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Published: March 5th 2020
I'm sorry the photos aren't labeled. As you can imagine, we are quite busy going to sites, and there is limited, slow internet that I pay for if I want it in my room in Luxor.
This morning after a delightful breakfast on the roof of the hotel, overlooking the Luxor Temple and Hot Air Balloons, we went to Hatshepsut Temple.
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut
, also known as the Djeser-Djeseru
ḏsrw "Holy of Holies"), is a mortuary temple
of Ancient Egypt
located in Upper Egypt
. Built for the Eighteenth Dynasty
, it is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el-Bahari
on the west bank of the Nile
near the Valley of the Kings
. This mortuary temple is dedicated to Amun
and Hatshepsut and is situated next to the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II
, which served both as an inspiration and later, a quarry
. It is considered one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt."
The Polish Academy of Sciences
is responsible for the study and restoration of the three levels of the temple. As of early 1995, the first two levels were almost complete, and the top level was still under reconstruction.
Hatshepsut's chancellor, the royal architect Senenmut
, oversaw the construction
of the temple.
Although the adjacent, earlier mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II was used as a model, the two structures are nevertheless significantly different in many ways. Hatshepsut's temple employs a lengthy, colonnaded terrace that deviates from the centralised structure of Mentuhotep’s model – an anomaly that may be caused by the decentralized location of her burial chamber.
There are three layered terraces reaching 29.5 metres (97 ft) tall. Each story is articulated by a double colonnade of square piers, with the exception of the northwest corner of the central terrace, which employs proto-Doric columns to house the chapel. These terraces are connected by long ramps which were once surrounded by gardens with foreign plants including frankincense and myrrh trees.
The temple incorporates pylons
, sun court, chapel
Relief and sculpture
The relief sculpture within Hatshepsut’s temple recites the tale of the divine birth of a female pharaoh – the first of its kind. The text and pictorial cycle also tell of an expedition to the Land of Punt
, an exotic country on the Red Sea coast. While the statues and ornamentation have since been stolen or destroyed, the temple once
was home to two statues of Osiris
, a sphinx avenue as well as many sculptures of the Queen in different attitudes – standing, sitting, or kneeling. Many of these portraits were destroyed at the order of her stepson Thutmose III
after her death.
Panoramic view of the mortuary temple (looking west)
The main and axis of the temple is set to an azimuth
of about 116½° and is aligned to the winter solstice sunrise,
which in our modern era occurs around the 21st or 22 December each year. The sunlight penetrates through to the rear wall of the chapel, before moving to the right to highlight one of the Osiris statues that stand on either side of the doorway to the 2nd chamber.
A further subtlety to this main alignment is created by a light-box, which shows a block of sunlight that slowly moves from the central axis of the temple to first illuminate the god Amun-Ra to then shining on the kneeling figure of Thutmose III
before finally illuminating the Nile god Hapi
Additionally, because of the heightened angle of the sun, around 41 days on either side of the solstice,
sunlight is able to penetrate via a secondary light-box through to the innermost chamber.
This inner-most chapel was renewed and expanded in the Ptolemaic era and has cult references to Imhotep
, the builder of the Pyramid of Djoser
, and Amenhotep, son of Hapu
, the overseer of the works of Amenhotep III
I’m learning that everytime someone offers to help you or take your picture, they expect payment. I’ve been avoiding them, and they really haggle you when you walk through the souvenir store (sometime you have to walk past the souvenir store to get to the entrance gate).
Khaled told us that using the phone camera without a camera fee is a recent thing. He wrote 100 letters to ask that tourist be allowed to use their phone cameras, and just 3 months ago they agreed that this could happen. However, there is still a charge for a regular camera.
Khaled also complained about the state of the Aswan train station. It was in disrepair for months and he kept asking when it would be fixed. No answer ever. So he took a video and posted it on Facebook. It caught the attention of the President and
the train station got fixed.
Next stop was Valley of the Kings.
The Valley of the Kings
: وادي الملوك Wādī al Mulūk
: ϫⲏⲙⲉ, romanized: džēme),
also known as the Valley of the Gates of the Kings
: وادي ابواب الملوك Wādī Abwāb al Mulūk
is a valley
where, for a period of nearly 500 years from the 16th to 11th century BC, rock cut tombs
were excavated for the pharaohs
and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom
to the Twentieth Dynasties
of Ancient Egypt
The valley stands on the west bank of the Nile
, opposite Thebes
), within the heart of the Theban Necropolis
consists of two valleys, East Valley (where the majority of the royal tombs are situated) and West Valley.
