Ancient Egyptian architecture is often connected closely through the pyramids that Giza however was actually rather diverse, acquisition a variety of forms in the building and construction of governmental buildings, temples, tombs, palaces, and also the private houses of nobility and commoner. Ornamentation that these miscellaneous structures additionally varied follow to their purpose and the sources of the builder.

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Even so, the pyramids space the most recognizable symbol of ancient Egypt. Even though other civilizations, such together the Maya or the Chinese, additionally employed this form, the pyramid in the modern day is synonymous in many people"s minds through Egypt. The pyramids at Giza remain outstanding monuments countless years after they were built and also the knowledge and also skill forced to construct them to be gathered over the countless centuries before their construction.

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Yet the pyramids space not the apex of old Egyptian architecture; they are only amongst the earliest and best known expressions that a culture which would certainly go top top to develop buildings, monuments, and temples just as intriguing.

6,000 year of History

Ancient Egyptian background begins before the Predynastic period (c. 6000 - 3150 BCE) and also continues through the end of the Ptolemaic empire (323 - 30 BCE). Artifacts and evidence that overgrazing of cattle, in the area now well-known as the Sahara Desert, date human habitation in the area to c. 8000 BCE. The early on Dynastic duration in Egypt (c. 3150 - 2613 BCE) constructed upon the expertise of those who had gone before and also Predynastic art and also architecture was boosted on.

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The first pyramid in Egypt, Djoser"s action Pyramid at Saqqara, comes from the end of this early Dynastic duration and a compare of this monument and also its surrounding complex with the mastaba tombs of earlier centuries show how far the Egyptians had advanced in their understanding of architectural design and construction. Equally impressive, however, is the link in between these great monuments and also those which came after them.

The pyramids in ~ Giza date from the Old Kingdom (c. 2613 - 2181 BCE) and represent the pinnacle of talent and also skill gained at that time. Old Egyptian history, however, still had a long and illustrious path prior to it and as the pyramid kind was exit the Egyptians focused their fist on temples. Many of these whose damages are quiet extant, such together the temple complicated of Amun-Ra in ~ Karnak, inspire as lot genuine awe as the pyramids in ~ Giza but every one of them, however an excellent or modest, present an fist to detail and an awareness the aesthetic beauty and also practical usability which renders them masterpieces of architecture. These structures still resonate in the current day due to the fact that they to be conceived, designed, and also raised come tell one eternal story i m sorry they still relate come everyone who visits the sites.

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Egyptian design & the production Of The World

At the start of time, according to the Egyptian religion, there to be nothing however swirling waters that dark chaos. From these primordial waters rose a mound of dried land, well-known as the ben-ben, about which the waters rolled. Upon the mound lighted the god Atum who looked out over the darkness and felt lonely; therefore he mated with himself and also creation began.

Atum was responsible because that the unknowable universe, the skies above, and the planet below. With his kids he was additionally the creator of human beings (though in part versions the goddess Neith dram a part in this). The world and all that humans knew came from water, from dampness, moistness, native the kind of environment familiar to the Egyptians native the Nile Delta. Whatever had been produced by the gods and also these gods were ever-present in one"s life through nature.

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When the Nile flow overflowed the banks and also deposited the life-giving soil the human being depended upon because that their plants it to be the work of the god Osiris. As soon as the sun set in the night it to be the god Ra in his barge going down into the underworld and also the people gladly participated in rituals to make certain he would survive assaults from his nemesis Apophis and rise again the following morning. The goddess Hathor was existing in the trees, Bastet kept women"s secrets and protected the home, Thoth gave world the gift that literacy, Isis, return a great and powerful goddess, had likewise been a solitary mother who elevated her young kid Horus in the swamps of the Delta and watched over mother on earth.


Djed pillars
Michael Tinkler (CC BY-NC-SA)

The stays of the gods mirrored those the the people and the Egyptians honored them in their lives and also through their works. The gods were believed to have listed the most perfect of civilizations for the people of ancient Egypt; for this reason perfect, in fact, the it would certainly last forever. The afterlife was just a continuation of the life one had actually been living. It is not surprising, then, that once these world constructed their an excellent monuments they would reflect this id system. The design of old Egypt speak this story the the people"s connection with your land and their gods. The the contrary of the structures, the inscriptions, the internal design, all reflect the ide of harmony (ma"at) i m sorry was central to the old Egyptian value system.

