September 30, 2013

Temple of Ramses III

Temple of Ramses III
This small temple, designed and built in the lifetime of a single pharaoh, is a typical New Kingdom temple. It comprises an entrance pylon with two towers flanked by statues, a central doorwrav leading to an open court (surrounded by colonnades), and a covered terrace to the rear. From the terrace a doorway leads to the Hypostyle Hall that is roofed; the difference in height between the central and side columns is made up by square pillars which allow light into the otherwise darkened hall. Beyond lies the Sanctuary, or Holy of Holies, where the sacred statue of the god was kept. In this temple there were three sanctuaries, for Amon, Mut and Khonsu.

Temple of Ramses III
In a typical temple, the pavement rises progressively and the roof lowers from the entrance to the sanctuary; this is symbolic of the primaeval hill rising from the eternal ocean. The temple also gets progressively darker, from the open court to the inner sanctuary; from the known towards the mysterious. Only the pharaoh, or the high priest in his stead, was permitted to enter the darkened sanctuary, and to cast his eyes on the statue of the god.

The inner walls of a temple were usually covered with reliefs depicting religious scenes, ritual celebrations and sacrificial offerings in honour of the gods. The outer walls were decorated with heroic scenes of war and conquest.

Ramses III recorded his victories on the entrance pylon (a). The left-hand tower shows him wearing the Double Crown. He holds a group of prisoners by the hair with one hand and raises a club to smite them with the other. Amon stands before him, handing him the Sword of Victory and delivering to him three rows of conquered cities. These are represented as a human figure rising out of a symbolic fort that bears the name of the city. On the right-hand tower the theme is repeated but with Ramses wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. Two statues flank the doorway over which Ramses, in relief, receives the symbol of Life from Amon.

The open court is surrounded by covered passages on three sides, each supported by eight square pillars with statues of Ramses III in the form of Osiris before each. The terrace to the rear has four square pillars and four columns with bud capitals. The reliefs on the left-hand rear wall of the pylon show Ramses receiving the hieroglyph for Jubilee from the enthroned Amon. On the right- hand wall is a procession of standard-bearers and Ramses leading the priests who bear the sacred barges of the Theban triad.

Temple of Ramses III
The Hypostyle Hall, which has eight columns with papyrus-bud capitals, leads to the three sanctuaries. The reliefs show Ramses making offerings before the sacred barge of each god: Amon in the central chamber, Mut to the left and Khonsu to the right.

Returning to the Great Court, we turn east and approach the Second Pylon (P. 2) that dates to the beginning of the 19th Dynasty. The core, as already mentioned, contained thousands of the sand-stone blocks from the Sun Temples. Also buried were discarded statues, such as the huge red granite statue of Ramses II, usurped by Pinedjem, son-in-law of the high priest of Amon. It was buried under the ruins of the northern tower and now stands to the left of the central doorway (b). A small figure of Nefertari, one of the most complete statues ever found of this beautiful queen, stands in front of his legs.

The Great Hypostyle Hall (4), with its 134 columns arranged in sixteen rows, covers an area of 4,983 square metres. It is the largest single chamber of any temple in the world. The double row of central columns, which lead towards the sanctuary, are higher than the side columns. Their shafts are smooth, and they soar to a height of twenty-one metres. The spreading calyx capitals retain much of their original colour, as do the massive architraves. The shorter side columns have bud capitals. The discrepancy in height is made up by square pillars between the steps of the roof that provided the only light when the hall had its original roofing.

The Hypostyle Hall was decorated throughout. All the walls and the shafts of the columns were covered with reliefs and inscriptions showing adoration of the deities, especially Amon-Ra. Seti I was responsible for the entire northern half of the hall, and Ramses II built the southern portion, but many other 19th Dynasty pharaohs recorded their names there.

On the outside of the Hypostyle Hall are some important historical reliefs. On the southern wall is a record of Ramses II’s Battle of Kadesh, which contains the actual text of the treaty with the Hittites. On the northern wall are scenes of Seti I’s battles which took place in Lebanon, southern Palestine and Syria. At (c), in the upper row, we can see Seti I in his chariot shooting arrows at the enemy charioteers, cavalry and infantry who are depicted in flight. Some of the inhabitants of the conquered territory take refuge in a fortress surrounded by water. To the right Seti appears in three scenes: he binds captives, marches behind his chariot dragging four captives, and leads rows of captured Syrians to Amon, Mut and Khonsu.

In the lower row there is a triumphal march through Palestine. Seti stands in his chariot. The princes of Palestine honour him with uplifted arms while he appears to turn towards them in acknowledgement. Further along the wall is the battle against bedouin tribes in southern Palestine: some of the survivors flee to the mountains. The victorious Seti returns from Syria, along with captives. The boundary between Asia and Egypt is marked by a canal. On the Egyptian side priests and officials welcome Seti, and he delivers the captives and the booty to Amon-Ra. To the right of the doorway, at (d), are three rows of battle reliefs: the storming of Kadesh in the top row; the battle against the Libyans (with pig-tails and feathers) in the middle row; and the battle against the Hittites in northern Syria in the bottom row. On both sides of the doorway are huge reliefs of Amon-Ra who, in return for the tribute and the several rows of captured territories, which he holds by cords, presents the Sword of Victory to Seti.
The Third Pylon (P. 3) was built by Amenhotep III, and it once formed the entrance to the temple. During drainage operations in recent years, prior to reconstruction of the pylon, it was discovered that hundreds of blocks of earlier structures had been buried in its core. Among those that have been reconstructed are a magnificent 12th Dynasty pavilion built by Senusert I of fine-grained limestone, and an alabaster shrine of the reigns of Amenhotep I and Thutmose I.

Temple of Ramses III
Thutmose I ascended the throne early in the 18th Dynasty. He made the first major alterations to the original shrine of Amon-Ra built by the pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom, and also erected the first pair of obelisks at Karnak; one still stands in the Central Court between the third and fourth pylons.

Pylons P.4 and P.5, were built by Thutmose I; Hatshepsut, his daughter and builder of the famous mortuary temple of Deir el Bahri (page 72), erected another pair of huge obelisks between them.

Hatshepsut’s standing obelisk, erected in the sixteenth year of her reign, was made of a single block of pink granite and rises to a height of twenty-nine and a half metres. It is one of the two tallest standing obelisks (the other is in Rome outside St John Lateran). The inscription records that it was quarried from Aswan, transported, and erected in seven months; a considerable feat in view of the fact that it weighed some 323 tons. The base of the second obelisk is still in situ; the upper part is near the Sacred Lake (page 70) and fragments have been taken to the museums of Boston, Liverpool, Glasgow and Sidney.

