Art And Architecture Of Ancient Egypt Essay Ideas

Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture

  • Length: 1288 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)
  • Rating: Excellent
Open Document

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - More ↓
Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture

One of the greatest cultural achievements of Ancient Egypt was undoubtedly in their architecture associated with religion.
"Temples, tombs and pyramids - all have witnessed this earth for thousands of years. What better than to say that these architectural achievements show us that Egypt's greatest virtue lay in its architecture" (Fumeaux:11, 1964)
When one travels to Egypt, what does he/she see - pyramid after temple after tomb, each standing the test of time. One stands out - they are all associated with religious beliefs, they all have stood unmoving for thousands of years, and they all involve mechanical genius- the moving of colossal stones without the use of the wheel. The finest example such mechanics is shown in the construction of the revered pyramid. These three factors, all belonging to the religious architecture of ancient Egypt, do nothing else but prove its greatness.

Egypt's grand architectural design was a result of the religious values and beliefs that were in place at the time. Thousands of years ago, 'Ancient Egypt accepted the challenge of reeds and swamps, hot sands and floods, and build the 'first' nation' (Romer:75, 1982). There were few things to impress themselves upon the Egyptian mind; their psychological impact however was immense. There was the Nile itself, source of all life, there was the mysterious regularity of the Sun, Moon and stars; there was fertility and death. It was out of fear and mystery of these things that
"...the Egyptians made their complex heirachy of Gods, and their strange religion. In the service of that religion they made their architecture" (Romer: 75,1982).

Thus, the art and architecture of Ancient Egypt stemmed directly from their religion. Egyptian theology, with its deified pharaohs and strange animal-headed gods, was complicated, but the most important belief was that survival after death depended upon the preservation of the body. This belief would influence the architectural design of the tomb, where the corpse was ultimately sealed (Silverman:142, 1997). Immortality was only for privileged royal and priestly beings (Stierlin:54, 1983).This implies that their tombs would be somewhat prestigious and not just and ordinary burial site. At the day of resurrection the Ka or soul would re-enter the dead body; this meant that it must be there, intact, ready for that moment. It followed logically, that 'once the corpse was embalmed or mummified, it must be preserved in an impregnable tomb.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Ancient Egyptian Religious Architecture." 10 Mar 2018

