The Hypostyle Hall and Entrance Colonnade
QuickLink to Main Home Page: Ancient Egyptian Monuments Project
- QuickLink to Djoser's Step Pyramid in Saqqara: Djoser's Step Pyramid in Saqqara
(Note: all references to dimensions must be verified) The Hypostylew:Hypostyle Hall consisting of 3 main colonnadew:Colonnade areas, is situated in the Southeast corner of the Djoser complex and is composed of a series of rooms from the Exterior Perimeter Wall through to the Great Court. Listing these areas in sequential order from the exterior (East) to the Great Court (West) they are: Entry Corridor, Antechamber, East Hypostyle Hall, West Hypostyle Hall, and, Enclosed Porticow:Portico. There are 4 smaller passages as well, most very short in length, which are ±1.000 meter wide x ±4.000 meters high that act as connectors.
The only entrance into the Djoser complex was through the main entry bastion in the Southeast corner of the Perimeter Wall, one enters through a narrow and low Entry Corridor into a small antechamber which has 2 stone block walls set at an angle to resemble the shape of large open doors. This leads to the first 'East' Hypostyle Hall. Here one can go straight along the path of the colonnade, or left to a stair which leads up to, presumably, the top of the Perimeter Wall, but at least to a level above the clerestories of the hall. At the entrance area to this East hall, there appears to be yet another false door on the North jamb which, presumably, was balanced with a working door to secure the complex, as this area was created with an extra amount of space and an offset jamb alignment. Moving past the first set of engaged columnsw:Engaged_column, one can turn right which leads to a long narrow passageway exiting at the Sed Festival Court. There are two other 'exit' passages, one to the South into the existing structure (need reference name of structure) and one to the North. Moving forward through the East Hypostyle Hall and past its 12 sets of engaged columns, one passes through a smaller passage and into the West Hypostyle Hall which consists of 8 sets of engaged columns and no side 'exits'. Continuing one goes through another smaller passage and into the Enclosed Portico. Here there are 4 sets of engaged columns which are orientated longitudinally and disconnected from the side walls. Continuing one exits into the Great Court.
Columns: The columns themselves are engaged columns, but unlike later examples where the column is next to a wall (known as pilastersw:Pilaster), here the side wall projects out creating bays between each set of columns (often referred to as niches) and are on both the South and North sides of the center asile in both the East and West Hypostyle Halls. Above these bays in the East and West halls, near the roof are horizontally oriented clerestory openings. The columns are 'proud' of these projecting side walls allowing their circular shape to return and engage the geometry of the wall. The columns are tapered of approximately (provide dimension of taper from plumb line) from bottom to top and rise ±6.900 meters (?, i think i've also read 6 meters) high to the top of a retangular capital. The circular columns are carved to resemble papyrus bundles and were painted green to resemble the plant. The side walls themselves also taper to ensure that they do not overlap the decorative papyrus relief, but are placed in a common staggered stacking pattern as is the back wall of the bay. The side wall joints are very small and precise and the surface is relatively smooth (provide image of cut stone as possible example of workmanship on pyramid). The columns of the Enclosed Portico are of similar detail but shorter by about 1 meter, implying that the proportions are similar by not necessarily the dimension.
Flooring: While current photographs show a base to the columns, there is also signs in the entry corridor which show a limestone floor at a slightly higher elevation than the floor of the colonnade, which is sand, implying that this too may of been finished, covering at least part of the column bases.
Axis: The central axis of the colonnade structure (East/West orientation) is slightly angled towards the South. There is an existing structure (name) to the South of the East Hypostyle Hall at the same angle so there is speculation that the colonnade adopted this angle to save material and time, as they share a wall. But further examination should show that only 3 bays of the colonnade use an exposed portion of this earlier structure and the rest of the Hypostyle Hall is made up of finished stone work.
Materials: The entire colonnade structure looks to be made of limestone. There appears to be no rubble fill within the confines of this enclosure.
Ceiling: Above the columns and column capitals sits a large longitudinal beam running parallel to the center aisle and one above the clerestory openings although this one sits at the level of the capital. Counting from North to South there would be 4. Considering one half of the hypostyle hall, between those two parallel beams is an infill of additional limestone blocks. Above this infill are stone beams (reproduction) carved to imitate wood beams like those one would of experienced in earlier temples. There is no reconstruction or reproduction above the center aisle or over the Enclosed Portico.
Geometry: most voids of the hall are of similar size including the distance between bays and between aisle columns, and those of the Enclosed Portico and the walls that surround them. It appears to be geometrically laid out (provide geometrical plan).
Center Isle & Enclosed Portico Clerestory: looking at the detailing of the ceiling and roof of the side bays, one can conclude that the center aisle also had clerestory openings although there is no conclusive evidence that they existed. If they did, it would be a similar detail as was executed for the bay openings, except that the wood replicate beams made of stone would be orientated North/South. Additionally, there may of been large beams spanning from column to column, creating a condition similar to the side bays where the replicate beams are at a higher elevation. Over the Enclosed Portico, due to the orientation of columns and location of the higher West Hypostyle Hall, the clerestory story openings would of faced from the center outward and run North/South (provide diagram).
False Doors: False doors were typically set at an angle to the grid of the complex, had no decoration, and were engaged with stone to the wall behind them. There are a total of 4 false doors, 2 at the east end in the antechamber, one at the East end of the East Hypostyle Hall, and one situated in the Great Court at the halls' exit. Of the two single false doors they are both on the North side of the colonnade structure. (show diagram and images of doors)
Real Doors: At the exit from the Enclosed Portico to the Great Court on the South side opposite the false door, is what appears to be one half of a hinge, built of limestone blocks, in that they alternate, one recessed while one projects. Further, the projecting stone jamb appears to be concave in shape alluding to the swing of a real door. Another location where it seems likely a real door existed is the east side of the East Hypostyle Hall. Here there is one false door on the North side and a missing jamb on the South Side. Further excavation might reveal the footings for this jamb. Considering the importance of this precinct and complex it seems likely that there would be a barrier. Also, this area is slightly larger than all other areas within the Hypostyle complex which would make sense considering how many individuals it would take to close a heavy door.
Purpose of Bays: There seems to be no data regarding the use of these bays, of which there are 44 (including exit areas). Might they have been used for Statues, like the Avenue of Sphinxes which is just outside this complex, or for soldiers, banners, lighting/incense? it is hard to know but worth the effort to resolve.
Restoration: Lerner (?) rebuilt the colonnade hall (photo of existing conditions) and a modern concrete roof was added for protection over the entire hall except the Colonnade Portico. This protection roof is just high enough to cover the ceiling structure of the side bays, but does not account for the space required for structure over the main center aisle.
Above Description: --NBuccalo 03:34, 14 January 2009 (UTC)
Speculation: It might be the case that there are two hypostyle halls, one for the sunrise and one for the sunset... one would have to find other cases where this was true....