Ancient Egyptian Architecture Online (AEGARON) provides vetted and standardized architectural drawings of a selection of ancient Egyptian buildings. These represent architecture from modest workmen's houses to temple complexes, dating from the Old Kingdom through Late Antiquity. The site also lists a vocabulary of Egyptian architectural terms in English, German and Arabic, illustrated with photographs and drawings mostly derived from the AEGARON building corpus. The terminology is divided in eight categories (from “Architectural Elements” to “Technical Terms”). Terms can belong to more than one category, and have synonyms, narrower and broader terms defined. Where possible, the AEGARON terms have been linked to the Getty Thesaurus of Art & Architecture and to the Digital Karnak website.
AEGARON is a cooperation between the German Archaeological Institute in Cairo (DAIK) and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and is made possible by a combined grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The American-Egyptian-German AEGARON-Team consists of Architects, Archaeologists, Building Archaeologists, Designers, Programmers, Librarians & more.
- See all the Details
- Get a spatial impression
- Understanding line types
- Reading the Colors
- Learn about Layers
- Make measurements
This web interface allows users to download plans, sections, elevations and detail drawings. Buildings are depicted in multiple states:
drawings depict monuments in the state they were found in during investigation at a given date. If not otherwise noted in the drawings legend, this date is that of the AEGARON field checking. In cases where earlier investigations have documented a better preserved state, this state is depicted and the date noted in the legend. A combination of actual state drawing and reconstruction is common in archaeology but is prone to misunderstandings. Only when the legibility is difficult without them, a minimum of reconstruction lines are added to an actual state drawing.
drawings offer a hypothesis how the depicted building looked like while being used at a certain date.
For some buildings different reconstructions are given, which may represent different hypotheses or different states in time, as noted in the legend. Some hypotheses are more certain than others. In order to reflect this, uncertain reconstructions are indicated as hatched lines in the reconstruction drawings. Alternative reconstructions stress the hypothetical character of some of our drawings. Additional information is given in the drawing logs.
When reconstructing a building, AEGARON follows the suggestions of the authors of original drawings as much as possible. If no suggestions are provided by the original researchers, AEGARON suggests a reconstruction. When field checking is mentioned in the legend and the drawing log, our reconstruction is based on recent observations on site.
drawings differentiate between several stages of construction, e.g. when a complete building was enlarged at a later phase.
Architectural drawings depict buildings in orthographical projections.
View from the position of a horizontal plane cutting through the building 1 meter above the floor, if not otherwise indicated. If necessary, this plane can bend, but an indication of this is obligatory in the according section by the section lines, which clarifies the relationship between two drawings
View from the position of a horizontal plane above the building.
View from the position of a vertical plane cutting through the building. If necessary, this plane can bend, but an indication of this is obligatory in the according plan. Due to the provided source material, sections are less common than ground plans.In rare cases it was necessary to use diagonal section lines, which are also to be read as orthogonal projection. No architect nowadays would do this when designing a building, but historic architecture occasionally calls for compromises. A strictly horizontal section line would be inadequate to depict a sloping corridor in a pyramid.
View from the position of a vertical plane in front of the building.
Detail drawings show a small part of the building at a larger scale. Typical scales for details are 1:10, 1:5 and full size (1:1)
You can learn more about this on Wikipedia.
Since Architecture can only be depicted in reduced scale, drawings are downloadable in three forms:
You will find each building depicted in a scale that allows for printing with a regular printer. Since this can be rather small, alternatives may be offered:
is in the scale required to show all details of the building. For smaller buildings, this may fit on an A4/letter format, drawings of larger monuments may require a large format printer.
(e.g. 1:250) might be produced to allow for comparing different buildings in the same scale. These standard scales are 1:100, 1:250, 1:500 and 1:2000. Each building is depicted in either of these scales.
For some buildings these three options actually point to the same drawing, for instance when the specified "ideal" scale, at which all details are visible, fits on an A4 or Letter size page. The scale and print size differ depending on the size of the building (e.g. a workman's house versus a pyramid).
As with texts in scholarly publications drawings need annotations that inform on sources, controversies and open questions. The AEGARON critical apparatus (drawing log) specifies on which published and in some cases unpublished material the AEGARON drawing is based, who the authors of those originals were and where additional information may be found. Justification of choices which were made in the drawing process and whether the building shown in the drawings has been checked on site by the AEGARON team is noted in the log, as well as who made the current AEGARON drawing.
