The Hypostyle Hall and Entrance Colonnade

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The exit point from the hypostyle hall and enclosed portico. View looking east from the Great Court.
Hypostyle hall.

The Hypostyle Hall and Entrance Colonnade consisting of three main 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. These areas in sequential order from the exterior, in the west, to the great court, in the east, are the entry corridor, antechamber, east Hypostyle, west Hypostyle Hall, and enclosed portico. There are four other smaller passages, most very short in length, which are approximately one meter wide x four meters high that act as connectors.{{citation needed}

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 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 columns, 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 [clarification needed] 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 oriented longitudinally and disconnected from the side walls. Continuing one can exit into the Great Court.[citation needed]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Columns[edit | edit source]

The columns themselves are engaged columns, but unlike later examples where the column is next to a wall known as pilasters, where 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 aisle 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 approximately[Be more specific] from bottom to top and rise approximately 6.9 meters high to the top of a rectangular 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 sidewall joints are very small[Be more specific] and precise and the surface is relatively smooth.[citation needed] The columns of the enclosed portico are of similar detail but shorter by about one meter, implying that the proportions are similar by not necessarily the dimension.[citation needed]

Flooring[edit | edit source]

While current photographs show a base to the columns, there are 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 have been finished, covering at least part of the column bases.[citation needed]

Axis[edit | edit source]

The central axis of the colonnade structure, in east-west orientation, is slightly angled towards the south. There is an existing structure[clarification needed] 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 stonework.[citation needed]

Material[edit | edit source]

The entire colonnade structure looks to be made of limestone. There appears to be no rubble fill within the confines of this enclosure.[citation needed]

Ceiling[edit | edit source]

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.[Be more specific] 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 carved to imitate wood beams like those ones would have experienced in earlier temples. There is no reconstruction or reproduction above the center aisle or over the enclosed portico.[citation needed]

Geometry[edit | edit source]

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.[citation needed]

Center aisle and enclosed portico clerestory[edit | edit source]

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 oriented north-south. Additionally, there may have 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 have faced from the center outward and run north-south.[citation needed]

False doors[edit | edit source]

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 four false doors, two 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 hall's exit. Of the two single false doors, they are both on the northside of the colonnade structure.[citation needed]

Real doors[edit | edit source]

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 in the east side of the East Hypostyle Hall. Here there is one false door on the northside and a missing jamb on the southside. 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.[citation needed]

Purpose of Bays[edit | edit source]

There seems to be no data regarding the use of these bays, of which there are 44. Might they have been used for statues, like the Avenue of Sphinxes which is just outside this complex, or for soldiers, banners, lighting, or incense.[citation needed]

Restoration[edit | edit source]

Lerner rebuilt the colonnade hall and a modern concrete roof was added for protection over the entire hall except for 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.[citation needed]

References[edit | edit source]

Further Reading[edit | edit source]