Hatshepsut Temple – Deir el-Bahari – Murtuary temple of Amun in Luxor

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the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut, set in a fold of the Theban Hills with the cliffs as a splendid backdrop. Designed and built by Hatshepsut’s steward and architect Senenmut, it rises in a series of terraces to the sanctuary. It was known as Djer-Djeseru and she dedicated it to her father Tuthmosis I, Amun-United-with- Eternity, and herself, at a place probably already sacred to Hathor in her aspect of Goddess of the West.

This temple is one of the most remarkable structures in Egypt. It is said to have been inspired by the tomb chapels of some of the Middle Kingdom nobles at Qâw al-Kabir (Middle Egypt), but whatever the antecedents the result is very striking. Recently the walls built by Senenmut to hold back the friable rock have been uncovered and augmented. Long after the temple was abandoned it was used as a Coptic monastery,  Deir al-Bahri, the name of which is now used for the whole area. First examined by Napoleon’s savants, it was partly cleared by Wilkinson, but it was Lepsius who realized the connection between this site and Hatshepsut’s work at Karnak. Mariette worked here spasmodically from 1853—66, but it was not fully cleared until the work of the EES between 1906—09. Makare Hatshepsut reigned in 1503—1452 BC. The temple was the work of her mature years, taking eight years to build between her 8th and 16th reignal years. Her tomb as reigning king (she had had one built earlier, Valley of the Kings No. 20), was constructed so that the tomb chamber lay directly beneath the sanctuary of this temple, presumably so that services in the temple would have been dedicated to her memory. However, it is not known for certain that Hatshepsut was buried here.

The temple rises in three imposing terraces; the lower two would have been full of trees. The stumps of some are still visible. Enter the First Terrace and proceed to the southern end of the First Colonnade (largely restored). Here are (1—2) scenes of boats building and the transportation of Hatshepsut’s two obelisks for the temple at Karnak (a task performed in seven months). On the N side of the colonnade (3) Hatshepsut offers four calves to, Amun Re, and also (4) royal statues.

The Second Terrace is reached by a ramp, but originally had stairs. On the S side of the Second Colonnade are (5) texts to Amun—Re (Queen defaced) and (6) the famous Punt reliefs. On the S wall is a replaced fragment of the queen of Punt (7).

These show the journey to Punt in search of incense and myrrh. The exact destination is still disputed as the same products grow on each side of the Red Sea. Punt was called ‘God’s Land’ by the Ancient Egyptians. The incense was required for use in the temple services. Many other objects, like monkeys and hides as well as timber, were also brought back from this expedition. This was by no means the earliest of the Egyptian expeditions to this region as they had been going to Punt since the Old Kingdom, trading Egyptian goods for the products of Punt.


To the S is the Hathor Chapel, probably situated on the site of the original shrine of the area. The court leading to this has columns where Hathor with a woman’s face and cow’s ears is shown with her sistrum; on the walls, she is depicted as a cow. However, the area was much defaced by Tuthmosis III who erased Hatshepsut’s name in many places. Akhenaten in turn erased the name of Amun. The temple was later restored, first by Horemheb and then by Ramesses II who had the name of Amun reinserted. In the third room on the left is a picture of-Senenmut. On the N side of the Second Colonnade is (9—10) the birth scene, showing the conception and birth of hatshepsut. She claimed that her father was really Amun, who approached her mother Ahmose in the guise of Tuthmosis I. A similar claim was later made by Amenhotep III both at the Luxor Temple and at that of Mut. Beyond the colonnade further to the N is the Anubis Chapel. Anubis, although extremely important in his aspect of one of the gods

of the dead, seldom has a place of his own in a temple. He is portrayed here (11) as usual as a man with a jackal’s mask. The shrine consists of a 12-columned hall. On the N wall is a niche with figures of Anubis, Nekhbet, and Wadjet. Off the columned hall to the W is a long chamber, and opening off this a second room turning towards the N. E of the chapel is the North Colonnade of fluted columns of the type called proto-Doric. They are extremely graceful and taper slightly towards the top giving a general air of lightness as well as blending well into the landscape behind them.

Since 1961 the area beyond this has been closed for excavations and restoration by the Polish-Egyptian Expedition. A ramp decorated on each side with the emblems of Upper and Lower Egypt leads through the Upper Colonnade to the much smaller



(restored by Naville as a columned court, but Polish architects have suggested recently that it is a hypostyle hall). Here stood the great Coptic monastery that gave its name to the site, but all traces of it have been removed. The terrace has an Osiride portico, the square pillars being faced by standing statues of Hatshepsut, some of which have been restored to give the general effect. On the left about halfway along is a restoration text of Horemheb. The hall is entered through a Ptolemaic granite gateway. The columns on the left, originally round, were converted to square pillars by Tuthmosis IH who replaced Hatshepsft’s name with his own, while on the S side he also erased her name but replaced it with that of her husband Tuthmosis ll. In the middle of the W, wall is the Sanctuary of Am un, with niches on each side in which stood statues of the queen. A second granite door, less well-preserved and also Ptolemaic, leads into the Sanctuary. This is a long narrow rock-cut room, with recesses in the side walls. The paintings in this inner area are much blackened with smoke. They show Hatshepsut and members of her family such as her daughter making offerings to the gods. On the far W side the Ptolemies cut out a Sanctuary to Imhotep and Amenhotep (A), two deified officials, the first Zozer’s chief of works and the other a wise man of the 18 Dyn. At this time the temple was used as a place of healing as were so many of the Ptolemaic temples. To the S of the Hypostyle Hall, there is a complex of rooms while to the N is the North Court. This is entered by a vestibule that had four columns (one destroyed). It is an open court running E—W with a large limestone altar in the center reached by a series of steps. It was dedicated by Hatshepsut to Reº-Harakhte. The scenes of the queen in this court have been largely erased and partly replaced by Tuthmosis II’s name. N of the causeway and just beyond the outer wall of the first terrace is the first Tomb of Senenmut [No. 353). The astronomical scenes on the ceiling make it well worth visiting, but the approach is very steep and impossible for large groups. On the S side of the Temple of hatshepsut is the Temple of Tuthmosis III, dedicated to himself and to Amun-United-with-Eternity (now under investigation by the Polish/ Egyptian Expedition). The presence of the causeway serving this temple had been known for many years, but the building itself had been buried beneath rock-fall from the hills behind. It was erected in the last years of Tuthmosis’s reign between 1460—1450 BC and was called Djeser-_Akhet. It is built partly of sandstone, partly of limestone, and contains a great deal of interesting material. The Hypostyle Hall consists of proto-Doric columns with a processional way flanked by eight central columns. The blocks are well engraved and colored, and include scenes from ‘the Feast of the Valley’. The temple was decorated with many fine statues of Tuthmosis III (mainly broken). It seems to have been destroyed by a landslide towards the end of the 20 Dyn. and thus must have been in use for some 250 years. It was joined to a Valley Temple excavated by Weigell before 1914. (A stele from this temple is now in the BM.)

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