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  • Egyptian Temples

  • Comparison Between Egyptian and Greek Temples

    Criteria Egyptian Temples Greek Temples
    ImagesEgyptian Temple Plan Greek Temple Plan
    Layout complex plan - courts, halls and chambers with the sanctuary deep inside the temple - Very simple plan - A single cella (Naos)
    - Similar to Mies van der Rohe motto "Less is more"
    Roof Flat stone roof - columns closely packed to support roof The temple is roofed in terracotta, with pitched wooden beams and rafters
    - Fire was a constant hazard
    Facade All columns are concealed inside the external walls External colonnade (inverse of Egyptian temple) - The formula for the column count is L=2W+1, where "W" is the number of columns wide and "L" the number of columns on the long side. A temple 6 columns wide has 13 columns long
    Section Raised flooring and lowered roofs deeper inside the temple, with the sanctuary having the highest ground level and the lowest roof Temples raised over a platform known as the stylobate - no internal stairs
    Landscape The external wall resembled a fortress isolating the temple from its surroundings which symbolically, represented the forces of chaos and evil The temple is designed and situated for maximum impact in the context of the surrounding landscape.
    Decorations The scene on the outer walls of the temple, and the walls of the outer courtyard, show the battle of the forces of light, represented by the Pharaoh, subduing the forces of darkness, represented by the foreign enemies.
    The scenes in sanctuaries and hypostyle halls show sacred offerings to gods.
    All structural elements were decorated following pre-defined Ionic and Doric Orders - no random decorations or scenes showing achievements of kings
    Worship An Egyptian temple was not a place of public worship. Public worship is carried on outside the temple,

    Egyptian Temples Function and Evolution

    Egyptian Temple Section
    Section in Egyptian Temple

    Components of Egyptian Temples

    There were Five components of Egyptian temples

    1. Pylons:

      - These are the large gates of the temple, they consisted of two tapering towers, each surmounted by a cornice, joined by a less elevated section which enclosed the entrance between them
      - The entrance was generally half the height of the two towers.
      - Pylons were often carved and painted with scenes of the Pharaoh and gods with scenes emphasizing a king's authority since it was the public face of a cult building.
      - In front of the pylon were a pair of obelisks and statues of the Pharaohs.
    2. Inner Court:

      - This was a large open Hall, which decorated walls showing scenes of the Pharaoh and the gods.
      - It had a transitional purpose, serving as an interface between the outside world and the sanctified regions deeper within the temple.
      - People were only allowed to enter the Outer Courtyard on festival days.
      - Sometimes there was a second pylon leading to the Hypostyle hall deeper in.
    3. Hypostyle Hall:

      - This is a large colonnaded hall entirely roofed except for the central aisle which was lit by windows,
      - Scenes of religious rituals were carved into the walls.
      - The capital of the massive column often in the shape of the papyrus Flower.
      - This was considered the reception area of the god and accessible only to the priests and the Pharaohs were allowed to enter the hypostyle hall, which was used for religious rituals.
      - Smaller side doors, intended for bringing in offerings led into small rooms
    4. Sanctuary:

      - The sanctuary was the most special and important part of the temple. It was a very dark and relatively small room.
      - The floor sloped steadily upwards until the sanctum was reached, while the roof was lower
      - Only the High Priest and the Pharaoh could ever enter the sanctuary.
      - In the middle of the sanctuary stood the Naos with the statue of the god. The naos was made of wood, with doors that were kept closed and locked at all times except for at the rituals
      - A temple could be consecrated to more than one god, but the Naos of the main deities was always situated along the main axis, and lesser deities were placed on either side.
      If both deities had the same importance, than a double sanctuary was constructed along the main axis (like the one shown in the picture above)
      - In close connection to the sanctuary there were other rooms for storage of the god's belongings, jewelry, insignia and ritual tools.
    5. Sacred Lake:

      - Most temple precincts included a sacred lake. Archaeologists have excavated a number of these in temples of the New Kingdom
      - The priests used water from the sacred lake to perform rituals in the temple.