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Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian temples

Inside the Great Temple at KarnakInside the Great Temple at Karnak Ancient Egyptian temples were the domain of the gods. Only the pharaoh and his priests were ever allowed to enter them. The pharaoh was also the highest priest of Egypt. He commanded that temples be built as a sign of his devotion to the gods who would, in return, care for the continued prosperity of the land of Egypt. Every day, priests washed the gods’ statues, clothed them in fine linen, adorned them with jewellery and offered them food and wine. On certain days of the year, the king and his priests held festivals in honour of the gods. Commoners gather in the temple courtyards to cheer the processions and to sing and dance.

The Great Temple

The Great Temple at Karnak, part of the city of Thebes, was built from sandstone quarried in Upper Egypt, and ferried downriver by boat. The largest of all Egyptian temples, it was dedicated to the worship of Amun-Re, the most important of Egyptian gods. The Temple hosted great festivals as well as acts of worship. The public areas were also used as a marketplace for trading skins, gold and ivory.

The ancient Egyptians believed that the god Amun-Re came alive in his statue in the inner sanctuary. Priests woke the statue-god each morning, fed it, clothed it and made offerings to it. Dancers and singers entertained the statue three times a day.

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