What Purpose Did Temples Serve In Ancient Egypt


The ancient Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to believe in a polytheistic religion. The gods were seen as guardians of the kingdom and as major players in people’s daily lives. People visited the temples to pray for favors from the gods. They would bring sacrifices and offerings to appease the gods and to gain their favor. Priests and priestesses would preside over temple ceremonies and serve as mediators between the people and the gods. The temples were seen as the home of the gods and goddesses and were often the most beautiful and ornately decorated areas in the entire kingdom.

People also attended temples to seek advice, healing, and help in making major decisions. This was especially true for Pharaohs. Priests and priestesses were responsible for interpreting the will of the gods in divinations. They would utilize tools such as oracles, dreams, and animal entrails in order to make predictions and offer guidance. People would also come to the temples to witness festivals for the gods. These festivals would give thanks to the gods for their gifts and to honor them.

The temples were seen as sacred and inviolable. The priests and priestesses were the caretakers of the temples and were responsible for keeping the grounds pure and clean. The rooms of the temples were often fumigated to protect them from impurity and negative energy. During some festivals the priests and priestesses would perform rituals such as washing the statues of the gods and burning incense to honor them.

The temples served as hubs of activity for the kingdom. The activities that took place in the temple included, but were not limited to; music, dance, spiritual ceremonies, writing, medicine, and commerce. People would come from all over the kingdom to purchase or trade goods in the temple. Priests and priestesses would also keep track of the kingdom’s records such as taxes, legal documents, and the census.

Temples were not only places of spiritual worship, but also the center of political power. Pharaohs would often consult with the priests and priestesses for advice on matters of the kingdom. In some cases, the Pharaohs even allowed the priests to take part in political decisions. The Pharaohs maintained their divine right to rulership by placing their own statues in the temples and having priests and priestesses perform rituals to honor them.


The temples of ancient Egypt were some of the most beautiful and well-crafted structures of their time. They were usually made of sandstone or limestone and were often elaborately decorated with front columns, painted walls, and intricate carvings. The temples were built to reflect the power and magnificence of the gods. Almost all of the temples were built with the same basic design. A huge stone gate called a pylon was the entrance into a large interior courtyard surrounded by several inner chambers or rooms. The largest chamber was the inner sanctum, a room dedicated to the specific god or goddess being worshipped.

The temples were built to honor the gods, but also to last. They were designed to stand the test of time and withstand the forces of nature. The columns were usually made of granite or sandstone and were placed strategically around the temple for strength and stability. The stones themselves were cut and carved with precision and many of them weighed up to several tons. The careful construction of the temples allowed them to stand for centuries until they were eventually destroyed by the forces of time or humankind.

Temples also played an important role in the spiritual geography of Egypt. They were often placed strategically along the waterways and in the mountains to ensure that the god or goddess was close to their devotees and could easily maintain their divine power. The gods also served as symbols of stability and protection, and the temples were seen as a physical manifestation of the gods’ presence.

Reliefs and Statues

Most of the temples featured several reliefs, or carved stones, depicting scenes from Egyptian mythology or moments in the gods’ lives. These reliefs served a practical purpose: to illustrate stories to those who might not be able to read or understand the written language. They were also a way to portray the gods and goddesses in a positive light. Another common feature in the temples were grand statues of the gods or Pharaohs. These statues were usually made of wood or stone and painted in the colors of the gods.

The statues often served as a link between the gods and humans. Through sacrificing goods or offerings, people believed they could make a direct connection to the gods. It was also believed that the statue could take the form of a living being and accept the offerings offered. The rituals and ceremonies that took place in the temples often involved praying to the statue in the hopes that the god or goddess would grant the worshipper’s request.

Funerary Rites

The temples also played an important role in funerary rites. After the body was embalmed, the priests and priestesses would perform a series of rituals in the temple. This was done to ensure that the soul would have a safe passage into the afterlife and to protect it from forces of evil. After the ceremony was complete, the body would be buried with offerings such as food, jewelry, and amulets to ensure the soul’s safe passage. The temples also served as the starting point to the journey of the soul in the afterlife.

Final Judgment

The temples of ancient Egypt played an important role in the religious and political life of the kingdom. They served as the home and link between the gods and humans and were seen as safe havens from the chaos of the outside world. The temples were sources of knowledge, healing, guidance, and spiritual power. They were also important in funerary practices and in allowing a direct connection to the gods and the afterlife. Temples played a crucial role in ancient Egyptian life and continue to fascinate us to this day.


Sacrifice was an important part of the worship of Egyptian gods in ancient temples. The most common type of sacrifice was that of animals, either live or dead. Priests and priestesses would often sacrifice these animals and put them on the altar in the temple in the hopes of obtaining the blessings of the gods. The type of animal sacrificed depended on the god being worshipped. Bulls were sacred to the god Apis and cats were sacred to the goddess Bastet. The sacrifice of animals was not only reserved for gods, Pharaohs would often sacrifice bulls or goats in the temples as part of their coronation ceremony.

In addition to animals, humans also performed sacrifices in Egyptian temples. Some of these sacrifices were voluntary and were done either out of devotion to the gods or in an attempt to gain favor from a particular deity. Other sacrifices were involuntary and were seen as payment for a favor granted or for a specific act or deed. Human sacrifice was frowned upon by most in the kingdom and was usually reserved for offenders or extreme situations.

Other Offerings

In addition to sacrifices, people would also bring other offerings to the temples. Offerings such as grain, jewelry, money, incense, and clothing were often given to the gods as a way to gain their favor. These offerings were seen as a way to show respect and gratitude to the gods for all they did for the kingdom. The offerings could even be used to ask for forgiveness for sins and crimes that were committed.

In addition to physical offerings, people would also sing and pray to the gods to show their devotion. Music and dance were also common in the temples as a way to praise the gods. Some of these rituals were made up of complex choreography and were meant to represent different aspects of the gods or their stories. While the offering of physical items to the gods was seen as the most important part of the ritual, the music and dancing was considered to be an integral part of the worship experience.

Priests and Priestesses

The role of the priests and priestesses in ancient Egypt was a very important one. They were responsible for the upkeep of the temple as well as its rituals and ceremonies. They were also responsible for interpreting the will of the gods as well as interpreting oracles, dreams, and divinations. The priests and priestesses were also the scholars of the kingdom and were responsible for keeping records and writing down laws and regulations. They were highly respected in the kingdom and were often given privileges and high social standing.

Temples were often used as schools to educate the priests and priestesses. Here they were taught the skills necessary to carry out their duties as well as the rituals and ceremonies necessary to honor the gods. Priests and priestesses would often spend several years studying in the temple and learning the various skills they needed to be successful in their role.

In conclusion, the temples of ancient Egypt played a vital role in the lives of its citizens. They provided spiritual guidance, healings, and even served as places of commerce. They were also the cornerstone of political power and acted as centers of learning. The priests and priestesses were highly respected for their wisdom and knowledge and served as mediators between the gods and humans. The temples were a source of stability and strength and are still remembered today as symbols of grandeur and power.

Clarence Norwood

Clarence E. Norwood is an author and scholar specializing in the history and archaeology of ancient peoples. He has written extensively on the civilizations of the Near East, Egypt, and the Mediterranean. He has authored numerous books and articles on a wide range of topics, including the evolution of the alphabet, the rise of the ancient nations, and the impact of ancient cultures and religions on modern society. He has also conducted archaeological field research in North Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

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