In 1899, after standing proud for over 3,000 years, eleven massive stone columns in the Great Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple suddenly collapsed to the ground.
The Great Hypostyle Hall was built by King Seti I to represent a huge, primeval papyrus swamp; a forest of towering papyrus-shaped sandstone columns. The central columns are simply massive—over 20 metres (65 feet) high, with a diameter of over three metres.
Yet despite the huge bulk of the columns, the ancient architects chose to stand them on woefully inadequate foundations. Beneath each column base was a pit filled with rough masonry, largely taken from the Karnak temples of Akhenaten. These had been “piously demolished by his orthodox successors.” (French Egyptologist, Alexandre Moret.)
Given the flimsy foundations, it’s a wonder that the Great Hypostyle Hall hadn’t collapsed centuries ago.
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