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Egypt: The Other Temples on the West Bank at Thebes, Part III: The Temples at Deir el-Medina


The Other Temples on the West Bank at Thebes, Part III
The Temples at Deir el-Medina

Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

This series of articles cover minor temple ruins on the West Bank at Luxor (Ancient Thebes). In part one of this series, we briefly investigated the ruins of the Temples belonging to Amenhotep I, Amenhotep II, Siptah, the Colonnaded Temple of Ramesses IV, the Ramessid Temple, the Chapel of the White Queen and the private temple of Nebwenenef. We also listed, with links, the major temples on the West Bank at Thebes. In part two of this series, we explored the temples of Ramesses IV (mortuary), Amenophis son of Hapu, Tuthmosis II, and the North and South temples at Nag Kom Lolah. In part three of this series, we examine the temples of Deir el-Medina, including the Temple of Amenhotep I, the Hathor Chapel of Seti I, the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor, and a small Temple of Amun.


Deir el-Medina on the West Bank of Luxor (ancient Thebes) in Egypt

Deir el-Medina occupies a small hollow in the foothills to the northwest of Amenhotep III's temple. It was a community of workers and craftsmen who constructed the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Most of the temples associated with Deir el-Medina are located on the north side of the village. These temples include:

Plan of the Temples at Deir el-Medina

The Temple of Amenhotep I

This temple was dedicated to the cult of Amenhotep I, and stands on the terrace just above the enclosure of the Ptolemaic temple of Hathor at its northern corner. The temple is destroyed, but originally it was very small, but in later times, a number of walls were added around the structure. It should be noted that Amenhotep I was probably the founder of this worker's village, so his cult worship here is not surprising.


Hathor Chapel of Seti I

Located on the northern side of the Ptolemaic (Greek) temple of Hathor, and southward of Amenhotep I's cult temple lies the Hathor Chapel built by Seti I. The temple was built for the workmen of the village, and was considerably larger than Amenhotep I's temple. It consisted of a series of architectural elements before a tripartite sanctuary.


Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor

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A view of the Ptolemaic (Greek) Temple of Hathor on the West Bank at Luxor


A view of the Ptolemaic (Greek) Temple of Hathor on the West Bank at Luxor

Inside the Ptolemaic (Greek) Temple of Hathor on the West Bank at Luxor

By far the largest temple in this area is the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor. It was built atop the location of several earlier temple structures, and is itself fronted by a staircase built during the reign of Ramesses II. However, the main complex was built and decorated in the 3rd century BC by Ptolemy IV Philopator and several of his successors (Ptolemies VI and VIII). Even today, it remains in a very fine state of preservation. Within this temple, a columned hall communicates with a narrow vestibule before opening into three sanctuaries. The right (eastern) sanctuary was dedicated to Amun-Re-Osiris, while the western or left sanctuary was dedicated to Amun-Sokar-Osiris. The middle of the three sanctuaries was dedicated to Hathor, the main goddess of the temple.

Ground Plan of the Ptolemaic (Greek) Temple of Hathor on the West Bank at Luxor

Interestingly, the western sanctuary dedicated to Amun-Sokar-Osiris has a scene depicting an Osiride judgment, commonly found in tombs but very rarely decorating temple complexes.

A stairway leads from the left side of the vestibule to the temple's terrace roof where the remains of several small votive chapels lie around the enclosure's north wall.

Not Surprisingly, considering the nature of this community, the temple, like that of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri, also contains chapels dedicated to Imhotep and Amenhotep son of Hapu, who of course were both great architects and builders.

Long after the abandonment of the village, the temple continued to function, and was eventually transformed into a Coptic monastery. In fact, the village derives its modern name, Deir el-Medina, meaning "Monastery of the Town", form this ancient monastery.


The Temple of Amun

Across the small wadi from the Ptolemaic Temple of Hathor are the remains of a temple to Amun and the other members of the Theban triad, consisting of Mut, Khonsu and Amun. This temple was built by Ramesses II.

Map of the Temple area on the West Bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes), Egypt


References:


Title

Author

Date

Publisher

Reference Number

Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, The

Wilkinson, Richard H.

2000

Thames and Hudson, Ltd

ISBN 0-500-05100-3

Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, The

Shaw, Ian

2000

Oxford University Press

ISBN 0-19-815034-2

Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor

Strudwick, Nigel & Helen

1999

Cornell University Press

ISBN 0 8014 8616 5

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Last Updated: Aug 4th, 2011

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