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Columns Of Kemet

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These are some examples of different styles of the Kemetic Columns
These are some examples of different styles of the Kemetic Columns
Location: Kemet(originally), all over the earth
Built: Throughout recorded history.
Architect: Imhotep
Architectural style(s): Nile Valley
Governing body: Egypt

Columns Of Kemet

In the very earliest of Egyptian history, columns were often made from one large monolithic block. However, in all later periods columns were usually built up in sectional blocks that were then first shaped and then smoothed from the top down. They were then normally painted, and afterwards, were difficult to tell that they were not cut from a single piece of stone.[1]

Plant Style Columns

Fluted Columns of the step Pyramid of Djoser, located in the enclosure

Fluted Columns

This early form of column first appears in the Step Pyramid enclosure of Djoser[2][3] and slowly disappeared by the New Kingdom. However, their use continued in Nubia. These columns were to resemble bundled reeds or plant stems. During the later periods they soon took shape of polygonal columns.[4]

Lotus colums at a Temple

Lotiform Columns

This column style usually has ribbed shafts representing the the stems of the Lotus, and capitals in the form of a closed (bud) or open lotus flower. The Egyptian Blue Water Lily is in fact not a lotus at all. Not until Graeco-Roman invasion was this flower named a Lotus. Lotiform columns were more likely used in non-secular buildings then in the temples but did appear in sacred structures as well. The lotus bud form made a more frequent appearance in the Old and Middle Kingdom temples. Like the Flute form its use declined during the New Kingdom. During the inhabitance of Graeco-Roman infiltration, the lotus form once again found popularity.[5]

Papyrus Columns with Open and Closed capital examples

Papyriform Columns

There are several variations in this type of column. Some have circular shafts representing a single plant, while others have ribbed shafts that represent a plants with multiple stems. The capitals could be closed (buds) or open in a wide, bell-shaped form. During the New Kingdom, the shafts of most papyriform columns taper upwards from bases decorated with triangular patterns representing stylized stem sheaths. The earliest examples we know of the circular shaft style columns can be found in Djoser's Step Pyramid enclosure at Saqqara. However, these are not free standing columns, but incorporated into other structures. Though the circular shaft form of the column seems to have been used throughout Egyptian history, they saw widespread use during the New Kingdom, along with both open and closed capital styles. The multi-stemmed form of this column was employed during the Fifth Dynasty, but it was also frequently used during the New Kingdom. 18th Dynasty columns are particularly fine, with considerable artistic detail. They became more stylized by the 19th Dynasty.[6]

Palmiform Columns

Palm Column located at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Palmiform columns may have resembled a palm tree, they did not actually represent the tree itself, but rather eight palm fronds lashed to a pole. The Palmiform Columns were also one of the earliest styles of columns in Kemetic temple architecture. This type of column were found in the 5th Dynasty pyramid mortuary complex of Unas and the pyramid Ruins of Sahure. After the Fifth Dynasty, these types of columns are rare, but continued to occasionally be used. Mostly we find examples during later periods at the Taharga temple in Kawa in Upper Nubia, and in some temples dating to the Graeco-Roman Period. However, they may also be found in the Ramesseum. There, at the inner side of the court, are two rows of ten columns. The four middle columns in each row are Papyriform columns while the others are Palmiform. [7]

Ruins of Pyramid of Sahure.

Coniform Columns

This column style apparently quickly died out after their use in Djoser's Step Pyramid enclosure wall. It has not been found in later temples. The style is characterized by a fluted shaft surmounted by a capital representing the branches of a conifer tree.[8]

Tent Pole style columns in the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III at Karnak

Tent Pole Columns

Though we may know of other applications of this style from documentation, the only majorly known surviving examples are of those found in the Festival Temple of Tuthmosis III in Karnak. It is possible that very early examples of the style were also constructed of brick. There is little doubt that this type of column made of stone was rare. The column is basically a representation in stone of the wooden "poles" used to support light structures such as tents, and sometimes shrines, kiosks or ships cabins.

Papyrus: Representing Lower Kemet. Hall of Annals, Karnak
Lotus: Representing Upper Kemet. Hall of Annals, Karnak

Campaniform Columns

Considerable variety existed in this style of columns. They sometimes took the shape of a floral column or pillar. Some had circular, ribbed or square shafts (pillars). They all had some form of flower shaped capital. Two of the best known of these are located in the Hall of Annals of Tuthmosis III at Karnak. At this temple the structures take the shape of a pillar. They include two styles of column. One style was the Papyrus represented Lower Kemet. The Lotus represented Upper Kemet. They are positioned symbolically on the northern and southern sides of the hall. Such placement was not unusual. The columns were positioned in the north and south of courtyards with northern and southern motifs.[9]


Complex/Composite Columns

This type of column became particularly popular during the Ptolemaic era. The origin of this style most likely founded upon the campaniform pillar with the floral capital being based upon either real or imagined vegetation[10]. This type of column continued to evolve in Greece and Rome becoming very different then the Kemeticat variion[11], for example the Corinthian column.

None Plant Style Columns

Temple of hathor dendera.jpg

Hathoric Columns

Hathor columns became popular in the Middle Kingdom and consist of a column shaft surmounted by a capital carved to take the sape of the heifer goddess Hathor. In turn, the Hathor capital is often surmounted by a sistrum, the principal aid to worship for this goddess. Hathor columns are common throughout Kemet and the most famous can be found at the Temple of Hathor at Dendera, as shown in the photo, and at the Hathor Temple in the Mortuary Temple Complex of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri.[12]

Ausar Pillars at Hatshepsuts Tomb

Ausar/Osiride Pillars

All examples of this type of pillar are engaged, meaning that they are part of another architectural element. They appear to also have originated in the Middle Kingdom, and and take the form of a statue of the god Ausar on the pillar's front surface.[13]


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