Architectural Features

Many of the best preserved examples of Egyptian temples date to the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BCE), a period of national wealth and renewed interest in monumental building. Although each temple’s layout is unique, these buildings show a remarkable unity of plan, demonstrating that Egyptian architects envisioned the temple as composed of a series of core parts: an entrance gateway or pylon, an open court, a columned/hypostyle hall, a rear sanctuary with side rooms, and a naos (central shrine).

The resources in this section describe this basic temple form and illustrate its associated features including a discussion of column types, decoration, and landscaping.

Available Resources

Guide (PDF format) – This document guides you through the videos in this section

Temple Layout – This video explains the basic layout of an Egyptian temple using Karnak as its model. There is a brief overview of the temple’s chronological development and its relationship with other nearby temples. 1min 24sec.

Terms and Definitions – This video presents the basic terminology needed to discuss Egyptian temple architecture and provides examples from Karnak. 6min 22sec.

Columns – This video displays many of the different column types found at Karnak. It begins by giving the general terminology needed to discuss columns. 1min 35sec.

Temple Decoration and Landscaping – This video highlights many of the ways the temple area was beautified using different stone types, carved relief scenes and texts, and colorful paint. 1min 39sec.