With the 2005 discovery of a new chamber and the 2008 discovery of two further tomb entrances,
the valley is known to contain 63 tombs and chambers (ranging in size from KV54
, a simple pit, to KV5
, a complex tomb with over 120 chambers).
the principal burial place of the major royal figures of the Egyptian New Kingdom, as well as a number of privileged nobles. The royal tombs are decorated with scenes from Egyptian mythology and give clues as to the beliefs and funerary rituals of the period. Almost all of the tombs seem to have been opened and robbed in antiquity, but they still give an idea of the opulence and power of the pharaohs.
This area has been a focus of archaeological
exploration since the end of the eighteenth century, and its tombs and burials continue to stimulate research and interest. In modern times the valley has become famous for the discovery of the tomb
(with its rumours of the curse of the pharaohs
and is one of the most famous archaeological sites in the world. In 1979, it became a World Heritage Site
, along with the rest of the Theban Necropolis.
Exploration, excavation and conservation continues in the valley, and a new tourist centre has recently been opened.
Stratigraphy of the valley
The Valley of the Kings is situated over 1,000 feet of limestone
and other sedimentary rock,
which form the
cliffs in the valley and the nearby Deir el-Bahri
, interspersed with soft layers of marl
. The sedimentary rock was originally deposited between 35–56 million years ago during a time when the Mediterranean Sea
sometimes extended as far south as Aswan
During the Pleistocene
the valley was carved out of the plateau by steady rains.
There is currently little year-round rain in this part of Egypt, but there are occasional flash floods
that hit the valley, dumping tons of debris into the open tombs.
The quality of the rock in the Valley is inconsistent, ranging from finely grained to coarse stone, the latter with the potential to be structurally unsound. The occasional layer of shale
also caused construction (and in modern times, conservation) difficulties, as this rock expands in the presence of water, forcing apart the stone surrounding it. It is thought that some tombs were altered in shape and size depending on the types of rock the builders encountered.
Corridor descending to the tomb of Twosret
Builders took advantage of available geological features when constructing the tombs. Some tombs were quarried out of existing limestone clefts, others behind
slopes of scree
, and some were at the edge of rock spurs created by ancient flood channels.
The problems of tomb construction can be seen with the tombs of Ramesses III
and his father Setnakhte
. Setnakhte started to excavate KV11
but broke into the tomb of Amenmesse
, so construction was abandoned and he instead usurped the tomb of Twosret
. When looking for a tomb, Ramesses III extended the partly excavated tomb started by his father.
The tomb of Ramesses II returned to an early style, with a bent axis, probably due to the quality of the rock being excavated (following the Esna shale).
Between 1998 and 2002, the Amarna Royal Tombs Project
investigated the valley floor using ground-penetrating radar
and found that, below the modern surface, the Valley's cliffs descend beneath the scree in a series of abrupt, natural "shelves", arranged one below the other, descending several metres down to the bedrock in the valley floor.
Panorama of the valley, looking north
The area of the Theban hills is subject to infrequent violent thunderstorms, causing flash floods in the valley. Recent studies have shown that there are
at least seven active flood stream beds leading down into the central area of the valley.
This central area appears to have been flooded at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, with several tombs buried under metres of debris. The tombs KV63, KV62, and KV55 are dug into the actual wadi bedrock rather than the debris, showing that the level of the valley was five meters below its present level.
After this event, later dynasties leveled the floor of the valley, making the floods deposit their load further down the valley, and the buried tombs were forgotten and only discovered in the early 20th century.
This was the area that was the subject of the Amarna Royal Tombs Project ground-scanning radar investigation, which showed several anomalies, one of which was proved to be KV63.
dominates the valley.
The Theban Hills are dominated by the peak of al-Qurn
, known to the Ancient Egyptians as ta dehent, or "The Peak".
It has a pyramid-shaped appearance, and it is probable that this echoed the pyramids of the Old Kingdom
, more than a thousand years prior to the
first royal burials carved here.
Its isolated position also resulted in reduced access, and special tomb police (the Medjay
) were able to guard the necropolis.
While the iconic pyramid complexes of the Giza plateau
have come to symbolize ancient Egypt, the majority of tombs were cut into rock. Most pyramids and mastabas
contain sections which are cut into ground level, and there are full rock-cut tombs in Egypt that date back to the Old Kingdom.
After the defeat of the Hyksos
and the reunification of Egypt under Ahmose I
, the Theban rulers
began to construct elaborate tombs that reflected their newfound power.