LengthColor Rating 
Essay about Egyptian, Islamic and Roman Architecture - ... The Haghia Sophia was the perfect example of Byzantine art. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is an example of how one architectural style can inspire another one. The dome of the Rock is also inspired by the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. (Islamic) There were many Christian artists who were commissioned to work on the art for the Dome of the Rock. The Dome of the Rock captures many stylistic traits similar to the Byzantine Cathedrals. The Dome of the Rock was built especially for religious worship....   [tags: major architectural achievements]
:: 10 Works Cited
1531 words
(4.4 pages)
Term Papers[preview]
Medicine in Ancient Egypt as seen by the Archaeological Evidence of Papyrus - The Ancient Egyptian civilization’s development centered around the luxurious, green and fertile Nile river. Astonishingly, they accurately predicted Nile floods to produce surplus crops and allow the growth of society and culture. In the North of Africa, Egyptians flourished until 525 BC. The lands were ruled by powerful pharaohs who provided dominance and control to their people. The Egyptians every day lives centered around an elaborate system of religious and spiritual beliefs. In tribute to their religious beliefs, pharaohs and gods, the Egyptians built breath taking monuments that often included decoration and hieroglyphs that were symbolizations of their spirituality....   [tags: Ancient History, Egyptian Civilization]1983 words
(5.7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
The Ancient Egyptian Civilization Essay - There are many civilizations in history that contributed to the rise of modern day society. All of the things that we see today have been in some way shape or form improved upon to stand the test of time. From the structures of buildings, religion and pyramids, to the influence of art, it all played a part. The ancient civilization of the Egyptians was one of the most significant and well known cultures to ever have existed and technology wise, they were light years ahead. The ancient Egyptians relied heavily on their religion....   [tags: hieroglyphs, gods and pharaohs]
:: 3 Works Cited
891 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays[preview]
Egyptian View of the Afterlife Essay - The Egyptians believed very much in life after death. As Taylor states in Death and the Afterlife in Ancient Egypt, “It is often observed that they appear to have devoted greater efforts and resources to preparing for the afterlife than to creating a convenient environment for living” (Taylor, 2001:12). The Egyptians viewed life on earth as one stage and death as the beginning of another. They believed that, “human existence did not end with death and that survival of the body played a part in the new life” (Taylor, 2001:12)....   [tags: Ancient Egypt]1690 words
(4.8 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Egyptian Art and Architecture Essay - Egyptian Art and Architecture Egyptian Art and Architecture, the buildings, paintings, sculpture, and allied arts of ancient Egypt, from prehistoric times to its conquest by the Romans in 30 bc. Egypt had the longest unified history of any civilization in the ancient Mediterranean, extending with few interruptions from about 3000 bc to the 4th century ad. The nature of the country, fertilized and united by the Nile, and its semi-isolation from outside cultural influences, produced an artistic style that changed little during this long period....   [tags: Egypt Paintings Sculptures Buildings Essays]4122 words
(11.8 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]
Ancient Egypt Essays - Ancient Egypt One of the most interesting aspects of ancient Egypt is its religion. The depth of Egyptian thinking and rich imagination displayed in the creation of ideas and images of the gods and goddesses is beyond compare. On elaborating their beliefs, the Egyptians were working on the cosmic plane searching for an understanding of the most basic laws of the universe (Religion). The ancient Egyptians instilled their religion into every aspect of life including their art and architecture. The Egyptians were humanistic, naturalistic and polytheistic in their ardent faith....   [tags: Ancient Egypt Egyptian History]1120 words
(3.2 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Monumental Architecture in Bronze Age Egypt and Crete Essay - Monumental Architecture in Bronze Age Egypt and Crete The significance of monumental architecture lies not only in the function it is built to serve but also in the cultural values it represents. Monumental architecture is aesthetic as well as functional, and in its aesthetic aspects it is a form of cultural expression. In Bronze Age Mediterranean civilizations, the development of monumental architecture was influenced primarily by the political structure of the state. Perhaps the most disparate forms of monumental architecture in this region were developed in Pharaonic Egypt and Minoan Crete, reflecting the differences in their political systems....   [tags: Ancient Egypt Egyptian History]
:: 6 Works Cited
1563 words
(4.5 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
The Valley of the Kings: the Great Necropolis of Ancient Egypt Essay examples - Deep in the abysmal, rocky contours of modern-day Luxor’s western bank, a collection of dry beds host the Wadi Bidan el-Muluk, otherwise known as the Valley of the Kings (Hawass 9). Here, Ancient Egyptian workers had toiled through scorching desert heat to create a series of tombs that would house the physical bodies of their pharaohs. The choice of isolation for this complex of wadis, their towering and mammoth architecture, as well as the detailed, colorful decoration depict the significance of the tombs to the Ancient Egyptians....   [tags: Series of Tombs, Ancient Egypt, Dry Beds]
:: 8 Works Cited
1279 words
(3.7 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Essay about People of Ancient Egypt - People of Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt, civilization lived along the Nile River in northeastern Africa for more than 3,000 years, from about 3300 bc to 30 bc. It was the longest-lived civilization of the ancient world. Geographically, the term “ancient Egypt” indicates the territory where the ancient Egyptians lived in the valley and delta of the Nile. Culturally, it refers to the ways ancient Egyptians spoke, worshiped, understood the nature of the physical world, organized their government, made their livings, entertained themselves, and related to others who were not Egyptian....   [tags: Ancient Egypt Geography History Essays]718 words
(2.1 pages)
Strong Essays[preview]
Ancient Egypt Essay - Ancient Egypt Ancient Egypt is located along the Nile River of Northeastern Africa. More specifically, it is the territory where ancients Egyptians lived in the valley of the delta and the Nile. It was a thriving civilization for more than 3,000 years, from about the time of 3300 BC to 30BC. The culture of Ancient Egypt is identified and very well known for many aspects of their ways of life. Considering the time period, they were very technologically advanced. This can especially be seen through the great pyramids and hieroglyphs that elaborately decorate the walls of them....   [tags: Egyptian History Essays]
:: 13 Works Cited
6225 words
(17.8 pages)
Powerful Essays[preview]

Related Searches

Ancient Egyptian         Architecture         Psychological Impact         Pharaohs         Religious Beliefs         Egyptians         Pyramid         Stones        

'(Fumeaux:9, 1964) Impregnability, however, had to be provided in more than one form - security for the corpse, and security for their possessions - furniture, food, jewels and various other elaborate objects, awaiting a second existence at the resurrection. So it is seen that the design of the tomb is based upon the religious and cultural beliefs. This particular design was ultimately 'extremely advanced for the time period' (Romer:76, 1982), and supports the claim that the great achievements of ancient Egypt lie in their religious architecture.

