2. Portico (Hall of Birth)
| In the northern wing of the 2. the myth of the birth
of Hatshepsut is told in 15 scenes separated by
vertical lines. However, is the frequently used name "Hall of
Birth" not completely right - it is more a tale of her divine descent
The legend about the divine descent of Hatshepsut is presented
in form of flat high relief in the two lower registers of the
western wall and the two small abutting walls in the north and the
Above the two registers there is a report about the "Youth" and
the "Enthronement" of the queen. According to Brunner,
1986, both representations have to be regarded as independent from
Like the legend of the divine descent of Amenhotep III in the temple
of Luxor the pictures and the inscriptions in Djeser djeseru show traces of repeated
destruction and restoration. However, here in Djeser djeseru the
destruction of figures and cartouches of Hatshepsut were arranged
III (who in the most cases usurped them in the name of his father, Thutmosis II,
but here and again the relief were erased by simply and rough but
"properly matching" hammer
blows) whereas the destructions of Amun are due to iconoclasts from
the Amarna period.
Traces of restoration can be followed until the time of Ramses II
who, however, renewed only the pictures of the god(s) but he was not
interested in the figures of Hatshepsut. According to Brunner (1986)
obviously a lot of duffers were engaged in the restoration work who
perfunctory tried to copy the style of the early 18. Dynasty but
without any knowledge about the meaning of the pictures and their
interdependence. Especially the frequent restoration notes which do not pass over over
but over old inscriptions are quite unpleasant.
Frequently, the impression is given that Hatshepsut had invented the
legend of her divine descent as a legitimation of her reign. According
to Altenmüller (Altenmüller , H., "Auferstehungsritual und Geburtsmythos", SAK,
volume 24, 1997) this legend, however, can be viewed in the
tradition of the so-called "bed scenes" found in private tombs of the
Old Kingdom (starting during the 4. Dynasty), which are interpreted as
metaphors of a "ritual of resurrection (= Auferstehungsritual)". These
"bed scenes" were originally assigned to the sphere of the burial, and refer to the
resurrection of the "bedded" deceased in the afterworld - and, if the
deceased was a king, also to the admission of the divine king into the
realm of gods.
|To the picture sequence - which is preserved in private
tombs of the Old Kingdom - of this "ritual of resurrection (=
Auferstehungsritual)" belongs the setting up of a bed in a tent-like
building, putting on clean sheets, putting up a headrest (for his wife) on the bed, wiping
off the chair on which the owner of the tomb should take place, and,
possibly, also the solemn departure of the deceased in a sedan chair.
The preparation the bed indicates that the deceased takes over in the
"ritual of resurrection (= Auferstehungsritual)" a role
associated with "Osiris" (Altenmüller, loc. cit.). In the connection with Osiris the
"ritual of resurrection (= Auferstehungsritual)" allows the abolition of death,
resurrection and rebirth. The state of death is annulled by sitting on the bed and by the
care of his wife who takes over here the role of "Isis". The love of
his wife is the medium for the resurrection of the deceased - after
successful procreation she reproduces the deceased in his son.
|Thus, the bed ritual is a "ritual of
resurrection (= Auferstehungsritual)", a symbol of
rebirth! The development of these "bed scenes" might have accompanied
the development of the cult of Osiris during the
|Deir el-Bahari: pregnant queen Ahmose
on her way to the Bower of Birth; from Tyldesley (loc. cited)
In the center of the legend of the divine descent
is the birth of the divine king
whose divine father is Ra in the Old Kingdom (Ra-djed-ef is first, who
hold the title
"Son of Ra") and Amun in the New Kingdom. The role of the
mother is taken over by the actual
mother of the divine king.
| This myth of the divine birth represents one of the essential structures of the Egyptian
kingship. The myth can to be viewed - like already mentioned in Djeser djeseru - in Room of Birth of Amenhotep III in the temple
of Luxor (according to Brunner the version in the temple of Luxor
contains older elements than that one in Djeser djeseru). Fragments of appropriate picture
sequence were regained in the Ramesseum and in the temple of Mut at Karnak.
Together with others Brunner assumes that the representation legend
of divine descend of the divine king belonged to the canon temple relief and only by
chance the complete
cycles have been preserved in Djeser djeseru and in the temple of Luxor beside
the scenes that are fragmentarily preserved in the Ramesseum resp.
in the north-eastern temple of the district of Mut at Karnak .
|Recently Arnold published (Arnold, D., Neue architektonische
Erkenntnisse von der Pyramide Sesostris (= Senusret) III in Dashur. Sokar 23-2,
2011) the results of his excavations along the causeway to the pyramid of
Sesostris III from 2008 to 2010. The excavations to numerous block fragments
brought to light, which allowed a partial identification of the decoration
program of the causeway. Several block fragments belong obviously to a sequence
of scenes showing the divine descend and birth of the Pharaoh, as we know them
from the birth-hall of Hatshepsut's temple at Deir el-Bahari. Thus, we can
forget the myth that Hatshepsut let illustrate the birth cycle in order to
legitimize their accession to the throne. In contrary, the birth cycle seems
most likely had been part of the standard decoration of the royal cult temples.
