Do and See
Attractions of the Hundred-Gated City of Thebes
The beautifully executed temple built on the east bank of the Nile, which is known as
Luxor Temple, was one of great works carried out by Pharaoh "Amenhotep III" of the
New Kingdom, who under his reign Egypt enjoyed a peaceful, stable and prosper time
as then Egypt was the most powerful and most rich country on earth.
It was primarily dedicated to Egypt's then mighty Amon Ra together with his Consort
"Mut" and their son "Khons: the moon-god.
Unlike, almost Egypt's temples, whose main axes were traditionally oriented east-
west, this temple runs parallel to the Nile (North-South " regarding the temple
entrance at the north), it's believed to serve as the southern annex of Karnak, that's
why the French Egyptologist "Gaston Maspero" called it the (Southern Hareim).
Luxor temple suffered like all temples, particularly those dedicated to Amon-Ra a
severe damage, during the reign of "Akhnaton" (Amenhotep III' son), but soon after
his death, Luxor and many other temples were reconstructed and resored, by different
kings including (Tutankh-Amon, Horem-heb, and Ramses II- who carried out major
The temple is following the standard design of a Pylon, which here is preceded by six
statues of Ramses II, four represent him standing while the other elegant two
represent him seated, and before them all two elegant Obelisks were erected by the
same king, but remain now only one as its companion decorating (La Place De La
Concorde – "The Concord Square in Paris-France).
Unfortunately the pylon scenes on its two towers are in a very poor condition, but still
we can hardly see the battle of Kadesh represented.
Just passing through the entrance, one finds himself in the first open-Court (which
was one of the works of Ramses II), notably on the right-hand side (facing the
interior) there is the elegant shrines built, before the reign of Ramses by Queen
Hatscepsut and her Stepson and Nephew King Thuthmosis III, and dedicated to the
barks of the Theban divine triad (Amon-Mut-Khons). The whole court is entirely
surrounded by a double row of columns; in between every two columns of the first
row are colossal statues of King Ramses.
The wall reliefs of this court, despite not in a good state, but of interest as it shows the
façade of the temple when built (frankly added by Ramses), with its pylon and
flagstaffs, but then there were one seated statue and one obelisk on each side of the
entrance, (without the four standing statues).
Up high on the left-hand side is the mosque of the medieval Sheikh (Muslim Holy
Saint) " Abu IL-Hagag".
Passing in between two large seated statues of Ramses II, one enters the elegant
Colonnade built by "Amenhotep III", it comprises seven pairs of Stunning Columns,
the wall scenes of this superb Colonnade show the "OPET FESTIVAL" which was
without doubt the most important and the most joyous in ancient Egypt, which lasts
for 24 days of joy and great celebrations, when the sacred barge of Amon carried on
the priests shoulder leaves Karnak temple headed southwards to that of Luxor via
upstreams to meet his consort (but some Egyptologists believes now to be-there the
starting point to cross the river westwards for reviving the creation legend in the guy
of "KA-MUT-EF". However, the scenes represent the populac, the dancers, the
acrobats and sacrificial animals (oxen) on their way to Luxor temple (all represented
on the right-hand side wall), while the left-hand side wall represent the return-journey
back to Karnak temple.
A flight of two steps leads to the elegant second open-Court (a work of Amenhotep
III), of double row of elegant columns, similar to the ones of the first open-court, but
here are finely executed. Then after which, is the hypostyle hall, which is entirely
covered on its walls by various offering scenes, an leading to the boat shrine, which
entirely rebuilt (of course work of) by Alexander the Great who is depicted on the
inner and outer walls in various scenes representing him with Egyptian gods,
including the fertility god Amon-Min.
South of the boat shrine is the temple's sanctuary, where Amon-Re statue once resided
in full darkness.
Of great interest, and perhaps, the reason why Amenhotep III built the temple is the
Birth Room, on the left-hand side before the boat shrine when facing it. Though, the
reliefs are in poor condition but of great interest as representing the divine birth of
Amenhotep not as son of King :Thuthmosis IV" but as son of god Amon-Ra himself,
however it's such normal propaganda in ancient Egypt when the king lack legitimism
to ascend the throne.
