The Temples

Copper and bronze lent dignity and added to the other colours which adorned the great temples. A particular feature of these temples was the obelisks on either side of the entrance. One of these was 100 ft long, beautifully shaped and polished out of a single piece of red granite. Bronze caps were used to ornament and protect the pyramidal summits of these huge stelae. Some of the temples certainly had bronze doors, although none has survived the re-melting; but there still exists an Egyptian temple door-hinge in bronze, besides rectilinear bronze door-holders and an inscribed bronze door plate of Amenophis III (1380 B.C.). Bronze keys, chains and bolts, but of a later date, are also among the treasures of European museums.

The statues of the Pharaohs and their queens, although formalized in attitude, show an extraordinarily wide range in the representation of the head. They were mostly of granite or the much finer-grained, dark volcanic stone. There are few more outstanding pieces of sculpture anywhere than the tremendous outstretched arm with its clenched fist, all in polished red granite, of the greatest Egyptian king, Thothmes III, which is now in the British Museum. Copper or bronze statues are rare, but two famous ones, of Pepi I and his son Pepi II, may have been cast by the cire perdue technique.

In a nation so devoted to ritual their most useful metal naturally played its part in the temples. Many metal ritual objects have been preserved, including copper censers and lids now 4,500 years old, and ceremonial offering-tables on metal stands with little copper cups that might have been made only yesterday.