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Temple

Temple.jpg

The Egyptian word for temple is hut-netcher, literally 'god's house'. Temples were built for the major gods and used for daily rituals and festivals. In theory it was the king who performed the rituals, but in practice it was the High Priests of each temple. The daily ceremonies were performed within the confines of the temple, to which the public were not admitted. Before he could enter the innermost sanctuary of the god, the High Priest had to be ritually and physically cleansed by bathing in the temple's sacred lake and shaving all his body hair. Although Egyptian temples varied considerably in size and complexity, they all possessed the same basic elements. Each had a chapel with its own separate roof containing a portable shrine with a statue of the god. Here, too, or else in an adjoining room, was the bark in which the god was transported during festivals. Small rooms devoted to the cults of secondary local gods were arranged around the sanctuary. Other side rooms were used for storing the garments, jewellery and cult objects needed for religious ceremonies. In front of these buildings, gradually increasing in size, were successions of larger rooms. Those on the extreme outside formed halls with columns supporting the ceiling slabs. A court, sometimes containing altars and statues, separated these great halls from the temple fa├žade, which is usually formed by two massive towers, the pylon. Each temple had a staff of priests and administrators. Temples had their own estates, workshops, libraries and schools and played an important role in the economic and intellectual life of the country.