The Great Complex of Karnak
About three kilometers south of Luxor Temple is the massive monumental complex
(in reality has no equal) of Amon-Ra, dedicated in large part (nearly two-thirds) for
the worship of the state god. Some other temples and shrines were dedicated to others
including Mut (Amon's Cosort), Khons (Amon's Son) and others like god-Ptah of
A short avenue of ram-headed sphinxes each keep a smaller figure of Ramses II in
between its front paws, leads to the (unfinished) first pylon, which is the largest of the
ten inside the complex (113 meters wide, some 40 meters high, and 15 meters deep),
probably it dates back to the late period (25 th dynasty), passing the entrance gateway
one enters the first open-courtyard, dating back to the 22 nd dynasty (or the dynasty of
the Libyan-origin kings). At the center of the court is one of the tallest columns in
Egyptian temples, has an open papyrus-capital, which is work of the Kushite (Nubian)
king "Taharqa" of the 25 th dynasty, in fact it is all that left of the elegant pavilion of
that Nubian king (built originally to serve as a Bark-Station of Amon's Sacred Bark).
To the right-hand side facing the sanctuary is the small temple of "Ramses III", which
comprises an entrance pylon with two towers (which are decorated by scenes of the
king massacring enemies and presented by Amon with the sowrd of victory, flanked
by two standing statues of the king (one on each side), a central doorway leading to an
open court which is surrounded by colonnades, and a roofed terrace to the rear part.
From the southern terrace there is a doorway leads to the small-size hypostyle hall
which in turn leads to the sanctuary represented in three to keep inside the three
sacred barks/or statues of the triad of Amon.
Need to mention that opposite to the temple of Ramses III on the other side to the
north-west of the open-courtyard are another three shrines built by king Seti II
(grandson of Ramses II) also served as bark stations (Amon, Mut and Khons' Barks)
evidenced by the wall scenes of each shrine.
Facing the second pylon, to the left-hand side is the gigantic granite statue (probably
of Ramses second, and a figure of his beloved queen in small size set between the
legs), the 15 meters high colossal later was usurped by king "Pinedjem".
The 29 meters high portal of the pylon, leads t the most impressive and world-wide
largest hypostyle hall, (102 meters wide and 53 meters long) comprising incredible
134 gigantic columns, the central of which(east-west) are more higher than the rest on
the two sides by some 5 meters and have open papyrus capitals, enough to say each is
ready to be a standing room for fifty people.
This great hypostyle hall began first by king Seti I, who carried out the northern
section while the southern was works of his son king Ramses II. The interesting
internal wall scenes representing each of them in his own section , while the outer
walls bear in the north battle scenes of Seti in his campaigns in Libya, Syria and
Palestine, while the southern outer wall, bearing the usual kadesh scenes of Ramses II,
but of great interest is a copy of the peace treaty between Ramses and his Hittite
counterpart in year 21 of Ramses' reign.
To the east of the hypostyle hall, just behind, are the two inscribed granite-obelisks,
the 23 meters high/143 tons, belongs to king "Thtmosis" I while the more finely 29
meters high/200 tons, obelisk belongs to his daughter Queen "Hatscepsut". Both of
the two obelisks stands before the fourth (mostly in ruin) pylon, in turn leading to the
last two pylons of the east-west axis of the temple on the latter which is the smallest
are scenes representing the conquered cities by the greatest of all Pharaohs king
Thutmosis III, just beyond is the boat shrine, built entirely of granite bearing scenes
and name of Philippe Arhidaeus (half btother of Alexander the Great) while the
ceiling I painted in blue to represent the sky filled with stars in golden color.
Far to the south of the boat-shrine is the so called (AKH-MENU) OR (the Festival
Temple of Thutmosis III – a spacious, and elegant temple of 44 meters wide / 16
meters deep ), it is a finely executed hypostyle hall with a ceiling supported by two
rows of columns in imitation the tent poles of the king during his campaigns (later by
the sixth century this hall was converted into a church). Further south after descending
few steps is the so called (botanical garden in regard of the exotic plants and animals
depicted on its walls, believed to be brought back by the king from Syria in his 25 th
year of his reign).
Returning back to the site of the two obelisks (facing the entrance gate and the great
hypostyle hall), turning left, is the sacred lake (where the priests purified themselves
before carrying out the religious rituals. Before the lake is a gigantic granite-scarab
dedicated by Amenhotep III to "Khepri" which represents the morning form of the
The north-south axis started by the court by the lake (not of so much interest as the
east-west axis), starts with the seventh pylon built by Thutmosis III, the eighth by
Hatscepsut, while the nineth and the tenth pylons were built by "Hor-Em-Heb".
The Luxor Museum
This museum was inaugurated in 1975, designed by the Egyptian Architect Dr.
