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It is impossible, at the present day, to trace with any certainty the steps which were first made by mankind in the various practical inventions that have tended to ameliorate the condition of their race. Many important arts undoubtedly preceded the use of written characters, and therefore no authentic records were made of their origin and early progress. In countries where some degree of civilization is known to have existed at a remote period, there are found at the present time relics of works which excite our wonder by their magnitude and the difficulty of their execution, but respecting which, the earliest historians furnish only traditionary or fabulous accounts. On some of these a new light has been thrown in late years by the interpretation of hieroglyphic inscriptions, which enable us to assign to many elaborate and difficult arts a degree of antiquity, which without such authority would have surpassed belief. Mankind in all ages have felt the same necessities, and, as their civilization has advanced, have sooner or later imbibed a taste for the same conveniences and gratifications. Hence different nations appear to have arrived at a knowledge of the same arts by a common process, either of experiment and induction, or of imitation of what had been done by others. The different periods in which they have converted to practical use the means and materials around them, have depended upon the aptitude of different races for improvement, the judicious administration of their respective governments, and their exemption from frequent and overwhelming calamities.
ARTS OF THE EGYPTIANS.
All nations are agreed in looking back to ancient Egypt as the common, if not the original parent of most of the useful arts, as well as of science and letters. Herodotus, the Greek historian, who visited Egypt more than four hundred years before the Christian era, found the pyramids not only then standing, but considered at that time as antiquities of remote origin. Besides these, there were in existence in his time many stupendous edifices, subterranean structures, colossal statues, and elaborate works of sculpture. The same things now exist in some instances almost unimpaired, and excite the wonder of travellers at the present day. The French savans, who accompanied the military expedition to Egypt under Bonaparte, have published minute and extensive representations of the antiquities of that country. The traveller Belzoni and his contemporaries, by their researches and excavations, have brought to light many facts and circumstances of the highest interest. More recently, Mr. Wilkinson has placed before the public a vast amount of information, relating to the customs, arts, and manufactures of the ancient Egyptians, derived from inscriptions and paintings now extant upon the walls of their buildings, and from various pieces of workmanship, which are found remaining in good preservation. But unquestionably the most interesting discovery connected with this subject, is that of M. Champollion, who, by deciphering the hieroglyphic inscriptions, has been enabled to give us names, dates, and historical facts, which seem to show, that many of the most astonishing structures and works of art of the Egyptians were in existence a thousand years before the time of Herodotus.
Architecture.--The power which was acquired by the ancient inhabitants of Egypt, of removing and erecting large masses of stone, together with their taste for the pyramidal form, the most stable of all modes of construction, has been the cause that so many memorials of their attainments in art have descended to the present day. Many of the other structures of antiquity now extant owe their preservation to accident; those of Egypt have the principle of their preservation within themselves.
Pyramids.--The Egyptian pyramids surpass all other works of art in the interest excited by their antiquity and immense size, and by the contemplation of the vast and concentrated power, which was called into exercise for their erection. These structures appear to have been reared either as the sepulchres of the monarchs who designed them, or else as the tombs of some deified objects of veneration among the inhabitants. The number of pyramids which are found in Egypt and the neighboring countries, including Nubia, exceeds a hundred, and some of them are unquestionably the largest edifices on the globe. The most remarkable and best known, are those at Ghizeh, near Cairo. Of these the largest is seven hundred and sixty-three feet square, according to the admeasurements of M. Jomard, who went to the trouble of removing the earth down to the base of this pyramid, to obtain its true dimensions. The whole area, or space covered by this structure, exceeds thirteen English acres. The total height is about four hundred and seventy-nine feet, being somewhat higher than St. Peter's church at Rome. The outside presents a succession of courses of vast stones rising like stairs one above another, decreasing in size from below upwards, so that the lowest stones measure about four feet and a half in height, and the uppermost one foot and a half. The summit is a platform thirty-two feet square, composed of nine stones.
It is supposed that some of the pyramids were covered with a casing of smooth stones with an oblique outer side, which filled up the steps, or notches, and gave to the whole outside a plane surface. None of these casing-stones are found at this day on the larger pyramid, but in the second pyramid they exist on some of the upper steps, and in the third they are found from top to bottom. Some of the Nubian pyramids have large propylaea, or porticoes, still standing, and the vestiges of a temple are to be seen before one of the pyramids of Ghizeh. From the well-known magnificence of the Egyptian style of building, it seems probable that these pyramids were the nuclei, or bodies, of ornamental groups and ranges of structures. The frontispiece represents one of the largest pyramids, as restored, by the French antiquarian Casas, to its supposed original state, with its porticoes and obelisks, and its avenues of sphinxes and statues. The group combines a good view of the peculiarities of Egyptian architecture.
The outside of the principal Egyptian pyramids is of hewn stone; the inside is a solid mass of rubble. The largest of these structures has an entrance on the north side, about forty-seven feet above the base. From this entrance a passage, or narrow gallery, extends into the body of the pyramid, in a sloping direction downward. This terminates in another passage which slopes upward, and which is succeeded in its turn by a horizontal passage leading to a small chamber in the centre of the building. Another passage, partly sloping and partly horizontal, leads to a different chamber situated higher than the former, and containing a granite sarcophagus at one end. The contents of this sarcophagus, and also its lid, have long since disappeared. The walls of the passages and chambers are lined with polished granite, some of the stones being seventeen and even twenty feet in length.
An opening was made into the second pyramid by the traveller Belzoni, by penetrating the wall in a part corresponding to the entrance of the first. He discovered a long gallery, partly sloping and partly horizontal, which terminated, as in the first instance, in a central chamber containing a stone sarcophagus. In this sarcophagus were still remaining the bones of its occupant. These, on being duly examined, were found to be the bones, not of an Egyptian monarch, but of a common bull! So that it appears possible that these vast and cumbrous edifices were erected to serve, not as the tombs of kings, but as the monuments of mere brutes, to the worship of which, the Egyptians are well known to have been addicted.
Sphinx.--In front of the pyramids of Ghizeh, and about a quarter of a mile from the banks of the Nile, is another extraordinary production of the ancient Egyptians, the immense figure called the Sphinx of Ghizeh. It is of the kind called androsphinx, the face of which is that of a man, and the body that of a lion. This wonderful work of art is said to have been the sepulchre of the King Amasis. It is of one entire stone, and appears to have been cut out of a solid rock. Till the time of the French invasion of Egypt, little was to be seen of this celebrated figure, except the head, the rest having been buried for ages in sand. This obstacle they cleared away in a considerable degree, and laid much of the body open to view. From recent measurements, calculated when the Sphinx was cleared from the sand, it is found to be about a hundred feet in length and forty feet wide. Dr. Pococke, and M. Goguet, after him, reckoned the head to be twenty-six feet high, thirty-five feet round, and fifteen feet from the ear to the chin.
The public are indebted for farther light to Captain Cabillia, who succeeded with great labor in uncovering the front of the Sphinx. He found a small temple situated between the two paws, and a large tablet of granite on its breast. The tablet is adorned with several figures and hieroglyphics, and two representations of other sphinxes are sculptured upon it. Before the entrance into the small temple was a lion, placed as if to guard the approach. From the base of the temple to the summit of the head he found to be sixty-five feet; the legs of the Sphinx are fifty-seven feet long from the breast to the extremity of the paws, which are eight feet high. He also found a Greek inscription of the time of the Ptolemies, one alluding to the Emperor Antoninus, and another to Septimius Severus.
Sphinxes of smaller size, having the head of a woman, are common in Upper Egypt, and, in some instances, rows of these figures appear to have lined the sides of avenues a mile or more in length. The idea of the Sphinx was not peculiar to Egypt. They are found at Persepolis, and at Ellora in India.
Labyrinth.--Next in point of celebrity, is the Egyptian Labyrinth, which the Greeks imitated in the well-known Labyrinth of Crete. It has been doubted if any remains of this elaborate structure have been discovered, yet Captain Wilford asserts, that its ruins are still to be seen near the Lake Mceris. We must, however, rely upon the credit of ancient authors for our knowledge respecting it, and the account of Herodotus, though perhaps exaggerated, is the best to which we can refer upon this head. There is great diversity of opinion in regard to the period to which the construction of this edifice ought to be attributed.
The Labyrinth, as Herodotus affirms, contained within the same circuit of walk twelve magnificent palaces, regularly disposed and communicating with each other. These palaces contained three thousand halls, twelve of which were of a particular form and great beauty. Half of these halls, or chambers, were interspersed with terraces, and communicated with each other, but by so many turns and windings, that, without an experienced guide, it was impossible to escape out of them. The other half were under ground, cut out of the rock, and said to be used for the sepulchres of Egyptian kings. Herodotus states, that he visited all the apartments above ground; but those which were subterraneous, they would not, from motives of superstition, permit him to enter. Captain Wilford thinks the various apartments under ground were used for depositing the chests or coffins of the sacred crocodiles, called sukhus, or sukkis, in old Egyptian, and soukk, to this day, in the vernacular language of Egypt. The halls had an equal number of doors, six opening to the north and six to the south, and at each angle of the external wall of the Labyrinth was erected an immense pyramid, for the sepulchres of its founders. The whole building of the Labyrinth, walls and ceilings, was of white marble, and exhibited a profusion of sculpture. Each of the twelve halls or galleries before mentioned was supported on columns of the same marble. This building, or rather city of palaces, is also mentioned by Diodorus Siculus, who thinks it was a grand cemetery for the Egyptian monarchs and their families; and by Strabo and by Pliny, who only confirm the descriptions of Herodotus.
Obelisks.--Obelisks were slender pyramidal shafts made of a single-stone, and generally placed in pairs before gates or propyleea of temples or cities. They have generally been considered as peculiarly Egyptian, and of Egyptian origin, yet, if the account of Diodorus be true, it must have been in Asia, and not in Egypt, that they took their rise. This author speaks of a pyramidal spire, erected by the command of Semiramis on the road to Babylon, which was of a single stone, one hundred and thirty feet in height, and twenty-five feet square at base. Pliny, on the contrary, asserts, that the idea of this species of monument was originally conceived by the Egyptians, and that a king of Heliopolis, called Mestres, was the first who caused an obelisk to be raised.
Two of the principal of these obelisks were those which were supposed to have been erected by Sesostris or Rameses, with the design of communicating to posterity the extent of his power, and the number of the nations he had conquered. These obelisks were each of one immense piece of granite, and were a hundred and eighty feet high. Augustus, according to the report of Pliny, transported one of these obelisks to Rome, and placed it in the Campus Martius. Of the three Egyptian obelisks now in Rome, doubts have been suggested whether either of them was raised by Sesostris, on account of their smaller height. The height of that now by the fountain of the Piazza del Popolo is seventy-four feet, without its modern pedestal; that of the Vatican, seventy-eight feet, and that on Trinita, forty-five feet, without their pedestals, while those of Sesostris were said to be of the enormous altitude of one hundred and eighty. If the two larger be the same, it is probable they were broken shorter in their fall. The obelisk of the Piazza del Popolo is that which was brought to Rome by Augustus, after being spared from the ravages of Cambyses. From the place where it was erected by Augustus, this obelisk was removed to its present situation by order of Sextus the Fifth, in 1589, under the direction of Fontana, who also designed its pedestal and the fountain. The one now in front of St. Peter's church is also said to be one of those erected at Heliopolis, by Sesostris, and was brought to Rome by Caligula in a vessel, the largest then ever seen upon the sea, and which was afterwards sunk to form the port of Ostia. That Emperor erected it in his circus at the Vatican, which was destroyed by Constantine the Great, to build the first basilica of St. Peter's; but he left the obelisk standing in the place now occupied by the Sacristy of St. Peter. It was removed, at an expense of nearly £10,000 sterling, by Sextus, to its present situation, nearly a century before the construction of the colonnade which surrounds it.
Cities.--At various places in Upper Egypt, upon the banks of the Nile, the remains of ancient cities are met with, the elaborate works of which are objects of astonishment to modern visiters. Some of the most remarkable of these are found on the sites of the ancient Hermopolis and Tentyra. But at the villages now called Carnac and Luxor, remain the ruins of ancient Thebes, constituting the most interesting and stupendous collection of works of high antiquity, which are to be found in any part of the world.