Passing through the doorway of the Fifth Pylon (P.5) we enter Thutmose I’s second colonnade. It is now very much in ruin. Beyond rises the sixth and smallest pylon (P.6) erected by Thutmose III and restored by Seti I. On each face are lists of the tribes of Nubia, Kush and Syria, which were subjugated by Thutmose Ill’s army. The conquered territories are, as usual, shown as an elliptical hieroglyph character surmounted by a human bust with arms bound behind the back.

Beyond the sixth pylon is the Hall of Records; its characteristic feature is a pair of stately granite pillars, one bearing the lotus of Upper Egypt and the other the papyrus of Lower Egypt. Together they symbolise unity between the Two Lands. This hall, constructed by Thutmose III, was where the priests of the temple kept detailed records of the sources of gifts and booty from the conquered countries. Two fine statues of the god Amon and goddess Amenet, with the features of King Tutankhamon and Queen Ankhesamon, stand to the north of the hall.

Temple of Ramses III
The Sanctuary (e) lies directly to the rear. The inner shrine is made of pink granite and carved with fine reliefs. The ceiling is adorned with stars on a black background, and the representations are of Philip Arrhidaeus, the half-brother of Alexander the Great who succeeded him to the throne, being crowned, presented to the gods and seated before an offering table.

A corridor runs around the sanctuary, enabling us to view the finely carved reliefs, particularly on the outer southern wall (to the left of the sanctuary). These are in four rows showing the pharaoh undergoing purification with water and other rituals attending his entrance into the sanctuary. There are also offering scenes and a fine representation of the sacred barge of Amon.

The Monastery of Deir el Muharraq

The Monastery of Deir el Muharraq
This monastery is situated about sixty-five kilometres south-west of Assiut and is best approached from al Qusia. It is the largest monastery in Upper Egypt, long known for its charitable work among the villagers. Unlike many desert monasteries that are totally isolated, Deir el Muharraq is located at the edge of the agricultural land; the monastery buildings are contained within a surrounding wall of irregular shape.

Monastery of Deir el Muharraq
Deir el Muharraq belongs to the group of monasteries founded by St Pachom (Aba Bakhum in Arabic) and his successors. Its history is not clear. According to tradition, the Church of the Blessed Virgin was the first church to be built in Egypt (the monks claim that it was constructed after St Mark’s arrival in Egypt about AD 60). It was built on the site of a cave where the Holy Family is said to have stayed for three years. Biblical scholars and historians agree that it was in a cave at Deir el Muharraq that Joseph dreamed that an angel of the Lord appeared, informing him of Herod’s death and bidding him to take Jesus and Mary and return to Palestine.

Monastery of Deir el Muharraq
The Church of the Blessed Virgin is situated more than a metre below the level of the court. The altar stone, which bears the date 11 December, 747, is shaped like a stele. St Peter and St Paul built another church above the original one, only part of which remains. It was demolished in the nineteenth century, when the new Church of St George was built on the site.

Monastery of Deir el Muharraq

The Aswan Dam Facts

The Aswan Dam
For thousands of years, leadership in Egypt has been associated with that great source of life the Nile. From the first pharaoh, Narmer (3100 BC), who traditionally diverted the river at Memphis, to Nektanebos (360 BC), the last Egyptian pharaoh, canals were cleared and irrigation projects were carried out. When the Persians conquered Egypt they repaired waterways. The Greeks reclaimed land. The Romans built aqueducts. The Mamluks constructed aqueducts and storage systems.

Aswan Dam

In 1842 the Mohamed Aly Barrage was built at the apex of the Delta north of Cairo. This first barrage was followed by others: at Aswan, Esna, and Assiut. The first Aswan Dam was constructed between 1899-1902. It was raised in 1907-1912, and again in 1929-1934, at which time 5,000 million cubic metres of water was stored in a reservoir that backed upstream to Wadi Haifa.

The High Dam (Saad el Aali)
The High Dam, situated six-and-a-half kilometres south of the Aswan Dam, was the cornerstone of the country’s economic development envisioned by Gamal Abdel Nasser. It was built during the years 1960-71 and was largely financed and supervised by the Soviet Union after the withdrawal of US and British financial aid for the project. Thirty thousand Egyptians worked on shifts day and night for ten years, under the supervision of two thousand technicians. A total of 17,000,000 cubic metres of rock was excavated, and 42,700,000 cubic metres of construction material was used.

The High Dam
The High Dam is a rock-filled dam - an artificial mountain of earth and rock over a cement and clay core. It is 3,600 metres long, 114 metres high, and the width at the base is 980 metres. The diversion tunnels on the western bank of the river (each with a diameter of sixteen-and-a-half metres), were hewn out of granite to a length of 1,950 metres. On the eastern bank are the High Dam’s twelve turbines, each with 120,000 HP. The annual hydro-electric capacity is ten billion KW hours.

High Dam lake was formed when the thwarted Nile swelled back upon itself for hundreds of kilometres where Nubia once stood. It is the world’s largest artificial lake. It extends for over 500 kilometres, 150 of which are in Sudanese territory. The average width is ten kilometres, and there are areas where it spreads across thirty kilometres. The storage capacity is 157 billion cubic metres.

Advantages The primary purpose of the High Dam is to expand Egypt’s arable land, provide hydro-electric power for the benefit of industrial development, and ensure a substantial rise in the standard of living. Due to this long-term storage of water, regular irrigation is possible, and Egypt’s productivity has been increased by over twenty per cent: from 800,000 hectares of reclaimed desert land, and from the increased yield resulting from the change-over from a one- crop to a three-crop cycle. The latter was made possible by the stabilisation of the river, which overcomes the danger of high and low floods and also enables permanent navigability.

The loss of silt has been compensated for by fertilizer, one of the many industries provided with hydro-electric power from the dam. Another industry is a shale brick factory that will replace the age-old brick made of Nile silt.

Disadvantages An increase in the arable land has led to a corresponding increase in the incidence of bilharzia which can now, fortunately, be controlled. Predatory fish from the Red Sea, no longer hindered by the fresh water flow that acted as a barrier, have been seen in the Mediterranean for the first time; the resulting loss to fisheries is partly compensated by a large fishing industry on the Lake. The loss of the annual flood, and the constant higher average water level, has resulted in increased salinity of the soil. This has affected crops and ancient monuments; the agricultural land, especially in the Delta, now requires constant irrigation and drainage; and the ancient monuments of Upper Egypt are suffering some damage from seepage and salt erosion.