The birth cycle at Djeser djeseru has the following sequence (all illustrations
were taken from Naville, 1894 - 1908; the descriptions and comments of the individual
scenes are based on Brunner, 1986).
|1a. Amun announces his plan in the
front of the council of 12 gods (in
two registers 5 female and 7 male gods) to father a new
from right to left:
upper row :
Osiris, Isis, Horus, Nephthys, Seth, Hathor;
Month, Atum, Schu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut; the gods were originally
painted in a red-brownish color, the goddesses in light-yellow;
this scene (1a + b) completely covers the southern wall
|1b. Amun announces his plan in the
front of the council of 12 gods (on the right side of the scene Amun is sitting on his throne) to father a new
vertical in front of Amun a restoration text of Ramses II (see cartouche)
|The entire picture cycle has the literary form of the
"royal novella", discovered by Hermann (Hermann, 1938). This literary form
which was firmly embodied in Egyptian history usually begins with an
announcement of the king in which he communicates his ideas to an act to the auditory (a
meeting of the council or also the queen, resp.). The members of the
council agree and to put his words immediately into action the king appoints a
particular agent and and gives him appropriate instructions. The "legend
of the divine descent", described here, however, shifts the action,
as demonstrated by the first scene, from the royal court to the realm of
|2. Amun (left) sends Thot (on the right
side the tip of the nib of the Ibis-headed god is recognizable) to look among
the humans for a woman
suitable as a mother for the king who is to be procreated;
Amun looks here in
the direction of the picture sequence cycle - i.e. he the one
who is arriving (this applies to him and all other gods in all other
here again - in the middle of the scene - a restoration text of
|The only figures of this scene, Amun and Thot, are
standing opposite to each other. The name of Amun, "Jmn-Ra, nb-nswt-tAwj = Amun-Ra, Lord of all Thrones of the Two
Lands" is to be seen in front and above of his head.
|3. Thot leads Amun to the
elected mother of the future king, apparently
he has as a scout trace the "location of the queen" or he probably
leads Amun to the desired place ("the royal court at Karnak")
| Thot (left figure, the Ibis nib is still well
to be seen) and Amun move in the direction of the cycle of the
scenes. Since Amun was the higher ranking god in the realm of gods
he might have been depicted first although Thot is the leader.
However, the artist could have tired also to depict them walking
side by side. Above Amun one still sees remains of his name which
- regarding the style - was looking to Thot - i.e. it must assumed
that Amun had turned his head to the "back" (to Thot).
The queen herself is not part of the scene.
|4. Intercourse of Amun and the mother of
the future king on the lion bed.
On the bed
with two lion heads there are two female gods or geniuses sitting who carry the couple,
above the left one sits Amun, looking in direction of the cycle, opposite to him is the queen.
Thot left the couple alone, so that Amun who approached the queen in
the guise of her husband, can unveil himself (as a God) - this and
everything else not shown is described in the text
|Here again the lion bed is
the symbol of rebirth, since it is a representation of Nut, the goddess
of the sky, who devours and bears again everything. At a first
glance the supporting goddesses seem to Neith and Selket who
frequently appear together in the Egyptian religion as protective
deities (e.g. on sarcophagi or canopic chests). The just
discernible shield with the
crossed arrows on the head can point to Neith as well as to Hemuset
(s). Brunner described Hemusets as female geniuses, the
counterparts of the male Kas, who are involved in procreation or
keeping-up life. According to the accompanying texts the figures
represent Hemusets. The symbol on the head of the left genius most
likely indicates her "contribution" to the event
|5. Amun - looking in the
direction of the cycle - instructs Khnum to create a "special body" since it
is a "daughter" in this case.
Between both Gods there is a further restoration
text of Ramses II
|6. Khnum - sitting on a throne
and looking in the cycle direction - forms the child and its Ka
(both standing on a small table), the frog-headed goddess Heket, kneeling in
front of him,
donates life as indicated by "ankh"-signs.
Clearly, both children are
definitely of male sex (!), both do not carry the curl of childhood (the
checkmark at each head are the ears), but yellow arm stripes at the upper arm
and over the wrist. However, since the inscriptions continuously
talk of a girl (use of the feminine form of the Egyptian) the actual
representation is most likely an error of the restorer (!).
|The scene reminds of the well-known coronation
scenes in which the kneeling king also turns his back the god
while this one is putting the crown on the king's head.
|7. Thot announces to queen Ahmose (right with vulture hood) the satisfaction
of Amun which is expressed in appropriate titles, thus,
among others the inscription calls her:
"the comrade he loves", the "Mother of the King of Upper
and Lower Egypt".
