30 Rare, Vintage Images of Ancient Egyptian Temples That Will Leave You Stumped

Who said you need a time machine to travel back in time? Check out this stunning collection of rare, vintage photographs of ancient Egyptian Temples.

Ever a long period in history, the ancient Egyptians built incredible structures that stood the test of time

And while the Egyptian pyramids are perhaps the most famous of constructions built by the ancient Egyptians, the land of the Pharaohs and golden sands is known for a lot of other structures.

In ancient Egyptian belief, temples were seen as houses for the gods to whom they were dedicated.

The first temples –shrines– appeared in the fourth millennium BC in Lower and Upper Egypt.

They were not as complex as the structures that would soon follow, but they influenced the Egyptian way of life.

That’s why not long after, many other temples appeared and their design changed from simple shrines to massive structures that were truly home of the gods.

Temples were built in Egyptian controlled oases as far as the Libyan desert, as far as Siwa, as well as in numerous outpost located throughout the Sinai Peninsula.

When ancient Egypt controlled Nubia, temples were also built there.

Advertisement

It was a temple mania that was embedded into the very foundations of the ancient Egyptian Culture. That’s why in this article, we’ve decided to dig and search for the rarest, vintage images of Ancient Egyptian Temples that we could find.

Columns of an Ancient Egyptian Temple. Shutterstock.
Hypostyle hall with columns in the temple of Hathor at Dendera, Egypt. Shutterstock.

Pyramid temples

It can officially be said that the expansion of funerary monuments began with the reign of Djoser who commissioned a massive complex built entirely out of stone and placed in the enclosure of a step pyramid (The Pyramid of Djoser) under which he was buried.

This led to a revolution in the way temples and complexes were built.

Djoser had started a building revolution, and for the rest of the Old Kingdom, tombs and temples were built inside of intricate and elaborate stone pyramid complexes.

During the New Kingdom, the temples grew in importance and the Pharaohs devoted more and more resources towards temples, which grew larger and more elaborate.

Now, join us as we travel in time looking through some of the most amazing vintage images of Ancient Egyptian Temples.

Enjoy!

Vintage Images of Ancient Egyptian Temples: The Temple of Edfu

Dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Horus, the Temple of Edfu is Egypt second largest temple after the Temple complex of Karnak.

The temple at Edfu is one of the best preserved ancient Egyptian temples.

Its construction started in the year 237 BC when Pharaoh Ptolemy III ruled over Egypt.

It was completed two centuries later, around 57 BC by Pharaoh Ptolemy XII, the man who fathered Cleopatra.

The temple was one of the many temples that were erected during the Ptolemaic Dynasty including the Dendera Temple complex, Esna, the Temple of Kom Ombo, and Philae.

Door of the Pylon at the Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
The door of the Pylon at the Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
A rare view of the Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
A rare view of the Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

The temple was one of the most important worship centers of ancient Egypt. IT was the center of a number of religious festivals sacred to Horus.

Each year, “Hathor traveled south from her temple at Denderah to visit Horus at Edfu, and this event marking their sacred marriage was the occasion of a great festival and pilgrimage.”

North side of court of Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
North side of the court of Temple of Edfu. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
A stunning vintage view of the markings at the walls of the temple. Image Credit: mage Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
A stunning vintage view of the markings at the walls of the temple. Image Credit: mage Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Like many other structures of ancient Egypt, the temple at Edfu also became buried over the centuries by drifting desert sand and layers of river silt deposited by the River Nile.

By 1798, only the upper reaches of the temple pylons remained visible, when the temple was re-discovered by a French archaeological expedition.

Temple of Horus Pylon, Edfu, mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Temple of Horus Pylon, Edfu, mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Edfou Bas Relief, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Edfou Bas Relief, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Edfou Pylone et Village, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Edfou Pylone et Village, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Rare view of the temple of Edfu around 1858. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
A rare view of the temple of Edfu around 1858. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Luxor Temple

Located on the east bank of Egypt’s famous Nile river, in the city of Luxor (ancient Thebes) are the remains of a temple that was constructed around 1400 B.C.

Known in Egyptian as ipet resyt, “the southern sanctuary,” this ancient temple is one of many other sanctuaries built on the east and west banks of the river.

Different from all other temples that were built in ancient times in Thebes, the Luxor Temple was not dedicated to the veneration of a God, nor did it deify the king in the afterlife.