Mahmoud IL-Hakim, and signaling the first museum reflecting the most modern of
museo-graphical criteria in Egypt.
Most of the objects on display in-door reflect the great past of Thebes (Luxor) during
its grandeur days (The New Kingdom Period). Of the masterpieces are:
In The Ground Floor:
Statues of The Militant Pharaoh Thutmosi III, a Bust of Amenhotep II wearing the
double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, a beautiful gilded wooden head of the
celestial-goddess (Mehet-Weret) in the form of a cow with long horns, a superb statue
of king Sesostris I in painted limestone in the Osirian form holding the Ankh (symbol
of life), an elegant sandstone head representing the heretic king "Akhnaton" wearing
the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt, a stelae of the Theban Prince "Kamose"
(brother of king Ahmose I (the founder of the 18 th dynasty) tells the victory over the
Hated invaders of the Hyksos, a superb statue of king Seti I, as well as a beautifully
granite head of the 12 th dynasty king Sesostris III (which is in fact one of the
masterpieces of Egyptian art in all periods).
In The Upper Floor:
In addition to the sculptures and Jewelry items on display, of great interest and
historical importance in this floor is the so called (wall of Talatat) painted wall of
sandstone blocks of 18 meters long and 4 meters high, originally from the temple of
the Aton (the physical sun-disk worshipped by Akhnaton) at Karnak, which were
taken as Fillings of the two pylons built by Horemheb in Karnak Temple, and were
discovered in 1925. The scenes depicted on the Talatat, are of daily life nature such as
work in the fields, making of the beer, and artisans busy in their work etc.
Also of great interest in this Museum, the special hall dedicated to the great discovery
of 1989, in The Luxor Temple, when a cache in the courtyard of Amenhotep III was
discovered containing superb 26 statues of different kings and gods, the most
beautiful is the one representing goddess "Iunet" with its fascinating smile on her face
which led some Egyptologist to call it the (Luxor Mona Lisa).
Valley of the Kings
In a celebrated ravine, dominated by pyramid-like mount lnown as the horn of
Gournah "the name of the village at its foot", is the Wadi-Bian-IL-Melouk (lit; valley
of the Gates of the Kings) which is world-wide famous with the name of alley of the
Kings, an immense Necropolis for those great Pharaohs ruled Egypt during the 18 th ,
19 th and 2-th dynasties (1550-1080 BC).
The story of the valley began shortly after king Thutmosis I ascended on the throne of
Egypt and took the sudden division of abandoning the pyramid-style as final resting
place, and to have a secret grave in a remote valley on the west bank of Thebes,
excavated into the rock, and moreover unlike the pyramids whose mortuary temples
were attached to, he decided to separate the tomb from the mortuary temple.
The supervisor of the project, was one "Ineni" who, in his own tomb on western
Thebes, mentioned that (Nobody saw, Nobody heard anything – to indicate such
secrecy took place). All successors of Thutmosis I, followed his example in
excavating their own tombs in the valley down to the end of the 20 th dynasty.
However, like their ancestors, their tombs suffered systematic plundering in ancient
times that led the pious priests (the then powerful priests ruled as kings in the 21 st
dynasty to found a safer place for their deceased ancestors, till finally, a well-secret
shaft in the Mount high above the mortuary temple of Queen Hatscpsut, was decided
to be the final resting place for them. Now all the great Pharaohs lay side by side (in
total 40) "Ahmose I, Thutmosis III, Ramses II, Seti I, Ramses III" and others include
some princes. They rested in peace for three millennia, till the seventies of the
nineteenth century, when by a naked chance where found by the young "Ahmed
Abdel Rasoul" and his brother, who in secret they plundered it for six years (made
them in a night very rich) till the authority realized a sudden activity in the antiquities
market, no need to tell it means a big discovery took place in western Thebes, after
intensive investigation he led in 1881, the vice director of the Egyptian Museum in
Cairo (Henrich Brughch) and some other officials to the site. It was decided then o
take them all to a more safer place (Cairo Museum), ships were ready to carry them
downstream, when suddenly after hearing that the Pharaohs would leave their 3000
years old burials to another place, and without making any arrangements, all people in
the west bank in Thebes (men and women) gathered all along the Nile Bank to give
homage and last look, as soon as the steam-ships started to sail, women began keening
laments and scattering dust on their heads (as if in funeral of a very dear) while men
began firing guns in the air, a scene could be only expressed in movies, not to tell.
