How Did Ancient Egyptians Affect Modern Architects?

Ancient Egyptians (3200-323 BCE) had a huge impact and influence on modern architecture. They used their unparalleled resources to create structures on a scale never seen before. During this period their main focus was on solid, large structures backed by thick foundations and by incredibly durable and reliable construction details. The hot and dry climate in Egypt heavily impacted the interior and exterior of their design structures.

Ancient architecture has always influenced designers by mixing old concepts of design with new materials and ideas. As a result of this mixture, new designs are brought forward into the modern era. Architectural works are visible as cultural and political symbols and works of art. The Egyptians have influenced us in many ways. They were able to build massive movements, pyramids, and temples. Though not especially complex, Egyptian pyramids used posts and lintels and a system of distributing weight that allowed for monumental palaces and tombs to be constructed that are still iconic structures thousands of years later in modern times.

The ancient Egyptians built their pyramids, tombs, temples, and palaces of stone, the most durable of all building materials. The gigantic scale of Egyptian architecture was mainly possible due to their methods of quarrying, transporting, and raising enormous blocks of stone to the position. Sun-dried and kiln burnt bricks made from the Nile mud were used for palaces and houses, while the stone was used for pyramids and temples. Egyptian houses were mostly made of brick. Brickmakers collected mud from the Nile, added straw and water as needed, and stomped on it with their feet until it reached the right consistency. Once the sun had completely dried them, the bricks were ready to use. As a precaution against earthquakes and high Nile flooding, the walls of Egyptian houses were often thicker at the bottom and sloped up making them stronger and more stable. As rain was rare in the Middle East the roofs were flat. This provided a useful outdoor living and storage area.

Egyptian architecture developed in 3000BC and is characterized by post and lintel construction, massive walls covered with hieroglyphic and pectoral carving, flat roofs, and structures such as the mastaba, obelisk, pylon, and the pyramids. Religious beliefs largely dictated what artists created, especially the paintings that filled Egyptian temples and tombs. Temples were decorated with paintings and filled with statues of gods and kings. They believed that doing this served the gods, showed devotion to the king, and maintained the order of the universe. Pharaohs built temples to the gods and to themselves as well as large tombs for them to ensure that their divine spirit would be able to continue protecting Egypt even after death.

Ancient Egyptian architecture was prominent from approximately 5000BC to early Christian times. Architects had to design and plan the structures and then supervise the large workforces of skilled craftsmen and laborers who built them. This was an arduous task on a monumental scale.

Egyptian architecture had a great influence on Greek architecture since, like the Egyptians, they used posts and lintels, not arches. Ancient Egyptian architecture was important because it was similar to representational art which aimed to preserve forms and conventions that were held to reflect the perfection of the world at the primordial moment of creation and to embody the correct relationship between humankind, the king, and the pantheon of the gods. The symbolic art of ancient Egyptian architecture, found in buildings, palaces, and temples played an important role in its culture. Common images and symbols formed the foundation and influenced all other types of Egyptian art. It was believed that they gave protection from evil in the present life and the afterlife. Egyptian Architects held their gods in high regard and spent thousands of years erecting structures dedicate to them. Because of their complete devotion and dedication to building structures for their gods, we are able to visit these sites, still standing today. What influences do you see in the modern world that were influenced by the ancient Egyptians? Take a look around you and I am sure you will find many.


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