We are told that at the period of the Trojan war, Thebes was considered the most opulent, and the best peopled city in existence. It was distinguished by the epithet Hecatompylos, from its hundred gates. It was not only the most beautiful city in all Egypt, but is supposed by many ancient writers to have surpassed every other of its time, in the splendor of its buildings, in its extent, and in the number of its inhabitants. Homer says, that Thebes was able to furnish 20,000 chariots of war. Its four principal temples were of immense size, and of singular beauty of workmanship. The gold, ivory, and precious stones, with which they were decorated, were stripped and carried away by the Persians, when Cambyses conquered and ravaged Egypt. Their domestic architecture appears to have arrived at a high degree of perfection. Diodorus says, the houses of private persons in Thebes were four and five stories in height, which proves the knowledge of floors, stairs, and other necessary mechanism of storied dwellings.
The following account of the present aspect of the rains of this remarkable city is derived from the work of a recent and highly-intelligent American traveller, Mr. Stephens.
"At this day the temples of Thebes are known almost every where, by the reports of travellers. On the Arabian side of the Nile, are the great temples of Luxor and Carnac. The temple of Luxor stands near the bank of the river, built there, as is supposed, for the convenience of the Egyptian boatmen. Before the magnificent gateway of this temple, until within a few years, stood two lofty obelisks, each a single block of red granite, (or sienite,) more than eighty feet high, covered with sculpture and hieroglyphics, fresh as if but yesterday from the hands of the sculptor. One of them has been lately taken down by the French, and is now in Paris; the other is still standing on the spot where it was first erected.
"Between these and the grand propylon are two colossal statues, with mitred head-dresses; also single blocks of granite, buried to the chest by sand, but still rising more than twenty feet above the ground. The grand propylon is a magnificent gateway, more than two hundred feet in length at its present base, and more than sixty feet above the sand. The whole front is covered with sculpture; the battle scenes of an Egyptian warrior, designed and executed with extraordinary force and spirit. In one compartment the hero is represented advancing at the head of his forces, and breaking through the ranks of the enemy; then standing, a colossal figure, in a car drawn by two fiery horses with feathers waving over their heads, the reins tied round his body, his bow bent, the arrow drawn to its head, and the dead and wounded lying under the wheels of his car and the hoofs of his horses. In another place, several cars are seen in full speed for the walls of a town, fugitives passing a river, horses, chariots, and men struggling to reach the opposite bank, while the hero, hurried impetuously beyond the rank of his own followers, is standing alone, among the slain and wounded who have fallen under his formidable arm. At the farthest extremity, he is sitting on a throne as a conqueror, with a sceptre in his hand, a row of the principal captives before him, each with a rope around his neck; one with outstretched hands imploring pity, and another on his knees to receive the blow of the executioner, while above is the vanquished monarch, with his hands tied to a car, about to grace the triumph of the conqueror.
"Passing this magnificent entrance, the visiter enters the dromos, or large open court, surrounded by a ruined portico formed by a double row of columns covered with sculpture and hieroglyphics; and working his way over heaps of rubbish and Arab huts, among stately columns, twelve feet in diameter, and between thirty and forty feet in height, with spreading capitals resembling the budding lotus, some broken, some prostrate, some half buried, and some lofty and towering as when they were erected, at the distance of six hundred feet, reaches the sanctuary of the temple."
"But, great and magnificent as was the temple of Luxor, it served but as a portal to the greater Carnac. Standing nearly two miles from Luxor, the whole road to it was lined with rows of Sphinxes, each of a solid block of granite. At this end they are broken, and, for the most part, buried under the sand and heaps of rubbish. But approaching Carnac, they stand entire, still and solemn as when the ancient Egyptian passed between them to worship in the great temple of Ammon. Four grand propylons terminate this avenue of sphinxes, and passing through the last, the scene which presents itself defies description. Belzoni remarks of the ruins of Thebes generally, that he felt as if he were in a city of giants; and no man can look upon the splendid ruins of Carnac, without feeling humbled by the greatness of a people who have passed away for ever."
"The field of ruins is about a mile in diameter; the temple itself twelve hundred feet long and four hundred and twenty broad. It has twelve principal entrances, each of which is approached through rows of sphinxes, as across the plain from Luxor, and each is composed of propylons, gateways, and other buildings, in themselves larger than most other temples; the sides of some of them are equal to the bases of most of the pyramids, and on each side of many are colossal statues, some sitting, others erect, from twenty to thirty feet in height. In front of the body of the temple is a large court, with an immense colonnade on each side, of thirty columns in length, and through the middle two rows of columns fifty feet in height; then an immense portico, the roof supported by one hundred and thirty-four columns, from twenty-six to thirty-four feet in circumference. Next were four beautiful obelisks more than seventy feet in height, three of which are still standing; and then the sanctuary, consisting of an apartment about twenty feet square, the walls and ceiling of large blocks of highly-polished granite, the ceiling studded with stars on a blue ground, and the walls covered with sculpture and hieroglyphics, representing offerings to Osiris."
"But these are not half the ruins of Thebes. On the western side of the river, besides others prostrate and nearly buried under the sands, the traces of which are still visible, the temples of Gornou, Northern Dair, Dair-el-Medinet, the Memnonium, and Medinet Abou, with their columns, and sculpture, and colossal figures, still raise their giant skeletons above the sands. Volumes have been written upon them, and volumes may yet be written, and he that reads all will still have but an imperfect idea of the ruins of Thebes."
Tombs.--The ancient Egyptians, from the monarch to the subject, believed that their souls, after many thousand years, would come to reinhabit their bodies, in case these were preserved entire. Hence arose the embalming, and the situation of the sepulchres, in places not subject to the inundation of the river. The tombs at Thebes consist of sepulchral grottoes, made in the side of a hill, from its base to within three quarters of its summit. The lowest are the best executed, and the most spacious. The plan of all is nearly the same. A door open to the east leads to a gallery supported by columns or pilasters. At the end of the gallery is a well, which leads to the catacombs, where the mummies were deposited. These wells, from forty to sixty feet dee,p, abut upon long subterranean alleys terminating in a Square room, supported by pillars, in which room are still remains of mummies. In the upper gallery are bas-reliefs or paintings on subjects relating to the funeral ceremonies; and every grotto had a ceiling painted in a fanciful manner, much resembling our paper for rooms. The tombs of the kings are particularly noticeable. The ancient road to them has not been found. Every grotto communicated with the valley by a large door. This leads into a succession of galleries, with chambers on both sides. One of these contains the actual sarcophagus, in which was placed the mummy of a king. It retains its cover, upon which is the royal effigy. The grand point of notice, however, in these souterrains is the fresco paintings. They exhibit all the arts of civilization which obtained in Egypt, such as relate to the manufactures and agriculture, saddlery, carriages, pottery, counters for trade, rural employment, hunting, fishing, marches of troops, punishments in use, musical instruments, habits, and furniture.
Sculpture.--The specimens which remain of Egyptian sculpture exceed those which are extant of any other nation, in their colossal size, and the labor which must have attended their execution. Before one of the gates of Thebes, at the entrance of a temple long since destroyed, there now remain two gigantic statues of stone, both in a sitting posture, which measure from the ground fifty-three feet, besides a pedestal of seven feet now buried in the sand, making the total height sixty feet. One of these appears by inscriptions to have been the celebrated statue of Memnon, which was supposed by the ancients to emit a sound like that of a harp-string, at the rising of the sun. The fragments of another still more remarkable colossus are seen lying on the ground, broken but not destroyed. The breadth of this statue across the shoulders is twenty-two feet, and the arm from the shoulder to the elbow measures thirteen feet. Its foot is eleven feet in length and about five in breadth. The material of this statue is sienite, one of the hardest rocks, and its total weight is estimated at more than eight hundred tons.
Multitudes of statues of various dimensions, and their fragments, still appear among the ruins of Egyptian cities. They do not in general conform to the modern notions of beauty, being carved without much symmetry, the larger ones mostly in a sitting posture, with the limbs parallel, and the hands upon the knees. The Egyptian sculptors were in the habit of making both sides of these statues exactly alike in the attitude and position of the limbs. This peculiarity is incompatible with our ideas of grace or of life, and gives to their figures a stiff and inanimate appearance.
Some of their sculptures in relief represent erect figures in vigorous action, and these are considered as the most successful specimens of their art. Female figures have one arm crossed upon the breast. In the sculpture of animals they appear to have succeeded better than in that of men. Many of their works, both of painting and sculpture, represent fictitious objects having the heads of animals on the bodies of men, or other assemblages of heterogeneous features.
Houses.--Judging from the ruins that remain, the Egyptian towns appear to have been laid out with great regularity, the streets being, with the exception of a few principal ones, not wide enough to admit the passage of a chariot. The houses were sometimes several stories high, and mostly made of crude bricks baked in the sun. The making of bricks was usually performed by the labor of captives, among whom the ancient Israelites were to be numbered. Various paintings remain which represent men engaged in every department of brick-making, with task-masters urging them on.
The houses of the wealthiest men frequently formed a hollow square, containing many apartments and enclosing a kind of court-yard. They had sometimes elaborate porticoes, with the name of the owner or occupant painted over the door. Rows of trees appear to have been cultivated in the streets and avenues. The rooms and other interior parts of the houses were plastered with stucco, and ornamented with various devices painted on the walls in fanciful and brilliant colors. The doors were often stained in imitation of ornamental wood, and had hinges of bronze, consisting of perpendicular pins entering into holes above and below. The floors were sometimes of stone or a composition of cement. The roofs were supported by rafters made of the date-tree, with transverse layers of palm branches or planks. Long stones were used in the more costly edifices, and the vault and arch appear to have been used in these constructions, as early as 1540 years before the Christian era.
Mills, &c.--The Egyptians had mills of a simple construction, consisting of two circular stones, of which the upper was turned on the under by means of a handle. They also had farms, orchards, and vineyards, made wine, and practised the ordinary arts of agriculture and gardening. All the important processes appertaining to these various operations are repeatedly depicted in paintings now extant on the ancient walls, and representations of them may be seen in the work of Mr. Wilkinson already alluded to.
Transporting of Weights.--The most ancient buildings in Egypt were constructed of limestone. It was occasionally employed for building even after the succession of the sixteenth dynasty, until the quarries of sandstone at Silsilis were opened.
When the stone was ready to be removed, it was transported on a sledge drawn by oxen, or if ponderous it was dragged by men condemned to hard labor. There exists, in a grotto of Egypt, a representation of a colossus which a large multitude of men are employed in dragging with ropes. It is one of the very few paintings which throw any light on the methods employed by the Egyptians for moving immense weights. One hundred and seventy-two men, in four rows of forty-three each, pull the ropes attached to the front of the sledge, and a liquid, probably grease, is poured from a vase, by a person standing on the pedestal of the statue, in order to facilitate its progress as it slides over the ground. Behind are four rows of men, who maybe supposed to represent a new gang which relieved the others when fatigued. Below are persons carrying vases of the liquid, or perhaps water for the use of the workmen, and some implements, followed by taskmasters with their wands, of office. On the knee of the figure stands a man who claps his hands apparently to the measured cadence of a song, to mark the time, and insure their simultaneous draught. The height of the statue appears to have been about twenty-four feet, and the color and the hieroglyphics inform us that it was of limestone. It was bound to the sledge by double ropes, which were tightened by means of long pegs inserted between them, and twisted round until completely braced; and to prevent injury from the friction of the ropes upon the stone, a compress of leather or other substance appears to be introduced at the part where they touched the statue.
Small blocks of stone were transported by water in boats or rafts. Those of large dimensions were dragged by men over land, and the immense weight of some of them shows that the Egyptians were well acquainted with the mechanical powers, and possessed the mode of applying a locomotive force with great success. The largest obelisk in Egypt, a single stone, has been computed to weigh two hundred and ninety-seven tons, and the distance from the quarry to where it now stands is one hundred and thirty-eight miles. Those taken to Heliopolis were dragged over three hundred miles. Among the ruins of western Thebes, are two colossi which measure eleven thousand five hundred cubic feet, and are made of a stone not known within several days' journey of the place. Herodotus mentions a monolith at Sais, thirty-one and a half feet in length, twenty-two in breadth, and twelve in height, which two thousand men were employed to bring, and occupied three years in the task. His measurement is given as it lay on the ground--his length is therefore properly its height, and his height the depth from the front to the back.
The great knowledge of the mechanical powers, possessed by this people, is also shown in the erection of their obelisks, and in the position of vast stones raised to a considerable height, and adjusted with the utmost precision, sometimes in situations where the space will not admit the introduction of the inclined plane.
