The distinctive culture of ancient Egypt represents a careful codification of ideas developed over many centuries which replaced other traditions which were often strongly local. These seem often to have allowed a person to extend the reach of their imagination to the world of the gods, aided by small objects which satisfied a desire to give and, at the same time, to please the imaginary recipient (they are thus votive objects). Places where this became customary developed into shrines. For a long time the physical shelter that was provided was very limited. As it slowly grew in size and took on a distinctive appearance we can chart an increasing degree of formality, so leading to the characteristic ancient Egyptian temple. As it developed so it merged architectural forms derived from the use both of mud bricks (sometimes in the niched style of ‘palace façade’) and of wood and matting. The chapter examines a number of places where objects and buildings from early periods are identified as ‘shrines’: principally Elephantine, Tell Ibrahim Awad, Tell el-Farkha, Abydos, Hierakonpolis, Coptos and Medamud. Another developing field was that of symbols (including the pyramid shape itself) and their intimate connection to hieroglyphic writing. Egypt illustrates the invention of tradition, whilst at the same time obscuring the role of those people whose imaginations were responsible.