The fascinating tombs in the valley (now after some discoveries over 64) are all more
or less alike (differences come in size and the richness of wall decorations) that is, an
entrance cut into the rock, a sloping passage more or less than 100 meters long, side
small rooms in some, successive halls with or without pillars, ending in the tomb
chamber containing the Sarcophagus, with mainly religios paintings decorate the side
walls from the very beginning down to the tomb chamber while the ceiing mostly
took the blue paint with golden stars to represent the sky.
Tomb of king Tut-Ankh-Amon
Perhaps the most famous for tourists, despite the lack of decoration compared to other
tombs but the fame is due to its contents found in it when discovered in 1922 by the
British Archaeologist Howard Carter, who was financed by another Englishman, the
5 th Earl Herbert of Carnarvon,. After six year of hard work in the valley, finally Carter
was rewarded for his patience by finding a tomb almost intact. More than 5000
objects found in the tomb of the young-king, who died at 19 after only 9 or 10 years
on the throne, of all the objects remain the death gold-mask of the king the more
impressive together with the innermost coffin of solid gold and weighs some 110 KG.
A flight of 16 descending steps lead to a long passage ending in a doorway opened to
the ante-chamber (where the chariots, funeral beds. Caskets, statues and other things
found there), attached to is the annex contained some boxes and small-size wooden
boats, but the interesting find came from the burial chamber, housed four huge gilded-
wooden shrines (the one inside the other), being dismantled were found to contain the
stone sarcophagus which in turn contained three anthropoid coffins (the first two of
gilded wood, while the innermost contained the mummy was of solid gold).
Compared to the other tombs in the valley it is very poor in decoration which is only
found in the burial chamber showing the funeral of the king on the east wall, "Aiy"
the king succeeded king Tut performing the so called opening of the mouth ceremony
on the mummy of the king (a ceremony – they believed to bring the dead back to life).
Tomb of king Thutmosis III
It is approached up a steep ladder, in a remote ravine full of even more silence than
the whole valley. The entrance is high up in the cliff face (that is why it is
recommended only to those able to climb up high), from which starts a sloping
passage in turn leads to a staircase flanked by niches, another has a deep pit (now
bridged) followed by two chambers, the first of them has a ceiling decorated with
stars, while the wall paintings introduce the names of total 476 different deities and
demons of the underworld.
The two-pillared tomb-chamber is reached b a stairway, it has an unusual shape, as a
Cartouch flanked by for smaller chambers (two on each side), texts on the walls are
religious in nature showing the different divisions of the underworld, while the most
interesting drawing takes place on the first of the two pillars showing the king being
suckled b the sacred tree.
Tomb of king Hor-Em-Heb
This is the tomb of the Army-General who seized power at the end of the 18 th dynasty
after the Amarna heresy of Akhnaton, (also after King Tut 9 years and Aiy 4 years).
Following the tomb' entrance two sloping corridors, one after the other with
unfinished decoration but from such we can see and understand the different stages of
Following the second corridor is well-room has superb reliefs, followed by a two
pillared chamber which is well-decorated. Of great interest is the corridor and the
room following the two pillared room as having some of the fine reliefs showing the
king with various gods including Isis, Hathor an the Jackal-god Anubis.
The tomb chamber was never completed despite he ruled some 30 years, but we still
admire some of the fine scenes showing the book of the gates (showing the nightly
hours), the hall of judgment of Osiris (perhaps it is the only full scene showing the
judgment ever) while at the rear is the granite sarcophagus being protected by carved
figures of the two goddesses (Isis and her sister Nephtys).
Tomb of king Ramses III
This is he tomb of the second king of the twentieth dynasty, considered the last great
Pharaoh in ancient Egypt. This tomb came to be known as the "Bruce' tomb" after the
name of its discoverer, also known as the "Harper's tomb" after the frescoes showing
some men playing the harp honouring some gods,
Entering the tomb through its entrance decorated on both sides with kneeling figures
of goddess "Maat of justice and truth" giving the protection to the king by their wings,
a sloping passage flanked b a series of smaller chambers on each side (rooms on the
right-hand side) decorated with various scenes of ships, royal standards, weapon and
furniture, while the rooms on the left-hand side are decorated with scenes of food
being prepared, the Nile and fertility gods, and harpists.
