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Egyptian Architecture

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EGYPTIAN ARCHITECTURE. The character of the Egyptians, as developed in early history, would naturally lead us to suppose, that an inquiry into their style and man ner of building would form a subject for interesting study, not only to the antiquary, but also to all such as take any interest in general history ; and such doubtless is the case. The history of the place attaches an unusual interest to everything connected with it. Of the early history of Egypt, like that of the other primaeval nations we know but little for certain, all narrative dating back beyond a certain period, having an air of mystery about it, which it is not easy to penetrate, and this fact is more especially true, as regards the origin of nations. It we believe the records of the Egyptian priests. as handed down to us by Ilerodotus, Manetho, Eratosthenes, and others, we shall have to carry back the date of its origin thr beyond the period generally assigned as the commence ment of history. Manetho gives its a of dy nasties upon dynasties, which, if ye. reach beyond the bounds of time; to obviate which difficulty, it has been suggested, that they were not all successive, but several contemporaneous, reigning over di&rent parts of the country ; hut, indeed, the whole matter would seem to be fabulous, for in the same place is related the gigantic stature of several kings, their wonderful exploits, and other circumstances characteristic of mystical and confused tradition. The first king alluded to by historians is Nenes or Men, who is supposed to have lived above 2,000 years B.C., about the time of the foundation of Assyria by Nimrod, and of the reign of the Chbiese emperor Val), with whom the historical period of China begins. It is doubtful which of these nations came first into existence ; we are inclined to give the preference to the Assyrians, but which ever takes the lead, there was probably but little difference between them in point of time. It is certain that Egypt stood out pre-eminent in civilization, and that, too, at a very early period ; its success in the cultivation of the arts, and in the pur suit of science, was greater than that of any contemporaneous people, as is evident from their remains to be seen at the pre sent day. At the close of Manetho's sixteenth dynasty, the

irruption of the I Iyksos, or shepherds, is supposed to have taken place ; his seventeenth dynasty consisting of shepherd kings, from which period it is alleged that the erection of the existing edifices must commence. all the previously existing buildings having been destroyed by the shepherds. As a proof of this, is adduced the circumstance, that at Carnac, and other of the oldest monuments of Thebes, sculptures and painted stones, of good workmanship, are to be found, used as mere materials in the body of the walls.

Besides the ancient authors already mentioned, we have Strabo and Diodorns Siculus, who have given some account of Egypt and its buildings, and to these we shall have to refer occasionally as we proceed.

In turning to modern writers on this subject, we shall find but few who enter fully into the subject previous to the com mencement of the present century, little or nothing having been known of Egyptian buildings unless it were of the Pyramids, until the French expedition, at the close of the last century ; no satisfactory delineations of the temples, or their details, had been taken, but only such sketches as were calculated to convey some general idea of their characteristic massiveness. To Denon, and the contributors to the great French work on this subject, we are principally indebted for our present information. Pococke and Norden have treated somewhat largely on their researches in this country, but their remarks are too general and too loose to be of much service. Denon had advantages unattainable by any of his predecessors ; independent of his own high qualifications, his efforts were seconded by the able assistance of men of talent, sent out for the purpose, themselves well fitted for the task. Besides these, we may mention Belzoni and Champollion ; and, amongst our own countrymen, Savary and Wilkinson.

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