Architecture Of Egypt, Greece And Rome: Comparative Essay

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Back in 6000BC Egyptians settled in the Nile valley, because the place where they used to live has suffered from soil depression (growing the same crops, as a result of the soil luck certain minerals). Ended up the fertile land deteriorated in to barren sand (Sahara desert). Therefore the climate in Egypt is mainly hot and dry and large temperature difference between day and night. Whereas places near the river Nile valley is another landscape, thanks to the contribution of higher value of heat capacity carry by water, temperature is well controlled. Cattle and sheep has been brought to Nile valley, some Egyptian start growing barley and wheat on the land around the river. Every year flood event from the river Nile has brought the fertile mud to the shore in the form of sedimentation and carry waste away through the stream.

The first building that was constructed in Egypt was of mud stone and reeds, the most common and readily available material that they can get right at the river bank. Stone is also can also easy be found from the valley and cliff nearby, unfortunately stone is not that popular owing to which is very hard to manipulate and heavy to carry from place to place, even though it is a very stiff and durable material. However palm trees grown nearly by is not growing in a massive quantity thus palm wood is not commonly used as building material, interestingly Egyptian enjoyed the environment that trees provided, at some point they tried to create a wood texture or a tree alike appearance out of a stone material column.

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Around 2500BC Egyptians built the great sphinx and the great pyramid at Giza. Approximate 1500BC many of the royal tombs were built in the valley of king, “new kingdom” began. During the year 332BC, Egypt was invaded by alexander the great and was then ruled by Greece kings, the era of the new kingdom ends. The distribution of all the architecture related to the orientation axis of river Nile. In addition the buildings that are constructed here are more likely to have a flat roof and colonnade structure with less window openings. Later on the invasions of Greece and Rome and its architecture style also have influenced Egypt.

New Kingdom (1570-1293), 18 dynasties.

There are temples contributed to god the temple of Karnak, and the temple of Luxor. God Karnak was originally the protector of Thebes, once Thebes become the new capital of new kingdom the god of sun (Amun-Re) has been combine with Karnak in to one single god. There is a walk way connected both temple in to one, with a row of sculptures of ram in a lying position placed on both side of the walk way in order to create a sense of divinity, and oppressive. There are two important artefacts for royal temple of Egypt, the first is the gate, large obelisk, statues has been put in the front in order to create a feeling of luxury, theatricality and inviolability, thus praying custom for general public took place outside the gate. The second one is the courtyard inside the temple, ancient empire only allowed a few people pray to the god inside the temple, the atmosphere in the main hall is tall and dark so that created an impression of coercion, mysterious and a sense of authorities. Colonnade and pylon has been engraved lightly with colourful (has gone already under the wash of rain water or storm of sand) crafts such as geometricized plants, hieroglyphic, and portraits (only front and side look). Generally the temple itself is enormous and the style is similar to brutalism.

Temple of khonsu is located in Thebes within the temple of Karnak. It’s built in order to memory khonsu Egyptian god of moon, healing and fertility. He has been depicted as human animal hybrid with a head of the falcon in a human body. His job associated regulation of moon in a measurable cycle, he sometimes has been known with the account of mathematics.

The construction began in 1184BC by pharaoh Rameses iii, until Rameses IV oversaw the last brick being put in place. Front façade is (34.5m) wide and 6 stories tall (18m). The temple has a symmetric shape in both vertical and horizontal direction, a series of sculpture place in front of the gate, but unluckily the head is somehow missing, people says there might be two sphinxes flanked the entrance way to the pylon. Series of column (28 piece) flank the inner courtyard of the temple, narrow gaps in between those thick columns, normally the space between each column is equal to the diameter of one column. the columns contains various inscriptions of khonsu, as well as some extolling the virtues of the temple’s builders that worshipped inside it, past the courtyard lay the inner temple statue of khonsu. The space in sides gradually going from bright to dark, from high to low, from public to private (open space to a close space). The column is called closed papyriform. The height of frieze is equal to one fifth of the column height.


