Saturday, February 13, 2010

Temple of Amun

Kemetic temples had a number of distinctive features and layout. The Temple of Dendur was a small Nubian temple built by Augustus and now located at the Met. Other smaller temples include the Temple of Debod, the Temple of Taffeh, and the temples of Ptah, Osiris Heqadjet, and Opet at Karnak. The Temple of Amun at Karnak is one of the largest religious complexes in the world. Even smaller temples like the temples of Khonsu and Mut are extensive. These temples consist of hypostyle and peristyle courts and a naos or adyton, accessed through pylons. A sacred lake adjacent to the temple provided symbolic water for ceremonies.

Here's a map, which fits on a 24x30 gaming flip-mat, of an imaginary temple that has some of these basic features. One square is 5 feet. A smaller version of a minor temple, with an analogous layout, is at bottom.

All doors are closed and locked, and all interior surfaces are carved with bas reliefs, inscriptions, and cartouches that describe the temple, its ceremonies, and patrons.

1. Pylon Gate
Access to the temple courtyard is through a gate of pylons. Another pylon gate 50 feet to the east defines the outer courtyard and the outer perimeter of the temple complex.

2. Peristyle Court
This enclosed, open-air courtyard is surrounded by a colonnade that offers modest shade and shelter. It is in the open-air courtyard that priests meet with visitors, receive gifts, and administer services.

3. Hypostyle Court
Immense graven columns, colorfully painted, support a flat wooden ceiling high overhead. Clerestory windows over the central aisle allow some illumination. This fully covered interior court begins the private areas of the temple closed to the public. An altar can be set up in front of the doors to the inner sanctum.

4. Closets
Locked storage areas contain ritual implements, supplies, and other goods.

5. Inner Sanctum
This room contains the cult image of the temple's primary deity.

6. Accessory Sanctums
These small chapels house the cults of subordinate saints or demigods.

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