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hathshepsut kiwi
Temple at Deir el Bahari also known as "Djeser Djeseru"
Construction of the temple of Hatshepsut took fifteen years, between the 7th and the 22nd years of her reign.
Pic taken by Jan
Pic taken by Jan
Pic from Wikipedia

The temple of Hatshepsut is the best-preserved of the three complexes. Called by the people Djeser-djeseru, "sacred of sacreds", Hatshepsut’s terraced and rock-cut temple is one of the most impressive monuments of the west bank.

Situated directly against the rock face of Deir el-Bahri’s great rock bay, the temple not only echoed the lines of the surrounding cliffs in its design, but it seems a natural extension of the rock faces.

The temple was little more than a ruin when first excavated in 1891, but it has led to a great deal of successful reconstruction. The temple took 15 years to build and was modified throughout that time. The approach to the temple was along a 121-foot wide, causeway, sphinx-lined, that led from the valley to the pylons. These pylons have now disappeared.

Hatshepsut recorded that she built the temple as "a garden for my father Amun," and the first court once held exotic trees and shrubs brought from Punt.

All nomes (provinces) contributed as if it was a national project, same as when building the Great Pyramid. The architect was "Senenmut", and after his death it was completed by "Imhotep".

The temple was hewn in the rocks at a location which was considered sacred during ancient times, and dedicated to the cult of Hathor, the cow goddess. At the same site were also the tombs of her ancestors, and the temple was built to encroach upon the courtyard of that of "Mentu-Hotep" (11th dynasty), which her architect Senenmut has quoted from its design to a far extent. Hatshepsut dedicated that temple to Amon, but she also built chapels for Hathor and Anubis within the complex. Side chambers were set for the queen’s mortuary cult, though she was buried at the Valley of Kings with her father "Thotmose I" whom she moved his mummy from its original burial. Other than the worship of Amon, the temple was dedicated to document the legend of her divine birth, as well as her voyage to the Land of Punt.

The temple was built of limestone, with its rear parts hewn in a cave-like structure within the rocks. It consists of three terraces or courtyards on different levels that rise gradually from the valley to the sanctuary deep inside the rocks, and are linked by ramps that divide the temple into northern and southern halves. These vertical and horizontal lines show extreme harmony in dimensions, balance and smoothness. Its harmony with the surrounding environment (the mountain, desert and sky) is quite obvious. The design combined the old architecture of the Middle Kingdom (broken angled crownless pillars) and modernization (wider courtyards).

Originally, the temple was linked to an old Valley Temple on the Nile by an avenue of sphinxes with the queen’s face. At the gateway of el-Deir el-Bahary Temple, six sphinxes stood guarding its entrance. All those structures, including the avenue, were later destroyed by "Thotmose III", and remnants of about 120 of those sphinxes were later found.

In front of the gateway and on both sides of the ramp in the first courtyard, Hatshepsut planted the trees obtained from the Land of Punt. The stumps of two trees are still preserved in front of the gateway within enclosures. This was the first time in history to cultivate plants in a different environment than their original habitat.

The entrance to the temple is towards the east, leading to the Lower Courtyard. The whole structure was enclosed within a retaining wall of limestone, parts of which are still preserved on the south side. Along the west side of each terrace rises a colonnade.



The Lower Courtyard

The Lower Courtyard was originally a garden. Four small ponds were dug on both sides of the ramp in which papyri grew. The remnants of those ponds could still be seen in front of the ramp as two cavities. On both sides of the ramp, northern and southern colonnades end by the Middle Terrace.

Each colonnade has two rows of 11 pillars. The front row pillars are square, and are adorned at their tops by falcons, vultures and snakes. The rear row pillars are 16-sided uncrowned ones. The inscriptions and reliefs on the columns are now erased, with very few that could still be seen.

The remaining reliefs on the rear wall of the north colonnade (on the right side of the ramp) represent the ritual hunting and fishing in sacred ponds. A water fowl being caught by a net in a pond could be seen.

The rear wall of the south colonnade (on the left side of the ramp) shows later-defaced reliefs representing the obelisks transported through the Nile from Aswan and erected at el-Karnak. The text started by the queen’s titles, her instructions to build the ships and the transport of the obelisks. She also mentioned how the men were gathered from allover Egypt in Elephantine for this task. Twenty-seven rowing boats in three rows were used, with other ones around for the priests who were burning incenses and praying to bless this mission. The boats then landed at Thebes, and the scene then shows soldiers celebrating, and priests preparing sacrifices. The text also mentions that the obelisks were erected in celebration of her "Sed Festival" (30 years of coronation). It is notable that the name of "Thotmose III" appeared within the text by sailors who cheered for him with the queen. Hatshepsut was depicted making offerings to Amun, but later was defaced.

