Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

Posted On : 28/02/2023 Kate Clark 50
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Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

In terms of visual impact, nothing equals the Temple of Hatshepsut. This multi-story structure is perched on the limestone cliffs behind the Nile Valley in a spectacular setting. It is located to be exact under the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari, on the west bank of the Nile, near the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, opposite Luxor. The uniqueness of its structure reflects that of the pharaoh who had wanted its construction.

Hatchepsut's mortuary temple is also known as Djeser-Djeseru , or "Holy among Holies' '. The real peculiarity is that unlike almost all the pharaohs, Hatshepsut was a woman. She is one of the very few women in the history of ancient Egypt to hold the position of pharaoh, the second after Queen Nefrusobek of the XII dynasty.  

The Reign of Queen Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut came to power during the New Kingdom following the deaths first of her father, Thutmose I, and then of her half-brother and husband, Tuthmose II, who had succeeded to the throne after the former. She initially ascended the throne as sovereign regent in the function of her husband's son, however, by another wife, Tuthmose III. Tuthmose III was just two years old when he ascended the throne, but with great skill and political skills Hatshepsut managed to remain at the helm of the kingdom and to hold power until her own death. 

The mortuary temple is dedicated to the solar deity Amun-Ra, and is located next to the temple of Mentuhotep II, both temples were considered in the past as a great source of inspiration and, later, as a source of building material for new projects. Hatshepsut's temple is considered one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt".

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Hatshepsut's fame

Very famous are the statues representing the sovereign, with the typical headdress reserved for the pharaohs, usually males. Hatshepsut's fame is not due only to the representation of the only sovereign who was able to gain such power and remain in the government of Egypt , but also to the good governance that characterized her period of regency and which made her a just and loved sovereign , as expressed in the depictions of the temple dedicated to her. The pharaoh-queen also commissioned the building of various temples, including that of Karnak .

The Mortuary Temple Statue of Hatchepsut

When it was discovered in the mid-19th century, the temple was in a state of 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 to a monastery during the first centuries AD, which contributed 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 quite disappointing, especially compared to its popularity as a tourist destination.

One of the most famous moments of Hatshepsut's propaganda, with which the queen intended to self-legitimize her power, is the myth about her birth. She herself had the details of her own mythological birth immortalized in a large iconographic cycle depicted on the walls of the temple, so as to unquestionably justify her rights to the throne. The composition of the images and texts of this wonderfully depicted myth would evoke the consecration with which the god Amon, 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.   

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By Kate Clark

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