The most tragic loss has, of course, been Nubia. No less than 100,000 persons had to be uprooted and relocated in Upper Egypt and the Sudan when plans for the High Dam went ahead and it was clear that their homes were destined to disappear forever. Ironically, it is due to the disappearance of Nubia that we know more about its history than we do of many sites in Egypt, including Luxor! For, during the years 1960-69, the doomed land was subject to the most concentrated archaeological operations ever mounted. Scholars, engineers, architects, and photographers from over thirty countries fought against time, and some great monuments were saved (page 146) or documented for future study. Countless objects were excavated and removed to safety. However, much of Nubia’s heritage in the form of towns, tombs, temples, churches, graffiti and inscriptions, has been engulfed by the waters.

September 29, 2013

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir el Bahri)

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut (Deir el Bahri)
The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut is the most beautiful in the necropolis, and the queen herselfis one of the most colourful figures in ancient Egyptian history. She was the daughter of Thutmose I and the only one of his children of direct royal lineage, being the child of the Great Royal Wife, Queen Ahmose. Her two half- brothers were by lesser wives. However, Hatshepsut ruled concurrently with Thutmose II and his son, Thutmose III.

Temple of Hatshepsut
For half a century (c. 1500-1450 BC) there occurred what is usually regarded as a feud in the family of the Thutmosides: evidence of pharaonic vanity (Hatshepsut removed part of the roof of her father’s colonnade at Karnak in order to erect her great granite obelisks), petty jealousy (Thutmose III later built a wall to hide her obelisks and removed her name in order to insert his own), and what might be seen as vicious acts of frustration. Hatshepsut’s body has never been identified with certainty. Her red sandstone sarcophagus had been enlarged to receive the body of her father, Thutmose I, while her own sarcophagus contained the mummy of Thutmose II, who appears to have died prematurely, after a short co-regency with Hatshepsut. Then, when Thutmose III finally came to the throne, he obliterated all references to the ‘female pharaoh’ from every temple in the land, particularly from Deir el Bahri.

Hatsheptsut is also a romantic figure, for her name is closely linked with that of her architect, Senmut, who designed her terraced sanctuary. He rose from the position of tutor to her daughter to one of great influence in the court. In fact, he was granted the privilege of constructing his tomb below the mortuary temple of his queen, and inscriptions in some parts of her temple show that they were intimately related.

Hatshepsut, as pharaoh, wore a royal kilt and the ceremonial beard, which were symbols of kingship. Her temple was designed, like the adjacent i ith Dynasty mortuary temple of Mentuhotep the Great, with terraced courts. These rose, one above the other, by connecting inclined planes at the centre. Ascending from the Lower Court we pass through two colonnades. The reliefs to the south show the transportation of two obelisks by river. In one register they can be seen on the deck of a barge, and in the other a trumpeter leads a group of archers to the inauguration ceremony.

Temple of Hatshepsut
The Central Court (A) was where Hatshepsut planted the incense trees that were imported in small tubs from the Land of Punt. The whole story is related in relief in the famed Punt Colonnade to the left. The corresponding colonnade to the right is the Birth Colonnade that records Hatshepsut’s divine birth.

The Punt Colonnade (B) commemorates the expedition that Hatshepsut made to Punt, on the Somali coast, under the orders of Amon. On the left-hand wall (a) is the village of Punt. The houses are constructed on stilts, with ladders leading to the entrances. The inhabitants of Punt greet the Egyptian envoy and his officials, and show them products for barter. The fat, ungainly Queen of Punt is there, along with the donkey on which she travelled. With their inherent wit, the ancient Egyptians inscribed a text near the donkey reading: ‘This is the donkey that carried his wife’.

A scene of the Egyptian fleet setting sail, and arriving in Punt can be seen on the rear wall (b). The incense trees are transported aboard the vessel in tubs. At the centre of the wall (c), Hatshepsut (defaced) offers the fruits of her expedition to Amon: incense trees, wild game,-cattle, electrum and bows.

The Shrine of Hathor (D) lies to the left of the Punt Colonnade. It has two roofed-in colonnades that are supported by Hathor columns, leading to the shrine, which comprises three chambers, one behind the other. The second colonnade has some interesting reliefs. On the right-hand wall Thutmose III, holding an oar, stands in the presence of different deities. There are rows of ships with canopies and thrones. It is a festal scene with soldiers and fan- bearers. On the rear wall is a representation of Thutmose III (replacing Hatshepsut) having his hand licked by the Hathor cow. And, on the left-hand wall (d) is a boat containing the Hathor cow with the monarch drinking from the udder.

In the first chamber of the shrine (e) Hatshepsut (or Thutmose III) is represented with the deities. The colour, especially on the ceiling, is excellent. The second chamber (f) has a fine relief of Hatshepsut (scraped) making offerings to Hathor, who stands on the sacred barge beneath a canopy. A little nude boy holds a sistrum in front of the erased figure of the queen. The third chamber (g) has an unusual pointed roof, and the wall reliefs show Hatshepsut (on each of the side walls) drinking from the udder of the cow, Hathor, with Amon standing before them. On the rear wall the queen stands before Hathor and Amon, with the latter holding the hieroglyph for Life (Ankh) to her face.

The Birth Colonnade (C) is adorned with a series of reliefs ‘proving’ Hatshepsut’s right to the throne by divine birth. On the. rear wall (h) is a scene showing a council of gods in the presence of Amon. Then Thoth, god of wisdom, leads Amon (figure erased), to the bedchamber of Queen Ahmose (i). The seated Amon faces the queen and impregnates her with the Ankh, the breath of life, held to her nostrils. Near the centre of the wall (j) the queen mother is large with child. She stands, dignified in her pregnancy, smiling with contentment as she is led to the birth room.

The scene in which Amon and the queen mother are borne to the heavens by two goddesses (k) is badly damaged. In the scene of the actual birth (also badly damaged), the queen mother sits on a chair that is placed on a sort of lion-headed bed held aloft by various gods (1). The scene of Hatshepsut and her ka being fashioned on a potter’s wheel by the ram-headed god Khnum has also been erased, but in the scene towards the end of the wall they pass through the hands of various goddesses who record the divine birth. Witnesses are the ibis-headed Thoth, the ram-headed Khnum and the frog-headed Heket.

