Egypt: Medinet Habu (Ramses III temple) Plan - Luxor Egypt

Luxor, Egypt 

Medinet Habu Overview: 
Medinet Habu (Ramses III Temple)

Medinet Habu is the name given by the early Christians to a group of buildings dating from the beginning of the 18th Dynasty and continuing right through to Roman times. The original structure was built by Amenhotep
I and was added to by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III who formed it into a small, graceful temple (Plan 14A) . Ramses III built an unusual entrance structure (B) which took the place of the regular entrance pylon and portals of stone. This structure is known as the Pavilion, the name given by the French scholars accompanying Napoleon. Ramses III also built a splendid mortuary temple (C) which is one of the best examples of the smaller type of sanctuaries of the time. Under the Ptolemies and the Romans the temple was enlarged and the complex elaborated. Much of it came to grief following the rise of Christianity. A church was in fact built in the main court. We enter Medinet Habu complex through the pavilion. In front of it are two small watch-towers and a battlement of elevated masonry. It has two upper stories containing several small apartments. Passing through the end gateway we enter an outer court. The 18th Dynasty Temple, begun by Amenhotep I and added to by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III during their co-regency, lies to the right. It was completed during the latter's sole monarchy and bears traces of drastic alteration by both Thutmose II and III, who scraped of fall the queen's original reliefs, especially in the inner chambers. Restorations were made by Haremhab and Seti I to the figures of the deities defaced by Akhenaten. The ancient ground plan was drastically altered in Ptolemaic and Roman times and little of it is distinguishable today.
Medinet Habu Plan


To the left is a small shrine of Amenertais (D) , the mother-in-law of Psemmetikh I,and further back is the main temple of Ramses III.
The mortuary temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu was built on exactly the same plan as the Ramesseum. The paint on the reliefs is well preserved, in some places in nearly perfect condition. This temple grew through successive years and, as the campaigns of Ramses were graphically recorded with its growth, his military exploits can be followed step by step from the rear, or in other words from his last military campaign on the foremost pylon, backwards in time.



First Pylon and First Court of Medinet Habu
The first pylon (Plan) is covered on both sides with representations and inscriptions recording Ramses III's victory over the Libyans in the 11th year of his reign . On the right-hand tower (a) the Pharaoh stands before Amon (to the right) in the traditional pose of dangling enemies by the hair whilst smiting them with a club. The captured lands - circular forts inscribed with the name of the city and mounted on bound enemies - are handed to him by the hawk-headed Montu. Between the grooves for the flagstaffs (to the left) is a similar scene on a smaller scale, and below it is a long poetic description in exaggerated language of the great victory. At the foot of the pylon Amon is seated (to the left) with Ptah standing behind him inscribing the Pharaoh's name on a palm-leaf. The Pharaoh kneels before Amon and receives from him the hieroglyphs for 'jubilee of the reign' suspended on a palm-branch. Thoth writes the kings years on the leaves of the tree.
The left-hand tower of the entrance pylon repeats these scenes and inscriptions.

Passing through the central portal, which is embellished with representations of Ramses III worshiping the various deities, we enter the first court (A) and view an interesting representation on the inner side of the first pylon (b). This is also of the Libyan campaign. The mercenaries who took part are recognizable by their round helmets ornamented with horns. The charioted Pharaoh charges and overthrows the enemy. This court is flanked by covered colonnades, those to the right with colossal statues of the king as Osiris in front of each. The scenes on the side walls repeat the victorious war themes and the triumphant return of the king with his captives to attend the Great Feast of Amon.

