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Temple of Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut temple

Hatshepsut Temple; The eyes are drawn to the dramatic rocky limestone cliffs that rise about 300m above the desert plain, a natural monument, only to discover that at the foot of all this tremendous grandeur lies an even more astonishing man-made monument, the glittering Temple of Hatshepsut.

The nearly modern-looking temple mixes in well with the rocks from which it is partially carved; it’s a match made in heaven.

Continuous excavation and restoration have revealed one of ancient Egypt’s best structures since 1891, but it must have been much more spectacular during Hatshepsut’s (1473–1458 BC) reign.

Hatshepsut Temple
Hatshepsut’s temple is just one of many archaeological wonders that make up Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis.

Where is this Temple of Hatshepsut located?

Hatshepsut’s Temple is located in El Deir El Bahari, on the West Bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, in the country’s south.

Who built Hatshepsut Temple?

It was built by the order of Queen Hachepsut, daughter of Tutmosis I, who ruled Egypt for 20 years during the 18th Dynasty (1490 – 1469 BC). She is considered the first woman to occupy the pharaoh’s position.

I know that during her reign, she received all the male titles associated with power and even appeared with a false beard during her public appearances.

Who was Queen Hatshepsut?

Hatshepsut was the second female pharaoh who ruled Egypt, the first being Sobekneferu. Hatshepsut took over the reign of Egypt in 1470 BC. She and her sister Nefrubity were the daughters of Thutmose II and his wife, Ahmose. Thutmose was a warrior king who launched successful wars in Nubia and Syria, expanding the domain of Egyptian territory.

Hatshepsut is distinguished in history for being “one of the most successful pharaohs” of Ancient Egypt. She was also a woman and is considered one of the first female historical figures whose exploits are known to modern historians. Hatshepsut was the fifth pharaoh of the 18th dynasty during the New Kingdom. Historians debate her regnal dates, but she is believed to have ruled Egypt for 22 years, from 1470 to 1458 BC.

What does Hatshepsut mean?

Hatshepsut means “chief of noble women” or “first among noble women” (real name, Ma’at-ka-re, translated as “spirit of harmony”)

The reason for its construction:

The funerary temple was dedicated to the god Amun-Ra, with whom Hatshepsut was associated, giving her reign and person a divine quality. As in many other religious constructions, even though the mortuary temple was dedicated to the most important deity, this did not prevent other minor gods from worshiping in the same enclosure.

Hatshepsut’s mummy

In 2007, archaeologists announced that Hatshepsut’s mummy had been identified in the 60 KV tomb in the Valley of the Kings, a CT scan of a single tooth

in the box bearing Hatshepsut’s name matched a tooth cavity in the mummy’s jaw

Queen Hatshepsut was in her 50s when she died, suffering from diabetes and wearing black and red nail polish.

Why was Hatshepsut’s temple destroyed?

When it was discovered in the mid-19th century, the temple was in complete ruin, mainly due to the repeated devastation ordered by Tuthmose III,

almost certainly as an instrument of revenge against the memory of his stepmother. The site was reconverted into a monastery during the first century AD, contributing to its further deterioration.

As a result, the temple underwent intensive restoration work during the 20th century.

Most of the columns present today are not original, and many of the bas-relief wall paintings have not been adequately recovered. For this reason, the temple could be pretty disappointing,

especially compared to its popularity as a tourist destination.

One of the most notable moments of Hatshepsut’s propaganda, with which the queen intended to self-legitimize her power, is the myth about her birth.

She had the details of her mythological birth immortalized in a sizeable iconographic cycle depicted on the temple walls to justify her rights to the throne unquestioningly.

The composition of the images and texts of this wonderfully depicted myth would evoke the consecration with which the god Amun, protector of the dynasty, according to this propaganda,

the real father of Hatshepsut would have designated her from the top of her authority to reign.

Hatshepsut Temple

Queen Hatshepsut temple is located in Upper Egypt beneath the cliffs of “Deir El-Bahari.”

She became queen of Egypt when she married her half-brother, Thutmose II when she was 12. As a pharaoh, Hatshepsut expanded Egyptian trade and established promising building projects,

most famously the temple at Deir el-Bahri. During her reign, Hatshepsut was successful in re-establishing trade relations that the foreign occupation of the Hyksos people had disrupted.

This success in economic matters has led to her being considered a successful ruler. She also built a sea voyage to explore lands located on the northeast coast of Africa, where they used to trade with the inhabitants bringing back “wonders”.

Hatshepsut Temple
The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut was known in antiquity as Djeser-Djeseru or the Holy of Holies.

The design of the Hatshepsut temple

The two top terraces are accessible by a wide ramp. The reliefs on the middle terrace are the finest preserved. The northern colonnade’s reliefs depict Hatshepsut’s miraculous birth,

and at the far end is the Chapel of Anubis, which has well-preserved colored reliefs depicting a deformed Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III in the company of Anubis, Ra-Horakhty, and Hathor.

The beautifully carved reliefs in the Punt Colonnade to the left of the entry recount a journey to the Land of Punt to harvest myrrh trees for incense used in temple rites.

There are illustrations of the weird creatures and exotic vegetation they encountered there, alien buildings, strange landscapes, and strange people.

The Hathor Chapel, at the end of this colonnade, has two rooms, each with Hathor-headed columns. If you have a torch, reliefs on the west wall depict Hathor as a cow licking Hatshepsut’s hand

and the queen is sipping from Hathor’s udder.

On the north wall is a fading relief representing Hatshepsut’s warriors dressed in naval regalia in her honor.

Beyond the pillared halls is a three-roomed chapel carved into the rock, presently inaccessible to the public, featuring reliefs of the queen in front of the deities and a little figure behind the door of Senenmut,

the temple’s builder and, according to some, Hatshepsut’s lover.

The top terrace, which has been rebuilt during the past 25 years by a Polish-Egyptian team, formerly housed 24 giant Osiris sculptures, some of which are still standing.

The primary pink granite entryway leads into the hewn-out-of-the-cliff Sanctuary of Amun.

The remnants of the Temple of Montuhotep erected for the founder of the 11th dynasty and one of the earliest temples excavated in Thebes, and the Temple of Tuthmosis III, Hatshepsut’s successor, may be located on the south side of Hatshepsut’s temple. Both are in shambles.

How to get to the Temple of Hatshepsut?

Access to the temple is through vans, taxis, and tourist buses. When in doubt, go with a specialized agency with a professional guide, and enjoy your tour.

Valuable tips for visiting Hatshepsut’s Temple

Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, if it’s summer don’t forget sunscreen and of course be sure to record this fantastic tour, take your camera or cell phone with you, after all, it’s not every day that you visit a magical place like this.

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About the author

Magdy Fattouh (Migo) is a creative content marketer and expert in search engines for over 5 years. He manifests his passion in his role as a Creative Content Writer especially in travel where he strives to evoke a strong sense of place in his write-ups.