Temple of Hatshepsut
To the right of the Birth Colonnade is the well-preserved Shrine of Anubis (E). On the right-hand wall (m) - above a small recess is a scene of the queen (damaged) making a wine-offering to the hawk-headed Sokar, a god of the dead. On the rear wall offerings are made to Amon (to the left) and Anubis (to the right) with the sacrificial gifts heaped up before each.

The Upper Court (F) is being reconstructed and is closed to visitors. In the open-roofed chamber to the right (G) is an ancient altar for the cult of Ra, the Sun-god. To the left (H) is a sacrificial hall. The Sanctuary (I) is hewn out of the natural rock, and comprises two chambers with large recesses to the sides. The innermost chamber was hollowed out of the mountain in Ptolemaic times, and was dedicated to the cults of two of Egypt’s wise men: Imhotep, the builder of Zoser’s Step Pyramid at Sakkara (2686 BC) and Amenhotep, son of Hapu, the architect who lived in the reign of Amenhotep III (1390 BC). Both these wise men were worshipped as gods of healing in Ptolemaic times, and it would seem that Hatshepsut, builder of the mortuary temple, had been forgotten. The Ptolemies regarded the building as a mystical sanctuary connected with these two wise men and, in fact, Deir el Bahri came to be regarded as a place of healing. In the Christian era the upper terrace was converted into a monastery, which gave the temple its name: Deir (monastery) el Bahri (the northern).

St Paul in Ancient Egypt

St Paul
The first of the great persecutions started in the reign of Trajan Decius (249-251). The number of Egyptians who escaped to the deserts increased. Among them was St Paul, the Theban, a native Egyptian who spoke Greek only with the greatest difficulty (as distinct from the Hellenized Egyptians in Alexandria). He chose a remote site on the Red Sea coast, where he founded a hermitage.

St Paul

By this time thousands of ‘anchorites’ (derived from the Greek root ‘retire’ or ‘withdraw’) were either living alone or in small groups, isolated from one another. Slowly individual ascetics started to draw near to one another to look for guidance from a master, and St Paul gave instruction in an atmosphere of security and spirituality. After St Paul came St Anthony, who also chose a site near the Red Sea rather than the Nile valley. His famous biography was written by his friend Athanasius, eloquent deacon of the Bishop of Alexandria (AD 325) and his life and teachings strongly influenced those of the desert fathers.

St Paul
During the brutal persecutions of Diocletian, who reigned from 284 to 305, many chose martydom rather than make offerings to the hated emperors. There is little doubt that Christianity flourished on the willingness to suffer even death for a principle. In a world of want and violence, a religion that was pure and humble and preaching a message of hope (the promise of a blessed life after death) was embraced with enthusiasm.

Tomb of Sirenput II

Tomb of Sirenput II
This tomb, belonging to the grandson of Sirenput I, who was a prince in the reigns of Amenemhet II and Senusert II, is one of the most well-preserved of the Middle Kingdom. It is entered through a courtyard leading to a narrow passage, an excavated hall with six elegant square undecorated columns, and a corridor with three recesses on each side, each containing a statue of the deceased sculpted from the living rock.

Tomb of Sirenput II
The small hall at the end of the corridor has four pillars and a recess at the rear. The condition of the reliefs in the recess is excellent, both the delicately worked hieroglyphics and the delightful family scenes. To the rear, the deceased is seated at a table. His son stands before him bearing flowers. On the right-hand wall is a representation of his mother seated at a table with the deceased to her right. On the left-hand wall is a similar scene with his wife and son.

Granite Quarries (Eastern Bank)
Situated in the eastern desert, directly to the south of Aswan, are the ancient quarries of granite in hues of red, yellow, brown and dark grey. Sculptors and builders for thousands of years drew their supplies from here.

Tomb of Sirenput II
The earliest pharaoh to exploit the quarry was Den of the ist Dynasty, who used blocks for the floor of his cenotaph at Abydos. The 2nd Dynasty pharaoh Khasekhemui used it for his fine temple at Nekhen (Hierakonopolis). Then, in the Old Kingdom the quarry was fully exploited, especially by the 4th Dynasty pharaohs who raised their monuments at Giza: nine great slabs of fifty-four tons each were extracted from the quarries for the ceiling of the so-called King’s Chamber of the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). Red granite was choscn for the Valley, or Granite, Temple of Khafre (Cheph- ren). Black granite w'as quarried and despatched for the lower reaches of the outer casing of the Pyramid of Menkaure (Myce- rinus). Thenceforth, right through to Graeco-Roman times, the quarry was in use.

Many blocks were abandoned in various stages of completion, which enables us to see the process by which the stone was extracted. Holes were bored along a prescribed straight line. It was once thought that wooden wedges were driven into these, watered and left to expand until it split the stone. Recent excavations, however, have changed our understanding of the quarrying industry. Balls of dolerite, the hardest of stone, weighing up to five-and-a- half kilogrammes, have been found in their hundreds in the area of the quarry, and it is now believed that these were attached to rammers and simultaneously struck with great force by the quarry workers. They were also used to pound and dress the surface of the stone.

The system must have been reasonably sure because blocks were very often decorated on three sides.before being detached from the natural rock.

The huge Unfinished Obelisk, lying in the northern quarry, is still attached to the bedrock. The reason for its abandonment is that flaws were found in the stone. An attempt was then made to extract smaller obelisks from it, but these projects, too, were abandoned. There is no indication for whom it was intended. The only marks on the surface are those of the workmen. Had it ever been completed, it would have weighed some 1,162 tons and have soared to a height of forty-two metres.

In the southern quarry, rough-hewn blocks show that statues and sarcophagi were roughly shaped before transportation in order to cut down the weight. In the case of the former, the sculptor would begin to hew out the feet at a point several inches above the base of the rock, leaving the lower segment as firm support fc/r the figure. In this quarry there are two rough-shaped sarcophagi that date to the Graeco-Roman period, a rock bearing an inscription of Amenhotep III, and an unfinished colossus of a king (or Osiris) grasping a crook and flail.

September 28, 2013

Mortuary Temple of Seti I (Kurna)

Mortuary Temple of Seti I (Kurna)
This temple was built by Seti I in reverent memory of his father, Ramses I, w ho ruled for little more than a year, and, of course, for his own cult. It was completed by his son, Ramses II. Only the rear part of the temple survives, but it contains some of the finest relief work in the Nile valley. Seti I started an art and architectural revival during his reign. He wished to return to the traditional canons of Egyptian art after the so-called Amarna period, and his two temples, at Kurna and Abydos (page 21), have delicate, classical reliefs.

