Tuesday 28 February 2012


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.


  1. Wow! Amazing!

    Herding Cats


  2. An amazing ancient structure and still standing today. It must have been aw inspiring to be there

  3. Truly amazing captures! A wonder indeed!

  4. Wonderful tour and great photos!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  5. What a fantastic post and captures for the day, Nick!! And what a great tour indeed! One of those places I've always wanted to visit! Your post for the day is the next best thing to being there! Hope your week is off to a great start!


  6. Great detail shots of this amazing place! Also great choice for the Taphophile Tragics meme.

  7. Wow! I especially like the second shot, which gives some idea of the massive size. It's also beautiful countryside.

  8. Love the close-up of the head and the hieroglyphics. It is easy to overlook the details in a place as stunning as this. My abiding memory is how very modern the temple looked compared to the Valley of the Kings, or indeed any other temple in Egypt.

  9. thats so impressive... !
    i did have to laugh a little, the first pic reminded me a little of some government building here in boston that is really, really ugly. but maybe they used this as inspiration and that makes it less ugly. one day i will post it so you can compare... :)

  10. Isn't it wierd the difference that perspective makes to the first two photographs, Nick. In the first, the people are so very miniscule, I can fully believe that the three terraces reach 97 feet. However, in the second photograph - where the second terrace is mostly obscured - the people look like toys in an architect's model. If the terraces are 97' high, how high must that cliff face be!! And I can only suspect that created that fantastic backdrop. Lots more Egyptian slave labour I suspect.

    You also mention about an avenue of sphinx. That would be a sight to see, too. Some of the detail in your photographs is wonderful. I especially appreciate the owl in that last one.

    However, I am not convinced that I would have lasted in 40C heat - even with a hat.

    You are dragging us from one ancient civilisation to another, Nick. Can't wait to see what you come up with next week.

    No pressure ... no pressure ... *grin* ...

  11. Wow, what an amazing place to visit. I loved the photos. Thanks for sharing your tour. Very impressive.

  12. a truly spectacular place...they really knew how to honor their Dead. SO Glad you posted this I really enjoyed viewing these photos!!

  13. when looking very, very quickly, your first image here reminded me of this building in boston..! http://cat-pictureday.blogspot.com/2012/03/brutalist-style.html


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