Second Pylon and Second Court of Medinet Habu



At the back of the court is the second pylon recording the Pharaoh's battles in the eighth year of his reign, On the left -hand tower (c) he leads three rows of prisoners to Amon and Mut. These prisoners do not have beards, which usually denote Asian peoples, but wear caps adorned with feathers and aprons decorated with
tassels. The right-hand tower (d) has a long series of inscriptions recording Ramses' military triumph over 'the Great League of Sea-Peoples'.
An inclined plane leads us through the granite gateway of the second pylon and into the second court (B), which was the area converted into a church. It was fully cleared of remnants of the Christian period in 1895 and this proved to be one instance where we can thank the early Christians for preserving rather than destroying. For it is due to their having covered the original representations with mud, to avoid distracting the congregation no doubt, that they are in such good condition today. This court is an almost exact replica of the second court of the Ramesseum, both in architectural layout and in the relief drawings. On the back walls of the colonnades are scenes from the life of the Pharaoh including important festivals and warlike deeds.

On the right-hand side of the court (upper rows) are scenes from the Great Festival of the God Min. As in the mural of the Ramesseum, there is a lovely representation including trumpeters, drummers and castanet players. At (e) the Pharaoh is borne on a richly-decorated litter with a canopy from the palace, led by priests and soldiers and followed by his sons and courtiers. At the head of the line (upper row) area trumpeter and a drummer and in the lower row castanet players. At (j) the king sacrifices before the image of Min and offers incense. Then comes a scene of the sacred procession : it starts on the right-hand wall at (g) and continues
around the corner to (11) . Studying the scene from left to right, we see priests, flanked by fan-hearers ; the priests carry the image of Min on a litter. Next more priests with the sacred caskets. Then come the Pharaoh, the sacred white bull of Min, priests, the queen and a procession of priests in two rows carrying standards and images of the Pharaoh and his ancestors. Further to the right the Pharaoh awaits the procession and the priests allow four birds to fly to the four corners of the earth to carry the royal tidings. At (i) the Pharaoh cuts a sheaf of corn with his sickle in the presence of priests and his queen (above). The white bull again appears in front of the Pharaoh and beneath is a series of images of royal ancestors. At (j) the Pharaoh is shown offering incense to the god Min as he stands beneath a canopy.

The colonnade on the left-hand side of the court has scenes from the Festival of Ptah-Sokaris in the upper rows, and the much more interesting war reliefs in the lower divisions on the wall, starting with the inner wall of the second pylon (k) . The first scene shows the Pharaoh attacking the Libyans with his charioteers as he shoots with his bow and the infantry flee in all directions. The mercenaries are in the lower row. The second scene shows him returning from battle with three rows of fettered Libyans before him and two fan-bearers behind. The third scene show's him leading his prisoners of war before Amon and Mut. These are themes we have met before, particularly on the first pylon of Ramses III's little temple in the court of Karnak, but with the addition of an interesting scene in the corner (I). This shows the Pharaoh turning in his chariot to receive four rows of prisoners of war from, amongst other notables, his own sons. Hands and phalluses (uncircumcised) of
the slain are counted.
The rear walls of the terrace (m) and (n) have three rows of representations. In the two upper rows the Pharaoh is shown worshiping various deities. The lowest row depicts the royal princes and princesses.


Great Hypostyle Hall of Medinet Habu

The Great Hypostyle Hall follows . The roof: was originally supported by twenty-four columns in six rows of four, with the eight columns forming the double central row considerably thicker than the others. The wall reliefs show Ramses III in the presence of various deities. Adjoining each side of the hypostyle hall are a series of chambers which stored costly jewels, musical instruments, etc.. Ramses III was the last of the great Pharaohs and also the wealthiest. As he offers the fruits of earlier conquests, coupled with his own, to Arnon one can see that this is no exaggeration. In chamber (o) he presents Amon with papyrus-holders in the form of lions with the Pharaoh's head or kneeling figures of the Pharaoh. In chamber (p) costly vessels, with lids of rams', hawks' ,or Pharaohs' heads, are handed to Amon. Chamber (q) shows the Pharaoh handing Amon
sacks of precious stones and in (r) costly table-services, harps, silver lead and ornaments. Again, in chamber (s) he offers heaps of gold and other precious metals toAmon. The chambers to the right of the hypostyle hall contain mostly sacrificial scenes before the various deities.
Beyond the hypostyle hall are three smaller chambers (C, D and F). The first two have eight columns each and the third has four pillars. The surrounding chambers are dedicated to different deities.

