1-20 of 92 results  for:

  • Architecture and Urban Planning x
Clear all

Article

Jaromir Malek

Site of the ancient Egyptian sun temple of King Neuserre (reg c. 2416–c. 2392 bc), on the western bank of the Nile north-west of Abusir, almost opposite the southernmost suburbs of modern Cairo. The temple, called Shesepib re (‘joy of the sun god Re’), is situated at the edge of the Libyan Desert, in the area of the Memphite necropolis.

Six sun temples were built for the state sun god Re-Horakhty by the kings of the 5th Dynasty, but by the late 20th century only two had so far been located. The sun temple of Neuserre was excavated by Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing in 1898–1901. Nearly all the reliefs were removed, mostly to German collections, and many perished during World War II. The temple was built mainly of limestone. It consists, from east to west, of the valley temple, causeway and upper temple. This arrangement is similar to that of pyramid complexes and suggests a generally accepted concept of a purpose-built temple during the Old Kingdom. A brick-built bark of the sun god was discovered near by....

Article

Peter Grossmann

[Abū Mīnā]

Site of a Christian city and pilgrimage centre in the Maryūt Desert, c. 45 km south-west of Alexandria, Egypt. It grew up around the shrine of St Menas, who was martyred during the persecution of the Christians instigated by Diocletian (reg 285–305). The ancient name of the site is not known, and the position of the saint’s grave had been long forgotten until, according to legend, several miracle cures led to its rediscovery. The place then quickly developed into an increasingly major centre of pilgrimage where, among other things, the so-called Menas ampules were manufactured as pilgrim flasks and achieved particular renown. The first excavations of the site were undertaken by Kaufmann in 1905–7. Further excavations have been directed successively by the Coptic Museum in Cairo (1951), Schläger (1963 and 1964), Wolfgang Müller-Wiener (1965–7) and Peter Grossmann (since 1969).

The earliest archaeological remains date to the late 4th century, although the grave itself was in an older hypogeum. The first martyrium basilica erected over the grave dates to the first half of the 5th century and was rapidly enlarged by various reconstructions and extensions. Around the turn of the 5th and 6th centuries, the Great Basilica was added to the east in the form of a transept-basilica, making it the largest church in Egypt (...

Article

R. G. Morkot

Site in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile in Lower Nubia, 280 km south of Aswan. With the construction of the Aswan Dam in the early 1960s, the temple complex was one of a number of ancient monuments saved by being moved to a new site. Having been cut into pieces and reassembled, it now stands on the shores of Lake Nasser, 64 m higher and 180 m west of its ancient site. It is not known whether any small rock-cut chapels already existed at Abu Simbel, but inscriptions from the Middle Kingdom show that it was already an ancient sacred site when Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) chose it for his most grandiose, and most famous, Nubian monument.

The construction of the Great and Small Temples of Abu Simbel began in the early years of Ramesses II, and they were completed by around the 25th year of his reign. The Great Temple (...

Article

Ahenny  

Roger Stalley

Site of an obscure Early Christian settlement formerly known as Kilclispeen (St Crispin’s Church) in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The only remains are two outstanding stone crosses and the base of a third (c. 750–900), which are situated in a graveyard below the village. The crosses belong to a well-defined regional group and were constructed of three characteristic elements: a square base with sloping sides, a shaft with an unusually wide ring and a peculiar, rather ill-fitting, conical cap (the latter missing on the south cross). With its capstone, the north cross measures 3.7 m in height. The form of the Ahenny crosses is emphasized by a bold cable ornament along the outer contours. Projecting from the main faces are sculpted bosses, the most prominent feature of the ‘Ahenny school’. The ring and shaft of the crosses are covered with dense patterns of carved ornament, including interlace, spirals, frets, entangled beasts and interlocking men. Much of this decoration can be compared with the metalwork and manuscript illumination of the period, and it appears that the sculptors were in effect transposing altar or processional crosses into stone. With the addition of pigment, the analogy with metalwork would have been complete. In contrast to the shafts and rings, the bases bear figure sculpture in low relief. That on the north cross is best preserved and represents Adam and Eve with the animals in the Garden of Eden, a chariot procession (a theme repeated on other Irish crosses), seven ecclesiastics (possibly symbolizing Christ’s mission to the Apostles) and an enigmatic funeral procession with a headless corpse....