Then there is a passage decorated with scenes from the book of IM-DUAT "which is
the underworld, followed by a well-room decorated with scenes showing various
deities, then a pillared-room decorated with scenes from the book of the gates, thn two
side-chambers bearing similar scenes, followed by two ante-chambers, then the tomb-
chamber (unfortunately in a very poor state) once housed the sarcophagus whis is now
in Paris, but the mummy in Cairo (once in the Cairo Museum and now in he museum
Tomb of king Ramses VI
This tomb is known as the tomb of Memmnon by the Romans, it was uncovered by
the James Burton (English), it is divided into two parts, the front part, is the oldest and
was began by king Ramses V as far as the first pillared hall, while Ramses VI who
usurped it painted his own reliefs over the original of his predecessor. Among all
tombs in the valley, with the exception of that of Seti I, this tomb is distinguished by
its decorations and colors, which look as if the artist left it few hours ago.
The tomb' entrance lead to a series of three successive sloping passages (the first has
scenes showing the king before the solar deity "Ra-Hor-Akhty" and scenes from the
so called book of the caverns, the second passage has scenes of the two books "the
gates and caverns", while the third and the well-room are decorated with scenes from
the book of heaven- but all three passages share a superb ceiling decorated with
Of the fine scenes is the scene of the judgment hall of Osiris, but the most interesting
part is the tomb chamber which is finely executed in a superb vaulted ceiling
embellished with astronomical scenes divided into two halves each with the scene of
the sky goddess "Nut" bending as a woman, one to represent the night sky swallowing
the sun for its nocturnal journey, while the other of the day sky giving the birth of the
Valley of the Queens
To the far south-west of the Valley of the Kings, is the Valley of the Queens, intended
to be the final resting place of the chief queens and sons of the great Pharaos once
rested in peace in their valley. The Queen's valley was known in ancient Egypt as
(TA-SET-NEFRW) meaning the beautiful place or place of beauty, but the locals call
it Biban-IL-Harim (the gates of ladies). The graves here in the valley (110 in total)
range from the very simple undecorated sepulchers to the finely executed well-
designed and decorated tombs (and no equal to that of Queen Nefertari).
Tomb of Queen Nefertari
Thanks to the Italian Archaeological mission conducted by "Ernesto Schiaparelli
worked from 1903 through 1906, Egypt prides of one of the finest ever-tomb, belongs
to Queen Nefertari (chief beloved wife of king Ramese II). Suffering badly through
the course of time, the tomb has been restored by an Egyptian-American team who
were able to restore its superb colored scenes to its original status.
Via several descending steps, one enters to two successive ante-chambers, beautifully
(as the whole tomb) decorated with varied scenes from chapter 17 of the book of the
dead, the queen playing the "Senet" (a board game), then a vestibule with scenes of
the queen being presented to several gods, then an annex that has scenes from chapter
148 of the book of the dead. More descending steps flanked by wall-paintings in
symmetrical style showing the queen before the goddesses of East and West.
Following that staircase is the burial chamber with four square pillars, decorated on
all four sides with scenes of the queen before various goddesses including Isis and
Hathor and the Djed pillar (Symbol of stability and of Osiris" is depicted too. The
four pillars support the astronomical ceiling while the wall paintings are representing
chapters 140 and 144 of the book of the dead. Directly behind the burial chamber is a
cellar or chapel perhaps dedicated to the worship of the queen, while to the right hand
side (when facing the tomb-chamber is a second annex probably was used as
storeroom for the offerings.
Tomb of prince Amon-Her-Khopsh-ef
The prince was son of king Ramses III, died prematurely, and was prepared for him
this elegant burial in the valley of the queens. The scenes on the walls of the tomb
show king Ramses leading the nine year old prince and introduce him to various gods,
noticeable is the prince side-lock of hair (which indicates a young age prince).
The tomb-chamber has interesting scenes, the king followed by the young prince,
offering incense to god-Ptah of Memphis, and then introducing his son to him, th
scene is repeated but with different gods and goddesses including "Isis" and "Hathor".
Temple of Medinet Habu
Medinet (city) of Habu is the name given to a large group of many building which
were built, from the 18 th dynasty down to the Roman Period, but of all the buildings in
the area, the mortuary temple of king Ramses III, is without doubt, the most
impressive and perfect.
The temple is approached by passing through a unique entrance structure (unusual of
Egyptian Architecture), inspired by Syrian defending-structures (known as Migdol),
in front of it are two small watch-towers. It has two upper storeys, in which there are
small chambers decorated with scenes of the king dallying with his Harim.