In one of the quarries at Syene, is a granite obelisk, which, having been broken in the centre after it was finished, was left in the exact spot where it was separated from the rock. The breadth of the quarry is so small, and the entrance to it so narrow, that it was impossible for the workmen to turn the stone in order to remove it by that opening; it is therefore evident that they must have lifted it out of the hollow in which it had been cut, as was the case with all the other shafts previously hewn in the same quarry. We may question whether, with the ingenuity and science of the present day, our engineers are capable of raising weights with greater facility.
Glass.--It is probable, from the evidence of painted representations, that the Egyptians were acquainted with the art of glass-blowing, 3500 years ago. These paintings represent workmen engaged in this process over a fire. A glass bead has been found, bearing the name of one of the kings, who lived about the year 1500 B. C. Pieces of glass are often found in the sarcophagi of mummies.
Glass windows, not being needed, were probably not used by the Egyptians, but their vases of that material, and their glass ware, were of great celebrity. They even excelled in one branch of the art, of which workmen of the present age are ignorant. Specimens of manufactured glass exist, which not only present various-colored devices on the exterior, but the same hues and devices are found to pass in right lines from the surface through the body of the material, so that, by cutting off a stratum, a perfect resemblance of the first picture is reproduced. The details are remarkably distinct, the single lines of extreme delicacy, and the colors brilliant. It is supposed that the specimen is composed of glass filaments the length of which corresponds to the thickness of the-plate, and which are cemented together by heat, and resemble mosaic work ift principle, although the distinction of parts is entirely imperceptible.
Precious stones were also imitated with great success. Even small figures, scarabeei, and other objects usually made of porcelain, were counterfeited by earthenware covered by a vitrified exterior.
Glass was used for beads, bottles, vases, and other utensils. Among other proofs of the skill of the Egyptians in its manufacture, may be mentioned vases, which, from the manner in which the layers of color are united, have been mistaken for sardonyx.
Their glass porcelain, a vitrified composition, was remarkable for the brilliancy of its colors, proving that the Egyptians were not unacquainted with some parts of practical chemistry. This material is not unlike the porcelain glass invented by Reaumur, who changed glass into a substance resembling china ware. Its ground is generally blue or green, traversed by lines and devices of other colors executed with wonderful accuracy in detail. The picture is not confined to the surface, but extends, partially or entirely, through the substance. Particular colors, and also the handle, rim, and base, were added to the vases by a second application of heat.
It appears that the art of cutting glass was known to the Egyptians, and it is affirmed by Pliny that precious stones were cut and engraved by the diamond at a remote period. In the tombs of Thebes have been discovered bottles supposed to be of Chinese manufacture. From their size, and their very inferior quality compared to those of the Egyptians, it is inferred that they were valued for their contents only.
Linen.--The Egyptians, from a very remote era, were celebrated for the manufacture of linen. It was made in great quantities and purchased extensively by foreign nations. It is ascertained that the mummy-cloths are composed entirely of that material. The aid of powerful microscopes has proved that linen fibres are cylindrical, transparent, and articulated, while those of cotton resemble a flat riband, with a border at each edge. On examination of the bandages of the mummies by this test, the fact of their being exclusively linen is decided. Linen was the conventional dress of the priests, and was extensively worn by the people.
The Egyptian looms appear to have been of very rude construction, a circumstance which renders the extreme finenêss of the linen more remarkable. Specimens of the material now existing resemble silk to the touch, and in texture are equal to our finest cambrics. The great mass of the mummy-cloths are coarsely woven, but the texture of many is strikingly even, firm, and elastic. The greatest peculiarity of the Egyptian manufacture lies in the fact, that the threads of the warp invariably exceed in number those of the woof, amounting to double, treble, and quadruple the number of the latter. This fact was probably owing to the difficulty and tediousness of getting in the woof when the shuttle was thrown by hand, which is still the practice in India, and was formerly universal in Europe and this country. Some of the cloths are fringed at the ends. Three or four threads twisted together to form a strong one, and two of these again twisted together, and knotted at the middle and at the end to prevent unravelling, form the fringe, precisely as in the silk shawls of the present day. When the dresses were made up, if the fringe was wanting, the edge of the robe was hemmed.
The selvages of the Egyptian cloths are very carefully formed, and must have been strong and durable. Fillets of strong cloth or tape were also used to secure the ends of the pieces, showing a knowledge of the little resources of modern manufacture. Several of the specimens are bordered with colored stripes of various patterns. The width of the stripes is from half an inch to an inch and a quarter. In a limited way, they resemble a modern gingham. The color was imparted to the threads, before the cloth was made. Blue is the predominant color, and this is ascertained by experiment to have been indigo.
Painted representations show that these manufactures were worn at a very early period; and the Arabians wear shawls with the same borders at the present day. One remarkable specimen now preserved is covered with hieroglyphics delineated with exquisite fineness.
The threads used for nets were also extremely fine. A linen corslet is mentioned both by Pliny and Herodotus, each of the threads of which consisted of three hundred and sixty-five fibres. The art of embroidering in gold thread was also known to the Egyptians. Their netting-needles, some of which remain, were of wood, split at each end, between ten and eleven inches long. In shape they strongly resemble our own. Others were of bronze with the point closed.
It is evident from the writings of Pliny that mordants were used for the purpose of dyeing, although it is uncertain whether the Egyptians understood the manner in which the salts and acids of the mordants acted, or calculated their effects solely from experience.
The yarn seems all to have been spun by the hand. Paintings now extant represent some of the looms as horizontal. Herodotus relates that instead of pushing the woof upwards, the Egyptians press it down. In a painting at Thebes the manufacturer appears to push the woof upwards, the cloth being fixed above him to the upper part of the frame.
The spindles were small, generally upwards of a foot in length. One was found at Thebes containing some of the linen thread. They were commonly of wood. To increase their impetus in turning, a circular head was attached, made of gypsum, or a composition, or of plaited rushes or palm-leaves, with a loop for securing the twine after it was wound.
The steeping, and the process of beating the stalks of flax with mallets, are thus described by Pliny. "The stalks are immersed in water, warmed by the sun, and are kept down by weights. The membrane, or rind, becoming loose is a sign of their being sufficiently macerated. They are then taken out and repeatedly turned over in the sun, until perfectly dried, and afterwards beaten by mallets on stone slabs. That which is nearest the rind is called stupa, 'tow,' inferior to the inner fibres, and fit only for the wicks of lamps. It is combed out with iron hooks, until all the rind is removed. The inner part is of a whiter and finer quality. After it is made into yarn, it is polished by striking it frequently on a hard stone, moistened with water; and when woven into cloth, it is again beaten with clubs, being always improved in proportion as it is beaten."
They also parted and cleansed the fibres of the flax with a sort of comb, probably the iron hooks mentioned by Pliny, two of which, found with some tow at Thebes, are preserved in the Berlin Museum; one having twenty-nine, the other forty-six teeth.
Besides the process of making cloth, that of smoothing or calendering is represented in the paintings. For smoothing linen after washing, a wooden substitute for what we call a flat, or sad-iron, was used by the Egyptian washerwomen, some of which have been found at Thebes, six inches in length, made of tamarisk wood.
Cotton.--Cotton cloth was among the manufactures of Egypt, and was worn occasionally by all classes, although the use of linen was more universal. A great quantity was used for covering the furniture of their houses, and for various other purposes. A sort of cloth was also made of the united filaments of flax and cotton.
Woollen.--The woollen manufactures of the Egyptians were highly esteemed by foreign nations. In Egypt they were used by the lower orders, and on particular occasions by the rich. The priests were permitted to wear an upper garment of this material, but under garments of wool were forbidden, and no one was allowed to be buried in a woollen covering. Carpets were made of wool, but the fragments in the tombs have been very imperfectly preserved. A small rug has lately been brought to England made with woollen threads on linen strings. From the combination of colors, the device of the border, and a hieroglyphic, it is probably of Egyptian manufacture.
Some kinds of rope and twine were made of flax. Large ropes, intended for common purposes, were made of the fibres of the date-tree, and many specimens of these materials are still found.
Sieves were often made of strings, but some of an inferior quality, and for coarse work, were constructed of small thin rushes or reeds; a specimen of which kind of sieve is preserved in the Paris Museum.
Writing Materials.--The Egyptians were not less famed for their manufacture of paper, than for the delicate texture of their linen. The plant from which their paper was made, now called Cyperus papyrus, was cultivated in marshy land. For a description of the material manufactured, see Chapter VII. It was afterwards superseded by parchment. For common purposes pieces of broken pottery, slabs of limestone, wooden panels, and leather rolls were frequently substituted.
Leather.--In the tanning and preparation of leather, the Egyptians evinced considerable skill. The specimens of this art are not well preserved, but the straps placed across the bodies of the mummies at Thebes, from their fineness and the beauty of their figures, prove the skill of the leather-cutters, and the antiquity of embossing. Some of these bear the names of kings who reigned 3300 years ago. From the paintings, we ascertain that they made shoes, sandals, parasols, and the coverings and seats of chairs or sofas, which were painted with flowers and fancy devices; also the ornamental furniture of the chariot, and skins for carrying liquids, coated with a resinous substance. The skins were cured and dyed. Their instruments do not appear to have been numerous. The most remarkable was the semicircular knife, which obtained the longest thongs from a circular piece of leather by cutting it spirally, as is done at the present day. For tanning, they used the pods of the Acacia Nilotica.
Trades.--The potters were a numerous class, and all the processes belonging to their art, of mixing the clay, and of turning, baking, and polishing the vessels, are represented in paintings in the Theban tombs.
The occupations of the carpenters and cabinet-makers form an important subject in the paintings which represent the Egyptian trades. Among their tools were the axe, adze, handsaw, chisels of various kinds, (which were struck with a wooden mallet,) the drill, two sorts of planes, the ruler, plummet, and right angle or square, a leather bag containing nails, the hone, and a horn of oil. The paintings also attest the invention of glue 3300 years ago, and several wooden boxes have been found in which the joints are fastened by this material. They were acquainted with dovetailing, and practised the art of applying two planks together in the same plane by means of broad flat pins, or tongues of hard wood. The blades of the tools found at Thebes are always of bronze, the handles of the acacia, or tamarisk wood; the blade being fastened to the handle by thongs of hide. Many of them bear the signs of having been beaten with the hammer. The hatchet was used by boat-builders. The art of veneering is distinctly noticed in some of the sculptures of Thebes.
Furniture.--The furniture of the Egyptians evinced great taste and skill. It consisted of chairs, fauteuils, couches, ottomans, bedsteads, tables, and stools, of great variety and beauty. Many fauteuils or lolling chairs were made of ebony inlaid with ivory, covered with rich stuffs, and very similar to some now used in Europe. None of these have as yet been found, but more ordinary chairs of smaller size have been discovered at Thebes, the seats of which are of wood, or of interlaced strings, or leathern thongs, not very unlike our own rush-bottomed chairs. The fauteuils were of different forms and height, the legs usually in imitation of those of a wild animal, and not requiring the support of a cross-bar. The back was light and strong, in most instances receding gradually, and terminating at the summit in a graceful curve, supported from without by perpendicular bars. Over this was thrown a pillow of colored cotton, painted leather, or gold and silver tissue. Some of the stools folded up on the principle of our camp stools. Footstools were also in use. The couches of the Egyptians were elegantly formed, and were very probably used as bedsteads at night. The custom of reclining on them at meals, afterwards practised by the Romans, does not appear to have been yet introduced. The tables were of wood, metal, or stone, and were round, square, or oblong. The round ones were supported by a single shaft, sometimes representing the figure of a captive. Large tables had three or four legs, or were made with solid sides. The pillows of the bedsteads were of wood, or of elegantly-carved alabaster. One found at Thebes is of wood, in the form of a half cylinder supported by a pedestal.
Their boxes were of various forms and materials. One of those found at Thebes is made of ebony, inlaid with ivory painted with remarkable brilliancy. The lids were curved, flat, or pointed. They were made to slide into a groove, or to turn on hinges of various forms. Some turned on a single pin at the back; others were divided into two parts, one of which turned on two small pins at the base, on the principle of the doors of their houses and temples. The cover of large boxes was separate.
With the carpenters, may be mentioned the wheelwrights, the makers of coffins, and the coopers. This subdivision of one class of artisans, showing a systematic partition of labor, is one of the many proofs of the advancement of this civilized people. Their vehicles were the chariot, curricle, and plaustrum or travelling car drawn by oxen. They were of wood, and were made chiefly by the carpenter and currier.