Instead, this ancient temple was the place where many rulers of Egypt were crowned as kings.

The city of Luxor is known for four major mortuary temples: Temple of Seti I at Gurnah, the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri, the Temple of Ramesses II (a.k.a. Ramesseum), and the Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu; and the two primary cults temples on the east bank are known as the Karnak and Luxor.

A rare, vintage image of the Luxor Temple. Image Credit: The New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
A rare, vintage image of the Luxor Temple. Image Credit: The New York Public Library Digital Gallery.
The temple and Columns at Luxor. Image Credit:
The temple and Columns at Luxor. Image Credit: The New York Public Library Digital Gallery
Temple of Luxor (View of the Court of Amenhotep III). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Temple of Luxor (View of the Court of Amenhotep III). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Temple at Medinet Habu

During the New Kingdom of ancient Egypt, the Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu was of great importance.

In addition to its size and intricate architectural and artistic styles, this ancient temple is famous for the inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the mysterious Sea Peoples during the kingship of Ramesses III.

The temple spreads 150 meters in length and closely resembles the nearby temple of Ramesses II, aka the Ramesseum.

The temple is home to more than 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) of decorated wall reliefs.

Temple at Medinet Habu, late 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Temple at Medinet Habu, late 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Temple of Medinet Habu, mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Temple of Medinet Habu, mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habou Lere Cour Cote Nord, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu Lere Cour Cote Nord, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Second Court Southwest. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Second Court Southwest. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Entrance to the Second Court.  Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Entrance to the Second Court. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Triumph of Ramses. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu: Triumph of Ramses. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habou, Thebes, Egypt. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Medinet Habu, Thebes, Egypt. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Vintage images of the Karnak Temple Complex

The Karnak Temple Complex, also known as simply Karnak is a vast temple complex composed of several temples, chapels, and pylons, located in the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes, present-day Luxor.

The Karnak open-air museum is considered the second most visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits.

Photograph of the temple complex taken in 1914 - Cornell University Library. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0.
Photograph of the temple complex taken in 1914 – Cornell University Library. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY 2.0.
Great hall, Karnak. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
The great hall, Karnak. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons.
Hypostyle Hall in Temple of Karnak (View of the Hypostyle Hall). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Hypostyle Hall in Temple of Karnak (View of the Hypostyle Hall). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Karnak Obelisk, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Karnak Obelisk, 19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.

Abu Simbel

And what’s a list of incredible vintage images of ancient Egyptian temples if you dont include images of the Abu Simbel rock temples.

Located near the border with Sudan, the Abu simple temples are located on the western bank of Lake Nasser.

The twin temples were carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II.

The twin temples were carved and built as a lasting monument to the king and his queen Nefertari, and commemorate the Pharaoh’s victory at the Battle of Kadesh.

A Front view of the Great Temple before 1923. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
A Front view of the Great Temple before 1923. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
Queen Nefetari at Temple of Abu Simbel (View of detail of throne and queen below the seated Colossus of Ramsses II at the north side of the entrance to the South Temple). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Queen Nefertari at Temple of Abu Simbel (View of a detail of throne and queen below the seated Colossus of Ramesses II at the north side of the entrance to the South Temple). Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
South Temple of Ramsses II at Abu Simbel. Mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
South Temple of Ramesses II at Abu Simbel. Mid-19th century. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Nefertari's Temple at Abu Simbel. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Nefertari’s Temple at Abu Simbel. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Public Domain.
Human figures standing at the entrance to the Great Temple, sometime before 1923. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
Human figures standing at the entrance to the Great Temple, sometime before 1923. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
This is the earliest photo of the Abu Simbel temple taken in 1854 by John Beasley Greene. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
This is the earliest photo of the Abu Simbel temple taken in 1854 by John Beasley Greene. Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.
This image, taken before 1923 shows a stunning view of the GReat Temple from the right. Image by William Henry Goodyear. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Wikimedia Commons.
This image, taken before 1923 shows a stunning view of the GReat Temple from the right. Image by William Henry Goodyear. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph pf the Great Temple taken before 1923 by William Henry Goodyear. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph of the Great Temple taken before 1923 by William Henry Goodyear. Image Credit: Brooklyn Museum / Wikimedia Commons.