isis unveiled: chapter xiv (ancient mysteries)

“Champollion, who passed almost his entire life in the exploration of archeological remains, gives vent to his emotions in the following descriptions of Karnak: “The ground covered by the mass of remaining buildings is square; and each side measures 1,800 feet. One is astounded and overcome by the grandeur of the sublime remnants, the prodigality and magnificence of workmanship to be seen everywhere.”

“No people of ancient or modern times has conceived the art of architecture upon a scale so sublime, so grandiose as it existed among the ancient Egyptians; and the imagination, which in Europe soars far above our porticos, arrests itself and falls powerless at the foot of the hundred and forty columns of the hypostyle of Karnak! In one of its halls, the Cathedral of Notre Dame might stand and not touch the ceiling, but be considered as a small ornament in the centre of the hall.”

A writer in a number of an English periodical, of 1870, evidently speaking with the authority of a traveler who describes what he has seen, expresses himself as follows: “Courts, halls, gateways, pillars, obelisks, monolithic figures, sculptures, long rows of sphinxes, are found in such profusion at Karnak, that the sight is too much for modern comprehension.”

Says Denon, the French traveler: “It is hardly possible to believe, after seeing it, in the reality of the existence of so many buildings collected together on a single point, in their dimensions, in the resolute perseverance which their construction required, and in the incalculable expenses of so much magnificence! It is necessary that the reader should fancy what is before him to be a dream, as he who views the objects themselves occasionally yields to the doubt whether he be perfectly awake.

There are lakes and mountains within the periphery of the sanctuary. These two edifices are selected as examples from a list next to inexhaustible. The whole valley and delta of the Nile, from the cataracts to the sea, was covered with temples, palaces, tombs, pyramids, obelisks, and pillars. The execution of the sculptures is beyond praise. The mechanical perfection with which artists wrought in granite, serpentine, breccia, and basalt, is wonderful, according to all the experts; animals and plants look as good as natural, and artificial objects are beautifully sculptures; battles by sea and land, and scenes of domestic life are to be found in all their bas-reliefs.”

“The monuments”, says an English author, “which there strike the traveler, fill his mind with great ideas. At the sight of the colossuses and superb obelisks, which seem to surpass the limits of human nature, he cannot help exclaiming, ‘This was the work of man’, and this sentiment seems to ennoble his existence.”

In his turn, Dr. Richardson, speaking of the Temple of Dendera, says: “The female figures are so extremely well executed, that they do all but speak; they have a mildness of feature and expression that never was surpassed.”

Every one of these stones is covered with hieroglyphics, and the more ancient they are, the more beautifully we find them chiseled. Does not this furnish a new proof that history got its first glimpse of the ancients when the arts were already fast degenerating among them?

The obelisks have their inscriptions cut two inches, and sometimes more, in depth, and they are cut with the highest degree of perfection. Some idea may be formed of their depth, from the fact that the Arabs, for a small fee, will climb sometimes to the very top of an obelisk, by inserting their toes and fingers in the excavations of the hieroglyphics.

That all of these works, in which solidity rivals the beauty of their execution, were done before the days of the Exodus, there remains no historical doubt whatever. (All the archeologists now agree in saying that, the further back we go in history, the better and finer become these arts.)
These views clash again with the individual opinion of Mr. Fiske, who would have us believe that, “the sculptures upon these monuments (of Egypt, Hindustan, and Assyria), moreover, betoken a very undeveloped condition of the artistic faculties.”

Nay, the learned gentleman goes farther. Joining his voice in the opposition against the claims of learning, which belongs by right to the sacerdotal castes of antiquity, to that of Lewis, he contemptuously remarks that “the extravagant theory of a profound science possessed by the Egyptian priesthood from a remote antiquity, and imparted to itinerant Greek philosophers, has been utterly destroyed (?) by Sir G. C. Lewis; while, with regard to Egypt and Hindustan, as well as Assyria, it may be said that the colossal monuments which have adorned these countries since prehistoric times, bear witness to the former prevalence of a barbaric despotism, totally incompatible with social nobility, and, therefore, with well-sustained progress.””

H. P. Blavatsky

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