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Late Period and early Ptolemaic Period architecture

The economic and political centres of the country moved in the Third Intermediate and Late Period into the Delta. Few remains of the building activities there have survived. The preservation conditions in the Delta are poor, in comparison with Upper Egypt; the Delta was always a region with high population density. Buildings have generally been extensively destroyed, often being entirely quarried away.

(click on the images for further information)


At Memphis substantial parts of a palace building have survived. The palace was built on a platform, like some other Egyptian (Deir el-Ballas) and Near Eastern palace buildings (Khorsabad). Most of the walls are constructed in mud-brick, while important elements such as columns, pavements and wall cladding (at least to a certain height) are made in limestone.

palace of Apries at Memphis the palace of Apries at Memphis


From many Late Period temples only the mud brick built enclosure walls survived; probably most cult centres were provided with very thick enclosure walls at this time. The temples themselves have generally been stripped of most of their stone, often leaving only hard stone elements such as door-jambs and monolithic shrines.

The 'Great Temenos' at Naukratis, built in the early Ptolemaic Period, but very close in style to Late Period temple complexes.
The temple complex at Tell el-Balamun, built and rebuilt by several kings of the Late Period.


A feature of many monumental buildings in the Late Period (although already earlier attested) are huge platforms on which the main structures were placed. Typically there are casemates in these platforms, to give them higher stability: they should not be confused with rooms. Platforms are found in connection with palace buildings (palace of Apries), and fortresses built into temple complexes (see temples above).

Kings tombs

Kings of the Third Intermediate and Late Period were buried in small chambers, which were placed inside temple enclosures. This type of location, not previously known for royal tombs, has several possible reasons:

  1. Security. The protection of the body and its treasures was easier to maintain next to a temple than somewhere in the desert.
  2. Posthumous cult of the king. The cult might have been closely related to the cults of the gods in the temple, which in theory would have gone on for ever. The cults of earlier rulers, for example at the pyramids, would have been seen to have ceased at their original locations hundreds of years earlier, as most such sites were ruined well before the end of the New Kingdom.
  3. The royal residences of the Late Period are all in the Delta. There is a long tradition in the Delta to locate the cemeteries very close to the settlements.
UC 14743

The royal tombs of the 21st and 22nd Dynasty at Tanis are well-known; some were found undisturbed. The royal tombs of the 26th Dynasty at Sais are described by Herodotus. Some objects in the Petrie Museum are perhaps from there, but this is not sure. The sarcophagi of the 30th Dynasty kings are known; their tombs must have been looted already in antiquity.
Sarcophagus fragment ? (click on the image)



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