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Royal Palaces

The Buildings - Builders & Buildings

The word Palace can be construed to mean something different to the Ancient Egyptians than we would use it for today. Today, we usually refer to a Palace meaning a home for the Royal Family where they may entertain other Royalty and Dignitaries, but primarily the Royal Family will live or at the very least retain a large set of rooms within the Palace to use for living within.

Ancient Egypt seem to have used the “Palace” as:-

  • A defensive structure which today we would refer to as a Fort or Castle that would hold meetings rooms rather than rooms for Royal or Noble guests
  • A home for the Pharaoh and their Royal Family
  • A Cult Centre that was used for ceremonial functions only
  • A home for a person or persons of authority; such as the Viziers
  • A part of a structure: the Palace would host the Royals whilst other parts of the structure would be used for Military, Religious or purely ceremonial matters

Royal Palaces were built out of mudbrick and usually decorated with White Paint. Sounds simple? Well yes, they were, especially considering the monumental effort that was put in to the Temples, Tombs and Mortuary Temples being built out of stone that was often quarried hundreds of kilometers away. The difference and reason behind this is:

  • Palaces were realms of the living and only needed to be temporary
  • Temples, Tombs and Mortuary Temples were built to be eternal and to ensure the Deities were always worshipped

Pharaonic Palaces usually included:

  • Family Apartments for each section of the Royal Family, including the Female Section or Harem
  • Hall for Audiences with Pharaoh and Queen 
  • Separate Halls for Audiences with officials
  • Courtyards
  • Gardens including water features
  • Military Training and Housing facilities
  • Kitchens
  • Stables
  • Administrative Offices
  • Official’s Apartments

Being made of mudbrick makes them exceptionally difficult to locate today. Here afre the ones that have been located and can be mapped up!

Malkata, the House of Rejoicing

Malkata Palace City Complex

Click on the Image to visit the Malkata Palace City Complex

The Pharaoh’s Palace

As with all Pharaonic Palaces, it included:

  • Family Apartments for each section of the Royal Family
  • Hall for Audiences with Pharaoh
  • Separate Halls for Audiences with officials
  • Courtyards
  • Gardens
  • Large Pleasure Lake
  • Kitchens
  • West Villa structures which were where the Administrative Offices were located
  • Official’s Apartments
  • A Causeway which runs from Pharaoh’s Heb Sed Festival Platform next to the waterside, now known as Kom el-Samak, past the western side of the Palace to Pharaoh’s Mortuary Temple now pinpointed by the Colossi of Memnon

Palaces in Akhetaten, Home of the Aten

This Palace is located near Stelae X between the Nile and the cliffs and has subsequently eroded away, but from inscriptions it is thought that Pharaoh and the Royal Family lived here in relative privacy

My interpretation of “The Great Palace”

Memphite Palaces, The White Walls

Memphis was the Capital City for 8 Dynasties throughout Ancient Egypt and as such is thought to contain numerous Palaces. The ones that Egyptologists know of are:-

  • Pharaoh Hor-Aha’s Palace, mentioned by Manetho but never conclusively located, this Palace was thought to be defensive and may have begun the “white walls” tradition
  • Palace of Pharaoh Merenptah – see plan below – which held only modest rooms for the Pharaoh so Egyptologists have assumed that this was not the main Royal Residence but rather a Palace for Ceremonial uses
  • Maybe a further Palace of Pharaoh Merenptah was ordered according to official texts which included a large Walled Enclosure which would also house a new Temple Complex and an adjoining Palace
  • Pharaoh Thutmose I’s Palace which was reported to have been in use approx. 100 years later in the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose IV
  • Palace of Pharaoh Apries erected on a ridge overlooking Memphis itself at Kom Tuman. It was meant to have held a Fortress; Barracks, Armouries as well as the Royal Palace 

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