Spanning over two thousand years, ancient Egypt was not what one calls a stable civilization as it was in constant change and upheaval throughout. Commonly split into periods by historians the ancient Egyptian architecture is also just not one style, but a set of them differing over time but with some commonalities. 

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All in one frame_©https://givemehistory.com

The renowned example of ancient Egyptian architecture is the Egyptian pyramids while excavated temples, palaces, tombs and fortresses hold their own grandness. Most buildings were built of locally available mud brick and limestone by paid labourers, unlike the popular myth that they were built by slaves. Via the post and lintel method of construction, the monumental buildings were built. Almost every building was aligned astronomically

Why Ancient Egyptian Architecture is exceptional

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The marvellous Egyptian Pyramids_©https://www.ancienthistorylists.com

Egyptian civilization was a civilization of firsts and lasts. It was the first civilization to free itself from the constrictions of fundamental post-and-lintel construction and stone-age tools. Viewed from the perspective of the ancient world, its leap from Neolithic dwellings to the Step Pyramid of Saqqara in a few generations is astonishing. 

It was the first civilization to build massive dressed stone structures, with an accuracy of stone cutting and elegance so marvellous that was unseeable anywhere else in the ancient world and even unrivalled in modern times. 

It was the first civilization to devise complex engineering solutions to the problems presented by its megalithic projects. That a civilization so recently emerged from primitive life could create the Great Pyramid’s nearly perfect geometry is astounding. It was the first civilization to use shaped columns as roof supports, developing a form that some have termed “proto-Doric.”

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Celestory Windows_©https://www.memphis.edu/hypostyle/images/north_gateway/clerestory_window_grille_1.jpg

It was the first to create clerestory windows to introduce light into the structure and release heat from its structures and the first to use corbeled roof construction. It introduced motifs and patterns of nature and geometry that have been adopted and repeated throughout western culture. It was the first civilization whose history was recorded. 

Egyptian hieroglyphic writing was one of the earliest written languages and the tradition of recording exploits and daily life on the walls of tombs and temples and on the stela, freestanding stones used to record announcements has ensured that much of this ancient culture remains available for study today. 

The ancient Egyptian culture was in numerous facets a civilization of lasts as well. No other civilization has crafted monumental works of such baronial size and volume of stone. No other culture has endured so long. No other civilization created such a sense of admiration and marvel as does ancient Egypt. 

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Abu Simbel Temple_©https://cdn.britannica.com

Egypt’s accomplishments rise above mere firsts and last, however, for Egyptian structures and artistic expressions exist not only in height, width, and depth but also in the fourth dimension of time. The modern perception of Egypt’s heritage is timeless as well, not only for the durability of its ancient structures but for the eternalness of its historic influence. 

In many ways, the history of Egypt, from its beginnings through the grand achievements of its dynasties to its ultimate demise with the rise of other Mediterranean civilizations, ultimately leads back to where it began—to the timeless Nile and its endlessly repeating cycles of life and death, inundation and growth. 

Just as the Nile’s unfailing rhythms endure, ancient Egyptian civilization endured for four millennia with little variation, and the monumental structures that so eloquently expressed the Egyptians’ hopes for immortality were built to last for all time. 

Two thousand years after the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization, despite our own technological achievements, we are still amazed by the power and grandeur of ancient Egypt’s tombs and temples and intrigued by ancient Egypt’s remarkably consistent and durable society. Only the ruins of this incredible civilization remain, but the Nile, the mother of the ancient Egyptian world, continues to flow.  

Combination Of Art And History

Due to the insufficiency of wood, the two overriding building materials used were stone and sun-baked mud brick, majorly limestone, but also sandstone and granite in substantial amounts. From the Old Kingdom forward, the stone was generally set-aside for temples and tombs, while bricks were used even for royal palaces, fortresses, the walls of temple precincts and towns, and for subsidiary buildings in temple complexes. 

The core of the pyramids were built out of locally quarried stone, mud bricks, sand and gravel. For the casing, used stones were transported from very far away, primarily white limestone from Tura and red granite from upper Egypt.

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Potryal of figures in Art_©https://thearchitectsdiary.com

Since 3000 B.C. we can see conservatism in their motifs in which a pharaoh was seen smiting an enemy. Belief in the ultimate power of a pharaoh shaped the basis of belief in Egypt. Egyptian architecture had a huge assortment of huge monuments. We see exceptional examples of it in its temples and pyramids. 

Ancient Egyptians were convinced that the creation of the world was designed to be unfolded. And that is why It was clear that ancient Egyptian architecture evolved over time unfolding layer by layer and it was perfected through trial and error. . The architecture left-back by the ancient Egyptians was truly a  marvel of the ancient world, and it remains so today— inspiring modern people and architecture to learn more about the culture and beliefs of ancient Egypt. 

Ilma Nafees
Author

Ilma Nafees is a bachelor's student pursuing Architecture from Jamia Millia Islamia. She has a deep interest in the conservation of the built heritage and the mysteries of Ancient Egypt. She believes writing an architectural content would enhance the understanding of the discipline better as architecture is the art of changing people’s life.

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