Friday, February 12, 2010
`I made a palace decked with gold, whose ceilings were of lazuli… The doors were of copper and the bolts were of bronze. It was made for everlastingness, at which eternity fears.’
From “The Instructions of Amenemhet”
The kings of Egypt were so closely connected with their royal residences that one of the names for the palace, the per a’a, literally the “great house,” eventually became the designation for the ruler himself- “pharaoh.” Despite Amenemhet’s boasts of the durability of his home, Egyptian palaces were largely made of perishable materials and few were in use for very long. Only a handful of these palaces have been discovered by archaeologists, and the Palace of the King at Malqata was one of the best preserved.
The palace, as we have noted, was part of a much larger complex of support buildings and was surrounded by a community of officials and servants. Malqata is part of a tradition in Egypt of what have been called “royal cities.” Much like the Palace of Versailles, these royal cities were a showplace for the king and his court. There are a number of these types of settlements known, and there were probably many more in a tradition that may go all the way back to Menes and the founding of Memphis at the beginning of the First Dynasty, more than five thousand years ago.
Such cities were created for various reasons, as military camps, for ceremonial purposes and for political reasons. There were probably palaces and residences throughout the land and like an English monarch, the king could have made a royal progress, stopping off at a number of them. Some were designed with scenic views in mind such as the Palace of Apries at Memphis, which had the backdrop of the Step Pyramid at Sakkara and Tutankhamun’s residence at Giza overlooking the Pyramids and Great Sphinx.