Stylistic Ornamentation And Decoration

Stylistic Egyptian Architectural Details


Several stylistic architectural features were also used in Ancient Egypt, such as:

Architrave – The architrave was derived in Egypt from the stone beam, reaching from pillar to pillar in tombs and temples.


Since the 1st dynasty, the smallest private tomb-mastaba has a typical architrave above the entrance doorway.

The stone architrave was used to increase the size of, and add a portico to, their temples.


Square dentils over an architrave were also utilized since Egypt’s earliest history and can be seen in the facade of a tomb at Beni Hassan and pm the ceiling of one of the rock tombs at the Pyramids, imitating the palm beams.

Here it is shown in beautiful detail at the Karnak Temples Complex in Luxor:


Cornice – It was utilized constantly as a significant detail in the design of the so-called False doors which is to be found in every tomb and temple in Ancient Egypt. Notice other features, as well.

Below is a fully painted example from a Saqqara tomb from about 45 centuries ago.


For their devices, the Egyptians frequently selected objects such as the lotus and other flowers, and these, as well as various animals or their heads, were adapted to form a cornice, particularly in their houses and tombs, or to decorate fancy articles of furniture and dress.

Torus – The torus has been used in Egypt since its recovered remotest history more than 5,000 years ago, and is shown here as a significant detail of the so-called False Door at every Egyptian tomb and temple.


Stylistic Ornamentation And Decoration

Many people miss the artistic talents of the Ancient Egyptians by focusing only on the figurative depictions in Egyptian buildings.

Some artistic variations are noticed by some, but even, then we are told that the Egyptians had no imagination and therefore could only imitate nature, such as these palm tree column caps that look like the abundant palm trees in Egypt.

The design patterns in Egypt can generally be categorized as floral, geometric, figurative, or a combination of two or all three.

The figurative patterns naturally dominate temples and tombs; but floral and geometric patterns are abundant.

The Western mind set is obsessed with giving names to every variation of these patterns and to attaching a Greek/Roman adjective to each, despite its pre-existence in Egypt.

The floral type is depicted in a range of plant maturity, from the closed bud to the open blossom.

The temple columns in Egypt were more than supporting structures. Columns are part of the animated organic and living temple.

They appear with closed buds:


and open blossom:


Geometric design patterns are all over, from the starry ceilings.


To all kinds of patterns in tombs and temples everywhere in Egypt— long before they found their way to Europe.



Figurative decorations are found in so many places.

The vulture:


Hethor wearing a sistrum on her head:


The cobra:


A combination of 2 or all three forms of decorations—floral, geometric, and figurative.


Egyptians did not always confine themselves to the mere imitation of natural objects for ornament.

Their ceilings and cornices offer numerous graceful fancy devices; among which are the guilloche (misnamed as the Tuscan border), the chevron, and the scroll pattern.

These items can be seen in a tomb dating back to the 6th Dynasty; they were therefore known in Egypt many ages before they were later adopted by the Greeks and Romans.


Guilloche – The most complicated form of the guilloche covered a whole Egyptian ceiling more than a thousand years before it was represented on those comparatively late objects, found at Nineveh.


A Chevron is a type of ornament also commonly found in Ancient Egypt.


The Scroll is also found in Ancient Egypt.



Color was an essential part of Egyptian architecture.

No one who understands the harmony of colors will fail to admit that the Ancient Egyptians perfectly understood their distribution and proper combinations.

But the choice of colors—just like everything else—reflects the Egyptians’ deep metaphysical understanding of the significance and energy of each color, and various colors are derived from a combination of basic colors.


The ceilings of Egyptian temples were painted blue and studded with stars to represent the firmament (as in early European churches); and on the part over the central passage (through which the king and the religious processions passed) were vultures and other emblems; the winged globe always having its place over the doorways. The whole building, as well as its sphinxes and other accessories, was richly painted.


[An excerpt from The Ancient Egyptian Metaphysical Architecture by Moustafa Gadalla]