Egyptian architecture: Historical Development
Egyptian architectural development parallels the chronology (see Egypt): Old Kingdom, 2680–2258
The New Kingdom years cover the great period of temple construction, those temples extant conforming to a distinct type. The doorway in the massive facade is flanked by great sloping towers, or pylons, in front of which obelisks and colossal statues were often placed. The more important temples were approached between rows of sculptured rams and sphinxes. A high enclosing wall screened the building from the common people, who had no share in the temple rituals practiced solely by the king, the officials, and the priesthood. Beyond the open colonnaded courtyard was the great hypostyle hall with immense columns arranged in a central nave and side aisles. The shorter columns of the latter permitted a clerestory for the admission of light. Behind the hypostyle hall were small sanctuaries, where only the king and priests might enter, and behind these were small service chambers.
The Great Temple of Amon at Karnak is a product of many successive additions; the central columns of its hypostyle hall are the largest known. In the temples that resulted from many additions, unity of design was often sacrificed to sheer size. New Kingdom temples were also excavated from rock. The temples of Abu-Simbel begun by Seti I (1302–1290
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