Architecture as a product of culture, history, science, technology, economics, society, religion, and state




A journey through five thousand years of architecture and urban planning in the Western world



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Each generation writes its autobiography in the buildings it creates.

Louis Mumford

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


6 The Pyramids
The Pyramids are the greatest contribution of the ancient Egyptians to the world's architecture. The researchers think that the origin of the word "pyramid" is the Egyptian word "peremus", which means a building with a sloping side. The Egyptians called the pyramids "mer", literally " place of ascendance ". So the pyramid was seen as the means for the king to ascend to heaven. The vertical height of the pyramid (as opposed to its wall's height) is called by the Egyptians "pit-em-us", hence the word "pyramis". Some believe that the origin of the word "pyramid" is the Greek word "Pyramis" ("pyramides" in plural) – a pyramid-shaped cake made of wheat, flour and honey.
The pyramid borrowed its shape from the  pyramidion (small pyramid) at the end of the obelisk of the city of Iunu (literally in ancient Egyptian: the city of the column), which was called by the Greeks "Heliopolis" (literally in Greek "city of the sun god Helios). According to Egyptian mythology, the spirit of the sun god visited the temple of the sun from time to time in the form of the phoenix Bennu and landed on the stone of Ben.
The pyramid symbolizes the primordial hill, emerging from the primeval water at the time of creation, on which the sun god Re first appeared. The intention in building the pyramid was to bury the king close to the sun god Re. The Egyptians believed that the king's soul continued to take care of the kingdom even after his death, and to ensure that they continue to win the blessing of the gods, they embalmed him, and to protect his mummy they built the pyramid. The burial chamber, to which has led at least one corridor, was very small relative to the enormous mass of stones of the pyramid. Opposite the burial chamber there was a room that might have been used for storing and for prayer rituals. In this room were hewn niches opposite a false door facing the eastern side of the pyramid, which was designed to allow the ba (soul) of the dead king to go out to the world beyond the grave and communicate with the living.
Throughout the history of ancient Egyptian architecture, the pyramids were built in various dimensions, shapes, and materials for different uses. The pyramid was essentially a royal symbol. It was not built as a single structure, but as a part of a massive walled compound, designed to eternalize the king's life.
A typical layout of a pyramid's compound included the king's pyramid, smaller pyramids built for royalty (sometimes these were located elsewhere for topographical reasons), the upper temple (also known as the mortuary temple) , chapels, and the lower temple (also called the Valley Temple because of its location in the valley, near the Nile) .
In the mortuary temple worship was designed to immortalize the king, that is to make him god. There stood the statues of the ka of the king just in case the king's mummy would be damaged.
A causeway (actually a long roofed corridor), connected the mortuary temple in the walled compound of the pyramid and the valley temple. The causeway was sealed from the sides, top and bottom, to maintain spiritual and ritual unity in order to ensure that evil will not penetrate the most sacred place. In the Valley Temple probably the embalming, cleansing, and "opening the mouth"  ritual (a symbolic ritual where the priests opened the mouth of the mummy, to allow the dead to eat, breathe, see, hear, and enjoy the offerings in the afterlife) took place.
Sometimes a small pyramid was built next to the big one probably for the ka of the king.
In many cases, the pyramid complex was part of a big grave site or necropolis - "a city of the dead". Today one can still see the ruins of many big pyramids along the western bank of the Nile river.
There may have been pyramids which were built to mark a royal presence throughout Egypt, rather than to serve as a burial structure. Such pyramids were probably used as centers of respect and gratitude to the dead king. Such are the seven small step-pyramids scattered along the Nile, between Athribis in the delta region and Elephantine in Ancient Egypt's southern border. King Huni of the third dynasty probably built six of them. They are identical in size - square base (each side 18 meters in length). Their location next to structures of the administration might indicate a functional significance during the reign of King Huni . They may have been centers of administration and the royal cult. Some believe that they symbolized the king's power. The function of these pyramids, with no evidence of them being burial structures, is still speculative.
Building pyramids was widespread from the fourth dynasty to the sixth dynasty. For a thousand years later, the construction of pyramids continued, but they were smaller. Dozens of them were found in archaeological excavations, but the remains of many others are probably still buried under the desert sands. The pyramids architecture reached its peak during the fourth dynasty. During the fifth dynasty the pyramid's size decreased, probably due to the king's weakening status and to the economic conditions that did not enable huge monumental building projects such as the pyramids at Giza during the fourth  dynasty.

In the pyramid of Pharaoh Unas (the last in the fifth dynasty), started a tradition of connection between architecture and language. On the walls of the burial chambers of the pyramid were texts known as "the texts of the pyramids" - a collection of some 800 magical spells carved in stone in vertical columns of hieroglyphs on the hallway walls of the pyramids and sometimes on the graves within them. Magical spells were supposed to breathe life into the world of the dead king, to guide and protect him on his journey to the afterlife. Likewise, they were designed to ensure life of abundance for the king in the afterlife. Today these texts are called the Book of the Dead.
There were kings who built for themselves more that one pyramid. Such were Sneferu, founder of the fourth dynasty (see below), Amenemhet III (ruled 1831-1786 BCE), the last of the great pyramid builders, who built two pyramids: one in Dahshur and second in Hawara (1817 BCE) at the entrance to Fayum.
The pyramid of Amenhemet in Dahshur was built on a hard land rather than on foundations, in a low place where underground spring water caused damage to the structure. Shortly after the construction was completed cracks appeared in the corridors and rooms of the pyramid. Its burial chamber was never used for burial, even though a stone sarcophagus of the king was found there. The structure of this tomb was probably a cenotaph (Literally in Greek: empty tomb) - a pseudo-symbolic grave never intended to contain the body of the king. The cenotaph served as a tomb and as another site of the dead king's worship. The king's burial chamber in this pyramid, like in the pyramid built to replace it, is monolithic (a large stone built of one block), with niches for sarcophagi and canopic jars (in which were stored the dead man's internal organs before the mummification process.)

Pyramids During the Old Kingdom
Most pyramids built during the Old Kingdom stand in an area west to the Nile, running along about 40 km including the regions of Memphis, Giza, Abusir, Sakara, meidum, Abu Roash and  Zawyet el Aryen. Pyramids building reached the peak of its achievements during the fourth dynasty, then were built the Great pyramids at Giza. Since the construction of mastabas until the building of the pyramids at Giza, attempts were made to build a real geometric pyramid.

The Step Pyramid in Sakara
During the 27th century BCE, a step pyramid was built on the graves site in Sakara on the west bank of the Nile, which served for the burial of Pharaoh Djoser, the first of the third dynasty. This king was a powerful ruler, who established a centralized government in Memphis, united Egypt, and apparently managed to extend his rule to the south as far as Aswan. The prosperity during his reign is ascribed to the peaceful time at that time.
The layout of the structures of the Step Pyramid is one of the first monumental structures built in stone. It was the king's way to demonstrate his power. From the beginning, architect Imhotep (literally in ancient Egyptian: the one who comes in peace) did not plan the pyramid to be a step pyramid. This burial structure was built in several stages until receiving its final shape, which became the first of its kind. Until the Step Pyramid was built, mastabas represented the main architectural shape of  burial structures.
In the first stage, a walled mastaba was built for Pharaoh Djoser, who wanted to combine his grave with a large structure. Since the wall hid the original mastaba, mastabas of equal height but diminishing volume were built one above the other. The solution was not immediate. The tomb was built in six phases, each coated with refined limestone blocks, which came from Tura, before it was decided to continue the construction.
 More than a million tons of rocks had to be cut and moved to the pyramid's site. In the first stage was built the underground burial chamber in an unusual shape of a square (63 m x 63 m). Later the pyramid expanded, and eventually had a rectangular base (107 m x 123.5 m) with six giant steps at a total height of 63.7 meters above the ground, so that it could be well seen over the wall.
The stone blocks used for building the pyramid are very small. Most of the coating of the pyramid, which had been a white limestone, was removed later. In some places parts also disappeared from the heart of the pyramid. Several coating blocks, surviving on the north side of the pyramid, indicate that the coating blocks were placed diagonally to carry the load of the layers above them.
Like in the pyramids built following it, the Step Pyramid had rooms and corridors in different levels, and the king's burial chamber as well. The royal room, to which leads a vertical pit is located 28 meters below the surface. One could reach it via sloping corridor, whose entrance was carved on the northern side of the pyramid at the first step.
The burial chamber itself was coated with granite slabs quarried in Aswan, more than 950 km  south of the location of the pyramid. The statue of King Djoser, uncovered in the burial chamber, is now in the Museum of Cairo. The burial chamber could be entered through an opening in the ceiling which was blocked by granite panel sized 1m x 2m. Neither body nor coffin was found in the burial chamber. Researchers assume that the tomb was robbed in ancient times.
The pyramid complex of Djoser was rectangular, elongated on the north-south axis. It was surrounded by a massive wall, 1645 meters in length and 10.5 meters in height. False structures were designed to serve the dead king in the afterlife. 13 false doors and one real door set in the wall, opened to the complex of structures. The structures in the compound included: open courtyards, several chapels, warehouses and the mortuary temple. The chapels in the compound of the  pyramid were separate buildings, compared to the chapels in later pyramids, which were part of one massive structure.
Next to the northeastern corner of the Step Pyramid, is the courtyard of the serdab - a small structure where stood a limestone statue of Pharaoh Djoser (now in Cairo museum) looking east through two holes. Thus, the dead king could look at the sunrise. The serdab enabled the ka of the king to leave its room and also served for transfering gifts to the king.
In the Southeastern part of the pyramid's compound there was the courtyard of the Jubilee Festival  - Heb-Sed Festival which was celebrated by the Egyptian kings after thirty years of rule, and every three years thereafter. During the festival, the validation of the king's rule was renewed, as the king of Upper and Lower Egypt. During the ceremony, the king would carry the traditional symbols and run four times around an arena (also called Heb-Sed court) to prove his ability to govern. Thus, he renewed his physical and magical powers.
North of the Heb-Sed court – in the center of the eastern part of the pyramid complex were two separate temples, called today "the South House" and "the North House" - each with a vaulted roof and walled courtyard. The origine of the names given to them is their location and the capitals of the columns, which decorated the open courts. Near the eastern corner of each of these buildings, part of the wall surrounding the open court is decorated with three pilasters (half-column attached to a wall). Near the North House these pilasters were decorated with papyrus capitals symbolizing Lower Egypt, and near the South House they were decorated with lotus capitals symbolizing Upper Egypt.
The South House was designed like the predynastic temple of the eagle headed goddess Nekhbet in Hierakonpolis, and thus represents a temple from Upper Egypt.  The North House was designed like the temple of the snake goddess of Uto in Upper Egypt. It seems that in this design Pharaoh Djoser  meant to express the unification of Egypt.
Recently, researchers found that the South House and the North Houses, along with other buildings in the Step Pyramid complex, were partly buried in the ground, immediately after their construction had been completed. Perhaps the intention was to transfer the buildings to the world of the dead, where the dead king would reside after his death.
The columns that decorate the South House and the North House were architectural innovation. These are the columns attached to the wall, that their use became popular since the fifth dynasty. The  decorative grooves in some columns became a precedent for designing columns in later periods.
In the southern part of the pyramid compound is found a tomb called "the Southern Tomb", whose purpose is unknown.
The Step Pyramid of Djoser is the first pyramid built in stone. Until recently, this pyramid was considered the first great architectural monument built in stone. However, in the 1990s, a stone wall now called "Gisr el-Mudir" was found to the southwest of the Step Pyramid, and its construction preceded that of the Step Pyramid at Sakara. The wall is actually composed of two walls with the space between them (about 15 meters) filled with gravel and sand. It encompassed an area of about 650 m x 350 m, and was almost twice as large as the wall surrounding the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser. The construction of this wall is ascribed to the reign of Khasekhemwy, the last king of the second dynasty. It is reasonable to assume that it served as inspiration to Pharaoh Djoser's wall that surrounded the Step Pyramid compound.
The nearest precedent to the Step Pyramid is mastaba 3038, the burial structure of Nebitka, probably King Anedjib's prime minister of the first dynasty. This mastaba was built of mud bricks and included eight low steps.
The importance of the Step Pyramid to the history of architecture lies in its being the first pyramid - a new type of structure that greatly impressed the Egyptians, and was a symbol of the king's rule in this world and of his eternal life in the afterlife. This is the first example of the perception of a grave as a place of ascension represented by a symbolic geometrical shape. The huge dimensions of this pyramid versus the previous burial structures  are associated with the fact that King Djoser was the first considered god. The steps were designed to serve the ka of the king as a staircase to climb in order to reach the stars in the sky.

Imhotep, the architect who designed the Step Pyramid, is the first architect in history whose name is known. He is also considered the first physician, the high priest in Heliopolis, and the chief minister of the king, a sculptor, and astrologer. His irrigation plans and his plans to preserve food put an end to seven years of famine in Egypt. A hundred years after his death, he was considered half god, as the son of god Ptah, and the patron god of architects.
Imhotep, who won the honor and publicity as a physician rather than as an architect, was to the Egyptians what Aesclepius was to the Greeks - god of medicine and the patron god of doctors. He lived for many years and died probably during the reign of King Huni, the last in the third dynasty.
Imhotep was probably also responsible for the construction of the unfinished Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Sekhemhet (who ruled after Pharaoh Djoser during the third dynasty) in Sakara. An inscription on the northern side of the wall surrounding the pyramid testifies to this.

Another unfinished step pyramid, called " Layers Pyramid", was built to the west of the village
Zawiyet el Arian (7 kilometers north of Sakara) by Pharaoh Khaba, who inherited power from Pharaoh Sekhemkhet of the third dynasty.

The Pyramids of Snefru
To King Snefru (ruled 2613-2589 BCE), founder of the fourth dynasty, is ascribed the construction of three pyramids for himself, one in Meidum and two in Dahshur. Some think that he also built the pyramid in Seila, which was discovered in excavations in the 1980s. The prosperity in Egypt during the fourth dynasty (2613-2494  BCE) enabled the building of these pyramids.

        The Pyramid in Meidum
Pharaoh Snefru built in Meidum, about 48 km from Memphis, a perfect pyramid-shaped burial structure (each side 100 meters in length, and the original height about 60 meters). Some believe that he continued the construction work started by his predecessor, King Huni, his wife's father, who was the last ruler of the 3rd dynasty.
Unlike the Step Pyramid in Sakara, the pyramid in Meidum was planned as step pyramid  pyramid in the first place. This Pyramid, which was built in limestone, had seven steps, later expanded to eight steps. During the reign of King Snefru, the space between the stairs was filled with stone which was coated with fine limestone, to form a real pyramid geometric shape. The slope of the pyramid is 75 degrees. It is unclear how long the pyramid looked like a real pyramid until parts of it collapsed. Perhaps the architects were aware of the poor quality of the structure of the pyramid. Today we can distinguish only three steps in Meidum pyramid. Some believe that parts of the pyramid collapsed before the building was completed, possibly because of an earthquake. Maybe that parts of it were re-used for construction. Today it looks more like a trimmed tower than like a pyramid.

Image - The Pyramid in Meidum            

The entrance to the pyramid is located in the  north side of the pyramid 18.5 meters above the ground, and leads through a corridor (57 meters in length at an angle of 28 degrees) which continiues  horizontally to the underground burial chamber. No  traces of a sarcophagus of the king or the remains of his body were found in this chamber. Perhaps he has never been buried there.
The burial room has a corbelled ceiling (a series of horizontal rows of stones, each of which stands out above the previous one) of limestone. This is the first pyramid in which corbel vault was built to reduce the pressure of the stones on the opening inside the pyramid.
In 1998 a small corridor was discovered on a the north – south axis of the pyramid just above the corridor mentioned above. Its length is 2.80 meters, width - 0.75 meters, and height 1.44 meters. Its floor is located 3.40 meters above the ceiling of the corridor underneath it. This small corridor is built of three layers of stones that make a corbelled vault. Down the corridor, archaeologists discovered two rooms located above the niches in the corridor leading to the burial room. They believe that the small corridor and the rooms were designed to alleviate the load on the corridor below.
Another unprecedented element in this pyramid, except for the use of corbel vault, is the use of large stone blocks (each weighing 1.5 tons in average), indicating progress in the technique of quarrying stone.

Another first time element is the satellite   pyramid to the Meidum pyramid, whose remains were found to its south. Although satellite have become a customary element in the layout of the pyramids, their purpose is still uncertain.
Meidum Pyramid had a valley temple, which already had the features of later valley temples of the of the fourth dynasty. It is rectangular with no exterior decorations.
With the passage from the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser to the pyramid in Meidum, the orientation of the layout of structures changed. While the Step Pyramid complex was set on a north-south axis, the  complex of the pyramid in Meidum was built on an east-west axis. On this axis were arranged from east to west: the temple valley and a causeway adjacent to the mortuary temple. High walls of limestone surrounded the pyramid complex.
The pyramid in Meidum, which was abandoned before its construction was completed, represents the transition from step pyramid to a real geometric pyramid.

         The Bent Pyramid in Dahshur
Near Dahshur, in the desert, a few kilometers south of Sakara, another tomb was built for Pharao Snefru. This is a "real" pyramid - the first on Egyptian soil, whose construction was completed. In this pyramid called "the Bent Pyramid", the slope is not uniform and is actually made up of two slopes with the lower one sharper than the upper one. The name of the architect, who should have been remembered, is unknown.

The pyramid's plans changed three times. Originally, the intention was to build it in an angle of 60 ° or so. After the structure had begun to collapse, the angle was changed to 54°27'. Following this change, it was required to increase the length of the side of the square base of the pyramid to -183.5 meters. When the height of the pyramid reached 45 meters or so, (the overall height was104.71)  the slope was reduced to 43° 22', probably to strengthen the stability of the structure. From the point where this slope begins, some passages in the pyramid are cracked because of the load which they support. Reducing the slope was intended to reduce the weight that they carry. Some researchers think that the builders reduced the angle of the pyramid's slope because originally its foundations were not stable. Others ascribe its non-stability to the unstable surface of the desert.
When building the pyramid, the builders arranged horizontal rows of stones, rather than making them incline inward, because they realized that building a slope increases the pressure inside the structure. The spaces between the rows of stones were filled to make the structure look almost like a "real" pyramid, and clay served to connect the stones that were placed inaccurately. Stones in the heart of the pyramid, as well as its coating blocks were those in which large pyramids were built during the third dynasty.
The bent pyramid has two entrances to two different burial chambers - an unprecedented phenomenon. The northern entrance leads down a corridor leading to the subterranean corbel-vaulted chamber lined with large limestone blocks. A steep staircase leading to a burial chamber is also corbel-vaulted. From here, a short passage leads to a vertical shaft, which is currently partially demolished. This shaft is found exactly on the vertical axis of the pyramid.
The western entrance is higher than the northern one. It leads to a descending corridor leading down, but here we find two barred barriers. The corridor ends in a burial chamber, which is higher than the one, to which the northern entrance leads. In this chamber (the higher one), corbel-vaulted and lined with rough limestone slabs, were found remains of cedar beams which apparently were intended to coat the corbelled vault.
The two burial chambers are interconnected by a narrow passage roughly hewn into the pyramid. This passage was probably built after the construction of the two chambers had been completed.
The layout of the Bent Pyramid is similar in its components to the layout of the preceding pyramids: a causeway connecting the pyramid with the Valley Temple, the walls of the causeway built of limestone, a Valley Temple with a courtyard and six niches in which probably stood statues of Pharaoh Snefru. There is an evidence that an additional causeway led from this temple to the Nile.
To the southern side of the pyramid on a north - south axis of the bent pyramid was built a worship pyramid. Its original height was 26 meters, but the current height is 20 meters only. The northern entrance leads into the corridor, which first goes down, and later rises to a small corbel-vaulted room. Many scholars consider this corridor as a model for the great gallery in the Great Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu in Giza.
To the east of the pyramid was a small chapel of offerings with an altar of alabaster stone and two high monolithic slabs on whose both sides appeared the name of the king and his titles.

The Red Pyramid in Dahshur
The first true surviving pyramid, that is, the first geometric pyramid is the Red Pyramid is Dahshur, located 4 km north of the bent pyramid. The construction of this pyramid began around the 30th year of Snefru's reign, after the construction of  the bent pyramid in Dahshur, and was completed shortly after his death. The name of this pyramid originates in the oxidation process of the limestone from Tura that covered it and changed its color to red.
In building the Red Pyramid the architects of the king learned from previous mistakes. They put the foundations of the pyramid on a basis of white limestone and learned that the stones should be layed in horizontal lines, rather than in a slope. Likewise, they reduced the angle of the pyramid's slope to increase its stability.
This pyramid, which is the fourth highest ever built - (after the three Great Pyramids at Giza), originally towered 104 m high. Its square base is  220 m x220 m, its slope angle  is 43° 22', the same angle of the slope at the top of the Bent Pyramid built by Snefru in Dahshur. The pyramid is built on an east-west axis, following the course of the sun in the sky.
Researchers think that Snefru was buried in this pyramid, though his body has never been found. His son Khnum Khufu, better known by the name of Khufu, probably completed the construction of the mortuary temple next to the pyramid. The   entrance to the pyramid from the northern side, 28 meters above the ground, leads through a corridor  62.6 meters in length into the heart of the pyramid, where three vaulted rooms between 12 to 16 meters height are located. The entrance being located in the the northern side of this pyramid and in later ones, is probably associated with the religious belief,  according to which the dead king merges with the North Star never descending below the horizon and therefore lives forever.

