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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/140

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108
Part I.
EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

apparently in contradistinction to the valley of the dead, which was towards the side on which he set. The earliest and one of the finest of these obelisks is that still standing at Heliopolis, inscribed with the name of Osortasen, one of the first and greatest kings of this dynasty. It is 67 ft. 4 in. in height, without the pyramidion which crowns it, and is a splendid block of granite, weighing 217 tons. It must have required immense skill to quarry it, to transport it from Syene, and finally, after finishing it, to erect it where it now stands and has stood for 4500 years.

We find the sculptures of the same king at Wady Halfah, near the second cataract, in Nubia; and at Sarabout el Kadem, in the Sinaitic Peninsula. He also commenced the great temple of Karnac at Thebes, which in the hands of his successors became the most splendid in Egypt, and perhaps it is not too much to say the greatest architectural monument in the whole world.

As might be expected, from our knowledge of the fact that the Hyksos invasion took place so soon after his reign, none of his structural buildings now remain entire, in which we might read the story of his conquests, and learn to which gods of the Pantheon he especially devoted himself. We must therefore fall back on Manetho for an account of his "conquering all Asia in the space of nine years, and Europe as far as Thrace."[1]While there is nothing to contradict this statement, there is much that renders it extremely probable.


The Labyrinth.

It is to this dynasty also that we owe the erection of the Labyrinth, one of the most remarkable, as well as one of the most mysterious, monuments of Egypt. All Manetho tells us of this is, that Lampares, or Mœris, "built it as a sepulchre for himself;" and the information we derive from the Greeks on this subject is so contradictory and so full of the wonderful, that it is extremely difficult to make out either the plan or the purpose of the building. As long ago as 1843, the whole site was excavated and thoroughly explored by the officers of the Prussian expedition under Lepsius; but, like most of the information obtained by that ill-conditioned paity, the results have not yet been given to the world, except in the most unsatisfactory and fragmentary form.

From such data as have been given to the public, we learn that the Labyrinth was a building measuring about 1150 feet east and west by 850 feet north and south, surrounding three sides of a courtyard, about 500 feet in one direction by 600 in the other (Woodcut No. 13), The fourth side was occupied—unsymmetrically, however—by a


  1. Syncellus, p. 69; Euseb. Chron. p. 98.