2. I have come across the term "pylon" in books on ancient Egyptian temples. What does it mean?

The term "pylon" is used to describe the front wall of an Egyptian temple. It is of a special form and contains a gate. The pylon usually consists of two separate parts, "towers", which are linked by the gate, it is taller and much thicker than the other temple walls, and its sides are often not vertical but a little inclined. The impression is that the pylon functions as a specially strengthened screen which protects the rest of the temple. Some Egyptian temples, for example the temple of the god Amun at Karnak, contain a whole series of pylons. A photograph of the pylon of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak (in southern Egypt) gives a good idea of a pylon's appearance.

The pylon of the temple of Khonsu at Karnak. Somers Clarke MSS. 13.101. Copyright Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

(September 20, 1996)


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