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Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Ancient Egypt

World History: Egypt - Class Excercise

Temple & Funerary Architecture of
Ancient Egypt: Giza, Luxor, and Abu Simbel

In this exercise, students will embark upon a journey of visual discovery as they view temple and funerary edifices of ancient Egypt, learn about their cultural significance, and compare these monuments to our own. Time Frame: 3 - 4 hours.


Examine images of ancient Egyptian architecture.

On a map, locate important ancient Egyptian architectural sites, then research and describe the functions of these sites.

Prepare a group report on an important architectural site of ancient Egypt and present the report to the class along with pictures or posters of that site.

Begin to see the relationship between form and function in architectural structures by examining images of the Pyramids at Giza and the temples of Luxor and Abu Simbel.

(Availability of exibit, budget)

Arrange for the class to see an exhibit of ancient Egyptian artifacts as further introduction to ancient Egyptian culture and history.

As a means of intercultural comparison, have students document and describe the construction and function of a skyscraper, then compare it with a temple or pyramid of ancient Egypt.

Students research the logisitics of how an architect in ancient times would have had to go about directing the construction of such monumental structures. You may want to have them view the Nova episode "This Old Pyramid" to introduce them to various theories of how the pyramids were built.


Flung across the sands of modern Egypt, many ancient temple and funerary monuments remain as much the only evidence of a great civilization long since passed. Though this culture is remote from us in time and space, the effort, ingenuity, and expertise they employed in constructing these monuments are astounding even by today's architectural standards. In this exercise, you will view images of ancient Egyptian temples and pyramids, learn about their cultural significance, and compare these structures to such modern "temples" as skyscrapers, national monuments, etc.

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel

A. To begin, go to the Great Temple of Abu Simbel hosted by the Center for Computer-Aided Egyptological Research.

Using the information found there, answer the following questions:

1.To whom is the temple dedicated?

2.How tall are the colossi (massive statues) of the Pharaoh (king)?

3.Examining the statues which accompany the Pharaoh on the facade, where are these statues placed and how tall are they compared to the Pharaoh?

4.What figures crown the top of the facade and what is their significance?

5.Where does the central entrance lead and describe this part of the temple?

6.How is the temple oriented in relation to the sun and for what purpose?

7.What was the significance of the sun for the ancient Egyptians in their "pantheon" of gods?

Having answered the preceding questions, research and write a short essay on why you think a temple would have been built in honor of a Pharaoh and the significance of the Pharaoh's power in ancient Egyptian culture.

Now that you have a "feel" for the architectural nature and cultural significance of Abu Simbel, and, by extension, ancient Egyptian monumental architecture in general, engage in an imaginative exercise. Put yourself in the place of the Pharaoh and design (using cut out, collage, poster, drawn or other media) a temple in your honor. Using the cultural tenets of Ancient Egypt regarding Pharaonic power as a guideline, be able to explain the reasons for your overall design choices.

The Temples and Surrounding Structures of Luxor
A. To continue, go to the Web page below and answer the questions which follow. Don't forget to click on the images to enlarge them for viewing: I.

1.Name some of the architectural elements or forms that make up the temples and structures.

2.What is the building material used throughout?

3.What figures flank many of the main roads, what are they made out of and what are they a cross between?

As a "warm up" for the following exercise, name as many building materials as you can and, imagining yourself an architect, explain their strengths and weaknesses for building.

Given the nature of stone as a construction material and how it can be used for sculpture as well, give reasons why ancient Egyptian architects may have used it, and explain its symbolic importance as opposed to wood, steel, or other building materials.

The Pyramids at Giza

A. Go to the Pyramids at Giza website hosted by NOVA to answer the following questions:

1.For what purpose were they built?

2.To get an idea of scale compared to the buildings of our culture, which is the tallest of the pyramids and how does its height compare to architectural wonders of today?

3.What material was used to build these pyramids and what design constraints did it impose?

4.What construction obstacles had to be overcome to build with this material?

Write an essay in which you compare and contrast a modern feat of construction (a skyscraper, a large building such as the World Trade Center, or a national monument for example) to a pyramid, considering both structural and symbolic aspects. Be sure to take into account the most prominent features of each and speculate on what you think the larger cultural and/or structural significance of each might be.

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Class Exercise

Temple & Funerary Architecture of Ancient Egypt:
Giza, Luxor, and Abu Simbel

Historical Periods of
World History Class Study

| Prehistory | Mesopotamia & Phoenicians |
| Ancient Egypt | Greece | Rome |
| Medieval History | Renaissance and Reformation |
| Exploration | National Monarchies |
| The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment |
| Colonial America and American Revolution |
| The French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era



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