Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

No doubt that the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Dayr Al- Bahari in Luxor is the most famous of Egyptian temples, especially after the discovery of the temple of X 1th dynasty beside it .

All the credit of the design of this temple ought to go the architect of the X 1th dynasty and not to Senmut. The soul idea which Senmutadopted from the X 1th dynasty building was that of a terrace.

The name of Dier el Bahari which is applied to the site means "the northern monastery" which is not referring to anything ancient but to the Christian monastery which was actually erected on top of the site of the temple dating to about the seventh century AD.

However the ancient name of the site was "Zosret" or the "Holy" and when Queen Hatshepsut erected her temple beside the X 1th dynasty construction it was called "Zosret Zosru" or the Holy of the Holies and the two temples together were called "Zosreti" or the "Two hollies ".

The reason of building the temple, When Hatshepsut decided to build this temple, she had more than one reason in mind.

- She wanted it to be the "paradise of Amon" which was dedicated to him but like other temples in Egypt it has a collection of other gods as well so there was a chapel for "Anubis" and for "Hathor".

- It was intended to serve as a mortuary temple for the founder and her family. Indeed, she first intended to have her tomb which is in the Valley of the Kings, underneath the site of this great temple, but after they started to cut her tomb through the cliffs they found that the rock turned to be bad, so they cancelled the whole idea.

- The third most important reason for building this temple, is that Hatshepsut wanted to emphasis her legitimate right in claiming the throne by creating that theory of her divine birth, and choosing of coarse the patron-god of Thebes and the growing empire "Amon Ra" to be her father.

This very same idea was repeated later on by Amenhotep III in his reliefs in the Temple of Luxor.

Destruction caused to the temple

This temple suffered more than one cause of destruction.

- First the family troubles which existed between Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.

The temple is certainly belonging to Hatshepsut but the name of her father Thutmose I is found there, together with brother and husband's name ThutmoseII also exists there. However, the name of her nephew Thutmose III also exists here Son of Thutmose II from a concubine of non-royal blood called Isis and at the same time she was her aunt "father's sister" and step mother as well than he married her daughter Nefru-re or Hatshepsut II. So, she also became his mother in law. After her death he took revenge from her, so he erased all her names and figures from her temple here as well as other places because of the suffering which he was subjected to during her life.

- Secondly at the time of Akhenaton, the king's followers were trying to destroy all scenes and names of the god Amon from Thebes. But Ramses II tried to restore all destruction caused but obviously, it was not of the same perfect standard of art of Hatshepsut.


Temple of Queen Hatshepsut - Description

The lower court

The temple was lead to originally by a Sphinx Avenue which started from the valley to the entrance which is now destroyed. In front of the entrance there were originally two Persea trees, these were sacred trees in the Egyptian mythology as in the story of Anubis and Bata.

Passing through the entrance, we will find ourselves in the open court which had at the old days some date palms, papyrus plants and probably some of those products brought from Punt.

At the end of this open court (west) we could see two colonnade courts supported by two rows of columns, the front rows are in the form of squared columns, these two colonnade courts are higher than the ground level by a Mastaba shape block of stones.

The northern court is in an extremely bad state of preservation except at its extreme northern angle there are remains of hunting scenes.

The southern colonnaded court is in a bit better state of reservation. It is having some remains of the scene of the transportation of the two Obelisks of Hatshepsut from Aswan to Karnak.

The obelisks are placed base to base on the deck of a great barge which is towed by boats. At the middle of the line Thutmose III is dancing before Amon min. These scenes if it remained it would have been a fine piece of the ancient art, but it was destroyed.

The central court

The central colonnade court is led by a ramp in between both lower colonnaded courts, then we would see another ramp separating this colonnaded court to two sections and that ramp is leading to the upper court.

The north colonnaded court-Chapel of Anubis

This chapel is guarded by twelve squared columns. The walls of the chapel of Anubis are characteristic for the beautifully painted scenes.

On the western wall (face to the left), there is a scene representing the god Ra seated on his throne having a large table of offerings offered to him from the queen erased as usual by Thutmose III. Then we would find the door way of the shrine of Anubis. The northern wall, on top there is a scene of Thutmose III offerings wine to the god "Sokar" one of the gods of the dead.

The southern wall of this chapel is representing another scene of Hatshepsut between Hamachis and Nekhbet with another scene of the Hawk over the queen.

The interior wall of the inner shrine of Anubis is representing the figure of Hatshepsut erased again between Anubis and Hathor protected from the top by full figure of Anubis and crowned by the winged sun disk.

The birth colonnade of Queen Hatshepsut, the scenes here are representing the fiction story of Hatshepsut being the divine child of the god Amon from queen Ahmos the wife of ThutmoseI, the scenes have suffered a lot.

The scenes in this colonnade court start from the southern end, just under the ramp leading to the upper court. It starts by a scene of the council of the gods in the presence of Amon. Thoth is seen leading Amon to the chamber of queen Ahmos (both figures of gods nearly erased) who is seated face to face with Amon being impregnated with the key of life (Ankh) offered to her nose inhaling the divine breath of life.

The seats which are used by the god and the queen are carried up in heaven exactly like the scene of Amonhotep III in the temple of Luxor representing two goddesses seated upon a lion-head couch. Then the god khnum is shown getting instruction from Amon {partly erased} to shape Hatshepsut and her ka on his potter's wheel. While the frog headed goddess haqtputs the breath of life in the nostrils of the newly born baby. Then Thoth is shown announcing that she is soon going to deliver. Then Thoth and haqt are leading the queen to the birth chamber.

The scene now is concluded by the queen being seated on a chair with her woman attending on her. Hathor is then shown presenting Hatshepsut to Amon. Then next Thoth and Amon are supposed to be holding the child and its ka {erased} then the final scenes of the colonnade are representing the queen with different gods.

The southern colonnade-The Punt expedition

By moving the southern end of the colonnade what was called the Punt colonnade."No doubt that it is the most interesting series of reliefs in Egypt" represented the voyage to the land of punt and how they portrayed that strange foreign land itself in details. Which is not existing in any other Egyptian documents. These document the only source of information about this foreign land of Punt. It seems that the land of Punt is that which lies on the southern end of the Red Sea which is the Somalise coast, it was called "the land of gods or the Holy land".

The reliefs begin (left) scene is showing the ships of the Egyptian showing the ships of the Egyptian expedition heading to Punt and just about to arrive there. Facing all of them is the chief of the Punt village called "Barihu" raising his hands either to welcome them and behind him stands his wife called "Aty" and she is very noticeable because of her huge baby as well as a scene of a donkey who was supposed to carry that huge wife of the chief of punt. These two scenes were robbed earlier on, and then they were retained back to the Egyptian Museum, and exchanged by replicas on the walls of the temple.

The two row scenes are representing incense trees carried in small baskets full of mud by the Egyptian sailors representing the sea.

The rest of the scenes on the western wall are representing Hatshepsut {erased} showing Amon all the offerings which were brought with her expedition.