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succeeding centuries. For the Nineteenth and Twentieth Dynasty Pharaohs practically doubled the size of the structure by adding first the huge hypostyle hall with its noble pylon, and still later a vast open fore-court surrounded by columns and statues this part of the temple dating, say, all the way from 1300 to 1179 B.C. And the Ptolemies capped it all by a perfectly enormous pylon, which now marks the extreme western verge of the temple, fronting on the avenue of sphinxes that leads down toward the Nile.
Hence, as the visitor enters from the west and passes through the temple toward its back, he runs the gamut of something like seventeen centuries, from Ptolemy to the Twelfth Dynasty, — perhaps twelve of which have left behind imposing monuments of stone, like tide-marks on the sands of time.
These related epochs we little understood, I fear, as we rambled over the ground this morning on our first visit - but another time the spot will mean infinitely more. To-day the first great impression was on the eye, and it would be difficult to exaggerate it. The first pylon is magnificent only in its commanding proportions and its massiveness. The forecourt within proved huge and bare and hot, for all its colonnades and its incidental side temple built by Rameses III. It was the imposing magnificence of
CHRONOLOGICAL PLAN OF TEMPLE AT
the hypostyle hall that drew us on - and held us spellbound from proceeding.
Artists and enthusiastic writers have conspired to give to the world some adequate conception of the great hall of Karnak, but in vain. The half has not been told and never will be. It is one of those things that defy alike the pen and the brush. To be sure, it helps us to be told that the "entire cathedral of Notre Dame could be set down in the midst” of this one stupendous apartment, which in itself is less than a fifth of the entire temple. The mind gains a slight conception of what is meant by imagining such a vast space sown with a forest of one hundred and thirtyfour columns, the loftiest eighty feet or so in height and topped with broad calyx capitals. But no adequate idea of the magnificence and sublimity of the harmonious whole can ever be had by the mere wandering of the desire. It has to be seen — not once only, but many times.
Few of the temples built with hands which it has been my fortune to visit have ever impressed me as does this one hall of Ammon. The celebrated fanes of Greece are more graceful — more beautiful, perhaps, in their refined, Hellenic way; but the hypostyle hall of Karnak is inexpressibly grand, strong, aweinspiring by reason of sheer bulk and mightiness in short, is well worthy the worship of a Supreme Being, just as the great woods are, or the bare mountains, or the desert spaces. Temple architecture in Egypt culminated here - under the inspiration of Ammon-Ra.
It would be infinite to attempt any detailed description of the inmost portion of the temple that lies beyond -- largely in ruin. I cannot bring myself to essay it. It is forbidden alike by the complexity of the shrine and the chaos into which so much of it has unhappily fallen. Pylon succeeds pylon, court succeeds court; and last of all, far away against the eastern wall of the rearmost building, is the actual sanctuary of the god, — like that at Dendera, deep in the heart of the temple, closed to the vulgar eye and hedged about by the festal halls erected ages ago by old Thutmosis. Out of that chaos and labyrinth there towers in my present recollection but one thing with really vivid clearness — the slender surviving obelisk 1 of Queen Hatasu, still in its wonted place, still soaring into the unclouded blue, and mourning, no doubt, for its ruined fellow which now lies prone
1 Obelisks, by the way, were always erected in pairs by the monarchs of Egypt, and were employed as monuments marking the thirtieth anniversary, not of the king's accession, but of his original designation as heir to the throne. In at least one case this happened to coincide with the accession of the Pharaoh, but as a rule it did not. Comparatively few remain in situ, and those that have been removed to other lands commonly acquire such outrageous names as "Cleopatra's Needle."