One of the most outstanding factors that makes the Egyptians religious architecture so great is the fact that it has remained unmoved for thousands of years, undeterred by all that has taken place around. The Egyptian tomb, for it to last as long as it has, had to be extremely durable. Apart from prehistoric graves, the earliest tombs were the mastabas of the I-III Dynasties of the Archaic Period (Fumeaux:9, 1964). These mastaba tombs were quite small with stepped sides and a flat top. They were almost solid but somewhere in the core was a series of rooms, including a burial chamber containing the sarcophagus of the dead, with all his/her items for the afterlife (Romer:76, 1982). Externally there was a recess that looked like a blocked up door. Through this false door the spirit could return to the body. It also served as a place where offerings could be made to the dead (Stierlin:61, 1983). The name mastaba came from the Arabic for a bench of the type found outside the doors of Arab houses (Fumeaux:9, 1964). If one were to look at a solid bench, one would think it was solid, durable, and impregnable.

"Functionally, therefore, the mastaba was designed to achieve permanence. Aesthetically the mastaba was designed to look permanent in an impressive way... it involved metal tools, mathematics, transport and organized labour. It was, in all its apparent simplicity - architecture" (Stierlin: 61, 1983)

Evidence of this durability is seen a little to the north of Memphis, on the plateau of Giza, where 'mastaba tombs are still seen standing today', even after thousands of years (Fumeaux:9, 1964). The tombs had served its purpose - the designers of the tomb were successful, but how it is expected, if the greatest achievements of Ancient Egypt lay in their religious architecture.

Undoubtedly the most striking reflection of Egypt's architectural prowess is in the mechanical construction of their monuments, in particular the pyramid, with its 'sheer size alone enough to dumbfound any passer-by' (Silverman:135, 1997). The largest (c.2575 BC) pyramid was build by Cheops (Fumeaux: 12, 1964). This great pyramid contained six and a quarter million tons of stone. It was 480 feet high before the apex stones were lost. Each side of the square base was 760 feet, with a mathematical error of about 0.03 per cent. Each polished block weighed about two and a half tons (Fumeaux:12, 1964).
"The joints between them were one-fifteenth of an inch - jeweler's work unexcelled by the builders of the Parthenon"(Silverman:135, 1997).

One-fifteenth of an inch - to achieve such precision there must have been advanced mechanical processes at the time. The dimensions of such a construction as the pyramid are enough for it to be considered a great achievement, but the greatness extends to the actual mechanics of construction. Herodotus says that '100,000 men worked for twenty years fed on a diet of onions' (Romer:82, 1982). The blocks of stone, some of them 20 by 6 feet, would be brought from the quarry by barge at the height of the Nile flood, but they had to be handled at both ends of the journey and then dragged up a ramp to the Pyramid site, some one hundred feet from the river (Funeaux:12, 1964).
"Wedges, rockers, levers and cradles were all used. The missing element was the wheel - no carts, no pulleys, no cranes. No construction on such a large scale as the Great Pyramid had ever been attempted in preceding civilizations." (Silverman:136, 1997).
The fact that a construction on such a large scale had never been built in former civilizations, but was successfully done by the ancient Egyptians, even more than once, is underlying evidence supporting the notion of religious architecture being one of Egypt's greatest achievements.

When such clear and concise evidence is found supporting the magnanimity of ancient Egypt's architecture, it is impossible not to believe that
"When one look upon the civilization of Ancient Egypt, they cannot help but to gaze in wonder and awe at their monumental achievements - their temples, tombs and their Great Pyramids" (Fumeaux:12, 1964).

Such huge wonders constructed with such precision and skill to last thousands of years can only be seen as conclusive evidence that the advanced religious architecture of ancient Egypt - the tombs, temples and pyramids were one of its greatest accomplishments.


Fumeaux, R.J. 1969, Western Architecture, Thames and Hudson Ltd, London
Kousoukis, J.A. 1990, History of the Ancient World : Ancient Egypt, Longman Chesire, Melbourne
Romer, J. 1982,Romer's Egypt, The Rainbird Publishing Group Ltd, London
Romer, J. 1984, Ancient Lives: The Story of the Pharoh's Tombmakers, Micheal O'Mara Books Ltd, London
Silverman, M.J 1989, Ancient Egypt: A Clear and Concise History, Toppan Publishing Inc, New York
Stierlin, H.R. 1983, The Pharohs, Educational Resources Publishing Ltd, Geneva
Time Life Books, 1996, What Life Was Like on the Banks of the Nile, Time Life Inc, Virginia

