The Post-and-Lintel System of Egyptian Architecture

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  • 0:03 Like an Egyptian
  • 0:38 Post and Lintel
  • 1:34 Examples
  • 3:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

In this lesson, you'll explore how the ancient Egyptians used one of the basic forms of architecture to create new buildings on a massive scale. Then, test your understanding with a brief quiz.

Like an Egyptian

Can you walk like an Egyptian? Actually, the ancient Egyptians, a culture that thrived from the 4th to the 1st millennia BC, did a lot more than just walk. They built a massive civilization and filled it with some of the most notable examples of monumental architecture, or extremely large buildings, in the world. Some of these architectural forms have stayed with us to this day. Turns out, we do a lot more than just walk like Egyptians. In this lesson, we'll explore the post-and-lintel system of Egyptian architecture and learn how the Egyptians created massive structures.

Post and Lintel

One of the oldest forms of construction in the world is the system of the post and lintel, in which a large horizontal piece is supported by two vertical pillars. The pillars are the post, and the horizontal piece is the lintel. The post-and-lintel system has been used since the Stone Age, so why does it matter if the Egyptians used it?

The ancient Egyptians used the post-and-lintel system for more than stone monuments. They used it to make entire buildings out of stone, which was much more difficult. However, the Egyptians weren't just making small houses. They were building massive palaces for the pharaohs and temples for the gods. For this to work, the Egyptians needed massive slabs of stone to use as lintels, and a great number of columns to support the weight. With this style of construction, the lintels became the roof, supported by large walls and dozens of interior columns.

Examples

The ancient Egyptians were some of the first people to really embrace architecture on a large scale, creating huge temples. One notable example of this style of architecture is the Luxor Temple, built around 1400 BC.

The Luxor temple is a good example of post-and-lintel architecture
Photo of the Luxor ruins
The post-and-lintel system used in Egypt required a lot of columns to provide support
Column formations at Luxor

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