Article

Robert Knox

[Amarāvatī]

Site near the ancient city of Dharanikota on the right bank of the Krishna River in Guntur District, Andhra Pradesh, India, that flourished from the 3rd century bc to the 14th century ad. It is also the location of a modern town, but the site is celebrated for its stupa, which may have been the earliest Buddhist foundation in the region and which certainly came to be its largest and most elaborate (see fig.). It was rediscovered in 1799 as a ruined but largely intact mound by Colonel Colin Mackenzie, first Surveyor General of India. His work in that year and in 1816 led to the excavations conducted in 1845 by Walter Elliot of the Madras Civil Service. Most of the sculptures now in the British Museum, London, were excavated at that time, although part of the Elliot collection remains in the Government Museum, Madras. Unfortunately, between the rediscovery of the stupa and these early excavations, much damage was done to it, with limestone slabs being quarried for building materials by the local residents. The stupa was further excavated in ...

Article

A. P. Jamkhedkar

[anc. Aṁvaranātha, Ambaranātha]

Site of a Shiva temple in Maharashtra, India, some 7 km south-east of Kalyan, a suburb of Bombay. An inscription inside the hall records that it was repaired in 1061 (Shaka year 982) by one Mamvaniraja (Mummuniraja) of the Shilahara dynasty, dating the temple to the early 11th century or before.

Enclosed within a wall (Skt prakāra) and facing west, the temple consists of a closed hall (gūḍha-maṇḍapa) with three porches, a vestibule and sanctuary (garbha-gṛha), the latter placed at a lower level and approached by steps. The exterior walls of the sanctuary and hall are subject to a series of projections and carry niches with divine figures. These include regents of the directions on the corners and themes of Vaishnava and Shaiva mythology: for example Vishnu in his incarnations as Varaha and Narasimha; Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon (Mahiṣāsuramārdinī); and the marriage of Shiva and Parvati (Kalyanasundara). The main cardinal niches contain Mahakali (north); Gajasurasamhara, Shiva celebrating his victory over the elephant demon, shown dancing and wearing an elephant hide (south); and Hariharapitamaharka, a syncretistic god representing Vishnu, Shiva, Brahma and the Sun (east)....

Article

Angkor  

John Villiers, Guy Nafilyan and Madeleine Giteau

Site in northern Cambodia, in a fertile plain to the north-east of the northern tip of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and near the modern town of Siem Reap. Angkor was the site of almost all the capital cities founded by successive rulers of the Khmer realm from the end of the 9th century ad until the mid-15th, when it was abandoned in the face of attacks from the neighbouring Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. Each ruler built in the centre of his capital a state temple, usually in the form of a stepped pyramid representing Mt Meru, centre of the universe and abode of the gods, in accordance with the precepts of Hindu and Buddhist cosmology (see also Cambodia, §II, 1, (ii)). This state temple was generally surrounded by a series of concentric enclosures bounded by walls, ditches, moats and embankments, laid out in accordance with the same cosmological precepts. Within the enclosures were the chief buildings of the city, including the royal palace and other temples founded by the king, members of the royal family or leading state dignitaries. All but the religious monuments were built of wood. Important adjuncts to many of these royal cities were the reservoirs (Khmer ...

Article

Frederick M. Asher

[anc. Vikramashila, Vikramaśīla]

Site of Buddhist monastery on the River Ganga in Bhagalpur District, Bihar, India. Until recently, the location of the monastery of Vikramashila was known only approximately from Tibetan sources, but excavations at Antichak have almost surely revealed its remains. The monastery was founded by the Pala dynasty monarch Dharmapala (reg c. ad 781–812; see Pala and Sena family). At the middle of the site is a tall brick stupa with a cruciform plan, closely related in form and dimensions to the stupa at Paharpur, also part of a monastic complex built by Dharmapala. Both stupas are set on an elevated terrace for circumambulation and in both cases the lowest portion of the stupa wall (where it survives) is decorated with terracotta plaques. At Antichak these depict mostly animals, human figures and ritual devices (pots, conch shells etc). Although sometimes described as ‘folk art’, they are carefully rendered and appear to be arranged according to a systematic programme. A row of cells forms the site’s outer perimeter, enclosing the large courtyard in which the stupa stands. These may have been intended as dwellings for monks or to accommodate images and likely functioned as the outer rim of the three-dimensional ...