Boats.--A common class of boats were made of water-plants or osiers bound together by the stalks of the papyrus, and were very light. Moses is related to have been exposed in an ark (or boat) of bulrushes daubed with slime and pitch, which last material was undoubtedly used by the Egyptians. The large boats of burden were made of wooden planks, and contained spacious cabins. Boats were furnished with oars, masts, sails, rudders, and ropes. They had galleys and ships of war, differing from the small boats in construction as well as size.
Dress.--The dress of the Egyptians was generally of linen. They occasionally wore a cloak of wool, and the priests a dressed leopard's skin, ornamented. Their heads were shaven, and wigs were substituted for hair, specimens of which have been recently discovered. Their sandals displayed a variety of forms. The ladies wore jewels elaborately made of gold, silver, and precious stones, frequently engraved with devices and hieroglyphics. Their shapes were extremely various. The lower classes wore ornaments of ivory, blue porcelain, and occasionally of the common metals. Signets were used by Egyptians of rank. One of these, still preserved, contains twenty pounds' worth of gold.
Ointments were employed at the toilet of ladies, and a specimen, now in England, has retained its odor for two or three thousand years. Combs were usually of wood. The custom of staining the eyelids and brows with a moistened powder of a black color was common from the earliest times. Jezebel is said to have painted her face when Jehu came to Jezreel. The same custom is mentioned in Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Pins and needles were in use, and have been occasionally found. The former are frequently long, with large gold heads; others appear to have been used for arranging the hair. Some needles were of bronze. Mirrors were made of mixed metal, chiefly copper highly polished, inserted into handles of various shapes and materials. Canes made of hard wood were used by the Egyptians in walking, from four to six feet long.
Among the remarkable inventions of this remote era, may be mentioned bellows and syphons. Artificial flowers were manufactured for ornamental purposes. The musical instruments were the harp, lyre, guitar, tambour, double and single fife, flute, and some others. The drinking cups of the Egyptians were of gold, silver, glass, porcelain, alabaster, ivory, and earthenware. Their vases and baskets were very various and beautiful.
It is worthy of remark, that not only a variety of costly ornaments are found, but likewise successful attempts to imitate these by the use of humbler and cheaper materials. This fact, says Mr. Wilkinson, strongly argues the great advances which this people had made in the customs of civilized life, since it is certain that until society has arrived at a high degree of luxury and refinement, artificial wants of this nature are not created, and the lower classes do not yet feel the desire of imitating their wealthy superiors in the adoption of objects dependant on taste or accidental caprice.
Metals and Minerals.--The Egyptians appear to have been acquainted with many of the most useful metals and minerals, and their compounds, such as gold, silver, iron, copper, brass, bronze, lead, tin, granite, basalt, porphyry, serpentine, breccia, earthenware, alabaster, glass, and porcelain. They also employed bone, ivory, wood, shell, and ebony. Gold was engraved, cast, and inlaid, or hammered into gold-leaf, and employed for gilding bronze, stone, silver, and wood. Much gold was used for vases and female ornaments, for statues, baskets and other purposes. The faces of mummies are frequently found overlaid with thick gold-leaf. Although stamped money is not known to have been used by the ancient Egyptians, we have evidence of weights and measures for the weighing of gold having been invented by them, long before the Greeks existed as a nation. Gold-mines were wrought in Egypt, as hereafter described. Other metals were used for arms, vases, statues and implements of every kind, articles of furniture and numerous other objects. For ordinary purposes, bronze appears to have been extensively employed, especially for tools. This metal was compounded with consummate skill; the numerous methods that were adopted for varying its composition are shown in the many qualities of the specimens which have been discovered. They had the secret of giving to bronze or brass blades a certain degree of elasticity, as may be seen in a dagger now preserved in the Berlin Museum. The period of the introduction of iron is uncertain; it was probably of later date than that of bronze. The specimens of tools of the latter metal are much more numerous, which may perhaps be accounted for by the fact of its resisting better the influence of time, and the usual causes of decay. The hieroglyphics on obelisks and other granitic monuments are sculptured with a minuteness and finish which modern sculptors seldom surpass. If these were cut by implements of bronze only, we must confess that the Egyptians possessed certain secrets in hardening or tempering bronze, with which we are at this day unacquainted. There exists on the lid of a granite coffin, the figure of a king reposing in high relief, which is raised to nine inches above the level of the surface.
Gold-mines existed in Egypt, and were worked by captives and prisoners. A description of their state is given by Diodorus, as it existed in his own time.
"The soil," says this historian, "naturally black,[A] is traversed with veins of marble of excessive whiteness, surpassing in brilliancy the most shining substances; out of which the overseers cause the gold to be dug by the labor of a vast multitude of people; for the kings of Egypt condemn to the mines notorious criminals, prisoners of war, persons convicted of false accusations, or the victims of resentment. And not only the individuals themselves, but sometimes even their whole families are doomed to this labor, with the view of punishing the guilty and profiting by their toil."
"The vast numbers employed in these mines are bound in fetters, and compelled to work day and night without intermission and without the least hope of escape; for they set over them barbarian soldiers who speak a foreign language, so that there is no possibility of conciliating them by persuasion, or the kind feelings which result from familiar converse."
"When the earth containing the gold is hard, they soften it by the application of fire, and when it has been reduced to such a state that it yields to moderate labor, several thousands (myriads) of these unfortunate people break it up with iron picks. Over the whole work presides an engineer, who views and selects the stone, and points it out to the laborers. The strongest of them, provided with iron chisels, cleave the marble-shining rock by mere force without any attempt at skill; and in excavating the shafts below ground they follow the direction of the shining stratum, without keeping to a straight line."
[A] The rock in which the veins of quartz run, is an argillaceous schist.
"In order to see these dark windings they fasten lamps to their foreheads, having their bodies painted, sometimes of one and sometimes of another color, according to the nature of the rock. As they cut the stone it falls in masses on the floor, the overseers urging them to the work with commands and blows. They are followed by little boys, who take away the fragments as they fall and carry them out into the open air. Those who are above thirty years of age are employed to pound pieces of the stone of certain dimensions with iron pestles in stone mortars, until reduced to the size of a lentil. It is then transferred to women and old men, who put it into mills arranged in a long row, two or three persons being employed in the same mill, and it is ground until reduced to a fine powder."
"No attention is paid to the persons of the prisoners; they have not even a piece of rag to cover themselves; and so wretched is their condition, that every one who witnesses it, deplores the excessive misery they endure. No rest nor intermission from toil is given either to the sick or maimed; neither the weakness of age, nor women's infirmities are regarded. All are driven to their work with the lash, till, at last, overcome with the intolerable weight of their afflictions, they die in the midst of their toil. So that these unhappy creatures always expect worse to come than what they endure at the present, and long for death as far preferable to life."
"At length the masters take the stone thus ground to powder, and carry it away to undergo the final process. They spread it upon a broad table a little inclined, and pouring water upon it, rub the pulverized stone until all the earthy matter is separated, which, flowing away with the water, leaves the heavier particles behind on the board. This operation is often repeated, the stone being rubbed lightly with the hand. They then draw up the useless and earthy substance with fine sponges gently applied, until the gold comes out quite pure. Other workmen then take it away by weight measure, and putting it, with a fixed proportion of lead, salt, a little tin and barley bran, into earthy crucibles well closed with clay, leave it in a furnace for five successive days and nights; after which it is suffered to cool. The crucibles are then opened, and nothing is found in them but pure gold a little diminished in quantity."
It would require volumes, and indeed many have been already written, to exhibit the power, the customs, and the, arts, which prevailed in ancient Egypt. It is to be regretted that superstition and cruelty were in so extensive a degree made agents by which this remarkable people accomplished their extraordinary undertakings, in a period of the world so remote, that we are accustomed to consider them as original pioneers in the great work of human civilization.
Many circumstances, says Mr. Wilkinson, unite in proclaiming that civilization existed in Egypt at least as early as the eighteenth century before the Christian era, How far does this throw us back into the infancy of the world! at least of the world peopled by the descendants of Noah. And when we recollect that the pyramids of Memphis were erected within three hundred years after the era assigned to the Deluge, and that the tombs of Beni Hassan were hewn and painted with subjects describing the arts and manufactures of a highly-civilized people about six hundred years after that event, it may occur that the distance between the Deluge and the construction of those pyramids and tombs is not greater than from the present day to the reign of Elizabeth and of Henry III.
ARTS OF THE ASSYRIANS.
In an early period of the world, the Assyrians cultivated the arts, and are celebrated as having excelled in that of architecture. According to some historians, Belus, known in the Scriptures by the name of Nimrod, the first king of Assyria, built the city of Babylon, where he arrogated to himself the honors of divinity. Ninus, his son, erected to him the first known temple, consecrated a statue to his memory, and ordered it to be worshipped by his subjects.
All historians agree that Babylon was a large and beautiful city. Pliny relates that it was sixty miles in circumference; that its walls were two hundred feet high, and fifty thick; and that the magnificent temple of Jupiter Belus was standing there in his time. Herodotus says, that it was four hundred and eighty furlongs in circumference; that it was full of magnificent structures, and celebrated for the temple of Belus; that it had a hundred gates of brass, which, if true, proves that the fusion, and alloying of metals were known at that time.
This statue of Belus was constructed about two hundred years after the flood, and is supposed to be the same idol mentioned in the Scriptures under the name of Baal. Ninus was the founder of the city of Nineveh, of which Diodorus says, the city was four hundred stadia, or, if reduced to English measure, fifty miles in circuit, and which is described in the book of Jonah as an exceeding great, city of three days' journey.
Semiramis, the wife of Ninus, finished in this age the stupendous walls of Babylon, which were reckoned among the seven wonders of the world. This princess, to whom the administration of government was left by her husband, ascended the throne about seventeen hundred years before Christ. Diodorus and other ancient writers relate, that among the works executed by Semiramis, she caused the images of all kinds of animals to be sculptured in relievo on the walls of her palace, and had them colored after nature. These figures, they say, were more than four cubits high. In the middle appeared Semiramis piercing a tiger with her dart, and near her, her son Ninias slaying a lion with his lance. In another part of the same palace, were the statues of Jupiter Belus, Ninus, Semiramis, and of her principal officers of state. These statues, they say, were of bronze. They further add, that three statues of massy gold, representing Jupiter, whom the Babylonians called Belus, Juno, and Rhea, were erected by her, on the summit of a temple dedicated to Jupiter Belus, and erected by the command of Semiramis in the middle of Babylon.
These works however shrink into trifles when compared with that which the same author informs us this great Queen caused to be executed on the mountain Bagisthan. This mountain, which, according to Diodorus, on one side presented a rugged rock sixteen furlongs in perpendicular height, she caused to be sculptured into a group of colossal statues. Paolo Lomazzo says, the mountain was seventeen furlongs in circumference, and was carved into a group of a hundred of her guards, and other of her subjects, offering sacrifice to her. [A]
The walls and hanging gardens of Babylon were among the ancient wonders of the world. They were built on arches at a great height from the ground, were watered from the river, and presented a succession of terraces upon which plants, and even trees of the largest size were cultivated.
The ruins of Babylon at the present day furnish little to illustrate the former splendor of that city. Vast and shapeless heaps of sun-dried bricks, mostly of square form, containing reeds, and inscribed with characters of an extinct language, are almost the only vestiges which mark the site of that ancient capital on the banks of the Euphrates.
ARTS OF THE HINDOOS.
The principal remains of the ancient Indian, or Hindoo style of architecture, which have been hitherto discovered, are of a peculiar kind, being mostly excavations in the solid rock. Immense subterraneous temples are still to be seen in various parts of India, presenting extraordinary monuments of the skill and industry of the people who achieved them. These subterraneous caverns are apparently as ancient as the oldest Egyptian temples, and M. D'Ancarville even thinks them anterior to the time of about two thousand years before Christ. The most remarkable of these excavations is at Elephanta, a small island in the harbor of Bombay. An elephant of black stone, large as the life, is seen near the landing-place, and most probably gave name to the island. The cavern is about three quarters of a mile from the beach. It is formed in a hill of stone and is one hundred and thirty-five feet square, and nearly fifteen feet high, having its massy roof supported by rows of columns, regularly disposed. Gigantic figures in relief are executed on the walls; which, as well as the columns, are shaped in the solid rock. The form of the columns, although doubtless inferior to the Grecian in beauty, is, however, more agreeable to the eye of taste than some of those of the Egyptians. The capitals resemble round cushions, pressed down by the incumbent weight.
[A] Elmes's Lectures on Architecture.]
The excavations in the island of Salsette, which is about ten miles north of Bombay, are among the architectural wonders of India. The artist employed by Governor Boon to make drawings of them, asserted, that it would require the labor of forty thousand men for forty years to finish them. They are found near to Ambola, a village about seven English miles distant from Tanna.