Egypt: Art and Architecture


    The great architectural achievements of the past are built of stone. Stone quarries supplied the large blocks of granite, limestone, and sandstone that were used for building temples and tombs. Architects planned carefully as building was done without mortar, so the stones had to fit precisely together. Only pillars were used to sustain short stone supports. At the temple of Karnak, a ramp of adobe brick can be seen leading to the top of the temple wall. Such ramps were used to allow workmen to carry stones to the top of structure and allow artists to decorate the tops of walls and pillars. Pillars were built in the same way. As height was added, the ground was raised. When the top of the pillar was completed, the artists would decorate from the top down, removing ramp sand as they went along.
    As soon as a pharaoh was named, construction on his tomb was begun. Tomb building continued throughout his life and stopped only on the day on which he died. As a result, some tombs are very large and finely decorated, while other tombs, like that of King Tutankhamun, are small because he ruled as a pharaoh for such a short time.
    The architecture was based upon perpendicular structures and inclined planes since there was no structural assistance except the strength and balance of the structure itself. For this reason, the square and the plumb-line were very important tools.

The Pyramids

    One of the most notable and lasting achievements of the Ancient Egyptians are their pyramids. The size, design, and structure of the pyramids reveal the skill of these ancient builders. The pyramids were great monuments and tombs for the kings. The Egyptians believed that a king's soul continued to guide affairs of the kingdom even after his death. To ensure that they would continue to enjoy the blessings of the gods, they preserved the pharaoh's body through the mummification process. They built the pyramids to protect the pharaoh's body, the pyramid was a symbol of hope, because it would ensure the pharaoh's union with the gods.
    The largest pyramid in existence is the Great Pyramid built by King Cheops (Khufu) at Giza. The Great Pyramid measures 481 feet high, by 775 feet long at each of its four bases. Other notable pyramids include the Step Pyramid built for King Zoser, and the pyramid built for King Huni, that was a transition between the step pyramid and the smooth sided pyramid we know today.


    The art of the Egyptians reflects every aspect of their lives. Depicted in tomb and temple drawings are scenes of everyday living, models of people and animals, glass figures and containers, and jewelry made from gold and semi-precious stones.
    The wall and pillar drawings are perhaps the best known. In these drawings, it can be seen that people are going about the everyday business of baking, fishing, boating, marketing, and meeting together in family groups. Such drawings were also used to help the deceased to live forever by giving them all of the instructions they would need as they met the gods on their way to eternal life. The good deeds were recorded and the art that surrounded their mummified body was to help their spiritual self in solving the problems related to life after death. Pictures of food, clothing, servants, and slaves could be used by the deceased just as the real things were used by the person when living.
    A variety of perspectives is often combined in Egyptian art; however, the side view is the most often seen. The artists used bright colors of blue and red, orange and white to develop pictures that tell of the life of the deceased individual. The artist would first sketch a design on a piece of pottery, and if the design was satisfactory, it would be sketched on the wall with charcoal. Colors could then be used to fill in the completed picture. Paints were made from naturally occurring minerals and artificially prepared mineral substances. Paint brushes were sticks with fibrous wood with frayed ends. Walls were covered with mud plaster, then with lime plaster. By the time of Ramses II, artists were able to shade colors to achieve a layered effect. Wall paintings were then protected by a thin layer of varnish (the composition of which is still not known).
    Sculptors were important artists in Egypt. Statues were made of kings, queens, scribes, animals, and gods and goddesses. Frequently, human and godlike attributes and symbols were combined. The work of the artist was seen in other media as well. Alabaster, a white and translucent stone, was often used for making vessels and containers. Pottery was made of ceramics and clay. Pottery glazed with minerals was used to make beads, amulets, pendants, and other jewelry. A vivid blue glaze was very popular during the reign of Ramses II. Craftsmen made glass for inlayed designs and for some containers. Workers were able to make articles out of lead, gold, silver, and copper. Such metals were used to make pins, tweezers, razors, axes, knives, spears, sculptures, and jewelry. The stability of the government during the reign of Ramses II allowed the skills of the artist and architect to flourish.


    Religion was often the subject of Egyptian literature. Prayers and hymns were written in praise of the gods. The most important book was "The Book of the Dead." This book contained over 200 prayers and magic formulas that taught the Egyptians how to reach a happy afterlife. The Egyptians also wrote adventure stories, fairy tales, myths, love stories, poems, proverbs and quotes.

Splendors | Post Cards | SPT Articles | Extra Credit

©Copyright 1999, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.
To email us: eMail Connections

0 Thoughts to “Art And Architecture Of Ancient Egypt Essay Ideas

Leave a comment

L'indirizzo email non verrà pubblicato. I campi obbligatori sono contrassegnati *