There were two types of altar in Egyptian temples:
- Small, portable stands on which different tops could be placed, depending on the kind of offering: a flat table top for food, flowers, etc., a bowl for libations, and a dish for burning incense. These altars were probably stored in the temple magazines and could be placed wherever they were needed.
- Stone altars, sometimes very large. They were usually not much more than enlarged offering tables. Some altars of this type are made from one piece of stone, others are constructed of smaller stones. The larger altars often had a small stair or slope on the western side, so that the priest climbing the altar to make an offering was facing east. Not very many of these stone altars have been found. They are mainly known from sun temples, where offerings to the sun were made directly under the open sky. A number of these, such as the one from the sun temple of Nyuserre at Abu Ghurab, have four offering tables shaped like the Egyptian hieroglyph 'hetep' 'offering', arranged around a central offering surface and aligned with the four cardinal points. Others consist of a large square or rectangular block with a low wall surrounding the offering surface. Many sun altars have been found in the remains of the temples of Akhetaten. In the Great Temple to the Aten, for example, great numbers of them stood in the temple courtyards. In addition to these, this temple also had a large, centrally located altar with a sloping access. Finally, domestic altars are a special type of altar, many of which have been found in Akhetaten. They were set up in a separate room in the home or garden and supplied with a stela depicting the royal family which could be closed away behind doors. They served as a means of worshipping the king as the intermediary between his subjects and the Aten.