The Predynastic & beforehand Dynastic Periods

In the Predynastic duration in Egypt pictures of the gods and also goddesses appear in sculpture and ceramics yet the world did no yet have actually the technical ability to raise enormous structures to honor their leaders or deities. Some type of federal government is obvious during this period but it seems to have been regional and tribal, nothing like the main government which would appear in the Old Kingdom of Egypt.

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The homes and tombs of the Predynastic period were built of mud-brick which to be dried in the sun (a exercise which would proceed throughout Egypt"s history). Dwellings were thatched frameworks of reeds which to be daubed with mud because that walls prior to the exploration of brick making. These early structures were one or oval prior to bricks were offered and, after, ended up being square or rectangular. Neighborhoods gathered with each other for defense from the elements, wild animals, and also strangers and also grew into cities i m sorry encircled themselves with walls.

As world advanced, for this reason did the design with the appearance of windows and also doors braced and also adorned by wood frames. Timber was an ext plentiful in Egypt at this time but still not in the quantity to indicate itself together a building material ~ above any large scale. The dirt brick oval home became the rectangular residence with a vaulted roof, a garden, and courtyard. Occupational in mud brick is additionally evidenced in the construction of tombs which, during the early on Dynastic duration in Egypt, become more elaborate and intricate in design. These beforehand oblong burial places (mastabas) ongoing to be constructed of dirt brick but already at this time world were working in rock to develop temples to their gods. Rock monuments (stelae) begin to appear, together with these temples, by the second Dynasty that Egypt (c. 2890 - c. 2670 BCE).

Obelisks, large upright stone monuments with 4 sides and also a tapered top, began to show up in the city the Heliopolis at about this time. The Egyptian column (known come them as tekhenu, "obelisk" gift the Greek name) is amongst the most perfect instances of Egyptian architecture reflecting the relationship in between the gods and also the world as castle were always raised in pairs and it was assumed that the two developed on planet were copy by two the same pieces raised in the heavens in ~ the same time. Quarrying, carving, transporting, and also raising the obelisks required massive skill and also labor and taught the Egyptians well how to occupational in rock and relocate immensely hefty objects over many miles. Mastering stonework set the phase for the next great leap in Egyptian architecture: the pyramid.

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Djoser"s mortuary complicated at Saqqara was conceived by his vizier and also chief architect Imhotep (c. 2667 - c. 2600 BCE) that imagined a great mastaba dig for his king developed of stone. Djoser"s pyramid is no a "true pyramid" yet a collection of stack mastabas well-known as a "step pyramid". Also so, it was an extremely impressive feat which had actually never been accomplished before. Historian Desmond Stewart comments on this:

Djoser"s action Pyramid at Saqqara marks one of those developments that afterward seem inevitable however that would have been difficult without an trying out genius. The the royal official Imhotep to be such a genius us know, not from Greek legend, which established him with Aesculapius, the god of medicine, yet from what archaeologists have found from his still impressive pyramid. Investigation has displayed that, in ~ every stage, that was prepared to experiment along new lines. His first innovation to be to build a mastaba that was not oblong, but square. His 2nd concerned the product from which it to be built. (cited in Nardo, 125)

Temple construction, albeit ~ above a modest level, had currently acquainted the Egyptians through stonework. Imhotep imagine the same on a cool scale. The at an early stage mastabas had been decorated with inscriptions and engravings that reeds, flowers, and also other nature imagery; Imhotep want to proceed that legacy in a much more durable material. His great, towering mastaba pyramid would have actually the same delicate touches and symbolism together the an ext modest tombs which had actually preceded it and, better yet, these would all be worked in stone instead the dried mud. Historian Mark van de Mieroop comments on this:

Imhotep reproduced in rock what had actually been previously built of other materials. The facade of the enclosure wall had the same niches together the tombs of mud brick, the columns resembled bundles of reed and papyrus, and rock cylinders at the lintels of doorways represented rolled-up reed screens. Much trial and error was involved, i beg your pardon is particularly clear in the building and construction of the pyramid in the facility of the complex. It had actually several plans through mastaba forms prior to it became the an initial Step Pyramid in history, piling six mastaba-like levels on top of one another...The weight of the enormous mass to be a challenge to the builders, who put the stones at an inward incline in order to avoid the monument break up. (56)


