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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/156

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124
Part I.
EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE.

At Abydos the remains of two great temples have been partially disinterred from the sand which has overwhelmed them. In respect of architectural magnificence they are inferior to those of the capital, and have not yet been uncovered to snch an extent as to enable their plans to be quite made up;[1] but they have a special interest to the Egyptologer, as it was on the walls of one of these that the so-called tablet of Abydos was discovered—now in the British Museum—which first gave a connected list of kings, the predecessors of Rhamses, and sufficiently extensive to confirm the lists of Manetho in a manner satisfactory to the ordinary inquirer. A second list, far more complete, has recently been brought to light in the same locality, and contains the names of 76 kings, ancestors of Manephthah, the father of Rhamses. It begins, as all lists do, with Menes; but even this list is only a selection, omitting many names found in Manetho, but inserting others which are not on his lists.[2] Before the discovery of this perfect list, the longest known were, that of the chamber of the ancestors of Thothmes III., at Karnac, containing, when perfect, 61 names, of which however nearly one-third are obliterated; and that recently found at Saccara, containing 58 names originally, but of which several are now illegible.

It is the existence of these lists which gives such interest and such reality to the study of Architecture in Egypt. Fortunately there is hardly a building in that country which is not adorned with the name of the king in whose reign it was erected. In royal buildings they are found on every wall and every pillar. The older cartouches are simple and easily remembered; and when we find the buildings thus dated by the builders themselves, and their succession recorded by subsequent kings on the walls of their temples, we feel perfectly certain of our sequence, and nearly so of the actual dates of the buildings; they are, moreover, such a series as no other country in the world can match either for historic interest or Architectural magnificence.


Rock-cut Tombs and Temples.

Both in Egypt Proper and in Nubia the Egyptians were in the habit of excavating monuments from the living rock, but with this curious distinction, that, with scarcely an exception, all the excavations in Egypt Proper are tombs, and no important example of a rock-cut temple has yet been discovered. In Nubia, on the other hand, all the excavations are temples, and no tombs of importance are

  1. Since the first edition of this work was published, some plans of these temples have reached this country, but in too imperfect and too fragmentary a state to be available for our purpose. We must wait the publication of M. Mariette's great work before they can be used as illustrations of Egyptian art.
  2. "Revue Archéologique." vol. x., 1864, p. 170, and vol. xiii., 1860, p. 73.