The Temple of Amun-Re and The Parthenon

People tend to think of history as the evidence or understanding of past human actions, mostly the social and political actions or they think of history in something that they may be able to see or touch. Research and technology have shown that one or more artists created a piece during a certain time or in a specific place, even if no one now knows who and why they made it. Although many works have been created in the past, an artwork continues to exist in the present, long-surviving against time.

Appreciation of some incredible pieces or building structures like the Hypostyle Hall from the Temple of Amun-Re and the Parthenon from the Temple of Athena go unnoticed. Although these architectural buildings are from different time periods and share different functions and rituals, they reveal insightful similar characteristics.

The Hypostyle Hall from the Temple of Amun-Re is a large complex made of sandstone. This temple is very distinct from the New Kingdom Egypt temples honoring pharos and queens, it now exemplifies and was built to honor one or more of the gods.

During this time period, temple complexes became more popular because of the form of pyramids going out of date. This new temple represented the beginning of time for the Egyptians. The Temple of Amen-Re was largely the work of the 18th dynasty pharaohs and contributed sections and chapels were added on to the complex in the late 26th dynasty. Enclosing the complex and hiding it from the outside world was a perimeter wall.

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It followed the plan of a typical pylon temple, which was very simple with massive gateways. The massive temple complex consisted of a large room with columns.

This room was mostly dark with a few slight stoned screens called clerestories to let sunlight shine throughout the temple. This architectural structure was an example and portrayed an axial plan. These plans are characteristics of many Egyptian architectures. Inside the Temple of Amun-Re was an open courtyard full of columns that sat on two or more sides, this led to a hall between the court and sanctuary. Only the Pharos and the priests could enter the sanctuary, but a chosen few were allowed to enter the great columnar known as the Hypostyle Hall. This hall had a roof which rested on columns. Each column had a bell-shaped capital that resembled the lotus and papyrus plants. These plants were very significant because they were natural symbols of life itself. It has also “been said that the papyrus pillars were to hold up the sky. These types of pillars were common in many temples, which reflected a double symbolism”.

The Hypostyle Hall was also characterized by its enormous relief structures that decorated the inside. Horizontal bands of painted sunken relief raped around each column almost hiding their function as a form of support. To create these reliefs, the new kingdom Egyptian sculptors chiseled deep outlines below the surface of the stone. These reliefs told stories and represented that the Egyptians did not want the column to seem as or hold a functional role. They wanted to use the columns as a visual appeal and message giving surface. The Parthenon from the Temple of Athena Parthenon is the “largest and most sumptuous temple in mainland Greece with the significant exception of the Olympieion in the lower city”. Despite the effects of time and humanity, most of the Parthenon’s columns are still standing. Art historians have researched and learned a great deal about this building and its structure.

The Parthenon temple was built by Iktinos and Kallikrates during the Classical Greek era. This temple was placed on the highest point of the city so it could be seen in the distance. “The decision to build the Parthenon was made when the Athens had successfully stood up against Persia and was herself building an empire”. The Parthenon was dedicated to the goddess of Athena which represented wealth and power for the city of Acropolis, Athens. It was a religious temple or place to worship the gods and definitely focused on the sacrifices of Athena. “Ancient Greek temples were rarely used this way. They were meant to serve as homes for the individual god or goddess who protected and sustained the community. It was the needs of the gods that were most important”.

The Parthenon was also viewed as the best solution to a Greek architect’s goal for perfect proportions in Doric temple designs. The well-spaced columns had slender shafts and straight-sided capitals. The Greek architects believed that beautiful proportions resulted from strict numeral ratios. They followed the algebraic expression x=2y+1. This resulted in the temple’s plan of eight columns on the shorts ends, and 17 columns along the sides. With the Parthenon’s congruent design and the mathematical accuracy of the sizes of its elements, it tends to contradict the fact that this temple, as actually constructed, is quite unique in shape. For example, the curving of horizontal lines and the tilting of the vertical ones create a balance in the building that appeals to the human eye.

It is very similar to the kind of architectural contrapposto look with the shifting of balance and weight. It also gives a greater sense of life. The Parthenon is unique in other ways as well. One of the major characteristics is that the structure is most famous for all of the Doric temples that has been taken over by Ionic elements. The cella had a two-story Doric colonnade and the back room which housed the goddess’s treasury and tribute had four tall Ionic columns that supported the main structure. The building also featured a frieze that ran all around its four sides, this represented ionic column characteristics as well. The Parthenon had another characteristic that made this temple so beautiful. It incorporated two sculptures in the design. The Pentelic-marble temple was more extravagant than any Greek temple before it, Doric or Ionic. A mythological scene appears in every one of the Doric metopes and Ionic friezes.

Many life-size statues fill both pediment structures. “The marble decorations of the Athenian Parthenon mark the most exalted period of Greek art, their conception, their arrangement and, greater than all, their execution, distinguish an era unrivaled at any other age in the world’s history”. The Temple of Amun-Re and the Parthenon are similar in that they are monumental temples. They both are designed for limited access to only the Pharos, queens, and nominated rulers of the city. They also feature large stone columns of great detail that were either relief or painted. In addition, both buildings were the focused on religious rituals. However, they were mostly different. They were built many years and miles apart. The architects used different materials and tools and each structure or temple was built with a certain purpose. The different religious beliefs and rituals were sculpted on both of them temples to explain their exact purpose.       In contrast, the functions of the two temples were different. Although they both were religious centers, the relief carvings in the Hypostyle Hall represented the rituals of offering and the different foods, drinks, makeup, and clothing. The Parthenon resembled a bank which stored treasury for the community.

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The Temple of Amun-Re and The Parthenon. (2021, Dec 16). Retrieved from

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