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Thebes, or five times as much from Memphis; and the monoliths of that material erected in the Delta were conveyed more than 800 miles. The same hasty conclusion has been made about the largest colossi being peculiar to Egypt. But that of Olympian Jove was 60 feet high; that of Apollo, mentioned by Pausanias. was 30 cubits, or 45 feet; and the colossus of Rhodes, measuring 105 feet, far exceeded any in Egypt.
The arch was employed in Egypt at a very early period; and crude brick arches were in common use in roofing tombs at least as early as Amunoph I., in the 16th century before our era. And since I first discovered one at Thebes bearing his name, others have been found of the age of Thothmes III. (his fourth successor) and of Remeses V. It even seems to have been known in the time of the 12th dynasty, judging from the representation of what appear to be vaulted granaries at Beni Hassan.
That it should have originated in a country where wood was rare is consistent with probability; and it has been conjectured that the chambers in the large brick pyramids near Memphis were arched. Those at Thebes, of a rather later period, were so roofed; nor is it unreasonable to suppose that in the other large ones they had the same construction; and the superiority over the stone pyramids, boasted in the inscription upon that of Asychis, has been supposed to consist in its vaulted chambers. It is also evident that in the time of Osirtasen the vaulted ceilings of rock-tombs were made in imitation of arches; and the arch seems to have been particularly used in sepulchral monuments.
The earliest stone arches are of the time of a Psammitichus, ir the 7th century before our era. One of these is at Sakkára, but from the thin slabs of stone forming its roof, it is a far less satisfactory instance of the arch than some of those near the pyramids of Geezeh of the same date; though an arch being of stone is no stronger proof of its existence, than are those of brick at Thebes ; which are on the same principle, the bricks (like the stones) radiating to a common centre. For it is not necessary that an arch should be of any particular material; nor does the principle of the arch depend on its having a keystone; and arches, both round and pointed, are found at all ages without it. The same
is the case in Egypt, and the small chapels before the pyramids of Ethiopia have instances of round and pointed arches, with and without the keystone.
Numerous crude brick arches, of different dates, exist in Thebes, besides the small pyramids * already alluded to, some of which are of very beautiful construction. The most remarkable are the doorways of the enclosures surrounding the tombs in the Assaseéf, which are composed of two or more concentric semicircles of brick, as well constructed as any of the present day. They are of the time of Psammitichus and other princes of the 26th dynasty, immediately before the invasion of Cambyses. All the bricks radiate to a common centre: they are occasionally pared off at the lower part, to allow for the curve of the arch, and sometimes the builders were contented to put in a piece of stone to fill up the increased space between the upper edges of the bricks. In those roofs of houses or tombs, which were made with less care, and required less solidity, the bricks were placed longitudinally, in the direction of the curve of the vault, and the lower ends were then cut away considerably, to allow for the greater opening between them; and many were grooved at the sides, in order to retain a greater quantity of mortar between their united surfaces.
Though the oldest stone arch, whose age has been positively ascertained, dates only in the time of the second Psammitichus,† we cannot suppose that the use of stone was not adopted by the Egyptians, for that species of construction, previous to his reign; even if none of the arches of the pyramids in Ethiopía should prove to be anterior to his era. Nor does the absence of the arch in temples, and other large buildings, excite our surprise, when we consider the style of Egyptian monuments; and no one who understands the character of their architecture could wish for its introduction. In some of the small temples of the Oasis, the Romans attempted this innovation, but the appearance of the chambers so constructed fails to please; and the introduction of an imitation of the arch into a building at Abydus, bearing the name of Sethi, or Osirei, was owing to its being a sepulchral monument. Here the roof is formed of single blocks of stone * One is introduced into woodcut 452, fig. 1. + Vignette P., Chap. x.
reaching from one architrave to the other, which, instead of being placed in the usual manner, stand upon their edges, in order to allow room for hollowing out an arch in their thickness; but its effect is by no means good. (Woodcut 452, fig. 3.)
