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Bronze statuette of the goddess Neith
Bronze statuette of the goddess Neith (E14309), whose main cult center was at Sais.

Gallery Tour

TEMPLES
The House of God


The temple was a vital part of ancient Egyptian society forming the core of the religious and administrative life. Most ancient Egyptian towns of any size had a temple dedicated to the local god or goddess as well as smaller chapels for other important deities. In large cities such as Thebes and Memphis, vast temples complexes developed over time with many buildings supporting the cults of a number of different deities. The ancient Egyptians believed that a deity resided in the cult image housed within the temple's sanctuary. Pilgrims visiting the temple would not be able to approach the deity directly; only the king and priests acting as his representative could perform rituals involving the cult statue. In local temples, the highest ranking town administrators often served as priests in the cult of the town's patron deity. People wishing to show devotion to a particular god or goddess or who had a desire to be near them could dedicate statuary and stelae that would be housed within the temple.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum's (UPM) Egyptian collection includes elements of temples and temple decoration (architecture, relief, and statuary) from many significant sites and time periods including: Buhen (New Kingdom), Sais (Late Period), Abydos (Early Dynastic Period, Middle and New Kingdom), Memphis (Old Kingdom and New Kingdom), among others. Also included are artifacts relating to the role of temples in society and temple cult (such as private stelae, votive statues, and offerings).

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