The Pyramids of Giza
Hundred years after the construction of the Step Pyramid at Sakara, the great pyramids of Giza were built. During the fourth dynasty the pharaohs were considered gods, with unlimited power of rule which enabled them to build huge pyramids. The construction of these pyramids required organization, order, huge amounts of stone, unlimited work force and the conviction of the Egyptian people in the importance of the task. The vast knowledge Egypt had in the fields of astronomy, mathematics and geometry, also enabled the building of the pyramids.
The Great Pyramids of Giza, considered one of the seven wonders of the world, were built in a desert plain on the west bank of the Nile, near the modern city of Cairo, 17 km south to Sakara. They are arranged on a north-south axis. The northern is the pyramid of Khufu, in the center stands the pyramid of Khafre, and in the south - the pyramid of Menkaure. The outer walls of the pyramids were smooth and covered in granite (some claim that they were coated with fine limestone and gold) that made them look glamorous.
The walls of the pyramids are facing the four cardinal points because the Egyptians linked the four points of the compass with the route of the sun in the sky, and with the constellations. This reflected the need to achieve immortality - the concept of time expressed in neheh - the eternal cyclical movement of heavenly bodies, and in Djet – the eternal existence - the permanent aspect of  time.
The pyramids of Giza were built of large local stones from the Giza plane and were covered in limestone brought from Tura. Several rooms in the pyramids were built in granite stone from Aswan. Almost all the refined stone used for coating the pyramids was removed by Muslim rulers, who ruled Egypt during the Middle Ages, to build bridges and houses in Cairo. Likewise, many blocks removed from the pyramids of Khufu and Khafre were reused in building the pyramid of Amenemhet I (ruled 1956-1985 BCE).
The pyramids at Giza served as a model for later pyramids. They show enormous progress in all technical aspects. Huge stones joint together perfectly replaced the relatively small stones used for building the previous pyramids. The huge stone blocks were transported by boats through the Nile and transferred to the construction site, about 30 meters above the river level. To this day, nobody knows for sure how these huge stones were brought to the site and how the pyramids were built. It is widely believed that peripheral ramps were built around the pyramid. They grew with the construction progress and were removed after its completion.
 The compound of the pyramids included small pyramids which are situated along the major pyramids. These pyramids are called "the Queens' pyramids", but there is no evidence that they were  indeed buried in them.
The achievements of the Egyptians in mathematics and engineering expressed in the building of the pyramids at Giza, though they also continued in future periods, the political power of the pharaohs weakened, and they were not given an opportunity to build such impressive structures. When the ancient kingdom waned, the pyramids decreased in size.

The Pyramid of Pharaoh Khufu
Pharaoh Khnum Khufu (literally: god Khnum protects us; usually called Khufu, or as he was called by the Greeks "Cheops") (ruled 2589-2566 BCE), son of Snefru, moved the royal residence to the northern edge of Memphis, Giza. Here he built his tomb - the Great Pyramid, which became the center of a large burial site with mastabas of the upper classes. The architect who built the pyramid was probably Hemiunu - the nephew of the king and grandson of Pharaoh Snefru.
The pyramid was built on a rocky hill whose size is difficult to assess, as it is all covered with the the pyramid. Limestone brought from a local quarry was used as the main building material. The pyramid was called "akhet of Khufu". Akhet is the horizon - the line connecting heaven and earth, the place from which the sun rises. Etymologically, the  root of the word "akhet" is "shining, glowing." Hieroglyphics of this word have the form of the sun rising between two mountains. As the sun god rises from the underworld to Akhet and from Akhet to the sky, so too the king in the pyramid ascends to heaven through akhet - his threshold of light.
It is estimated that the pyramid was built from 2.3 million limestone blocks, each weighing between around 2.5 to 15 tons - stone volume of approximately 2.6 million cubic meters. Undoubtedly, this pyramid is the most massive structure ever built - an amazing fact for a monument built more than 4,500 years BCE.
Like the two other large pyramids at Giza, its base is square-shaped. Its side length is 230.3 meters, its original height was 146.6 meters (137 meters today), and the slope of its walls is 50°51' 35¨. The pyramid was coated with  limestone from Tura, which was removed by the Muslim ruler in 1356 to build mosques and fortresses near Cairo. Amenhemet I also reused stones to build his pyramid in Lisht.
The entrance to the pyramid is located in the center of its northern wall, at the 19th (counting from base)  row of stones of 100 horizontal rows unequal in size.
The entrance room has a pointed ceiling, formed of massive slabs of local stone. From here, after a short slope down, a long corridor leads to an unfinished subterranean chamber, from which ascends a long steep corridor splitting into two arms. One continues this corridor and leads through a corbel vaulted gallery to a horizontal short and narrow passage followed by the tomb of the king at the heart of the pyramid. At the western end of the room coated with  pink granite brought from Aswan, is placed a granite sarcophagus of King Khnum Khufu. The second arm, which is horizontal, is  leading to a room called "the Queen's Chamber ", which was left unfinished. The northern and southern walls of this room have channels which are referred to as air openings. They are arranged exactly according to Orion and Sirius star systems. Thus, these channels serve to guide the soul on its way to Sirius, which was identified with Isis, and to Orion which was identified with Osiris.
Recently, a mysterious pyramid was discovered at the end of a narrow passage 25 cm in width and 65 m length rising diagonally from the Queen's chamber to the south. On  September 17, 2002 an attempt was made to expose this room with a miniature robot that drilled through the bright limestone door (20 cm x 20 cm in size), which is found at the end of this narrow passage, and found a small empty cell at whose end was another door. It is unclear what the function of this cell was.
In the compound of the pyramid were found five pits (two to the south and three to the east of the pyramid) designed for boats in which, according to Egyptian belief, the king is sailing in the sky every day. The location of the king's burial chamber, in the heart of the pyramid, and the name given to the pyramid, "the horizon of Khufu" - indicate that the King Khnum Khufu was identified with the sun god Re, who was believed to be rising above the horizon.
In the fifth century BCE, Greek historian Herodotus wrote that when he visited Egypt, Egyptian guides told him that building the Great Pyramid at Giza lasted 20 years, and that 100,000 people were employed in its construction for three months every year.
Newly discovered evidence contradicts this description. American archaeologist Mark Lehner discovered near the Great Pyramid a city of employees where approximately 18,000 workers, who probably built the pyramids, lived.  Egyptologists believe that the builders were farmers who worked in rotation.
 In 1999 a series of buildings was found in this site, including several bakeries and copper work facilities. Likewise, a hall of columns, three streets, and a corner of building, which was part of a palace believed to be the residence of an authority figure were found. Animal bones found at the site indicate that the workers often ate meat and fish. Tests made on remains of workers' bones indicate that the workers received professional medical care when their bones were broken. Part of the workers who lived there returned to their homes every day with the end of the workday. Work during this period was indeed obligatory, but contrary to the Scripture and the writings of Josephus Flavius, it was not carried out by slaves.
Recently it was also discovered that the pyramid builders built pyramid-shaped tombs for themselves too, which indicates that the shape of the pyramid suited everyone. While the kings built their pyramids in stone, the workers built theirs in mud- bricks.

The structure on Khufu's pyramid was unique and served as a model for many pyramids built later. Unlike its predecessors, its burial chamber has not been built beneath the structure, but in the heart of the pyramid, although the original intention was apparently to bury the king in a subterranean chamber.
A causeway led from the Valley Temple to the mortuary temple adjacent to the pyramid.

From the little that survived from the mortuary temple, it seems to be larger (52.5 m x 40 m) than such temples built adjacent to the pyramids of  Snefru in Meidum and Dahshur. Its walls were made of limestone and the remains of its floor are made of basalt. It had an open courtyard surrounded by red granite columns - a design different from the design of previous temples of its kind. A hall of columns whose walls are shaped like stairs,  led to a sanctuary in the back of the temple - a rectangular room, long and narrow, where five statues stood.
A combination of a courtyard surrounded by columns leading through a hall of columns to the holy of holies, where statues are placed, appears repeatedly in the architecture of mortuary temples in ancient Egypt until the Late Period.
East to the Pyramid of Khufu, were built three smaller pyramids, apparently intended for the burial of women in the family of the king. To the southeast of the pyramid was a satellite pyramid which was discovered in 1991. As stated, The purpose of such pyramids is still uncertain. In this case, some think that this pyramid served for the burial of the king's statue.
Khufu's Pyramid is surrounded to the east, south and west by mastabas. The burial site east of the pyramid served the king's family, including his sons. Priests and officials were buried to the west of the pyramid. Until the sixth dynasty, priests, who worshiped the death of King Khufu were buried there.
Image - The mortuary temple of Pharaoh Khufu  

Proportions of the Great Pyramid at Giza
From the proportions, according to which the Great Pyramid was built, we can learn that the Egyptians knew the golden ratio (image below). The ratio between the height of the side-face of the pyramid and the half-length of the base's side equals the golden ratio. When the height of the side-face is SH = 356 royal Egyptian cubits approximately; half the side length of the base of the pyramid S / 2 = 220 royal Egyptian cubits, we find that:
SH: S/2 =356:220 =1.618  

 Image - The golden section of the Khufu's pyramid


The calculations are based on measurements of the pyramid, but are not clear enough, because some of the coating of the pyramid has been removed over the years. The assumption is that the length of each side of the pyramid was originally 440 royal Egyptian cubits (a royal Egyptian cubit= 52.396 cm), and the height of the Pyramid was 280 Egyptian royal cubits.
It is difficult to know whether planners deliberately determined the dimensions of the pyramid according to the golden ratio. Herodotus in his "histories" tells that an Egyptian priest told him, that the pyramid was designed so that the area of each side-face equals the square of its height. Herodotus's statement means that the pyramid was built according to the golden ratio.
When the height of the pyramid is 280 royal Egyptian cubits, the length of the side of the base is 440 royal Egyptian cubits, and its side face height is 356 royal Egyptian cubits, we will find that:

78, 400 = 280x280 (square height).
78,320 = 440:2 x356 (area of each side-face). 

The discrepancy is probably due to inaccuracy in the calculation of the height of the side face and the height of the pyramid. However, some argue that translations of Herodotus attributed to him things that he did not mean.

Another mathematical application attributed to the pyramid is an attempt to square the circle. The argument is that the relationship between the circumference of the pyramid and its height equals two times pai (3.14…)
 The height of the pyramid x pai x 2 = 3.14 x2 x280 = 1758.4
The length of the side of the pyramid basis x 4 = 440 x 4 = 1760.
Many scholars doubt the ancient Egyptians' awareness of the pai value. Likewise, they are questioning their awareness to the golden section.

The Pyramid of Khafre
The second largest pyramid of the three pyramids at Giza was built by Pharaoh Khafre (also known in Greek as Chefren) (ruled 2558-2532  BCE) the son of Pharaoh Khufu. This pyramid is slightly smaller than that of Khufu, and its original name was "Khafre is great."
The length of the side of the pyramid's basis is 215.5 meters, the original height was 143.5 meters (136 meters today) and the pyramid slope angle 53° 07' 48", but it looks taller than the Great Pyramid, because it was built on higher ground. Unlike the Great Pyramid whose structure is complex inside, here a few passages lead into the underground chamber.
However, like the other Great Pyramids of Giza, the pyramid of Khafre was coated with refined limestone from Tura of which only a few remnants survived. Unlike Khufu's pyramid, the pyramid of Khafre is characterized by precision in design. Its slope angle is sharper and its tip deviates slightly from the center.

Image - Khafre pyramid complex - ground plan

  Inside the pyramid of Khafre we can see two burial chambers. Two entrances on the north side, one above the other, lead to these burial chambers. The upper one, about 15 meters above the ground, leads through a narrow corridor covered with pink granite, sloping down to a meeting point with the lower corridor from which a horizontal narrow passage is leading to the burial chamber located on the vertical axis of the pyramid. The lower corridor first leads to another room, which is followed by a corridor that meets with the upper corridor. In this room was found Belzoni's diary, indicating that he opened the entrance to the pyramid in 1818.
The burial chamber is rectangular and laid out on an east-west axis perpendicular to the corridors. It is mostly carved into the rock, with pointed vaults built of limestone. Near the western wall of the burial chamber, almost directly below the pyramid's vertical axis, stands in a niche the sarcophagus of the king made of black granite stone, which originally had a lid. The lid was found in two pieces near the sarcophagus. The remains of the king's mummy were found inside the pyramid.
To the south of the pyramid is a pyramid called the "Pyramid of Worship" or a satellite pyramid. This pyramid perhaps served to place the statues representing the king's ka. Some believe that it belonged to the Queen. West of this pyramid is found a serdab probably designed for the statue of the king's ka. Next to the base of the pyramid was found an evidence for the existence of a platform on which probably stood a stela and an altar.  
A wall made of limestone from Tura surrounded the pyramid. The distance between this wall and the pyramid was about ten meters. Thus was formed a relatively small yard, which was paved in limestone.
As early as ancient Egypt the pyramid was exposed to internal and external theft. In the first interim period, thieves apparently broke into the tomb of Khafre. Written sources testify that some of the lining of the pyramid has been removed by Ramesses II to be reused to build a temple in Heliopolis. Much of the pyramid coating was removed during the years 1356-1362 CE  for the construction of a mosque in Cairo.
Apart from the pyramid of Khafre, the compound of the pyramid includes an array of other elements: an upper temple next to the pyramid, serving as the mortuary temple, a lower temple – the Valley Temple next to which are found on the same level, the Sphinx and the Sphinx Temple. A causeway 494 meters in length and 5 meters in width connected the upper and the lower temples.
 The mortuary temple of Khafre survived better than any other temple during the Old Kingdom. Unlike mortuary temples built in earlier compounds of pyramids, where the mortuary temple is located adjacent to the king's pyramid, here the mortuary temple is slightly separate from the eastern wall of the pyramid by the yard of the  pyramid. It was built of local limestone coated with granite, in rectangular shape on east-west axis. The entrance to the temple from the causeway from the    east leads to an entrance hall with two monolithic pillars made of pink granite. A corridor extending on either side of this room leads to two rooms made of granite to the left of the entrance, and four rooms coated with alabaster to the right of the entrance. Researchers believe that these rooms were used as storerooms for the statues of King Khafre's ka in case that his mummy may be damaged.
The entrance hall led to a hall with 12 pillars identical to the pillars in the entrance hall. This hall has a unique ground plan with a shape close to isosceles whose equilaterals were designed in a shape of steps. Each of the two ends of the triangular base led to a long narrow room believed by researchers to be the place where stood the statues of the king. This hall led through a short corridor to a rectangular hall with ten pillars. Following this hall is an open rectangular courtyard, paved with alabaster stone, surrounded by large granite pillars supporting the flat roof of the promenade surrounding the courtyard. This roofing was built of limestone decorated with brightly colored painted reliefs that few of them survived. In the courtyard probably was placed a statue of the of the king's seated figure, with inscriptions marking his titles.
To the west of the courtyard were five chapels which were actually elongated niches in which originally statues were placed. The southwestern corner of the open courtyard led through a narrow passage to a sanctuary in the western end of the temple. This temple is laid out on a north-south axis with a fake door on the western wall, precisely on the axis connecting the central axis of the temple with the center of the pyramid.
The temple includes elements that became standard in later mortuary temples: an entrance hall, a wide columns courtyard, an open courtyard, niches for the king's statues, warehouses and internal sanctuary. Around the mortuary temple were found five holes for boats - two to its north  and three to its south.
The lower temple, the Valley Temple of the pyramid of Khafre is of the best preserved temples of the fourth dynasty. It is located on the banks of the Nile and next to the Sphinx temple. In front of it is a huge platform enabling boats to harbor facing the temple. This temple, which has a generally quadratic form was built of huge blocks, some of which weighed more than 150 tons. Pink granite slabs coated it. It was inclined slightly inward and curved at the top, so that the whole structure looked like a mastaba. In The temple is kept intact the famous statue of Khafre with falcon looking behind his head and displays him becoming god Horus.
The Valley Temple has two entrances: in the northern an inscription reads "Khafre beloved by Bastet", while in the southern an inscription reads "Khafre beloved by Hathor". The temple is paved with alabaster. A door led to a T-shaped hall which constituted most of the surface of the temple. 16 pink granite pillars supported the ceiling. 23 niches along the walls of the hall, each presents a standing statue of the king. The northern side the temple opened to the causeway linking it with the Upper Temple.
Near the Valley Temple is found the Sphinx temple and in front of the Sphinx temple - the Sphinx itself. The Sphinx temple had probably two entrances, northern and southern. The eastern and western walls of the temple gradually retreat to the center into an open courtyard, which is associated with the worship of the sun. The researchers believe that worship of the rising sun took place in the eastern side of the temple, while worship of the setting sun took place in its western side . 24 columns surround the hall of the temple around the central courtyard - six in each of the four sides, perhaps representing the 24 hour-period - 12 hours day and 12 hours night. The two pillars in front of the eastern sanctuary and the two pillars in the western sanctuary represent respectively the hands and feet of the sky goddess Nut.

The Sphinx
The Sphinx (shesepankh; literally in ancient Egyptian: living statue), a huge statue (70 meters long and 20 meters high) of a lion with a human face, which was painted in bright colors is ascribed to the period of Khafre's reign. The statue must have presented the king himself, and expressed his divinity. During the 18th dynasty, Tutmoses IV removed the sand that had accumulated on the Sphinx. Then the stone coating was found on the ground and was returned into place. Other restorations were apparently made during the Roman Saite dynasty, then most of the statue was coated with small stones.
During the New Kingdom, the Sphinx which symbolizes wisdom and power, was called God Horemachet (literally in ancient Egyptian: the sun [Hor] on the horizon, in Greek: Harmachis) - the sun god that the sun, which rises every day, associates him with rebirth.
Apart from the giant sphinx, the layout of Khafre's pyramid contained approximately 58 sculptures, including four colossal sphinxes each exceeding 8.5 meters in length, which were lying in pairs flanking each of the Valley Temple's doors.

The Pyramid of Menkaure
The smallest of the three great pyramids at Giza was built by Khfre's son , Menkaure (in Greek: Mycerinus) (ruled 2532-2503 BCE). Its original name was "Menkaure the divine." The square base of the pyramid was 104.6 m x 104.6 m in size, and the height of the pyramid was 66.45 meters (62.2 meters in height today). The angle of its slope - 51° 20'25''. The pyramid had not been completed until the death of Menkaore, and his sons continued its construction. A remain of the granite coating, which has never been completed is found at its bottom,
Menkaure's grave, in contrast to the tombs of Khufu and Khafre, was located in the lowest chamber of the pyramid. The organization of rooms and corridors of the pyramid is more complex than that of Khafre. Originally, the pyramid was probably designed to be much smaller than the current one. 31.75 meters long corridor is descending from an entrance about four meters in height in the northern side of the pyramid and leads to a horizontal corridor 12.6 meters in lengh, ending in a large rectangular entrance hall, laid out on an east-west axis, which seems to have been gone through a few changes before its construction was completed. This room must have been designed to be the original burial chamber. In this room was found a wooden coffin, which carried the name of Menkaure and contained his remains. It has been shown that the coffin and the body are from a later period. 
 Another descending corridor known as "the upper corridor" led  to this room and was located above the corridor mentioned above. It opened to the highest point on the northern wall of the pyramid and was probably the original entrance to the pyramid, but it reaches a dead end. The continuation of this corridor descends from the entrance hall by stairs leading into another room where six deep niches (four in the eastern side and two in the northern), probably served for holding the objects or canopic jars of the king. From this room, the continuation of the corridor leads to the burial chamber where a basalt sarcophagus was found. Unfortunately, the sarcophagus was lost after the ship, which carried it in 1838, on its way to the British Museum in London sank in the Mediterranean.
Along the southern wall of Menkaure's pyramid were built three smaller pyramids for women of the royal family. They are located outside the wall surrounding the pyramid and close to it and laid out on east-west axis. The eastern of them was built with limestone finish and granite coating. Its structure is similar to a satellite pyramid structure designed for the ka Inside this pyramid was found a granite sarcophagus, and adjacent to it is a mortuary temple indicating that it was built for the queen's burial. The other two pyramids were unfinished or were deliberately built as step pyramids.

 Image - The pyramid of Menkaure , side section

East of the Pyramid of Menkaure were found the remains of the upper temple (the mortuary temple), to which a causeway led from the Valley Temple. The mortuary temple apparently was left unfinished due to the sudden death of Menkaure and was completed by his son Shepseskaf (ruled 2503-2498 BCE.) The temple can be restored only partially. An entrance hallway from the east probably led to an internal courtyard, which was intended to be drcorated by pillars. The inner wall of this courtyard was probably coated with whitewashed mud bricks and decorated with painting after the death of Pharaoh Menkaure. In the western part of the temple, colonnade with two rows of pillars led to a long offering hall. Inside the building was a large statue of Menkeore, which probably stood originally on the central axis of the temple so that it could look through the hall on the causeway leading to the world of the living. The southwestern part of the mortuary temple remained unfinished.
The valley temple construction also began during the rule of Menkaure and was completed by Shepseskaf. The entrance to the temple led to an entrance hall with four columns of which only the bases survived. The bases of these columns were made of alabaster stone and placed on clay floor. To each side of the entrance hall were four storage rooms.
On the central axis of the temple were laid out from east to west: a hall, a large rectangular open courtyard, whose inner walls were decorated with niches, limestone paved path, low staircase, loggia with two rows of wooden columns and a long offering hall where probably an altar stood. To the north of the offering hall were 12 storage rooms. To the south of it were five additional storage rooms. Here were found statues of the king with a statue of Hathor and statues of various local goddesses. There are Egyptologists who believe that Pharaoh Pepi II rebuilt the temple as early as the sixth dynasty after it had been damaged mainly by rainwater.

