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June 07 2014


June 14 2013

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Hierakonpolis: the Shrine of the South

Not until the Early Dynastic Period, however, do we gain a fairly clear picture of what these earliest temples may have looked like. The first example of a cult temple of this period known to us is that of Nekhen or Hierakonpolis – ‘city of the falcon’ as the Greek called it – in southern Egypt (Kom El Ahmar). Recent excavations in this area indicate that by 3500 BCE Hierakonpolis was perhaps the most important settlement in the Nile valley and may have acted as a kind of national shrine for Upper Egypt in this early period.

Archaeological evidence uncovered since 1985 shows that the earliest temple complex at the site consisted of a large, parabolic-shaped court over 32 m (105 ft) long and some 13 m (43 ft) wide. The court was bounded by a mud-covered reed fence and contained a large mound of sand and, near the court’s apex, a tall pole which, judging by later representational evidence bore a flag or totem, possibly an image of the falcon form deity of Hierakonpolis. On the north side of the court were a gateway and a number of small rectangular buildings – evidently workshops associated with the cult – while on the court’s south side stood the shrine itself.

From the evidence of the excavated post holes and trenches, combined with early representations of the shrine of surviving seal impressions, we know that it was a rectangular structure fronted by huge wooden pillars 1-1.5 m (3 ft 3 in-4 ft 11 in) in diameter and as much as 12 m (39 ft 4 in) high. The curved roof rose to the front of the structure, giving it a form sometimes said to resemble of a crouching animal but also not unlike the shape of the archaic fetish represented as a bandage-wrapped bird of prey and later used as a determinative in writing the words akhem ‘divine image’ and Nekheny ‘(the god) of Nekhen [i.e., Hierakonpolis]. This latter similarity should be considered seriously because it appears that it was the falcon god assimilated with Horus, the patron god of kingship – as depicted on the Narmer Palette and other artifacts found at this site – which was worshipped here. In any event, the sloping roofline of the shrine may possibly be reflected in the gradually lowering levels – front to back – of the later Egyptian temple. …

  Via Ancient Egypt Temples |

Reposted bywtfpantera wtfpantera
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Images from a painted tomb (T100 at Nekhen/Hierakonpolis) illustrate the shift from live animals to painted ones to indicate a ruler’s power. (Drawing courtesy Renée Friedman)

  Via Uncovering the Origins of Ancient Egypt – News Watch

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Painting in tomb T100 (detail), Hierakonpolis (Nekhen). Fragment in the Cairo Egyptian Museum

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Painting in tomb T100, Hierakonpolis (Nekhen). Fragment in the Cairo Egyptian Museum

via wikimedja commons

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