The Architecture of Ancient Egypt

As in Mesopotamia, the story starts with the village life included farming and animal husbandry  which was turned in time into a complex pattern of river settlements subject to controlled irrigation. During the Early Dynastic Period in Mesopotamia, Egyptian building made great progress. Starting with efficacious palaces and tombs in brick that lean on the vernacular idiom and canonized it, the country developed an articulate stone architecture which has great examples at Saqqara and Giza.

The Saqqara is a tomb of pharaoh Zoser. Small courts in there stood before king’s white and red palaces. There was the stepped pyramid to the west side of these palaces. In the north side of this pyramid there was the mortuary temple and a small room called serdab. In the serdab there was Zoser’s statue. This and the other statues were considered as an esteemed substitutes for dead body after the death. A simple stone mastaba was placed over a circular opening that helps to reach the body. The mastaba is the lowest stage of the four-stepped pyramid ( then the stages increased to six). These six stages are not equal and they had an effect visually close to the Mesopotamian ziggurat. However there was a difference. In Saqqara, there was not stairs that human reach. The reason of this was to show how holy person is the king and to lift him to heaven, to the sun-god Re.

When we compared to the Zoser’s independent layout of complex, the pyramids in Giza was aligned along an axis. The mortuary temple (called valley temple because it was at the edge of the Nile) was closer to the river and connected with it by a canal so the dead body can brought by boat. In font of the Sphinx (a recumbent leonine body welded to the portrait-head of the king wearing the royal headdress as the Kostof describe), there was a temple dedicated to Harmakhis (a sun-god). This temple was arranged around a rectangular court which was a continuous cloister held with 24 columns, perchance because of the sun’s daily journey, and there was two axical niches (east and west) again because of the sun’s daily journey’s axis. The temple next to this temple has same entrance, first long vestibule and then a T-shaped hallset in an really thick casement of masonry. The masonry does not imitate natural forms but it has wondrous geometry and abstraction of its square uprights and lintels. From this temple the body was transformed to the mortuary temple with causeway. The walls of causeway have been decorated with paintings and reliefs. The subject of reliefs and paintings are judging, actual construction of the pyramid’s project like transportation of columns and architraves, the tilling of the royal estates, hunting, fishing etc. The mortuary temple again start with a T-shaped entrance and then an open court that was surrounded by a cloister. There was also five narrow openings, they probably show the five official names esteemed by the king on his accession.

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