The ancient Egyptian temples were of two main classes; the mortuary temples, for ministrations to deified Pharaohs; and the cult temples, for the popular worship of the ancient and mysterious gods. Mortuary temples were always associated with the royal mastabas and pyramids as offering chapels.
Cult temples began in the worship of multifarious deities. The essential elements of a cult temple were a rectangular palisaded court, entered from a narrow end flanked by large pylons and having within them a representation of the deity. Inside at the other end of the court was a pavilion, which contained a vestibule and sanctuary. The vestibule was often a ‘hypostyle hall’, a colonnaded structure with controlled, mysterious appearing and dramatic sources of light which illuminated hieroglyphic inscriptions on decorative columns. The sanctuaries frequently had multiple chapels about which there was free circulation, as processions wee a feature of the periodic festivals celebrated during the year, some of them for days at a time. The whole temple stood within a walled enclosure, and about it were houses of he priests, official buildings, stores, granaries, and a sacred pool or lake.
The Temple at Luxor (1408-1300 B.C.), though founded on an older sanctuary, and like most temples altered and repaired subsequently, is substantially the work of Amenophis III, except for a great for a great forecourt with pylons, added by Rameses II. The temple was dedicated to the Thebian triad, Ammon, Mut and Khons. This issue’s limited edition signed print by Ladd Ehlinger illustrates the forecourt with the papyrus-bud shaped capitals on the columns and a seated colossus of Rameses, looking toward the sanctuary. The statues between the columns in the background are the deities. The bud shaped columns are 24’ high and comprise twin colonnades connecting the sanctuary with the hypostyle hall leading to the forecourt, which was never finished by Amenophis.