Friday, June 10, 2011

Page 21: Old and Middle Kingdom Development of Ancient Egyptian Temples

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The 'mortuary temple' of the Old Kingdom pyramid complex was built at the base of the pyramid and served for the cult of the dead king. It was in these ancient Egyptian temples that the cosmic and afterlife symbolism of Old Kingdom temple complexes developed.
Like the pyramid complexes of the period, the sun temple of Niuserre was oriented on an east-west axis, and again like the standard pyramid complex it contained a brick model of the sun barque positioned just to the side of the complex. Given that the underlying symbolism of the pyramid is also largely solar-related, the connection between pyramid and sun temple complexes seems clear.

The contrast between the Old Kingdom royal mortuary temples and sun temples on the one hand, and provincial cult temples of the same period on the other could hardly be greater. Often distant from the major settlement centers and ultimately on the fringes of royal concern, provincial cult temples developed without the constraints of the royal architectural tradition. And although these structures may have displayed ancient and distinctive...

Reconstruction of the sun temple of Niuserre at Abu Ghurob. The 5th Dynasty sun temples established a cultic locus for the king 'in the domain of Ra'. The focal structure of the complex was a large obelisk, but otherwise the 5th-dynasty sun temples shared elements with the standard pyramid complexes, including a valley temple, causeway and model solar barque.