July 13, 2013

Osirion Facts

Osirion
This separate structure lies behind the temple of Seti I, to the southwest. Its purpose is unclear and its architectural features are unique. It has variously been called a cenotaph, though it bears no resemblance to such a funerary structure, and a mortuary temple, though there is no other like it. In fact no other structure was surrounded by water.

Osirion Egypt
 The Osirion is sunk into a depression on a level with the water table. The central hall (i) is surrounded by ditches (2) around which are seventeen rock-hewn niches (3); in front of each was a ledge. The central hall is approached from east and west down a narrow flight of stairs, then led up from the channel of water to the ‘island’ at the centre. The main part of the structure was built by Seti I, and it was completed by Merenptah, son of Ramses II.

The ante-chamber (4) is decorated with scenes from the mortuary literature, relating to the journey through the under-world (page 87). The transverse chamber to the east (5) is also decorated with scenes from the mortuary literature; that to the west (6) has an arched ceiling and some badly damaged scenes of the cosmogony, featuring the sky-goddess Nut, the earth-god Geb, and Shu the god of the atmosphere.
Osirion Egypt
There seems to have been a long-standing tradition of the sanctity of the area around the Osirion. The 13th Dynasty Pharaoh Neferhotep (c. 1786 BC) erected a boundary stele at Abydos; it states that none should set foot there. Such a lingering tradition may have been the reason for Seti choosing to build his temple there. Even today the waters of the Osirion are regarded as advantageous to health. This recalls to mind the hundreds of texts connecting Osiris with Abydos, Osiris with water, and Osiris with rebirth, in which this most beloved figure of ancient Egyptian tradition ‘sleeps in the midst of water.’

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