Detail, action Pyramid the Djoser
Institute because that the study of the ancient World (CC BY)

When completed, the action Pyramid rose 204 feet (62 meters) high and also was the tallest framework of that time. The surrounding complicated included a temple, courtyards, shrines, and living soldier for the priests covering an area of 40 acres (16 hectares) and also surrounded through a wall surface 30 feet (10.5 meters) high. The wall surface had 13 false doors cut into the with just one true entrance reduced in the south-east corner; the entire wall surface was climate ringed by a trench 2,460 feet (750 meters) long and also 131 feet (40 meters) wide.

The actual tomb of Djoser was situated beneath the pyramid in ~ the bottom the a column 92 feet (28 meters) long. The dig chamber itself was encased in granite but, to reach it, one had to traverse a maze of hallways, all brightly painted v reliefs and also inlaid with tiles, bring about other rooms or dead ends filled with stone vessels sculpted with the surname of previously kings. This labyrinth to be created, of course, to protect the tomb and also grave goods of the king but, unfortunately, it failed to store out ancient grave robbers and the dig was plunder at some allude in antiquity.

Djoser"s step Pyramid incorporates all of the aspects most resonant in Egyptian architecture: symmetry, balance, and grandeur which reflect the core worths of the culture. Egyptian civilization was based upon the concept of ma"at (harmony, balance) which was decreed by your gods. The architecture of ancient Egypt, even if it is on a little or big scale, always represented these ideals. Palaces were even built with 2 entrances, 2 throne rooms, two receiving halls in stimulate to keep symmetry and balance in representing both Upper and Lower Egypt in the design

The Old Kingdom & the Pyramids

The developments of Imhotep were lugged further through the majesties of the 4th Dynasty in the Old Kingdom. The last king the the third Dynasty of Egypt, Huni (c. 2630 - 2613 BCE), was lengthy thought to have initiated the massive structure projects that the Old Kingdom in constructing the pyramid in ~ Meidum yet that respect is early out the an initial king the the 4th Dynasty, Sneferu (c. 2613 - 2589 BCE). Egyptologist Barbara Watterson writes, "Sneferu initiated the golden e of the Old Kingdom, his many notable achievements being the two pyramids developed for him at Dahshur" (50-51). Sneferu began his work-related with the pyramid at Meidum now referred to together the "collapsed pyramid" or, locally, together the "false pyramid" due to the fact that of its shape: it each other a tower much more than a pyramid and also its external casing rests around it in a gigantic heap that gravel.


The pyramid that Meidum is the an initial true pyramid created in Egypt. A "true pyramid" is defined as a perfect symmetrical monument whose steps have been fill in to produce seamless political parties tapering toward a suggest at the top. Originally, any type of pyramid began as a action pyramid. The Meidum pyramid did not last, however, due to the fact that modifications were made to Imhotep"s original pyramid architecture which caused the outer casing relaxing on a sand structure rather than rock, leading to it come collapse. Scholars are separated on even if it is the collapse emerged during construction or over a longer period of time.

Sneferu"s experiments with the rock pyramid form served his successor well. Khufu (2589 - 2566 BCE) learned native his father"s experiments and directed his administration in creating the good Pyramid the Giza, the critical of the initial Seven wonders of the ancient World. Contradictory to the popular id that his monument was constructed by Hebrew slaves, Egyptian workers on the great Pyramid were well cared for and performed your duties as component of a community service, as paid laborers, or during the time as soon as the Nile"s overwhelming made agriculture impossible. Scholar Bob Brier and also Hoyt Hobbs note:

Were it not for the 2 months annually when the Nile"s water spanned Egypt"s farmland, idling practically the entire workforce, no one of this building would have actually been possible. During such times, a pharaoh offered food because that work and the promise of a favored treatment in the afterworld whereby he would dominion just together he walk in this world. For 2 months annually, workmen gathered by the tens of thousands from almost everywhere the country to carry the block a permanent crew had actually quarried during the rest of the year. Overseers organized the men into teams to transfer the stones top top sleds, devices far better suited than wheeled vehicles to relocating weighty objects over changing sand. A causeway, lubricated by water, smoothed the uphill pull. No mortar was supplied to hold the blocks in place, only a right so specific that this towering structures have survived because that 4,000 years - the only Wonders that the ancient World still standing today. (17-18)