On both sides of the ramp, a great serpent (representing evil) was depicted, together with the lion that conquered it.


The Middle Courtyard:

The first ramp ascends to end in the Middle Courtyard which is bounded also at the west end by a colonnaded terrace. Another ramp (leading to the upper courtyard) divides it into a northern colonnade on the right side (The Birth Colonnade) and a southern one on the left side (The Punt Colonnade).

The Birth Colonnade

This part depicts the legend of Hatshepsut’s birth and her coronation by Amun. The roof is supported by 22 square pillars in two rows, all showing the same scenes on their four sides: Amun laying his hand in blessing on the shoulder of Hatshepsut. The figures were later obliterated.

The rear wall shows Ahmose, Hatshepsut’s mother, while pregnant with Khnum and the midwife frog-headed Heqet (goddess of birth). In another relief, Ahmose is seen standing opposite to the Ibis-headed god Thot.

The north side of the colonnade opens into 4 unfinished chambers. At the very north end, two steps lead into a vestibule supported by 12 columns, each with 16 sides.

The Vestibuleis small and almost square-shaped, leading to the Chapel of Anubis. Its roof is painted in blue to represent the sky, with glistening stars within.

The vestibule contains a small niche, above which "Thotmose III" is seen offering wine to the god Sokar (god of the dead, and guardian of the entrance to the underworld). Hatshepsut (obliterated figure) is seen with Anubis, and on its left she is standing in front of the symbol of Emewet (god of the dead).

Another niche shows Hatshepsut standing before Osiris, and Nekhbet (protective goddess of Upper Egypt) and Harakhty (Horus of the Horizon) are seen with the defaced name of Hatshepsut in between.

At the rear wall (west) of the vestibule, three steps lead to the Chapel of Anubis. On both sides of the entrance, Hatshepsut was depicted making offerings to Amon on the left, and Anubis on the right wall. Gifts are seen heaped in front of both gods.The Chapel of Anubis consists of three chambers with vaulted roofs. The walls of the three chambers show well-preserved colored paintings of the queen with various gods, particularly Anubis. "Thotmose III" is shown only once in the second chamber with the god Sokar.

Chapel Of Anubis

A big thank you to Amudha Irudayam for this pic!

The Punt Colonnade

The Punt Colonnade lies on the left (southern) side of the ramp, and is identical in construction to the Birth Colonnade. It was dedicated to commemorate the voyage to the Land of Punt. Most of its reliefs are now damaged.

The south (left) wall of the colonnade shows a coastal village in the Land of Punt. Beehive-shaped huts that were raised upon long pegs and entered by ladders, are seen within the shadows of palms and incense trees. The unarmed Egyptian delegate Nehsi is seen followed by his guards, and received by the king of Punt followed by the queen. The queen was obese with redundant skin and wearing ornaments around her legs. She was followed first by her two sons and a daughter, then by 3 local officials with a saddled donkey. The underlying text denotes their submission to the sun god, and reverence to the "king" of Egypt.

The reliefs also showed the features of the Puntine people, who were black Africans, as well as another race much resembling Egyptians. The later group of inhabitants was depicted as red colored (as the traditional color of Egyptians in ancient art), wearing a small beard resembling those of Egyptian priests and the short Egyptian shirts. Donkeys were depicted as the method of transporting goods, and white dogs guarding the people’s houses. Birds, monkeys, leopards and hippopotamus are also seen, as well as giraffes which are typical African animals, to live in Punt. Nehsi is then shown in front of his tent with a banquet offered to his guests, and observing the gifts presented.

The right side wall shows the departure of the convoy with the ships laden with merchandise and monkeys hanging on the masts. The west (rear) wall shows on the left side the arrival of the ships at Luxor. It is worth mention that only the departure and arrival of ships were depicted without documenting details of passing through any land, which has raised suspicion of a direct route through the Nile. Above, Puntines and Egyptians are seen with gifts to the queen. The queen is then shown with her guarding spirit dedicating the gifts to Amun. Gold is being weighed, with Seshet (the goddess of scribes) recording, while Horus was operating the scale. Thoth is also seen measuring the amount of incense, with seven trees in a tub. Hatshepsut is then shown with Amun but the inscription in between was obliterated. "Thotmose III" is seen offering an incense to the barque of Amun. The text shows one of Hatshepsut’s forgeries, when it mentions that Amun praised her as the first pharaoh to reach this land. It also mentioned that all remote voyages there were only rumors and legends.