Pyramids During the Fifth Dynasty
During the fifth dynasty, the power of the king weakened and there was a stronger emphasis on the worship of the sun god Re. The king's family no longer occupied key positions in the government, and government officials no longer expressed loyalty to the king. They were less dependent on his favors. Following these changes, the dimensions of the kings' pyramids decreased, while the burial structures of senior government officials grew bigger and their number increased too. Like the Pyramids at Giza, the pramid of Pharaoh Userkaf at Sakara, the pyramids of Sahure, Neferirkara (Nefer-ir-ka-re – literally: beautiful is the soul of Re) and Niuserre at Abusir, the pyramids were part of a layout of structures including: Upper temple (mortuary temple), Lower temple (Valley Temple) and a causeway linking them. These pyramids were more modest in dimensions than the Giza pyramids, but the dimensions of their Upper temples were larger than those of their kind at Giza. In such temples there were many warehouses, rooms and objects of worship.

Image - The pyramid of Sahure, ground plan

Another change that occurred during this period was the orientation of the pyramid complex. While compounds of pyramids from the fourth dynasty were set on a north – south axis, during the fifth dynasty the pyramid compond was set on east – west axis.
Pyramids During the Middle Kingdom
During the first interim period, then dominated political disorder and chaos, construction of pyramids stopped, but their construction began again during the rule of Pharaoh Amenemhet I (ruled 1985-1956 BCE), the first king of the 12th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom. These pyramids, located near the entrance to Fayum, to the south of the Old Kingdom pyramids, were not monumental like the previous pyramids. The heart of the pyramid was built of mud bricks and coated with limestone.  When the pyramid was completed, its coating looked like that of the pyramids of the Old Kingdom. Today, without their coating, the pyramids of the 12th dynasty lost their original shape and they seem like scattered hills in nature rather than man-made pyramids. Among these  pyramids are: the pyramid of Senusret II in Illahun,  and the pyramids of  Amenemhet III in Dahshur and Hawara.
The first pyramid built by Amenemhet in  El-Lisht, was more like the pyramids from the Old Kingdom, but in smaller dimensions. Unlike what was common during the Middle Kingdom, the pyramid was built of limestone blocks removed from ancient monuments at Giza and Abusir and coated with limestone from Tura.
Builders of the pyramids during this period must have forgotten the construction technique of their predecessors and found it difficult at times to place the burial chamber beneath the pyramid's vertical axis. Instead of building separate graves for their wives in smaller pyramids, as was the custom since the Old Kingdom, the kings built burial chambers for their wives in their own great pyramids.
Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom have learned from past experience. They understood that the enormous size of the Great Pyramids did not protect the tombs from robbers, and they built smaller pyramids. To prevent the robbery of tombs, the pyramid structure was designed as a complex set of rooms and corridors to confuse the robbers. Bandits' traps were placed along the corridors. To the effectiveness of these traps, testify the remains of thieves found trapped in them.
As during the Old Kingdom, during the Middle Kingdom the layout of the pyramid's compound included beside the pyramid itself, the mortuary temple and the valley temple with a causeway linking them. Unfortunately, very few of these buildings survived.
A unique structure, which was documented by writers from Antiquity is the mortuary temple built near the pyramid of Pharaoh Amenemhet III at Hawara and named "Labyrinth." Herodotus described it as a two story structure with 3,000 rooms, some of which were subterrenean. He tells that the Egyptians did not let him enter the subterranean rooms, and told him that there were the graves of the kings who built the labyrinth, and of holy crocodiles. The ceilings and walls, according to his description, were made of stone. The walls were covered with reliefs depicting figures and each courtyard was built of white marble and was surrounded by rows of columns. The passage from the courtyards to the rooms, the corridors with many columns, and the passage from these corridors to the other rooms and back to the courtyards, seemed to Herodotus in their complexity, like an infinite miracle.
According to the writings of Pliny (23-79 CE), this labyrinth served as a model for the labyrinth built by Daedalus for King Minos in Knossos in Crete.
Today, there are differences of opinion about the purpose of this structure. Some believe that this is not the mortuary temple, but a building used for government administration.

Pyramids During the New Kingdom
 Building royal pyramids stopped during the New Kingdom since most of the pharaohs were buried in hidden tombs hewn into the rock, and began the building of pyramids built of mud bricks by individuals. These pyramids were smaller in dimensions but looked high and sharp.
These graves were originally personal, but with time they were used for the burial of additional family members. The look of the graves was largely uniform. Each grave had an entrance through a pylon (literally in Greek: gate), a gate  consisting of two monumental and symmetric structures, each shaped like mastaba or a cut pyramid adorned with a cornice. The pylon led to  one or two open courtyards. At the courtyard farthest from the entrance, was a small chapel with an entrance, topped by a small pyramid in which were several rooms. In the chapel's back wall was a niche where the statue of the dead king stood. The deceased was buried with his belongings in the subterranean rooms accessible through the steps of a shaft located in the courtyard or in one of the chapel's rooms.
The ceilings of the burial chambers were designed in the form of vaults decorated with scenes often describing the family members of the dead in their daily lives or images depicting rituals related to worship of the dead, such as the mouth opening ceremony. Inscriptions from the book of the dead, also adorned the walls.
Artists from Deir el-Medina who were occupied with the construction of tombs in the Valley of the Kings, built for themselves in a necropolis in Deir el-Medina (on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor), within a few tens of meters from their homes, mud-brick pyramids some of which are still standing. They were built on a hill overlooking the village where they lived. Their own pyramids, which were built in their spare time, were incorporated with subterranean burial chambers decorated with beautiful paintings and inscriptions. The pyramids often included a niche designed for a tombstone or a statue.
Tombs uncovered in the Necropolis of Deir el Medina are the graves of artists who worked in building the tombs of pharaohs of the Ramesses dynasty. From the remains of the graves we can learn that considerable attention was paid to their design and organization and to the whole burial site as well. Unlike the private tombs of senior officials where mainly images from daily life are displayed on the walls, most of the paintings on the walls of artists' burial chambers in Deir el Medina depict religious themes. The inscription that describes the dead in the graves is "a servant in the place of truth" - a title shared by all the artists who decorated the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
Sennedjem, one of these artists, shared his tomb (Tomb TT 1; TT - Theban Tomb) with his wife, children and grandchildren. On the walls of the tomb there are beautiful paintings including a description of God Anubis leading Sennedjem to God Osiris, and a description of Sennedjem's journey in the underworld.
A foreman named Inherkhau built for himself two graves: tomb TT 299  and TT 359. Tomb TT 359 can be entered through a vertical shaft 4.50 meters deep, where a short vaulted corridor leads to two consecutive chambers. On the walls there were paintings of excellent quality, and literary and religious texts. The murals depict, among others, the opening of the mouth, and the deceased with his wife receiving offerings from their sons.
The many tombs of the necropolis of Deir el-Medina also include the tombs of the builder Pashedu (tomb TT 3), the sculptor Ipuy (TT 217),  Nakhtamen (tomb TT 218), and Nebenmaet (tomb TT 219).
The pyramids built during the New Kingdom as private tombs, are scattered around Egypt, from Sakara to Deir el Medina, Soleb, and Aniba (Nubia).

The Nubian Pyramids
After Ramesses dynasty came to its end, Egypt became gradually weaker while Nubia (now Sudan), which developed into the southern province of Egypt during the New Kingdom, became stronger. The Nubians moved to the north and took control of Egypt. Their kings, who were rich and powerful, ruled Egypt during the 25th dynasty. They honored the Egyptian culture, celebrated the religious festivals that were common in Egypt and adopted its burial customs. Ancient temples were restored and new ones were built. The Nubians believed that they represented the god from the south pole and were selected to unite the Old Empire and reinstate Maat – truth, honesty and order throughout Egypt.
Many royal stone pyramids were built in Nubia about 800 years after pyramids had not been built in Egypt itself. Their burial sites, which were found on the banks of the Nile south of Nubia were: El-Kurru, Nuri, and Meroe. The first of them were built in El-Kurru. Here were all the graves of the kings and queens of the 25th dynasty, except for the tomb of King Taharka (ruled in 690-664 BCE), who built his pyramid in a new site in Nuri.

Image - Mud brick pyramid in Deir El Medina
The earliest Nubian pyramids were built in El-Kurru by the kings who ruled from Memphis and returned to Nubia only to be buried there. Pharaoh Piye or Piankhi, the second of the 25th dynasty (ruled 735-710 BCE), built a modest pyramid for himself in El-Kurru (8 m x 8 m in area) with a slope of 68 degrees. 19 steps facing east led to a stone corbel vaulted subterranean burial chamber. Piye built tombs for his wives as well and also graves for four horses, which were buried standing up with their faces to the East. The pyramids of the pharaohs who ruled after Pharaoh Piye looked like his pyramid. The practice to bury horses in separate graves also continued in El-Kurru by the pharaohs who ruled after him.
Besides the pyramids of kings in El-Kurru  , pyramids for  fourteen queens were built as well. While a king's pyramid's area ranged from 8 to 11 square meters, an area of a Queen's pyramid ranged from six to seven square meters.
Taharka, the greatest Nubian pharaoh, built the biggest Nubian pyramid in Nuri (51.75 m x 51.75 m in area, originally 79 meters tall ,with a slope of 69 degrees), the most magnificent among the dozens of Nubian pyramids of kings and queens.
After Taharka, 21 kings and 53 queens and princesses were buried under red limestone pyramids in Nuri. Nuri pyramids were large (with height ranging approximately from 20 meters to 39.5 meters) compared to the previous pyramids in  El-Kurru, but much shorter than Taharka's pyramid. Some of the queens' pyramids reached an area of about 17 square meters, indicating the rise in importance of these women.
High-steep slope characterizes the Nuri pyramids inspired by the tombs of the artisans in Deir el-Medina during the New Kingdom. A small chapel used for offerings, food and beverages, and facing the sunrise, was built for the dead, east of the pyramid. The last Nubian king buried in Nuri died in 308 BCE.
The largest site of the Nubian pyramids is Meroe, about a hundred kilometers north of Khartoum. It was a royal burial site for about 600 years (between 308 BCE to 350 CE), where the pyramids were built of red sandstone and have been preserved in relatively good condition. Over forty kings and queens were buried there.
Pyramids were built in horizontal layers of blocks of stones creating a look of a staircase (see image below). The height of these pyramids ranged from 6 to 30 meters. Like the pyramids in El-Kurru and Nuri, the pyramids of Meroe have  a narrow structure with a slope close to 70 degrees. To such a pyramid was attached a temple of offerings.

Image - Detail of Meroe pyramid  
Nubian pyramids were robbed in ancient times, but the reliefs on the walls of the tombs  testify that the royal deceased were embalmed and  covered with jewelry. Archaeologists uncovered the graves in the 19th and 20th centuries and found there arrows of archers, horse harnesses, wooden boxes, furniture, vases, stained glass, metal tools and other objects.
With the fall of the Nubian kingdom, the history of the pyramids in Egypt came to an end.

Rock-Hewn Tombs
One way or another, most of the tombs in ancient Egypt were actually carved in stone. In the pyramids and mastabas were subterranean structures hewn into the rocks, sometimes simple holes and sometimes complicated structures. 
With the decline of the Old Kingdom and following the change in social structure, the design of tombs changed too. During the fifth dynasty, the weakening of the king and the rise of the of the government officials' social status, resulted in abandoning the tendency to build tombs near the tomb of the king. 
The government officials built near their regions, at the desert's edge, rock-hewn tombs that served as models for the rock-hewn tombs built during the first interim period of the Middle Kingdom. These graves contained an open courtyard carved into a hill, rows of columns, a chapel and a burial pit.
The tomb of Ankhtify, governor of the city of Hefat (i.e. el-Moalla), built about 30 kilometers south of Luxor) during the ninth dynasty, was the most impressive among this type of tombs hewn into the rock.
The tomb, built in approximately 2100 BCE, is a central tomb in a huge burial site that includes other large tombs hewn into the mountain side. Ankhtify was one of the most powerful men in southern Egypt when Egypt was divided among warrior rulers. He had an army and fought the ruler of Thebes. In front of the tomb was a large anteroom, a causeway and possibly a Valley Temple at the end of the causeway. In the grave were rows of painted culumns on which were engraved hieroglyphics featuring the autobiography of Ankhtify.
In Ankhtify's tomb, like in other tombs from the same period in Aswan, the artists used bright colors and unique style. A Significant development during this period, which reached its peak during the Middle Kingdom, was the burial practices which were part of the cult of the god Osiris, including coffins, wooden boats and statues of figures carrying offerings.
During the 11th and 12th dynasties, with the weakening of kings, powerful nobles left the court of Memphis and returned to their native towns. One of these towns was an important town in the center of Egypt where is today the village of Beni Hassan, named after an Arab tribe who lived in nearby communities (now abandoned) on the east bank of the Nile. Here were located the graves on the east bank of the Nile, in contrast to the usual practice to bury the dead to the west of the Nile. The rock-hewn burial chambers were built without superstructures, and local artists were employed to adorn them.
The tombs in Beni Hassan are of various sizes and they are arranged parallel to the east bank of the Nile. Many of them are unfinished. The fronts of a few tombs were shaped as rock-cut columns. A typical tomb contains a single room or two rooms carved into the rock and at its inner end there is a small niche. In some of the tombs pillars were carved in the rooms. The largest burial chambers reach the dimensions of 9 m x3 m. In horizontal stripes along the walls of the tombs were painted frescoes depicting political and military events from the lives of the deceased.
In the tomb of Khnumhotep in Beni Hassan there are many frescoes depicting daily life (such as a description of a fisherman) and others expressing his power as a local ruler (such as paintings showing foreigners, including Asians, bringing offerings to Khnumhotep). In a niche at the end of the tomb were found parts of a statue in his image.

Image - The tomb of Khnumhotep in Beni Hassan from the 12th dynasty 

 During the New Kingdom tombs were cut into the hidden limestone rocky necropolis of Thebes, in the west bank of the Nile. Here were buried senior government officials, kings and queens. The burial sites where kings were buried were: the Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Monkeys, Valley of the Queens,  and Dra Abu el-Naga. The tombs of the officials clustered mostly in the following burial sites: Sheikh Abd El-Qurna, Medinet Habu, Qurnet Murrai, Deir El-Medina, El-Asasif, and El-Khokha.
The areas in west Thebes were selected probably for several reasons: the limestone in the area was easy to quarry, the sacred mountain El Qurn which dominates the environment, was perceived as the home of the goddess Mertesger (literally in ancient Egyptian: she who loves silence) who protected the graves. Mount El Qurn has a pyramidal shape, which also associates it with the sun cult.
The mountainous structure of the soil provided many hidden places hewn into the rocks. The need to hide the tombs was due to fear of tombs robbers, from whom the visible pyramids were not protected. The hidden tombs were hewn into the rocks, without a visible superstructure.
Following the need to hide the tombs of the kings, Ineni, the architect who built the tomb of Tutmoses I, initiated a new method for building tombs: building the tomb of the king into a quarried rock, and his mortuary temple elsewhere. In fact, Ineni continued the tradition of pyramids, but this time it was not man-made pyramid, but a natural pyramid - a pyramid-shaped hill.
To the need to hide the tombs testifies the inscription found in the tomb of Tutmoses I referring to its construction: "I attended the quarrying of the tomb of His Majesty alone, nobody heard, nobody saw." Most of the graves discovered have fake entrances or fake burial chambers, which are designed to fool the robbers.
The rock-cut tombs, where kings, queens and nobles were buried, were adorned with wall paintings and reliefs, featuring the daily life of the dead and the lives of the gods. The tombs were filled with many treasures, including furniture, sculptures, precious jewelry, and boats, which were supposed to accompany the dead to life in the hereafter. 
On the walls of the tombs were texts that accompanied the deceased on his way to the underworld. One of the texts was Amduat (literally in ancient Egyptian: that which is) - the story of the journey of the sun god Re from the sunset in the west to sunrise in the east, a jouney joined by pharaoh who became immortal. 
Another text was  the "Gates book", which describes a passage through 12 gates representing the obstacles that the dead king passes during the 12 hours of his night journey. 
An additional text was "The Book of the Heavenly Cow", which seems like a kind of Egyptian version to the biblical flood story, according to which human beings rebelled against God Re. In response he punished them by sending Goddess Hathor to them in the form of an eye (the eye of Re represented by a cobra) that burned them with fire. Eventually, God Re. saved some of them.
The ground plan of a rock-hewn tomb included hallways, lobby and a burial chamber, where  a sarcophagus was placed in a lower level. However, the overall appearance of a typical ground plan of tombs changed from period to period.
Ground plans of the tombs of kings and queens of the early period of the 18th dynasty that were discovered, were generally L shaped, with cartouche (a shape between circle and oval, symbolizing continuity, in which was inscribed Pharaoh's name or the god's name)  shaped burial chamber at the end of one of the arms of the L shape. These tombs include the tombs of Tutmoses II (Tomb KV 42) (KV= Kings' Valley - known as the Valley of the Kings), Tutmoses III (KV 34), Amenhotep II (Tomb  KV35) and Tutmoses IV (Tomb KV43) – all of them in the Valley of the Kings.  
Ground plans of private tombs from this period that have been discovered, are usually T-shaped. These include two tombs in the necropolis of Sheikh Abd el-Qurna:  the tomb of Senenmut, an architect and lover of Hatshepsut (Tomb  TT 71), and the tomb of  Rekhmire (Tomb  TT 100) who was a minister under the rule of  Tutmoses III and Amenhotep II. 
During the 19th and 20th dynasties the Kings' tombs were long and narrow. A long series of rooms and corridors led to the burial chamber. These tombs include the tomb of King Sethi I (Tomb  KV 17), tomb of King Merenptah (tomb  KV 8) from the 19th dynasty and the tomb of King Ramesses III (Tomb KV 11) from the 20th dynasty.
An especially large tomb (corridors 60 meters in length), one of the biggest found in Valley of the Kings was built for the sons of Ramesses II (tomb  KV 5). It is complex in shape and built on several levels. Decorations and text found in this tomb refer to six of the the royal family members.
In 2005, KV 63 tomb was discovered, the first tomb discovered in the Valley of the Kings after the discovery of Tut-Ankh-Amon's tomb. This is a small tomb discovered within 14.5 meters from the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amon. In this tomb were found  many coffins, but the most significant discovery in the tomb was a small coffin coated with gold leaf.
The construction work of rock-cut tomb usually lasted six years from the time of a new king's rise to power. In the Valley of the Kings there are still hundreds of tombs not yet discovered. Many tombs were left unfinished. This enables examining the working process and learning the techniques that were used.
As mentioned earlier, workers who have built and shaped the tombs of the Kings, built for themselves small pyramids in the necropolis near their village. Decorations in their graves were spectacular, because among them were the designers of the kings' tombs.
           Ground plans, spectacular photographs and videos accompanied by explanations of the Kings' burial sites,  can be found in the following recommended web site:
           Tut-Ankh-Amon's Tomb

The most famous tomb in the Valley of the Kings is the tomb of King Tut-Ankh-Amon (literally in ancient Egyptian: live image of Amon) (tomb KV 62), found almost entirely intact with all its contents. The tomb was discovered in 1922 by the English archaeologist Howard Carter after years of excavations. In this tomb, which provided the greatest amount of treasures in the history of Egypt, one can glimpse into the richness of the ancient Egyptian kings.
Tut-Ankh-Amon (ruled 1336-1327 BCE) came to power at age 10, probably after the death of Akhenaten and died at age 19 or so. The researchers believe that he was the son of Akhenaten or his brother's son (ie, the son of Amenhotep III). A common assumption was that he was murdered, but the findings of CT tests made on his mummy, led researchers to rule out this hypothesis, although it is still not known for sure what caused his death. Some members of the staff who made these tests and published their findings in March 2005, believe that his death was a result of a broken bone in the leg. About 130 walking sticks found among the treasures in his tomb, support this hypothesis.
The prevous name of Tut-Ankh-Amon, who married the daughter of Akhenaten, was Tut-Ankh-Aten (literally: living image of Aten). The name change expressed his return to faith in God Amon and the abandonment of his faith in God Aten, the only god believed by Akhenaten. Though he canceled the religious reforms of Ahenaten, he did not oppress the followers of Aten. During the war with the Hittites he suddenly died without leaving behind him a heir, and was buried in the Valley of the Kings.
The king's unexpected death after a very short period of ruling found its expression in the dimensions of his tomb, which are the smallest among the tombs in the Valley of Kings, and in the murals hastily painted only in the burial chamber. Some believe that the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amon was not carved for a king but for a government official. However, because of the unexpected death of the young King, the king himself was buried there.
A staircase with 18 steps leads from east to west to a corridor descending eight meters in length, followed by an antechamber. To the right of the antechamber is found  the burial chamber. This room opens to the east, to another room called the Treasure Room. As already mentioned, the burial chamber is the only room with murals.