There is no proof whatsoever that Hebrew slaves, or any kind of servant labor, entered the building of the pyramids in ~ Giza, the city of Per-Ramesses, or any type of other vital site in Egypt. The practice of slavery absolutely existed in Egypt throughout its history, as it walk in every ancient culture, yet it was no the type of slavery popularly shown in fiction and film based upon the biblical book of Exodus. Servants in the old world could be tutors and also teachers that the young, accountants, nursemaids, dance instructors, brewers, even philosophers. Slaves in Egypt to be either captives from military projects or those who could not pay their debts and also these people usually operated in the mines and quarries.


The men and women who functioned on the great Pyramid lived in state-provided real estate on the website (as found by Lehner and also Hawass in 1979 CE) and were well compensated for their efforts. The an ext skilled a worker was, the higher their compensation. The result of their work-related still amazes world in the modern day. The good Pyramid the Giza is the just wonder left that the seven Wonders that the ancient world and justifiably so: until the Eifel Tower to be completed in 1889 CE, the good Pyramid was the tallest framework on earth built by person hands. Chronicler Marc van de Mieroop writes:

The dimension boggles the mind: it to be 146 meter high (479 feet) by 230 meters at the basic (754 feet). We estimate that it included 2,300,000 block of stone with an median weight the 2 and 3/4 loads some weighing approximately 16 tons. Khufu ruled 23 years according come the Turin royal Canon, i m sorry would average that transparent his reign annually 100,000 blocks - daily around 285 blocks or one every 2 minutes that daylight - had to be quarried, transported, dressed, and put in place...The construction was practically faultless in design. The sides were oriented exactly toward the cardinal points and also were at an exact 90-degree angles. (58)

The second pyramid created at Giza belongs come Khufu"s successor Khafre (2558 - 2532 BCE) who is additionally credited with producing the good Sphinx of Giza. The 3rd pyramid belongs to his successor Menkaure (2532 - 2503 BCE). An inscription from c. 2520 BCE relates exactly how Menkaure came to inspect his pyramid and assigned 50 that the workers to the brand-new task of building a dig for his official, Debhen. Component of the inscription reads, "His majesty commanded that no man should be taken for any forced labour" and also that rubbish have to be cleared from the site for building and construction (Lewis, 9). This to be a relatively common exercise at Giza wherein the queens would commission burial places for their friends and also favored officials.


The Giza plateau this particular day presents a very different photo from what the would have actually looked like in the time of the Old Kingdom. That was not the lonely site at the leaf of the desert that is today yet a sizeable necropolis which had shops, factories, markets, temples, housing, windy gardens, and also numerous monuments. The an excellent Pyramid was sheathed in an external casing that gleaming white limestone and rose indigenous the facility of the tiny city, clearly shows from mile around.

Giza to be a self-sustaining community whose civilization were government workers yet the building and construction of the huge monuments there in the 4th Dynasty was very costly. Khafre"s pyramid and facility are a little smaller than Khufu"s and also Menkaure"s smaller than Khafre"s and this is because, as 4th Dynasty pyramid structure continued, sources dwindled. Menkaure"s successor, Shepsekhaf (2503 - 2498 BCE) was hidden in a modest mastaba in ~ Saqqara.

The price of the pyramids to be not only financial however political. Giza was no the just necropolis in Egypt at the time and every one of these sites forced maintenance and management which was lugged out through priests. As these web page grew, so did the wealth and also power that the priests and also the local governors (nomarchs) that presided over the different districts the sites to be in.

The later on rulers that the Old Kingdom constructed temples (or pyramids on a much smaller scale) together these were much more affordable. The transition from the pyramid monument come the temple signaled a deeper shift in sensibilities which had actually to carry out with the farming power of the priesthood: monuments to be no longer being constructed to honor a particular king but for a specific god.

First Intermediate duration & center Kingdom

The power of the priests and nomarchs, in addition to other factors, brought about the collapse of the Old Kingdom. Egypt then gotten in the era recognized as the an initial Intermediate period (2181 - 2040 BCE) in which individual regions basically governed themselves. The emperors still rule from Memphis but they were ineffectual.