The north (right) wall of the colonnade shows the queen seated under a canopy - with her spirit behind – in front of numerous dignitaries. She announced that the trees were to be planted in her temple, as her father Amun has ordered.


The Temple of Hathor


The south side of the Punt Colonnade opens into the Temple of Hathor, which originally was entered from its east side by steps. The temple is now ruined, but originally was formed of two colonnades on different levels. Both colonnades contained 16-sided columns and either square ones with Hathor capitals (lower colonnade) or rounded Hathor columns with some preserved reliefs (upper colonnade).

The Upper Courtyard

The upper courtyard of the temple is badly ruined. Its original roof was supported by 16-sided columns, and several colossal statues of the queen, that were reshaped later, by "Thotmose III," into pillars. The court opens by a giant granite gate at the end of the ramp from the middle courtyard. Immediately behind that gate, once stood a hypostyle hall which is was totally ruined by Coptic monks during the Roman persecution period. On the north side of the courtyard is a chapel, with its entrance opening at the northeast corner of the Upper Courtyard.

The Chapel

The Upper Courtyard open into a Vestibule, with three 16-sided columns supporting its roof. Opposite the entrance is a niche with reliefs of the queen, and on the rear wall she is seen in the presence of Amun. On the side walls, she is seen seated to a table with a priest in front of her.

The vestibule leads to an Open Court (west side), with an alter in its middle raised over 10 steps. The alter was dedicated to Ra-Harakhty (Ra associated with Horus). A niche at the rear wall shows the queen making offerings. The north wall of the court opens into the two-chambered chapel, with most of its reliefs chiseled away later.

The side walls of the first chamber show the queen making offerings to Amun and the gods of the dead (Osiris, Anubis, Sokar and Emewet). She was also shown with her father "Thotmose I" in front of the sign of the god Emewet at the rear wall of that chamber.

The second chamber shows "Thotmose I" and his mother "Senseneb" making offerings to Anubis. Hatshepsut and her mother "Ahmose" are seen on the left side wall making offerings to Amun. This was a further by passing of the memory of "Thotmose II", and more of reverence to Hatshepsut’s own father. The skies at night with its stars are represented on the roof.

The Mortuary Chapel of Hatshepsut

The Mortuary Chapel of the queen is located on the south side of the Upper Courtyard. It is a well-preserved vaulted chamber, with its rear wall having a doorway that leads into the realm of the afterlife. On both sides of the entrance are reliefs showing sacrificed animals being slaughtered. The side walls of the chapel show priests burning incenses, performing rituals and offering gifts to Hatshepsut, who is seated in the front.

The rear wall of the Upper Courtyard has several niches. The larger ones once contained statues of the queen, and the smaller ones show reliefs with representations of Hatshepsut and "Thotmose III" in the presence of various gods. In the center of that wall is the entrance to the Sanctuary.

At the north end (right side) of the wall behind the Chapel is the Hall of Amun, with its partially preserved roof decorated with stars on blue background representing the sky. The left hand wall of the hall shows the queen in the presence of Amun and Amun-Min (god of virility), while the right hand one shows "Thotmose III" in equivalent presentations. Originally Hatshepsut was depicted with Amun on the rear wall, but was later replaced with "Thotmose III". All figure of the deities were later defaced by "Akhen-Aton".

On the left hand side of the western wall (south end of the Upper Courtyard) and adjacent to the Mortuary Temple; is a small chamber with a well-preserved roof. Its right side wall originally showed Hatshepsut in the presence of Amun-Ra, with her guardian spirit behind. An offering table later replaced the queen’s figure. That of "Thotmose II" on the left side wall also replaced her figure while offering the sacred oil to Amon. On the rear wall, the figure of "Thotmose I" replaced that of Hatshepsut, and is seen with "Thotmose III" making offerings to Amun.

The Sanctuary

A granite gate in the middle of the rear wall of the Upper Courtyard of the temple opens into a small passage leading to the Sanctuary, which is hewn inside the rocks. The sanctuary originally contained only two chambers with vaulted roofs and niches, but a third one was later added by "Eugretes II" (146 – 117 BC). This was dedicated to Imhotep and Amun-Hotep whom the Ptolomies much venerated. The three chambers are badly damaged.


A view to a sanctuary chamber on the upper platform of the Temple of Hatshepsut

Some reliefs could still be identified in the first chamber; in which Hatshepsut, "Thotmose III" and princess "Nefru-Ra" are seen making offerings to the barque of Amun. Behind them are seen "Thotmose I" and Queen "Ahmose" (Hatshepsut’s parents) with her small sister "Bit-Nefru". The scene is better preserved on the right side wall, but on the left one, only "Thotmose III" and "Nefru-Ra" can be identified.