Article

Badoh  

Michael D. Willis

[Badoh-Pathārī; anc. Vaṭodaka]

Site in Vidisha District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The monumental temple ruins at the twin villages of Badoh and Pathari are scattered over a wide area, indicating that they mark the site of a once important city. The oldest remains are in a wide-mouthed cave to the west of Badoh, where a small spring is flanked by an early 5th-century ad rock-relief of seated goddesses and the god Virabhadra; an inscription mentions one Maharaja Jayatsena. The cave also contains ruined shrines from about the 9th century ad. To its south-east is the large 9th-century Gadarmal Temple (see Trivedi). It collapsed some time before the 19th century and was reconstructed in a haphazard fashion; the main image is in the Archaeological Museum, Gwalior. Near by, at the side of a large tank, is a rare example of a pre-Islamic pleasure pavilion, the Sola Khambi (c. 10th century). A short distance to the west is a group of Jaina temples that have been subject to reconstruction. Early fragments include doorframes of the ...

Article

Bagh  

Frederick M. Asher

[Bāgh]

Site of Buddhist rock-cut sanctuaries in Dhar District, Madhya Pradesh, India. During the second half of the 5th century ad a series of ten sanctuaries, one of them incomplete, was carved at Bagh from rock a great deal softer and thus less durable than that of sites in the Deccan plateau, such as Ajanta: consequently the work is not well preserved. The most elaborately carved caves are nos 2, 3, 4 and 6. All the caves at Bagh are viharas (monastic dwellings). The characteristic plan places monks’ cells around the outer walls enclosing a large pillared central hall. The pillars have thicker shafts than those of contemporary shrines at Ajanta (probably to compensate for the quality of stone), yet their design is imaginatively varied. Some of the shafts have diagonal or spiral flutes, while others are composite varieties combining a lower section of four sides, with upper sections moving from an octagonal to a 16-sided section; yet others become 12- or 24-sided. The pillar brackets of Cave 4 depict animals, some with riders. At the rear of most of the sanctuaries is an image shrine housing a stupa, not a Buddha figure as in the Ajanta shrines. Buddha images are, however, carved elsewhere in the Bagh sanctuaries, for example in the antechamber of several of the caves. The most famous are those of Cave 2, where larger-than-life-size standing Buddha figures flanked by bodhisattvas are depicted on two of the side walls. These figures bear a close resemblance to contemporary figural sculpture of Ajanta....

Article

Bamiyan  

Mary S. Lawton

Site in north-central Afghanistan. Located at the western end of the silk route, Bamiyan flourished as a trading and religious centre until the 13th century. It is the site of a rock-cut Buddhist monastery, the most distinctive feature of which were two monumental rock-cut standing Buddhas that bracket the religious complex. Confined in mandorla-shaped niches, they represented the first appearance of the colossal cult image in Buddhist art. Their size not only encouraged approaching pilgrims but exemplified the esoteric Mahayana doctrine of the Universal Buddha (see also Buddhism, §I). Faces and folds in the robes were modelled in mud mixed with chopped straw. This was supported by dowels and ropes pegged into the rock; a final coating of lime plaster was applied before gilding. The smaller Buddha (h. c. 38.5 m) probably dated to the 2nd–3rd century ad and its somewhat fluid drapery folds suggested Gandharan traditions. The frescoes and accompanying minor sculptures of donor figures were provincial Sasanian in technique and imagery. The larger Buddha (h. 55 m) was related to the style of Mathura during the ...

Article

Bassai  

Frederick Cooper

Site on the slopes and peak of Mt Kotilon in Arcadia, southern Greece, overlooking the fertile plains of Messenia. It is renowned for the late 5th-century bc Temple of Apollo with its sculptured Ionic frieze, its peculiar plan and the earliest extant Corinthian capital.

