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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/159

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Bk. I. Ch. IV.
127
KINGDOM OF THE PHARAOHS.

in the annexed cut. It is of a simple peristylar form, with columns in front and rear, the latter being now built into a wall, and seven square piers on each flank. These temples are all small, and, like the Typhonia, which somewhat resemble them, were used as detached chapels or cells, dependent on the larger temples. What renders them more than usually interesting to us is the fact that they were undoubtedly the originals of the Greek peristylar forms, that people have borrowed nearly every peculiarity of their architecture from the banks of the Nile. We possess tangible evidence of peristylar temples and proto-Doric pillars erected in Egypt centuries before the oldest known specimen in Greece. We need, therefore, hardly hesitate to award the palm of invention of these things to the Egyptians, as we should probably be forced to do for most of the arts and sciences of the Greeks if we had only knowledge sufficient to enable us to trace the connecting links which once joined them together, but which are now in most instances lost, or at least difficult to find.


Tombs.

Of the first 10 dynasties of Egyptian kings little now remains but their tombs—the everlasting pyramids—and of the people they governed, only the structures and rock-cut excavations which they prepared for their final resting-places.

The Theban kings and their subjects erected no pyramids, and none of their tombs are structural—all are excavated from the living rock; and from Beni Hassan to the cataract, the plain of the Nile is everywhere fringed with these singular monuments, which, if taken in the aggregate, perhaps required a greater amount of labor to excavate and to adorn than did even all tlie edifices of the plain. Certain it is that there is far more to be learnt of the arts, of the habits, and of the history of Egypt from these tombs than from all the other monuments. No tomb of any Theban king has yet been discovered anterior to the 18th dynasty; but all the tombs of that and of the subsequent dynasty have been found, or are known to exist, in the Valley of Biban-el-Melouk, on the western side of the plain of Thebes.

It appears to have been the custom with these kings, so soon as they ascended the throne, to begin preparing their final resting-place. The excavation seems to have gone on uninterruptedly year by year, the painting and adornment being finished as it progressed, till the hand of death ended the king's reign, and simultaneously the works of his tomb. All was then left unfinished; the cartoon of the painter and the rough work of the mason and plasterer were suddenly broken off, as if the hour of the king's demise called them, too, irrevocably from their labors.