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Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture

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Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture

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.
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