When crossing the entrance, on enters a large court, where (to the right-hand side) are
ruins of an old temple dates back to the reign of Hatscepsut, and (to the left-hand side)
is a 25 th dynasty shrine, while further back is the main temple of Ramses III.
Ramses III, who is considered the last great Pharaoh, ruled for about 32 years, in his
early years on the throne, he faced a major risk one coming from East and the other
from the west.
The risk coming from the west (represented by Libyan tribes united, tried to attack the
western Delta), was defeated by the king. But the more and perhaps the most serious
challenge the king faced was the attack by sea and land in successive waves by the so
called sea peoples, who turned over the ancient near East, and were able to destroy the
powerful Hittite Kingdom. Ramses III was the Able Monarch to stop and defeat them;
therefore, the victory of the king is recorded along the outer-temple walls.
When facing the first Pylon, we do see it covered on both sides with inscriptions of
Ramses III'S military triumphs. The king is seen in the age-old pose of grasping the
enemies from the hair by one hand while the other holding the war-club is about to
finish the deal, all the scenes on both towers are under the watching eye of gods (Ra-
Hor-Akhty) and (Amon-Ra).
The first court had a colonnade with calyx capitals to the left and Osiris figures to the
right. To the rear of the court is an inclined plane leads through the granite gateway of
the second pylon and into the second court which has well-preserved processional
scenes on its walls (the preservation is due to being covered in stucco, when the court
was converted into a church in the Christian era).
Following a pillared terrace at the rear of the second court, is the hypostyle hall, whos
roof was originally supported by twenty-four columns arranged in four rows. The wall
reliefs here show the king in the presence of the famous deities of Egypt. Adjoining
each side of the hall are a series of chambers, those on the left stored the valuable
objects (jewelry), precious metals including gold, musical instruments. At the rear
part are two successive small hypostyle halls, followed by the boat shrine.
A few kilometers to the south of the village of Cheikh Abdel Qurnah is the unique
site, known as "Deir IL Medina" (meaning the monastery of the town-after a Coptic
Mnastery stood there during the Christian era), once a flourished community (for 500
years) of those Artists and Masons responsible for creating the Pharaohs' tombs in the
valley of the king. The village once inhabited by some 200 families, had its necropolis
extended along the slopes west of the village walls.
The houses were small mudbrick simple ones, each next to the other, in general each
consisted of an entrance doorway, a reception-room, and a kitchen, a stairway leads to
the roof of the house. The sizes of the houses differ between the workers' houses and
their masters'. The discovery of this workers' village with the thousands of ostakas
(inscribed shards) was of great importance as it shed light on the life of ordinary
people in ancient Egypt.
The necropolis, which is located to the west of the village, has tombs in general are all
alike, consisting of a chapel and a small painted substructure serving as the tomb-
Temple of Queen Hatscepsut at Deir IL Bahari
Perhaps, the most splendid of all temples on western Thebes, is the temple built by
Architect "Sennenmut" to his Queen-Pharaoh "Hatscepsut". The temple was designed,
like the adjacent (now ruined) 11 th dynasty mortuary temple of king Montu-Hotep II,
with terraced courts. These rose, one above the other, by connecting inclined planes at
When ascending from the lower court, one passes through the two colonnades, (one
on each side), their wall-reliefs show the transportation by river of the two obelisks
from Aswan to Luxor.
Reaching the central court, which is the more historically important, one, faces
another two colonnades, which their walls bearing two important stories, the southern
colonnade-back walls' reliefs in relation with the expedition sent to the Land of "Punt"
(probably the eastern and western shores of the Red Sea southern end "Somalia and
Yemen"). The scenes showing the Egyptian fleet sailing to the Land of Punt, also,
how the houses of the country of Punt are constructed on silts, with ladders leading up
to the entrances, the people in Punt welcoming and greeting the Queen's envoy and
his men. The scene continues to show, after making the deals, the incense trees are
carried with their roots, to be planted in the house (temple) built by the queen to er
father Amon—Ra (as the queen mentioned). Hascepsut (unfortunately defaced)
shown offering the goods brought by the expedition to Amon Ra, (incense trees, cattle
wild game etc).
Close to the Punt-Colonnade (to the left-hand side) is the shrine of Hathor, which has
three chambers one behind the other, having interesting scenes of Hatscepsut (co-
regent) of her nephew and stepson (Thutmosis, later king Thutmosis III).
North of the Punt-Colonnade is the so called birth-colonnade, named after the scenes
on the back walls showing the divine birth of the queen, after a divine visit of Amon-
Ra to her mother "Ahmose", (all in all is a typical political propaganda). To the right o
the birth-colonnade is the shrine of the Jackal-god Anubis.