Currently you can download the drawings as PDFs, which are legible with the free Adobe Reader. You can work with this file format in multiple ways (learn more). Also availabe for download are the original CAD-files. Pixel files for presentation programs like Impress, PowerPoint or Keynote will follow soon.
Specific information in a drawing is conveyed by line types, colors and layers. Whereas lines and colors are visible on a printout, more complex data is encoded in the drawing layers, which you can trace in your downloaded PDF or CAD file.
AEGARON provides plans of buildings and when the data id available also sections and architectural details.
Try our zooming tools in drawings to see smaller details.
Also note that some drawings contain more details than your printout shows. If the original source contained more detail than average, e.g. the outlines of individual blocks in the masonry or elevations on a ground plan, you may find these in a frozen layer.
When depicting three-dimensional architecture on a two-dimensional drawing, much information is inevitably lost. The AEGARON color-code allows to keep some of these data, e.g. by indicating roofed areas with gray hatching. You will also find that the sections indicate whether an element is nearer to the section line than its surrounding by a different hatching.
A variety of line types graphically represent the drawing's view on certain objects. The line standards used by AEGARON are based on existing standards (cf. ISO/DIN 15 standards; CSA Guides). Information on the used lines and colors are given in the legend, but only the layers contain all details. The following list gives an overview.
- Continuous lines are used to depict edges directly visible (outline of the building etc.). Thinner continuous lines represent lines directly visible (e.g. joints). The edges of objects in section are depicted in thick continuous lines
- long-dashed lines are used to represent edges that are above/behind the cutting plane, e.g. an architrave in a floor plan
- dotted lines indicate hidden edges which are below/in front of the cutting plane, e.g. an underground chamber in a ground plan.
- Short dashed lines in reconstruction drawings indicate a less certain hypothesis. Door leaves, e.g., are usually not preserved but can be reconstructed by traces in the doorframes. A certain reconstruction of a door leaf is indicated as a continuous line in the reconstruction line, an uncertain reconstruction by a dashed line. In actual state drawings a short dashed line may be used to represent a reconstructed element without which the drawing would be difficult to read.
- Long-dashed lines indicate reconstructions, their thickness can vary in accordance with the type of line indicating an edge, a section etc.
- alternately long- and short-dashed lines ('center') are used to define section lines ('cutting plane').
- Long- and double short-dashed lines are used to indicate the outline of an excavated area.
A standardized set of colors are used in the AEGARON drawings to indicate different materials (e.g. light brown for lime stone, reddish brown for bricks) or different building phases (dark blue for older, light blue for more recent phases). Each used color is defined in the drawing's legend. The color selection is such that it also enables reproduction in grayscale. The color set has been developed in cooperation with the Chair in Visualization of the BTU Cottbus.
- In ground plans only surfaces resulting from "cutting" are indicated by defined solid colors. In sections and elevations all surfaces are hatched in solid colors in order to gain a better spatial impression. Lighter hues represent elements furthest from the cutting plane, darker hues represent those nearer to the viewer. The darkest hues are used for those elements through which the plane cuts.
- Building Material: Major building materials, such as sandstone, limestone, fired brick, unfired brick, wood etc., are indicated by a set of colors close to natural shades. Vegetation and water are also represented by natural colors (green & blue). Since the number of colors that can be distinguished on a screen is limited, some materials are summarized in the same color. On the PDF two different materials of, e.g. wall covering, made from pink granite and basalt may look alike. Both will be labeled as "other stone" in the legend, but they were drawn on different layers, so that this information is available in the file. You can learn more about the building materials by consulting the layer structure and the drawing log.
- Building Phases: For selected monuments the building phases are marked in a separate drawing. This diachronical color coding uses five shades of blue, darker for older, lighter for newer parts. Cross hatched areas in a certain shade of blue indicate destruction in the period according to that color.