Nothing is said about the child Hatshepsut whose birth and name Amun
himself has already announced to the queen in the scene No. 4!
|In the view of Brunner the posture of the arm of
Thot is another evidence of a copy of the Old Kingdom. To all
appearances the left arm of Thot is raised towards the queen but
in accordance with the gesture while making an address it must be
the right arm. The artist wanted to avoid that the right, resp.
rear arm runs rear over the chest. However, this way of representation is limited to
Old Kingdom, already starting from the 5. dynasty progressive artists uses
the (correct) representation in which the right (rear) arm is raised and
runs over the chest.
|8. Khnum (left) and Heket (right) lead the
queen, whose pregnancy is
suggested "tenderly" for delivery;
(this scene was the
basis for the drawing used in the Hatshepsut biography published by
|9a. Ahmose giving birth on the lion bed (left part of the scene), those is
the broadest scene of the cycle showing most of the figures, the
scene is framed by Amun who is left (not shown) and the goddess Mesechnet
(sitting right, see below).
Between the two gods the event of
giving birth takes place on a long
lion bed, whereby the queen is shown sitting on a throne not on a
delivery chair; behind her a nurse is kneeling, behind the nurse
there are 4 goddesses standing (from right to left: Nephthys, Isis,
Nedet, Djeret, the name of each goddess is to be seen above her
head); below them on the right of a man with
a divine beard and three further
male figures with crocodile heads;
further down: 2x two souls showing the gesture of hnw-cheering.
|The scene may be somewhat difficult due of the
large number of figures but the meaning is clear: the birth takes place in presence of numerous
good geniuses. Of interest is the appearance of Nephthys and Isis in the upper
row, especially in this strange sequence. Since the legend of the
divine descent has no connection to the myth of Osiris, Brunner
assumes that both goddesses just represent their aspect of the
"Lady of the House".
|9b. Ahmose giving birth on the lion bed (right part of the scene), the queen
and the just born child are depicted left above, in front of them a
midwife is kneeling,
below the midwife there are two
with long year-signs on the head, then to the right a genius with a crocodile
head, followed by 2 men and a
ram-headed figure; in the lower row a protection symbol flanked by
2 Uas-signs, on the right Bes followed by a hippopotamus goddess.
|10. Amun (left) comes to Hathor (right), in order to see and welcome the
newborn child, whereby he approves her expressly as his bodily
daughter and future king;
|11. Amun and Hathor (right) sitting
opposite to each other, here, for the first time Amun takes
and holds the child with the left hand to "kiss" and
"embrace" it, since he is "loves her very much"; Hathor repeats the benediction of the father and blesses
the child herself several
in Djeser djeseru scenes 10 and 11 were carefully separated and have
their own inscriptions; Brunner has assumed that the deviating
inscriptions to the scenes 10 and 11 in the temple of Luxor had been placed
possibly, already at that time the "model" of the legend
correctly understood anymore
|12a. King's mother and a nurse care for the child on the lion bed (left
part of the scene);
Queen Ahmose is depicted in the center of the
scene, behind her
sits a maid, who puts a headdress on her head, opposite to the queen two
completely identical females are sitting both with cow heads, red sun disk and double-feathers,
the first one is nursing little Hatshepsut, i.e. the child receives the
milk of divine creatures!
The area below the lion bed is filled out with "tjt"-knots, under the bed, which stands on the sky-hieroglyph, two
cows of the heaven are depicted which turn the head backwards. Here two
children are missing who were drinking directly at the udder - they were simply omitted by the restorer (however, in the
temple of Luxor temple they are still to be seen).
|That the scenes 12.a and b belong together is shown
by the large sky-hieroglyph which covers both the two cows and the lower four
|12b. King's mother and a nurse care for the child on the lion bed (right
part of the scene);
this part is attached to the scene shown above, here
the Ka is nursed by the 2nd female with cow head, sun disk and double-feathers
in three rows alternating male (with beard) and female genius are
sitting, four in
each row; they are identified as Kas and Hemusets,
i.e. as male (Kas) and female (Hemusets) gods of food and meals (s. a. footnote)
|13. two gods present the child and its Ka
to three anonymous, equal
looking gods in mummy-like dress, who probably symbolize the "Nine
the name of the left gods was lost in Djeser djeseru , the
one standing in the back could be identified due to the headdress (badges of a milk
can which is put in a bowl) as a
"Milk-God" called "Iat" (in
the corresponding cycle of Amenhotep III in the temple of Luxor the
first one is a Nile-God and the one in the back Milk-God);
|The purpose of the scene is clear, the two Gods
bring the child (and its Ka) to the "Nine Gods" not to request their
benedictions but to show the council of Gods that Amun had carried
out his announcement (made in the 1. scene ).