The tombs of Ahmose and his son Amenhotep I
(their exact location remains unknown) were probably in the Seventeenth Dynasty
necropolis of Dra' Abu el-Naga'
The first royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings were those of Amenhotep I
(although this identification is also disputed),
and Thutmose I
, whose advisor, Ineni
, notes in his tomb that he advised the king to place his tomb in the desolate valley (the identity of this actual tomb is unclear, but it is probably KV20
I saw to the excavation of the rock-tomb of his majesty, alone, no one seeing, no one hearing.
The Valley was used
for primary burials from approximately 1539 BC to 1075 BC. It contains at least 63 tombs
, beginning with Thutmose I
(or possibly earlier, during the reign of Amenhotep I
) and ending with Ramesses X
, although non-royal burials continued in usurped tombs.
Despite its name, the Valley of the Kings also contains the tombs of favorite nobles as well as the wives and children of both nobles and pharaohs. Therefore, only about 20 of the tombs actually contain the remains of kings. The remains of nobles and of the royal family, together with unmarked pits and embalming caches, make up the rest.
Around the time of Ramesses I
(ca. 1301 BC) construction commenced in the separate Valley of the Queens
The official name for the site in ancient times was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes
(see below for the hieroglyphic spelling), or Ta-sekhet-ma'at
(the Great Field).
At the start of the Eighteenth Dynasty
, only kings were buried within the
valley in large tombs. When a non-royal person was buried, it was in a small rock cut chamber, close to the tomb of their master. Amenhotep III
's tomb was constructed in the Western Valley, and while his son Akhenaten
moved his tomb's construction to Amarna
, it is thought that the unfinished WV25 may have originally been intended for him.
With the return to religious orthodoxy at the end of the Eighteenth Dynasty, Tutankhamun
, and Horemheb
returned to the royal necropolis.
and Twentieth Dynasties
saw an increase in the number of burials (both here and in the Valley of the Queens), with Ramesses II
and later Ramesses III
each constructing a massive tomb used for the burial of their sons (KV5
There are some kings that are not buried within the valley or whose tomb has not been located: Thutmose II
may have been buried in Dra' Abu el-Naga'
(although his mummy was in the Deir el-Bahri tomb cache
Smenkhkare's burial has never been located, and Ramesses VIII
seems to have been buried elsewhere.
In the Pyramid Age
, the pyramid tomb of a king was associated with a mortuary temple located close
to the pyramid. Since the tombs of the kings in the Valley of the Kings were hidden, the kings' mortuary temples were located away from their burial sites, closer to the cultivation facing Thebes
These mortuary temples became places visited during the various festivals held in the Theban necropolis. Most notable is the Beautiful festival of the valley
, where the sacred barques of Amun-Re
, his consort, Mut
, and son, Khonsu
, left the temple at Karnak
in order to visit the funerary temples of deceased kings on the West Bank and their shrines in the Theban Necropolis
The tombs were constructed and decorated by the workers of the village of Deir el-Medina
, located in a small wadi between this valley and the Valley of the Queens
, facing Thebes
. The workers journeyed to the tombs through various routes over the Theban hills. The daily lives of these workers are quite well known due to their being recorded in tombs and official documents.
Amongst the events documented is perhaps the first recorded workers' strike, detailed in the Turin strike papyrus
The earliest tombs were located in cliffs at the top of scree
slopes, under storm-fed waterfalls (KV34
As these locations were filled, burials descended to the valley floor, gradually moving back up the slopes as the valley bottom filled with debris. This explains the location of the tombs KV62
buried in the valley floor.
Then to the alabaster shop where they showed us how they make the alabaster items. Then we were free to shop. Khaled said to use the same bargaining method as in the market, but it didn’t work here. KV1KV2KV3KV4KV5KV6KV7KV8KV9KV10KV11KV12KV13KV14KV15KV16KV17KV18KV19KV20KV21WV22WV23WV24WV25KV26KV28KV29KV30KV31KV32KV34KV35KV36KV37KV38KV39KV40KV41KV42KV43KV44KV45KV46KV47KV48KV54KV55KV56KV57KV58KV59KV61KV62KV63
A map of the Valley of the Kings with locations of tombs marked
Next stop the Colossi of Memnon.