Exterior of Medinet Habu

On the outside of the temple there are important historical reliefs commemorating the wars of Ramses III. Those on the western wall (t) have scenes of the Pharaoh's battle against the Nubians. The actual battle scene, the triumphal procession with captives and the presentation to Amon, are shown. The northern wall has ten scenes from the wars against the Libyans and a naval victory over a northern people. The naval battle (at u) is an extremely animated representation : having alighted from his chariot the Pharaoh shoots against the hostile fleet. Before him are archers. Above him, in the form of a vulture, hovers the goddess of Lower Egypt. One
enemy ship has capsized and the Egyptian vessels -distinguishable by a lion's head on the prow-- are steered by men with large oars whilst the rest of the crew row from benches. There are bound captives inside the ship. Others appear in the lower row. The northern wall (at v) has scenes from the Syrian wars including the storming of a fortress and the presentation of prisoners to Amon and Khonsu.
There is little doubt that these reliefs show a decline in artistic ability . The pain staking detail of Seti I's reliefs is lost. These are cruder in execution and the composition is somewhat lackadaisical compared to the relief work of the 18th Dynasty. There is, however, one relief that reflects artistic inheritance from earlier times. This
is the hunt for deer, wild bull and wild asses in a marshy area,and it can be seen on the southern wall on the back of the first pylon (w). The Pharaoh has already slain one bull which lies on the ground. Others escape into the thicket and the artist has endeavored to create depth by showing the bull hiding between the rushes. As a three-dimensional approach it is extremely effective. On the southern wall (at x) is a festival calendar which includes a list of appointed sacrifices dating from Ramses III's accession to the throne.


Colossi of Memnon at Medinet Habu
Two massive statues, sadly weathered by time and now of no artistic merit, sit in stately isolation in the fertile lower valley of the necropolis. They once formed an impressive entrance to the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are solitary relics of his golden era. The mortuary temple itself was probably destroyed by
royal vandals of the 19th Dynasty: Ramses II and his son Merneptah
apparently had no scruples about pillaging the most awe-inspiring temple on the necropolis in order to build one for themselves.
These two statues rise to a height of twenty meters above the plain. They were made of sandstone under the supervision of the Pharaoh's chief architect, Amenhotep son of Hapu, who transported them from the quarries on eight barges along the Nile during the annual flood. The one on the left is in a better stateof repair and shows Amenhotep III seated and flanked by his mother Metamwa and his wife Tiy. A third figure between the legs has been destroyed. On each side of the seat are representations of two Nile-gods winding the papyrus and lotus, symbols of Lower and Upper Egypt, round the hieroglyph for 'unite'.
The Colossi of Memnon were so named by the Romans who believed them to be statues of the legendary son of Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Memnon had slain Antilochus during the Trojan War the latter being the valiant son of Nestor - and had himself finally fallen at the hand of Achilles. The first visitors to the necropolis during the Roman epoch interpreted the strange sounds theyheard emerging fromthe statues at dawn each day as Memnon greeting his mother Aurora.
The myth grew and tourists flocked to see and hear for themselves. The number of Greek and Latin inscriptions, in both prose and verse, on the legs of the statues, attest to each having heard the sound for himself. Some said it was a musical note, others a trumpet blast. Others still said that they could hear voices chanting, or the sound of an angry god. It was a great tourist attraction. The curious were subsequently followed by the eminent. Physicists came-and exploded the myth utterly. It was, they said, the contracting of the stone during the cool nights following expansion during the day that caused a splitting off of particles from the surface.
Be that as it may the sound completely stopped when, in the time of Septimius Severus, the Colossi were repaired and some of the holes were filled in. It has never been heard since.

