Deir el Bahari Temple

The Deir el Bahari Temple

Deir el Bahari Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Djeser Djeseru

The Deir el-Bahri Temple was built by Hatshepsut in the 18 th dynasty on the west bank of the Nile at Luxor, Hatshepsut ruled for 21 years [about 1473-1458 BC] during the early part of the New Kingdom.

The Deir el Bahari Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Djeser Djeseru
The Deir el Bahari Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Djeser Djeseru

 

 Excavations at the temple began in the 1890s led by French archaeologist Edouard Naville. 

In 1911 the Egyptologist Herbert Winlock began his work on excavation and restoration of the site. One of the great buildings that the queen commissioned from her architect Senenmut, was the lovely Djeser-Djeseru, the Holy of the Holies funerary temple of Hatshepsut. 

The first temple built at Deir el-Bahri was 500 years earlier during the 11th dynasty, a mortuary temple of Mentuhotep Neb-HepetRe. Hatshepsut’s temple was built with some of the aspects of Mentuhotep’s temple, but on a grander scale, Thutmosis III built his temple on a similar plan between the two temples.

The Deir el Bahari Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Djeser Djeseru
The Deir el Bahari Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Djeser Djeseru

Plan of Deir el-Bahri Temple

The temple is built on three levels every level has a terrace with two colonnades [colonnade is a long corridor with columns], a northern and a southern colonnade. Ramps lead up from one terrace to the other. Inside the terraces there are different scenes.

the plan
the plan

 

The lower terrace of Deir el-Bahri Temple

This terrace is badly damaged with little remains of scenes of the transport of obelisks on huge boats from the Granite quarries of Aswan to Karnak,These are on the southern colonnade while the northern colonnade used to have some religious scenes.

The Middle terrace:

The Middle terrace has several famous colonnades: the punt colonnade, the birth colonnade, and two chapels for Anubis and Hathor.

Birth Colonnade:

The northern colonnade has scenes of the divine birth of the queen. These scenes show Hatshepsut’s divine birth to her father Amon-Ra (these scenes are now much damaged, mostly due to Tuthmosis III and also to Akhenaten who had the images of AmunRe erased).

Amen-Ra decided that Queen Ahmose (wife of Tuthmosis I) would be a perfect mother for the new king of Egypt, Amun-Re comes down to Earth and enters Ahmose’s chamber after taking the form of Tuthmosis I (Amun-Re at first finds Ahmose asleep but his beautiful smell wakes her up), using his divine breath he impregnates Ahmose. Before he leaves, Amun-Re reveals his true nature to Ahmose and tells her that she will give birth to a “son” who will rule Egypt.

Amun-Re then visits the god Khnum [the ram headed god who makes the bodies out of mud on his potter-wheel as Egyptians believed] and tells him to fashion a human body for the unborn Hatshepsut.

A scene shows Khnum fashioning two male bodies for the queen and her ka. The frog-headed goddess Hekat is kneeling in front of the children to give them the sign of life ankh. Hekat is one of the goddesses of birth and fertility. [female frogs give birth to a huge number of tadpoles so Egyptians used them as symbols of fertility]. 

The ram-headed god Khnum making the bodies on his potterwheel
The ram-headed god Khnum making the bodies on his potterwheel
Queen Ahmose is now heavily pregnant, she is led to the birthing room by the gods Heket and Khnum:
Queen Ahmose is now heavily pregnant, she is led to the birthing
room by the gods Heket and Khnum

 

The Queen is then shown pregnant, led to the birth room by the frog-headed goddess Hekat and the god Khnum who are related to birth, creation and fertility. Gods and goddesses will help her at the time of the birth.

Then the child and its ka are presented to AmonRa, This story was created to ensure the queen’s position on the throne of Egypt, By tradition, the king was the image of the God Horus on earth and was therefore usually male, The scenes show the queen in a male form and as an heir of Amon-Ra. 

Anubis Chapel of Deir el-Bahri Temple

To the North of the Birth colonnade lies a chapel dedicated to the god Anubis, Anubis was funerary god who supervised mummification and was considered the guardian of the necropolis.

