Ancient Temple

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

In modern life, the word temple is used most oft en to refer to a house of worship. In ancient Egypt, however, buildings that were called temples oft en served a number of purposes. Some were “mortuary temples,” built to commemorate a dead king or to serve as a permanent residence for his soul, such as the so-called ka temples. Others were built primarily for political purposes. Th e temples at Abu Simbel, including one to Nefertari (1300–1250 b.c.e.) and one to her husband, Ramses II (1302–ca. 1210 b.c.e.), seem to have been built primarily to remind neighboring countries to the south of Egypt’s greatness. Another class of temples, called Sed festival temples, was built to celebrate the king’s jubilee. Others had several purposes, such as serving as administrative centers and fortresses. Even those that had primarily a religious purpose were not “houses of worship” like today’s churches and temples. Th ey were thought of more as houses for the gods and were built to serve the symbolic needs of these gods. People, though, did not necessarily assemble in the temples for any kind of organized worship conducted by priests.

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