Ins and Outs of Ancient Egyptian Temples

During ancient Egyptian times, the people believed that the temples were actually the homes of the gods and goddesses that they worshipped. In this article, you will learn more information concerning the building of these structures.

In Egypt, the large temple buildings were comprised of stone to ensure they would last for a long time. The walls were covered with brightly painted scenes that were carved into the stone. Some of the scenes displayed the pharaoh fighting in battles and performing in rituals with the gods and goddesses. Every temple in ancient Egypt was dedicated to a specific god or goddess. Priests and the pharaoh may also choose certain temples to worship their gods and goddesses.

There are six main components that go into building ancient Egyptian temples during the New Kingdom period. They are:

The pylon:
At the front of the temple, the large gate was called the pylon. Carved and painted scenes of the pharaoh, gods and goddesses were used as decoration for the walls of the pylon. Positioned in front of the pylon were obelisks and large statues that depicted the pharaoh.

The courtyard:
This large open room did not have a roof. The outer walls of the courtyard showed scenes of the pharaoh in battle. The inner walls were covered with imagery of the pharaoh making offerings to the gods and goddesses. The only time people could enter the temple courtyard was when festival days took place.

The hypostyle hall:
Columns made to resemble papyrus plants were a feature of this large room that was mostly dark , with the exception for the center aisle, which was lit by small windows that had been cut into the roof.  

The second hall:
Only the high priests and the pharaoh were allowed to enter the second hall, which was filled with columns and was quite dark. Imagery on the walls of this hall showed carvings and painted scenes of the pharaoh with the gods and goddesses.

The sanctuary:
Considered the most important part of a temple, the sanctuary demanded special attention. While it was very dark, high priests and the pharaoh only encountered the mysteriousness of this place , they were the only ones allowed to enter this part of the temple. A shrine was found in the middle of the sanctuary where a stature of a god or goddess was kept. It was a belief of the ancient Egyptians that during rituals, it was possible that the god or goddesses in question would actually enter the statue.

The sacred lake:
Situated next to the temple, there was a pool of water that was considered sacred, which was meant to represent the world before time began. Priests used water from the sacred lake to perform rituals in the temple.