 Image - Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amon, ground plan

In the antechamber of the tomb were, among other things, trains, food containers, spectacular furniture (designed with ebony wood, gold, lapis lazuli, turquoise stone and ivory) and figures of two guards, who stood at the entrance to the burial room. At the entrance to the treasure room stood a black statue of the god Anubis, and inside the room were boats, gilded figures and many other treasures. In the small room adjacent to the antechamber were many valuable things, lying on the floor in disorder. It is unclear whether this disorder was there originally or made by robbers who broke into it.
 In the burial chamber were found three coffins of the king, one inside the other. The inner coffin was made of solid gold. It contained the king's mummified body, and a golden mask. Apart from the caskets were found in the burial chamber: 415 statues of slaves and their supervisors, which were supposed to serve the king in the afterlife, beds coated with gold leaf, and other spectacular furnishings.
Temples in Ancient Egypt
In Ancient Egyptian, the word indicating a temple was "hut-netjer" – literally: the house of the  god. The English word "temple" originates in the  Latin word "templum"(literally: an open courtyard.) Like in other ancient cultures, the basic structure of the ancient Egyptian temple included an open courtyard and a closed structure, placed inside the temple. The most sacred room was placed in the innermost of the temple where the god's statue stood. This room was located out of the sight of the audience, and accessed only by the king and priests.
The temple, as the home of the god, was  perceived as a holy site which is outside the realm of the secular world, a microcosm as an expression of the world-order in miniature. Its purpose was to allow contact with the god, a contanct without which harmony existing on earth and in the cosmos was not obvious. 
The Ancient Egyptians were terrified of the world returning to the chaos that preceded creation. To prevent this disaster, it was necessary to please the god. The daily worship, hymns glorifying and praising the god and offerings given to him were intended to ensure continued harmony.
There were temples which served as the temples of god, and mortuary temples where the dead Pharaoh, who was considered as god, was worshiped. Temples were usually built for the local deities. The ancient among them were built of mats made of woven reeds and attached to wooden frames. These ancient temples disappeared with the passage of time, but we can learn about their existence from hieroglyphs engraved on  ebony and ivory panels. Later, wooden temples were built, and in front of them was a fenced open courtyard that separated the religious world from the secular one. The king, who was the intermediary between his people and their god, held the rituals and ceremonies.
From the first dynasty until the last (the Ptolemaic),  it was customary in ancient Egypt to hold a ceremony for laying the foundations of the temple, in which symbolic and concrete actions were incorporated. In a text from the Ptolemaic dynasty are detailed the phases of the ceremony with the participation of the king. These include chanting spells, determining the orientation of the temple according to the four cardinal points, digging pits and foundations by the king, designing four bricks at the four corners of the temple, and laying a few stones at the four corners of the temple. A miniature temple representing the final structure of the temple was purified by dispersing sodium carbonate pouder around it and introduced to the god.
Apart from the cosmological significance associated with determining the orientation of the temple according to the compass, we can learn from the ceremony that a model of the temple was designed before it was built.
Until now (see the chapter discussing the pyramids), we observed two main types of temples that were part of the pyramid's compound: the mortuary temple, where worship was intended to deify the king, and the Valley Temple where the dead were probably embalmed, purified, and the ceremony of mouth opening took place.
During the fifth Dynasty, then the great tradition of building pyramids was broken, the sun god Re, lord of the sun temples, creation and power, was worshiped throughout Egypt. A new kind of temples were built, reviving the traditions  of sun temples in the city of Iuno (in Greek Heliopolis – the city of the sun) , but these temples have never been discovered. They had an open courtyard that allowed sunlight to penetrate it.
In the sun temples of the fifth dynasty, a stubby obelisk was standing on a rectangular tall podium facing the altar of the sun god Re in the open courtyard. The podium probably represented the primordial hill from which creation began. The obelisk was intended to serve as a copy of the benben stone, a key element in the sun temple in the city of Heliopolis from the early dynasties. The layout of the temple included storage warehouses for the offerings, and pits for storing the wooden boat, on which the sun was supposed to sail in the sky. A causeway connected the temple's compound with the Valley Temple.
Most of the kings of the fifth dynasty built sun temples with this type of obelisk in Abusir (located north of Sakara), and Abu Ghurob (not far from Abusir). The layout of the sun temple (the Upper temple) included apart from an open courtyard in which stood a single obelisk and altar, a Valley Temple (the Lower temple), which was actually a kind of a monumental gate leading to the temple, and a causeway connecting the Valley Temple to the sun temple.
Such a layout can be seen in a temple built by Pharaoh Niuserre in Abu Gurob. In the temple of Niuserre was found, apart from the components mentioned above, a boat built of clay, which was built for the sun god who crosses the sky in his boat, as the Egyptians themselves moved in boats on the Nile.  As we have already seen in the pyramids, boats were found in royal tombs and were part of the equipment designed to serve the king in the afterlife.
Building sun temples with an obelisk inside them  stopped at the end of the fifth dynasty.
The obelisk, which was a key element in the sun temples during the fifth dynasty, can be seen as representing the cult of the vertical stone, which was customary in Bretany and elsewhere in Europe and the Middle East during prehistoric times. The megalithic stone, like the menhir in Bretany, gets a clear geometric shape when designed in an abstract manner as an obelisk. The word "Obelisk"(in Greek "obeliskos" - diminutive of obelos, literally: needle) . the obelisk was known in ancient Egypt as "ben" or "ben-ben". This word originates in the noun "benu" - the legendary phoenix, or in the verb "weben" which literally means in ancient Egyptian "shine".
At the top of the obelisk stands a small pyramid - pyramidion, which creates the impression of movement upward toward the sun whom it symbolizes. The pyramidion gets the sunlight and charges the obelisk with solar energy. It was perceived as the point connecting between heaven and earth.
There is evidence that the pyramidia (plural of Pyrmidion) were coated with pure gold (such were the obelisks of Hatshepsut in Karnak), electrum (a yellow alloy of gold and silver) and copper (such were the obelisks of Tutmoses I in Karnak) so that the rays of light shining from them will illuminate Egypt. This is the most sacred part of the obelisk, which symbolizes the primordial hill, where the first rays of the sun shone, and where the sun god Re first appeared.

 Image - The obelisk of Hatshepsut in Karnak

The obelisk and the temple dedicated to the sun god, called "the place of the obelisk",  were considered the most sacred structures to the sun god. The Egyptians believed that in special occasions the spirit of the sun penetrated the stone. This occurred when priests brought offerings to the god, and human victims (usually prisoners of war) were sacrificed to him.
In their refined slender form, the obelisks were placed in pairs during the New Kingdom before the main facade of the temple, usually in front of the main gate. Sometimes they were designed with the most expensive materials. On all four sides of the obelisk were engraved hieroglyphs indicating the purpose of the temple before which it was placed, the details of its construction, purpose and names of the gods to whom it was dedicated. Likewise, the names of its founders were featured.
Obelisks were often erected in the memory of an important event such as winning a battle, and as a gift to the sun god. The Roman scholar Pliny (Plinius) the elder (23-79 CE) writes in his Historia Naturalis in 77 CE, that granite monoliths were built by the kings of ancient Egypt also as an expression of competition between them. They called these monoliths "obelisks" and devoted them to the sun god. The obelisk, according to Pliny, is the symbolic representative of the sun's ray. The word obelisk in ancient Egyptian was  "Tekhen" which meant, in fact, both "ray of light" and "obelisk".
The importance of the temple's compound, including obelisks, increased since the Middle Kingdom, then kings began to be buried in the Valley of the Kings. The kings, whose position was weakened, derived legitimacy to their ruling  from the temples, which became more and more rich and powerful.
Pharaohs presented themselves in temples as gods or as suns of gods. Sometimes a description of the birth of the king to a god  appeared in the temple. Such a description is found in both the temple of Amon in Luxor and the temple in Deir el Bahri, where the birth of Queen Hatshepsut to God Amon is described. Likewise, in temple Amon-Mut-Khonsu in Luxor was described the birth of Amenhotep III to the same god. Identifying a king with the god was also expressed in presenting him in a statue in the image of that god.
The prosperity of Egypt during the 18th dynasty enabled the building of temples for various gods throughout Egypt. These were built of stone rather than of mud bricks so that they would be preserved forever. In big cities such as Thebes and Memphis, massive stone temples were built.
 Unlike what was customary at times when mortuary temples were built adjacent to the pyramids of the dead kings, since the rule of Amenhotep I (ruled 1504-1492 BCE), it was customary to create a considerable distance between the king's burial chamber and the mortuary temple. It was not advisable to place the mortuary temple close to the king's tomb in the highlands of the Valley of the Kings because of the need to hide the tombs from robbers who were drawn to the treasures buried with the dead king. The separation was therefore necessary.
Building a mortuary temple, which was actually a temple to God Amon, enabled the divine king to connect to the gods after his death, especially to Osiris and Re, who promised him eternal life after death. The king could choose between cyclical eternal life (djet), ie sailing every day in the boat of the sun god Re in heaven, and eternal rest with Osiris (nehe) in the reed fields. The illuminated part of the temple, that is, the open courtyard under the sky represented the cult of the sun, while the closed shadowy part represented the cult of Osiris.
Most temples were built near the Nile River, which served as the main traffic artery, or beside a canal connected to the Nile. They were placed generally on an east-west axis, perpendicular to the river that flows from south to north. Since ancient times the way from the river docks to the temple were marked out. Some of these ways (caueways) were paved and roofed, and sometimes statues of the king were placed along them. During the Middle Kingdom, statues of sphinxes designed to protect the access to the temple, flanked the way to the temple. These statues were designed sometimes with heads in the image of the king himself or in the image of an animal (as a god) holding the king's statue in its hoof. Such a  boulevard of statues sometimes led from temple to temple, like the road that led from temple Amon in Karnak to temple Amon-Mut-Khunso in Luxor.
The temple's compound was surrounded by mud-brick walls, designed to protect the temple and create the borders of the god's place. The walls were thick (reaching up to ten meters) and some had fortified gates. Often, the temple's walls were wavy. Some believe that it was intended to symbolize the primordial water of creation. In some cases, only the top of the wall was wavy. The idea that there is a connection between the wavy appearance of the wall and the primordial water is reinforces by the fact that in every city the local priests contended that their temple was located on the primordial hill from which emerged the primordial water. Each of the temples was seen as the gateway leading from this world to the next and from the human to the divine.
The temples, which were built mostly in sandstone, had a massive structure. They were well protected, because they served for storing the precious gifts given to the king. The windowless exterior walls contributed to the heavily fortified look of the temple.
The temple usually had a fixed general plan, the deeper was the room in the temple, the more sacred it was. The general plan was characterized by a central axis leading to the most holy place - the holy of holies. This axis passed through an avenue of sphinxes, a pair of obelisks, Pylon, open courtyard surrounded by columns (hypostyle), and a columns hall. The axis ended in the sacred room of the god, where his statue was kept. Small treasure rooms, and chambers of sacred vessels surrounded this room. Sometimes this plan was based on a central axis that allowed penetration of light from the boulevard of sphinxes to the holy of holies.
The pylon was the most striking feature of the temple. It had a symbolic meaning, representing the mountain on which the sun rises and sets. It led to the compound open to the public usually with a rectangular paved courtyard in front of a columns hall in the same width. An altar of offerings was placed in the courtyard and the public was allowed to enter it during the holidays and festivals. Thus, a sense of belonging to the temple was given to the ordinary people.
The open courtyard led to a hall of columns  which was not the most sacred place in the temple, but the most impressive. In some temples there were several halls of columns. The big hall of columns was a kind of kingdom of the god, where his statue was presented to the crowds on holidays. Along the central axis of the hall was a space between the pillars through which marched the parades. In this central part of the hall, the columns were higher than those in the side wings. Thus, in the central wing was a clerestory allowing light to penetrate the hall through the high windows above the height of the columns of the side wings.

The columns in the hall of columns were inspired by the world of plants. In the central wing there were usually columns with capitals called "open lotus" (in fact they had a form of water lily), while in the side wings there were columns with capitals in the shape of papyrus' closed buds. Papyrus and lotus capitals are associated with the primordial swamp, from which emerged the primordial hill, and with the unification of Upper Egypt, symbolized by water lily, and Lower Egypt, symbolized by Papyrus.
Amenhotep III, when describing the temple in Karnak, noted that its columns reached heaven, as the four pillars of heaven. The columns were perceived by him as cosmic structures. Some thought that the forest of columns was designed to serve as a screen hiding from the public what was going on inside the temple.
The hall of columns in the Egyptian temple  heralds the shape of the Roman basilica (which served as a court, and as commerce and gathering center), whose central wing is taller than the side wings, with the high windows allowing light to penetrate into the central hall.
The innermost part of the temple, considered the most sacred place and heart of the temple, was perceived as the home of the god and as an extension of the sky. This is a long and narrow hall continuing into the depth of the temple. Sometimes this hall rises on a podium accessed by stairs. Inside it stood the god's statue, which was taken care of by the priests. They washed it, anointed it with oil, dressed, fed and entertained it.
In some temples, the holiest room behind the inner edge of the temple,was one chapel or several chapels of the "hearing ear". Here the ordinary believers could connect with the god. Sometimes this chapel was designed in the form of only one niche where a statue of the god stood. Sometimes it was just a relief in the shape of ears, which people faced in prayer to receive the god's blessing for health and success in various fields. These ears were called "the priest's holes", because the priest would sit in this room, to hear prayers and respond to them in the name of the god. Temples with such chapels were only established during the New Kingdom and onward.
Advancing along the central axis of the temple toward the most sacred room, the floor rose gradually and the ceiling became lower gradually. Thus, the spaces along the central axis decreased with the progress toward its end, and so decreased the amount of light in these spaces as they approached the holy of holies. A person who entered the temple passed from the full sunlight in the courtyard of the temple, to the columns hall which was partially illuminated by the clerestory, and then through an entrance hall dimly lit by narrow slits, toward the dark inner holy of holies lit with natural light only when the doors opened. Here the priests had to light candles in worship.
The courtyards between the pylons were accessible by priests, and sometimes by the entire population, especially on special occasions. Entry to the internal halls was allowed only to purified priests, and the sanctuary was allowed only to the king and the high priests.    
On holidays the priests would march with the god's statue in the compound of the the temple, and  the crowd of believers would give him offerings in the designated places. With the offerings and contributions, the temple accumulated wealth. In Thebes, at its height, there were temples with more than 80,000 employees, 433 gardens, 83 boats and 46 buildings.
The temple of Amon was part of a larger compound surrounded by a high wall made of mud-bricks, which included residential areas, many workshops, a holy lake where the priests used to purify, sections used for governmental and administrative centers, warehouses, schools for children (especially boys), libraries and more.
As the owner of much property, (including warehouses, treasury, the priests' residences, boats, and livestock), the temple was the center of economic activity, where many workers were employed. It also included industrial buildings, among them, slaughterhouses, bakeries, kitchens and workshops for artisans.
Apart from economic activity, learning as well as medical activities took place in the temple. Studies were held in the temple known as the "Per Ankh" (literally in ancient Egyptian: house of life). Here, magical texts associated with the gods' worship were written, copied, assembled and shelved. Priests and scribes taught topics such as: writing, art, religion, history, rituals, magic, astronomy, law, mathematics and medicine. Actually, it was the precedent of contemporary university. 
In the per ankh was also a library where treasures of knowledge were collected on papyrus sheets in fields of mathematics, medicine, astronomy, geography, law, interpretation of dreams and more. Perhaps this library served as a model for the largest library in Alexandria.
Therapeutic activity was held at the part of the temple, which served as a center of healing and magic for sick or injured people, who sought the help of the gods and the counsel of the wise and learned priests. Few such buildings have survived. In the temple of Hathor in Dendera of the Ptolemaic dynasty there were rooms where patients stayed while waiting for dreams which would bring them prescriptions for their cure. In the center of this hospital was a courtyard where priests poured water over statues on which magical texts were written, allowing magic to penetrate the water. This water was given to patients for drinking and bathing.
In ancient Egypt, in the compounds of later temples of the Greco-Roman period, a new element appeared in the temples - a small temple which is called "home of birth" – "per mesout" in ancient Egyptian. The Coptic term is "mammisi". This type of temple, built in front of the main temple, was a simple building, which marked the birthplace of the god to whom the main temple was devoted. If it was devoted to a goddess, this temple was considered as the place where she gave birth to her children, and on the walls were described the births. 
The mammisi served for holding religious ceremonies, which were intended to ensure the sanctity of the divine pharaoh. Pregnant women would visit the mammisi to seek the god's help.
Besides the type of temple, which was usually laid out in an east-west axis, there was also a type  of a smaller temple, which consisted of a square-shaped cella (the room where the statue of the god was placed) surrounded by columns, and with a door at each end. The floor of the temple rises on a podium to half the height of temple's walls. Such a temple, preserved in a better condition than the others, was built by Amenhotep III (literally: Amon is satisfied) in Elephantine island. In the 18th century a French delegation had described it in a drawings before it was destroyed by the Ottoman authorities in 1822. 
The temple was built in sandstone. It was about 4.5 meters in height, 13 meters in lengh, and 10 meters in width. Its podium's height was about 3 meters, This podium was surrounded by colonnade so that each side of the temple had seven pillars. On the eastern side was a staircase, carved between two walls and leading to a cella. Later, in Roman times, changes were made in the temple. The spaces between the columns inside the temple were filled and thus a room was created. 

Image - The temple of Amenhotep III in Elephantine

 Peripteral temple plan (surrounded by columns) was especially liked by the 18th dynasty pharaohs. We find evidence to that in such temples in Karnak and Medinet Habu. A temple similar to the temple of Amenhotep III was built in Elephantine by Tutmoses II (literally in ancient Egyptian: born to Tut) (1492-1479  BCE) and Queen Hatshepsut.
Such temples are reminiscent of the classical Greek temples. There is no doubt that in their form and harmonious proportions they influenced the architecture of temples in Ancient Greece.

                 Temples Columns
Since the Egyptian religious architecture avoided using arches, which allow the creation of large spaces with no supporting columns, the method used in construction was  column and lintel (ie, columns that form a right angle with the surface that they support). It was necessary to build many  dense  columns to support the heavy stone ceiling. The first stone columns that the Egyptians have ever built may have been imitation of earlier structures built of the vegetation along the Nile. The shafts of the columns imitated the trunks of palm trees and clumps of reeds.
        According to existing archaeological finds, the first columns ever built in stone, were the grooved pillars in the Step Pyramid complex in Sakara. Grooves on the shafts of columns represented bundled stems. Later, the column became polygonal or round. Pillars of the temples were painted, and often, when the shaft had a very thick top, were decorated with reliefs and hieroglyphs. Each column normally had three parts: base, shaft and capital. Above the capital was an abacus, the part of the pillar supporting the ceiling. To build the shaft of a column, stone blocks were laid one upon the other, smoothed, painted and engraved, so that the  the column including all its parts looked monolithic (built of one stone block). However, in earlier periods in the history of Egypt, real monolithic columns were used at times.

 Image - Typical Egyptian temple architecture columns.

Floral motifs, such as palm branches, lotus flowers (actually, water lilies) papyri, inspired the design of columns and their capitals.
In the Step Pyramid complex of Pharaoh Djoser there were columns of various models, including columns with capitals designed in patterns of needle tree leaves. Palm tree-shaped pillars were found in the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Unas (Wenas or Unis) (of the fifth dynasty) (ruled 2392-2362 BCE) in Sakara and other temples from this period. After the fifth dynasty, the use of this type of column was rare.
Lotus bud capitals were common in temples during the Old and the Middle Kingdom. This tendency gradually ceased during the New Kingdom, but was back in fashion during the Greco – Roman period, then capitals of columns were designed in a variety of styles. The lotus column  generally had a long polygonal shaft representing a bundle of lotus stems, and a capital in the form of an open or closed lotus flower.
There were several types of papyrus columns. Some had a polygonal shaft representing a bundle of stems and others had round shafts representing  one stem. There were bud (closed) capitals or bell  (open) capitals. The earliest pillars with a round stem column have been already found in the compound of the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser,  however these were not free colums, but part of a wall.
The column type was usually dictated by the location of the column in the temple, and thus, every temple had usually more than one type of column. In the courtyards of the temples and away from the central axis were usually columns with lotus bud (closed) capitals. Columns with open capitals were located in the more central parts of the temple.
Columns drawing inspiration from the human figure appeared later. Columns with capitals in the shape of the cow-head of Goddess Hathor, shown as a woman, first appeared only during the Middle Kingdom. Columns of this kind typically have a simple shaft. Such columns can be found in the  temple of Nefretari in Abu Simbel, and in the temple from the Ptolemaic dynasty in Dendera.
Columns in the form of God Osiris appear adjacent to the wall or to another architectural member. They too, like the columns of Hathor, probably first appeared during the Middle Kingdom. Unlike Hathor's columns, here the figure of the god is shown as a statue or a relief serving as a pillar. The pillars of Osiris can be generally identified by his crossed hands.

The mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Deir el Bahri
A temple built in a very unique style in ancient Egypt, which did not serve as a model for later temples , was the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Deir el Bahri. This temple was built on the west bank of the Nile in the Valley of the Queens, near the entrance to the Valley of the Kings in the rocky landscape of Thebes. This temple which was surrounded by a wall of limestone, is located almost directly opposite the compound of the temple of Amon in Karnak on the east bank of the Nile.
Its construction began during the rule of  Tutmoses II, but most of the construction work was performed during the rule of his widow, Queen Hatshepsut. The name Deir el Bahri "(literally in Arabic: the northern monastery) is not associated with ancient Egyptian period, but with a Coptic monastery which was built in mud-brick on the site of the temple in the fifth century CE. The name of the ancient site was Zoseret, which means "holy". Queen Hatshepsut called it "Zoser Zoseru", meaning "holy of holies".
Hatshepsut (ruled 1473-1458 BCE), who came to power after the death of King Tutmoses II  (her husband and brother), was a phenomenon unique to the New Kingdom and to ancient Egypt's history in general. Initially she served as a regent for her nephew (and stepson) Tutmoses III, who was only three years old when her husband died. When she became a powerful ruler she declared herself Pharaoh, and was the fifth ruler of the 18th dynasty. During her reign, which lasted 21 years, peace prevailed in Egypt, the economy flourished, and remarkable achievements were reached in architecture.
A powerful queen like Hatshepsut was an unusual phenomenon (although there were several queens who ruled ancient Egypt) where the social status of women was very low. We can learn about the social status of women (including wives of kings) in ancient Egypt, from their statues when appearing next to their partners' statues. Sometimes the wife looks so small when she stand beside her husband, that it is quite difficult to distinguish her. 
Testimonies to the unusual phenomenon of Hatshepsut as a queen can also be seen in some of the pictures, statues and sphinxes, which present her dressed not as a woman, but in the traditional clothing of a king, a male skirt,  and sometimes with a beard characterizing kings. However, she appears as a woman in the inscriptions.
 It is interesting to note that in the ancient Egyptian language the  word "queen" did not exist.  Instead, the title "the king's wife" was used.
The site that Hatshesut chose for herself (tomb KV 20) is found about 1,600 meters west of the site of her mortuary temple in Deir el Bahri. It seems that her temple in Deir el Bahri was first intended for her father Tutmoses I, but she added to it a space of her own in which there were three storage rooms and three columns.
The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el Bahri was planned by her lover, architect Senenmut. The inscription on his statue, located in Mut's temple in Karnak, describes him as the architect of the Queen's works in Luxor and elsewhere. The magnificent monument that he built for his queen in Deir el Bahri is a masterpiece of outstanding architectural elegance and harmony.
Hatshepsut's temple in Deir el Bahri is found near the source of inspiration for its construction - the mortuary temple that King Mentuhotep II (ruled 2055-2004 BCE) of the 11th dynasty built for himself. Instead of building a hidden grave for himself like his predecessors, Mentuhotep II built, an impressive subterranean tomb near the cliffs of Deir Bahri,which extends beneath the surface of his mortuary temple and beneath the area behind it. A path led through an avenue of trees arranged in two terraces, one placed after the other, with a ramp connecting them. On the highest of these terraces a rectangular temple was built of mud. A wall with pylons surrounded the temple. Some think that above the temple stood a pyramid. Very little has remained of the temple, which was destroyed by Hatshepsut to enable the expansion her own temple.
Construction of terraces was a widespread phenomenon in Egypt where flooding often occurred. The temple built by Hatshepsut in Deir el Bahri originally had a terrace, which was built during the rule of her husband Tutmoses II. To this terrace were added two lower terraces, to create a set of three terraces in a row with two ramps connecting them.
During the rule of Hatshepsut, the construction of the temple was performed in two stages. At first the structure of the temple was extended to the east by the addition of terraces, and at the second stage, the upper terrace was redesigned.
The western wall of the temple was built during the rule of Tutmoses II as a fortification and at its center was the main gate of the temple. 18 cult niches - nine on each side (alternating high and low, five high and four low) - were added on both sides of the original temple, which was hewn into the  rock. This was the focus of the expanded compound of the temple.
The architectural elements which repeatedly appear in the temple are porches, halls of columns  and private rooms. He who goes into the temple is led along a central axis, crosses ramps bordered by walls covered with limestone, walks from terrsace to terrace through porches whose columns are combined with rock-cut sculptures, reaches a large courtyard surrounded by columns, and from here enters the holy of holies - a small room carved into the rock.
The temple building is a wonderful combination of natural landscape and architecture. The colonnades and the ramps echo the shape of the cliff in the background. A contrast is created between the horizontal lines of the terraces on one hand, and the pillars of the temple and the vertical lines created by the texture of the cliff on the other.  

Image - The temple in Deir el Bahri

The access to the temple from the Nile River was originally a causeway flanked by avenues of sphinxes and acacia trees over more than a kilometer, which connected the temple with the valley. The causeway led to a royal pylon that served as the gateway of the wall that surrounded the temple complex. A path flanked by seven pairs of sphinxes led from the gateway to the lowest among the three terraces. Rich vegetation was planted on each of the terraces. Excavations carried out in front of the royal gate discovered two T-shaped pools. Here, two trees and papyrus plants were planted on a fertile soil brought from the Nile.
On the lower terrace, each of the pairs of colonnades ended with pillars decorated with the statue of the the Queen in the form of Osiris. Only the northern survived.
Since building the temple lasted twenty years, the temple walls resembe blank pages of a book, filled with the advancement of Hatshepsut's reign. The northern part of the lower terrace was decorated with reliefs, which describe Hatshepsut while she is fishing, hunting birds in the marshes of Lower Egypt, and giving offerings to the gods. Reliefs in the southern part of the portico describe the quarrying of two obelisks in Aswan and their transport on a barge to Amon's temple in Karnak. On this terrace were planted exotic trees and shrubs brought from Punt, a place that some researchers associate with modern northern Ethiopia or Eritrea, and others with the east coast of the Red Sea.
A ramp led from the first terrace to the second one. On this ramp stood  six sphinxes which did not survive. On the second terrace reliefs described  the trade journeys of Hatshepsut to Punt. On the northern side of the terrace reliefes and words depict the impregnation of Ahmoses, Hatshepsut's mother by the god Amon, and the birth of Hatshepsut. Likewise, the reliefs describe the visit of God Amon in the bedroom of the mother who believed that he was her husband. The god and the mother seem to be sitting on the bed face to face. The god tells Ahmoses that she would bear a child whose name would be "Khemet Amen Hatchepsut" (literally: she who will unite with Amon, the first exalted woman). He also told her that this daughter,  was intended to be the future ruler of Egypt. Then, he passed the ankh (a symbol of life) to ahmoses and she smiled at him. Below this description is a verbal erotic description of the impregnation of the mother by the god. Hatshesut is described sitting in the arms of God Amon (Some believe that in her mother's arms), surrounded by gods. The future queen is presented in nude as a son who would be pharaoh. Her coronation before the gods by her father Tutmoses I is described as well.
In the upper terrace the queen presents a description of the building of the garden as one of her  plants both in words and pictures. She tells, for example, how God Amon brought her to build a garden at his home. According to her description, she brought 32 fragrant trees from Punt, the land of the gods, because the god ordered her to create Punt at his home. Punt region provided ivory, ebony, ostrich feathers and eggs, cheetah leather and other luxury objects that were wanted in the international trade of the period.
At the southern end of the second terrace is a chapel (which originally had an entrance of its own), which was dedicated to the celestial cow Hathor (patron godess of the burial site of Thebes), and to her connection with Hatshepsut. The chapel has an entrance hall with pillars whose capitals are shaped as the head of the goddess. On the walls of the chapel are described Tutmoses III and Hatshepsut serving offerings, but the image of Hatshepsut was removed about two decades after her death. In the inner rooms there are reliefs of Hatshepsut and Hathor, including a description of Hathor the cow goddess nursing Hatshepsut. Most of the reliefs that present Hatshepsut as a man survived.
At the northern end of the second terrace is a chapel smaller than that of Hathor, which is dedicated to the god of the dead - Anubis, the guardian of the burial site. Here Hatshepsut's parents,Tutmoses I and Ahmoses appear on the walls, together with the grandmother Senusenb. The shrine itself, dark and narrow, was designed to store the statue of the god Amon and his boat. Hatshepsut, her daughter, Tutmoses I, and the sister of Hatshepsut who died in her youth – they all appear on the walls in front of the boat. On the walls of Anubis' temple there are also reliefs depicting Tutmoses III and Hatshepsut  serving offerings to the gods.
In the upper porch of the temple stood the  statues of Hatshepsut in the form of Osiris, most of which were destroyed. This porch opened into a courtyard with pillars. To the south stood the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut - a rectangular room covered with a vault, with a huge fake door shaped like stela made of pink granite in dimensions close to the entire west wall. Probably a statue of Hatshepsut stood in front of this door. To the north of this room was a smaller room – the mortuary chapel of Tutmoses I. The western wall of this room was destroyed and its fake door, which was also shaped like a stele, is found in the Louvre Museum in Paris. Another chapel was possibly dedicated to the mortuary temple of Tutmoses II, but it left no traces.
At the northern end of the upper porch was open-air temple of the sun god Re Horachte, with a raised altar made of white limestone.
At the end of the central axis of the temple was the holy of holies, which was dedicated to God Amon, decorated with scenes of people serving offerings to the god.
Besides being a place sacred to the gods, the temple in Deir el Bahri served as a propaganda tool for the queen. As mentioned, the temple reliefs show Hatshepsut as the daughter of Amon, the patron god of Thebes and the growing empire, to whom  the temple was dedicated. Outside the temple there were obelisks and large sphinxes with her head.  
Hatshepsut was removed from power after 21 years when Tutmoses III (ruled 1479-1425 BCE, including  21 years of Hatshepsut's regency) claimed his throne. Twenty years after her mysterious death, her name and image were erased from the releafs. Her reign was omitted from the list of kings of Egypt, her statues were smashed and thrown out. Archaeologist Herbert Eustis Winlock discovered the statues in excavations begun in 1923, and pieced together the fragments of her statues. Today we can see them at the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
When Akhenaten came to power, he destroyed the image of the god Amon and everything related to him in the temple. Ramesses II restored the reliefs that were destroyed, but with lower-skilled work than the original.
During the rule of the Ptolemaic dynasty, over a thousand years after the construction of the temple of Amon, a chapel was added at the end of the central axis of the temple, beyond the sanctuary. This chapel was dedicated to the architects who were considered as gods: Amenhotep sun of Hapu, who designed buildings for Pharaoh Amenhotep III, and Imhotep, who designed the Step Pyramid of Pharaoh Djoser in Sakara.
In the seventh century, the temple of Hatshesut became a Coptic monastery called Deir al Bahri.
When the temple was discovered in Deir el Bahri in 1891, it was mostly destroyed, but was restored with great success. The original pylons have not survived.

The Temple of Amon in Karnak
One of the most magnificent temples in ancient Egypt was the Temple of Amon in Karnak (called after El Karnak, the village adjacent to the temple), near the city of Thebes (Thebes in Greek, Waset in ancient Egyptian, and the Biblical city of No). The city was a center of worship of the local god Amon, whose identification with the sun god have made him "the king of gods." The temple was called by the ancient Egyptians "Ipet-Issut", meaning "the most selected of places."

God Amon, to whom the temple was dedicated, was an insignificant local god until the 12th dynasty. His status was strengthened when Thebes became the new capital of Egypt (1991 BCE) and later during the New Kingdom, when the city reached its peak. Since the beginning of the Middle Kingdomm, the priests of Thebes saw the king as the beloved son of God Amon, who rules the state by the name of the god. Thus, they strengthened the king's status, and he, by building temples reinforced their status. The kings of the 17th dynasty during the Middle Kingdom in Thebes, attributed the victory over the Hyksos and the unification of Egypt to the god Amon, and drew their legitimacy from the impressive monuments that they built for him.
The temple of Amon in Karnak marked the center of the world, and Amon was perceived as the creator of the world, who first created himself and then all living things. Worshiping him was perceived as helping to keep the cosmic harmony. Besides being a cult center, the temple of Amon also served as an administrative center, and the owner of agricultural land. The walls surrounding it provided protection to the grain warehouses against the annual flooding of the Nile and from theft. The king's coronation and the  Jubilee celebrations which gave effect to the rule of the king took place in the temple.
The temple complex is actually made up of three main temples, several small shrines and a few temples nearby. The three main temples are: the temple of Amon, which is the largest series of structures located in the center, the temple of Mut (wife of Amon) located in the southern part of the temple, and the temple of Monthu, the war god, located in the northern part of the temple (of this temple remained only the foundations).
The compound of Amon's temple concluded ten pylons, courtyards and many other structures. Most of the structures of the temple were built in limestone, which was brought from a quarry near modern Cairo, the one that supplied stone for the ancient pyramids. A series of rectangular structures on a north-south axis, parallel to the Nile river, has created a right angle to the east-west axis. The north-south axis is the royal axis that connects upper and lower Egypt, while the east-west axis is the main axis symbolizing the absolute power of the gods and pharaoh, and is associated with the sun god, to whom the temple was dedicated as the god who makes his journey in the sky from east to west.
The temple of Amon, which was considered the greatest historical document in stone, reflects the vicissitudes of the ancient Egyptian empire for two thousand years. The first who built a temple on the site was Pharaoh Senusert (also called Sostris) I (ruled 1956-1911 BCE), of the 12th dynasty. Since then, the modest temple that he built has gone through many changes. Each of the succeding rulers who ruled Egypt aspired to surpass the  architectural achievements of his predecessor. Until the Ptolemaic dynasty, pharaohs continued to add pylons, temples and statues to the overall layout of the temple. The buildings of the temple are laid out from the entrance to the end mostly in reverse chronological order, ie from latest to earliest.
During the New Kingdom, mortuary temples of pharaohs were added to the complex. Each new king of the New kingdom demonstrated his devotion to the god Amon and made an effort to surpass his predecessors in the embellishment of the structures of his temple. The dimensions of the temple grew and it became a center of economic power. During the rule of Ramesses III (ruled 1184-1153 BCE) more than 80,000 people worked there.
Amenhotep I destroyed the original temple built by Senusert I and set up new buildings in its place, and these too did not survive long. They had already been destroyed during the reign of Tutmoses III (ruled 1479 -1425 BCE), who set up his building to the east of the area of the old temple.
A pylon preceded each of the temples. On the east-west axis six pylons were built, some of which originally exceeded 30 meters in height. 

The first pylon of the temple in Karnak is preceded by an avenue of sphinxes from the period of Ramesses II, stretching along a spectacular garden three kilometers long, which connects the temple of Amon in Karnak with Amon-Mut-Khonsu temple in  Luxor. The sphinxes - curly-horned rams' heads, and lions' bodies, holding the image of the mummy of Pharaoh Ramesses II with the symbol of life (ankh), held between their hoofs, represent the god Amon for whom a ram was a sacred animal and in whose honor both temples were built.
During the annual festival a procession would carry the statue of Amon through the avenue of sphinxes to his temple in Luxor to meet his wife Mut and spend time with her before returning to his temple. This was an opportunity of celebration for all the people.
The first pylon (43 m in height) at the  entrance to the temple is the largest of the temple's pylons and the last built, probably during the 30th dynasty, by Nectanebo (also called Nekhtnebef) I (ruled 380-362 BCE). As mentioned, each ruler build a more impressive structure than the previous one, so the last built is the largest. In the place where this pylon, which was not completed, stands, an earlier pylon had been built before, probably during the reign of the Nubian King Taharqa (ruled 690-664 BCE), of the 25th dynasty.
The earlier pylon was built after the second pylon, to which originally led an avenue of sphinxes with rams' heads (the ram was sacred to the god Amon). Here, unlike the Sphinx of Giza which represented the king who guards his burial site, the Sphinxes are the embodiment of the god who guards his house. The compound preceding the entrance to the temple was probably restored during the 25th dynasty.
Behind the first pylon there is an open rectangular courtyard, which was built during the 22nd dynasty (945-715 BCE). The columns to its left and right have close-bud shaped (papyrus) capitals. In the center of the courtyard were ten columns of which only one survived. These were part of the kiosk (open-roofed temple supported by a group of columns) built by King Taharqa. During the annual festival, the sacred boats procession marched between the pillars. Perpendicularly to the southern wall of the courtyard is the temple of Ramesses III. Seti II (ruled 1203/1200 -1194 BCE) built a small shrine in the northwestern corner of the courtyard, with chapels of Amon, Mut and Khonsu – the holy trinity of Thebes.
The second pylon began to be built by Horemheb (ruled 1323-1295 BCE), who reused blocks taken from earlier buildings. Building the pylon was completed by Ramesses II (ruled 1279- 1213 BCE), who set two colossal statues in his image before the pylon. This pylon led to a huge hypostyle (pillared hall) 25 meters in height and 51.82 m x99.4 m in area, whose construction began during the Amenhotep III's rule, continued during Ramses I's (ruled 1295-1294 BCE) rule and during (his son) Seti I's (ruled 1294-1279 BCE) rule, and was completed during the rule of Seti I's son, Ramesses II.
One very important point in the hall is the meeting point of the east-west axis and the north-south axis. The divine east-west axis was planned so that the rays of the setting sun on summer solstice (longest day), would enter through the main entrance of the temple from west to east into the innermost room. The small temple built by Tutmoses III on this axis behind the eastern wall of the temple was designed so that its facade faced sunrise on the winter solstice (ie, the shortest day). Thus, the architectural design is associated with the Egyptian perception of the sun god as rising in the horizon (Akhet). According to this conception, the shape of the hieroglyph "Akhet", which means "horizon" is two mountains that the the sun is rising between them. The pylons of the temple may be associated with these two mountains.
The royal north-south axis is designed to emphasize the strength of the king next to the god's power. On this axis were built the pylons leading to the temple from south to north.
The hypostyle separated the open courtyard of the temple, where rituals and festivals attended by the believers were held, and the holy of holies, where only kings and priests were allowed entry.
 Image - The hypostyle of Amon temple in Karnak

  The pillars hall that looks like a forest of trees made of stone, is considered one of the greatest masterpieces in the history of architecture. 134 massive round pillars are arranged in 16 rows on east-west axis. On all of them are carved depictions of the king worshiping Amon. On some of them color has remained at the top. The space between the pillars creates a north-south axis, and 12 huge pillars arranged in two rows in the center of the hall mark the east-west axis. Each of the pillars in the center (21 meters in height and ten meters in perimeter) has open papyrus capital. The 122 pillars in the side wings are each 13 meters in height and four meters in perimeter. Their capitals are in the form of closed papyrus buds. This forest of pillars was roofed with stone slabs.
The gap between the tall pillars in the center and the shorter pillars in the side wings enabled the creation of a clerestory, which let light enter into the hall. The windows in the clerestory were designed in the form of vertical rock bands. However, the hall was dark, creating a dramatic and mysterious atmosphere.
The 12 pillars in the central wing of the hall were probably built by Amenhotep III (ruled 1390-1352 BCE), but not later than during the rule of Horemheb. The pillars in the side wings were added later during the rule of Seti I.
Archaeological excavations made in the hall of pillars discovered the foundation of a wall below the row of pillars surrounding the central pillars from all sides. Researchers believe that this finding indicates that in the past, before the hall was expanded, the central colonnade stood between the walls of this corridor, which connected the second and the third pylons. 
The external northern and southern walls of the pillars hall are decorated with reliefs, which served as a means of propaganda of the pharaohs. Those on the northern outer wall are from the period of Seti I, depicting his victories in Syria,  Israel and Libya. Those in the southern external wall are from Ramesses II's period, describing his "victory" in  the battle of Kadesh in 1274 BCE (today Kadesh is located in northern Syria. In fact, the Hittites defeated the Egyptians in this battle.)
While in the reliefs made during the the rule of Seti I the background was carved leaving the wall unchanged for depicting the subject itself, the reliefs from the period of Ramesses II, like others during the later periods, the subject itself is carved into the wall, leaving the wall unchanged for the background. The reliefs from the period of Ramesses II are deeper compared to the other reliefs, creating a more dramatic depiction. The reliefs were originally painted, but the color disappeared with time. The inside of the hall was dedicated to the god. On the interior walls and pillars were presented religious scenes.
The area beyond the hall was completely changed several times during the 18th dynasty. In the third pylon, which was built by Amenhotep III  were found several reused stone blocks derived from earlier structures. This pylon leads to a narrow courtyard, also built by Amenhotep III, where four obelisks were placed during the rule of Tutmoses I  (ruled 1504-1492 BCE), representing the sun god Re (the god Amon and the god Re merged into the god Amon Re). Only one out of the four obelisks survived. It was designed by the chief architect Ineni. It is 21.7 meters in height, its base area is 1.8 square meters, and its weight - 143 tons. On each of its sides were inscribed dedications to the king.
To the right of the third pylon (from the south) a  series of pylons (seventh to tenth) and courtyards, on the royal axis,  meets with the divine axis whose continuation is indicated by the fourth to sixth pylons leading to the sanctuary.
The structures extending from the fourth pylon to the festival hall (or Akh-menu"the most glorious of monuments") of Tutmoses III (built by him to celebrate the Jubilee celebrations and victories in the north), have been mostly destroyed.
The fourth and the fifth pylons which are separated by a narrow pillars hall, were built by Inneni during the period of Tutmoses I. Some of the niches of the fourth pylon were discovered in 1999, and inside them four seated statues of Osiris, ascribed to the period of Tutmoses I. In this narrow pillars hall the king celebrated the jubilee celebrations of his rule and received approval to the validity of the rule from the priests in the name of the god Amon. It should be remembered that this was the temple at the time, and not all the structures in front of it existed then, except for the obelisks placed before the fourth pylon.
Hatshepsut re-organized the layout of the temple built by her father Tutmoses I and completed the construction of "Hatshepsut's rooms",  which her husband Tutmoses II started to build. She built the Red Chapel (whose walls were built of hewn red quarzite stone fron Gebel Ahmar (literally: red mountain), which served to store the boat of the god Amon, and was located before the rooms called "Hatshepsut's rooms". Hatshepsut's rooms and the Red Chapel expanded on the central part of the old temple. On the walls of the red chapel were reliefs depicting scenes from the coronation of Hatshepsut. Between the forth and the fifth pylons the queen placed a pair of obelisks, one of whom survived. This obelisk is 29 meters in height and about 320 tons in weight.
Tutmoses III, nephew and stepson of Hatshepsut, destroyed the Red Chapel (remains of which are found today in the open museum of Karnak). Likewise, he destroyed Hatshepsut's rooms, and added a small gate between the fifth pylon and the new temple of boats - a chapel, where the holy boats were stored. In these boats were transferred the statues of the gods in processions, in front of the masses through the halls of the temple and its courtyards, and sometimes from the river to the temple of Amon in Luxor.
 The small gate, which is the sixth pylon, was built in the place of "Hatshepsut's rooms". Limestone robbers stole the stones of the temple of boats, so this area remains almost empty.
The fifth pylon, built by the architect Inneni and initiated by Tutmoses I, leads to another small passage hall, behind which is the sixth pylon. This small pylon led to an entrance hall, whose walls were covered with paintings and written memoirs of Tutmoses III. Very little survived of these paintings and written memoirs. There were seven pillars on each side of the main passage, but today there are only two granite pillars - one with a lotus capital, symbolizing Upper Egypt, and the second with a capital in the shape of a bundle of papyri, symbolizing Lower Egypt - elegant remains testifying to the importance of the unification of Egypt. These beautiful refined relics indicate a lost grandeur. Two obelisks of Tutmoses III which stood in this place, were taken by the Assyrians in the seventh century BCE.

