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date: 15 October 2019


  • Dominique Collon,
  • Ian M. E. Shaw,
  • R. L. N. Barber,
  • R. A. Tomlinson,
  • G. Lloyd-Morgan,
  • John N. Lupia,
  • Barbara Drake Boehm,
  • Iris Kockelbergh,
  • Sian E. Jay,
  • David M. Jones,
  • Henrik H. Sørensen,
  • Karen A. Smyers
  •  and Michael D. Willis


Table or similar raised structure used in many cultures and throughout history for sacrificial, eucharistic or other religious purposes. ( African and Afro-American altars began to receive serious scholarly attention only in the late 1980s and early 1990s (see, e.g., R. F. Thompson: Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas, New York and Munich, 1993).)

Structures built of bricks have been found in the cella of temples throughout the Ancient Near East and are generally cited as a reason for identifying the building as a temple. They were sometimes plastered and one early example from the late 4th millennium bc, at Tell ’Uqair in southern Mesopotamia (now Iraq), had miniature steps leading up it and was painted to resemble a temple decorated with mosaics, with guardian leopards in red and black paint. Another example of much the same date, from the Eye Temple at Tell Brak in Syria, was decorated with a frieze of blue and white limestone and gold and supported a symbol with an enormous pair of ‘eyes’. Monolithic stone altars from ...

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W. Helck, E. Otto and W. Westendorff, eds: Lexikon der Ägyptologie (Wiesbaden, 1975–)