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Full text of "The Legacy Of Egypt"

CHAPTER 4
EGYPTIAN ART
MANY generations of Defoe's readers have smiled at Man
Friday's amazement when his master, rescued at last from his
island exile, introduced him to the noisy, glittering civilization
of London. Yet any European of the fourteenth century B.C.,
unless he were an inhabitant of Minoan Crete, would have
experienced the same feelings as Crusoe's faithful servant if he
had had the chance to visit the new capital of Amenhotep IV.
I shall ask the reader to join me in a rapid tour of this capital,
Akhetaten, which rose from the desert at the will of a revolu-
tionary Pharaoh. He will then appreciate, from the outset, the
extent and originality of Egypt's achievement in the realm of art.
The city stretched along the river-bank for a good six miles,
its districts grouped round the main sacred and imperial build-
ings, and linked by broad avenues and geometrically planned
streets. On the principal thoroughfares stood the residences of
the great court functionaries and imperial officials, surrounded
by gardens with pools and summer-houses. Most of these dwell-
ings were made to a set plan, with slight variations in each case,
and comprised not only reception and domestic apartments, but
also every additional convenience, such as bathrooms, which
could minister to the comfort of the inhabitants. The temples
and the main palace stood in the Royal Avenue, which ran
parallel to the river. This avenue was spanned by a great brick
bridge, joining the two wings of the palace, which lay on*
opposite sides of the road.
The architecture of these palaces in no way gives the im-
pression of a piece of routine work, done to satisfy a client who
wanted his residence enlarged by degrees. The plans show a real
sense of design; there are spacious colonnaded courts, opening
into magnificent reception halls, but there are also private