It is therefore common to find chapels and statues of the god in tombs and funerary temples, The animal representing this god is the jackal that is a kind of a wild desert dog that eats the flesh of dead bodies, The Egyptians chose this animal to represent the god because of his love for the dead bodies, Offerings were made for him in hope for his protection of the bodies instead of eating them.

Punt Colonnade in Deir el-Bahri Temple

The southern colonnade has scenes of the expedition to the land of Punt, considered by some scholars likely to have been what is today Somalia,Punt remains a mystery to us even today, for we do not precisely know its actual location, It has been suggested that Punt might be as far away as Somalia or Yemen, It is clear from the scenes that it is by the Red Sea as seen from the kind of fish in the water, especially the sea turtle.

it must be in Africa where people have houses on high wooden poles to avoid attacks of wild animals and it has the incense trees, This suggests that most probably Punt is Africa and might be Somalia.

Ships were sent to the mysterious land of Punt. Hatshepsut’s temple includes detailed depictions of the expedition on its second terrace, including the sea journey and the gift offered by the chief of Punt. 

 

The scenes show a bearded chief called Pa-rehw, accompanied by his excessively obese queen Ati who shows signs of a strange disease that might be elephantiasis disease. [More recently, the disease is believed to be an unidentified one and is called: Queen of Punt syndrome that causes a rugged face, obesity, and symmetrical deposits of fat on the trunk, limbs, and thighs] Egyptians took with them very little gifts yet took a lot of the products of Punt in return which shows Egypt’s power. 

 

The scenes show what Egyptians brought from Punt gold, incense, ivory, and gum. Also, animal skins like panthers which were worn by temple priests, as well as live animals. People were shown carrying large trees with the roots in baskets and taking it to the ships. Apparently, the myrrh trees brought from Punt may have been the ones planted in front of Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple, where their roots may still be seen. 

The gold that was brought from Punt is called electrum. This is a natural alloy of gold (about 75%) and silver (about 25%) that has a whitish color. Egyptians made statues of gods as well as some other religious items out of it. The text on the base of the obelisk of Hatshepsut mentions that the queen wanted to make the two obelisks out of electrum, but she couldn’t, so she made them out of granite and covered their tops with electrum. 

The Egyptian soldiers are then shown carrying incense trees, goods and animals back to the ship in baskets along with many other items.
The Egyptian soldiers are then shown carrying incense trees,
goods and animals back to the ship in baskets along with many
other items.

The Chapel of Hathor: 

To the South of the southern colonnade of the second terrace lies the Chapel of Hathor,She was a funerary goddess who was believed to be the first to receive the dead in the afterlife and sustain him with food, drink and maternal care, It was therefore common to have chapels, statues or images of her in funerary temples to ensure her help for the dead. She was also related to music and joy.

The Upper Colonnade and Court:

 The third terrace has Osirian statues of the queen attached to the pillars. Most of these were damaged by Thutmosis III. The name of Hatshepsut in this upper level has in most places been replaced by that of Tuthmosis III. Behind the terrace lies the Upper Court that has niches in the wall, in the middle is a doorway which leads to the inner sanctuary. 

The Sanctuary of el Deir el-Bahri Temple

In here there are various scenes of offerings to Amun-Re; Hatshepsut and her daughter Neferu-Ra kneel before the barque of Amun-Re. Many scenes of the queen were damaged during the time of Thutmosis III while those of Amon-Ra during the time of Akhenatun. 

The Mortuary Temple after Hatshepsut:

 After Hatshepsut’s death, Tuthmosis III replaced her image with his own, his father’s or his grandfather’s – or erased her image completely as detailed above. Akhenaten then defaced the images of Amun-Re, A Christian Monastery was built upon the ruins which is the reason the temple is called Dier el Bahari, the Northern Monastery.

The Deir el Bahari Temple
The Deir el Bahari Temple

The Deir el Bahari Temple

The Deir el Bahari Temple
The Deir el Bahari Temple

 

where is the location of el Deir el-Bahri Temple ?
Deir el-Bahri Temple

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