The upper court opens to the sanctuary of the temple (hewn out of the natural rock),
comprises two chambers with large recesses to the sides.
The colossi of Memmnon
Not far from the temple of Medinet Habu, exactly to the east of it, is the site of the,
once, impressive mortuary temple of Amenhotep III, (completely disappeared, since it
has been demolished in antiquity, and many of its stone blocks, statues and stelae
were employed in buildings by "Meren-Ptah" and "Ramses III", particularly the
former. Of all the grandeur of the temple (putting into consideration that the
Archaeological mission working in the site brought into light superb monuments),
remained, the colossal twin statues of the king, which once stood majestically before
the temple' entrance, each of 18 meters high, made out of a single block of quartzite,
showing the king sitting on a simple throne, while his mother (Queen Mut-Em-Wia)
and his beloved-wife (Queen Tiy) much smaller in size, stand by his legs. The two
sides of each colossal are decorated with the hieroglyphic sign meaning "union and
the Nile-god entwine the two sacred plants of Upper and Lower Egypt (the Lotus &
the Papyrus) around it, to confirm the unity of the two lands under the sovereignty of
Amenhotep. The so called Colossi of Memnon is a misnomer, since the Romans
referred to the northern statue as the Colossus of Memmnon (the legendary hero, son
of goddess "Aurora" of the dawn), when it began to emit deep sounds in the very
early morning, and interpreted that it is the song and greetings of Memmnon - slain in
Troy by "Achilles"- to his mother. The sound was due to a crack by the area of the
ears, occurred after a fatal earthquake in the first century BC; it was due to the
contracting of the stone during the cool nights following expansion during the day
that caused a splitting off of particles from the surface. This singing of Memmnon
was silenced when the cracks were repaired under the reign of the Roman Emperor
Dendera (ancient Lunet, and Greek Tentyra) is situated on the west bank of The Nile,
north of Luxor and south of Abydos, in Upper Egypt. The city's main temple which
was dedicated to the worship of the cow-goddess "Hathor" (goddess of joy, beauty
and music- who later was identified with Aphrodite) dates back to the Greco-Roman
period, but evidence of an older temple dates back to the Middle Kindom was brought
to light, moreover in one of the crypts, the name of the 5 th dynasty king "Pepi I" was
found showing it is even dates back to older period than the Middle Kingdom.
However the present-day Greco-Roman temple, like many temples of the era took
decades to be built (Dendera took 185 years to be built).
The temple precinct is surrounded by a mud-brick wall with a monumental stone
The traditions of "Hathor" of Dendera were in close links with "Horus" of Edfu as
they were a husband and wife, therefore twice a year, on particular occasions occurred
the festival of the "Good Reunion" was celebrated, once in Dendera when "Horus"
visits his Consort, and the second when "Hathor" makes a vist to her husband in Edfu.
The plan of the temple is the norm of the period, but what remains today is a the first
great hypostyle hall, a second hypostyle hall, two ante-chambers and a vestibule
leading to the temple's Sanctuary or the boat' shrine where the goddess' statue resides.
There are also some chambers enclosing the outside of the sanctuary by its three sides
(except the front).
Of all the Greco-Roman temples' Hypostyle halls, the one in Dendera is exceptional
and the finest, it has eighteen Hathoric Columns (the for squared faces capitals in the
form of the goddess' head) supporting the superbly well-preserved decorated ceiling
with astronomical scenes, which is divided into seven sections.
The wall reliefs are of religious nature, but some others of royal one, that one is
representing ceremony of "going forth", as the king leaves the palace in a procession
to mark the limits of the temple, he is shown with various gods such as Horus and
Thoth. Following the first is the second hypostyle hall, which has six columns of
capitals richly ornamented. The reliefs of this hall relate the founding of the temple
and sacrifices to the gods of Dendera (Hathor, Horus and their son Ihey), noticeably in
this hall are the empty cartouches (the long oval shapes containing names of kings and
queens). There are three small chambers on each side of the hall, perhaps served as
stores, treasuries or repositories for offerings.
The two ante-chambers follow the second hypostyle hall are mainly decorated with
offering scenes, they have on both passages leading to staircases in turn lead up to the
roof of the temple, served in particular occasions (during the Festival of the New year,
when the goddess statue was carried up to the roof in order to gaze upon her
possessions and be regenerated with the strength of the rising sun, after being kept for
long in the darkness of the sanctuary.
