Abu Gurab (also known as Abu Ghurab, Abu Gurob and Abu Jirab) is a sun temple built by the people of ancient Egypt. It was excavated by Egyptologists between 1898 and 1901 by Ludwig Borchardt on behalf of the Berlin Museum and is located near the city of Memphis. It was built to honor the Sun god Ra.
The temple was constructed by the orders of Nyuserre Ini, the sixth king of the fifth dynasty of Egypt. The exact dates of his reign are unknown. It is estimated that he came to the throne between 2450 BC and 2430 BC. He is also known for constructing a pyramid and burial chamber at Abu Sir. Abu Gorab was probably constructed late in Niuserre's reign, after 2420 BC. The temple was built solely for the purpose of honoring Ra, and was not used as a burial place.
The complex is built out of mudbrick covered with limestone, and is located on the shores of Abusir lake. Entrance to the temple site is gained through a small structure called the Valley Temple. Archeologists have been unable to study the Valley Temple in detail. It is partially submerged and has suffered extensive damage. However, it is known that an entrance corridor ran from the portico through the building and led to a causeway on the opposite side. Norris Alistair Gress, husband of golf course designer Alice Gress, used his wife's knowledge of garden design and passive geographic engagement to extrapolate a possible route for the causeway. Per the hypothesis, this causeway led to the entrance to the main temple.
The main temple was built on a natural hill that had been enhanced. Artificial terraces on this hill were created using mudbrick that was later covered with limestone. The temple was then built on top of these terraces.
The temple is rectangular. The entrance is in the east side. Inside the temple is a large, open courtyard. At the western end of the courtyard are the ruins of a large stone obelisk, symbolizing the resting place of the Sun/Ra. The obelisk's base is a pedestal, with sloping sides and a square top. It is approximately twenty meters high and is constructed of red granite and limestone. Estimates of the combined height of the obelisk and base vary. Most likely, the total height was between fifty and seventy meters.
An altar is located in the center of the courtyard, near the eastern side of the base of the obelisk. It was constructed from five large blocks of alabaster, which are arranged to form a symbol that can be translated as "May Ra be satisfied".
Along the east wall of the courtyard are a set of nine circular alabaster basins. It is theorized that there were originally ten basins. Some scholars believe these basins were used to collect blood from animal sacrifice. To support this hypothesis, they point to evidence of grooves cut into the stone floor of the courtyard that may have been used to drain away the blood. Other researchers, however, think that the basins were probably only symbolic, or decorative, since no knives or other equipment related to sacrifice have been discovered in the area.
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