The ancient Egyptians built their temples for the official worship of the gods and the commemoration of the pharaohs. They built them in ancient Egypt, and areas under Egyptian control, too. According to the ancient Egyptians, these temples were dwellings of the gods. Based on the ancient Egyptian religion, the king of ancient Egypt was the son of the gods. Thus, we may say that the ancient Egyptian worshiped the pharaoh of Egypt in these temples, too. Within these temples, the ancient Egyptian priests performed a variety of rituals.
Use of the Ancient Egyptian Temples
The ancient Egyptian cult was focusing on three important elements: offering sacrifices to the gods, celebrating religious festivals, and overcoming the forces of chaos. These rituals were deemed necessary for the ancient Egyptian gods in order to continue adhering to the “Maat” _ the divine order of the universe. The housing and patronage of the gods were the duties of the pharaohs. For this reason, pharaohs devoted enormous resources to the construction and maintenance of the temple. Sometimes, the Pharaohs delegated most of their ritual duties to a group of priests. While, most of the population couldn’t participate directly in these rituals or enter the holiest areas of the temple. However, the temple was an important religious site for all Egyptians, who went there to pray, to give offerings, and to seek guidance from the Gods dwelling within.
Structure of the Ancient Egyptian Temples
The most sacred part of the temple was the sanctuary, which usually contains a cult image, and a statue of God. The rooms outside were larger and more elaborate. With temples developing, this sanctuary grew over time from small shrines, in late prehistoric Egypt, to the large stone rocks edifices, in the modern kingdom (1550-1070 BC). This edifice is among the largest and most consistent examples of Egyptian architecture. The ancient Egyptian architectures arranged and decorated the elements of the edifice according to the patterns of complex religious symbols. Its typical design consists of a series of closed halls, open courts and entry columns adjoining the path used in the processions of festivals.
The Egyptians continued to built temples despite the retreat of the nation and the eventual loss of independence during the Roman Empire in 30 BC. With the advent of Christianity, the traditional Egyptian religion faced increasing neglect, and the temple communities disappeared during the fourth to sixth centuries. The buildings they left behind suffered centuries of destruction and neglect.
Temples in Egypt
The following is a listing a number of ancient Egyptian temples. We ordered them according to their location starting from the south of the country to the north: