Open main menu

Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/135

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Bk. I. Ch. II.

conceived. Yet the pyramids themselves, and those tombs which are found outside them, are generally far removed from the forms employed in timber structures; and it is only when we find the Egyptians indulging in decorative art that we trace this more primitive style. There are two doorways of this class in the British Museum and many in that of Berlin. One engraved in Lepsius's work (Woodcut No. 10) gives a fair idea of this style of decorative art, in the most elaborate form in which we now know it. It is possible that some of its forms may have been derived from brick architecture, but the lintel certainly was of wood, and so it may be suspected were the majority of its features. It certainly is a transitional form, and though we only find it in stone, none of its peculiarities were derived from lithic arts. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of the architectural forms of that day was the sarcophagus of Mycerinus, unfortunately lost on its way to England. It represented a palace, with all the peculiarities found on a larger scale in the buildings which surround the pyramid, and with that peculiar cornice and still more singular roll or ligature on the angles, most evidently a carpentry form, but which the style retained to its latest day.

11. Sarcophagus of Mycerinus, found in Third Pyramid.

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

    verify the extraordinary revelation it presents to us. It is 2000 years older, and infinitely more varied and vivid, than the Assyrian pictures which recently excited so much interest.