The Greeks derived much from other Mediterranean civilizations – the plan of the temple from Asia Minor (Turkey) or Mycene, the columnar form from Egypt. The most dominant style of ancient Greece buildings is peristyle, therefore the frontal band, colonnade and frieze had mostly decided what the building going to be in the overall appearance. Limestone was typically used for pillars and walls, roofs generally were constructed with a small slope and covered with ceramic terracotta tiles. Most temples were built on a base that included two or three steps. This raised the temple above the surrounding land. Greece is surrounded by sea, while the Mediterranean waters kept temperatures at a comfortable level. In the winter temperatures do not go below (4.4°C). The climate favoured an outdoor life, and consequently the administration of justice, dramatic representations took place in the open air. The hot sun and sudden showers were probably answerable for the porticoes and colonnade which were such important features, rocky nature of the country and the absence of forests, result the development of that love of precise and exact forms which are special attributes of Greek architecture.

Greek architecture was mainly religious and official. Fortunately, although Ancient Greece possessed few forests, it had lots of limestone, which was easily worked. In addition, there were plentiful supplies on the mainland of high grade white marble for architectural and sculptural decoration. Lastly, deposits of clay, used for both roof tiles and architectural decoration, were readily available throughout the country. Whereas temples and the public buildings were magnificent, private houses seem to have been fairly simple, single-storey affairs.

Three main types of columns;

  1. Ionic
  2. Doric
  3. Corinthian

The great sculptor (Socrates) and the main architect that designed for Acropolis had said “there is nothing else that can be as perfect as human body… ”, subsequently, the style of colonnade had reflect how much Grecian appreciate the beauty of human body. For instance, Doric order had shown the strength, stiffness, and thickness of a men’s physical appearance and attitude, ionic order had demonstrated the impression of a women’s posture saturated with graceful and delicate, and the header of ionic shows the women hair nodes. Doric temple form evolved in the late 700BC was typically Greek in its bold simplicity, limits of design and use of decoration to emphasise the structure, and the Ionic order (from 600) and the Corinthian order (from 450). Grecian using sophisticated geometry, architects included optical ‘tricks’ such as thickening the lower parts of columns, thickening corner columns and having columns ever so slightly lean inwards hence, from a distance the building seemed perfectly straight and in harmony. Greek designers used precise mathematical calculations to determine the height, width which create the optimum visual effect, as if the building was a piece of sculpture.

The stone of choice was either limestone protected by a layer of marble dust stucco or even better, pure white marble. Also, carved stone was often polished with chamois to provide resistance to water and give a bright finish. Details on the columns, the backgrounds, and the sculptures were painted as well.

Hephaestus patron god of metalworking, craftsmanship, fire.

The Temple of Hephaestus is a Doric peripheral temple. The building has a pronaos ((πρόναος) is Greece for ‘before a temple’, the gap between porch and the main entrance) a cella and an opisthodomos. The temple is peripheral, with columns that surround the centrally enclosed a cella. It was built from Pentelic marble, sculptures are made of Parian marble. Columns are fluted or grooved, Doric frieze is decorated with regular interval of triglyphs and metopes.

Panels with three vertical lines, symbolize the wooden beams that would have previously been used to hold up the roofs before switch to stone architecture. The basic form of the naos emerges as early as 1000BC as a simple, rectangular room with projecting walls (antae) that created a shallow porch. This basic form remained unchanged in its concept for centuries. In the 800BC Greek architecture begins to make the move from ephemeral materials (wood, mud brick and thatch) to permanent materials (namely, stone). The ruins that we can see today are colourless, but in their best days those temples were all red, blue, yellow, and gold. Blank panels, Doric metopes were carved with relifs of the scenes from Greece mythology, undouble this temple has well depicted, and this is about 12 labours of Hercules and the battle and the fall of troy. Grecian had many improvement on the architecture ratio and combination. Around 600BC Grecian have a quiet mature and finalized version the layout.

Hexastyle buildings had six columns and were the standard façade in canonical Greece Doric architecture between the archaic periods 600–550 BCE up to the Age of Pericles 450–430 BCE. Greece hexastyle was also applied to Ionic temples, such as the peristyle porch of the sanctuary of Athena on the Erechtheum, at the Acropolis of Athens.


The late ancient Greece architecture had accomplished the basic form of roman style (Mediterranean climate), consecutively, Romans had pushed it further forwards and had achieved the pick level of architecture in the slavery era. Small engrave decoration can be seen on the colonnade and frieze, usually in a form of stereolithography, embossed on most of the temple, and added decorative molding to the base. Due to the large and diverse form of public building and fully developed construction technic, Romans had set up a basic architecture science and theory. Therefore the influence of ancient Rome style buildings has been mimicked over European countries and been acknowledged in the world.

