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Manual of Egyptian Archaeology and Guide to the St

Campaniform and Hathor headed capital


[Illustration:

Fig. 71.--Hathor-head capital, Ptolemaic.]

III. _Columns with Hathor-head Capitals_.--We find examples of the Hathor- headed column dating from ancient times, as at Deir el Bahari; but this order is best known in buildings of the Ptolemaic period, as at Contra Latopolis, Philae, and Denderah. The shaft and the base present no special characteristics. They resemble those of the campaniform columns. The capital is in two divisions. Below we have a square block, bearing on each face a woman's head in high relief and crowned with a naos. The woman has the ears of a heifer. Her hair, confined over the brow by three vertical bands, falls behind the ears, and hangs long on the shoulders. Each head supports a fluted cornice, on which stands a naos framed between two volutes, and crowned by a slender abacus (fig. 71). Thus each column has for its capital four heads of Hathor. Seen from a distance, it at once recalls the form of the sistrum, so frequently represented in the bas- reliefs as held in the hands of queens and goddesses. It is in fact a sistrum, in which the regular proportions of the parts are disregarded. The handle is gigantic, while the upper part of the instrument is unduly reduced. This notion so pleased the Egyptian fancy that architects did not hesitate to combine the sistrum design with elements borrowed from other orders. The four heads of Hathor placed above a campaniform capital, furnished Nectenebo with a composite type for his

pavilion at Philae (fig. 72). I cannot say that the compound is very satisfactory, but the column is in reality less ugly than it appears in engravings.

[Illustration: Fig. 72.--Campaniform and Hathor-headed capital, Philae.]

[Illustration: Fig. 73.--Section of the hypostyle hall at Karnak to show the arrangement of the two varieties: campaniform and lotus-bud columns.]

Shafts of columns were regulated by no fixed rules of proportion or arrangement. The architect might, if he chose, make use of equal heights with very different diameters, and, regardless of any considerations apart from those of general harmony, might design the various parts according to whatever scale best suited him. The dimensions of the capital had no invariable connection with those of the shaft, nor was the height of the shaft dependent on the diameter of the column. At Karnak, the campaniform columns of the hypostyle hall measure 10 feet high in the capital, and 55 feet high in the shaft, with a lower diameter of 11 feet 8 inches. At Luxor, the capital measures 11-1/2 feet, the shaft 49 feet, and the diameter at the spring of the base 11-1/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the shaft and capital measure 35 feet, and the spring diameter is 6-1/2 feet. The lotus-bud or clustered column gives similar results. At Karnak, in the aisles of the hypostyle hall, the capital is 10 feet high, the shaft 33 feet, and the base diameter 6-3/4 feet. At the Ramesseum, the capital is 5- 1/2 feet high, the shaft 24-1/2 feet, and the base diameter 5 feet 10 inches. We find the same irregularity as to architraves. Their height is determined only by the taste of the architect or the necessities of the building. So also with the spacing of columns. Not only does the inter- columnar space vary considerably between temple and temple, or chamber and chamber, but sometimes--as in the first court at Medinet Habu--they vary in the same portico. We have thus far treated separately of each type; but when various types were associated in a single building, no fixed relative proportions were observed. In the hypostyle hall at Karnak, the campaniform columns support the nave, while the lotus-bud variety is relegated to the aisles (fig. 73). There are halls in the temple of Khonsu where the lotus- bud column is the loftiest, and others where the campaniform dominates the rest. In what remains of the Medamot structure, campaniform and lotus-bud columns are of equal height. Egypt had no definite orders like those of Greece, but tried every combination to which the elements of the column could be made to lend themselves; hence, we can never determine the dimensions of an Egyptian column from those of one of its parts.


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