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Page:History of Architecture in All Countries Vol 1.djvu/51

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Sect. VII.
19
INTRODUCTION.

he overlooked the fact that long before Troy was dreamt of, Egyiptian kings had raised pyramids which endure to the present day, and the Pharaohs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth dynasties had filled the valley of the Upper Nile with temples and palaces and tombs which tell us not only the names of their founders, but reveal to us their thoughts and aspirations with a distinctness that no sacred poet could as well convey. From that time onward the architects have covered the world witli monuments that still remain on the spot where they were erected, and tell all, who are suflSciently instructed to read their riddles aright, what nations once occupied these spots, what degree of civilization they had reached, and how, in erecting these monuments on which we now gaze, they had attained that quasi-immortality after which they hankered.

Sculpture and painting, when allied with architecture, may endure as long, but their aim is not to convey to the mind the impression of durability which is so strongly felt in the presence of the more massive works of architectural art. Even when ruined and in decay the buildings are almost equally impressive, while ruined sculptures or paintings are generally far from being pleasing oljjects, and, whatever their other merits may be, certainly miss that impression obtained from the durability of architectural objects.


VII.—Materials.

Another very obvious mode of obtaining architectural effect is by the largeness or costliness of the materials employed. A terrace, or even a wall, if composed of large stones, is in itself an object of considerable grandeur, while one of the same lineal dimensions and of the same design, if composed of brick or rubble, may appear a very contemptible object.

Like all the more obvious means of architectural effect, the Egyptians seized on this and carried it to its utmost legitimate extent. All their buildings, as well as their colossi and obelisks, owe much of their grandeur to the magnitude of the materials employed in their construction. The works called Cyclopean found in Italy and Greece have no other element of grandeur than the size of the stones or rather masses of rock which the builders of that age were in the habit of using. In Jerusalem nothing was so much insisted upon by the old writers, or is so much admired now, as the largeness of the stones employed in the building of the Temple and its substructions.

We can well believe how much value was attached to this when we find that in the neighboring city of Baalbec stones were used of between 60 and 70 ft. in length, weighing as much as the tubes of the Britannia Bridge, for the mere bonding course of a terrace wall. Even in a more refined style of architecture, a pillar, a shaft of which is