By: Tali Nam

Egyptian Temples 

 Table of Contents..........................................................................................2

Introduction.........................................................................................................3

Chapter 1: Location..............................................................................................4

Map.........................................................................................................................5

Chapter 2: Construction...................................................................................6

Chapter 3: Religious Practice............................................................................7

Conclusion.............................................................................................................13

About the Author................................................................................................14

Bibliography............................................................................................................15

 

 

 

 Table of Contents

2

Hyroglyphics carved on  a wall. 

To discover the secrets of the Egyptian temples, read on.

Your flashlight darts around the dark room. Its light illuminates intricate statues of Rameses III and hieroglyphics, Egyptian writing, carved carved into the tall stone pillars. There are reliefs, raised pictures,  carved into the walls.

You are inside the Egyptian's place of worship, their church. The place where the Egyptians had worshipped their gods for thousands of years.

Your flashlight darts around the dark room. Its light illuminates intricate statues of Rameses III and hieroglyphics, Egyptian writing, carved carved into the tall stone pillars. There are reliefs, raised pictures,  carved into the walls.

Introduction 

3

Egyptian  relief 

Like churches, Egyptian temples can be found everywhere: Upper Egypt, Lower Egypt, as well as Egyptian-controlled oases in the Libyan Desert.  The location of the temples were often for religious reasons. Factors that could influence the location of the temples were the god or goddess it was dedicated to, ancient myth or tradition, such as the god’s birthplace, a grave, or another place believed to possess power. Some other temples were placed to be aligned with the locations of religious importance like the rising or the sun, particular stars, or a neighboring temple.

 

However, the Egyptians were also practical. They often located their temples near the city’s center, near necessary resources, or heavily traveled routes.






Chapter 1: Location

4

Map of the locations of ancient Egyptian temples.

5

The Egyptian temples are architectural masterpieces, but without bulldozers or cranes, how were the Egyptian temples built?

 

The temples were symbolically the pharaoh’s work, but in reality it was the work of hundreds of his subjects. They used mostly stone and wooden tools to create structures that have lasted hundreds of years.

First, the Egyptian people had to create the foundation. The temples were built on large stone slabs that were set into sand-filled trenches. Next, they built the walls. They used stone blocks that had been made to interlock with the surrounding blocks. The interiors of the walls were often built with less care, using poorer quality stones. As the temple grew taller the workers used giant construction ramps.

 

 When they were using live rock, or building a temple directly into a cliff or naturally occurring rock, they hollowed out the rock top to bottom. They created a crawl space near the ceiling and then cut down the rock beneath their feet until they got to the ground.

 

 

Chapter 2: Construction 

6

This Egyptian temple was built using live rock.

Once they had completed the structure, the rough interior walls had to be dressed, or made smooth, for the Egyptian artisans to carve on. If the interior walls were too poor of a quality to be carved, a layer of plaster was applied to cover the stone surface. The artisans carved pictures or reliefs onto the smooth surface of the stone walls. After the reliefs were carved, they were decorated with gilding, inlay, or paint. The paints were mixtures of minerals and some kind of adhesive,possibly natural gum. 

 

After all this work, the temple construction was still not finished. Once the original plan was complete, pharohs often rebuilt or replaced the decaying temples.

Gilding                                Inlay                               Paint

7

 

Shrine in the sanctuary of Edfu temple.

Worshipping the Gods

An Egyptian temple was seen to be the home of the god/goddess it worshipped. They believed the god had real phisical needs like a living person. Each and every morning, the priests went into the sanctuary where a wooden shrine awaited them. A statue of the god/goddess was bolted inside the shrine. After opening the shrine, the preists kissed the ground to show respect towards the god/goddess. Then, the preists took the statue out, undressed it, and bathed it with holy water. Everyday, the statue was given new clothes and makeup. The statue was then offered a meal from a table laden with offerings. During the Egyptians religous festivals, the priests carried the statue outside the templed in a grand parade.