The temple, or pagoda, is entered by a doorway, which is twenty feet in height, and leads to the grand vestibule. At the end of this is the real door of the temple, on the two sides of which are sculptured various figures in relief. The temple itself is a square cell, of about twenty-eight feet. The upper part of this is supported by twenty columns nearly twenty feet high, of a form resembling in style those of Elephanta.
There is another rock entirely excavated into similar caverns, but of different shapes and dimensions, and equal in beauty to those before mentioned. Some of these caverns are very lofty, and appear to have been divided into two stories as if for habitation. Their want of sculpture also strengthens this surmise. They have apertures cut for light above, and square holes in each side of the rock, at an equal height on both sides, and opposite to each other, as if for the purpose of receiving joists or beams of timber.
The height of the excavation of Indur Subba is forty feet, its depth fifty-four, and its breadth forty-four. The height of the obelisk by the side of the pagodas is twenty-nine feet, including its pedestal and the group of human sitting figures which is on the top. The obelisk is fluted and ornamented with some taste, and has a light appearance. On the other side is the representation of an elephant without a rider, whose back just rises above the front wall. The plans of these excavations are as regular as if built; and the piers and pilasters or square pillars are equidistant, and sculptured in a bold and original style.
The most learned of the eastern antiquaries, members of the Asiatic Society, differ as to the periods of these excavations. They are undoubtedly of most remote antiquity, and appear to be derived from the same elements, if not from the same people, as those in Egypt.
ARTS OF THE PERSIANS.
The architectural ruins which still exist of that great empire which is improperly called by Europeans, Persia, a name which belonged to a single province of the whole empire of Iran, are conclusive evidences of the grandeur of the ancient inhabitants. They differ in style both from the Egyptian and Hindoo, yet possess a general affinity with them. Sir William Jones, after due investigation, concludes that the Iranian or Persian monarchy must have been the oldest in the world; but is doubtful to which of the three stocks, Hindoo, Arabian, or Tartarian, the first kings of Iran belonged. He also holds, that Iran, or Persia, in its largest sense, was the true centre of population, of knowledge, of languages and of arts. An account of the architecture of such a people cannot but be of consequence, and it is therefore to be lamented that so few faithful delineations of their buildings have as yet been made.
The ruins of Persepolis constitute the moat remarkable remains of Persian architecture. The first objects that meet the traveller at the present day on his entrance into the limits of this city, are two portals of stone, about fifty feet in height, the sides of which are embellished with two sphinxes of immense size, dressed with a profusion of bead-work, and, contrary to the usual method, represented in a standing posture. On the sides above are inscriptions in an ancient character, the meaning of which no one has been able to decipher. At a small distance from these portals, you ascend another flight of steps, which lead to the grand hall of columns. The sides of this staircase are ornamented with a variety of figures in bas-relief, most of them having vessels in their hands: here and there a camel appears, and at other times a kind of triumphal car made after the Roman fashion; besides which there are several led horses, oxen, and rams, that at times intervene and diversify the procession. At the head of the staircase is another bas-relief, representing a lion seizing a bull; and close to this are other inscriptions in ancient characters. On arriving at the top of this staircase, you enter what was formerly a magnificent hall. The natives have given this the name of chehul minar, or forty pillars; and though this name is often applied to the whole of the building, it is more particularly appropriated to this part of it. Although a vast number of ages have elapsed since their foundation, fifteen of these columns yet remain entire; they are from seventy to eighty feet in height, their pedestals are curiously wrought and appear little injured by time. They are formed of a beautiful white marble, fluted to the top, and the capitals are adorned with a profusion of fretwork and surmounted with a figure of some animal. The well-known circumstance, of the ancient Persians performing their religious rites in the open air, proves, says Mr. Elmes, in opposition to the opinion of Millin, that it was an ancient Persian temple, for the building could never have had architraves, or a roof.
From this hall you proceed along eastward, until you arrive at the remains of a large square building, which is entered through a door of granite. Most of the doors and windows of this apartment are still standing; they are of black marble, polished like a mirror. On the sides of the doors, at the entrance, are bas-reliefs of two figures at full length, representing a man in the attitude of stabbing a goat. Over another door of the same apartment is a representation of two men at full length; behind them stands a domestic holding a spread umbrella; they are supported by large round staves, appear to be in years, have long beards, and a profusion of hair upon their heads.
At the southwest entrance of this apartment are two large pillars of stone, upon which are carved four figures, dressed in long garments, and holding in their hands spears ten feet in length. At this entrance, also, the remains of a staircase of blue stone are still visible. Vast numbers of broken pillars, shafts and capitals are scattered over a considerable extent of ground, some of them of enormous size.
ARTS OF THE HEBREWS.
The Hebrews, Israelites, or Jews, by a residence in Egypt of nearly four hundred years, had attained a considerable degree of civilization. After their deliverance from slavery in that country, they led a wandering life for forty years. The temples which they had seen in Egypt, dedicated to the Egyptian idols, led them to consecrate a temple, where they might assemble in public worship of the true God. As it was necessary, from their mode of life during their sojournment in the wilderness, that it should be portable, they constructed it in the form of a spacious tent. In the plan and general appearance of this temporary building, known by the name of the Tabernacle, they took, it has been conjectured, the form of the Egyptian temples for their guide; but in the details and ornaments, they adopted a peculiar and national style. The whole court enclosing the tabernacle when at rest, according to Calmet and the best authorities, covered a space of one hundred biblical cubits by fifty cubits wide; and the enclosure, five cubits high, was formed of wooden columns, with brass bases and silver capitals, having curtains of tapestry suspended between them. These columns were sixty in number, twenty on each side which lay north and south, and ten on each side which faced the east and west. The Jews used this movable temple for a length of time after the conquest of Palestine; but, under the reign of Solomon, they constructed a permanent temple at Jerusalem.
David, the father of Solomon, had made considerable preparation for its construction, which was greatly facilitated by the alliance of the Jews with the Tyrians, who furnished them with architects, workmen, and the necessary timber. The accounts of this building, transmitted to us by the Bible, are not sufficiently distinct to enable us to form a precise idea of its entire plan; nor have other authors removed all obscurity. The clearing of the site of this temple, a work of immense labor, was begun under the reign of David, and the whole structure finished and dedicated by Solomon.
The summit of Mount Moriah formed a plain of thirty-six thousand three hundred and ten square feet. They began by levelling the top and sides of the mountain, against which they afterwards built a wall of freestone, four hundred cubits high. The circumference of the mountain, at the foot, was three thousand cubits. Upon the plain was built the temple, divided, like the tabernacle, into two divisions, by a partition of cedar. Under the second division, or the sanctuary, it appears, they preserved the treasures of the temple.
In the principal front was the Ulam, probably a grand portico, such as exists in several Egyptian temples. The temples of the ancients were generally without windows, but that of Jerusalem appears to have had them, and of the same form as those observed in the ruins of Thebes. The timbers of the ceiling were of cedar, and it appears that the roof was flat like those of the Egyptian temples.
Round the temple was a wall or enclosure, and the space between that and the temple was occupied by a porch divided into three stories. The principal edifice was preceded by two courts; the first and largest was for the assembly of the people; in the second, called the priests' court, was the temple. It was surrounded with apartments or houses, which were for the lodgings of the priests, for the preservation of the instruments used in sacrifice, and to confine the beasts, &c.
Before the Ulam were two columns of brass, twelve cubits in circumference, and eighteen in height, without reckoning the capitals, which were executed in bronze, and five cubits high. These capitals resembled, according to the expression of the Bible, "lily work," which indicates some resemblance to the Egyptian capitals, composed from the lotus-flower. There is no mention made of vases, and it is possible that they had none.
The exterior walls of the temple were of stone, squared at right angles, and ornamented with the figures of cherubim, palm-leaves, flowers, &c., sculptured probably in the stone like the Egyptian hieroglyphics. The roof was covered with plates of gold, and the interior decorated in the richest manner. Besides this temple, Solomon erected many other works, as the walls of Jerusalem, several public granaries, stables, &c.
The accounts of this building, given to us in the books of the Old Testament, are too well known to need repetition here; but they are not sufficiently technical to give an exact architectural idea of its construction.
ARTS OF THE GRECIANS.
The discoveries and inventions of the Egyptians were carried into Greece at an early period in the history of that nation. The communication between these two countries was made, first by the Phenicians, the most distinguished commercial people of their time, and afterward by the travels of many lawgivers and philosophers of the Greek nation, who visited Egypt, attracted by the fame of that comparatively civilized region, and anxious to introduce among their own countrymen the improvements in which the inhabitants of the banks of the Nile had gone so far beyond their contemporaries. Homer, Lycurgus, Solon, Pythagoras, and Plato are among the distinguished Grecians who made this tour of instruction.
It is not necessary to recapitulate among their acquisitions the various arts of agriculture, navigation, mechanics, and domestic economy;--arts which appertain so intimately to the necessities of life, that when once discovered, they may be said to be never forgotten. It is sufficient to know that the Greeks built large and splendid cities, constructed and equipped powerful fleets, wrought, from most of the useful metals, tools, weapons and armor, among which were manufactures of iron, and probably of steel; that they wove and dyed fabrics of various workmanship and materials, and, in short, appear to have arrived at the possession of most objects of use, luxury, and ornament, which in that day could gratify the wants of a refined and intelligent people.
Among the objects which have been found on opening the tombs of the ancient Greeks, are small urns and lachrymatories of potters' ware, swords, arrow-heads and bullets for slings, masks, lyres of wood resembling the shell of a tortoise, coins, dresses, iron fetters, bowls, mirrors of metal, combs made of boxwood, bird-cages of pottery having threads for bars, inscriptions, images, bas-reliefs, &c. &c.
Architecture.--The Greeks, in their earliest works, had imbibed from the Egyptians a taste for massive and substantial architecture. The Cyclopean walls, the remains of which are still extant, show their acquaintance with the means of lifting and adjusting in their place stones of prodigious magnitude. It is said that mortar was seldom used by the Greek builders, and that they appear to have relied, for stability, upon the size and accurate finish of the stones which they laid.
But the great fame of this cultivated people rests upon their progress in the arts of imitation and design, and in the possession of qualities which led them to excel in the conception of beauty and fitness of form, as they did at the same time in the combinations of poetry and eloquence. Their style of ornamental architecture has been the admiration of all succeeding ages, and their sculpture has furnished models, which we now strive to imitate, but do not pretend to excel.
The Grecians introduced the Doric order in architecture, of which the oldest and most massive specimens now remaining, are in the Grecian colonies of Sicily and southern Italy. This order was afterwards carried to perfection in the Parthenon, or temple of Minerva at Athens, built during the time of Pericles. The symmetry of this building has never been questioned; and the sculptures which decorated its entablature, a part of which, under the name of the Elgin marbles, are now in London, though mutilated and defaced, are studied and admired by all who appreciate true excellence in art.
The Ionic and Corinthian orders had also their origin in Greece. Specimens of both are still extant at Athens, the former in the temple of Erectheus, and the latter in the Choragic monument of Lysicrates. They are also found in other parts of Greece, and were introduced into Italy at a later period than that of the buildings already mentioned, and became the groundwork of Roman magnificence.
Sculpture.--Of the sculpture of Phidias and Praxiteles it is unnecessary to speak. These artists and their contemporaries have given to Grecian statuary a fame and an eminence, to which the world has ever since been unanimous in its homage. Rome was enriched by Grecian statues, either carried off, at the conquest of the Grecian states, or executed for the Romans by Grecian artists.
Painting.--The art of painting appears to have flourished in Greece. Although we cannot judge, as in Egypt, of the state of this art, from specimens actually existing at the present day, yet the eminence acquired by some of the Grecian painters, as Zeuxis, Parrhasius, and Apelles, could not have been accorded to them by so enlightened and discriminating a people as the Greeks, unless painting had advanced to the same perfection which was attained by its sister art of sculpture.
ARTS OF THE ROMANS.
The Romans derived from Greece their principal knowledge of the arts, sciences, and literature. During the earlier periods of the republic, no great advances were made by them in the improvement of their condition. Their public works were few in number, and their private houses are said to have been miserable wooden huts, so that the burning of the city by the Gauls under Brennus has been thought a benefit rather than an evil. All other arts being at this time absorbed in the art of war, the only works of magnitude which have remained as monuments of the constructive skill of the early Romans, are some works of practical utility, such as their cloacae, a sort of subterranean passages, or streets, constructed at a vast expense for the purification of the city.
