The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt

By W. Stevenson Smith | Go to book overview
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THE weakening of the royal authority in the latter part of Dynasty XX brought with it a slackening of the large-scale building activities which had been characteristic of Ramesside times. The temple of Khons at Karnak was indeed completed in Dynasty XXI, and the first king of Dynasty XXII, Sheshonq 1 ( 950-929 B.C.), constructed the court in front of the Second Pylon of the Temple of Amon. This impressive work included colonnades along the north and south sides and the Bubastite Portal which entered along the southern way of access to the temple between the Second Pylon and the temple of Ramesses III. It was carried out late in the reign, in the king's 21st year, and a triumphal relief on the south face of the wall adjoining the portal on the east commemorated Sheshonq's campaign in Palestine, which occurred in the fifth year of Rehoboam the successor of Solomon.1 The great First Pylon, never completely finished, was apparently not a part of this project. It may have taken the place of an eastern colonnade with a gateway in its centre on the east-west axis of the temple, where a processional way of sphinxes had been laid out by Ramesses II westwards from the Second Pylon to the temple landing-stage. It has been plausibly argued that the First Pylon was not actually constructed until the Ptolemaic Period (Figure 49).2

Little else of architectural importance is known for a period of some three hundred and fifty years, until a new stimulus came from the south with the invasion of the Kushite King, Piankhy, about 730 B.C. Even then, in Dynasty XXV, royal construction was largely concentrated in the Sudan at the temples of Gebel Barkal, Sanam, and Kawa, and in the pyramid fields of El Kurru and Nuri. The badly ruined condition of the great Delta cities makes it difficult to judge of the additions made to them after Ramesside times. However, the restricted size and poorer workmanship of the tombs of the royal family, which were built inside the enclosure of the temple of Tanis in Dynasties XXI and XXII, betray a considerable impoverishment in comparison to the monuments of their predecessors at Thebes. The fragmentary remains of the other constructions of this time in the Tanis temple 3 show a widespread re-use of earlier materials, as does the equally ruined work of Osorkon II ( 870-747 B.C.) at Bubastis.4 There, however, most of the blocks have survived from a large granite gateway between the first and second courts of the temple. These blocks have been fitted together to form one of


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The Art and Architecture of Ancient Egypt
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