Image - The two pillars bearing the symbols of Upper Egypt - lotus, and Lower Egypt - Papyrus

  Beyond the entrance hall built by Tutmoses III is the holy of holies. Originally, here was the oldest building in the overall array of buildings of the temple. In this holy place the priests kept a portable altar, which served as the seat of the god's statue in processions.
The holy of holies was rebuilt in pink granite around 330 BCE by Alexander the Great's brother, Philip Arrhidaeus, King of Macedon. The temple of boats built during the years 323-317 BCE, survived in place, with an exceptional room called "Botanical Garden". The reliefs on the walls present fine accurate flowers, fruits, birds and animals, which Tutmoses III brought from one of his trips to Syria.
The festival hall, the inner pillar hall closest to the Holy of Holies, was built, as stated, by Tutmoses III, to celebrate the jubilee of his rule and the victories in the north. However, on the area between the temple of boats and the hall of festivals stood the first temple built by Senusret I, which did not survive. Parts of it were reused for building the temple's third pylon. In front of this temple  Amenhotep I built an alabaster chapel (built of alabaster stone) for the boat of the god Amon - The first boats chapel in Karnak.
During its construction, it stood in a closed courtyard on whose western side was a monumental gate. Flanking the courtyard from the east and west was a series of chapels - seven on each side, each with the king's statue receiving a variety of offerings. In the southeastern corner of the temple, to the right of the hall of festivals, was stored in warehouses the equipment needed for the annual celebrations. These storage rooms were probably built over the remains of older storage rooms.
In 2002 mud-brick walls from the Middle Kingdom located to the north and south of the area where the temple's courtyard was during this period, were found between the fifth pylon and the hall of festivals of Tutmoses III. Findings indicate that the dimensions of the temple from the Middle Kingdom were about 65m x 100m in area, including a terrace, warehouses, three interior walls, and corridors surrounded by thick walls. The temple was in use throughout the Middle Kingdom and was probably destroyed during the rule of Amenhotep I.
The Mud-brick wall of the temple from the Middle Kingdom has been replaced by a limestone wall. Amenhotep I built an exact replica of the white chapel built by the Senusret I in the corner to the southwest of the of the white chapel of Amenhotep I.  As mentioned, Amenhotep I built a chapel called the Alabaster Chapel as well. It was reset and stands today in the open-air museum of Karnak. The buildings built by Amenhotep I had not survived for long. They were  reused during the rule of Tutmoses III and later during the rule of Amenhotep III.
The pylons described so far are set on the divine east - west axis. This axis is completed by a small temple, which was built by Tutmoses III for Amon behind the eastern wall of the complex of Amon's temple. This temple, known as the "Temple of Amon who listens to the prayers of people" was unique in ancient Egypt. Common people could enter, pray to the god and bring him offerings. This temple was placed before a single obelisk erected by Tutmoses III and placed on a pedestal during the rule of his grandson Tutmoses IV. This obelisk 33 meters high was moved to Rome by the order of the Roman Emperor Constance in 357 CE and was placed in Circus Maximus in Rome. Today it is found in Piazza San Giovanni Lateran in Rome.
The small temple built by Tutmoses III was later changed by Ramesses II who added to it two side entrances.
The four pylons, and the courtyards between them which have been added along the north-south axis, vertically to the east-west axis, on which the temple was built, connected Amon's temple with the temple of Mut, which was surrounded by a crescent-shaped lake on three sides,
The seventh pylon (the first on the north-south axis moving from north to south) was built by Tutmoses III in sandstone with a pink granite gateway. On its southern front, the king appears killing his enemies – Nubians in the eastern part of the pylon and Asians in its western part.
The eighth pylon was built by Hatshepsut. Its  construction probably began by her husband Tutmoses II that two colossal statues in his image were placed on the southern front of the eighth pylon. After the death of Hatshepsut, Tutmoses III placed six colossal statues made of pink quartzite and limestone in his image, instead of the statues of  Tutmoses II.
The ninth and tenth pylons are ascribed to Horemheb. In the courtyard to the north of the seventh pylon, thousands of statues which originally stood in the temple, were buried.

To the south of the Festival Hall is a sacred lake, which comes from the Nile in subterranean channels. The lake was built during the reign of the Amenhotep III and restored in the seventh century BCE by Montuemhat - local governor of Thebes and Lower Egypt during the reign of Taharqa (25th dynasty). In this lake, which was considered as increasing energy like the primordial water of the primeval hill, the priests had to purify themselves.
During its long existence, Amon's temple was attacked twice and suffered substantial damages: once by King Akhenaten, and later by the early Christians.

                                 Amon-Mut-Khonsu Temple in Luxor
Temple architecture reached its peak in the Amon-Mut-Khonsu temple, dedicated to the holy trinity of Thebes: the god Amon, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. The complex of the temple is located near modern Luxor, and was called Ipt rsyt; (literally in ancient Egyptian: southern sanctuary). The word "Luxor" is a disruption of the Arabic word "El Uqsor", meaning "fortress", and refers to fortifications built by the Romans around the temple in the third century CE.

Image - Amon-Mut-Khonsu temple in Luxor

The temple was built largely by King Amenhotep III who began its construction in the 14th century BCE, when Egypt's craftsmanship reached its highest achievements. The site on which the temple was built was not new. A temple from the 12th dynasty stood there until it was totally destroyed by Amenhotep III in order to reuse it for building his new temple. The architect was probably Amenophis son of Hotep, also known as Hapu. After the death of Amenhotep III, the construction of the temple was suspended for fifty years until Ramesses II expanded it.

The layout of the complex of Amon-Mut-Khonsu temple in Luxor, about 260 meters in lengh, is typical of the 18th dynasty temples. It consists of a pylon, rectangular (or close to rectangle in shape)  halls and courtyards arranged on a straight axis. High walls that separated the temple from the outside world surrounded this complex of buildings.
Here, unlike other temples, the temple is set on the royal axis, ie parallel to the banks of the Nile, on a north-south axis rather than the customary divine east-west axis.The axis of this temple emphasizes both the monumental front and the interior. The design here is more harmonious than that of the temple of Amon in Karnak, largely because it reflects the taste of only two people: Amenhotep III, who built the colonade and the courtyard in the heart of the temple, and Ramesses II, who added a pair of obelisks, the pylon at the entrance and the first courtyard. Likewise, he designed the structure of the temple and the temple of boats in Amon-Mut-Khonsu temple.
On the outer walls of the temple in the front of the pylon were depicted the battles of Ramses II, and on the interior walls - festivals and the "victories" in the battle of Kadesh. In front of this pylon, Ramesses II placed two pink granite obelisks. The eastern one was devoted to God Amon as the rising sun, and the western to God Amon as the setting sun. Thus, he created an east-west axis in addition to the dominant royal axis of the temple's structure. The western obelisk has been found in the Concorde square in Paris since 1836. Six sculptures in the king's image, also in a pink granite, stood beside the obelisks: two seated and four standing (each about 13 meters in height ). Only three of them survived.
Beyond the first pylon Ramesses II (located in the area which was once the courtyard of the temple built by Amenhotep III) is a courtyard surrounded by columns with papyrus buds capitals, arranged in double rows. Between the columns can be seen 16 statues of Pharaoh. Unlike the practice in temples, the courtyard is rhombus rather than rectangular. On the eastern side of this courtyard is a Byzantine church, built in the sixth century CE, and above it was built in the 19th century a mosque (which is still in use today) named after Abu-el-Hagag, a Sufi Sheikh of the 13th century. In the northwestern corner of the courtyard is a boats chapel built by Tutmoses III.
This courtyard leads into a corridor with an impressive double colonnade consisting of seven pairs of pillars with papyrus capitals (each 18 meters in height and 10 meters in perimeter) built by Amenhotep III. The design of the corridor was performed during Tut-Ankh-Amon's rule and continued during the reign of Pharaoh Seti I. On the side walls (the eastern and western) of this corridor are reliefs depicting the procession of opet (literally in ancient Egyptian: a secret room) - the annual festival held on the 19th of the second month in the Nile tide season (first half of October). Then, the gods Amon, Mut and Khonsu visited the innermost room of Amenhotep III's rooms in the compound of Amon's temple in Luxor. The reliefs described the sacred boats, which transferred the statues of Amon, from the temple in Karnak to the temple in Luxor. The western wall describes the procession on its way from Karnak to Luxor, and the eastern wall depicts the way back. These rooms were located on a small hill, which was considered the primordial hill that emerged from the primeval water.
Opt festival was a celebration of the fertile soil enriched by the soil's erosion, and the celebration of the god's fertility. The birth of the royal ka was celebrated in special festivals as well, when the new king was crowned and his right to rule was renewed.
During the festival the statues of Amon, Mut and Khonsu were carried in a procession on the priests' shoulders, and were transferred in their holy boats from Amon's temple in Karnak to his temple in luxor, through the halls and courtyards of the temple.
It was an event attended by many priests, soldiers, singers, dancers, acrobats, drummers, musicians and carriages, in which  the king's entourage was sitting. Along the route leading from the river to the the temple, food and beverage were put as offerings. People could express their wishes to the gods who were carried in boats. This annual festival was also a honeymoon, where the god Amon spent time with his wife Mut in her temple for a week, before returning to the temple in Karnak. This was the only opportunity for the audience of believers to see the god's image.
The double colonnade, which stood in the corridor on whose walls the festival was described,  led to a large and elegant courtyard built by Amenhotep III. Like the rhombus courtyard of the temple, this courtyard too was surrounded by double colonnade. While restoration work took place in the temple, many statues were found in the courtyard  buried on the eastern side (now in Luxor Museum).
Beyond this court is a pillars hall, where 32 pillars are arranged in four rows. He who would  enter this hall would admire the forest of pillars  casting beautiful shadows as beautiful as the pillars themselves. The effect is impressive, but rough, because the architect has placed much heavier pillars than necessary, creating a sense of great heaviness.
The reliefs on either side of the south wall of the pillars hall describing the coronation of Amenhotep III by the gods, were whitewashed by the Romans during the third and fourth centuries CE, and Christian themes were painted instead. A Roman altar dedicated to the Emperor Constantine was placed to the left of the central wing of the pillars hall.
In the center of the southern end of the temple complex is the holy of holies where there were still found remnants of the pedestal on which stood the god's statue. This room is surrounded by various rooms, including Mut's chapel, khunso's chapel and the "birth" chapel on whose western wall are reliefs and words describing the birth of Amenhotep III to Amon. Inscriptions on the walls describe how the god Amon in the image of Tutmoses IV, impregnated Mutemwiya, the mother of Amenhotep III. The description of the birth of the king to the god was meant to strengthen the legitimacy of his rule and his divine right to rule.
Like in the temple of Amon in Karnak, in the temple of Luxor expensive materials such as cedar, copper and gold in particular were used for coating doors and other elements in the structure.
An avenue of human headed sphinxes along 200 meters connecting the temple in Karnak and the temple in Luxor was built by Necatnebo I (ruled  380-363 BCE), of the 30th dynasty, when he built a wall around the temple's compound. This avenue of sphinxes replaced the avenue of ram headed sphinxes from Amenhotep III's time, which was destroyed.
Around 300 CE most southern part of the temple was dedicated to the worship the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and the temple itself became a Roman military fort where 1500 people lived.

The Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep III in Kom el-Hetan

An important temple that has not survived was the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III in a place called today Kom el-Hetan, near Thebes, on the west bank of the Nile. Amenhotep III initiated huge building projects and the mortuary temple was one of them. The quiet period of prosperity prevailing during Amenhotep III's rule in Egypt derived from the control of the ancient Egyptians over the Nubian gold mines, allowed the implementation of these building projects.
Amenhotep III rebuilt many temples, but his mortuary temple was the largest in Egypt. Originally, the temple's area was similar in size to temples built by his predecessors, but in honor of the Jubilee Festival celebrating his rule, the temple was expanded and its area reached the huge dimensions of 700 m x 550 m. Hundreds of soft and hard stone statues, and possibly thousands of them, filled the temple.
Amenhotep son of Hapu, the architect who designed the temple and was also the "minister of culture" and head of the mines, was considred as god like Imhotep, the architect who built the Step Pyramid for Pharaoh Djoser. Like Imhotep, Amenhotep son of Hapu was a great man and a genius healer. He abandoned his architectural work in favor of a religious lifestyle. Magia books were ascribed to him and miracle stories were associated with them.
Unfortunately, the temple decayed very quickly, and as early as the 19th dynasty its limestone was reused for building. The temple, which was built very close to the Nile, was built purposely in low level to allow the flooding of its courtyards and halls by the Nile, leaving the inner temple, high above the surface prone to floods. The retreat of the water after the flood was intended to symbolize the emergence of the world out of the primordial water during creation. This design fitted the Egyptian belief according to which pharaoh became Osiris after his death, and thus was responsible for the annual flooding of the Nile from the temple designated as his home.
Inscription on a stele discovered in the temple's site tells that the entire temple was gold plated. The floors were decorated with silver and the entrances  with electrum.There were many statues made of granite, quartzite and precious stones.
The only remains left from the temple are colossal quartzite statues (about 19 meters high) of Amenhotep III, which originally stood at the entrance to the temple looking toward the sun. In 27 BCE, an earthquake hit the northern one, which subsequently cracked, and following the opening in the crack a harmonious sound was coming out of the statue at dawn.
The sound was produced by damp night and the rising temperatures in the morning. This is why Greek poets called it "Memnon" after one of the heroes in Greek mythology – an Ethiopian warrior hero, who demonstrated courage during the siege imposed by the Greeks on Troy. Since he was supposed to live in Egypt, the Greeks named the colossal statue in his honor. Legend has it that Memnon rose each morning to life as he saw his mother, the goddess of dawn Eos and gave her his blessing in a harmonious sound. In 130 CE Emperor Hadrian visited the place. In 202 CE or so, during the rule of Emperor Septimus Severus, the statue was restored and has been silent since then.
From the remains, researchers conclude that behind the colossal statues was an array of buildings  surrounded by a wall of mud bricks. In this compound was the huge mortuary temple of the king, dedicated to the god Amon-Re, the chief god of Egypt during the New Kingdom. To the north of this temple was a small temple built for the god Ptah-Seker-Osiris (see below in this chapter.)
The Temple itself was set on the central axis. Three pylons arranged the one after the other, followed by an avenue of lying jackals statues led to a central courtyard surrounded by columns and statues. From the courtyard one could enter an inner temple located at the end of the temple.
The remains of the statues of jackals were reused for building the tomb of Merenptah, the fourth king of the 19th dynasty (ruled 1213-1203 BCE). The courtyard to which the jackals Avenue led served for sun worshiping. It was surrounded by papyrus pillars of sandstone and sculptures of Amenhotep III in the image of Osiris on whose bases were lists of prisoners from foreign countries.
On the southern side of the entrance to the courtyard was a stele, one of two that has survived and was re-placed. An inscription found on it describes the temple (as stated above). Beside the inscription on the stele there was also a description of the god Ptah-Seker-Osiris with the king next to Queen Tiye.
Ptah-Seker-Osiris was three gods merged into one: Ptah - the Creator, patron god of artists and the city of Memphis, Seker - patron god of craftsmen, the god of the dead and funerals after whom is named the city of Sakara, and Osiris – god of the of the dead and the next world.
Many statues were sculptured especially for the Jubilee celebrations and were buried after the ceremonies. Others were sculptured later. Today researchers believe that the many statues found around Thebes, and that were taken by later pharaohs originate in the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III.
To the south of the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III was a large palace built mainly of mud bricks - a city in itself, with administrative buildings, chapels, homes, public halls, villas of government officials, kitchens and servants' wings.  

Temples of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel
During the years 1270-1256 BCE, Ramesses II began the construction of two temples on the west bank of the Nile, in Nubia, a place known today as Abu Simbel, near the border with Sudan today. Ramesses II's intention to build these temples was to impress the Nubians, demonstrate the strength of his reign in this region where he was considered as a patron god, and make it easier for him to annex Nubia to the kingdom of Egypt.
Ramesses II was a warrior king, who initiated campaigns of conquest in Asia and became addicted to festivities. He had many daughters, some of which he married. When he died, the number of his children was more than a hundred. Besides his passion for women he had unsatisfied lust for building. The construction works that he initiated were huge and massive.
The Two temples that he built in Abu Simbel were rock-hewn in local sandstone and in front of them was a hewn terrace. One temple was dedicated to the king himself, who was considered god, and the three main gods during the New Kingdom: the god Ptah and the two sun gods Amon Re and Re Horachte. The second temple was dedicated to Nefertari, the wife of the king, and to the goddess Hathor. On the terrace before the temples were two purification pools and two temples - Temple of the sun god to its north and a chapel to the god Tut  to its south.
During the years 1964-1968, when concern arose relating to floods from Lake Nasser that could have caused damage to the temples in Abu Simbel, the temples were cut into square blocks, and reconstructed about 60 meters above their original location.

The Temple of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel
The temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel was originally called "Hut Ramesses Meryamon", literally in ancient Egyptian: Ramesses' temple loved by Amon). The temple is set on east-west axis and its interior consists of a series of rock-cut halls and rooms. The construction of the temple into the sandstone rock does not enable including an open courtyard, which was customary in the temples of the period. In this temple, right after the entrance, is a pillars hall, leading to two rooms after which the innermost room - the holy of holies is found.

Image - The temple of Ramesses II in Abu Simbel

The front of the temple is shaped in the form of a pylon (38 meters in length and 31 meters in height). Between the side sloping walls, are four colossal statues of Ramesses II's seated figure towering to a height of 20 meters. An earthquake in ancient times damaged the statues, and one of them was destroyed from the waist up. Other statues, standing between the legs of these giant sculptures, show the royal family, including the king's mother and his wife Nefertari. On the bases of the chairs and beside them are bound prisoners of war.
Above the cornice crowning the front of the pylon stands a row of statues of baboons smiling and raising their hands to express admiration for the rising sun in front of them, which represents the god Re Horachte, one of the gods to whom the temple was dedicated. The ancient Egyptians believed that the baboons helped the sun god Re to subdue the darkness of the night.
In the pillars hall are statue-pillars in two rows ten meters in height, each of which includes four statue-pillars supporting the ceiling and presenting  Ramesses II in the image of Osiris (god of the  dead). Those located in the northern part of the hall carry the crown of Upper Egypt, and those in the southern part carry the crown of Lower Egypt. Presenting both crowns symbolizes the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt. The paintings on the of the hall's walls show the power of the king and commemorate his heroism. In several paintings he is displayed killing his enemies. On the right wall are scenes from his victory (actually it was a defeat) in Kadesh.

Between the pillars hall and the holy of holies, there is a smaller hall with four square pillars. On the walls are presented Ramesses II and his wife Nefertari giving offerings to the gods, with the sacred boats in the background. Three doors lead to an entrance hall preceding the holy of holies.
The link between the temple's planning and sun worship is expressed here most vividly. Twice a year, on February 22 and October 22, the first rays of light piercing through the temple at sunrise lit it all the way up the niche in sacred innermost room. There are found the four statues of the gods to whom the temple was dedicated (including Ramesses II himself regarded as god). Ptah, the god of darkness, is not lit up. The dates when this event occurs are associated with the birth of Ramesses II, on February 21, and his coronation, on October 21.
The Temple of Nefertary in Abu Simbel
The construction of the temple of Nefertari, which was dedicated to Queen Nefertari and to the goddess Hathor, had probably been completed before the construction of Ramesses II's temple was completed. The area where the shrine was built had been sacred to Hathor long before the reign of Ramesses II. It seems that building the temple in this place was intended to reinforce existing beliefs.
Nefertari, the most beautiful among the wives, was the favorite wife and daughter of Ramesses II. This was the first time in Egyptian history that a temple was dedicated to a royal wife. Like in the temple of Ramesses II adjacent to it, here the facade, is also designed with sloping side walls that looks like a pylon. Six colossal statues (ten meters high) adorn the front. On each side of the entrance are towering two statues of Ramesses II, and between them a statue of Nefertari in the image of Hathor. Around the legs of these statues, smaller statues of the royal family can be seen.
The height of the Queen statues are of the same height of the king - an unusual design indicating the importance that he attached to his queen.

