The ancient Egyptian priests would probably strongly disapprove of today's churches, mosques and temples.
Aside from the complete lack of Egyptian gods of any description, today's places of worship welcome everyone, from the prince to the pauper.
Ancient Egyptian temples couldn't have been more different. They were the preserve of a select few: temple priests and the immediate royal family who were considered semi divine.
The temples were literally the houses of the gods; places where the deities would enjoy offerings, rituals and song to revive and sustain them. In return, the king received the gods' blessings and a divine mandate to rule.
The massive outer wall surrounding the sacred precinct sent a powerful message to the general public: Keep Out!
The temple complex at Karnak was cordoned off from the chaos of the outside world by a huge, mud-brick enclosure wall. The one we see today was built by the energetic Nectanebo I of Egypt's 30th Dynasty (ca. 350 B.C.). This is some 1,200 years after the first shrines were built on the site, just prior to the start of the Middle Kingdom, and illustrates the amazing longevity of the sacred precinct.
This photo by Grant Stirton shows the remains of Karnak Temple's enclosure wall, as well as the unfinished First Pylon. This sandstone gateway stands at the far west of the Karnak precinct and is the main entrance to the temple today. It was through this grand processional gateway that the great religious processions passed on their way to the West Bank royal memorial temples, or to Luxor Temple to the south.
Nectanebo probably didn't live to see the project through, and work stopped after his death. The remains of the mud-brick ramps used to build the pylon can still be seen inside the first court today.
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