Egypt : Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Plan (Deir El Bahri)



Hatshepsut Temple (Deir El-Bahri)Luxor, Egypt:
Framed by steep cliffs and poised inelegant relief, stands the temple of Deir el Bahri . Justly deserving its name Most Splendid of All, it was the inspiration of the beautiful Queen Makere Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I. What strikes one. first when approaching this temple is its unity with nature. Far from being belittled by the stark purity of the cliffs behind, the temple was so designed that the cliffs form a backcloth.

Hatshepsut, whose royal line age to the Great Royal wife of Ahmose made her the only lawful heir among Thutmose I's children, his sons being by minor wives, was prevented by her sex from succeeding as Pharaoh. She consequently married her half-brother Thutmose II. During his reign and her subsequent co-regency with Thutmose III she retained power in her capable hands.
To appreciate the temple of Deir el Bahri one must know a little of the character of the beautiful woman who conceived it. She was indisputably iron-willed and not willing to let the fact that she was a woman stand in her way. She assumed a throne name-Makere. She wore a royal shirt and ceremonial beard, the badges of kingship.She proved her right to the throne in numerous reliefs of her divine birth.

Once Hatshepsut had secured her right to the throne she embarked on the building of temples and monuments and also on the restoration of damaged sanctuaries. This was perhaps especially important to her since she could hardly record her name in history through military conquest and sought to do so through architectural magnificence. The obelisks she had erected in Karnak temple were so placed that the glittering tips should inundate the Two Lands just as it appears in the horizon of heaven. And she planned her mortuary temple to be no less spectacular. Her architect Senmut, whilst drawing inspiration from the adjacent 11th Dynasty temple of the Pharaohs Mentuhotep II and III, carried it out on a very much larger scale. Adopting the idea of the terrace and adding an extra tier, he made such imposing use of it that he deserves special credit. He designed a terraced sanctuary comprising courts, one above the other with connecting inclined planes at the center. Shrines were dedicated to Hathor and Anubis and chambers devoted to the cult of the queen and her parents.


It was a labor of love, for Senmut, who first entered the service of Hatshepsut as tutor to her daughter Neferure, had ambitions and abilities that took him high on the ladder of success. He not only ended with no fewer than forty titles but conducted himself as a member of the royal family, enjoying privileges and prerogatives never before enjoyed by a man of humble birth. He was Hatshepsut's supporter and lover and doubtless also her political adviser. He was also granted a privilege accorded to no official before or after : that of constructing his tomb near the mortuary temple of his monarch.


Hatshepsut had two tombs. Her body was found in neither. The first she had dug in the Valley of the Kings, where all members of the royal family were laid to rest in the 18th Dynasty. The second, after she became monarch, was in the Taker Zeid Valley, south of Deir el Bahri and overlooking the Valley of the Kings. The former tomb was so designed that the corridors, burrowed 213 meters beneath the barrier hill, should lead to the tomb chamber itself directly beneath the mortuary temple. It was as though, while wishing to construct her tomb in the royal valley, she wanted at the same time to conform to the ancient practice of linking the tomb with the mortuary temple. She never achieved her goal. Bad rock or other causes led to the passage being continued in a swerve of 98 meters below ground level and then abandoned. It is devoid of relief and inscription and, apart from limestone slabs relating chapters from the Book of the Dead in red and black sketch form, is a rather pathetic and crude passage. In her red sand stone sarcophagus the body of her father Thutmose I had been laid to rest, until the priests of the 20th Dynasty removed his mummy to the shaft of Deir el Bahri for safe keeping. In fact Hatshepsut's sarcophagus had been enlarged to receive his body. Why was Thutmose I laid to rest in his daughter's tomb? Because his own had already been used by Thutmose II, who died prematurely after a short co-regency with Hatshepsut. And Hatshepsut's mummy?It probably suffered the same fate as her statues and representations in murals. For, when Thutmose III finally asserted himself and expelled her from the throne, his years of frustrated energy swelled forth in a campaign of destruction when he obliterated from every temple throughout the land, but from Deir el Bahri in particular, every reference to the female Pharaoh.

Later, when Akhenaten removed references to Amon from the temples of Egypt , the inscriptions of Deir el Bahri were further mutilated. Ramses II endeavored to restore them but the workmanship was inferior. And in this condition the beautiful temple remained, with only minor alterations taking place until Christian monks setup a convent there. Sadly, but understandably, they too scraped the walls and added to the overall desecration.

