Thursday, July 7, 2011

Page 26: A Glorious Decline of the Ancient Egyptian Temples

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The Third Intermediate and Late Periods

The shift of power from Thebes to the Delta region that took place during the 19th Dynasty and 20th Dynasty left the Theban high priests of Amun essentially in control of Upper Egypt. There was certainly interaction between the two areas: the Theban priests acknowledged the northern kings and married into their families; the royal 'Libyan' line in the north was evidently related to Libyan elements at Thebes; and a number of northern kings left evidence of their activities in the Theban area. Nevertheless, for much of the Third Intermediate period, Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt existed as functionally independent regions.

The most important temple remains of the period 1070-712 BC are thus those of the Delta cities of Tanis, Mendes, Sais and Bubastis. This trend continued into the succeeding Late Period (712-332 BC); the temple enclosure of Sais in the 26th Dynasty, for example, was well over 450,000 sq. m (4,840,000 sq. ft) in area and its buildings, according to Herodotus, were as splendid as any in ancient Egypt. A number of the kings of this period constructed their tombs within the precincts of these ancient Egyptian temples and doubtless embellished them considerably.

A reconstruction of the great temple of Sais (Sa el-Hagar) in the northeastern Delta, of which very little remains. Sais was the seat of rulers of the 24th and 26th dynasties (c. 724 BC and 664 - 525 BC respectively).

The impressive gateway of the Persian and Ptolemaic temple of Amun at Hibis in the Kharga Oasis.