Recordings will be made available for those unable to attend the live sessions!        Banner image: Philae Temple, Warren LeMay

In this course, participants will learn how the evolution of the Egyptian temple reflects the ever-changing culture and cosmos of ancient Egypt. We will examine the architecture, decoration, use, and personnel of temples at different periods and in different locations in Egypt.

By the end of the course, participants will be able to identify temples built in different periods, explain the most important elements of a temple, and understand their role in all aspects of Egyptian culture – not just religion.

Image: Karnak Temple Complex, Kelly Accetta Crowe

This course will be open to all with a passion for ancient Egyptian and Sudanese heritage and material culture, but some understanding of the geography and chronology of ancient Egypt is recommended.



Kelly Accetta Crowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology and Art History from the University of Virginia, a Master of Philosophy in Egyptology from the University of Cambridge, and a PhD in Archaeology, also from the University of Cambridge. Her dissertation was entitled “Thresholds of the Gods: Doorways and Movement in New Kingdom Theban Temples”, in which she explored the connection between the construction and decoration of doorways and their perceived and actual usage. Whilst doing her doctoral research, she spent much time in Luxor documenting and studying the doorways in situ, as well as consulting with the missions working on the temples in order to better understand how modern reconstruction and interpretation has physically altered the ancient structures.

In the field, Kelly has worked with the Middle Kingdom Theban Project, the Amarna Project, the New Kingdom Research Foundation, and the Deep History of the Asyut Region project (British Museum).

Kelly currently works at the British Museum, where she was the project curator for the 2022-2023 “Hieroglyphs: unlocking ancient Egypt” exhibition and is currently developing Egyptian touring exhibitions.

Image: Abu Simbel Temple, Diego Delso

Course Outline

Please note that main content will be delivered between 18:00-19:30, though some optional participation (quizzes, Q&A, etc.) may continue beyond that time. 

Thursday 17th August, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
Week One - Familiar Elements: Early and ‘Preformal’ temples
As elements of Egyptian religion began to crystallise, local peoples took advantage of natural features in the environment to construct their temples. The earliest Egyptian temples used caves, mounds, and wadis to centre their sanctuaries. These differing templates were related to the localised power centres seen throughout Egypt during the Predynastic and Early Dynastic periods.

    Thursday 24th August, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Two - The Rise of Royal Power: temples fit for a king
    With the rise of the great pyramids of the Third and Fourth Dynasties came associated temple construction - valley temples, mortuary temples, and sun temples. The consolidation of political and material power during the Old and Middle Kingdoms resulted in a standardisation in construction and decoration. The struggle for dominance between the stellar and solar cosmogonies also played a crucial role in temple evolution during this era.

    Image: Funerary Complex of Djoser at Saqqara, Dennis Jarvis

    Thursday 31st August, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Three - Gods of the Sun: the clash of the cults of Amun-Re and Aten
    As the solar cosmogony eclipsed all others in the New Kingdom, wealth became concentrated in the coffers of the great temple of Karnak, whose sprawling complex is the largest in the world. The power of the king and cult became intertwined, an arrangement which became clear in the elevation of the Aten during the reign of the ‘heretic’ king Akhenaten.

    Thursday 7th September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Four - Thebes and the Edge of Empire: the temple city and New Kingdom expansion
    The city of Thebes became the location of the mortuary cult temples of nearly every king in the New Kingdom - a sign of the great wealth brought through Egypt’s growing imperial ambitions. Along with war and trade, Egypt’s gods were exported to the edges of her empire.

    Image: Colossi of Memnon, Kelly Accetta Crowe

    Thursday 14 September, 18:00-19:30 (UK time)
    Week Five - A Blended World: Foreign influence on Egyptian temples
    Egypt not only exported her wares, ideas, and gods, but also imported the same from cultures around the Mediterranean. A series of foreign rulers - Libyans, Nubians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans - all left their impact on the design of Egyptian temples. Even after the temples closed in the early first millennium AD, these sacred spaces continued to be inhabited, redesigned, and reused by Egyptians.

    Recordings of the live sessions will be made available to attendees following the weekly session for those unable to attend in person. 


    Members of the Egypt Exploration Society can book at a heavily discounted rate. If you’re not yet a member but would like to join in order to receive this discount, then please ensure that you have already joined here. Subscriptions from members include a donation to support and promote Egypt’s cultural heritage. If you are a Cairo Associate, then please contact our Cairo Office to reserve your discounted tickets: [email protected] 

    Register for your place in advance using the links below. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the course. Links for joining the event will be sent by email. If you do not receive your email, then please check your junk folders before contacting the Egypt Exploration Society. The course will be held on our Zoom platform and attendees will be able to interact by asking questions, using the chat and polls. It is not necessary to have a working webcam or microphone for this course. The online course will be complemented by Google Drive, where resources will be uploaded.

    Please ensure that you have read our guide to attending EES online events before the course begins.

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