Egypt: Medinet Habu (Ramses III temple) Plan - Luxor Egypt

Luxor, Egypt 

Medinet Habu Overview: 
Medinet Habu (Ramses III Temple)

Medinet Habu is the name given by the early Christians to a group of buildings dating from the beginning of the 18th Dynasty and continuing right through to Roman times. The original structure was built by Amenhotep
I and was added to by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III who formed it into a small, graceful temple (Plan 14A) . Ramses III built an unusual entrance structure (B) which took the place of the regular entrance pylon and portals of stone. This structure is known as the Pavilion, the name given by the French scholars accompanying Napoleon. Ramses III also built a splendid mortuary temple (C) which is one of the best examples of the smaller type of sanctuaries of the time. Under the Ptolemies and the Romans the temple was enlarged and the complex elaborated. Much of it came to grief following the rise of Christianity. A church was in fact built in the main court. We enter Medinet Habu complex through the pavilion. In front of it are two small watch-towers and a battlement of elevated masonry. It has two upper stories containing several small apartments. Passing through the end gateway we enter an outer court. The 18th Dynasty Temple, begun by Amenhotep I and added to by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III during their co-regency, lies to the right. It was completed during the latter's sole monarchy and bears traces of drastic alteration by both Thutmose II and III, who scraped of fall the queen's original reliefs, especially in the inner chambers. Restorations were made by Haremhab and Seti I to the figures of the deities defaced by Akhenaten. The ancient ground plan was drastically altered in Ptolemaic and Roman times and little of it is distinguishable today.
Medinet Habu Plan


To the left is a small shrine of Amenertais (D) , the mother-in-law of Psemmetikh I,and further back is the main temple of Ramses III.
The mortuary temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu was built on exactly the same plan as the Ramesseum. The paint on the reliefs is well preserved, in some places in nearly perfect condition. This temple grew through successive years and, as the campaigns of Ramses were graphically recorded with its growth, his military exploits can be followed step by step from the rear, or in other words from his last military campaign on the foremost pylon, backwards in time.



First Pylon and First Court of Medinet Habu
The first pylon (Plan) is covered on both sides with representations and inscriptions recording Ramses III's victory over the Libyans in the 11th year of his reign . On the right-hand tower (a) the Pharaoh stands before Amon (to the right) in the traditional pose of dangling enemies by the hair whilst smiting them with a club. The captured lands - circular forts inscribed with the name of the city and mounted on bound enemies - are handed to him by the hawk-headed Montu. Between the grooves for the flagstaffs (to the left) is a similar scene on a smaller scale, and below it is a long poetic description in exaggerated language of the great victory. At the foot of the pylon Amon is seated (to the left) with Ptah standing behind him inscribing the Pharaoh's name on a palm-leaf. The Pharaoh kneels before Amon and receives from him the hieroglyphs for 'jubilee of the reign' suspended on a palm-branch. Thoth writes the kings years on the leaves of the tree.
The left-hand tower of the entrance pylon repeats these scenes and inscriptions.

Passing through the central portal, which is embellished with representations of Ramses III worshiping the various deities, we enter the first court (A) and view an interesting representation on the inner side of the first pylon (b). This is also of the Libyan campaign. The mercenaries who took part are recognizable by their round helmets ornamented with horns. The charioted Pharaoh charges and overthrows the enemy. This court is flanked by covered colonnades, those to the right with colossal statues of the king as Osiris in front of each. The scenes on the side walls repeat the victorious war themes and the triumphant return of the king with his captives to attend the Great Feast of Amon.