Architecture outside Thebes

Outside Thebes (Luxor), Hatshepsut decided to reconstruct the temples that were devastated by the Hyksos. At el-Qouseya (330 Km south of Cairo), and in the ancient capital of the 14th nome (city of "Kis" - now el-Weseia), Hatshepsut renewed the Temple of Hathor, the cow goddess. At el-Ashmunein, capital of the 15th nome (296 Km south of Cairo), she renewed the temple of Amnemhat II, which was dedicated to glorify the Ibis or baboon headed Thot, the moon god and god of writting and learning. The temple was built at the site of the ancient "Sacred city of Khmunu" or the "City of Deities", the center of Thot’s cult. According to the ancient mythology, it was believed that on a primal hill, Thot has created eight primal frog gods who in turn engendered the egg from which the sun grew. Hatshepsut enforced the gates of the temple by marble and golden shutter leaves, renewed its furniture, and erected an alter made of gold and silver, as well as a golden statue of Amun. The festivals were revived, and the rituals performed by the local priests were re-organized in dedication to the sacred Ennead as well as the gods Khnum and Heqet.

At Kom-Ombo (97 Km south of Luxor), Hatshepsut renewed also the Temple of "Amun-Hotep I", which was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, the Nile god. In that temple set over cliffs overlooking the Nile, she depicted herself during her early reign with "Thotmose III", each wearing one of the Egyptian crowns. She also renewed the temples of the 11th and 12th dynasties kings at el-Cab (38 Km south of Luxor). All are now destroyed, with only few stones found carrying her name.

Two other temples were hewn in the rocks. The temple known as "Speos Artemidos" (The Gretto of Artemis) or "Istabl Antar" (Antar’s stable) was built so high on the cliffs near Beni-Hassan (270 Km south of Cairo). This included a vestibule and a narrow passage leading to a sanctuary, and on its façade she made a long dedication recording the annals of her supremacy forever. The importance of this temple lies in her trial to ascribe the expulsion of the Hyksos to herself. In the original design, she made no mention of "Thotmose III", but later, he and "Seti I" added their names and defaced her’s.

The other temple known as "Batn el-Baqara" was hewn in the same valley during her joint reign with her brother and husband "Thotmose II", and was dedicated also to "Pakhet". It included only a small niche (160 x 98 cm), and on the façade, Hatshepsut and "Thotmose III" were depicted making offerings to the gods Pakhet, Khnum, Hathor and Harakhty. Though it seems that "Thotmose III" was more dignified there, he came later to deface her image and names. Princess "Nefru-Ra" was also shown following her mother, and the titles were dignifying her as "The god’s hand". The temple was later occupied by Coptic monks during the early centuries AD during the Roman persecution.

Some colored pottery found in a mine at Sinai included the image of Hatshepsut. It seems that the scribe was confused, as he wrote the name "Maat-Ka-Ra Thotmose" as one and the same pharaoh.


Hatshepsut’s death and burial


Hatshepsut decided to be buried with her father "Thotmose I" in the Valley of Kings. A tunnel was dug behind the huge cliffs of el-Deir el-Bahary Temple, to the east side of the Valley of Kings. Thus the mortuary rituals performed for her Ka after her death, would be immediately above her tomb, allowing the Ka to ascend each morning and witness the sunrise. The tunnel is about 700 feet long, and was dug 300 feet under ground level, with some rightwards deviation to avoid the rocky bed.


In an exaggerated reverence to her father, Hatshepsut made another sarcophagus for him to be included in her burial chamber. His mummy was moved from its original tomb to be buried with her. Some of his mortuary furniture was found, including a marble vessel bearing the name of "The Royal Wife Hatshepsut". This was her title during the life of her husband "Thotmose II" when her father was buried, and she was never called so when her own tomb was built. Two other vessels were found, one harboring the names of her father and mother, and the other those of "Thotmose I’ and "II". Such act was a further instigation to "Thotmose III", as it showed her reign to be immediately following her father’s. "Thotmse II" would thus look like a usurper, beside her intentional ignoring of the later, and depicting her parents in the chapel at the Upper Courtyard of the temple.

The tomb that was later looted, and a sarcophagus bearing her name was found at el-Deir el-Bahary in AD 1881, but proved to belong to another princess of the 21st dynasty. A chest containing the four canopic jars and two unidentified female bodies were also found, but no evidence could prove that these were hers’. Until Zahi Hawass.