Architecture.--After the conquest of Greece and Asia, the arts, in common with the luxuries of the East, began to be introduced into Rome. Individuals began to gratify their taste by the erection of expensive mansions, and rulers to promote their popularity by splendid temples, theatres, and monuments. During the repose of the Augustan age, not only in Rome itself, but in Italy and the provinces, there arose, as if by common consent, a multitude of rich and costly edifices. Augustus boasted, on his death-bed, that he had found Rome of brick and had left it of marble. The Pantheon, or temple of all the gods, which is now standing, the most perfectly preserved monument of the ancient city, was built in the reign of Augustus. From this period, the luxury and extravagance of building increased with rapid strides. The models of Greece were loaded with adventitious decorations, and the Corinthian and Ionic were combined to form a new order, the Composite, No materials were esteemed too costly, and no workmanship too exquisite, to form a part of Roman magnificence. Nero expended the public treasures in the erection of a dwelling-house for himself, which, from the profusion of its ornaments, was called the golden house. It had three porticoes, each a mile in length, supported by a triple row of pillars. A colossal statue of Nero which stood in the vestibule, was one hundred and twenty feet in height. The ceilings of the palace were incrusted with gold, gems, and ivory panels. That of the principal banqueting-room revolved upon itself, representing the motions of the heavens. Showers of perfumes, and baths of different waters brought from a distance, were added to the luxuries of the place, and the tyrant condescended to say, that "he had at last got a house fit for a man to live in."
Vespasian, who succeeded after a short interval to the imperial purple, wisely foreseeing that the popularity of an emperor would be less promoted by the magnificence of his private dwelling, than by that of his public works, caused the splendid house of Nero to be demolished, and upon its ruins he commenced the building of the Colosseum, an amphitheatre of public sports, a structure which fifteen thousand men were ten years in completing, and whose enormous remaining walls are the astonishment of travellers at the present day. Within the arena of this structure took place the combats of gladiators, the fights of wild beasts, and the martyrdom of many of the early Christians.
Temples.--The temples of Rome, of which there were several hundred within the city, had in most cases lofty porticoes in front, composed of rows of columns. These in some instances extended quite round the building. They were usually in the form of an oblong square, but were sometimes circular. Of both these shapes, there are specimens still extant in tolerable preservation on the banks of the Tiber.
Arches.--Triumphal arches built of marble, and decorated with columns, statues, bas-reliefs, and inscriptions, were erected by the Romans in honor of their victorious emperors. Three of these arches, bearing the names of Titus, Septimius, and Constantine, are still standing in the Roman forum. The remains of others are seen in various parts of Italy and of Europe.
Columns.--The memory of distinguished emperors was in some cases commemorated by monumental columns. The column of Trajan, still standing in good preservation at Rome, is one hundred and twenty-eight feet in height, and is ascended by a spiral staircase of stone on the inside. On the outside is a spiral line of sculptures extending from the bottom to the top, representing the exploits of Trajan. On the summit was a statue of the Emperor holding in his hand a globe of gold, in which his ashes were contained. This statue has disappeared, and is now replaced by one of St. Peter. The column of Antoninus, nearly similar in its general structure, is also in good preservation at the present day.
Aqueducts.--The aqueducts of Rome have been justly celebrated, as combining extensiveness and magnificence, with great public utility. These aqueducts were large stone channels, which conveyed streams of water to the city from a great distance. Some of them were forty, others sixty miles in length. They were carried through rocks and mountains and over valleys, supported on tiers of arches which in some cases exceeded a hundred feet in height. The remains of some of these aqueducts still exist about Rome, and in other parts of Europe. One of the best preserved is the Pont du Gard, near Nismes in France.
Roads,--Among the greatest and most expensive of the Roman works, were their public roads. These were made from Rome as a centre, and extended to all parts of the empire, even the most distant. They were carried to the Straits of Gibraltar, then called the Pillars of Hercules, to the River Euphrates, and to the southern confines of Egypt. Many of these roads were paved with, stone. These pavements are seen in various places at the present day, and the ruts worn in them by wheels, give abundant evidence of the use to which they were applied. In some instances, the roads were extended through mountains by tunnels or subterranean galleries. One of these between Puteoli and Naples, at this day called the Grotto of Pozzuolo, is cut through the solid rock.
Bridges.--The Romans excelled in the construction of bridges, some of which continue in use in our own times. They were built in the most substantial manner, with piers and arches of hewn stone. The most remarkable Roman bridge, and perhaps the most wonderful in the world, was the bridge built by Trajan over the Danube. This structure was raised on twenty piers of hewn stone, one hundred and fifty feet from the foundation, the piers being one hundred and seventy feet distant from each other. The bridge was sixty feet wide, and about a mile in length. It was partly taken down by the succeeding emperor, Hadrian, to prevent the incursions of the barbarians.
Houses.--The private dwelling-houses in Rome were at first irregularly built and crowded on narrow streets. But after the conflagration in Nero's reign, in which a great part of the city was destroyed, the streets were widened, and the houses built with more regularity. The houses of the more wealthy citizens were large, and contained various apartments. Before the entrance was an empty space, called vestibulum, from whence a gate or door communicated with the atrium, or principal hall or court. There was an open place in the centre of the house, called impluvium, into which rain-water fell, and through which light was admitted from above. The Romans had no chimneys for carrying smoke, but built their fires in the atrium upon open hearths, or, in certain cases, conveyed heat from furnaces below the floor, by tubes or pipes affixed to the walls. Glass windows are not mentioned by any writer as having been in use before the fourth century, yet windows containing fragments of glass have been discovered at Pompeii. Windows covered with linen cloth, paper, horn, and a transparent stone, probably mica, were sometimes employed to transmit an imperfect light.
Baths.--The first Romans bathed, after exercise in the Campus Martius, in the Tiber; but soon after, they constructed private and public baths, divided into many apartments. The front of the baths was commonly to the south, and very extensive. The middle was occupied by the Hypocaust, where the fires were kept, which had on the right and left a suite of four similar rooms on both sides, so disposed that persons could easily pass from one to the other. These apartments were known by the name of Balnearia. The saloon of the warm bath was twice as large as the others, on account of the concourse of idlers who frequented these establishments.
The description of the Thermae of Diocletian, by Andrew Baccius, furnishes a complete idea of Roman grandeur. He mentions a large lake for swimming, porticoes for promenades, Basilica for assembling before entering or leaving the baths, eating rooms, vestibules and courts adorned with columns, places for procuring perspiration, delightful woods planted with planes and other trees, spots for running in, some with seats for conversation, others for wrestling and athletics. There were also libraries, and departments where poets and philosophers cultivated the sciences.
Riding.--The Romans rode without saddles, except some covering for ornament, such as the skin of a wild beast. This kind of covering is represented in the sculptures of the Emperor Trajan, on the arch of Constantine. Nevertheless, saddles of considerable size appear to have been in use in the reign of Theodosius, in the fourth century, as an edict was issued limiting their weight to sixty pounds. No certain evidence of the employment of stirrups can be found prior to the sixth century. The Greek and Roman youth were educated to vault from the ground, into their seat on horseback.
Statuary, Paintings, Implements, Domestic Arts, &c.--The most satisfactory knowledge of the economical and domestic arts of the Romans, is derived from the numerous instruments, products, and specimens of workmanship which have been dug out of the ruins of Herculaneum and Pompeii. These cities are known to have been buried in an eruption of Vesuvius, in the reign of the Emperor Titus. Excavations have been made during the past and present centuries, to a great extent, in both these cities, especially in the latter. A vast variety of articles of use and ornament, employed by the Romans, have thus been recovered in good preservation, and throw much light on the state of the arts among them at that period.
Among the objects recovered from these cities the statues may be first noticed. Many of these, says Mr. Elmes, are of the finest workmanship, and of the most difficult execution. Some are colossal, some of the natural size, and some in miniature; and the materials of their formation are either clay, marble or bronze. They represent all different subjects, divinities, heroes, or distinguished persons; and in the same substances, especially bronze, there are figures of many animals. Two statues, seven feet high, of Jupiter, have been dug out; also a woman in clay, and two gladiators in bronze about to combat. There is likewise a statue of Nero in bronze, naked and armed as a Jupiter Tonans, with a thunderbolt in his hand; a Venus of white marble, in miniature, and the statue of a female leaving the bath, besides many others.
The ancient pictures of Herculaneum are of great interest, not only from the freshness and vividness of their colors, but from the nature of the subjects they represent. All are executed in fresco; they are exclusively on the walls, and generally on a black or red ground. It has been supposed, from passages in the classics, that the ancients used only four colors, white, black, yellow and red; but here are added blue and green. Some of them, which represent animated beings, are large as life, but the majority are in miniature. Every different subject of antiquity is depicted on these walls; deities, human figures, animals, landscapes, foreign and domestic, and a variety of grotesque beings. Sports and pastimes, theatrical performances, sacrifices, all enter the catalogue. One of large size, found in a temple, represents Theseus vanquishing the Minotaur, which lies stretched at his feet, with the head of a bull and the body of a man. A female, supposed to be Ariadne, and three children, form part of the group. This, along with a picture composed of several figures as large as life, of which Flora is the most conspicuous, adorned a temple of Hercules; each is six or seven feet high and five broad. Another represents Chiron teaching Achilles the lyre; and female centaurs are seen suckling their young. The interior of a shoemaker's shop is exposed on a smaller scale; a feast, baskets of fruit, a grasshopper driving a parrot yoked to a car, a Cupid guiding swans in the same manner, and many other allegorical subjects, are represented. The King of Naples, desirous of preserving these pictures, directed them to be sawed out of the walls, a work of great labor and perseverance, after which they were put in shallow frames and kept in the museum.
It is extraordinary that numbers of perishable substances should have resisted the corrosions of time. Many almonds in the shells, imprinted with all the lines and furrows characterizing their ligneous envelope, were dug out of the ruins of Herculaneum; figs and some kinds of wild apples were in preservation; and a pine cone yet growing in the woods of Italy, the seeds of which are now eaten, or used for culinary purposes. Grain, such as barley, and also beans and peas, remained entire, of a black color, and offering resistance to pressure. The stones of peaches and apricots are common, thus denoting the frequency of two trees, reputed indigenous in Armenia and Persia. But, what is still more singular, a loaf, stamped with the baker's name in Roman characters, was taken from an oven, apparently converted into charcoal. Different parts of plants prepared for pharmacy, were obtained from the dwellings of those who had been apothecaries. After so great a lapse of time, liquids have been found approaching a fluid state, an instance of which is a phial of oil, conceived to be that of olives. It is white, greasy to the touch, and emits the smell of rancid oil. An earthen vase was found in the cellars containing wine, which now resembles a lump of porous, dark violet-colored glass. The ancients speak of very thick wines requiring dilution previous to use, which would keep two hundred years, and would then acquire the consistence of honey. Solid pitch was also found at the bottom of a vessel, wherein it had probably melted, as it afterwards did from heat in the museum at Portici, which stands near the entrance to the subterraneous city.
An entire set of kitchen furniture has been collected, which displays several utensils exactly similar to those which are now employed. The copper pans, instead of being tinned, are internally coated with silver. These have not been attacked by verdigris. Here is a large brass caldron, three feet in diameter, and fourteen inches deep; an urn or boiler for hot water, similar to those on our tables, having a cylinder in the centre for a heater. There are pestles and mortars, and all kinds of implements for cutting out and figuring pastry, and, in short, a complete culinary apparatus. Utensils of finer quality are likewise collected which had been employed at tables, as silver goblets and vases, silver spoons, and the remnants of knives.
Various articles belonging to personal ornament and decoration have also occurred. Two silver bodkins are preserved with which they pinned up their hair, eight inches in length, the end of one sculptured with a Venus adjusting her tresses before a looking-glass held by Cupid. Gold ornaments, bracelets, necklaces, with pieces of plate gold suspended to them as lockets, are among the things recovered. Small nets are also found with fine meshes, which some have supposed were employed by ladies to tie up their hair, and others of coarser texture, which must have been used for other purposes. Pieces of cloth, colored red on one side and black on the other, were found on the breast of a skeleton; the texture of which, whether silk, woollen, linen, or cotton, antiquaries have not been able to decide. Very few jewels are discovered, which favors the idea of the inhabitants having had time to escape. A wooden comb was found with teeth on both sides, closer on one side than on the other, and portions of gold lace fabricated from the pure metal. Sandals of laced cord are seen, though it is more commonly believed that leather was in general use among the Italians. A folding parasol, similar in construction to what we esteem a modern invention, was likewise discovered.
