Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture Essay Research Paper

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Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture Essay, Research Paper One of the greatest cultural achievements of Ancient Egypt was undoubtedly in their architecture associated with religion. ?Temples, tombs and pyramids ? all have witnessed this earth for thousands of years. What better than to say that these architectural achievements show us that Egypt?s greatest virtue lay in its architecture? (Fumeaux:11, 1964) When one travels to Egypt, what does he/she see ? pyramid after temple after tomb, each standing the test of time. One stands out ? they are all associated with religious beliefs, they all have stood unmoving for thousands of years, and they all involve mechanical genius- the moving of colossal stones without the use of the wheel. The finest example such mechanics is

shown in the construction of the revered pyramid. These three factors, all belonging to the religious architecture of ancient Egypt, do nothing else but prove its greatness. Egypt?s grand architectural design was a result of the religious values and beliefs that were in place at the time. Thousands of years ago, ?Ancient Egypt accepted the challenge of reeds and swamps, hot sands and floods, and build the ?first? nation? (Romer:75, 1982). There were few things to impress themselves upon the Egyptian mind; their psychological impact however was immense. There was the Nile itself, source of all life, there was the mysterious regularity of the Sun, Moon and stars; there was fertility and death. It was out of fear and mystery of these things that ??the Egyptians made their complex

heirachy of Gods, and their strange religion. In the service of that religion they made their architecture? (Romer: 75,1982). Thus, the art and architecture of Ancient Egypt stemmed directly from their religion. Egyptian theology, with its deified pharaohs and strange animal-headed gods, was complicated, but the most important belief was that survival after death depended upon the preservation of the body. This belief would influence the architectural design of the tomb, where the corpse was ultimately sealed (Silverman:142, 1997). Immortality was only for privileged royal and priestly beings (Stierlin:54, 1983).This implies that their tombs would be somewhat prestigious and not just and ordinary burial site. At the day of resurrection the Ka or soul would re-enter the dead body;

this meant that it must be there, intact, ready for that moment. It followed logically, that ?once the corpse was embalmed or mummified, it must be preserved in an impregnable tomb.?(Fumeaux:9, 1964) Impregnability, however, had to be provided in more than one form ? security for the corpse, and security for their possessions ? furniture, food, jewels and various other elaborate objects, awaiting a second existence at the resurrection. So it is seen that the design of the tomb is based upon the religious and cultural beliefs. This particular design was ultimately ?extremely advanced for the time period? (Romer:76, 1982), and supports the claim that the great achievements of ancient Egypt lie in their religious architecture. One of the most outstanding factors that makes the

Egyptians religious architecture so great is the fact that it has remained unmoved for thousands of years, undeterred by all that has taken place around. The Egyptian tomb, for it to last as long as it has, had to be extremely durable. Apart from prehistoric graves, the earliest tombs were the mastabas of the I-III Dynasties of the Archaic Period (Fumeaux:9, 1964). These mastaba tombs were quite small with stepped sides and a flat top. They were almost solid but somewhere in the core was a series of rooms, including a burial chamber containing the sarcophagus of the dead, with all his/her items for the afterlife (Romer:76, 1982). Externally there was a recess that looked like a blocked up door. Through this false door the spirit could return to the body. It also served as a place