This is a Dutch video with English subtitles on the Taffeh temple.
For temples, Dr Raven started with the biggest object of the museum: the Taffeh temple in the entrance hall.
In the 1960’s, the Egyptian government started building a dam south of Aswan in the Nile.
One of the consequences was that a large area in the south of Egypt would be flooded.
The region’s many ancient cultural treasures were threatened to be lost, but UNESCO set up a rescue plan, to which the Netherlands contributed.
By way of thanks, the Egyptian government of President Nasser gave the museum this authentic temple from the village of Taffeh.
It was built about 2000 years ago, by order of the Roman emperor Augustus. However, in traditional Egyptian, not in Roman, style.
Initially, it was devoted to the goddess Isis and later served as a Christian church.
Between 1960 and 1979, the temple has been stripped stone after stone, transported to The Netherlands and reconstructed in the museum’s entrance hall.
Dr Maarten Raven asked: what is typically Egyptian about the architecture of this temple?
First, the walls are not vertical like in most other countries.
They have a tendency to the inside.
This dates from the origins of Egyptian architecture, about 3000 years before the building of the Taffeh temple.
Then, buildings were built with mud bricks.
If you build a vertical wall with mud bricks, it deteriorates soon.
So, you’d better build with inwards tendency.
The Egyptians continued this even when, centuries later, about 2700 BC, they switched to building temples in stone.
So even the late Taffeh temple still has this inward tendency.
Being in southern Egypt, the temple is built in local sandstone.
In northern Egypt, when building in stone began, local limestone was used.
However, this material, like in northern Libyan Cyrenaica, turned out to be not as solid as southern sandstone.
So, later, mainly sandstone was used.
In pre- and early historic Egypt, apart from mud bricks, also reed was used for building.
This also showed its influence in stone buildings, in building elements on edges mimicking reed, even as late as the Taffeh temple.
Egyptian temples are usually symmetric.
The Taffeh temple was built that way as well, though later changes make it look asymmetric now.
Its ornaments include typically Egyptian sun disks and cobra (uraeus) snakes.
Also typically Egyptian in the Taffeh temple is that the columns are not outside, like in a Greek temple, but mainly inside.
Unlike capitals of columns of Greek temples, which look all alike, the six capitals of the Taffeh temple all look different, with variations on papyrus and “palmet” plant images.
There used to be paintings in the Taffeh temple, but they have disappeared.
Bigger Egyptian temples, with sometimes scores of rooms, while small Taffeh has only one, often had reliefs, unlike Taffeh.
There used to be a shrine for goddess Isis in the Taffeh temple, but it is gone.
An idea how it might have looked can be seen also in the museum entrance hall, at the chapel of Pharaoh Amasis.
It was dedicated probably to the god Osiris.
Its statue of the god probably was about 52 centimeter tall.
It was made from granite, occurring in Egypt only near Aswan.
Its roof had the form of a pyramid, probably an image for sun rays.
Then, from temples to graves.
Prehistoric Egyptians first buried their dead in just a hole in the ground.
Then they started building on top of it.
Gradually, buildings evolved looking like benches, called mastaba (Arabic for bench).
Especially the aristocracy, including the kings, had mastaba graves.
Djoser’s successors built the well-known pyramids of Gizeh.
The ancient Greeks counted them among the Seven Wonders of the World.
Today, they are the only one of those seven still standing.
They were probably built by peasants, not by slaves.
As in the Old Kingdom there were not many wars yet, so not many prisoners of war, who, together with convicts, were the slave population, working, eg, in quarries.
In ancient Greece, many people also became slaves by being unable to pay their debts.
According to Dr Raven, this did not happen in ancient Egypt.
There is an article on slavery in Egypt in Toutankhamon magazine, #27.
Pyramids in the Old Kingdom were only for kings.
Around them, mastabas for the kings’ high level officials, so they might serve the king also beyond the grave.
Often, the wife was buried along with the husband and children who had died young in such a grave.
However, children who died as adults had their own graves.
One such grave temple, part of a mastaba, with pictures of birds, fish, and other animals, is in the Leiden museum.
From about 700 year later, 14th century BC, the museum collection includes graves from Saqqara.
The museum played a big apart in excavating official Maya’s grave there.
Then, houses, built more often in ancient Egypt than graves, and certainly than temples.
But mostly, from small farm to big Pharaoh’s palace, built in mud bricks.
So, little to nothing left.
We know something about them from small models of houses in graves.
The museum has some of those from the Middle Kingdom (about 2000 BC).
We know something more about housing in Amarna, capital of king Akhenaten, as it was built in the desert.
The museum also has a model of a villa of the high level official Neferhotep in Thebe.
ANCIENT Egyptian temples were aligned so precisely with astronomical events that people could set their political, economic and religious calendars by them. So finds a study of 650 temples, some dating back to 3000 BC: here.
Flint still used in Old Kingdom Egypt: here.
Prehistoric and predynastic Egypt: here.