The first Intermediate period of Egypt has traditionally been shown as a time of decline because no an excellent monuments to be raised and the top quality of the arts is considered inferior to that of the Old Kingdom. Actually, though, the artwork and architecture is merely different, no sub-par. In the Old Kingdom, architectural works were state-sponsored, together was artwork, and so was more or much less uniform to reflect the tastes the royalty. In the very first Intermediate Period, regional artists and architects were totally free to explore various forms and also styles. Chronicler Margaret Bunson writes:

Under the nomarchs, style survived the fallen of the Old Kingdom. Their patronage continued into the middle Kingdom, leading to such remarkable sites together Beni Hassan (c. 1900 BC) with its rock sculpted tombs and huge chapels complete with columned porticos and also painted walls. (32)

When Mentuhotep II (c. 2061 - 2010 BCE) joined Egypt under Theban rule, imperial commissioning of art and also architecture resumed but, unequal in the Old Kingdom, selection and personal expression was encouraged. Center Kingdom architecture, beginning with Mentuhotep"s cool mortuary facility at Deir el-Bahri near Thebes, is at as soon as grand and personal in scope.


Under the reign of king Senusret i (c. 1971 - 1926 BCE), the good Temple that Amun-Ra at Karnak was begun when this monarch set up a modest structure at the site. This temple, choose all middle Kingdom temples, was created with an outer courtyard, columned court which led to halls and ritual chambers, and also an inner sanctum which housed a god"s statue. Sacred lakes were developed at this sites and the entire impact was a symbolic representation of the beginning of the world and the harmonious operation of the universe. Bunson writes:

Temples were spiritual structures thought about the "horizon" the a divine being, the point at i m sorry the god came into existence during creation. Thus, each temple had actually a connect to the past, and the rituals performed within that is court were formulas handed down for generations. The holy place was also a winter of the universe and also a representation of the Primeval Mound where development began. (258)

Columns were vital aspect the the symbolism the a temple complex. Lock were no designed just to support a roof yet to contribute their own an interpretation to the totality work. Several of the plenty of different designs to be the papyrus bundle (a tighly carved column the same, similar thing papyrus reeds); the lotus design, popular in the center Kingdom of Egypt, through a capital opening prefer a lotus flower; the bud column whose capital appears to it is in an unopened flower, and the Djed column which is most likely most renowned from the Heb Sed Court in ~ Djoser"s pyramid facility but was so widely used in Egyptian architecture it can be discovered from one finish of the country to the other. The Djed was an old symbol because that stability and frequently provided in columns one of two people at the base, at the resources (so it appears the Djed is holding increase the sky), or as whole column.


Homes and also other buildings continued to it is in made from dirt brick throughout the middle Kingdom; rock was only used for temples and also monuments and this was generally limestone, sandstone or, in some cases, granite which compelled the greatest skill to work-related in. A small known masterpiece the the center Kingdom, long earlier lost, was the pyramid complicated of Amenemhat III (c. 1860 - 1815 BCE) at the city that Hawara.

This complex was enormous, special twelve great separate courts which faced one another across an expanse that columned halls and interior hallways so detailed that the was dubbed "the labyrinth" by Herodotus. The courts and also hallways were further linked by corridors and also colonnades and also shafts so that a visitor could walk under a acquainted hall yet take an unfamiliar turn and also wind increase in a completely different area of the complicated than the one they had intended.

Criss-crossing alleys and also false doors sealed by stone plugs offered to confuse and disorient a visitant to safeguard the central burial chamber of the pyramid of the king. This room is said to have been reduced from a solitary block the granite and also to have weighed 110 tons. Herodotus asserted it was an ext impressive than any of the wonders he had ever seen.

Second Intermediate duration & brand-new Kingdom

Kings like Amenemhat III of the 12th empire made an excellent contributions come Egyptian art and also architecture and their policies were continued by the 13th Dynasty. The 13th Dynasty, however, to be weaker and also ruled poorly so that, eventually, the power of the central government declined to the point where a foreign people, the Hyksos, increased in lower Egypt if the Nubians took portions of land to the south. This era is well-known as the 2nd Intermediate period of Egypt (c. 1782 - 1570 BCE) in which over there was tiny advancement in the arts.

