NORFOLK Museums Service
Egyptian Religious Image

The Egyptians – Temples

Temples were very important places. As well as being dedicated to the gods and goddesses, temples also acted as schools. The temple priests were teachers. Children, especially boys, were sent to the temple to be educated. Priests also had other jobs and were often scribes, doctors or lawyers as well. To be a priest meant that you were very well educated. In a way, temples were like universities, but where the learning was dedicated to the gods.

Priests would often follow the job associated with their particular god or temple - for instance, priests of Sekhmet would be doctors, while priests of Thoth were more likely to be scribes or teachers.

The temples themselves were large and impressive buildings, each dedicated to a particular god or goddess. The most beautiful and impressive coloured stones were used to build them, and the walls were decorated with carvings and paintings. Each temple represented the island of creation - the Egyptians believed that this was the first land to rise out of the waters of chaos at the time of creation.

Temples were kept dark and mysterious. Some of the largest and most famous were the temple of Ptah at Memphis, the temple of Amun at Karnak and the temple of Isis on the island of Philae, but there were hundreds more.

Each temple was like a small town, with its own fields and work force. People worked on the temple lands and in the temple workshops. These workshops provided the temple with everything - from bread to jewellery. These things were dedicated to the deity or used by the priests. Temples were very rich and, because of this, had great political power in Egypt. The pharaoh was the most important priest in the land.

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