What is the Temple of Abydos?
The Temple of Abydos is an archaeological temple that oversees a historical area called “The Village of the Buried Godmother.” Abydos is considered one of the most important archaeological areas in Egypt and the world. Al-Balina and the temple was the main center for the worship of the god Osiris, and it is famous for the abundance of tombs and burials attributed to the kings of the first and second dynasties.
Who built it?
What is the importance of Abydos?
What is the reason for the construction of Abydos temple?
The main reason for its construction was the worship of the first deified pharaohs, a cult that later moved and materialized in the
divine figure of Osiris.
Where is Abydos temple located?
It is located about 11 kilometers (6.8 miles) west of the Nile at latitude 26° 10′ N, near the modern Egyptian towns of El Araba El Madfuna and El Balyana.
Abydos is one of the most important religious sites in ancient Egypt. Just as modern Muslims yearn to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lifetime, the ancient Egyptians always wanted to visit Abydos, which symbolized the entrance to the next life.
This ancient worship place is in Abydos, one of the oldest cities in Upper Egypt. The original name is Abdu, which means temple hill; as tradition has it, the head of Osiris was placed there.
Abdu was considered the holiest Egyptian city at the time of the pharaohs. A pilgrimage site for the ancient Egyptians, the entrance to the afterlife was believed to be in the desert hills to the west of this site.
Because of the religious and funerary beliefs linked to the site, many pharaohs were forced to choose it as the seat of their sepulchral monuments to be buried there. For this reason, in the past, the immense area of Abydos was covered with countless cemeteries, lakes, and ancient temples, including the temple of Osiris. Today, little is seen beyond the imposing cenotaph of King Seti I, ruler of the 19th dynasty, built between 1294 and 1279 BC; one of the best-preserved temples in all of Egypt.
The Construction of the Abydos Temple
The Temple is in the shape of the letter “L” and was built with white limestone. The Mortuary Temple of Seti I is surrounded by a wall 220 meters wide and 273 meters long, made of brick with different thicknesses.
Its height is from 5 to 8 meters. To the temple’s northeast is the temple’s main entrance that leads to a pylon where statues of Ramses II and Seti I were placed. Its walls are decorated with the battle of Kadesh;
there are also two walled wells. A ramp stairway leads to the second pylon smaller than the first. This pylon is a room with 12 pillars; its decorated walls are more preserved than the first
and represent scenes of King Ramses II with various gods and in different battles. Another ramp stair leads to a room with 12 pillars and a ceiling, which originally had 7 entrances to each sanctuary,
but Ramses II closed them. This room leads to the first hypostyle room with a ceiling supported by 24 papyrus columns. The walls have 14 doors that lead to the second hypostyle room with a roof and 12 columns.
7 ramp stairs give the entrance to the seven sanctuaries; one of King Seti I and others dedicated to the six gods, Ptah, Amun-Ra, Horus, Isis, Osiris, and Ra-Horajty.
All the sanctuaries have a false door except the Osiris sanctuary, which has an actual door leading to the Temple of Osiris. Originally in the sanctuaries, there were the sacred boats of the gods.
To the right of the doors of the sanctuaries, there is a door leading to two chapels: one dedicated to Nefertem and the other to Ptah-Socar.
Temple of Osiris
The Temple of Osiris was where the restoration of Osiris was celebrated. The entrance of the Osiris Complex leads to one with decorations of the restoration of the god, on its north side there are three chapels dedicated to Horus, Isis, and Osiris, and the opposite is a room with four columns. The decorations are in disrepair, and the walls are damaged.
The Osireion Abydos
The Osireion, located just below Seti’s temple, is a strange, magnificent structure that continues to perplex Egyptologists, but it is often regarded as a cenotaph to Osiris.
It was originally supposed to be an Old Kingdom building due to the large pieces of granite used in its construction, but it has since been dated to Seti’s reign, and its design is likely to be modeled on the rock-cut tombs in the Valley of the Kings.
A mock sarcophagus sits in the middle of its columned ‘burial chamber,’ which is on a lower level than Seti’s temple.
This chamber was formerly surrounded by water, but due to a rising water table, the whole building is now submerged, making investigating the funeral and ceremonial writings engraved on its walls dangerous.
By the Middle Kingdom, his tomb had been designated Osiris’ tomb.
Because of the religion of Osiris, the deity of the dead, Abydos retained its prominence. Although there were temples to Osiris across Egypt, each one supposedly housing a different portion of his body, the temple at Abydos was the most significant, housing his head, a spot that most Egyptians would strive to visit or have themselves buried in.
If that fails, they will be buried with tiny boats to allow their spirits to travel beyond death. Dorothy Eady was one of the temple’s more recent occupants. An Englishwoman known as ‘Omm Sety’ claimed she was a reincarnated temple priestess and Seti I’s lover.
She resided at Abydos for 35 years, providing archaeologists with knowledge on the temple’s operation, during which time she was granted authority to perform the archaic rituals. She died in 1981 and was laid to rest in the desert.
Ramses II’s Temple
The smaller and less well-preserved monument erected by Seti I’s son Ramses II (1279–1213 BC) is located just northwest of Seti I’s temple. Although it has the rectangular layout of a typical temple, it has shrines for each deity Ramses saw as essential, including Osiris, Amun-Ra, Thoth, Min, the deified Seti I, and, of course, Ramses himself.
Despite the absence of the ceiling, the reliefs preserve a substantial degree of colour, as evidenced on figures of priests, offering carriers, and the pharaoh anointing the gods’ statues. You may not be permitted to see this website.