Posted by: imalqata | February 17, 2012

Tytus on Malqata

Today is our day off, but we thought our readers would enjoy this evocative article on the palace written by Robb de Peyster Tytus for the September 1907 issue of  THE CENTURY MAGAZINE:

PALACE OF AMENHOTEP III,
HUSBAND OF QUEEN THIY

BY ROBB DE PEYSTER TYTUS

As the site for his palace, Amenhotep
chose the edge of the desert to the
west of the city. The position was an
ideal one. To the west the pure desert
stretched away, the abode of the wild life
in the hunting of which his soul re-
joiced; to the north rose his great
temple, towering above the intervening
palms and acacias ; while to the east a
cooling lake supplied water for fragrant
gardens and formed an immediate fore-
ground to the great temples and buildings
of eastern Tliebes seen dimly across the
green levels of the luxuriant plain.

The complete dimensions of the palace
are still undetermined, but the main en-
closure was at least a quarter of a mile
in length, with a width of half that.
The walls of sun-dried bricks were of
sufficient thickness (from three to four
feet) to keep the interior cool, while
rivulets of Nile water, flowing from tank
to tank, where grew lotus and other blos-
soms, kept the air fresh and fragrant.
The exterior wall, frescoed in dun color-
ing, was pierced by a large gateway,
through which the chariots drove into the
spacious courtyard, from which another
gate led to the offices and stables placed
at some distance behind the palace. From
this court a broad passage, flanked by
guard-rooms where the household troops
lolled, extended to the first or principal
apartment of state. To the right were
places for the scribes ; to the left, waiting-
rooms for those seeking audience, fra-
grant with flowers and tinkling waters.
Through more passages and many rooms
one came to the great banqueting-hall, a
description of which might perhaps give
an appreciation of the whole pile.

Picture a room one hundred and thirty
feet long, by forty wide, where painted
and carved columns supported the roof
and gave an exaggerated measure to the
perspective. On the floor a pictured lake
of lotus lilies lapped the placements of the
pillars, and adorning the walls a dado of
plants sprang upward, framing hunting
scenes in the desert or the presentment of
some “familiar” deity. Higher, pendent
lotus-petals, intertwined with the gor-
geous persea fruit, were painted, and led
the eye upward to the ceiling, picked out
in blazingly pure coloring only half -seen
in the semi-darkness cloaking the cornice.

Down a long vista might be seen the
throne of the king, glinting dully with
solid gold, while gorgeous carpets formed
spots of color here and there on the cool
pavement, while, dominating all, blazoned
in lapis lazuli, the great vultures held the
names of the king under their wings. To
the right and left opened the bath-rooms,
eight in number, and beyond these the
dressing-rooms; while still farther in the
side recesses lay the sleeping apartments.

The baths may have been used either
before or after the banquet, but probably
at both times.

Although in Crete a contemporaneous
bathing pool has been excavated, so far
as the writer is aware, these baths of
Thebes are the oldest {circa 1400 B.C.)
individual tubs as yet discovered.

All were virtually alike. The rooms
were roughly twenty-six feet long and
thirteen wide, with walls beautifully
decorated. The ceiling, ornate with in-
tricate designs of vivid coloring, was
supported by two columns of painted
wood resting on sandstone bases, while
the concrete floor, covered with rugs or
matting, stopped abruptly six feet from
one end of the apartment. At this point
a cross partition of sandstone about two
feet high was run, beyond which was the
tub proper, the partition forming one side
and the walls of the room the other three.
The bottom of the compartment so formed
was of pure white sandstone, upon which
the bather stood while a slave sluiced
water over him from a porous jar, which,
like the present-day goollah, kept the
water cool and refreshing. From this
floor the waste water ran through a
cement duct, or pipe, to a sandstone tank
three by two by one and one half feet,
sunk in one corner of the room.

In the only tub found in situ in its
entirety, the bottom was of two levels,
from the lower of which, sunk some five
inches, ran the cement pipe to the drain-
age tank. The position of the doorways
was in all cases the same. The opening
from the dining-hall being at the end
farthest from the bath, while the one into
the dressing-room was placed in the cen-
ter of the opposing wall. Through the
latter one passed to the dressing-room, a
large apartment, — in one case twenty-six
feet square, — where a reclining-chair
placed on a dais received the bather.

Here slaves waited to anoint and mas-
sage the refreshed body, while exquisite
frescoes of flying birds, rising from lotus
or papyrus blossoms, lured the eyes up-
ward to the cool air blowing through the
wet hangings of sweet-smelling grasses
which formed the sides of the clearstory,
or skylight, above.

The sleeping apartments beyond were
much more simple in decoration, as befit-
ted places of repose, and were, as far as at
present ascertainable, lighted by artificial
means only.

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