A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Architecture

By Gwendolyn Leick | Go to book overview

D

dais

A raised platform inside or outside a building, made of wooden planks or of solid mudbrick, which serves as seating or sleeping accommodation. In a palace, the throne can be elevated on a dais.

Dashur

Egypt, see map p. xvi. Royal necropolis south of Cairo, with two pyramids of the IV Dynasty and three of the Middle Kingdom (two of them are mudbrick structures and now very eroded). The Northern or ‘Red Pyramid’ and the Southern or ‘Bent Pyramid’ (see below) were built by Sneferu, the first pharaoh of the IV Dynasty (c. 2613-2494 BC).

The Northern Pyramid, built on a square base entirely in stone, is the first ‘true’ pyramid. Unlike the later ‘classical’ pyramids of GIZA, the inclination of its faces is considerably flatter (43°36′) which might be due to the experimental character of this structure. The burial chamber with a high corbelled roof was situated in the bedrock underneath the apex of the pyramid and was reached through a corridor on the N face.

The Southern or ‘Bent Pyramid’ is larger (c. 200m at the base) and probably later than the Northern Pyramid. It is remarkably well preserved, much of its original limestone casing is intact, and the subsidiary pyramid is also less denuded than at other sites. The name derives from the present appearance of the pyramid: the inclination of the outer faces change abruptly from a steep 54°31; to the flatter 43°21′ about halfway up to the top. The reasons for this change, whether deliberate or accidental, are still unknown. There are two separate entrances (on the S and W side) which lead to two superimposed chambers with corbelled roofs. The W corridor was found barricaded with portcullis blocks. No sarcophagus remained in either chamber. South of the pyramid, within its enclosure wall, stands a small subsidiary pyramid, also containing a burial chamber and a corridor.

The cult area next to the pyramid consisted of a very simple courtyard with an altar and two round-topped stelae inscribed with the name and figure of the king. An open causeway on the W linked the pyramid with the mortuary temple lower down the slope. This was a rectangular structure surrounded by a wall accessible through a narrow court on the S side. The central courtyard was closed at the N end by a pillared portico consisting of a double row of monolithic pillars. Behind them were six niches which probably contained the seated statues of the king. The simplicity and axiality of the whole arrangement is very different from Djoser’s funerary complex at SAQQARA. It contains, however, all the basic elements of the Old Kingdom mortuary temple. It has been argued that this change at the beginning of the IV Dynasty might have been inspired by new rituals required for a royal burial.

Arnold, D., Mitteilungen des Deutschen

-59-

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A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern Architecture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • A 1
  • B 26
  • C 41
  • D 59
  • E 68
  • F 75
  • G 82
  • H 92
  • I 102
  • J 105
  • K 108
  • L 121
  • M 127
  • N 145
  • O 152
  • P 155
  • Q 172
  • R 173
  • S 181
  • T 199
  • U 229
  • V 238
  • W 241
  • Y 245
  • Z 246
  • Alphabetical List of Entries 249
  • Index 253
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