Like the Egyptians, the Greeks abstained from introducing the arch into their monuments, being unsuited to a style already formed;—an objection not felt by the Romans, who modified what they borrowed, so far as to adopt the arch, and break through the horizontal line of Greek architecture; thus establishing the first elements of the vertical of later times; and the great benefits conferred by the arch in covering large spaces, where crowded assemblies were to meet, are well demonstrated by a comparison of our churches, and the Great Hall of Karnak, with its forest of columns to support the roof. But the Greeks were not ignorant of the arch; instances of it still remain; and Posidonius claims its invention for Democritus, who was born B.C. 460. The arched tunnel of brick under the Euphrates at Babylon, mentioned by Diodorus, also shows that it was known at a remote age in other countries, as well as in Egypt. (See also Vignette N., end of Chap. VIII.)
Another imitation of the arch occurs in a building at Thebes. Here, however, a reason may perhaps be given for its introduction, in addition to its being a tomb, and not bound to accord with the ordinary rules of architecture laid down for Egyptian temples. The chambers lie under a friable rock, and are cased with masonry, to prevent the fall of its crumbling stone; but instead of being roofed on the principle of the arch, they are covered with a number of large blocks, placed horizontally, one projecting beyond that immediately below it, till the uppermost two meet in the centre, the interior angles being afterwards ounded off to form the appearance of a vault.
This building dates in the 15th century B.C., consequently many years after the Egyptians had been acquainted with the art of vaulting; and the reason of their preferring such a mode of construction probably arose from their calculating the great difficulty of repairing an injured arch in this position, and the consequences attending the decay of a single block; nor can any one suppose, from the great superincumbent weight applied to
Fig. 1. Vaulted rooms and doorway of a crude brick pyramid at Thebes.
2. An imitation of an arch at Thebes.
3. Another at Abydus.
4. Mode of commencing a quarry.
the haunches, that this style of building is devoid of strength, and of the usual durability of an Egyptian fabric, or pronounce it ill suited to the purpose for which it was erected.
This was either an imitation of an arch, or a method of older times used before its invention; and we have other instances, in Italy, of false and true arches being employed contemporaneously, by people well acquainted with the principle of forming voussoirs with stones radiating to a common centre.
The first deviation from the mode of roofing with flat stones was what is called the pent-shaped roof; formed by the application of two sets of stones, inclined towards each other, at an angle of about 100', as over the entrance to the Great Pyramid and the roof of
the Queen's chamber. The next was when the space was covered over with slabs of small dimensions, each course projecting beyond the one below it, until the uppermost ones approached each other near enough for the remaining space to be covered by a single stone. These two, used at the same time in the Great Pyramid, were also employed by the early Greeks; and they may be considered the first steps towards the want, and invention, of the arch. And this seems to confirm the notion of the boasted superiority of the brick pyramid having consisted in supplying this desideratum. Bricks certainly led to its invention; and thus small materials have contributed to the greatest variety in construction at different periods :—witness groined arches, as well as long-and-short-work, opus incertum, round towers, and various peculiarities of brickwork. In the earliest arches, the bricks were placed lengthways towards each other; and not only many of the oldest tombs at Thebes have their roofs so constructed, but the stones forming the arches at the pyramids of Gebel Berkel are placed in the same manner. This, however, was afterwards abandoned; and the beautiful brick arches of the Assaseéf at Thebes resemble those of modern times.
The same longitudinal arrangement of the bricks again occurs in the pointed arches of the early Christians in Egypt; and they give evidence of being a first essay of a new principle. Doubtful as to the power of an arch of this form, they only used it at first to cover passages, and other small spaces; and many consisted only of 1, 2, or 3 very long bricks in height, with a portion of one placed between the two uppermost ones as a key. They are, however, remarkable from their antiquity, being about the 7th century of our era; and though a much older pointed arch is found at Gebel Berkel, as well as in Italy, and the pointed arch seems to be imitated in the time of the 18th dynasty, that style of building does not appear to have come into common use in the East much before the 9th century. But it was then very general, and though some dream of pointed arches having been invented in Europe, from the intersection of two round arches, we may be sure that the East gave us the first notion of the new principle; and that we derived it from the Saracens; as they composed their archi