Egypt Through The Stereoscope

A Journey Through The Land Of The Pharaohs

by James Henry Breasted | 1908 | 103,705 words

Examines how stereographs were used as a means of virtual travel. Focuses on James Henry Breasted's "Egypt through the Stereoscope" (1905, 1908). Provides context for resources in the Travelers in the Middle East Archive (TIMEA). Part 3 of a 4 part course called "History through the Stereoscope."...

Position 81 - The Pylons And The Court Of The Temple Of Horus At Edfu (looking East To The Nile)

One might almost expect to see the gorgeous procession of the god moving out across the court so perfect is the condition of this temple. Indeed, there is no ancient temple which can compare with it in preservation, for with the exception of the lost colors, it is almost as it came from the hands of the architect. It is, to be sure, not the oldest of the Egyptian temples, dating, as it does, entirely from the Ptolemaic epoch. There was, of course, a much older temple on this spot, but this present building was begun by Ptolemy III in 237 B. C., and the building was completed as it now is in 57 B. C., having been 180 years in course of construction.

We are now approaching the sandstone region, and this temple is constructed of sandstone, although those which we have thus far seen were chiefly limestone, with some granite trimmings. This building is exactly in a north and south line, so that the pylon on our right faces the south. We are looking across the court eastward, to the palms that fringe the river, and the eastern cliffs rising behind them (Plan 16 and Map 3). Behind the temple are a few whitewashed houses of modern Edfu, with a palm or two swaying lazily in the courts; while at the right rises the minaret of the modern village mosque, not by any means in as good a state of repair as the temple we are about to enter.

This is the first Ptolemaic temple we have visited, although the temple of Denderah was begun under the Ptolemies; but we could not see the rear halls which they erected. We must therefore note one point which distinguishes it from the temples of the Empire. You notice that the colonnaded portico around the court, extends also across the front of it, along the back of the pylon. This feature we have not seen before, and as we shall observe from our next point of view, it is paralleled by a corresponding change at the rear of the court.

The top of these splendid pylon towers affords a view of the temple and the surrounding country, and we shall later take up our position there and look along the axis of the temple toward the north (our left), in a line at right angles with our present line of sight. The top of the towers is gained by a staircase within; two doors in the back of the pylon leading from these inner staircases to the top of the wall of the court before us, you can clearly see from here. Higher up, in the back of the pylon and here at the end are the windows by which the stairway of 242 steps is lighted.

The monotonous reliefs on the pylon, repeated over and over again, represent King Neos Dionysos, the thirteenth Ptolemy (80-52 B. C.), offering before Horus and Hathor, and their son, the young Horus, the divinities of this temple. For the Ptolemies did not record their warlike exploits on the walls of their temples, as did the early Pharaohs; but there are interesting records of the building of this temple on the wall before us a little further to the left.

Immediately in front of this wall is a section of sundried brick construction, part of a house built against the temple. The accumulations from such houses had almost completely covered the temple, so that little but the two pylon towers was visible, until it was excavated by Mariette. We are standing on such accumulations outside of the circle of excavations, and you can see on the extreme right the stairway which leads down from the surface of the rubbish to the level of the ancient pavement in front of the door, by which we are able to enter for the ascent of the pylon.

We will ascend now to the far side of this nearer or western pylon and look sharply to our left or north over the full length of the temple. This new position and our field of vision are given by lines marked 82 on both Plan 16 and on Map 3.

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: