Overview

Egyptian architecture


Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

Ancient Egyptian architecture was mostly that of the monumental temple and tomb, and featured obelisks, battered walls, pylon-towers, pyramids, cavetto (or gorge) cornices, large columns with lotus, papyrus, palm, and other capitals, hypostyle halls, courts, vast processional axes (called dromos) flanked by sphinxes, stylized sculpture, and hieroglyphs. It was an architecture of the columnar and trabeated type. The early stone-built funerary complex at Saqqara (c. 2630–c.2611 bc) had many buildings including a stepped pyramid, processional hall with reeded and fluted engaged columns, courts, and a vast wall containing the whole: it was designed by Imhotep. Stepped pyramids were superseded by the smooth-sided type, of which the Gizeh pyramids (mid-third millennium bc) are exemplars. The big temple complex at Deïr-el-Bahari (middle of the second millennium bc) was designed with three main levels approached by ramps and having long façades of plain square columns that were greatly influential in C20 Neo-Classicism and Rational architecture. The temple-groups of Karnak and Luxor were also started around the same time, and their remaining ruins are still impressive. There are many surviving buildings of the Graeco-Roman period (332 bc–395 bc), including the Philae and Edfu temples.

Egyptian architecture influenced other styles: the rock-cut tombs at Beni-Hasan, for example, have proto-Doric columns; very many Egyptian motifs were absorbed by the Hellenistic Greek cultures and by the Roman Empire; and Neo-Classicism, Art Deco, Rational architecture, and Post-Modernism drew on Ancient Egyptian motifs.

D. Arnold (2003);Cruickshank (ed.) (1996);J. Curl (2005);L&M (1986);W. S. Smith (1998);Stafford-Deitsch (2001);Jane Turner (1996)

Subjects: Architecture.


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.