You can check it here




Now according to an article on the Tour Egypt site the last mention of Hatshepsut was on her 17th regal year, when she died on the 10th day of the 6th month of the 22nd year (early February). The circumstances of her death remain uncertain, but seem to be natural. "Thotmose III" arranged for her funerary ceremonies, as he was shown at Karnak wearing the White Crown, with two statues of the embalmed queen wearing the Red Crown, and acquiring the traditional Osirian position.

"Thotmose III" started to appear alone as a sole pharaoh. Immediately he recorded his authority on a relief dedicated to "Monto", the war god, in boasting of his physical power, and how he could kill 7 lions and capture 12 wild bulls all alone. The exaggeration seems to be camouflaging his previous submission during Hatshepsut’s life. Soon after he retrieved kingship, "Thotmose III" started leading 17 campaigns in Gaza, Palestine, Syria and Nubia, which restored Egypt’s domination over the Near East. Some years after Hatshepsut’s death, he started mutilating her inscriptions and surrounded her obelisk by a wall. This did not take place immediately after the queen’s death, as it seems "Thotmose III" had to wait for the death of some remaining officials who were loyal to her. "

The Red Chapel
Now apparently under the foundation of the 3rd pylon, in Karnak, 350 blocks were found. It was the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut. What was amazing about this structure is the fact that Hatshepsut started this project and Thutmosis III finnished it??? As previously stated, it was said that Thutmosis had obliterated Hatshepsut's name and any reference made to her once he had come into power.

This raises some tough questions. Why did he finnish it?

The depictions show his cartouche and his coronation right next to Hatshepsut's cartouche and her coronation? Why has he not obliterated her name from this structure? Most of the depictions are of festivities of her co-regency with the young Pharaoh, standing side by side.

Thutmose III and Hatshepsut
found on Wikipedia
It is now thought that when Thutmosis III had obliterated all references made to Hatshepsut, that it was done just before his death. Why you ask? He had an heir, Amenhotep II. Dying and knowing that his son was too young to rule and that he would need a co-ruler, he did not want the memory of the Great Pharaoh Hatshepsut to have an impact on his succesion to the throne. Fear of another woman would take the throne away from him.

For many years the blocks from Hatshepsut's chapel were displayed on low stone bases where visitors could wonder along the blocks and see the exquisite reliefs, carved on both sides, at close quarters. However, in 1997 a decision was made to reconstruct the shrine. This work, actually begun in March, 2000 and was completed in early 2002. It was undertaken by the Franco Egyptian Center, directed by Francois Larche, with the support of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA). The project was funded by the Accor Company, a consortium that holds about 30 percent of the hotel capacity in Luxor (as of 2002).

red chapel3red chapel

The blocks, numbering about 350, were studied to work out their original order. This was not an easy process. Unusually, most of the blocks contained a complete scene, and therefore do not overlap on to adjacent blocks. In fact, they never overlap on the horizontal joints. Some researchers believe that, due to the way in which these decorations occur, that this was indeed the first "prefabricated" building in history, with its decorations complete (though possibly not painted) prior to the building's erection. This of course made it extremely difficult to identify the sequence of blocks within the structure. Also, about half the blocks were missing (some 40 to 45 percent), so modern blocks of stone cut from the same material as the original were required. In some instances, modern brick was also incorporated, which was then plastered over and carefully painted to match the original colors. In order to assemble the building, apparently a study of the notches and dovetails in the blocks was studied. This work resulted in a surprisingly large structure (over seventeen meters in length and over six meters wide) which now dominates the Open Air Museum. It is a striking building with its black granite and red stone walls. It has three doors at the same level and of the same dimensions. The structure is divided into two chambers, with a low plinth in the larger of the two rooms that was used as a base for barque of the God Amun, who's image was carried in procession between the temples of Karnak and Luxor during the annual celebration that took place at the height of the Nile Flood. In the center of the chapel was apparently located a drain for the waters used in absolution during the celebration.

red chapel2

The decorations of the chapel are particularly rich, with gold paint filling the hollows of the engraving. However, the only unfortunate aspect of this construction is that now many of the inscribed blocks, with their major motif being Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III interacting with Amun-Min and various other gods, as well as scenes from the Opet festival, the dedication of the chapel, the establishment of the queen as ruler of Egypt and the recording of nome divisions, are more difficult for visitors to actually see since many of the carved scenes are high up in the walls and not always oriented for viewing. It has been suggested that a good pair of binoculars be taken along for a visit if any serious study is intended.

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