October 8, 2013

Deir El-bahari

Deir El-bahari
One thousand two hundred years after Imhotep another architect, Senmut, won himself a place in Egyptian history by designing another architectural masterpiece. Queen Hatshepsut who was more of a patron of the arts than a military commander, ordered a funerary monument to be built for her father Tutmose I and herself, choosing for the site a valley which had already been consecrated to the goddess Hathor but had then been abandoned. The great insight of her architect- minister was the way in which he exploited the rocks spread out in a fan shape behind the monument. The conception of the monument was thus new, indeed revolutionary. The temple, pointing to the east, consisted of a series of vast terraces which by means of ramps led to the sanctuary. Access to the first terrace was by means of an avenue lined with sphinxes and obelises. At the end of this terrace was a portico from which a ramp led to the second terrace which was also closed at the end by a portico.

Deir El-bahari
On one of the walls a series of beautiful bas-reliefs depicts the birth and childhood of the queen as well as the expedition she organised to the mysterious country of Punt which has been assumed to be somewhere in the centre of Africa since among the things depicted are giraffes, monkeys, panther skins and ivory objects. The left hand side of the valley on the other hand was occupied by the gigantic funerary temple of Montu-Hotep I who, five hundred years before Hatshepsut, had also had the idea of building his temple in the valley. He built his tomb according to ideas some of which were typical of the Old Kingdom while others foreshadowed the New Kingdom. At a later period a Christian convent installed itself in Queen Hat- shepsut’s monument. This was called the « northern convent» which gave the area its present name of Deir el-Bahari. We should be thankful that the convent was installed in the temple because it protected it from later depredations.

Deir El-bahari Map


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