The Colossi of Memnon
: el-Colossat or es-Salamat
) are two massive stone statues
of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III
, who reigned in Egypt
during the Dynasty XVIII
. Since 1350 BCE, they have stood in the Theban Necropolis
, located west of the River Nile
from the modern city of Luxor
The twin statues depict Amenhotep III
14th century BC) in a seated position, his hands resting on his knees and his gaze facing eastwards (actually ESE in modern bearings) towards the river. Two shorter figures are carved into the front throne
alongside his legs:
these are his wife Tiye
and mother Mutemwiya
. The side panels depict the Nile god Hapi
. Antonio Beato
, Colosses de Memnon
, 19th century. Brooklyn Museum
The statues are made from blocks of quartzite sandstone
which was quarried at el-Gabal el-Ahmar
(near modern-day Cairo
) and transported 675 km (420 mi) overland to Thebes
(Luxor). The stones are believed to be too heavy to have been transported upstream on the Nile. The blocks used by later Roman engineers to reconstruct the northern colossus may have come from Edfu
(north of Aswan
). Including the stone platforms on which they stand – themselves about 4 m (13 ft) – the colossi reach a towering 18 m (60 ft) in height and weigh an estimated 720 tons each.
The two figures are about 15 m (50 ft) apart.
Both statues are quite damaged, with the features above the waist virtually unrecognizable. The southern statue comprises a single piece of stone, but the northern figure has a large extensive crack in the lower half and above the waist consists of 5 tiers of stone. These upper levels consist of a different type of sandstone
, and are the result of a later reconstruction attempt,
which William de Wiveleslie Abney
attributed to Septimus Severus
It is believed that originally the two statues were identical to each other, although inscriptions and minor art may have varied.
The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple
(or mortuary temple
): a massive construct built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world. In its day, this temple complex was the largest and most opulent in Egypt
. Covering a total of 35 hectares (86 acres), even later rivals such as Ramesses II
or Ramesses III
's Medinet Habu
were unable to match it in area; even the Temple of Karnak
, as it stood in Amenhotep's time, was smaller.
Side panel detail showing two flanked relief images of the deity Hapi
and, to the right, a sculpture of the royal wife Tiye
With the exception of the Colossi, however, very little remains today of Amenhotep
's temple. It stood on the edge of the Nile floodplain
, and successive annual inundations gnawed away at its foundations – a famous 1840s lithograph by David Roberts
shows the Colossi surrounded by water – and it was not unknown for later rulers to dismantle, purloin,
and reuse portions of their predecessors' monuments.
Soon after its construction the temple was destroyed by an earthquake, recently dated by the Armenian Institute of Seismology to around 1200 BC, which left only the 2 huge colossi at the entrance still standing. These were further destroyed by an earthquake in 27 BC, after which they were partly reconstructed by the Roman authorities.
The 1200 BC earthquake also opened numerous chasms in the ground which meant that many statues were buried, some in pristine condition. These have been the subject of extensive restoration and excavation conducted by the Armenian/German archaeologist Hourig Sourouzian, who has revealed that the complex consisted of three pylons, each fronted by colossal statues, while at the far end a rectangular Temple complex consisted of a peristyle court surrounded by columns. So far four of the statues have been re-erected, with 8 waiting to be re-erected, while some 200 statues or pieces of statues are in the Luxor Museum, some on display, others in store awaiting conservation.
The modern Arabic name is Kom el-Hatan, but it is generally known by the Roman name as the Temple of Memnon. Memnon
Temple next to Hatshepsut Templehero
She used this temple as a model for hers.
of the Trojan War
, a King of Ethiopia
who led his armies from Africa
into Asia Minor
to help defend the beleaguered city but was ultimately slain by Achilles
. Memnon (whose name means the Steadfast
) was said to be the son of Eos
, the goddess of dawn.
He was associated with colossi built several centuries earlier, because of the reported cry at dawn of the northern statue (see below
), which became known as the Colossus of Memnon
. Eventually, the entire Theban Necropolis
became generally referred to as the Memnonium
making him "Ruler of the west" as in the case of the god Osiris
who was called chief of the west
Then we had lunch with an Egyptian family – salad, potato, chicken, rice, beef. Khaled said it was cooked Tagine style – in clay cookware. Excellent food, great hosts, fun children (I played the clapping game with the girls).
We took a boat taxi across the Nile to get back to the other side & back to our hotel.
Tonight we will have our farewell dinner. I’m so sad to leave Khaled. He has been the most wonderful tour guide. This trip has been
a great experience for me in a time period when people are afraid to travel. I always felt safe and (knock on wood) I have not gotten sick.
Tomorrow most of us (except Marcella, Ben, and Caroline) will continue on to Jordan.
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