The of the buildings axis in relation

The constructions of Egyptian pyramids and
mastaba tombs are located south west of Cairo along the 80 km of the River Nile.
The Nile dictated the placement of these structures as there built along the
fertile strip on the edge of the desert nearby the resources of the river.
During the Old Kingdom period in 2630 BC, these structures were multi-functional
with ones for the living nobles and kings, others for the dead and others for
the gods. For example, Abu Simbel in Nubia (built in 1264 BC) found on the
western bank of Lake Nasser near the Nile was design to work with the play of
light. This was executed through the careful orientation of the buildings axis
in relation to the solar alignment. This is demonstrated on specific days in
the year such as October 22 and February 22 when light from the sunrays from
above shines into the inner sanctuary of the temple to illuminate the three
statures on the back wall, save the god of the Underworld who would stay
covered in darkness. Visually, the function of the light enhanced the viewer’s focus
and perception of the statues as they could see them in a higher level of
detail. More importantly, the use of light in this way created a spiritual
effect not only in terms of religious symbolism but also in producing a
showcasing experience and increasing the subject’s relationship to the Gods.

In comparison, the Mesoamerican pyramids
and the mayan temples of pre-colonial America also utilise the astronomical
cycle to incorporate light in their architecture. For example, El Castillo, the
Temple of Kukulkan a monument dedicated to the god Kukulkan used light to exhibit
their devotion and worship to the gods. Evidently, the building has much
religious significance in welcoming the god’s return to earth during the spring
and autumn equinoxes. Built in c.1000, El Castillo is similar to Ancient
Egyptian structures of the Old Kingdom period through using the protruding natural
light to brighten interiors and doorways moreover using it as a demonstration
of their deity. In addition, on the specific dates of the spring and summer
equinoxes the sun would cast a shadow on the building at sunset to give the
appearance of a snake winding down the side of the structure. Evidently, through
the play of light, the shadow imitates the shape of the serpent god, Kukulkan,
descending down the steep stairs of the pyramid. This illusion cast on the structure
represents a symbolic image of the serpent god emphasising the civilisations devoutness
to the god. Similarly, the Pailou Gates and seventeen arch bridge in the Summer
Palace in China has the same function in its design to work with light that
pierces through the form of the structure at sunset and sunrise to produce an
immersive golden light.

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