved and jointed together, every part of it being as unlike a stone architecture as can possibly be

  1. Diodorus, i. 51.
  2. When M. Mariette's recent discoveries in these tombs shall have been given to the world in a tangible form, it will enable this chapter of the history of art to be written with a completeness and a reality of which no one can well have a conception who has not seen the buildings themselves. At present no sufficient data exist to enable others to realize and