The Hyksos were propelled from Egypt through Ahmose i of Thebes (c. 1570 - 1544 BCE) who then secured the southern boundaries from the Nubians and also initiated the era well-known as the brand-new Kingdom that Egypt (1570 - 1069 BCE). This period saw some of the many magnificent architecture feats because the Old Kingdom. In the same method that contemporary visitors space awed and also intrigued through the secret of exactly how the pyramids in ~ Giza were built, so are they by Hatshepsut"s funerary complex, the holy place of Amun in ~ Karnak, the many works that Amenhotep III, and also the splendid constructs the Ramesses II such as Abu Simbel.


The rulers the the brand-new Kingdom built on a grand range in keeping with Egypt"s new elevated condition as an empire. Egypt had actually never recognized a foreign power prefer the Hyksos taking regulate of your land and, after Ahmose i drove castle out, the initiated military projects to develop buffer zones around Egypt"s borders. These areas were increased by his successors, many notably Thutmose III (1458 - 1425 BCE), till Egypt ruled an empire which extended from Syria, under the Levant, throughout to Libya, and down through Nubia. Egypt came to be immensely wealthy during this time and also that wealth was lavished ~ above temples, mortuary complexes, and monuments.

The greatest of these is the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak. Just like all the other temples in Egypt, this one called the story of the past, the people"s lives, and honored the gods however was an immense work-in-progress through every ruler of the brand-new Kingdom adding to it. The website covers over 200 acres and also is comprised of a collection of pylons (monumental gateways i m sorry taper in the direction of the height to cornices), leading right into courtyards, halls, and smaller temples.

The very first pylon opens onto a large court i m sorry invites the visitant further. The second pylon opens onto the Hypostyle Court which actions 337 feet (103 meters) by 170 feet (52 meters). The hall is supported by 134 columns 72 feet (22 meters) tall and 11 feet (3.5 meters) around in diameter. Scholars calculation one can fit three structures the dimension of Notre Dame Cathedral inside the main temple alone. Bunson comments:

Karnak stays the many remarkable religious complicated ever constructed on earth. That is 250 acre of temples and also chapels, obelisks, columns, and also statues built over 2,000 years incorporate the finest aspects of Egyptian art and also architecture into a good historical monument the stone. (133)


As with all other temples, Karnak is a example of symmetrical design which seems to increase organically from the planet toward the sky. The great difference between this structure and also any various other is its cool scale and the limit of the vision. Each ruler who contributed to the building made greater developments than their predecessors however acknowledged those who had actually gone before.

When Thutmose III built his festival hall there the may have actually removed monuments and buildings of previously kings whom he then recognized with one inscription. Every holy place symbolizes Egyptian society and belief but Karnak does for this reason in big letters and, fairly literally, through inscriptions. Thousands of years of history may be read on the walls and also columns that the Karnak temple.

Hatshepsut (1479 - 1458 BCE) contributed to Karnak like every various other ruler but also commissioned buildings of together beauty and splendor that later kings claimed them together their own. Amongst her grandest is she mortuary holy place at Deir el-Bahri near Luxor i m sorry incorporates every aspect of new Kingdom temple architecture on a cool scale: a landing stage at the water"s edge, flagstaffs (relics the the past), pylons, forecourts, hypostyle halls, and a sanctuary. The holy place is constructed in 3 tiers getting to 97 feet (29.5 meters) and visitors space still amazed by the building in the present day.

Amenhotep III (1386 - 1353 BCE) constructed so numerous monuments throughout Egypt that at an early stage scholars attributed him through an exceptionally long reign. Amenhotep III commissioned over 250 buildings, monuments, stele, and also temples. His mortuary complicated was guarded by the Colossi of Memnon, two figures 70 feet (21.3 m) high and also each weighing 700 tons. His palace, now well-known as Malkata, spanned 30,000 square meter (30 hectares) and also was elaborately decorated and furnished throughout the throne rooms, apartments, kitchens, libraries, conference rooms, festival halls, and all the other rooms.


Although Amenhotep III is renowned for his opulent reign and monumental structure projects, the later on pharaoh Ramesses II (1279 - 1213 BCE) is even an ext well known. Regrettably this is largely due to the fact that he is for this reason often related with the unnamed pharaoh in the biblical book of Exodus and also his name has come to be recognizable with film adaptations that the story and also the incessant repeat of the heat from Exodus 1:11 the Hebrew slaves developed his urban of Pithom and also Per-Ramesses.