Temple of Seti I
The first court was totally destroyed, and a row of columns are all that remain of the colonnade of the second court. To the left and right of the central doorway are figures of men and women alternately. Those to the south (a) have lotuses on their heads, representing Upper Egypt; the figures to the north have papyri, representing Lower Egypt. All bear flowers, cakes and caskets.

Temple of Seti I
The Hypostyle Hall (A) is flanked by small chambers on each side. The walls between them have reliefs of Seti I and Ramses II with the various deities. At (b) and (c) Seti is nourished by Mut, wife of Amon-Ra, and Hathor, respectively.

The fine-textured limestone of this temple was worked with flair and precision. The reliefs of the side chambers are beautifully carved. In (d) is a scene of the enthroned Seti between Amon-Ra and his consort Mut on one side, and Ptah and his consort Sekhmet, on the other. In (e) Seti makes offerings to Osiris; Isis, Hathor and Nephthys stand behind the throne. In (f) the enthroned, deified, Seti receives offerings from other gods; they include Wepwawat, the wolf-jackal of Abydos.

Temple of Seti I
In the Sanctuary (B) there are four simple square pillars and the base of the sacred barge. The reliefs show' Seti making offerings.

(Seti I’s battles against the Libyans, Hittites and Syrians, would have been depicted on the pylons, which have been destroyed.)

Christian Period of Ancient Egypt

Christian Period
Background
Upper Egypt is studded with monasteries, hermitages and churches, some of which date to the 4th and 5th centuries. As a descriptive guide to the antiquities of Upper Egypt, this book would therefore fall short of its purpose if it did not cover, however selectively, some of the early Christian monuments that lie within easy access of the sites described, and identify some of the pharaonic temples that were converted into churches.

Christian Period of Ancient Egypt
The historical background given below is by no means a comprehensive summary of the development of Christianity in Egypt, which, according to tradition, was introduced by St Mark in the reign of Nero (AD 54-68); nor does it enter into the theological disputes that ultimately led to the separation of the Egyptian Christians (Orthodox Copts) from the Eastern Church of the Roman Empire. Its purpose is to trace the cultural continuum; to show why the Egyptians under Roman occupation were so ready to embrace a doctrine that offered hope; to indicate some details of iconography - the art of religious illustration - that were drawn from indigenous sources; and to identify certain architectural features which reflect inspiration from earlier times.

Christian Period of Ancient Egypt

September 27, 2013

Mortuary Temples in Luxor

Mortuary Temples
The Colossus of Memnon and its companion
These two somewhat weathered seated statues greet visitors to the necropolis. They are all that remain of what was once the largest mortuary temple in the necropolis, that of Amenhotep III. It is somewhat difficult, today, to imagine a temple which, with its gardens and lake, extended from the Ramesseum to Medinet Habu.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor
Amenhotep’s mortuary temple was probably badly damaged from a high flood. Since then time and neglect wrought havoc with it. In the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II’s son Merenptah used some of the fallen blocks for his own, neighbouring, temple. Finally, nothing was left but these two lonely sentinels on the plain, and, a quarter of a mile away to the rear, a huge sandstone stelae weighing some 150 tons, referring to the dedication of the temple.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor
When an earthquake caused the upper part of the northern statue to fall down, cracks and holes appeared in it. At dawn, when the breeze blew through these, it created a musical sound, which the Greeks and Romans explained in their mythology: when Memnon fell at Troy he reappeared at Thebes as a singing stone statue. At sunrise he would greet his mother Aurora with a plaintive song. Aurora, on hearing the sound, shed tears in the form of the morning dew on the cold stone of the statue. When the cracks were filled in during the reign of Septimius Severus, AD 193, the sound was no longer heard.

Mortuary Temples in Luxor

Mortuary Temple of Ramses II

Mortuary Temple of Ramses II (The Ramesseum)
Ramses II left a greater mark in history than many other accomplished and successful pharaohs, such as Ahmose (who won the war of liberation against the Hyksos) and Thutmose III (who won a great empire). The reason is that Ramses II had one of the longest reigns in Egyptian history. He ruled for 67 years and built more numerous monuments, of greater size, than any other pharaoh. He repeated, in huge and detailed relief, his victory during the Battle of Kadesh in the,{|tR year of his reign.

Temple of Ramses II
The history of the batnC'may be summarised as follows: Ramses II’s objective was to capture the Hittite stronghold of Kadesh 011 the Orontes river in Syria. He encountered little resistance until he approached the north-west of Kadesh, when his intelligence brought twro prisoners of war (who were, in fact, spies). They told Ramses that the Hittite King Muwatallish had retreated in fear of the advancing Egyptian army, and Ramses II was delighted to hear this.

Without taking even the most elementary precautions, he pitched camp, making ready for his march on Kadesh the next day. But the Hittite army lay hidden beyond the crest of a hill. They took Ramses completely by surprise and, in fact, his first brigade was completely cut off from the rest of his forces. It was fortunate for Ramses that the Hittite army was not as well organised as the Egyptian. After several chariot charges, and the timely arrival of his other battalions, the tables were turned, and Ramses drove the enemy back. Although, he did not achieve his objective, Kadesh, neither did he suffer a defeat.

A poem was written about Ramses II’s military prowess by an unknown poet, who lauded his bravery and victory. He liked it so much that he had it inscribed on his monuments of which there were many; from Nubia to the Mediterranean he was honoured as hero.

Ramses II suppressed some Nubian revolts during his reign, and also carried out a campaign in Libya. His greatest accomplishment however, is the one about which least is known; his protection of Egypt from a threat from the sea. Recent excavations along the Mediterranean coast have revealed a series of fortresses which he built, and which achieved their purpose. The battles against the ‘People of the Sea', only occurred some thirty years after Ramses II’s death, in the reign of his successor, Ramses III.

Both towers of the Entrance Pylon are badly damaged. The inside of the northern tower (a) has scenes of the Egyptian camp and the southern tower (b) scenes of the battle.