There is kept in the museum a case of surgeons' instruments complete, with pincers, spatulae and probes; also a box supposed to have contained unguents, and pieces of marbles employed in braying pharmaceutical substances. A variety of carpenters' and masons' tools, as chisels, compasses, and trowels, were found, resembling our own; also bolts and nails, all of bronze.
The weights and measures of the ancients have excited considerable discussion, which those preserved in Herculaneum may elucidate. Different balances appear, of which the most common is analogous to the Roman steelyard; but there are some like our common scales, though wanting the needle at top. The weights are either of marble or metal, of all gradations up to thirty pounds. From the marks exhibited by a set of these well made of black marble, in a spherical shape, it is supposed the pound was divided into eight parts. A weight is inscribed eme on one side, and habebis on the other. There are pocket long measures, folding up like our common foot rule. Neat copper vases are supposed to have been measures for grain; the capacity of one of these is one hundred and ninety-one cubic inches.
The various implements for writing have repeatedly been found. That the Romans were acquainted with the art of making glass is proved by the varieties discovered in these exfodiations. Considerable numbers of phials and bottles, chiefly of an elongated shape, are preserved; they are of unequal thickness, much heavier than glass of ordinary manufacture, and of a green color. Vessels of cut white glass have been found, and also white plate glass, which antiquaries suppose was used in lining chambers called camera vitreae. Colored glass or artificial gems, engraved, frequently occur; and the paintings exhibit crystal vessels.
The beauty and variety of the vases have attracted particular notice. There is one preserved, which is four feet in diameter, of fine white marble; others are of earthenware or silver, and the majority of bronze or copper; some are low, wide and flat; others tall and narrow, plain, fluted or sculptured. Sacrificial vases were supported on tripods, whose construction seems to have been attended with equal care. Some of the latter are richly sculptured with real and imaginary figures of men and animals. Several tripods are very ingeniously constructed, so that the feet may be closed or expanded by double sets of hinges. Endless diversity and infinite elegance are displayed in the lamps, but few chandeliers have been discovered. Sometimes a lamp appears as a shell, then as a bird; sometimes as a human figure, or as a quadruped. The vases, lamps, and tripods were particularly used in sacrifices, several of which are represented in the pictures; and among others are sacrifices to the Egyptian deities. There were many funeral urns and sepulchral lamps, such as those regarding which vague ideas have been entertained, as formed for containing perpetual fire.
In regard to sports and pastimes, numerous remains render us familiar with those of the ancient Romans. Here we find dice like those now used, with the same disposal of points on a cube; and dice-boxes of bone or ivory, besides some of a flattish shape. Several are false, being loaded on one side; and the manner of throwing the dice appears on a picture. No musical instruments are found except the sistrum, which we imperfectly understand, cymbals, and flutes of bone or ivory. However, a concert is represented on a picture sixteen inches square, containing a lyrist, a player on a double flute, probably by a mouth-piece, and a female apparently singing from a leaf of music, besides two other figures.
Various theatrical masks, of different fashions, have been found in clay and metal along with moulds for their formation. Their use in dramatic representations is well known, and is the subject of many of the pictures. The theatre was a favorite resort of the ancients; and some ivory tickets of admission, with the author's name and that of the piece, are preserved from Herculaneum. Rope-dancing is exhibited in pictures, wherein all the modern dexterity of playing on musical instruments, pouring out liquids into cups, and other feats of address are shown. The most elegant and graceful of the Herculanean pictures, are perhaps those of female dancers.
It is to be observed in general, that the quality of the statues infinitely exceeds that of the pictures; and that the vases, tripods, lamps, and candelabras are frequently of the finest workmanship. Of many, once complete, only fragments remain; and while gold, silver, bronze, or clay remain entire, iron has altogether wasted away.
ARTS OF THE CHINESE.
The Chinese have existed as a nation from a period of indefinite antiquity. Although, from the absence of free communication with civilized countries, this people have hardly risen above a semi-barbarous state, yet, by processes of their own, they seem to have arrived at a knowledge of most of the common arts of civilized life, and have also even taken precedence of the Europeans in some branches of manufacture.
The most stupendous ancient work of this country is the great wall of China, that divides it from northern Tartary. This astonishing fabric extends, for the distance of one thousand five hundred miles, over the summits of mountains nearly a mile in height, and across deep valleys and wide rivers, by means of arches. In many places it is doubled or trebled to command important passes; and at the distance of every hundred yards is erected a tower or massive bastion. The foundations and angles are built of a strong gray granite, but the materials for the greater part consist of bluish bricks. The mortar is remarkably pure and white. In some parts, where less danger was to be apprehended, the wall is not equally strong or complete, and towards the northwest it consists merely of a strong rampart of earth. At one place, it is twenty-five feet high, and at the top about fifteen feet thick. Some of the towers, which are square, are forty-eight feet high, and about forty feet in width. It has been calculated that, with the same materials, a wall one foot in thickness and twenty-three in height might be carried twice round the whole globe. The time of the erection of this great barrier has not been satisfactorily ascertained. It is believed to have existed for two thousand years, but some writers allow to it a much less degree of antiquity.
The great canal of China is one of the wonders of art. It runs from the city of Canton to Pekin, a distance of eight hundred and twenty-five miles. It is about fifty feet wide, passes through or near forty-one large cities, and has seventy-five large feeders to keep up the water, besides several thousand bridges. In the southern provinces of China, is the grandest inland navigation in the known world, one of the canals being one thousand feet wide, having its sides built with massy blocks of gray marble and granite. This immense aqueduct is raised several feet above the surface of the country, and flows with a current of about three miles an hour.
The Chinese buildings are more striking from their extent than from their taste or magnificence. The imperial palace at Pekin may be compared to a large city. The Porcelain Tower of Nankin is a remarkable structure, which derives its name from its covering of china tiles beautifully painted. It is variously estimated at from three to seven hundred years old.
The Chinese lay claim to the invention and use of the mariner's compass, of gunpowder, and of paper, which are thought by some to have been manufactured by them earlier than the periods when they were first known in Europe. They preceded the Europeans in the manufacture of fine porcelain, of japan ware, and of paper-hangings, and are still said to excel other nations in the character of their fireworks. They were acquainted with the art of printing with blocks at a remote period of antiquity.
The materials employed by the Chinese at this day, are generally derived from their own country. An article for candles is made from the tallow tree. All the common metals, except platinum, are found in China, and employed in the arts. Some of the mountains produce marble and crystal.
The Chinese appear to have been indebted to themselves alone for the invention of their tools. They succeed in casting bells of immense size, some of which are said to weigh one hundred and twenty thousand pounds. Their gold and silver are not coined, but cut into pieces and weighed in scales of extreme nicety. The cutting of ivory is carried to a high degree of perfection, and toys and trinkets are made with great delicacy out of various materials.
Among those articles which are the joint product of agriculture and manufactures, we may mention silks, linen, and cotton as having been known among them for an indefinite length of time. Tea, which seems to require a peculiar climate for its growth, and a peculiar manipulation for its drying, rolling, and packing, is a product hitherto almost exclusively monopolized by the Chinese and their neighbors of Japan. The attention of some other nations is but just beginning to be directed to the production of this article.
ARTS OF THE ARABIANS.
The sterile character of the Arabian desert, and the wandering life which from time immemorial has been led by its inhabitants, have given to this people a peculiar nationality of character, both in ancient and modern times. They have at all times been difficult of subjugation, and have seldom accumulated either wealth or works of industry sufficient to tempt the cupidity of invaders. Nevertheless, in some parts of this country, and especially in Arabia Petraea, there are ruins of ancient works, which bespeak the former existence of art and power. Near the village of Wadi Moosa are the relics of ancient Petra, formerly the capital of Arabia Petraea. This city in the reign of Augustus Caesar was a place of consequence, and the residence of a monarch of the country. It was afterwards conquered by Trajan, and still later by Baldwin, King of Jerusalem. There now remain, upon the sides of a deep chasm or pass in the mountains, a number of remarkable structures, resembling fronts of temples, executed somewhat in the style of the later Roman architecture, and carved out of a solid rock. A statue of Victory with wings, and groups of colossal figures, adorn the summit of the principal temple. On all sides the rocks are hollowed into chambers and sepulchres, and an amphitheatre is excavated at one end of the mountain.
The ruins of Jerasseh are said by Mr. Bankes and other travellers to equal those of Palmyra in magnitude and beauty. A grand colonnade runs from the eastern to the western gate of the city, formed on both sides of marble columns of the Corinthian order, and terminating in a semicircle of sixty pillars of the Ionic order, and succeeded by another colonnade running north and south. At the western end is a theatre, the proscenium of which remains entire. There are two amphitheatres of marble, and three splendid temples, besides numerous ruins of columns, statues, and inscriptions.
During the early part of the dark ages, the Arabians cultivated some of the arts and sciences, especially astronomy, chemistry, and medicine. They introduced various chemical processes, and were acquainted with distillation and sublimation, arts which are supposed to have been hardly known to the Romans. They also introduced many of the important drugs and spices of the East, which afterwards passed through their hands into Europe. The magnifying, power of convex lenses was known to Alhazen, an Arabian philosopher, who flourished about the year 1100.
ARTS OF THE MIDDLE AGES.
In the period emphatically denominated the dark ages, extending from about the fifth to the twelfth century, the whole world seems to have relapsed into barbarism, and the arts and sciences, previously cultivated with much success, fell into a retrograde course, from which they were scarcely recalled, during a thousand years. The incessant prevalence of devastating wars, the insecurity of property, the oppressive exactions of the powerful, and the wretched destitution and servitude of the poor, placed an effectual barrier in the way of all successful efforts of ingenuity and enterprise. Few monuments remain, that exhibit the smallest progress in art during many centuries, while, on the other hand, some of the finest buildings of antiquity were dilapidated, or their walls disfigured with numberless perforations, in search of treasures supposed to be hidden, or even to obtain the bronze or iron cramps with which the stones were united.
At length, the power of the Saracens in Africa and Spain, and of various Christian monarchies in Europe, gave sufficient stability to their governments, to enable them to furnish some encouragement to the arts. The courts of powerful princes became the resort of ingenious men, and the convenience, safety, and even luxury of a portion of mankind began again to be objects of attention. Architecture revived, but under forms wholly unknown to the ancients. The Saracenic architecture of the Moors and Turks, and the Gothic architecture of Christian Europe, took their rise in the middle ages.
We look in vain through the chronological events of a long period in the middle ages, to discover records of any important advances made in useful knowledge, beyond the stock which, was previously in possession of the ancients. A few insulated notices inform us of the rude beginnings of certain arts, which afterwards rose into importance and; exerted a decisive influence on the condition and progress, of mankind.
The invention of gunpowder took place about the thirteenth or fourteenth century. It appears that Friar Bacon, who died in 1294, was acquainted with a composition of "saltpetre, and other ingredients," which had the properties of gunpowder. A German monk by the name of Schwartz is by some supposed to be the inventor, about the year 1320. The Chinese claim. the invention and use of gunpowder at a much earlier period. It was used by the Venetians in a war with the Genoese, in 1380. Artillery is supposed to have been employed by the English at the battle of Crecy. Muskets and pistols were not introduced till the beginning of the sixteenth century.
The mariner's compass is supposed to have been invented by John de Gioja, a Neapolitan of Amalfi, about the end of the thirteenth century. Other accounts say that it was brought to Europe from the East, as early as the year 1260. The attractive property of the magnet for iron had been known from remote antiquity, but its polarity appears not to have been known in Europe till the period before mentioned.
Clocks moved by weights, according to Professor Beckmann, began to be used in the monasteries of Europe in the eleventh century. They are supposed to have been an invention of the Saracens. As early as 807, a clock was sent to Charlemagne by the Caliph Haroun Alraschid, which struck the hours, but it is supposed to have been constructed on the principle of the ancient clepsydra. Clocks are spoken of by writers of the thirteenth century as being then well known.
Certain optical instruments appear to have come into use in the middle ages. Roger Bacon, already alluded to, was acquainted with the power of convex and concave lenses to magnify and diminish the image of objects; and treatises on optical subjects were written by Alhazen, at an earlier period. The telescope was not invented till the end of the sixteenth century.
ARTS OF MODERN TIMES
In contemplating the changes produced in the condition of society by the inventions and discoveries of modern times, a field of vast extent is opened to our view. In conjunction with the great moral and political causes which have been operating with increasing influence since about the fourteenth century, the arts have unquestionably afforded a means, without which society could never have become what we see it at the present day.