Image - Nefertari's Temple in Abu Simbel

The entrance of the temple leads to a hall with six pillars with capitals in the image of Hathor. On the eastern wall is described in hieroglyphs Ramesses II's war against the enemy. The paintings on the wall show the victories of Ramesses II in Libya, Syria, Nubia, and in the battle of Kadesh. Behind this hall is another hall, rectangular in shape, that precedes the holy of holies where Ramesses II and Nefertari are described with the sacred boats of Amon Re Horachte. In the holy of holies, which is the innermost part of the temple, stands the statue of Hathor.

The Temple of Horus  in Edfu
After the construction period of Ramesses II, temples continued to be built after the model of the 18th dynasty temples. During the Ptolemaic dynasty was built the temple of Horus in modern Edfu, a city located on the west bank of the Nile, 103 km south of Luxor, where many temples had been built there before.
The Egyptians believed that the temple was built where the great battle between Horus and his brother Seth took place. The construction of the temple was carried out in three phases and lasted 180 years (237-57 BCE). Initially the temple's main building (the holy of holies, the chapels around it and the small columns hall) was built. Later the external columns hall was built, and at the end was built the pylon.
This temple, preserved almost in perfect condition, is the second largest in Egypt after the temple of Amon in Karnak. Its preservation is due  to the fact, that it had been almost entirely covered by desert sands until it was discovered in 1860.

Image -The temple of Horus in Edfu

The temple's plan is symmetric with a rectangular overall shape. A massive pylon leads to a paved courtyard surrounded by columns and followed by two pillars halls one after the other, each with 12 columns. At the end is the holy of holies surrounded by chapels.
 The first pillars hall is very impressive for both its dimensions and its good state of preservation. On the walls is depicted the encounter between Horus and his wife Hathor, which - according to Egyptian mythology is called "the celebration of the beautiful encounter." Every year in the third month of summer, on the dark phase of the moon, the priests of Dendera would place the statue of Hathor on the sacred ceremonial boat and bring it to the temple in Edfu, where the two gods would unite. Every evening the god and the goddess  would retire to the birth house (mamissi). The celebration would last until the end of the full moon festival. The outcome of the meeting between Hathor and Horus was Ihy or Horus Semtawy.

Image - Floor plan of the temple of Horus in Edfu.

The second pillars hall was smaller and led to a purification well. On the western side of this hall is a small room, whose walls are inscribed with concocting recipes for creams and perfumes to apply on the statue of Horus every day. Another room served for keeping the gifts and offerings.
Behind this room was an anteroom, leading to the holy of holies with a naos (a room in the temple, where the statue of the god stands), which was dedicated by Nectabo II (ruled 362-343 BCE). This is the oldest remnant of the temple.
A passage  surrounding the holy of holies enabled access to 13 chapels and small rooms, including the chapel of God Min, linen room in which the clothes of Horus were kept, the room of the coronation chairs of the gods, room of Osiris, tomb of Osiris and room of the winner (Horus). All the inner rooms were completely dark because they had no windows.
Nearly all the temple walls are covered with reliefs or hieroglyphs, some of which tell the story of its construction. Reliefs on the walls of the pylon show the king hit his enemies before Horus. During early Christianity these reliefs have been removed because they were considered pagan.
Other notable temples built since the Ptolemaic dynasty are: the temple of Isis on the island of Philae (Pi-lak in ancient Egyptian), whose construction began during the rule of Ptolemy II and was completed by the Roman emperors until c.300 CE , the temple of Qom-Ombo, built from 119 BCE (the period of Ptolemy VI) to the period of the Roman Emperor Augustus, and Hathor's temple in Dendera (54-20 BCE). These temples, whose construction began and ended during the Hellenistic period of Roman rule, are called "Greco – Roman".

Residential Houses
Whereas the ancient Egyptians saw their graves as a permanent residence and built them with the most durable materials, in their residential houses they saw a temporary dwelling, and accordingly, built them in non-durable materials, such as reeds, and mud bricks made of the Nile mud. Mud is more advantageus than stone, being more suitable for residential use in the heat of Egypt. Mixing mud and straw bricks enabled creating bricks that after being dried in the sun were particularly strong. Instead of pillars, which served for supporting the stone structures, wooden columns served for supporting the structure, and instead of roofs built of stone, roofs were built of palm tree trunk.
Evidence to the look of homes in ancient Egypt, is found in paintings depicting them. There their general appearance can be seen, and also the division of space and construction details.           When painting an object, the Egyptians presented it from an angle that made it easy to identify that object, rather than by using perspective. The more important objects were presented as bigger. This approach enables us to notice details that would have disappeared from view if they wold have been painted according to the rules of perspective.
The ancient Egyptian models representing buildings, which are not rare in ancient Egypt, also indicate how residential buildings looked like. Most of them were sacred or decorative objects. These models are quite realistic in terms of proportions. The proportions between people, houses and so on are retained. The most famous group of models was found in the grave of Mehenkwetre (or Meketre), the advisor of the king during the 12th dynasty. These  include a representation of the house, baking bread and beer production, spinning, weaving workshop, carpentry workshop, bearers of gifts and boats.
The residential house usually stood on a platform and staircase led to the entrance, apparently to prevent flooding during the high tides of the Nile. At first, the ground plan of the residential house was circular or oval, and later - square. On a large area of the house's compound lay a walled courtyard. 
Most residences were single - storey houses and only a few were two or three floors houses. The walls were thick and often grooved on their exterior for decoration purposes only. The windows were small and placed near the ceiling to allow ventilation. Thus, home life was hidden from the eyes of strangers, but it was also impossible to see from the house what was going on outside.
Door frames, built in stone, were set into a stone threshold where the landlord's name and title were inscribed. The use of stone was done to make it harder for thieves and robbers to break into houses. Another way to safeguard against burglars was mud-brick wall surrounding most of the houses.

In many of the nouses in Thebes there were two rooms, one of which opened into an inner courtyard. The front columns were a bit projecting off the wall. In the houses of the rich the rooms were illuminated by a square opening in the center of the ceiling which was supported by wooden columns. In the city of Kahun these wooden column stood on a stone base. Stone was also used for building water containers, which were found in most homes, except for the poor. In the city of Akhetaten, (modern Tell el Amarna) was found an elegant bathroom with running water in the home of a high official of the 18th dynasty, indicating a high level of sanitation.
              The residential houses in Akhetaten had common elements: they were one-story houses with area ranging from 90 sq.m. to 185 sq.m. The main unit of the house contained a porch and square living room surrounded by smaller rooms. This plan has allowed insulation from the heat of the day and  the cold at night. Water was supplied from wells usually shared by a few houses, or from wells placed in the public square.
Inside homes in Akhetaten was found pavement, which was often renewed. In one of the palaces in the city, the floor was renewed about 16 times in a period of a little more than ten years. There were floors that were richly painted. Apparently, the walls were white, with abstract decoration usually consisting of patterns such as the symbol of life (ankh) on colored frieze below the ceiling.
In the center of the house was the main room, usually located higher than the adjacent rooms and illuminated by a clerestory. In the large rooms of the house, four wooden or stone pillars supported the ceiling. The wooden ones had basis made of stone. The capitals of the pillars were usually decorated with flower patterns. Inside the house was also a sacred room built near the main room. Ceilings were decorated with geometric patterns with emblems symbolizing protection.
In the houses of the poor, the family would converge in two rooms during the winter. In summer time the poor used to sleep on the roof under a netting, as a shield against mosquitoes. The roof was also the place where women cooked.
In the Two-storey houses the ground plan of the second floor was identical to that of the ground floor. The ground floor Included storage rooms, grain storage and stables. The floors were built of brick or paved. Sometimes soil was used instead of flooring. The ceiling was flat. In the city of Kahun it had wooden beams. The walls were usually whitewashed and decorated with colors such as red and yellow. Sometimes domestic scenes were painted on them. Access to the second floor was through an outside staircase, steep and narrow. In homes with windows facing the street, the windows were placed near the ceiling and set irregularly, in both shape and the distances between them. Bars and shutters enabled shutting them. On the roof there were usually the bathroom and a small bedroom for the  guards or slaves.
In a tomb from Thebes dated to the 18th dynasty is a drawing depicting a house. The house and its compound are rectangular. A wall separates it from the street, and two pylons (monumental gates) lead to it. A pair of small gates stands on either side of the main gate.
The house and the wall surrounding the courtyard are arranged symmetrically on either side of the central axis, which connects the two main gates in the wall. The rooms of the house open onto three patios located one after the other along the central axis. The outer walls of the house are adorned with columns arranged in parallel to them.

Image - Perspective view of the Theban house, from 18th Dynasty

In Giza were found homes from the fourth dynasty, which included two and a half rooms, a small entrance room, main room and a niche or internal room used as a bedroom. The entrance to the house was by descending a few steps from the street in a three meters wide staircase.  
There were houses that in designing them weather conditions were considered. An example can be found in Akhetaten, there the houses faced the north or west, to enjoy the cool breeze.

Estates and Palaces
Unlike the Egyptian temples, which were symmetrical, Egyptian palaces, were the aggregate of functional units without a uniform appearance. In the complex of the palace were often large warehouses full of agricultural products. It was surrounded by a wall, isolated from its surroundings and the access to it was controlled.
Love of nature has left its mark on palaces and their surroundings and on rich estates, stretching over a wide area. Low atone walls usually divided the gardens symmetrically. A typical palace was usually rectangular and stood in the center of  a layout of buildings in the garden. Sometimes the living rooms were placed at the end of the estate, while the stables, barns, and offices were scattered on the ground.
The wall facing the street was smooth while  the other external walls of the palace were grooved. The main entrance to the palace faced the street which was bordered with the trees of the garden and two or three steps led to the front door. In some of the palaces there was a portico decorated with sculptures, and often the gate was pylon shaped, as was common in temples. At the entrance to the palace was usually a reception area with colonnade on the southern side. The plan of the palace interior was like that of a small town divided into quarters.
Pharaoh and his family lived in the compound which was separated from the rest of the capital city. In Akhenathen's palace, the royal family's quarters were separated from the official palace by the main avenue, but were interconnected by a bridge.
Remaining relics from the house of Akhenaten in Akhetaten in the palace's commpound show that a double mud-brick wall surrounded it. The complex of the house was rectangular with coutyards and warehouses organized around a central garden, where a well was found. The wall continued to the west along the main street. A Bridge over the way called "the King's Road" made the connection between the private house which was located to the east of this road, and the public domain located to its west.
In the southern part of the palace there was a large hall with mud-brick columns. From this hall there was an access to smaller halls, whose pillars were painted in white, and the ceiling was adorned with patterns of vines and grapes on a yellow background. In the western part of the house there were the servants' quarters and the warehouses were located in the eastern part.

In Akhetaten there was also the estate of Nakht, a senior minister at the court of Akhenaten. A wall, whose front faced the main street, surrounded the estare. In the house there was an entrance hall nine meters in length and a ground floor with 30 rooms. In the main hall was a fireplace and a high ceiling allowing light to penetrate from a clerestory. At the back of the estate there were bathrooms and bedrooms. Before the front of the mansion there were a garden and a private chapel outdoors. In the back were located the servants, kitchens, stables, workshops, warehouses and offices. Locating them  in the eastern part of the compound prevented the arrival of the smelly winds to the residential wing of the owner. To the west of the house there were high silos arranged in pairs with a staircase leading to the upper part.
We can learn about the palace of King Ay (ruled 1327-1323 BCE), father of Nefertiti, the beautiful wife of Akhenaten, and the brother of the Tie III from a painting depicting it, which is found in the tomb of Akhenaten. This palace, surrounded by a wall, looks like a fortress rather than like a house. Pylons protected the entrances to it. Along the outer walls there were warehouses. In the cental area of the house's compound there were living rooms whose doors were opened into the courtyard. A pair of pylons led to these rooms. In the compound of the house there were also geese ponds and a large barn supported by four rows of columns.

                                      Heritage of Egyptian Architecture
Although thousands of years have passed since ancient Egypt, its architecture continues to fascinate us today. Contemporary architects draw inspiration from the pyramids, and one of them is the architect I.M. Pei, who built the entrance to the Louvre museum.

The ancient Greeks had already expressed their great appreciation for the pyramids when they included the pyramids of Giza in the Seven Wonders of the World. The design of the Doric column draws inspiration from the columns in ancient Egyptian temples. Likewise, the plan of the Greek temple draws inspiration from the Ancient Egyptian temple. The idea of ​​the statue in human image, which serves as a pillar, as seen in the temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel, is reflected in ancient Greece in the form of atlants (statues in the image of men used for supporting columns) and cariatids (statues in the image of women used for supporting columns.)
The Romans showed great interest in Egyptian architecture. When Egypt was part of the Roman Empire, the Romans imitated the Egyptian burial structures. The pyramids were copied and accepted as Roman tombs. A prominent example of such a tomb is the tomb of Caius Cestius, a pyramid built in Rome, very modest in size and similar in form to the small pyramids, which were built during the later dynasties in ancient Egypt, rather than to the Great Pyramids of Giza.
 During the Roman Empire obelisks were transferred from the Egyptian temples to Rome to decorate the city and other cities throughout the empire. Within the city of Rome there are still 13 obelisks. Some were brought from Alexandria (to where they were brought from other cities in Egypt), Sais and Heliopolis.
Commissioned obelisks were engraved for the Roman emperors and re-established during the Renaissance. Such was the obelisk, which was cut for the Emperor Domitian, was placed outside the temple of Saraps in Campus Martius in Rome, and was relocated by Pope Inocent X in Piazza Navona (also in Rome).
Pope Sixtus V (pope during the years 1585- 1590) reerected obelisks. Especially noteworthy are the obelisks erected in Rome: in front of basilica John Lateran, before the facade of St. Peter's basilica and before the front of the Quirnal palace. Rediscovery of obelisks and erecting them in Rome continued during the 17th century.
The Romans, in designing temples, have adopted high podium such as the podium found in the temple of Amenhotep III in Elephantine Island. ("Elephantine" in Greek, and  "Yebu" in ancient Egyptian, literally: elephant or ivory). Likewise, they adopted the plan according to which the entrance to the temple was from one side only.
The clerestory, typical of ancient Egyptian temples, served as a precedent for building the Roman basilica, where the height of the nave (central wing) exceeds the height of the isles (side wings) and thus creates the clerestory.
During the Renaissance, appreciation for  ancient Egyptian art was expressed in bringing obelisks from Egypt, and reerecting them in city squares to serve as focal points in environmental design.
The hidden wisdom called pyramidology was a major matter for the christian Rosenkreuz (in English: Christian Rose Cross) order founded in 1459, whose members considered themselves skilled in nature's secrets and witchcraft. The ideas of the Masonic movement, which included the pyramid as one of its symbols, are based in part on one of the sections of Christian Rosenkreuz order.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, when the romantic spirit spread throughout Europe and delegations traveled to Egypt to study ancient Egyptian culture, an obelisk was transferred from Egypt to Paris (now in Concorde Square), and buildings in the Neo-Egyptian style were built beside  Neo Gothic and Neoclassical buildings.
Since the beginning of the 19th century, many pyramid-shaped tombs were built, especially in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris.
In 1823 a pyramid-shaped mausoleum was built for Prince Karl Wilhelm in the city of Karlsruhe (which he founded) in Germany, designed by architect Friedrich Weinbrenner.
 Egyptian cultural influence penetrated the 19th  century buildings regardless of their function: zoos, suspension bridges and shops were inspired by the Egyptian temples.
In the United States the obelisk was adopted as a symbol of Remembrance in the 19th century. Nine out of the first sixteen presidents of the United-States are commemorated by obelisks serving as memorial monuments built in their places of birth or burial. The most famous among them is  Washington (1848-1885) Memorial, an obelisk-shaped column built in standard Egyptian proportions. Similarly, many obelisks served as tombstones in cemeteries throughout the United-States.
In the court buildings in the United-States we can see Doric columns, derived from ancient Egyptian temples, which were built at least 2,000 years before the Greek Doric columns were built.
In recent years, many pyramids were built in the United States. In Memphis, Tennessee, was built (in 1990-1991) a pyramid sixty percent of the size of Khufu's pyramid in Giza, with offices and museum. Likewise, in Las Vegas a pyramid-shaped hotel was built (in 1992-1993), and in front of its façade were placed a Sphinx and monumental obelisk.
The symbolic meaning of Egyptian architecture has been retained to this day. Every day millions of Americans hold in their hands the symbol of the pyramid. On the back of the U.S. dollar a pyramid is found as a symbol of the sun painted with an eye at the top (a Masonic symbol). The eye, which represents the sun, symbolizes wisdom and justice. It is "moving" in the sky, sees everything, and nothing is hidden from it.
 Image - pyramid symbol on the back of U.S. dollar

Extensive research on the Egyptian architecture as inspiration to architecture from ancient to modern times, can be found in the book of Jean Marcel Humbert listed in the bibliography.

The Ancient Egyptian City
During the New Kingdom, for the first time a distinction was made between communities of different sizes. There were three basic types of settlement: niwt, meaning a city, dmi - a town or settlement, and whyt (which was apparently linked to the word for "household") meaning village.
There were pre-planned cities, and towns  established without planning which had evolved over time spontaneously according to the immediate needs of their residents. Such cities had a few open spaces. Planned cities were naturally more organized.
Ancient Egypt is a good example of the effect of environment on the development of the city. The main consideration in building a city, was the proximity to water sources and the height above the level of frequent floods. The Nile, which flows in Egypt from south to north, was a source of life, along which were built towns and villages.
Cities were built to the east of the Nile, and cemeteries were located to the west of it. The reason is that in ancient Egypt the east was associated with birth, revelation, visible and human things, while the west was associated with death, disappearance and the invisible. This concept, which exists also in other ancient cultures, originates in the "movement" of the sun in the sky, linking the rising sun in the east with birth and the setting sun in the west with death. Cosmological perception seems to be reflected in the city's construction plan and in the choice of its location.
Other considerations in choosing a new city's location often included security and economic considerations as was the case in the city of Buhen in southern Egypt, which was built to secure the border with Nubia and profit from mining gold.
 Considerations of worship and administration were taken into account when the city of Illahun was built. This city was founded as a city of workers who built the pyramid of Senusret.
Political considerations were taken into account when the city of Akhetaten was built. Akhetaten was founded as a new capital city far from Thebes to reduce the influence of the priests of Amon.
For most of their history, Egyptian cities were surrounded by fortifications. The villages were often surrounded by walls. As early as the predynastic period, when cities were conquered, the destruction of the walls of a city was considered a victory. Wars against neighbors and foreigners were frequent until the unification of Egypt brought peace. Although until the Middle Kingdom there was no significant threat from external enemies, there were enough dangers that forced the Egyptians to build walls. For example, the police found it difficult to deal with nomadic groups who were attracted to the wealthy communities in the Nile Valley.
The mud-brick walls surrounding the cities were often covered with plaster. Such were the city of Hierakopolis and the city of Memphis. The ancient Egyptian name of Memphis "Inebhedj" which literally meant  "white walls", testify to this.
The city walls could not resist a well-equipped determined enemy, but could prevent the invasions of nomads and neighbors. During the New Kingdom the Egyptians learned from the Canaanites to coat the walls of their cities with stone.
We can learn about the city plan customary in ancient times, from the hieroglyph denoting the word "city"- a cross surrounded by a circle (or oval). This form represents street corners facing the four cardinal points and dividing the city into four quarters.
The intersection represented by this shape was the main means for the movement of people, goods and ideas. The circle of the hieroglyph represents the moat or wall surrounding the city. The fact that this hieroglyph was in use since the use of writing began, indicates the ancient origin of this shape of the city. This hieroglyph also testifies to the attention devoted by the Egyptians to city planning. They did not only focus on individual buildings. Their awareness to site planning was also reflected in the layouts of temples and buildings and the boulevards of sphinxes that led to them.
Except for marking available spaces, and main access routes, the Egyptian cities were not planned. Avenues leading to the temple's compound through the city were wide and suitable for processions. Originally, the temples were surrounded by open space, but with the passage of time houses were built near the temple walls. When the houses were not durable and collapsed due to prolonged contact with water, new houses were built on the ruins. That raised the level of the residential area, and the temples, which were built in stone remained on the lower level. 
Since the houses were rapidly destroyed, little is known about ancient Egyptian design of towns. We know, however, that the temple was a central place in the city. It was built close to the riverbank, surrounded by residential and commercial buildings. In times of danger, when the city was attacked, the walled temple complex served as a shelter for the city's residents.
In the city of Thebes there was a shortage of land for construction and the situation worsened when the temples of Luxor and Karnak were extended. There was no planning policy. The houses were crowded and blocked the air. Life was not pleasant in Thebes in the hot summer. Animals were kept in the houses - a situation causing crowdedness and severe sanitation problems. However, Egypt was largely rural, and living in the village was considered ideal.
There were pre-planned square-shaped cities surrounded by walls, and cities whose walls were adjusted to the surface. Square shape suited cities in  flat areas, but it has not always been adopted in mountainous areas. In the city of Kom Ombo ("Nubt" in ancient Egyptian), the city wall was built on the slopes following the topography.
In the ancient Egyptian cities there were no buildings that were intended to serve as markets or as a meeting place such as the agora in Greece or the forum in Rome. Neither were there baths nor theaters. Each city had open spaces in the shade of sycamore or acacia, to where farmers would come during market days with their wares from the nearby villages two or three times a month. Trash concentrated in certain places, and served as food for birds and dogs.
Herodotus, who visited Egypt in the fifth century BCE, wrote that when the Nile was at high tide (an event taking place every year during the summer), the entire city became a sea, and the cities that remained over the water level, looked like the Aegean islands. During such times boats served as a means of transportation.
Like in Mesopotamia, the city level rose with the passage of years due to the formation of tells. Since the houses were built of sun-dried mud bricks, they were renewed and rebuilt fairly easily. Houses were built on the ruins of their predecessors and thus tells were created. The result was that neighboring houses stood on various levels. When the level of the house rose, the lower rooms were used for accumulating trash, and new floors were added above them.
While the level of residential houses rose, stone-built temples remained on their original level,  and when they were rebuilt, their level remained the same. As a result, in many cities the level of the  residential area was high above that of the temple's compound.
Common belief was that the gods in ancient Egypt created the cities and watched them. Evidence testifying to that was found in an inscription from the seventh century BCE. According to this inscription, the god Ptah created the gods and cities, and placed the gods in their temples.
Pharaohs built cities to create a microcosm under their control. Every Pharaoh lived in a city, next to which he built throughout his life a pyramid that would serve as his burial structure. After his death the priests continued the worship in the temple and the pyramid. The pharaoh who ruled after him moved elsewhere, where he built his own pyramid and placed his administration near the construction site. This is why Egypt had many capital cities throughout its history.

