The surviving traces of ancient Egypt monumental buildings have heavily influenced our modern imaginings. Many formal styles and motifs were established around 3100 BCE. The ancient Egyptians built their pyramids, tombs, temples and palaces out of stone, the most durable of all building materials. The remains of Egypt’s architectural achievements are a tribute to the greatness of this civilization. These building projects took a high degree of architectural and engineering skill, and the organization of a large workforce consisting of highly trained craftsmen and laborers. Egypt is our window to humanity’s distant past and in understanding its history, we find mankind’s greatest achievements, as well as his often repeated mistakes. Here are 5 astonishing ancient Egyptian architecture:
:: 1 :: Great Pyramids of Giza (c.2589-2566 BCE), Heminue, El Giza, Egypt
The Great Pyramid of Giza (also known as the Pyramid of Khufu or the Pyramid of Cheops) is the oldest and largest of the three pyramids in the Giza Necropolis bordering what is now El Giza, Egypt. It is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, and the only one to remain largely intact. Approximately 2.3 million blocks of stone were cut and assembled to create the 5.75 million ton Great Pyramid of Khufu. Inside, providing access to the royal burial chambers is a passage known as the Grand Gallery.
:: 2 :: Grand Gallery (c.2589-2566 BCE), Heminue, El Giza, Egypt
The Grand Gallery connects two passages leading to chambers dubbed the “Queen’s Chamber” and the “King’s Chamber.” The lower chamber is a simple, low-ceilinged room with no special indication of its purpose — it was bare when discovered. The Grand Gallery might also have served as an observation point for astronomers in the years when the pyramid was under construction. The pyramid is aligned with the constellations, and the open gallery could have been used to map the sky.
:: 3 :: The Great Hypostyle Hall (c.1294-1213 BCE), Karnak Temple Complex, Luxor, Egypt
The design was initially instituted by Hatshepsut, at the North-west chapel to Amun in the upper terrace of Deir el-Bahri. The name refers to hypostyle architectural pattern. Most Ancient Egyptian temples possessed a hypostyle hall. Like the public room in any house, the Great Hypostyle Hall provided a venue for an assortment of activities.
:: 4 :: Temple of Hatshepsut (c.1473-1458 BCE), Karnak Temple Complex, Luxor, Egypt
Designed by Senmut, Queen’s chancellor, Temple of Hatshepsut took 15 years to complete. This temple was built by Queen Hatshepsut, stepmother of pharaoh Thutmose III, who became regent for the adolescent Thutmose III when Thutmose II, her brother died. As the first known female monarch, she ruled for about two decades, thus delaying the kingship of Thutmose III. It is not known how she died or was superseded.
:: 5 :: Philae Temple (380 BCE- CE 117), Agilkia Island, Lake Nasser, Aswan, Egypt
The temple complex of Philae is among the best preserved from ancient Egypt. The main structures are dedicated to the worship of the goddess Isis. It is composed of Syenite stone: its sides are steep and on their summits a lofty wall was built encompassing the island. Philae’s most iconic structure is Trajan Kiosk; called “Pharoah’s bed,” it was the entrance to the island from the river.
Interesting fact: An important material in Egyptian architecture is the mud brick, made from unfired Nile mud. The term “adobe” derives from the ancient Egyptian word djebet, meaning “brick”.