The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut, the Djeser-Djeseru ("Holy of Holies"), is located beneath the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. The mortuary temple is dedicated to the sun god Amon-Ra and is located 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." Hatshepsut's chancellor, royal architect, and possible lover Senemut oversaw construction and most likely designed the temple. Senemut who was Hatshepsut's chancellor, royal architect, and possible lover oversaw construction and most likely designed the temple.
Although the adjacent, earlier mortuary temple of Mentuhotep was used as a model, the two structures are different in many ways. Hatshepsut's temple has a lengthy, colonnaded terrace that deviates from the centralised structure of Mentuhotep’s model – an anomaly that may be caused by the decentralised location of her burial chamber. There are three layered terraces reaching 97 feet tall. Each 'storey' 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 layering of Hatshepsut’s temple corresponds with the classical Theban form, employing pylons, courts, hypostyle hall, sun court, chapel and sanctuary.
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 resentful stepson Thutmose III after Hatshepsut's death.
Hatshepsut’s temple is considered the closest Egypt came to Classical architecture. Representative of New Kingdom funerary architecture, it both aggrandises the pharaoh and includes sanctuaries to honour the gods relevant to her afterlife. This marks a turning point in the architecture of Ancient Egypt, which forsook the megalithic geometry of the Old Kingdom for a temple which allowed for active worship, requiring the presence of participants to create the majesty. The linear axiality of Hatshepsut’s temple is mirrored in the later New Kingdom temples.
The day we visited the temple was avery hot one with the temperature over 40˚C. It was an effort to walk around in the bright sun and heat, but the sight was worth every drop of perspiration and every risk of heatstroke!
This post os part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme,
and also for the Our World Tuesday meme.