 

Chapter 3: Religous Practice 

8

A string instrument the women played at religous ceremonies.

An Egyptian situla

Singing and Dancing

When honoring their gods, the ancient Egptian women danced, sang, and played musical instruments. Sometimes the pharaoh himself joined in on their dances. A hymn to the goddess Hathor, the wife of Horus, written  on the wall of one of her temple reads, " The pharaoh comes to dance and sing! Mistress see the dancing! Wife of Horus see the skipping!" 

 

 

Holy Water

Like churches, Egyptian temples had holy water. All temples had a sacred lake whose waters were used for purification, ritual cleaning. In addition to washing themselves with the holy water twice a day and and twice at night, the priests also washed the statue of the god. They also spilled holy water over temple offerings. A bronze vessel, called a situla, was used to pour the holy water.

9

 

Singing and Dancing

When honoring their gods, the ancient Egptian women danced, sang, and played musical instruments. Sometimes the pharoh himself joined in on their dances. A hymn to the goddess Hathor, the wife of Horus, written  on the wall of one of her temple reads, " The pharoh comes to dance and sing! Mistress see the dancing! Wife of Horus see the skipping!" 

A Rion

 

Once a year, at the temple of Amun-Ra in Karnak, the priests took the statue of the god, Amun Ra, across the Nile to visit the dead pharaohs of Egypt. Mythical beasts guarded the road. These mythical beasts, criosphinxes, have the head of a ram and the body of a lion.

A Godly Pharaoh

In Abu Simbel, Ramses II was worshipped along with the gods. This was unusual because the paraohs weren't fully worshipped until ofter their death, even though they were considered sons of the gods.

Statue of Ramses II

10

Criosphinx

A Servant for the Gods

A leopard skin identifies a man as a "sem" priest, or the head priest in charge of a funerary temple. There were many ranks and different types of priests. Some used special knowledge such

as the priests who scheduled religous festivals.

Others simply swept the floor of the temples.

The Egyptian name for a priest was hem neter 

meaning god's servant.

Standard Ornaments

Priests carried standards in their processions through the temples. All that have survived are the ornaments that were placed on top of a pole, much like a staff.

Ornaments like this were placed on top of long poles.

11

A leopard skin identifies this man as a sem priest.

A Very Special Rattle

This sistrum, a sort of rattle, was shaken by

Egyptian women during ceremonies and rituals

for Hathor, the goddess of happiness, beauty,

and music. Like the Greek goddess Hera, her

sacred animal was a cow. The sistrum shown at

right has Hathor shown with cow ears.

A Meal for the Priests

Every temple had a Hall of Offerings where the tables were piled with food for the daily meals of the god or goddess the temple was dedicated to. In return for the food, the gods gave life. After the food had been offered, it was taken away and eaten by the priests.

Air Freshener

As the Egyptian's incense burned, a pleasant aroma rose into the air with the smoke. The  thought the pleasant aroma would attract the attention of the gods. They also used the incence to purify the temple.

12

An Egyptian incense burner.

The Egyptians created great temples to honor their gods. Many are still intact today after thousands of years. Most of the temples are open to the public and you can go inside a place where thousands of years ago the ancient Egyptians honored gods like Ra and Sorbek. Where they honored goddesses like Isis and Hathor. If you ever find yourself in Egypt be sure to visit the great Egyptian temples. 

Conclusion

13

 

About the Author

Tali is a 6th grader at Corte Madera. She likes to read, write, draw, play soccer, ski, and play with her dog. Her soccer team just won State Cup and are getting ready for the spring season. 

 

Bibliography

 

Chrisp, Peter. "Temple Secrets." Ancient Egypt Revealed. New York: DK, 2002. N. pag. Print.

 

Hart, George. "Sacred Rituals." Ancient Egypt. New York: Knopf, 1990. N. pag. Print.

 

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