Temple of Ramses II

Towards the south-eastern corner of the First Court (A) lie the remains of what was once the biggest colossus of the pharaoh (c) and, without doubt, one of the most enormous pieces of stone ever fashioned. The remains of this perfectly sculpted and polished granite statue include the chest, upper arm and foot. Careful measurements have been made and it is estimated that the statue’s total height must have been over seventeen metres, and its weight over a thousand tons. It was transported from the quarries of Aswan in one piece.

The Second Court (B) had colonnades on all four sides and a terrace to the rear. On each side of the central stairway leading to the terrace were monoliths of the king (d). Facing the court were still more statues of Ramses II backed by Osiride pillars. The representations on the shafts of the columns show him sacrificing to the deities.

To the right of the doorway (e), are more scenes of the Battle of Kadesh (lower registers) with Ramses in his chariot, and the enemy pierced by arrows or trampled beneath the horse’s hooves. In the upper registers are reliefs of the F'estival of the god Min. This important festival was celebrated at the time of the harvest. The priests, who stand to the side of the pharaoh, await a procession headed by other priests. They carry images of the royal ancestors. Four birds are released, to carry the royal tidings to the four corners of the earth. Ramses cuts a sheaf with a sickle to present to the god Min.

The terrace to the rear is approached by a stairway. On the left- hand wall (f) there are well-preserved reliefs showing Ramses II (to the right), kneeling before Amon, Mut and Khonsu. Thoth, who is behind him, records his name for eternal remembrance. To the left, the hawk-headed Montu holds the hieroglyph for life before the king’s face; and Atum leads him forward. The scenes of the top register show offerings to the deities, and those on the bottom depict Ramses as a family man with many of his sons.

The Hypostyle Hall (C) is similar to that of Karnak; it also has taller columns at the centre with spreading calyx-capitals, and lower ones at the sides with bud capitals. The difference in height is made up of pillars with the spaces creating windows which afford light into the hall. All the reliefs show Ramses II in battle. He storms the fortress, at (g), and is shown in vigorous battle. His sons took part and proved themselves worthy of their heroic father. Each is identifiable by his name engraved beside him, at (h) and (i).

Beyond the Hypostyle Hall are two smaller halls, one behind the other. The first (D) has astrological representations on the roof, and scenes of priests bearing the sacred boats of Amon, Mut and Khonsu (j) and (k). On the rear right-hand wall (1) Ramses is seated beneath the sacred persea tree of Heliopolis, on the leaves of w hich his names are being written by the god Atum, the goddess Sheshat, and Thoth.

The second hall (E) is mostly in ruin. It has some sacrificial representations that include a scene of Ramses burning incense to Ptah and Sekhmet (m).

The mortuary temple was surrounded by store-rooms and priestly chambers and, as already mentioned, there was a palace complex to the south where Ramses watched the work being- executed.

Egypt under the Romans

Egypt under the Romans
In the first century AD, Egypt was under Roman domination. Alexandria, the harbour capital, had acquired a new source of wealth as a commercial station between India, Arabia and Rome. But an immense burden was placed on the Egyptian people in the form of taxes. The most pressing of these was the wheat tax that was collected directly from the farmer as part of the quota for Rome.

Egypt under the Romans
The produce of the vineyards, palm groves and fig plantations were also collected by Roman officials. Taxes were levied on domestic animals - sheep, oxen, horses and donkeys. Traders were taxed. Oil- sellers, bakers, spice and perfume sellers were taxed. Even the land for garden produce was taxed.

Egypt under the Romans
Hunting and fishing licences swelled the resources of the Roman state, and the Egyptians had to pay for the right even to go fowling in the marshes or fishing on the lake - activities their ancestors had enjoyed for thousands of years.

The Upper Egyptians never accepted submission to Roman rule lightly. As early as 29 BC, in the reign of Augustus, there was an insurrection in Thebes against tax collectors. The repercussions were drastic. Within five days, five neighbouring towns were totally razed. Little wonder that so many Egyptians found it more expedient to court the new rulers, and to give orders for their artists to depict them on temple walls in the manner of the ancient pharaohs, honouring the gods and defeating traditional enemies.

Egypt under the Romans
Egypt had no leadership in the sense of a recognised pharaoh who preserved order. The people reaped but gained no reward. They were obliged to hand over their grain to Roman troops stationed on their soil. They wove fabrics for Roman tunics. Animal hides went for Roman armour. Temple lands were confiscated and then leased out to the farmers.

Many Nile valley dwellers sought refuge in the desert. Some took up life in caves and ancient tombs which, from ancient times had provided convenient habitation, and, from the Ptolemaic period had been used by groups of people seeking isolation. The climatic conditions, especially in Upper Egypt, made it possible to live outdoors, and the wide stretches of quiet desert provided an ideal atmosphere for escape and meditation.

September 26, 2013

Luxor and The Necropolis

The Necropolis
The necropolis lies on the western bank of the Nile at Luxor. Its monuments include a series of mortuary temples built by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, and hundreds of tombs of noblemen that extend from the Dra Abu el Naga in the north to the Asasif in the south.

Ancient Egyptian Necropolis
 Although it is known as the ‘city of the dead’, the necropolis was once a populated and busy community. Beside each mortuary temple there were dwellings for the different orders of priests, stalls for sacrificial animals, guard-houses and store-houses, each with its superintendent. Surrounding, or in front of each temple there were lakes, groves and beautifully laid out gardens; some of the plants were imported from Syria and Punt.

Ancient Egyptian Necropolis
The pharaohs themselves took up temporary residence on the necropolis to watch the progress being made on their mortuary temples, and supervise their construction and decoration. Excavations at Kurna, the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu have revealed large palaces with numerous chambers. The largest and best preserved of these complexes lies to the south of Medinet Habu, where Ramses III watched his name being carved, literally, in history.

Ancient Egyptian Necropolis
Also on the necropolis, at Deir el Medina, was a village of workers who carried out the secret task of digging and decorating the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Excavations over the last half century have revealed that this walled city contained some eighty families. Their professions ranged from quarrying and mortar- mixing, to draughting, painting and designing. There were scribes and foremen, and a director of works who headed the community. Each family had a simple, sparsely furnished house, and they constructed the tombs nearby. From the tombs at Deir el Medina, and from some 40,000 pieces of inscribed pottery (ostraka) found at the site, archaeologists have been able to trace the activities of this community for generation upon generation, throughout a span of nearly three centuries. Their very personalities have been revealed: pride in their professional activities, joy at family celebrations, and even their grievances.