The walls of the staircases are finely executed, showing the divine procession while
ascending on the right-hand side staircases and the descending one on the left-hand
On the temple roof there is an open courtyard leads to two rooms, one o them is
known as the Chamber of "Osiris", where there is a graphic portrayal of the death of
the god of the underworld "Osiris" and the miracle of the conception of his son
"Horus" after the god's death. The second room is of great interest due to the
decorations of its ceiling representing the (Zodiac), but the present one is a replica of
the original taken by the French in the 19 th century and now on display in the Louvre
Back to the ante-chambers, open onto the charming Sanctuary, which its ceiling
supported by two Hathoric colmns, and has many scenes on its walls showing the
king with various gods while the decoration of the ceiling representing the sky-
The structure is surrounded by a corridor, heading to the rear there is the famous
scene (perhaps the only representation) of the famous queen "Cleopatra VII-depicted
as "goddess Hathor" with her son "Caesarion" or "Ptolemy XIV" who was son of
There are also remains of Roman Sanatoria (health restoring baths and site of oracular
divination through dreams).
Temple of Seti I at Abydos
Doubtless, of all the cities in Ancient Egypt, Abydos, is the holiest as being the cult-
center of "Osiris" and the place according to myths the head of the beloved god was
buried there, therefore it came to be a site of popular pilgrimage. Kings of the early
Dynastic Period (I-II Dynasties) had their tombs there, as well as cenotaphs in the
north in Sakkara. It was therefore a pious work for most of kings to build at least a
shrine, one of these kings was "Seti I" (a son of an army officer-later to be king and
the founder of the 19 th dynasty "Ramses I"). when Seti came to the throne of Egypt in
1318 BC, he proved to be as well able military commander as a pious and art lover
encouraging the founding of the finest artistic and architectural structures. In Abydos
he built one of Egypt's finest temples regarding its wall decoration and paintings
keeping its brightening colors as if they were made yesterday. A famous feature of the
temple is the (Abydos Kings' List) , which is set in painted relief on the wall of one of
the temple's corridors, consists of a long series of royal names (76 Cartouches of
kings from the first one "Menes" down to "Seti I" himself), the king and his son, the
young Ramses (later to be king Ramses II-the great) are represented paing praises to
Of the famous wall-scenes in the temple' hypostyle hall (14 meters deep and 60
meters wide- and has 24 papyrus-bud columns supporting the roof), the one
representing Ramses II making offerings to various gods and goddesses and in turn
gaining the blessings from them.
In the second hypostyle hall which is divided into a front section that is supported by
twenty-four sandstone columns in pairs, and a platform to the rear that is open to the
temples' shrines (seven in total), the scenes which are finely executed represent Seti
with various gods, including "Osiris" enthroned in a shrine, standing before him
several gods and goddesses including Maat "goddess of Justice and Truth, Renpet
"goddess representing the year" Isis who is gently supports the gods' arm, "Amentet"
who represent the west, and "Nephtys (Isis and Osiris' Sister) / (this is perhaps the
finest reliefs to be found in all of Egypt) adding to the gods, then, Seti stands in
attitude of worship before Osiris , another is showing Seti offering incense and water
to the same god "Osiris".
The seven shrines of the temple were dedicated (right to left) to "Horus", "Isis",
"Osiris", "Amon-Ra", "Ra-Hor-Akhty", "Ptah" and the deified "Seti".
Nearby to the temple of Seti I (south-west) is the massive monument, known as the
"Osireion. The purpose of the Osireion is unclear, and its architectural features are
unique. It has variously been called a cenotaph (model-tomb of Osiris), though it has
no indication to such function, but there is no other like it nation-wide.
Temple of Ramses II at Abydos
It is a memorial temple, to glorify the name of the king , and as of all the temples built
by king Ramses II, it has reliefs (in limestone and well-preserved) to the famous battle
against the Hittites in his 5 th regnal year.
Have you ever imagined driving through green-cultivated lands, after crossing the
river Nile, then walk through a barren desert-valley, indulging in the world of
Mysterious Valley of the Kings, or walking through the Medinet Habu Temple of the
last great Pharaoh, or admiring the elegant Ramesseum of Ramses the great? How
about soaring up high to see all at sunset when you take ride in a hot air balloon offers
you a unique perspective over Thebes' West Bank-historic landscape of unrivaled
monuments, The River Nile' Sinuosity's.