The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
El-Deir el-Bahri Temple
The Mortuary Temple of Queen Hatshepsut of Dynasty XVIII was built just north of the Middle Kingdom temple of Mentuhotep Nebhepetre in the bay of cliffs known as Deir el-Bahri. In ancient times the temple was called Djeser-Djeseru, meaning the ‘sacred of sacred’.
It was undoubtedly influenced by the style of the earlier temple at Deir el-Bahri, but Hatshepsut’s construction surpassed anything which had been built before both in its architecture and its beautiful carved reliefs.
The female pharaoh chose to site her temple in a valley sacred to the Theban Goddess of the West, but more importantly, it was on a direct axis with Karnak Temple of Amun on the east bank. Also, only a short distance on the other side of the mountain behind the temple was the tomb which Hatshepsut had constructed for herself in the Valley of the Kings (KV20).
The Temple of Hatshepsut was built on three terraced levels, with a causeway leading down to her Valley Temple (now lost) which would have been connected to the River Nile by a canal. Gardens with trees were planted in front of the lower courtyard.
Among many wonderful reliefs on all terraces wall, the southern colonnade in the second terrace shows the famous scenes of Hatshepsut’s expedition to Punt. The precise location of Punt is not known, but it is thought to have been probably on the east coast of Africa, to the south of Egypt.
The end wall shows a village in the land of Punt, its dome-shaped houses on stilts with ladders to access them. There are wonderful birds and animals all around. Men are cutting trees, including incense and ebony and carrying off heaps of tribute and treasure to be taken back to Egypt.
The famous relief of Ity the ‘Queen of Punt’ – a grotesquely fat lady who was actually the wife of Parahu, Punt’s chief – is now in Cairo Museum but has been replaced by a reproduction. On the western wall, elaborately-rigged sailing boats get ready to bring the tribute back to Egypt, including incense trees in baskets, cattle, baboons and a panther.
Note the many types of fish in the water in the register below. Further along, we see the transplanted incense trees in the gardens at Karnak and the produce from the expedition being weighed and documented by officials before being presented to the queen to be offered to Amun.
The northern colonnade begins with a Chapel of Anubis which echoes the Hathor Chapel on the southern side and shows colourful scenes of Hatshepsut in the presence of the jackal-headed god.
In some places, Hatshepsut’s figure has been removed but the figure of her successor Tuthmosis III remains in offering scenes to Amun as well as Anubis, Wepwawet, Sokar, Osiris and other mortuary gods.
In the northern portico, we see scenes of the queen establishing her right to rule by illustrating her divine birth. The reliefs are shallow and not well-preserved but show the divine union of Hatshepsut’s mother Ahmose with Amun.
Khnum the creator god then fashions the queen and her ka on the potter’s wheel and Ahmose is led to the birth-room by the goddess Hekat who presides over the childbirth. Hatshepsut is then presented to Amun and a number of other deities and the goddess Seshat, with Hapi, records her name and reign length.
The register above portrays the coronation ceremonies of the queen where she is crowned first by her father Tuthmose I, then by Horus and Set.
Many other wonderful stories and stunning reliefs are waiting for you when choose to book a tour of this temple with us.