April 14, 2012

Temples and Trading in Ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom

Temples and Trading

Temples In Egypt
The cult of Amun had gradually gained in importance during the Middle Kingdom under the patronage of the princes of Thebes. Now the more powerful New Kingdom kings associated the deity with their own fortunes. Hatshepsut had built her mortuary temple for Amun on the west bank, and further embellished the god's huge temple on the east bank. Her great major-domo, Senenmut, was heavily involved in all her building works and was also responsible for the erection of a pair of red granite obelisks to the god at Karnak. Their removal from the quarries at Aswan is recorded in inscriptions there, while their actual transport, butt-ended on low rafts calculated to be over 300 ft (100 m) long and 100 ft (30 m) wide, is represented in reliefs at the Deir el-Bahari temple. A second pair was cut later at Aswan and erected at Karnak under the direction of Senenmut's colleague, Amunhotep; one of them still stands in the temple.
The queen did not, however, build only to the greater glory of Amun at Thebes: there are many records of her restoring temples in areas of Middle Egypt that had been left devastated under the Hyksos.

Painting wall in Egypt
While Hatshepsut is not known for her military prowess, her reign is noted for its trading expeditions, particularly to the land of Punt (probably northern Somalia or Djibouti) - a record of which is carved on the walls of her temple. It shows the envoys setting off down the Red Sea (with fish accurately depicted in the water) and later their arrival in Punt, where they exchange goods and acquire the fragrant incense trees. Other trading and explorative excursions were mounted to the turquoise mines of Sinai, especially to the area of Serabit el-Khadim, where Hatshepsut's name has been recorded.


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