Around 400BC began to develop a new form of support rather than column, called arch. Two other innovation (barrel vault and dome vault) has been largely used in expending internal area, which carry the weight to the beam on either side. This structure has become successful due to the properties of roman concrete, it is made from a mixture of lime mortar, water, sand and pozzolana, fine, ochre-coloured volcanic earth, which set well even under water. Among the more unusual additives used, were horse hair, which reportedly made concrete less prone to cracking; and animal blood, which increased its resistance to frost. A form of limestone is also used during the empire called traveline, used on the exterior of the Colosseum in Rome. Marble is used for facing and decoration

Hence roman also develop two or more types of colonnade style on the basis of ancient Greece. Here are the type listed below.

  1. Tuscan order
  2. composite order + innovated a new order called Arche

Accordingly, there is another point which is interesting to know is the creation of pilaster side and detached column, this are the combination of arch and column. Pilaster still keeps its shape of a pillar but it’s a part of the component of the wall, they don’t independently undertake any loads, the function of this is mainly decoration or clarifying the division of wall and the floor. The detached column remains intact but have a very close distance towards the wall, frequently use as decoration as well, but sometimes also used in emphasising the entrance. Moreover, when columns step over a series of floors, it usually creates a powerful and formal atmosphere. Two pillars have been placed very near to each other in a fix interval resulted in a tectonic and melodic experience.

The Maison Carrée is Tuscan style temple and is an example of Vitruvian’s architecture. It illustrates both the survival of the essential Greek form, and the typical Roman (Etruscan) changes, this means that the building has a single cella, a deep porch, a frontal, axial orientation, and sits atop a high podium. It is a Roman hexastyle, with the colonization by the Greeks of Southern Italy, hexastyle was adopted by the Etruscans and subsequently acquired by the ancient Romans. Roman taste favoured narrow pseudoperipteral and amphiprostyle buildings with tall columns, raised on podiums for the added pomp and grandeur conferred by considerable height. Raised on a 2.85 m high podium, measuring 26.42 m by 13.54 m. The façade is dominated by a deep portico or pronaos almost a third of the building’s length. design with six Corinthian columns under the pediment at either end, and pseudoperipteral in that twenty engaged columns, the architrave is divided by two recessed rows of petrified water drips into three levels with ratios of 1:2:3. Egg-and-dart decoration divides the architrave from the frieze. On three sides the frieze is decorated with fine ornamental relief carvings of rosettes and acanthus leaves beneath a row of very fine dentils.

A large door (6.87 m high by 3.27 m wide) leads to the surprisingly small and windowless interior, where the shrine was originally housed. This is now used to house a tourist-oriented film on the Roman history of Nîmes. No ancient decoration remains inside the cella.


All temples may contain a colonnade, a cella with a statue in it, the statue implied the reason why this temple built for. Usually for memorial purposes. The temple interior was designed to make us feel we’re in the presence of the god.

The religion in roman basically come from Greece is only the name has been known differently. Egypt has its own god no similarity with Rome and Greece.

Egypt and Greece both use paint on their temples and crafts, roman only do fine ornamental relief carvings stereolithographic and embossed but no colouring, sometimes use coloured marble for sculpture and decoration for temples.

Three of these ancient countries like to use detached columns for temple and most of the detached columns are thick near the base and narrower near the frieze (apart from some Egypt temples). All have a covered roof. Greece and roman are more similar to each other compare to Egypt in both size and style. Egypt have depicted stories on the colonnade but not on the frieze, whereas roman and Greece column has a flute and fillet texture or just simple smooth.

Building materials are all different but all of them prefer using local materials.

All the temples has an asymmetric shape in both vertical and horizontal direction.

Egyptian and Grecian use mathematic in construction. Egyptian constructed pyramid use to study starts orientation and other sciences, people nowadays still haven’t end up with a conclusion on how they built it. Royal tombs is also used mathematics, we can tell from the precise measurement of the colonnade width and frieze height.

Egypt the temple is much larger in size and has many rooms for stories or culting. Unlike roman and Geece that most temple is constructed with one single cella.


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