The Temple of Horus was built in the Ptolemaic (or Hellenistic) Period (332-30 BC) when the Greeks were in-charge. Alexander the Great kicked-out the Persians from Egypt in 332. He crowned himself King, though he was careful to observe all Egyptian customs and artistic requirements when building structures to commemorate his powerful (and deified) reign.
Shown above, a black granite sculpture of Horus the falcon, the Patron God of royalty, strength and protection. Here he wears the pharaonic crown. In Ancient Egypt, gods were king and kings were gods. Horus is one of the most important gods in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, and this sculpture (as pharaoh) reinforces the belief that kings were gods on Earth.
After Alexander died (in 323 BC), his circle of commanders divided-up his empire. Ptolemy I, Alexander's trusted friend and general, took Egypt and crowned himself Pharaoh. He made Alexandria (founded by Alexander) the nation's capital and that great city became an influential center of Greek thinking and politics for several centuries. It was during this period that the Temple of Horus at Edfu was constructed.
Pictured above, the Pharaoh Ptolemy III (reigned 246-222 BC) is shown smiting Egypt's enemies. He holds the enemies by the hair while he kills them with the rod in his other hand. He wears the crown of the pharaoh while Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of protection, provides divine intervention for (and endorsement of) the Grecian king.
The Temple of Horus at Edfu is remarkably well-preserved. After Byzantine Christians (and later, Muslims) came and took-over, the Ancient Egyptian "pagan" religion was banned. Fortunately, Egypt's shifting sands buried this temple and preserved it (from erosion and desecration) until it was rediscovered in 1798 by Napoleon's Army in Egypt. Only the tops of the front pylons were sticking out of the sand. The French egyptologist Auguste Mariette began excavating in 1860.
The temple is a trove of Late-Ancient carvings, whose discovery advanced the science and understanding of egyptology.
Shown above, a carving of one of the oldest religious symbols on Earth, the Behedti. It is a combination of the all-powerful Sun god, "Ra," with the wings of Horus. Beneath the wings fly Nekhbet, the vulture goddess of protection.
Scarab beetles also play an important role in Ancient Egyptian theology. They represent "rejuvenation" and "resurrection"—apparently due to their ability to "come back to life" after hibernating in their holes. Also, dung beetles commonly are seen rolling large dung balls (bigger than themselves) across the desert, reminiscent of the god Khepri (who rolls the omnipotent Sun across the sky every day).
With foreign conquerers coming-and-going, the stone carvers wanted to be certain that they did not carve an outgoing pharaoh's name in vain. Shown above, a blank cartouche, prepared and waiting to be carved (once they knew who the king was to be). Only pharaohs (and other gods) were entitled to use the sacred oval cartouche form. Lesser mortals' names could not be encircled the same way.
And, if you ever wondered where Art Deco design got some of its mojo, look no further than 4000 years ago in Egypt. Shown above, a carved column with radiant graphics—like you might find on department store or movie theatre columns in the Twenties and Thirties. Remember, Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in 1922—and that event set-off a huge revival of Egyptian themes in the decorative arts.
Ancient Egypt may have also invented American Football. "Touchdown!"
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