clerestory: An upper portion of a wall containing windows for supplying natural light and air to a building, like the upper part of a nave’s walls in a Gothic church. (“A” in illustration)
corridor axis: hallway/walkway leading from the outside of a structure into more and more sacred and restricted parts of the building. “A path enclosed by mighty masonry.” Otto Spengler, quoted in Janson, 93)
campaniform capitals: capitals (platforms at tops of columns) shaped like a bell. Comes from the shape of papyrus bloom as opposed to the bud-shaped capital based on the lotus)
Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, ca. 1450 BCE. Egypt’s only female pharaoh, who ruled well and led her troops in battle. The temple rises from the valley floor in three stages: 3 collonaded terraces connected by ramps. Wonderful example of using natural setting to create a striking structure. The 400-foot cliff behind the temple has both vertical and horizontal cracks; the vertical lines are mimicked in the columns of the double porticoes on each terrace, while the wide terraces themselves mimic the horizontal. The columns are either rectangular or chamfered (flattened on 16 sides), then carved with bas relief. The brightly-colored low reliefs on the columns and walls tell the stories of Hatshepsut’s life and reign. Ramps lead from the valley floor all the way up to the third level, where the corridor axis leads through the hypostyle hall and on into the vaulted innermost sanctuary, the holy of holies, carved out of the cliff. In Hatshepsut’s time, the now barren terraces would have been lush and green with gardens.
Temple of Ramses II, 1257 BCE. Ramses II, who ruled for 67 years, was the last of the great warrior-pharaohs, living not long before the Exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt led by Moses. By this time, imperial Egypt has reached its peak and is beginning its decline. To hang on to the respect of his people Ramses II resorts to gigantism and self-glorification, building many structures dedicated to advertising his own glory. Typical of such over-the-hill empires are the four 82’ colossi of Ramses carved into the facade of his temple above the Nile. “The massive statues lack the refinement of earlier periods, because much is sacrificed to overwhelming size.” (Gardner’s, 90) This temple (note that it is NOT A TOMB) is carved deep into the cliff, with a hypostyle hall lined with atlantids of Ramses. This appears to be the earliest use of columns in human form, though they’ll reappear as caryatids 1000 years later in Greece. These are reserved columns carved from the living rock. Behind this hypostyle hall is a second hall and the holy of holies, as well as side chapels and depositories for sacred objects. The path from front to back is via a corridor axis, as in the Temple of Hatshepsut.
Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, Temple of Amen-Re. (see model at right.) Built by Ramses II. This has the same gigantic proportions as the Temple of Ramses II: There are 134 columns, and the tallest are 66 feet high. The capitals, 22 feet in diameter, could accommodate 100 standing people. The hall is 110 yards wide and 55 yards deep. Greek and Roman travelers called it one of the Wonders of the World. Unlike the previous temple, this is NOT a mortuary temple, but is dedicated to a single deity and will be added to by successive pharaohs. The columns are held in place by their own sheer weight. The columns are not fluted or chamfered, but their smooth shafts are intended to imitate the lotus and papyrus plants of the Nile Valley, the basic decorative motifs in all Egyptian art. The bud-cluster capitals mimic the lotus, while the campaniform capitals recall the bell-shaped papyrus blooms. The columns have registers whose sculpted and painted horizontal bands serve to de-emphasize the verticality of the columns. “This contrasts sharply with later Greek practice, which emphasizes the vertical lines of the column and its structural function by freeing the surfaces of the shaft from all ornament.” (Gardner’s, 93) This hall shows the use of clerestory windows: the central columns raise the ceiling higher in the center than on the sides, so the walls connecting the two levels can be pierced with windows without weakening the structural supports. This IMPORTANT architectural feature up to our own time and especially in medieval cathedrals was apparently invented by the Egyptians.
Pylon Temple of Horus, 237-212 BCE, built during the Hellenistic period, after the area was conquered by Alexander the Great. This is typical of New Kingdom non-mortuary temples:
It has a pylon entrance, a big 118-foot wall with a central doorway through which the corridor axis passes. The outer edges of the wall slant in from bottom to top, then the center drops down to a cornice over the doorway. There are sunken reliefs and four deep recesses for flagpoles.
The next area is a courtyard colonnaded on three sides.