Mortuary Temples Ancient Egypt

Mortuary Temples
The Colossus of Memnon and its companion
These two somewhat weathered seated statues greet visitors to the necropolis. They are all that remain of what was once the largest mortuary temple in the necropolis, that of Amenhotep III. It is somewhat difficult, today, to imagine a temple which, with its gardens and lake, extended from the Ramesseum to Medinet Habu.

Mortuary Temples Ancient Egypt
Amenhotep’s mortuary temple was probably badly damaged from a high flood. Since then time and neglect wrought havoc with it. In the 19th Dynasty, Ramses II’s son Merenptah used some of the fallen blocks for his own, neighbouring, temple. Finally, nothing was left but these two lonely sentinels on the plain, and, a quarter of a mile away to the rear, a huge sandstone stelae weighing some 150 tons, referring to the dedication of the temple.

Mortuary Temples Ancient Egypt
When an earthquake caused the upper part of the northern statue to fall down, cracks and holes appeared in it. At dawn, when the breeze blew through these, it created a musical sound, which the Greeks and Romans explained in their mythology: when Memnon fell at Troy he reappeared at Thebes as a singing stone statue. At sunrise he would greet his mother Aurora with a plaintive song. Aurora, on hearing the sound, shed tears in the form of the morning dew on the cold stone of the statue. When the cracks were filled in during the reign of Septimius Severus, AD 193, the sound was no longer heard.

Mortuary Temples Ancient Egypt

The Isis Temple Complex

The Isis Temple Complex
The huge Entrance Pylon (P. 1) lies ahead. It is eighteen metres high and forty-five metres wide. Each of the two towers is decorated with mighty figures of Neos Dionysos, Ptolemy XII, depicted as pharaoh and wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. He clasps enemies by the hair and raises his club above their heads to smite them in the presence of Egypt’s best loved deities: Isis and Nephthys, Horus and Hathor. Thus did the Ptolemaic kings give themselves credit for suppressing Egypt’s traditional enemies and honouring local traditions.

Isis Temple Complex
Two granite lions guard the entrance; they are of late Roman times and reflect Byzantine influence. On the lintel of the gateway between the two towers of the pylon is a representation of the pharaoh Nektanebos I in a dancing attitude in front of Osiris, Isis, Khnum and Hathor. Much of the dignity and austerity of the divine pharaoh as the powerful and unapproachable ‘Son of the Sun-god’, was lost during the Late Period, when representations tended to show informal attitudes.

Passing through the gateway, we come to the Great Court (g). To the right is a colonnade and priests’ quarters. To the left is the Birth House (which may also be approached from a doorway at the centre of the left-hand tower of the entrance pylon (h).

The Birth House is an elegant little building. The entrance portico has a roof supported by four columns and is followed by three chambers, one behind the other. Around three sides of the building runs a colonnade with floral capitals surmounted with sistrum capitals and Hathor heads. The reliefs throughout the building relate to the birth of Horus, son of Isis, and his growth to manhood to avenge his father’s death. All are in a fine state of preservation.

Isis Temple Complex
The first chamber is not decorated. In the second some quaint protective deities are depicted among the papyrus plants where Horus was born. In the third chamber is a scene (on the rear wall near the bottom) showing Isis giving birth to her son in the marshes of the Delta. With her are Amon-Ra and Thoth. Behind Amon-Ra is the serpent goddess of Lower Egypt and the god of ‘wisdom’. Behind Thoth is the vulture goddess of Upper Egypt and the god of ‘reason’. Above this scene Horus, as a hawk, stands among the papyrus plants crowned with the Double Crown.

On the left-hand wall the standing child Horus suckles at the breast of Isis. Ptolemy IX (Euergetes II) hands two mirrors to Hathor, who places her hands in blessing on the head of the child.

The colonnade surrounding the Birth House is completely decorated. The scene at the beginning of the right-hand colonnade shows the youthful Horus, nude, but wearing the Double Crown. He is with his mother Isis before the serpent goddess of Buto, who plays the harp to them. Augustus stands behind the serpent goddess carrying a vase. The relief of a cow in the marshes that is depicted above the vase indicates the ornamentation within it.

Returning to the Great Court (g) we approach the Second Pylon (P. 2) which is smaller in size than the entrance pylon and is not aligned with it. To the right (i) is a large granite block inscribed by the Kushite pharaoh Taharka (730 BC), which is therefore the earliest piece of work on the island. Constructed into the base of the right-hand tower, is a large rock. It is inscribed with the text about the tithe on fishermen. Beyond lies the Isis temple proper.

The Temple of Isis comprises a tiny open court (j), a hypostyle hall (k), an ante-chamber (1) and a sanctuary (m). The walls have fine reliefs of the Ptolemaic kings and Roman emperors repeating traditional, and by now familiar - if not somewhat wearisome ritual scenes relating to offerings to the Egyptian gods, staking out the temple and consecrating the sacred area.

The Hypostyle Hall (k), which is separated from the court by screen walls between the first row of columns, is adorned with coloured relief from the lower to the upper reaches of the wall, across the ceiling, and from shaft to capital. The columns and capitals provide a good example of the style, decoration and colouring of the Graeco-Roman period, when less regard was paid to natural colours. For example, the blue ribs of the palms stand out somewhat garishly from the light-green palm twigs on the capitals of the columns.

Isis Temple Complex
This hall was converted into a church in the Christian Period, when the wall reliefs were covered with stucco and painted. Christian crosses were chiselled in the walls and on some of the columns. In fact, a Greek inscription on the right-hand side of the doorway leading to the ante-chamber (1) records the ‘good work’ (of destruction of pagan reliefs!) carried out by the Bishop Theodorus in the reign of Justinian, in the fifth century AD.

The sanctuary (m) has two tiny windows and a pedestal on which the sacred barge bearing the statue of Isis stood. This pedestal was installed by Ptolemy III (Euergetes I) and his wife Berenice. Surrounding the sanctuary are the usual priestly chambers and storerooms.

Above the sanctuary are the Osiris Chambers, which are approached from a stairway to the left of the temple (n) but currently closed to visitors. In these chambers interesting reliefs relate to the death of Osiris and his rebirth. Among the scenes are: Osiris among the reeds where his body came to rest; the body lying on a bier being prayed over by the jackal-headed Anubis along with Isis and her sister Nephthys; Isis and Nephthys spreading their wings beside the bier as Osiris regains his powers. It is to such graphic portrayals of ancient Egyptian traditions by the Ptolemies that we owe much of our interpretation of ancient Egyptian mythology.

