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What are Sun or Solar Temples?

Abu Gorab - The Places

Sun or Solar Temples are dedicated only to the reverence of the Sun God, Ra and the Pharaoh seems to have needed to have this added to his usual Mortuary Temple worshipping complex in order to achieved what he needed to reach the “best” version of his Afterlife.

This was brought into action by 6 or 7 Pharaohs who all reigned during the 5th Dynasty. The temples were all erected in the Old Kingdom Period until Pharaoh Akhenaten awakened the principle with his Sun Temple inside Karnak Temple, Thebes.

All Sun Temples appear to follow the same layout rules:

  1. Had to be built on the West side of the Nile or the side of the Nile that the dead could ascend to use the Afterlife from
  2. There was one entrance in and one exit out
  3. They were divided into 3 sections
  • Small Valley Temple next to the Nile or a Canal
  • Causeway leading from the Valley Temple to the Sun Temple
  • The Sun Temple which had its footing on the Desert Plateau
  1. The Temples seem to have been constructed for Open Air Worshipping

The only 2 Temples that have been found and investigated to date are those of Pharaoh Userkaf and Pharaoh Nyuserre.

The other Pharaohs who are thought to have built Sun Temples are:
Pharaoh Sahure;
Pharaoh Neferirkare;
Pharaoh Reneferef;
Pharaoh Neferefre and
Pharaoh Menkauhor

Ra’s Favourite Place: The Sun Temple of Pharaoh Nyuserre

Where: Abu Gorab

Excavated by: German Egyptologists, Ludwig Borchardt and Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing, between 1898 and 1901

The Stronghold of Ra: The Sun Temple of Pharaoh Userkaf

Where: Abu Gorab

Discovered by: Egyptologist Karl Lepsius in 1842

Excavated by: Ludwig Borchardt in 1907 and 1913; Herbert Ricke in 1954-1957