Egyptian Temples and the Order of Creation: Embodying Eternity in Time

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Representation of an ancient Egyptian temple passage lit by an exceptional light. Source: Konstantin / Adobe Stock

Egyptian Temples and the Order of Creation: Embodying Eternity in Time

The temples of ancient Egypt represent one of the most enduring monumental expressions of religion and cosmology in the history of the world, serving as the very heart of pharaonic culture for nearly three thousand years.

The Endurance of Egyptian Temple Culture

Over the course of the millennia, the temples and their associated ideology survived eras of great internal crises, such as the civil upheavals of the First Intermediate Period (2181–2055 BC) and the politicized religious reforms of the Amarna Period (1353-1322 BC). The temples also thrived during later eras of foreign occupation. During the Late Period (664-332 BC), Egypt twice fell under the rulership of the Achaemenid Empire, but the Persian rulers—who revered Egyptian traditions—allowed temple practices to continue. In 332 BC, the Persian dominance of Egypt ended with the conquest of Alexander the Great, and under the succeeding Ptolemaic Dynasty the construction and use of traditional temples continued, albeit embellished with Greek cultural elements and styles in the spirit of the Greco-Egyptian syncretism of the age. The Ptolemies—who adopted the title and the symbolism of pharaoh—supported the Egyptian priesthood, and the temples continued to serve as the central axes of religion and culture.

Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt. (Eishier / Adobe Stock) Many scholars consider this the best example of Ptolemaic temple building in Egypt due to its level of completeness and preservation. Chris please use this as the background image

Temple of Horus, Edfu, Egypt. (Eishier / Adobe Stock) Many scholars consider this the best example of Ptolemaic temple building in Egypt due to its level of completeness and preservation. 


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