Apollo Bassitas was the principal god but his sanctuary also embraced cults to other gods, notably Artemis. Twin temples to Apollo and Artemis were built by c. 625–600 bc, the former (Apollo I) found immediately south of the present structure. The second temple (Apollo II, c. 575 bc) was replaced by Apollo III c. 500 bc, and blocks from Apollo III were reused in the last temple, Apollo IV, the remains of which stand today. The construction of Apollo IV began shortly after 429 bc, according to Pausanias, although some scholars date it to one or more generations earlier. Other evidence, however, including inscriptions and literary references, support Pausanias’ date. The architect was ...

Article

Bawit  

C. Walters

Site on the west bank of the River Nile, c. 16 km west of Daryūt in the province of Asyūt, Egypt. A large monastery with rich sculptural and painted decoration originally lay in the desert 1 km to the west. According to tradition it was founded by the monk Apollo in the late 4th century ad and was inhabited until the late 12th century. The site was excavated intermittently between 1901 and 1913 by the French Archaeological Institute in Cairo; most of the structural finds were removed to the Coptic Museum in Cairo and the Louvre in Paris. The monastery consisted of an enclosed nucleus with other buildings outside the walls, although it is not known how much of the site was occupied at any given time. Within the enclosed area were two churches. A number of two-storey structures were excavated, of which the ground floors were probably chapels and the upper floors served as living quarters, as in the monastery of Apa Jeremiah at Saqqara (...

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

[Arab. Bahbayt al-Hagar; anc. Egyp. Pr-ḥbyt; Lat. Iseum]

Site in northern Egypt, c. 100 km north of Cairo, an important cult centre for the worship of the goddess Isis, which flourished during the 4th century bc. The modern name is a combination of the ancient Egyptian name and the Arabic epithet ‘al-hagar’ (‘the stone’), referring to the jumbled mass of granite blocks from the collapsed Temple of Isis that now litters the site. The site is mentioned in inscriptions of the New Kingdom, but it rose to prominence during the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) when Nectanebo II (reg 360–343 bc) sponsored the construction of the Temple of Isis. The geographic proximity of Behbeit el-Hagar to Sebennytos, the capital during the 30th Dynasty, less than 10 km away, implies that Isis was the Dynasty’s titular deity. Behbeit el-Hagar (Iseum) eventually became the capital of an independent nome (administrative province) during the Ptolemaic period (after ...

Article

M. Yaldiz

[Bazaklik]

Site in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, 56 km north-east of Turfan. It is the site of the most outstanding complex of Buddhist cave temples in Khocho and is located in the steep side of an extensive terrace above the Murtuk River. At one time access to the caves was via free-standing timber buildings or terraces constructed in front of them, but by the time the caves were discovered by Albert von Le Coq at the beginning of the 20th century these were largely in ruins. In type the caves conform to those in the Kucha region (see Kizil; see also Central Asia, §II, 2).

The cave temples contained sculptures made of unfired clay, but it was mainly the wall paintings (removed by von Le Coq for safekeeping, few survive; see below) that in their unsurpassable diversity provided evidence of a flourishing Buddhist community. The most impressive were the paintings depicting consecration of a ...

Article

Michael D. Rabe

[Telugu: ‘Mountain of the fearsome god’]

Site of a Hindu cave temple complex 140 km north-west of Nellore in Andhra Pradesh, India. Isolated between the precipitous red cliffs of a box canyon, the site comprises eight small and remarkably similar caves excavated from a single rock face above a stream. Datable by style and epigraphy to the 7th century ad, all eight caves house Shiva liṅgas within sanctuaries measuring c. 2×2×2 m. Life-size door guardians carved into the façade of each shrine lean upon heavy clubs; their abundant hair is set with single blades or triple forks, respectively identifying them as personifications of Shiva’s axe and trident. All but one of the cave façades are also adorned with smaller-scale icons of Brahma and Vishnu, which, together with the Shiva liṅgas, complete the Hindu trinity. Each cave is preceded by an open court containing a reclining image of Shiva’s vehicle, the bull Nandi, set facing the sanctum; relief panels on either side are carved with seated images of the elephant-headed deity Ganesha and the child-devotee Chandikesha. The external façades of caves 5–8 include porches with richly detailed parapets supported by twin pillars ...

