Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple Deir El Bahri

The    Hathor-head capital of a columnBy the banks of the , across the river Thebes, a three-tiered was found beneath hundreds of tons of sand tens of centuries after its construction. The is a reflection of the mortuary of Mentuhotep II, and was constructed alongside that eleventh- structure. However, the of is far larger than that of Mentuhotep. The architect was , ’s lover and a member of her court with than 20 titles. Senmut designed the with rows of colonnades that reflect the vertical patterns displayed by the cliff backdrop. In this way the temple is a successful example of architectural harmony between and nature. The temple is dedicated to Amon and Hathor, Hatshepsut’s claimed parents, although there are chapels dedicated to other , like Anubis, the of embalming. The canopic chest of Hatshepsut, in which were     stored her vital organs The sanctuary lies within the mountainside. Two ramps connect the three levels, and on either side of the lower incline were T-shaped papyrus pools. On the ground level were sphinxes and fragrant trees from Punt. The sphinxes had the heads of Hatshepsut, and she is also represented as a lion in some of the temple’s reliefs. Although she has no specific enemies, she is represented clawing at adversaries and capturing “birds of evil” with a clapnet.

A lid     from one of the canopic jars of Senmut Furthermore, the temple’s walls document Hatshepsut’s divine conception, her vote of confidence given by her father, her efforts to repair damage inflicted by the invaders, the expeditions to Punt and the erection of the colossal obelisks at the temple of Karnak. Since the construction of the complex took twenty years, the walls were like blank pages of a book, filled in as her reign progressed. By the time the temple was finished, Hatshepsut probably had little time to enjoy it as a pharaoh. Although Senmut originally planned to be buried at the temple, Hatshepsut’s tomb was destined to lie elsewhere. In the manner of her father, I, who realized a temple is too obvious a place to bury priceless , the tomb of Hatshepsut was constructed in . Ineni, the architect of the tomb and temple of Tuthmose I, prided himself that he was the only one who knew the tomb location of his master. The 100 “slaves” that built the tomb, according to Otto Neubert, were killed after the project to protect the . Whether this brutal technique was used in Hatshepsut’s case is not known, but it is rather moot. The biggest enemy Hatshepsut had were not grave-robbers, but her own nephew, who would have no problem finding her tomb, no matter how many slaves died.

For Senmut’s work, he was rewarded handsomely and was able to buy a temple for himself not far from Hatshepsut’s, in which were buried his minstrel and family, and even his favorite pet apes and horses. His mother Hatnofer was buried nearby as well. Around his mother’s neck was a scarab necklace, according to the prescription of of the Dead. On the back of the pendant is written:

The    pendant of Hatnofer Hatnofer says: heart of my mother, heart of my mother! Heart of my present form! Don’t stand up against me in the council. Don’t make opposition against me before the keeper of the scales [of judgment]. You are my force in my body, my creator who makes my limbs sound. When you go to the place to which we travel, don’t make my name smell bad to the court of the living, so that it will go well for us and for the jury and so the judge will be happy. Don’t tell lies against me beside the god. See: your [own] reputation is involved. The    pendant's back, with inscription

Although vandalized by Hatshepsut’s foes and buried in sand for centuries, the Senmut’s masterpiece loses no splendor. It is an incredible expression of the absolute power of a pharaoh, whether or man.

3 thoughts on “Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple Deir El Bahri”

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