Second Pylon and Second Court of Medinet Habu



At the back of the court is the second pylon recording the Pharaoh's battles in the eighth year of his reign, On the left -hand tower (c) he leads three rows of prisoners to Amon and Mut. These prisoners do not have beards, which usually denote Asian peoples, but wear caps adorned with feathers and aprons decorated with
tassels. The right-hand tower (d) has a long series of inscriptions recording Ramses' military triumph over 'the Great League of Sea-Peoples'.
An inclined plane leads us through the granite gateway of the second pylon and into the second court (B), which was the area converted into a church. It was fully cleared of remnants of the Christian period in 1895 and this proved to be one instance where we can thank the early Christians for preserving rather than destroying. For it is due to their having covered the original representations with mud, to avoid distracting the congregation no doubt, that they are in such good condition today. This court is an almost exact replica of the second court of the Ramesseum, both in architectural layout and in the relief drawings. On the back walls of the colonnades are scenes from the life of the Pharaoh including important festivals and warlike deeds.

On the right-hand side of the court (upper rows) are scenes from the Great Festival of the God Min. As in the mural of the Ramesseum, there is a lovely representation including trumpeters, drummers and castanet players. At (e) the Pharaoh is borne on a richly-decorated litter with a canopy from the palace, led by priests and soldiers and followed by his sons and courtiers. At the head of the line (upper row) area trumpeter and a drummer and in the lower row castanet players. At (j) the king sacrifices before the image of Min and offers incense. Then comes a scene of the sacred procession : it starts on the right-hand wall at (g) and continues
around the corner to (11) . Studying the scene from left to right, we see priests, flanked by fan-hearers ; the priests carry the image of Min on a litter. Next more priests with the sacred caskets. Then come the Pharaoh, the sacred white bull of Min, priests, the queen and a procession of priests in two rows carrying standards and images of the Pharaoh and his ancestors. Further to the right the Pharaoh awaits the procession and the priests allow four birds to fly to the four corners of the earth to carry the royal tidings. At (i) the Pharaoh cuts a sheaf of corn with his sickle in the presence of priests and his queen (above). The white bull again appears in front of the Pharaoh and beneath is a series of images of royal ancestors. At (j) the Pharaoh is shown offering incense to the god Min as he stands beneath a canopy.

The colonnade on the left-hand side of the court has scenes from the Festival of Ptah-Sokaris in the upper rows, and the much more interesting war reliefs in the lower divisions on the wall, starting with the inner wall of the second pylon (k) . The first scene shows the Pharaoh attacking the Libyans with his charioteers as he shoots with his bow and the infantry flee in all directions. The mercenaries are in the lower row. The second scene shows him returning from battle with three rows of fettered Libyans before him and two fan-bearers behind. The third scene show's him leading his prisoners of war before Amon and Mut. These are themes we have met before, particularly on the first pylon of Ramses III's little temple in the court of Karnak, but with the addition of an interesting scene in the corner (I). This shows the Pharaoh turning in his chariot to receive four rows of prisoners of war from, amongst other notables, his own sons. Hands and phalluses (uncircumcised) of
the slain are counted.
The rear walls of the terrace (m) and (n) have three rows of representations. In the two upper rows the Pharaoh is shown worshiping various deities. The lowest row depicts the royal princes and princesses.


Great Hypostyle Hall of Medinet Habu

The Great Hypostyle Hall follows . The roof: was originally supported by twenty-four columns in six rows of four, with the eight columns forming the double central row considerably thicker than the others. The wall reliefs show Ramses III in the presence of various deities. Adjoining each side of the hypostyle hall are a series of chambers which stored costly jewels, musical instruments, etc.. Ramses III was the last of the great Pharaohs and also the wealthiest. As he offers the fruits of earlier conquests, coupled with his own, to Arnon one can see that this is no exaggeration. In chamber (o) he presents Amon with papyrus-holders in the form of lions with the Pharaoh's head or kneeling figures of the Pharaoh. In chamber (p) costly vessels, with lids of rams', hawks' ,or Pharaohs' heads, are handed to Amon. Chamber (q) shows the Pharaoh handing Amon
sacks of precious stones and in (r) costly table-services, harps, silver lead and ornaments. Again, in chamber (s) he offers heaps of gold and other precious metals toAmon. The chambers to the right of the hypostyle hall contain mostly sacrificial scenes before the various deities.
Beyond the hypostyle hall are three smaller chambers (C, D and F). The first two have eight columns each and the third has four pillars. The surrounding chambers are dedicated to different deities.