Explore Deir el Bahri (Hatshepsut's Temple) in details:
Lower and Central Courts - Hatshepsut's Temple - Deir El Bahri - Part II
Punt Colonnade - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part III
Shrine of Hathor - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part IV
Birth Colonnade - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part V
Srnall and Upper Courts, Sanctuary - Hatshepsut Temple part VI

Egypt : Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut Plan (Deir El Bahri)



Hatshepsut Temple (Deir El-Bahri)Luxor, Egypt:
Framed by steep cliffs and poised inelegant relief, stands the temple of Deir el Bahri . Justly deserving its name Most Splendid of All, it was the inspiration of the beautiful Queen Makere Hatshepsut, daughter of Thutmose I. What strikes one. first when approaching this temple is its unity with nature. Far from being belittled by the stark purity of the cliffs behind, the temple was so designed that the cliffs form a backcloth.

Hatshepsut, whose royal line age to the Great Royal wife of Ahmose made her the only lawful heir among Thutmose I's children, his sons being by minor wives, was prevented by her sex from succeeding as Pharaoh. She consequently married her half-brother Thutmose II. During his reign and her subsequent co-regency with Thutmose III she retained power in her capable hands.
To appreciate the temple of Deir el Bahri one must know a little of the character of the beautiful woman who conceived it. She was indisputably iron-willed and not willing to let the fact that she was a woman stand in her way. She assumed a throne name-Makere. She wore a royal shirt and ceremonial beard, the badges of kingship.She proved her right to the throne in numerous reliefs of her divine birth.

Once Hatshepsut had secured her right to the throne she embarked on the building of temples and monuments and also on the restoration of damaged sanctuaries. This was perhaps especially important to her since she could hardly record her name in history through military conquest and sought to do so through architectural magnificence. The obelisks she had erected in Karnak temple were so placed that the glittering tips should inundate the Two Lands just as it appears in the horizon of heaven. And she planned her mortuary temple to be no less spectacular. Her architect Senmut, whilst drawing inspiration from the adjacent 11th Dynasty temple of the Pharaohs Mentuhotep II and III, carried it out on a very much larger scale. Adopting the idea of the terrace and adding an extra tier, he made such imposing use of it that he deserves special credit. He designed a terraced sanctuary comprising courts, one above the other with connecting inclined planes at the center. Shrines were dedicated to Hathor and Anubis and chambers devoted to the cult of the queen and her parents.


It was a labor of love, for Senmut, who first entered the service of Hatshepsut as tutor to her daughter Neferure, had ambitions and abilities that took him high on the ladder of success. He not only ended with no fewer than forty titles but conducted himself as a member of the royal family, enjoying privileges and prerogatives never before enjoyed by a man of humble birth. He was Hatshepsut's supporter and lover and doubtless also her political adviser. He was also granted a privilege accorded to no official before or after : that of constructing his tomb near the mortuary temple of his monarch.


Hatshepsut had two tombs. Her body was found in neither. The first she had dug in the Valley of the Kings, where all members of the royal family were laid to rest in the 18th Dynasty. The second, after she became monarch, was in the Taker Zeid Valley, south of Deir el Bahri and overlooking the Valley of the Kings. The former tomb was so designed that the corridors, burrowed 213 meters beneath the barrier hill, should lead to the tomb chamber itself directly beneath the mortuary temple. It was as though, while wishing to construct her tomb in the royal valley, she wanted at the same time to conform to the ancient practice of linking the tomb with the mortuary temple. She never achieved her goal. Bad rock or other causes led to the passage being continued in a swerve of 98 meters below ground level and then abandoned. It is devoid of relief and inscription and, apart from limestone slabs relating chapters from the Book of the Dead in red and black sketch form, is a rather pathetic and crude passage. In her red sand stone sarcophagus the body of her father Thutmose I had been laid to rest, until the priests of the 20th Dynasty removed his mummy to the shaft of Deir el Bahri for safe keeping. In fact Hatshepsut's sarcophagus had been enlarged to receive his body. Why was Thutmose I laid to rest in his daughter's tomb? Because his own had already been used by Thutmose II, who died prematurely after a short co-regency with Hatshepsut. And Hatshepsut's mummy?It probably suffered the same fate as her statues and representations in murals. For, when Thutmose III finally asserted himself and expelled her from the throne, his years of frustrated energy swelled forth in a campaign of destruction when he obliterated from every temple throughout the land, but from Deir el Bahri in particular, every reference to the female Pharaoh.

Later, when Akhenaten removed references to Amon from the temples of Egypt , the inscriptions of Deir el Bahri were further mutilated. Ramses II endeavored to restore them but the workmanship was inferior. And in this condition the beautiful temple remained, with only minor alterations taking place until Christian monks setup a convent there. Sadly, but understandably, they too scraped the walls and added to the overall desecration.

Explore Deir el Bahri (Hatshepsut's Temple) in details:
Lower and Central Courts - Hatshepsut's Temple - Deir El Bahri - Part II
Punt Colonnade - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part III
Shrine of Hathor - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part IV
Birth Colonnade - Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut (Deir El Bahri) - Part V
Srnall and Upper Courts, Sanctuary - Hatshepsut Temple part VI

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