Long prior to the writer of Exodus ever before came up v his story, however, Ramesses II was famous for his military exploits, effective rule, and magnificent structure projects. His city that Per-Ramesses ("City that Ramesses") in reduced Egypt was extensively praised by Egyptian scribes and foreign visitors but his temple at Abu Simbel is his masterpiece. The temple, reduced from solid rock cliffs, stand 98 feet (30 meters) high and also 115 feet (35 meters) long with 4 seated colossi flanking the entrance, 2 to every side, illustrating Ramesses II on his throne; every one 65 feet (20 meters) tall.

Beneath this giant numbers are smaller sized statues (still larger than life) portraying Ramesses" conquered enemies, the Nubians, Libyans, and also Hittites. Additional statues stand for his family members members and various protecting gods and symbols of power. Passing between the colossi, v the central entrance, the inner of the temple is decorated v engravings mirroring Ramesses and also Nefertari paying homage come the gods.


Abu Simbel is perfectly aligned v the eastern so that, twice a year top top 21 February and 21 October, the sunlight shines directly into the inner sanctum to illuminate statues that Ramesses II and the god Amun. This is an additional aspect of ancient Egyptian architecture which characterizes most, if no all, of the an excellent temples and monuments: celestial alignment. Native the pyramids at Giza to the holy place of Amun in ~ Karnak, the Egyptians oriented their structures according come the cardinal points and also in maintaining with celestial events.

The Egyptian name for a pyramid to be Mer, an interpretation "Place the Ascension" (the surname "pyramid" comes from the Greek native pyramis meaning "wheat cake" i beg your pardon is what they thought the frameworks looked like) together it was believed that the form of the structure itself would enable the dead king to climb toward the horizon and much more easily begin the next phase the his presence in the afterlife. In this very same way, holy places were oriented to invite the god come the within sanctum and also, that course, provide accessibility for when they want to ascend back to your own higher realms.

Late period & Ptolemaic Dynasty

The brand-new Kingdom declined as the clergymans of Amun at Thebes gained greater power and wealth 보다 the pharaoh while, in ~ the exact same time, Egypt happened ruled through weaker and weaker kings. By the moment of the regime of Ramesses XI (c. 1107 - 1077 BCE) the central government in ~ Per-Ramesses was totally ineffective and the high clergymans at Thebes hosted all the actual power.

The Late period of ancient Egypt is defined by intrusions by the Assyrians and the Persians before the come of Alexander the great in 331 BCE. Alexander is stated to have designed the city of Alexandria himself and also then left it come his subordinates to construct while he ongoing on through his conquests. Alexandria became the jewel the Egypt for its splendid architecture and also grew right into a good center of culture and learning. The chronicler Strabo (63 BCE - 21CE) praised the on among his visits, writing:

The city has magnificent publicly precincts and also royal palaces which cover a 4th or even a third of the entire area. For simply as each of the majesties would, native a love the splendour, add some ornament to the general public monuments, for this reason he would administer himself at his own price with a residence in enhancement to those currently standing. (1)


Alexandria ended up being the exceptional city Strabo praises during the time that the Ptolemaic dynasty (323 - 30 BCE). Ptolemy ns (323 - 285 BCE) began the great Library the Alexandria and also the temple recognized as the Serapeum which to be completed by Ptolemy II (285 - 246 BCE) who likewise built the famous Pharos of Alexandria, the great lighthouse i m sorry was among the seven Wonders of the World.

The beforehand rulers of the Ptolemaic Dynasty continued the traditions of Egyptian architecture, blending them v their own Greek practices, to create impressive buildings, monuments, and temples. The empire ended v the fatality of the last queen, Cleopatra VII (69 - 30 BCE), and the country was linked by Rome.

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The legacy of the Egyptian architects resides on, however, through the monuments lock left behind. The imposing pyramids, temples, and also monuments of Egypt proceed to inspire and also intrigue visitors in the present day. Imhotep and those who followed after the envisioned monuments in rock which would certainly defy the i of time and keep your memory alive. The enduring popularity of these frameworks today rewards that early on vision and also accomplishes their goal.