Article

Bhaja  

A. P. Jamkhedkar

[Bhājā]

Site of Buddhist rock-cut temples and other buildings in Pune District, Maharashtra, India. Bhaja is one of a series of cave-temple sites that developed in western India during the last two centuries bc in proximity to important trade routes. The caves were probably created by followers of Hinayana Buddhism, though paintings of Buddhas and bodhisattvas indicate that Bhaja came under the sway of Mahayana doctrine. The number of known excavations at Bhaja has been increased by archaeological discoveries to some 26. These consist of monasteries for Buddhist monks (Skt vihāra), prayer-halls (caitya gṛha), water-cisterns and an assemblage of memorial stupas. The largest monument is the main prayer-hall, an apsidal excavation 17.08 m long and 8.13 m broad. The roof is barrel-shaped and the hall has 27 octagonal pillars (3.45 m high), which are slightly tapered and have an inward rake. On either side of the pillars are aisles that meet behind a stone stupa, thus forming a circumambulatory. The roof-ribs are wooden. An inscription (...

Article

Bharhut  

Kurt Behrendt

[Bhārhut]

Site of a Buddhist stupa of the 2nd century bc in Satna District, Madhya Pradesh, India. The fragmentary remains of the Bharhut Stupa (see Stupa, §1) were discovered near the village of Bhaironpur by Alexander Cunningham in 1873. The stupa itself was largely destroyed, having been pillaged by local villagers for building material. Only the eastern gateway (Skt toraṇa) and a portion of the railing (vedikā) with crossbars (sūci) and coping stones (uṣṇiṣa) were recovered. These are now in the Indian Museum, Calcutta. Individual uprights and coping fragments are in the Allahabad Museum, while smaller pieces have found their way to museums around the world.

The stupa (diam. 20 m) was made of large flat bricks (305 × 305 × 59 mm) and was originally surrounded by a railing (diam. 25 m) with four gates. Reliefs on the surviving gate suggest the stupa had a cylindrical base with a hemispherical dome ornamented with floral designs. The summit was crowned by parasols. There is further evidence that a smaller railing either encircled the main railing or edged a raised circumambulatory platform, as at ...

Article

Michael D. Willis

[Bhītaragaon]

Site of a 5th-century ad brick temple in Uttar Pradesh, India. The temple at Bhitargaon is the best-preserved example of 5th-century brick architecture in northern India and is especially noted for its in situ terracotta plaques and pyramidal superstructure. The building (Skt śikhara; 21×14.6×10.9 m), orientated towards the east, has a square cella entered through a ruined rectangular vestibule. Externally the cella has prominent projections (bhadra) on each side. A podium (vedībandha), dominated by a tall moulding with a curved top (kumbha), runs around the base of the structure. Above the podium, the wall is divided into sections by attached pilasters with pot-like bases, capitals and elaborate abaci. Some of the niches between the pilasters retain their original terracotta plaques with images of Shiva and Vishnu in various forms. The entablature (varaṇḍikā) consists of two heavy cornices with an intervening recess containing terracottas of animals and mythic creatures. The rectilinear superstructure is damaged, but the surviving portions show that it was ornamented with tiers of arched niches in varying sizes; some of the niches contain terracotta busts and full figures of deities. There were other brick temples in the vicinity, but these are now completely ruined....

Article

Bhumara  

Michael D. Willis

[Bhūmarā]

Site of a 5th-century temple in Satna District, Madhya Pradesh, India, near the contemporary sites of Nachna and Khoh. One of the relatively few surviving Gupta-period temples, it was excavated in 1921 by R. D. Banerji. After the initial excavation, many of the sculptures from Bhumara were removed to the Allahabad Museum. Fragments are also in the Indian Museum, Calcutta, and one candraśālā (dormer) is in a private collection in the USA; a second dormer, probably from Bhumara but not documented to be so, is in the British Museum (London, BM, 1880.1065).

Partly ruined, the temple consists of a square, windowless sanctum (garbhagṛha), approximately 4.5 m on each side, once fronted by a forehall (maṇḍapa), which has completely disappeared. Built on a rectangular platform (jagatī), the temple is approached from the eastern side by a stairway flanked by the remains of two small shrines. The platform has a moulded base and a low parapet around the outer edge, similar to the platform at ...