Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rock-cut architecture in Africa and Asia

Rock-hewn monuments from North African, East African, West Asian and South Asian civilizations:
Temple entrance in Egypt
Abu Simbel Temple (photo by Than217)
Bet Medhane Alem church in Ethiopia
Bet Medhane Alem church (photo by Julien_Demade)
Mada'in Saleh in Saudi Arabia
Mada'in Saleh" (photo by SammySix)
Ellora Caves in India
Cave 21 at Ellora (photo by Nandanupadhyay)
Naqsh-e-Rustam in Iran
Detail of Naqsh-e Rustam (photo by Pastaitaken)
Click on thumbnails to view images on wikipedia.
Site: Abu Simbel
Region: Nubia (in present day Southern Egypt))
Built in the 13th century BCE, the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun" was one of 6 rock temples. The four giant statues of Ramesses II were carved directly from the limestone in which the temple was located. In the 1960s, the entire site, including the Great Temple of Ramesses and the Small Temple of his consort Nefertari, was cut into large blocks and moved to a new location to make way for the construction of the Aswan Dam.1

Site: Lalibela
Region: Amhara (in Ethiopia)
The town of Lalibela is home to no less than 11 churches built during the 12th and 13th centuries, each carved out of a single slab of rock. Among these is Bete Medhane Alem, believed to be the largest monolithic church in the world.2 The Ethiopian rock churches are the only monolithic churches in the world that have free standing external walls. Another Ethiopian region known of its rock-carved churches is Tigray, where there are more than 150 such buildings.3

Site: Mada'in Saleh
Region: Al Madinah (in Saudi Arabia)
In the first century, the Nabateans made this site their second capital, carving a necropolis out of sandstone outcrops. 131 monumental rock-cut tombs have survived.4 Unlike the Nabateans' main capital Petra in Jordan (also famed for its rock-cut buildings), Mada'in Saleh fell into disuse after the 2nd century Roman invasion.5 In Petra, Roman architectural influences eventually replaced indigenous style in the design of tomb facades6

Site: Ellora
Region: Maharashtra (in India)
Between the 5th century and 10th century, 34 multi-storey structures were cut out of the vertical rock face of the Charanandri hills. These temples and monasteries for Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths are considered the epitome of Indian rock-hewn architecture.7 There are many other sites with living rock architecture in India, such as Badami temple complex in Karnataka and Gharapuri in Mumbai Harbor.8

Site: Naqsh-e Rustam
Region: Fars (in Iran)
5 tombs of 6th-4th century BCE Achaemenid kings are carved into the rock face. Each tomb entrance is located at some height above ground in the center of a cross-shaped facade. The site also has rock reliefs, the oldest of which dates back to around 1000 BCE.9
  1. Abu Simbel temples - Wikipedia
  2. Lalibela - Wikipedia
  3. Monolithic church - Wikipedia
  4. Mada'in Saleh - Architecture - Wikipedia
  5. Mada'in Saleh - Atlas Obscura
  6. Petra - History - Wikipedia
  7. Ellora Caves - Wikipedia
  8. Indian Rock-Cut Architecture - Wikipedia
  9. Naqsh-e Rustam - Wikipedia

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