The tower front of the temple at Medinet Habu (fig. 82) is one of the few facades that is preserved. It was copied from the Syrian fortresses, and shows how the Asiatic influences had entered Egypt during the three centuries from about 1500 to 1200 B.C.
The most complete view of a whole temple is that of Dakkeh (fig. 83). The girdle wall has been destroyed, thus exposing the components of the temple clearly. At the left is the great pylon, the gateway through the girdle wall. This led to the portico, which was the front of the house of the god, like the porticoes to human houses. Behind this a cross passage, of which the door is seen at the side, passed in front of the shrine and its ante-chamber. This was one of the most perfect small temples, but it has been much destroyed in recent years.
81. Granite temple.
82. Medinet Habu.
84. Palm capital.
85. Rose lotus.
86. Blue lotus.
The massive square pillars of the granite temple gave place before long to more ornamental forms. The principal types are the palm and lotus in the Vth dynasty, and later the papyrus. The palm capital is shown on the granite columns of Unas (fig. 84). It was probably derived from a bundle of palm-sticks bound together and plastered with mud to stiffen them, like the bundles of maize-stalks which are still used for columns. Around the top of it some of the loose ends of the palm-sticks were left with the leaves to form a head.
The lotus capital appears likewise as a shaft decorated with buds around it (fig. 85). In this case the buds are the short, thick ones of the rose lotus, with flowers of the blue lotus put in the intervals under the abacus. But the lotus bud soon became treated as a solid support, and in the capital of the blue lotus (fig. 86) the whole is formed of four lotus buds. The bands of the tie were always strongly marked, however changed the capital might become in later time. The papyrus column belongs mainly to the XIXth dynasty, as in the great hall of Kar-nak. It was the most incongruous of all, as a single gigantic head of loose filaments was represented as supporting the whole weight.
Plain polygonal shafts were also common. Some octagonal ones occur in the Vth dynasty. In the XIIth dynasty they are sixteen-sided, keeping the four main faces flat and slightly hollowing the others. This was continued in the earlier part of the XVIIIth dynasty, but after that the polygonal form almost disappears.
Here we can only touch on some of the artistic elements; the architecture as a whole is beyond the scope of so small a volume.