The city of Nekheb (Nekheb in Ancient Egyptian; El Kab in Arabic; Eleithyiaspolis in Greek), was an old fortified city built on the east bank of the Nile about 80 kilometers south of Luxor, near the modern village El Hillal. It served as the place of residence for Nekhbet, the eagle-headed goddess, who together with the cobra goddess Wadjet, was the patron godess of the Egyptian kings.
The city played an important role in ancient times in Egypt's history and in later periods in ancient Egypt. The beginning of the city of Nekheb dates to the predynastic period. It was built on a walled square area, and was divided into two sections: a walled compound in the city center, and the space between this compound's wall and the wall of the city. On the smaller area in the city center, an area of ​​25,000 square meters, were concentrated in the temples. One of these was a temple, whose construction began in 2700 BCE, and was expanded by the pharaohs from the 18th dynasty until the 30th Dynasty. The sides of the inner square area in the city center were parallel to the sides of  the outer square surrounding the city itself. The fortifications of the temple were used by the army in case of enemy attack.
During the New Kingdom, the proximity of the city of Nekheb to the city of Nekhen (Hiirakopols in Greek) on the west bank of the Nile, made it a political, military and religious center, and since the beginning of the 18th dynasty had replaced Nekhen as the capital city of Upper Egypt.
Throughout the history of ancient Egypt, Nekheb received a special attention from the Egyptian kings who built there temples, including: Tutmoses III, Amenhotep II, Amenhotep III, and Psamtik I. 
In the desert, near the city, temples were  built for lion-headed Sekhmet, the goddess of war and revenge of Upper Egypt, Re Horachte, and Amon. These were found next to a predynastic cemetery along with rock-hewn tombs from the first half-period of the 18th dynasty. The rock-cut tombs include those of Ahmose, son of Ibana (Tomb 5 EK), a military commander who fought the Hyksos (1550 BCE) and Setau (Tomb 4 EK), a priest from Ramesses III's period.
Massive mud-brick walls, built in the city during the late period (747-332 BCE), surrounded an area of ​​250,000 square meters or so that in most part, have remained intact.
The city also flourished during the Ptolemaic dynasty and during the Roman rule.

Memphis, located in the delta, on the junction between Upper and Lower Egypt, was the first capital city in ancient Egypt after the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by King Menes (circa 3100 BCE). Memphis is the name given to the city by the Greeks. The city was also called Aneb U, (literally in ancient Egyptian: [the city of] the walls)  and Inebhedj, literally in ancient Egyptian: white walls), the white walls probably refer to the white wall that surrounded the city and was built by king Menes. This wall was probably first built in sun-dried mud bricks and covered with plaster, and later replaced by a stone wall. The city was also called Men Nefer (literally: the best place.) this name initially referred to the pyramid of King Pepi I of the sixth dynasty, but later became the name of the city. As already mentioned, the ancient origine of the name Egypt is Eikopta, which means "temple of the soul of Ptah." In the Bible the city is named Mof (Hosea 9: 6) or Nof (Jeremiah , 44:1).
During the first dynasties Memphis was a political center. This settlement grew rapidly, and probably was a huge city in terms of the period. The dimensions of the burial cities nearby, stretching 30 kilometers along the west bank of the Nile, testify to this. These burial cities include: Giza, Sakara, Abu Rawash, Abusir and dahshur.
The city itself, which was grid-planned was a cluster of residential areas, located around an artificial hill on whose top were a white castle, fortified palace, gardens and many temples and military outposts.
Very little has survived from the city. Most of it was lost or is buried under the cultivated fields. Today its scattered ruins can be found. The source of the information that we have on the city is in the burial cities - graves, texts from all over Egypt and and the writings of Herodotus, who visited the city. It is unclear exactly where the original city of Memphis was. Perhaps it was located in the northern part of the city, close to Abusir valley that allows access to the city through Sakara plane where many senior officials were buried in the second and third dynasties.
Since the third dynasty the status of the city strengthened and reached its peak during the sixth  dynasty as a center of worship of God Ptah. Though its importance has diminished when Thebes became the capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom, Memphis maintained its position as a religious and political center, and continued to prosper.
During the 19th and the 20th dynasties, the city was divided into many quarters. Ptah district was in the center, with the temple of the god protected on the northern side by the original fortifications of the city that gave it its name Inebhedj. South of this temple, which has survived in part, was the temple of Ramesses II. To the east of the city, from north to south, there stood palaces and temples. The remains of several of these structures were discovered: the palace of Tutmoses I, the temple of Seti I and the temple of Ramesses II, followed by an array of buildings from the period of Pharaoh Merenptah, son of Ramesses II, which included a temple and a palace surrounded by a square shaped wall.
 During the 19th and 20th dynasties, Memphis expanded toward the Nile and became the largest city in Egypt. Inside the city there were the kings' residences and the administrative center. Next to the city were the graves of kings, and a center of worship of the god Re. In the northern district, the temple of Neith (who, was seen as the mother of the god Re) was completed during the New Kingdom. To the west of Ptah's quarter, facing the cemetery, stretched the quarter of Ankhto whose patron goddess was Bast, the cat-headed, the wife of God Ptah, whose importance grew during the 22nd dynasty. This district was built around her temple  - Bubastis (literally: the house of Bast).
In the center of the southern district of Memphis was a temple of Hathor, which was connected with Ptah's temple by a canal that served for sailing processions and unloading goods from boats. As a result, the southern district was bustling. Here were the workshops of craftsmen: goldsmiths, blacksmiths, potters and leather processors. There were also craftsmen who were building vessels. Odors emitted from these industries moved to the south with the northern winds. Many foreigners, including Hittites, Asians and Hurians, lived in that district and built their temples there.
The remains discovered in the city are: the wall surrounding the Temple of Ptah, alabaster stone sphinx, the temple of the oxen of Apis, where embalming took place, the temple of Tutmoses IV and other temples of Hathor and Ptah. Likewise, were found tombs from the first intermediate period and the late dynasties. The necropolis of Memphis included Dahshur, Saqara, Abusir, Zawiyet el-Aryan, Giza and Abu Roash.
When the Greeks came to Egypt, they moved the Egyptian capital to Alexandria. Memphis went into decline. It was mostly abandoned and served as a source of reused building material.

Hotep Senusert / Kahun) /Illahun
More than 1000 years after the building of Memphis, the city Hotep Senusert (literally: Senuscrt satisfied) or Sekhem Senusert (literally in Ancient Egyptian: Senusert is powerful) was built near Fayum. It was also named Ro-hent - literally in Ancient Egyptian: "the mouth of the canal", translated into Coptic: Illahun. The city is also known by the name of Kahun,
The city was built in the 19th century BCE and was designed to serve as the residence of 10,000 workers, who built the pyramid of King Senusret II (ruled 1877-1870 BCE). Its remains show that it was rectangular-shaped (350 m x 400 m) and that the streets surrounding it paralleled the walls. Perpendicular short boulevards divided long parallel streets. Such a geometric plan suited a city of workers that had to be built quickly.
The western part of the city, which was intended for the workers' residence, was separated from the other part of the city by a long inner wall. The northern part of the city was on higher level than the southern part, which was close to the Nile and was destroyed by floods. Thus, was also destroyed the wall in this part of town. In this area were 200 houses, each of which contained three rooms at the most: a reception, one or two bedrooms and a kitchen. Every long street in the area had a major drainage system, and a part of its surface was paved.
The workers' houses were one story buildings, and their general layout looked like a military base. The area inside the inner wall comprised two-thirds of the city, including the Acropolis (an area elevated above the surrounding area) with small public buildings and a temple, the ruler's home and the official residence of guests. The division of residential areas according to social status was apparent. Officials and courtiers lived in large houses, priests lived in medium-sized houses, and workers lived in small houses. 

Image - Hotep Senusert city plan / al Kahun / Illahun

 The part of the city that survived was first discovered by the British archaeologist Linders Petrie (1853-1942). Petrie wrote that every street had a uniform shape. There were no gardens, however, every house had an open courtyard, even if the house was very small.
Houses of simple workers had at least three rooms apart from the cortyard. In other houses, depending on the social status of their owners, there were four, five or even six rooms. In some houses there were two stories. In the richest residential area in the city there were about 11 palaces with 70 rooms each, which were 60 times larger than the residential houses of the poor. These palaces' plans were almost identical. They included barns, warehouses, and living rooms. In this part of town was a wide street leading to the palace. The main street was nine meters wide, while the alleys were sometimes only 1.5 meters wide. Along the main streets were cut shallow stone channels designed for draining.
Noble houses were well ventilated, and the rooms were arranged around an open courtyard surrounded by columns. The kitchens were accessed from the street. The residential quarters of the house included bedrooms that could accommodate 50 people. Some of the houses had latrines and drainage.
Despite the affection of Egyptians to closed gardens, there was no space left for gardens in the walled city. The whole area was covered with mud brick streets and homes.
The city of El Kahun existed for some 150 years, until it was abandoned when the building of the pyramid was completed, and there was no other economic basis to justify living in its vicinity. As a city, built to fulfill one specific function, El Kahun was not different from medieval European cities that were built to serve religious institutions and   monasteries.

Akheteten - Tell el Amarna
In 1350 BCE King Amenhotep IV (Amenhotep, literally in ancient Egyptian: Amon is satisfied), who changed his name to Akhenaten, (literally in ancient Egyptian: the glorious spirit of Aten), decided to establish a city for his father, the god Aten, on the east bank of the Nile – Akhetaten , (literally in ancient Egyptian: the horizon of Aten). This city was located in a place called today El Amarna.
Akhenaten brought a radical change to Egyptian religion, declareing that there was only one god - the sun god Aten. He shut down all Amon's temples throughout Egypt and passed the income from these temples to his new city Akhetaten. The king and his subjects believed that the god was found only in the new city. In the sixth year of Akhenaten's reign the city was founded and housed between 20,000 to 50,000 inhabitants.
Akhenaten perceived the abandonment of Thebes for the city of Akhetaten, which was built on new and pure ground, as moving away from impure influence.
In contrary to what was customary in building cities in Egypt, such as Tanis, and later Alexandria, where they tended to import significant monuments to create a link to the past, there is no evidence of transfer of monuments to Akhetaten. Akhenaten probably meant to break with the past tradition in order to create a new tradition.
In building a new city, Akhenaten weakened the power of the priests of the god Amon, who was not even considered as a royal god. The boundaries of the new city, which was perceived as a microcosm, were marked by four border stones: northern, eastern, southern and western. Akhetaten was seen as a colossal temple of Aten and the site of his permanent birth that preserved the cosmos.
Akhetaten, which was designed to replace the religious and administrative center in Thebes, was built intensively for over ten years. Its total length was seven kilometers, and its width ranged from 800 to 1,500 meters. Most of its buildings including  the official ones, were built in sun-dried mud bricks.
The architecture of the city reflected the religious faith of Akhenaten. The palaces and temples were set on the east-west axis, the axix on which the sun god "moves" from east to west every day. Likewise, the temples dedicated to the sun god were actually open courtyards that allowed the rays of the sun to penetrate into them. This created a direct link between the believer and the god.
The topography set the layout of the city and marked three main streets stretching from north to south, parallel to the Nile, through the entire city. The western among these streets was about 40 meters wide, connecting the palace and the temple. The king's convoy would pass through this street every day.
This street is known today as the Royal Road or Sikhet Es Sultan. The Middle among the three main streets was a smaller street now called A. The eastern among the main streets was a spectacular street about 50 meters wide called High Priest Street, a name given to it by German archaeologists, who discovered it early in the 20th century. It was called so because in its domain lived the high priest of the god Aten. The British archaeologists called it East Road South.
The High Priest probably served as the main road for processions that had a public and religious character. The main streets were wide and but not shaded, a planning that did not fit the weather, but seemed to fit the unique religion of Akhenaten. The exposure to the sun was designed to interact directly and constantly with the visual image of the sun god.
To the exposure to the sun, testifies one of Amarna letters (clay tablets on which were registered letters in Akkadian, sent by the rulers of Mesopotamia and the Near East to Amenhotep III , Akhenaten and Tut-Ankh-Amon), which were  sent by the Assyrian king Assurubalit to Akhenaten. In this letter he complains that his embassadors had to wait under the hot sun, until pharaoh listened to them. He complained about letting them die from the heat.
Akhenaten first built the city center. The two main temples stood east of the Royal Road, one to the north of the king's palace and the other to its south. The palace had a balcony from which Akhenaten used to reward his government officials for being loyal to him by throwing toward them chains of gold.
To the east of Akhenaten's palace, official buildings were located: the police, army, and the foreign ministry, where the Amarna letters have been preserved. A bridge over the Royal Road  connected the royal palace and an array of  buildings on the western side of the street. Most of these buildings were built in stone with colored floors and walls decorated with reliefs and porcelain. Researchers now believe that the use of stone for building shows that they served religious purposes such as the Jubilee Festival, which was celebrated only four years after Akhenaten came to power (as noted, it was cusomary to celebrate Jubilee after thirty years of the king's rule), and receptions in religious ceremonies. Previously, the array of buildings on the western side of the street, were identified as the great palace.
In the northern and southern parts of the city,  to the north and south of the governing center, were neighborhoods with mansions, a trait uncharacteristic of ancient Egyptian cities. In these mansions one could find stables, warehouses, workshops, and private chapel for worshiping the sun. Many of them had gardens, pools surrounded by trees, kitchens and private bathrooms. Likewise, many homes had bathrooms, toilets and sometimes also fountains. Here lived the religious and political leadership. The houses of officials were set along the east bank of the Nile, which they used both as a water source and a transportation artery.
The agricultural areas of the mansions of government officials were located in the west bank of the Nile. They were an extension of the home area and source of income for homeowners who received some crops.
The  Houses of government officials reflected their social status. The compound of each house was surrounded by a wall, with access from one direction. The house stood in the center of the compound, surrounded by barns, stables, storerooms, servants quarters and garden. The passage from the main gate to the entrance was not laid out in a straight line. It included several twists and turns. The living rooms were placed around the audience hall, which was placed in the center. Some houses had two storeys with a main room illuminated by a clerestory.
From the thickness of the walls one could learn about the social status of the landlord. The thicker the walls were, the higher the social status of the owner was. The thick walls of the house protected from extreme heat and cold fluctuations. Adding rooms around the living rooms located in the center of the house, also contributed to the interior insulation from the weather outside.
In the city center stood the palace, temple, and government buildings, including warehouses,  government offices and archives. In this part of town was the royal road that paralleled the river  and divided the royal palace into two parts. To its east was the king's residence and to its west were the official apartments, including halls, and large open courtyards with colossal statues of the king and queen. A bridge connected these two compounds (private and public) without having to go down the street. On this bridge was a balcony, where the royal family would often appear in public.

To the south of the private flats of the palace was a small temple of the god Aten, probably meant to serve the king. In the north a series of warehouses separated between the palace and the great temple of the city. In the large courtyard of the temple was an altar, and every day everyone could bring food and drinks as an offering to the god. At the eastern end of the courtyard was a small temple, probably for use exclusively by Akhenaten and the high priest. The temples were not roofed, in order to allow direct contact with the god.
In the northern part of the city was the palace  called "Northern Palace", a rectangular area with yards and warehouses, organized around a central garden and pool. In this palace probably lived Kiya, wife of Akhenaten. Previously researchers thought that his wife Nefertiti lived there. Probably, Tut- Ankh-Amon lived there with his wife the daughter of Akhenaten, in their first year of marriage. Later they moved to Memphis.
To the north of the northern palace there was a suburb originally designed to serve as royal residence. Villas of the middle class surrounded it. When the city grew, little houses were added among the big villas. The poorest in the northern suburb had houses that looked like those of the builders and artisans, who built the tomb of Akhenaten, and the tombs of his courtiers.
In the eastern part of Akhenaten lived the workers who built the city of Akhenaten. The plan for their residential area was similar to that of a city of workers in Deir El Medina, who built the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, and that of the  employees in Illahun, who built the tomb of Pharaoh Senusert II. Like these cities, the city of employees in Akhetaten was walled, geometric shaped, with a dense layout of housing.
 In the city there were more than 60 mud-brick houses (with little use of wood and stone). Some were one-storey houses (60 square meters in area) and some two-storey houses (100 square meters in area).
Five streets were moving from north to south, and two streets moved from east to west. The streets, which were not paved, were straight and narrow (about two meters in width). There was neither sewage system nor garbage collection system. The residents raised pigs, which were clearing debris and served as a source of additional income for the employees.
Like the city itself, the city of employees was secured by the police from its bases, one in the northern part of Akhenaten and the other in the  south. The entrance to the city of workers was through the southern wall.
In Akhetaten there was no special area for the lowest class as slaves or servants. These lived in their masters' homes and they had no homes of their own. Thus, there were no slums in the city. Likewise, there were no city sections of workshops because the workshops were part of the private houses. There were no remains of of shops and schools in the city. The latter were probably located in the temples' compounds.
To the north of a wide wadi crossing the city center, there was a quarter of sculptures, where the studio of Thuthmose, the sculptor of Akhenatern's court, was located.
Unlike other cities, Akhetaten was not walled. Its borders were marked by three steles carved into the rock at the northern and southern ends of the city, in the the founding ceremony dedicated to the god Aten. Damaged reliefs and inscriptions were found on these steles.
Years after the founding ceremony of the city eight additional steles were cut to mark the city's eastern border. Three other steles marked the city borders west of the Nile. All these steles described Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their daughters, worshiping the god Aten.
Until recently, researchers thought that the iscriptions on one of the steles marking the boundaries of the city included the vow of Akhetaten saying that he would never leave the boundaries of the new city. In fact, researchers now believe that he meant that he would not expand the boundaries of the city beyond the limits set by a god Aten. According to another version, he left instructions in case that he would leave the city. However, there is no doubt that he preferred to stay in his city.
To protect the city Akhenaten used domestic and foreign mercenary soldiers guarding the municipal area. Akhenaten apparently felt the need to defend against rebellion. When the royal family went in their carriages, military personnel, who placed roadblocks in the city, accompanied them.
All the countryside around the city was crossed by patrols paths, from which anyone approaching the area could be seen. The Royal Road served the king and his entourage daily when they made their way from the palace in the north to the buildings of worship in the city center - a journey that lasted several kilometers. 
Akhenaten was the first pharaoh who discovered the use of a carriage drawn by two horses as a means of convenient transportation and as a symbol of royalty.
A belt of fertile land that extended over a large area in the west bank of the river was included in the city. The addition of this large area has helped to supply the economic needs of the capital. The rural houses built in this area provided their own needs. As noted, in this area, there was also an agricultural land belonging to government officials' estates.
Although the city was planned, there were  areas where homes, yards and alleys were laid out in a jumble. Special attention has been devoted to planning the compound of the temples, which was walled and symmetrical.
After moving to Akhetaten, Akhenaten established a new royal burial site. On one of the early steles marking the city limits Akhenaten  expressed his wish that his tomb would be built on the eastern mountain of Akhetaten, where he would be buried with his wife Queen Nefertiti and his daughter Princess Merietaten. His tomb (Tomb no. 26 in El Amarna) was hewn into the eastern cliffs behind the capital city, a place called Wadi Abu Hisah el Bahri.
The city of Akhetaten was abandoned by its builders shortly after the death of Akhenaten, in 1336 BCE, and since then has never been used for living. Later, its stones were reused for construction.
In the history of cities we can find many examples such as Akhetaten, which were designed to herald a new era. These cities include, inter alia, Dur Sharukin (Khorsabad), which was established by Sargon II, Versailles during the rule of Louis XIV, Brasilia in Brazil, and Shandigar in India. 


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