It is difficult to select, from among the triumphs of modern art, those subjects which ought to receive our first attention. The introduction, which has already been noticed, of the compass into navigation, and of gunpowder into military operations, has effected, in both these fields of human enterprise, an entire revolution. But the art of printing, which soon followed, has surpassed both these in the importance of its results, and may be considered as having afforded the real basis of modern civilization and intelligence. Printing was introduced at Haerlem and Mentz, about the middle of the fifteenth century, and the names usually associated with its invention are those of Coster, Guttenburg, and Faust. An historical sketch of this art will be found under its appropriate head.
With the dissemination and increase of intelligence, there arose a greater respect for order, and for the right of property. As the stability of society increased, a greater taste grew up for the refinements of social life, and the cultivation of domestic comfort. Improvements arose in domestic architecture, and in the customs connected with clothing, furniture, and food.
Chimneys, which were unknown to the ancients, were introduced in some parts of Italy in the beginning of the fourteenth century. In England, previously to the reign of Elizabeth, there were no chimneys in a greater part of the houses. "The fire was kindled against the wall, and the smoke found its way out, as well as it could, by the roof, the door, or the windows. The houses were mostly built of wattling plastered over with clay; the floors were of earth, strewed, in families of distinction, with rushes, and the beds were only straw pallets with a log of wood for a pillow."[A]
Glass windows, although known to the ancients, as appears by some of the remains at Pompeii, were far from being in general use. Beckmann says that they did not begin to be used in England in private houses until nearly a century after the Norman conquest, and even then, they were considered as marks of great magnificence. The manufacture of glass in England commenced about the middle of the sixteenth century, and that of window-glass at a considerably later time.
Riding carriages were used for convenience and amusement by the ancients, but disappeared during the dark ages, and were not again revived until the restoration of arts and letters in modern times. Riding on horseback was for many centuries resorted to, by persons of the highest rank, of both sexes, and the use of carriages was deemed effeminate and disreputable. In 1550 there were but three coaches in Paris, one belonging to the Queen, another to Diana de Poictiers, the king's mistress, and a third to René de Laval, a nobleman, who, from extreme corpulency, was unable to ride on horseback. Carriages for hire, on the plan of our hackney-coaches, were first introduced in London in the year 1625. The establishment of stage-coaches followed some time afterwards, and there is extant an old advertisement of a stagecoach which ran on regular days from London to York, performing the journey, of two hundred miles, in four days.
Pavements of streets were in use among the ancients, as appears from the remains at Rome, Pompeii, &c. But in modern cities they were slowly introduced. The streets of London were not paved till the eleventh century, nor those of Paris till the twelfth, and the general introduction of this improvement is of much later date.
Painting in oil, at least in its nicer applications, appears to be a modern art. It was first applied to the execution of designs and figures by John Van Eyck, in Flanders, about the year 1410.
[A] Beckmann's History of Inventions.
The art of engraving on wood or metal, with a view to printing the design on paper, is exclusively a modern invention. Wood-engraving is supposed to have originated in the latter part of the thirteenth century; one of the earliest specimens extent, is by Alessandro Curio, bearing the date of 1423. Engraving on metal appears to have been practised a few years afterwards. Its invention is ascribed by the Italians to Finsguerra, a goldsmith of Florence, and by the Germans to Schoengaur, a citizen of Antwerp. Mezzotinto engraving was introduced by Prince Rupert, in 1649.
Optical instruments are mostly of modern invention. It is uncertain at what time spectacles were first introduced; but it appears that Roger Bacon had some knowledge of the use of the convex lens in assisting the sight of old people. This remarkable person had also a crude idea of the telescope, which instrument was practically invented by Jansen, a Dutch spectacle-maker, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, whose attention was turned to the subject by the accident of a child placing together a concave and convex lens at a certain distance from each other, by which arrangement a magnified view of distant objects was produced. The telescope was afterwards reinvented by Galileo, in 1609. The camera obscura was invented by John Baptista Porta, a little before this time.
Watches are said to have been first made by Peter Hele, in 1510. Previously to this invention, clocks moved by weights had been known for a long time. To render these timekeepers portable, a spring was substituted for a weight, and the first watches were called Nuremberg eggs, from the place of their manufacture. The invention of the spring balance is claimed for Dr. Hooke in England, and for Huygens on the continent.
Paper made of cotton is supposed to have been invented as early as the tenth century, and had become more common than parchment in the twelfth. Some authors attribute the invention to the Chinese, at a more remote period. But paper made in the modern way, from linen rags, was not manufactured in Europe till about the fourteenth century, and the first paper-mill was established in 1390, at Nuremberg in Germany. The first English paper-mill was erected in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, but failed for want of support, and the paper used in England as late as the beginning of the last century was imported from France and Holland.
The earliest newspaper was published in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in 1588, and was entitled, 'The English Mercurie, published by authoritie, for the contradiction of false reports.'
The spinning of cotton by machinery has given birth to one of the greatest revolutions of modern times, in the direction of human industry. The use of the cotton plant has been known from an early period; it was introduced from the East by the way of Malta, and continued to be spun and woven by hand, both in Asia and Europe. In the year 1767, Mr. James Hargreaves, a weaver in Lancashire, contrived a machine by which many threads could be spun at once, and for which he obtained a patent under the name of the "spinning jenny." It was wrought by hand, and one person could spin with it eighty-four threads at once. This invention was succeeded by that of Sir Richard Arkwright, whose two patents were dated 1769 and 1775. He was the inventor of the "water spinning frame," and, after struggling with many difficulties and much opposition, lived to see the complete establishment of the cotton manufacture, and to realize a large fortune from its results.
Calicoes are supposed to have been manufactured among the oriental nations in the time of Alexander the Great. But they were probably executed by drawing rather than printing. Calicoes were introduced into England in 1631, deriving their name from the city of Calicut in India. The manufacture was set up in London in 1676. Printing by cylinders came into use in the present century.
Hats made of felt and fur are a modern invention. They are said to have been invented in Paris, by a Swiss, in the beginning of the fifteenth century. Before this period caps, hoods, and helmets, of various forms, occupied their place; and some of the most civilized nations, such as the Romans, went bare-headed, except on particular occasions. King Charles VII. made his triumphal entry into Rouen in 1492 wearing a hat. The manufacture of felt hats was begun in England in the time of Henry VIII.
Various operations in the manufacture of the metals have had their origin in modern times. Among these may be mentioned that of wire-drawing, for, although wire was known to the ancients, it was probably made by a difficult process. Mechanics known by the name of "wire-drawers" existed at Augsburg in 1351. In England wire was manufactured by hand until 1565, when the art of drawing it with mills was introduced by some foreigners. In general, it is safe to state, that all those important operations in which manufactures in metal are made upon a large scale by machinery, are the result of modern improvement. With these we must include articles of use and convenience which were not employed by the ancients; among which may be mentioned firearms, the manufacture of which followed the invention of gunpowder; and also another very different article, table-forks, the use of which was introduced in England about two hundred and fifty years ago, previously to which time people were accustomed to eat at table with their fingers.
Aerostation, or the art of ascending into the atmosphere by means of balloons, was invented in France, by the Messrs. Montgolfier, in 1783. The first balloons were inflated with common air rarefied by heat, and in a machine of this description M. Pilatre de Rozier made the first ascension. This attempt was completely successful, though the unfortunate aeronaut lost his life in a subsequent attempt, in consequence of his balloon taking fire when at a great height. Balloons inflated with hydrogen were introduced at Paris in the same year. The parachute had been known, and used upon a small scale, by jugglers in India, for more than a century. M. Garnerin descended in one of these from a balloon, at Paris, in 1797.
Diving-bells are of modern origin. The first information respecting them is from an author named Taisnier, who relates, that at Toledo in Spain, in the year 1538, he saw, in the presence of the Emperor Charles V. and about ten thousand spectators, two Greeks let themselves down under water in a large inverted kettle, with a light, and rise up again without being wet.
The Steam-engine may be justly considered as the greatest triumph which has been achieved by modern genius and perseverance. The following are some of the most interesting facts in its history.
The ancient Greeks and Romans appear to have been acquainted with the power of steam to produce motion, and invented the eolipile, which was a close vessel containing water, and which gave out a forcible current of steam whenever the water was heated. The force of this current was used by Hero to produce a revolving motion.
The power of confined steam, acting by its pressure, was discovered by the Marquis of Worcester, and an account of its effect published by him in 1663. He produced a steam-power sufficient to burst a cannon, and constructed a machine capable of raising water to the height of forty feet. He has not, however, left any drawings or particular description of his machine.
In 1698, a patent was granted to Thomas Savery, for a method of raising water by steam. This apparatus consisted of a boiler, a separate steam-vessel, and pipes commanded by valves. The steam from the boiler was first admitted so as to fill the steam-vessel. It was then condensed, and the steam-vessel filled with water, which rose by the atmospheric pressure from the well or mine. The steam was then readmitted, and the water in the vessel was driven upward to the top of the pipes, and discharged.
About the year 1705, Thomas Newcomen constructed a working steam-engine, which has since been called the atmospheric engine. It contained a cylinder and piston, and an alternating beam, which was applied to raise water by working a pump. The steam was condensed in the cylinder itself, and the valves were moved by the hand, until an attendant contrived to make the machine move its own valves, by attaching strings to the working-beam.
After this the steam-engine continued without any important alteration for more than half a century, when, about 1769, the discoveries and inventions of James Watt gave a new spring to the energies of this machine, and more than doubled the power which it had formerly possessed. Mr. Watt's improvements were numerous and important, but those of greatest value were the following. 1. He introduced the separate condenser. 2. He applied the double action of steam, by closing the top of the cylinder, and admitting the steam alternately at each end. 3. He converted to use the expansive power of steam, by-cutting off the current before the end of the stroke. Mr. Watt also invented the principle of the parallel motion, and applied the governor, to regulate the supply of steam.
In 1802, the first high-pressure or non-condensing engines were constructed by Oliver Evans, in Philadelphia, and in the same year by Trevithick and Vivian, in England. The idea of such an engine had before occurred to Leopold, Watt, and others. The first steam-carriage was put in motion on a rail-way, by Trevithick and Vivian, in 1805.
Steam navigation was suggested in England by Jonathan Hulls, in 1736. It was first tried in practice by the Marquis de Jouffroy, in France, in 1782, and nearly at the same time in America, by James Rumsey of Virginia, and John Fitch of Philadelphia. It was first made practically successful by Robert Fulton, at New York, in 1807. The first steam-vessel which crossed the Atlantic, was the American ship Savannah, in 1819. The Sirius and Great Western, which were the first steam-ships in the present successful lines, arrived at New York from England in April, 1838.
ARTS OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY.
Nothing more fully exemplifies the fertility of human invention, than the fact that scarcely any year passes by without the discovery or improvement of some branch of useful industry. It would be natural to suppose that after the ingenuity of mankind had been devoted for so many centuries to the combination and application of materials, the field of new experiment would become exhausted, and that improvements would at length cease to appear. But experience has proved that the opposite state of events continually occurs. Since about the beginning of the present century and within the lives of many who are now upon the stage, some of the most important revolutions have taken place in the customs of society, derived entirely from innovations in the arts. These will be spoken of in their appropriate places. At present, it is sufficient to adduce as examples the practical introduction of steamboats and rail-roads, gas lights and Argand lamps, stereotyping and machine printing, lithography and steel-engraving, McAdam roads and wooden pavements, the heating of dwelling-houses by steam, water and hot air, the extended use of India rubber, the practical improvements in the arts dependant on chemistry, and the boundless introduction of labor-saving machinery into every department of mechanical manufacture. The causes of these vast and increasing strides in the improvement of the physical condition of society, are to be sought for in the advanced state of the natural sciences, the increased diffusion of knowledge, order, and morality, and also in the state of general peace, which for a quarter of a century has existed among the principal civilized nations of the globe.
WORKS OF REFERENCE.--BECKMANN's History of Inventions, 3 vols. 8vo.;--FOSBROOKE'S Encyclopedia of Antiquities, 3 vols. 4to, 1825, &c.;--WILKINSON'S Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, 3 vols. 8vo. 1838;--ELMES' Lectures on Architecture, and Dictionary of the Fine Arts;--LARDNER'S Treatise on Arts and Manufactures of the Romans, 12mo. in Cabinet Cyclopedia;--URE'S Dictionary of Arts and Manufactures, 8vo. 1839.
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