Exterior of Medinet Habu

On the outside of the temple there are important historical reliefs commemorating the wars of Ramses III. Those on the western wall (t) have scenes of the Pharaoh's battle against the Nubians. The actual battle scene, the triumphal procession with captives and the presentation to Amon, are shown. The northern wall has ten scenes from the wars against the Libyans and a naval victory over a northern people. The naval battle (at u) is an extremely animated representation : having alighted from his chariot the Pharaoh shoots against the hostile fleet. Before him are archers. Above him, in the form of a vulture, hovers the goddess of Lower Egypt. One
enemy ship has capsized and the Egyptian vessels -distinguishable by a lion's head on the prow-- are steered by men with large oars whilst the rest of the crew row from benches. There are bound captives inside the ship. Others appear in the lower row. The northern wall (at v) has scenes from the Syrian wars including the storming of a fortress and the presentation of prisoners to Amon and Khonsu.
There is little doubt that these reliefs show a decline in artistic ability . The pain staking detail of Seti I's reliefs is lost. These are cruder in execution and the composition is somewhat lackadaisical compared to the relief work of the 18th Dynasty. There is, however, one relief that reflects artistic inheritance from earlier times. This
is the hunt for deer, wild bull and wild asses in a marshy area,and it can be seen on the southern wall on the back of the first pylon (w). The Pharaoh has already slain one bull which lies on the ground. Others escape into the thicket and the artist has endeavored to create depth by showing the bull hiding between the rushes. As a three-dimensional approach it is extremely effective. On the southern wall (at x) is a festival calendar which includes a list of appointed sacrifices dating from Ramses III's accession to the throne.


Colossi of Memnon at Medinet Habu
Two massive statues, sadly weathered by time and now of no artistic merit, sit in stately isolation in the fertile lower valley of the necropolis. They once formed an impressive entrance to the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III and are solitary relics of his golden era. The mortuary temple itself was probably destroyed by
royal vandals of the 19th Dynasty: Ramses II and his son Merneptah
apparently had no scruples about pillaging the most awe-inspiring temple on the necropolis in order to build one for themselves.
These two statues rise to a height of twenty meters above the plain. They were made of sandstone under the supervision of the Pharaoh's chief architect, Amenhotep son of Hapu, who transported them from the quarries on eight barges along the Nile during the annual flood. The one on the left is in a better stateof repair and shows Amenhotep III seated and flanked by his mother Metamwa and his wife Tiy. A third figure between the legs has been destroyed. On each side of the seat are representations of two Nile-gods winding the papyrus and lotus, symbols of Lower and Upper Egypt, round the hieroglyph for 'unite'.
The Colossi of Memnon were so named by the Romans who believed them to be statues of the legendary son of Aurora, goddess of the dawn. Memnon had slain Antilochus during the Trojan War the latter being the valiant son of Nestor - and had himself finally fallen at the hand of Achilles. The first visitors to the necropolis during the Roman epoch interpreted the strange sounds theyheard emerging fromthe statues at dawn each day as Memnon greeting his mother Aurora.
The myth grew and tourists flocked to see and hear for themselves. The number of Greek and Latin inscriptions, in both prose and verse, on the legs of the statues, attest to each having heard the sound for himself. Some said it was a musical note, others a trumpet blast. Others still said that they could hear voices chanting, or the sound of an angry god. It was a great tourist attraction. The curious were subsequently followed by the eminent. Physicists came-and exploded the myth utterly. It was, they said, the contracting of the stone during the cool nights following expansion during the day that caused a splitting off of particles from the surface.
Be that as it may the sound completely stopped when, in the time of Septimius Severus, the Colossi were repaired and some of the holes were filled in. It has never been heard since.

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