There are many different types of ancient Egyptian sites. Some can be considered monuments, while others are ancient towns that are more than a single monument. However, we can usually describe ancient monuments as temples, tombs, including pyramids, huge statues, government buildings, including palaces, and private property, such as houses.
Most of the best preserved monuments of ancient Egypt are Temples and tombs, because they were built to last longer than such places as houses or palaces. In fact, many temples and tombs were meant to last for a million years. Therefore, they built them out of tough stone, while they built houses, palaces and other government buildings out of bricks made of mud.
We can divide the types of Egyptian Temples into three kinds, though all of them served ancient Egyptian "Gods" in one form or another. The largest and grandest of the temples were those built by the Egyptian State for important national "Gods". However, common people were usually not allowed into much of these temples. Therefore, a second type of temple, much smaller and less grand, were sometimes built by common people for their own worship of the gods. The final kind of temple was the mortuary temples, built for kings, who were also considered gods.
In ancient Egypt, Temples were not built for the same reasons that we build Temples, Churches and Mosques today. The gods were not so much worshipped in Egypt's ancient temples as they were taken care of by the priests. Common people were usually not allowed into most of the temples, where priests washed, clothed and delivered food to statues of the Gods.
Most of the temples of ancient Egypt were fairly similar in many ways. They often had one or more open courtyards, one or more halls with columns that Egyptologists call hypostyle halls, in inner chapel known as a sanctuary, where the god's statue was placed, and they were often surrounded by a wall, with a large front part known as a pylon. However, some had many pylons separating many open courtyards. Most temples also hacd other buildings for storage and houses for the priests.
Temples were given much farm land and sometimes treasures, mostly by the king, so that the temple would have money to pay the priests and run the temple. Much of the time, the temples were the largest land owners in ancient Egypt.
There are many types of tombs in Egypt. However, throughout Egypt's past, the tombs of kings and high officials, upper class artists and craftsmen, and the very poor people were very different. For very poor people, the types of tombs they used stayed about the same, but thetombs of kings and high officials changed a lot over time, as did the location of their cemeteries
At first, the kings of Egypt were buried in what are known as mastabas in southern Egypt, mainly at a place called Abydos. Mastaba is an Arabic word meaning bench, because these tombs looked like a bench. They consisted of a pit where the dead were buried in the ground covered by stones above ground. Later mastabas sometimes had many rooms below ground and many above ground for the storage of items that the dead person wished to take with him or her into the afterlife.
Later, during a period known as the Old Kingdom, the kings decided to be buried in a more northern location around the capital of Egypt. This was a city called the White Walls, but the Greeks called it Memphis. There were several cemeteries used around Memphis. The first was a place called Saqqara, where the earliest pyramids were built. These were not true pyramids, because they had stepped sides rather than being smooth.
Later kings experimented with true pyramids at a place called Dashure, where they finally built the first true pyramid tomb. However, the largest and grandest pyramids where later built at a place called the Giza Plateau, which is now just outside of the modern city of Cairo, Egypt. However, there were a number of other locations where the kings of Egypt built pyramids, but almost all of these were built near Memphis in the north, or only as far south as a place called the Fayoum.
By a period of Egyptian history known as the New Kingdom, the Egyptian kings stopped building pyramids, choosing instead to to build hidden tombs in Southern Egypt near a new capital that we usually call Thebes. Tombs robbers often stole the rich items from the tombs that the kings wanted to take to the afterlife with them, so at Thebes, the tombs were dug into the rocks and the entrances were then hidden.
Though there are exceptions, most of the time all of the tombs were built on the west side of the Nile River, while the living cities were built on the eastern side. This is because the sun rises to begin the day from the east and sets to end the day on the west.
Today, we have discovered many other ancient sites in Egypt. Some are palaces, while others are entire towns, including public buildings, agricultural buildings, common houses and other buildings. Some of the most famous are the worker's villages, where the craftsmen, artists and laborers who build the tombs (including pyramids) lived. Others include famous forts and huge statues.
Unfortunately, many of these buildings were not built as well as ancient tombs and temples. The Egyptians used bricks made out of mud to build these types of buildings. Temples and tombs were usually built out of stone which lasts much longer.
Egypt's history is very long, and even after the pharaohs there are many important ancient sites. For example, there are Roman fortresses, ancient Christian monasteries and churches, and more recently, famous old Mosques (where Muslims pray) and Mausoleums, which are Islamic tombs. Unlike Christian monuments, which often are decorated with religious paintings, the Mosquesand Mausoleums are decorated with designs, but no pictures or paintings. We can usually tell that a building is a Mosque because it has a minaret, a tall tower. We can tell that a building is a Mausoleum because they usually have big domes.
The ancient Christian monasteries are some of the oldest in the world, and are very famous. In fact, the first Christian monasteries were built in Egypt. Some monasteries no longer have monks that live in them, but other's still do. Most of the monasteries are built like forts because in ancient times they were sometimes attacked. The oldest monastery in the world that has always had monks living in it is St. Catherine's Monastery in Egypt. There are also many old churches throughout Egypt, many of which are still used today.
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