Earliest Egypt

A History of Egypt from the Earliest Times to the Persian Conquest (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1905), Chapter III, pp. 25-50

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Art & Architecture


pit has now been elaborated and enlarged and has become rectangular, It is brick lined and also frequently of food second lining of wood; while the surrounding jars of food and drink have developed into a series of small chambers surrounding the central room or pit, in which doubtless the body lay although the tombs had been so often plundere and wasted that no body has ever been found in them (Figs. 22_25). The whole was roofed with heavy timbers and planking, probably surmounted by a heap of sand, and on the east front were set up two tall narrow step bearing the king's name. Access to the central chamber was had by a brick stairway descending through one side (Fig. 23). The king's toilet furniture, a rich equipment of bowls, jars and vessels, metal vases and ewers, his personal ornaments, and all that was necessary for the maintenance of royal state in the hereafter were deposited with his body in this tomb; while the smaller surrounding chambers were filled with a liberal supply of food and wine in enormous pottery jars, sealed with huge cones of Nile mud mixed with straw, and impressed while soft with the name of the king, or of the estate or vineyard from which they came. The revenue in food and wine from certain of the king's estates was diverted and established as permanent income of the tomb to maintain for all time the table supply of the deceased king and of his household and adherents, whose tombs to the number of one or two hundred were grouped about his own. Thus he was surrounded in death by those who had been his companions in life; his women, his body-guard, and even the dwarf, whose dances had diverted his idle hours, all sleep beside their lord that he may continue in the hereafter the state with which he had been environed on earth. Thus early began the elaborate arrangements of the Egyptian upper classes for the proper maintenance of the deceased in the life hereafter.

This desire to create a permanent abiding place for the royal dead exerted a powerful influence in the development of the art of building. Already in the First Dynasty we find

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