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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/136

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104
Part I.
EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

Temples.

Till very recently no temples had been discovered which could with certainty be ascribed to the age of the pyramid builders; one, however was excavated a few years ago, from the sand close beside the great Sphinx in front of the Second Pyramid, and others, it is said, have since been found, at Saccara and elsewhere; but no account of them has yet been published.


12. Sketch plan of Temple near the Sphinx (from Donaldson.)
Scale 100 ft. to 1 in.
That at Gizeh is not remarkable for its dimensions, the extreme length being only about 100 feet, the extreme breadth the same.[1] The principal chamber in the form of a cross is supported by piers, simple prisms of syenite granite, without base or capital, and supporting architraves as simple in outline as themselves. The roof of this chamber has entirely disappeared, but was no doubt originally of the same material. The walls are generally wainscotted with immense slabs of alabaster, or of syenite beautifully polished, but with sloping joints and uneven beds—a form of masonry not uncommon in that age. No sculpture or inscription of any sort is found on the walls of this temple,[2] no ornament or symbol, nor any image, in the sanctuary. Statues and tablets of Cephrenes, the builder of the Second Pyramid, were however found in the well, and in places clearly showing that it belonged to his time.

The exterior of this temple has not yet been freed from the sand in which it has so long lain buried, and there being no image and no inscription, it remains somewhat doubtful to whom or to what purpose it was dedicated. Its position, however, at a distance of 60 or 70 feet from the great Sphinx, though placed unsymmetrically alongside of it, renders it probable that it was a part of that great group.

A tablet is said to have been discovered, in which Suphis, the builder of the Great Pyramid, records some repairs he had done to the Sphinx.[3] If this is correctly read, it proves its existence before

  1. These dimensions are taken from Professor Donaldson's plan, published in the Transactions of the Institute of British Architects, Feb. 1861. It, however, cannot be implicitly relied upon, not from any fault of the professor's, but because he was closely watched, and prevented as far as possible from taking measurements or notes. As it is the only thing published, it must suffice for the present.
  2. Lucian. "De Syria Dea." ed. Reetzin, tom. iii. p. 4.51, alludes to the fact of the old temples of the Egyptians having no images.
  3. "Revue des Deux Mondes," 1st April, 1865, p. 675, et seq. In this article M. Renan must be considered as the mouthpiece of M. Mariette. It is not a satisfactory form of publication, but it is all we yet have.