Illuminating the House of Life

A supplement to my essay “Ancient Egyptian Lights & Lighting

Below is a picture of the House of Life (Per Ankh), one of two scriptoria from the temple of Horus at Edfu. You can see the interior is very dark and dimly lit. It does not appear to benefit from any natural lighting.


Peak inside and there is a niche, where manuscripts were supposedly stored. (In this photograph I used flash) Given the importance of this temple, it seems a surprisingly meager provision. I suggest that this niche is actually intended to hold an oil lamp with floating wick, of the kind postulated in my essay mentioned above. If I’m right then the room would have had wooden shelves or tables and be capable of holding the many more papyri no doubt in use in a working temple.


In my essay I mentioned my intention to search this kind of facility in existing temples. Here is first such example




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