The term layer refers to groups of drawn elements and objects in CAD-programs that share common characteristics. Each line, hatching etc. is attributed to a certain layer, i.e. all hidden wall edges or all room numbers. In the drawings, layers are given certain properties like line thickness, line type, color, etc. in the 'Layer Properties Manager'. Since the layer structure is preserved in the PDF files, you can learn more about the structure of a drawing by switching layers on and off in a PDF file. If you want to omit, e.g. the room numbers permanently, you can keep this layer switched off and implement your own numbering system in a drawing. The AEGARON layer structure consists of over one hundred layers which indicate usually several characteristics each, e.g. layer 04.4.1 C Element above section line contains all reconstructed objects that are above the cutting plane, i.e. destroyed architraves, door lintels, roofing edges etc. All existing architraves etc. are collected in layer 02.4.1 A Element above section line, A standing for actual state and C for reconstruction. Layers differ by the following:
- position in relation to the cutting plane, see here line types. Layers with identical names and consecutive numbering may stand for nearer or more distant elements etc.
- state: existing or destroyed, when destroyed, how certain is its reconstruction?
- time: Each drawing shows a building at a certain moment in time. Should certain objects be distinctly older or newer than the rest of the building (e.g. a wall gap filled by concrete), these elements are collected in an individual layer.
- material: sandstone limestone, other stone, unfired brick, fired brick, wood, vegetation, water. Terrain, regardless of the material (earth, rock, gravel etc.)
- roofing: roofed areas are hatched in a pale gray shade. This does contradict architectural rules of which areas should be marked with a solid hatching. We decided to use this method nevertheless due to the lack of section drawings of most ancient Egyptian monuments and the therefore missing opportunity to document where roofing is preserved or is to be reconstructed.
- certain elements like stairs, ramps, shafts, doors. Stairs with more than two steps are marked by an arrow pointing upwards, ramps by a triangle pointing upwards. You can recognize shafts by the shadow in the upper left corner. Doors are represented by quadrants.
Additional Information summarized in layers
- topography: If the source drawings indicate contour lines, we transfer these in our drawings.
- section line (cutting plane); excavation limit or boundaries of depicted area, etc.
- nomenclature like room numbers etc. AEGARON does not invent new nomenclature but uses the most common already in existence. If multiple numbering systems exist then the AEGARON choice is explained in the drawing log.
- heights, bench marks etc.: When source drawings indicate e.g. heights in relation to a coordinate system, we copy them in our drawings.
- compass, scale, legend, logo, frame etc.
All AEGARON drawings are produced to scale. The drawings can be used to measure sizes, ratios and distances in three ways:
- in the CAD-file by using the varied tools you find on the toolbar under "Dimension" (most accurate)
- on your printout using a ruler (least accurate)
- on a PDF by using "View -> Tools -> Analyze -> Measuring Tool".
Please note that you have to calculate the actual measurement from your measured distance and the scale of the drawing:
- Measuring a distance from a PDF in scale 1:250 -> 30,23 mm x 0,250 = 7, 56 m (see image)
- PDF in scale 1:50 -> 26,8 mm x 0,050 = 1,34 m
How accurate are the measurements given in the drawing?
As accurate as we could make them. When detailed measurements are given in the text of a publication, we used those and specified that in the drawing log. All other measurements are taken form the published drawings, either measured from the publication directly or, if the source drawing was not executed in a scale fit for measuring with a ruler (e.g. 1: 374.7), from the scan (see details in the log for each drawing). The latter option is less accurate, since scanning distorts the drawing. Please also note that a small original allows for less accurate measuring, no matter the method.
Please feel free to use these drawings for non-commercial purposes: presentations for classes, illustrations in scholarly publications, sharing with others. If you publish an AEGARON plan, please inform us at Aegaron[at]ucla.edu and name the source in the caption following these examples:
Asasif, Theban Tomb 196, Tomb and Substructure, plan, actual state, no. 0235 (after Eigner), drawing by AEGARON, http://dai.aegaron.ucla.edu/index.php/welcome/drawing/21198_zz002cr57j/.
Island of Philae, Roman Temple, gateway and stairway, reconstruction (ca. 300 AD), Section A -A, no. 0105 (after Lyons 1896, Lyons 1908, Borchardt 1906, de Villard 1941), drawing by AEGARON, http://dai.aegaron.ucla.edu/index.php/welcome/drawing/21198_zz002chd1p/.
Using a plan without giving credit is a breach of copyright.
AEGARON is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.