top of page

Egypt's Legacy

Egypt's Legacy, Disha Bodra


The word Egypt may evoke images of palm trees reflected in the waters of a wide, life-giving river - a long oasis extending along the Nile. But there is another, completely different, Egypt of the desert, fascinating in its isolation. In the modern world, subjected to all the mad speed, noise and vexations, I think of desert as an ideal place for contemplation. Its sublime magnificently pure landscapes beautifully brought to life still bear witness to an unparalleled splendor.

There is more to the Egyptian architecture than the sinister mummies, the beautiful queens, the mighty pharaohs and the treasures shrouded in mystery. Egypt - the State of Stone - has borrowed heavily from mud bricks and wood, and has left a permanent footprint in the sand of time.


The image we have today of ancient Egypt is beset with cliches, for example - the pyramids, distorting our view of the achievements of the civilization and culture of ancient Egypt. I believe Egypt shares her fate as an inappropriate figurehead, a false symbol with the pyramid which is seen as the epitome of ancient Egyptian architecture. Its clear formal structure is generally perceived not only as the classic example of the art of ancient Egypt but also as the model for the political and social system for the empire. This view conveniently takes the exceptional case of a purely geometric basic form and turns it into a standard disregarding the continuous development of ancient Egyptian architecture over a period of three thousand years.


Egyptian architecture is a mirror of creation, a means of artistic expression. It is not a construct of mathematics technology and abstraction. Often labelled as monumental, this architecture seemingly presented solely in terms of sacred buildings in temples and tombs has its actual origins in secular buildings in the everyday architecture of an agricultural people, a fact which it never denied or sought to conceal.

But very little of this ancient secular architecture of mud bricks and wood have been preserved whereas the stone temples and tombs have survived the millennia, in some cases almost undamaged. The reason lies not only in the choice of building materials but also in the site selected for their construction, a decision influenced by consideration of function.


The particular significance of secular architecture in ancient Egypt lies in the fact that the forms and materials used in this area can be traced also in the elements and structures of sacred architecture. Without a knowledge of the typical forms of architecture in mud bricks and rush mats it is difficult to understand the characteristic appearance of stone architecture.

The pylon, for example, a typical entrance structure in Egyptian temples since the new Kingdom, has walls that are not vertical but instead slope outwards towards the bottom - a typical feature of mud-brick architecture, where the laws of statics dictate this form.


At the edge of the better-known Egypt of pyramids, magnificent temples, and splendid tombs, we have here an Egypt of sandy expanses, one that exerts its own mysterious attraction. Here are dunes and sandy plateaus, depressions and mountain ranges, oases and springs. The mummy can in no way be regarded as the motto-theme of religion in ancient Egypt. Nor can stone alone define the monumental yet modest Egyptian culture.

The architecture of the pharaohs as we perceive it today is dominated by stone buildings giving us the impression that stone was the main building material at the time. This impression of ancient Egypt has arisen only as a result of our perspective looking back over thousands of years.

“The Egyptians settled in the sands,

practised bricks and wood,

mastered the art of stone, and

left a legacy in glass”




An architecture student set out to establish myself in the professional field of architecture. As advised by my mentors to begin early in this arena in order to unravel my creativity, I constantly search for opportunities to hone my skills. I aspire to become an insightful architect bringing about positive changes in the nation as architecture is of the people, for the people and by the people.


bottom of page