To the left of the stairway (n) is a doorway leading out of the Temple of Isis. A road leads to the temple of Horus (Harendotus), son of Isis (2), and Hadrian’s Gateway (3). The latter contains the famous relief relating to the source of the Nile on the right-hand wall, in the second row from the top. It shows blocks of stone heaped one upon the other, and standing on the top is a vulture (representing Upper Egypt) and a hawk (representing Lower Egypt), beneath the rocks is a circular chamber which is outlined by the contours of a serpent, within which Hapi, the Nile-god, crouches. He clasps a vessel in each hand, ready, at the appointed time, to pour the water from the ‘eternal ocean’ to earth in his urns.

September 25, 2013

Valley of the Queens

Valley of the Queens
This valley was where some of the queens and royal children of the 19th and 20th Dynasties were buried. There are over twenty tombs; many are unfinished and entirely without decoration. The most beautiful, that of Nefertari, beloved wife of Ramses II, is not open to visitors. However, we are fortunate that there is another tomb in the same style and with similar representations.

Valley of the Queens
Tomb No. 40
This is the burial place of an unidentified queen. Her tomb so closely resembles that of Nefertari that it is believed to date to the beginning of the 19th Dynasty.-

Valley of the Queens
A stairway leads to a large hall, which has two pillars, from which two chambers lead off; one to the rear (south), and one to the right (east). All are beautifully decorated in elaborate low relief, partly filled with stucco and painted in brilliant colours.

To the left of the entrance to the main chamber the deceased queen is seen before a kiosk containing the Anubis jackal, being adored by Nephthvs and Isis. This is followed by a beautiful scene of the queen, with an offering, adoring the Hathor cow who emerges from the mountain.

Valley of the Queens
Because of the funerary nature of the wall reliefs of the room to the right, showing scenes of the funeral and the sarcophagus of the deceased, it is thought that this, and not the room to the rear, was the actual burial chamber.

The Basilica at Dendera

The Basilica at Dendera
The ruins of this basilica are situated near the Birth-House of the temple of Hathor. It is built of sandstone. Some of the blocks from the Birth House were reused in its construction.

The Basilica at Dendera
This is one of the earliest Roman basilicas with a wide central aisle or nave, and two side aisles preceded by a narthex on the west, with lateral semi-circular apses at the end. It is large and roomy with decorated recesses.

The Basilica at Dendera
It is possible that this church marked the famous Christian centre of the fourth century for it was stated by St Jerome that somewhere in the neighbourhood of Dendera fifty thousand monks assembled to celebrate the Easter festival.

The Basilica at Dendera

The Basilica at Dendera

The Necropolis in Luxur

The Necropolis
The necropolis lies on the western bank of the Nile at Luxor. Its monuments include a series of mortuary temples built by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, and hundreds of tombs of noblemen that extend from the Dra Abu el Naga in the north to the Asasif in the south.

Necropolis in Luxur
Although it is known as the ‘city of the dead’, the necropolis was once a populated and busy community. Beside each mortuary temple there were dwellings for the different orders of priests, stalls for sacrificial animals, guard-houses and store-houses, each with its superintendent. Surrounding, or in front of each temple there were lakes, groves and beautifully laid out gardens; some of the plants were imported from Syria and Punt.

Necropolis in Luxur
The pharaohs themselves took up temporary residence on the necropolis to w'atch the progress being made on their mortuary temples, and supervise their construction and decoration. Excavations at Kurna, the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu have revealed large palaces with numerous chambers. The largest and best preserved of these complexes lies to the south of Medinet Habu, where Ramses III watched his name being carved, literally, in history.

Necropolis in Luxur
Also on the necropolis, at Deir el Medina, was a village of workers who carried out the secret task of digging and decorating the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Excavations over the last half century have revealed that this walled city contained some eighty families. Their professions ranged from quarrying and mortar- mixing, to draughting, painting and designing. There were scribes and foremen, and a director of works who headed the community. Each family had a simple, sparsely furnished house, and they constructed the tombs nearby. From the tombs at Deir el Medina, and from some 40,000 pieces of inscribed pottery (ostraka) found at the site, archaeologists have been able to trace the activities of this community for generation upon generation, throughout a span of nearly three centuries. Their very personalities have been revealed: pride in their professional activities, joy at family celebrations, and even their grievances.

September 24, 2013

Tomb of Tutankhamon

Tomb of Tutankhamon
This famous tomb is amongst the smallest in the Valley of the Kings. Nevertheless it contained treasures w'hich may have represented the most abundant hoard ever buried in the valley. For, contrary to initial belief that the treasure belonged to a boy-king who had a short and not very significant reign, it is now known that some of the objects date back not only to the Amarna period, but even to the reign of Thutmose III. The five thousand-odd objects catalogued from the tomb, therefore, represent a uniquely accumulated collection and, perhaps, the richest placed in any tomb.

Tomb of Tutankhamon
The first chamber (A), which measures a mere 8x4 metres, is undecorated. Bare, too, are the walls of the small Annex (B). The only chamber with decorated walls is the burial chamber itself (C).

Tomb of Tutankhamon
The burial chamber was originally sealed off by a plastered wall, before which stood two life-sized statues of Tutankhamon in dark varnished w ood, with gold ornaments, headdress and kilt. When the wall was broken through, the outermost shrine of wood, covered with gold-leaf, was revealed. Within it were three similar, smaller shrines, one inside the other. The sarcophagus of crystalline sandstone lay at the centre.

Inside the sarcophagus were two wooden coffins in portrait images of the king, overlaid with thin sheet gold, and a third, inner coffin, in which the mummy lay, which was of pure gold inlaid with semi-precious stones and coloured glazes.

Tomb of Tutankhamon
The walls of the burial chamber retain the vividity of colour as on the day they were painted. On the right-hand wall the mummy of the deceased is shown being brought to the tomb by noblemen, one of whom is General Haremhab who later became pharaoh. On the rear wall, Tutankhamon is depicted with the figures of the goddesses of heaven and with Osiris. There is also a unique representation of the ‘Opening of the Mouth’ ceremony being performed on the deceased king by Aye, who briefly succeeded him to the throne. This ritual was a most ancient one, performed to give the deceased life and power to eat and breathe. On the left-hand wall (a) are symbolic scenes showing the adoration of apes representing the twelve hours of night.
The sarcophagus remains in the burial chamber with the outer of the two wooden coffins containing the decayed mummy of Tutankhamon.
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