Monday, June 6, 2011

Page 18: Temple Origins

Horus as subduer of the Delta peoples:
a detail from the Narmer Platte from the
so-called 'Main Deposit' at Hierakonpolis.
This dates to c.3000 BC, demonstrating
the antiquity of the falcon god in ancient
Egyptian symbolism.
<<Page 17...
curved roof rose to the front of the structure, giving it a form sometimes said to resemble of a crouching animal but also not unlike the shape of the archaic fetish represented as a bandage-wrapped bird of prey and later used as a determinative in writing the words akhem 'divine image' and Nekheny '(the god) of Nekhen (i.e. Hierakonpolis)'. This latter similarity should be considered seriously because it appears that it was the falcon god assimilated with Horus, the patron god of kingship - as depicted on the Narmer Palette and other artifacts found at this site - which was worshipped here. In any event, the sloping roofline of the shrine may possibly be reflected in the gradually lowering levels - front to back - of the later ancient Egyptian temples.

Buto: Delta cult center
In historical times the site of Buto (Tell el-Fara'in), or Pe, in the Delta functioned as the Lower Egyptian counterpart of Hierakonpolis, in that this settlement was used symbolically to represent all northern Egypt, just as Hierakonpolis represented the south. But a scarcity of archaeological evidence of very early occupation in the area previously led many Egyptologists to doubt that Buto had been a central Early Dynastic site. Recent excavations, however, have revealed that Buto was perhaps as important as Egyptian tradition claimed.

Beginning in 1983, drill core samples obtained and studied by researched of the German Archaeological insitute have revealed evidence of the earliest settlements of the area some 7 m (23 ft) below the current surface and well beneath the water-table which has long hampered archaeological investigation in the Delta region. This new evidence shows that Buto was indeed inhabited for some 500 years within the Early Dynastic period. The archaeological findings also show that the pottery types of this northern culture were first influenced by, and then superseded by, southern ancient Egyptian styles, thus also giving weight to the ancient tradition that the Lower Egyptian area was subjugated by southern, Upper Egypt in an expansion which led to the united 'two kingdoms' of ancient Egypt history.

While nothing has yet been found of the earliest shrine or temple of Buto, representational evidence depicts a somewhat different shrine type from that of Hierakonpolis, with tall side poles and a distinctive arched roof. The two shrines - representing Upper and Lower Egypt - were depicted in hieroglyphic signs 1 and 2 (look right), and in many representations may throughout Egyptian history. Large models of the two shrine types were also part of the ritual complex of the Step Pyramid of Djoser in the early 4th Dynasty (p. 125).

Abydos: fortresses of Egyptian gods and Kings
At Abydos a number of walled enclosures located about 1.6 km (1 mile) from the tombs of the 1st dynasty kings seem to represent funerary structure.... Continue reading in Page 19>>

Evolution of the Ancient Egyptian Temples
Our understanding of the development of the ancient Egyptian temple has been guided by the researches of a number of archaeologists, Recently, the British Egyptologist Barry Kemp developed a model which suggests that the classical ancient Egyptian temple evolved through distinct developmental stages which he termed 'performal', 'early formal', 'mature formal' and 'late formal', with a distinction being made between royal funerary temples - which Kemp believes were already constructed in early formal style in the Early Dynastic and Old Kingdom periods - and provincial temples, which he believes were smaller and persisted in performal mode until Middle Kingdom times. Only then, according to Kemp, did the provincial temples reach the levels of complexity of comparable royal monuments, and from that point they kept pace, with both types of monument developing through the mature formal phase during the New Kingdom and late formal in Graeco-Roman times.

The American Egyptologist David O'Connor's subsequent study of the evidence for the ancient Egyptian temple development has reached somewhat different conclusions. O'Connor points to indications that provincial temple complexes at Hierakonpolis, Abydos and perhaps elsewhere were actually in the mainstream of evolving monumental architecture in Early Dynastic times and that royal provincial temples developed more synchronously. O'Connor has also shown that the plans of many Early Dynastic and early Old Kingdom formal enclosure follow essentially the same pattern. Though the size of the enclosure may vary, comparison of the Hierakonpolis temple enclosure (1) and so-called 'palace' (2) with the enclosures of Djer, Khasekhemwy (3) and Peribsen at Abydos, and Djoser (4) at Saqqara (not shown to scale) reveal common traits of proportion and axial layout. In all these structures, for example, one entrance is located at the southeast corner of the enclosure and another at the northeast corner. There is also some evidence that the position of the mound in the Hierakonpolis temple enclosure may well have been matched in others of these structures, and it is also approximated by the pyramid of Djoser - indicating the utilization of a common plan for early Egyptian temple, cenotaph and pyramid enclosures.

The early temple enclosure (1) and 'palace' (2) at Hierakonpolis, as well as the enclosures of Peribsen at Abydos (3) and Djoser at Saqqara (4), together with others, show a common plan.