|14. Thot (left) brings the child and its Ka
to Amun who blesses both. One still sees the traces of both children who were not repaired
during the restoration of the scene. The front figure - on the hand
of Amun - is the child, the rear one - on the hand of Thot - its Ka. This
is also confirmed by the arrangement of the two cartouches, those of the child is exactly above
its head under the center if the winged sun-disk, those of the
Ka over its head at the top of a long standard.
|The purpose of the scene is unclear, since in all available versions of the cycle different
pictures (e.g. in the temple of Luxor another, not yet identified
god is shown instead of Thot) with deviating inscriptions have
been preserved. Probably, the scene shows the investiture with the
royal dignity, this interpretation may be supported by the winged sun-disk, which is
testified since the Old Kingdom (Snofru), above the scene.
the scene is clearly split: on the left of (15a) a ram-headed
god (Khnum) comes followed by Anubis who is rolling a disk;
(s. 15b) Seschat stands on the right side, behind her an unknown god;
the center (15b) is formed by 2 double's groups depicted above
each other (the lover one has an own heaven with stars above it), in both scenes two women are sitting on the left side,
whereby the first one "holds up"
the two children, in the upper scene the children are sitting, in the
lower one they are standing; one the right side, in front of the
children a man is kneeling in the upper scene, in
the lower one there is a kneeling woman
at his time Naville had interpreted this scene as "The duration of
reign of Hatshepsut is written down" (part II, text to Plate LV)
|All figures and inscriptions were destroyed, the restorer
had obviously preferred to restore the figures of the gods, therefore the
children are only recognizably in the contours of destroyed figures. Therefore, in both versions that in Djeser djeseru and that in the temple
of Luxor the meaning of this scene was no longer recognizable. Brunner points out that only the version in the temple of
Mut in Karnak made clear that the scene described a "Circumcision". In the upper scene the children are
shown squatting, in the lower one standing, the
women kneeling on the left are holding the children at the thighs. The man
in front of the children kneels, in order to have the correct position for the
In contrast to that the meaning of the two gods on the right side of
the scene, Anubis and Khnum, is less clear. Khnum probably participates in
his connection to the house of life, in the inscriptions he is called "the
First of the House of Life". However, nothing is known about the disk or
ball that Anubis is rolling (in the temple of Luxor this disk or ball
According to Altenmüller H. Brunner has traced
back the "legend of divine descent" from the New Kingdom to a model
of the Old Kingdom, whereby apart
from age criteria for the figurative expression and for the accompanying texts Brunner
pleads for a development before the 4. Dynasty. Among others
Brunner, 1986, has put forward the following reasons:
drawings of the bed in scenes Nos. 4 (fathering), 9 (delivery) and
13 (presentation of the child) obviously go back to early representations of the bed (with
top view on the surface of the bed) which did not appear any longer after the
era of the early pyramids
- the title "mwt njswt bjtj" ("Mother of the King of Upper
and Lower Egypt") in scene No. 7 (announcing the delivery) was used only in the
(this title appears 2 times in Deir el-Bahari and
once again in the 19. Dynasty; apart from that only in the Old
Kingdom, where at least 7 queens and/or mothers of a king carried
the title: Ni-maat-hep, mother of Djoser; Hetep-heres, mother of
Chufu; Cha-merer-nebti, mother of Men-chew-Ra; Chentkaus, ancestress of the 5. Dynasty (?);
Iput, mother of Pepi
I; Anches-en-Merire, mother of Pepi II:, Anches-en-Pepi; wife of Pepi II (son
- the Kas and Habs (s. a. footnote) in the scene
No. 12 (the king's mother
and nurses care for the child on the lion bed) appear in Luxor in this
composition only in the "Pyramid Texts"
- the absence of
any reference to the myth of Osiris.
|The representation of the "legend of divine descent"
appears exclusively on temple walls (2
example in the temple of Hatshepsut (Djeser djeseru) and that of Ramses
II (Ramesseum); 2 further from
the temple of Luxor and Karnak). This clearly
points to the fact that the "world" of the "legend of divine descent"
is the realm of gods (it is uncertain what the version Mut-district of
Karnak is telling, however, the presence of two erased cartouches in the scene
No. 7 point to the procreation and birth of a divine king; in each case it is
most likely the latest version - probably dating from the 21. or the
22. Dynasty). However, for the divine king
the realm of gods becomes his residence only after his death what again
leads to the statement that the "legend of divine descent"
was not meant for the living king but for the deceased one in the
This also explains why in the "legend of divine descent"
reports about the birth of an
enthroned and crowned king. The event represented in
the scenes of the cycle is the repetition of the real birth of the
divine king in the realm of gods.
Thus, the "legend of divine descent" of the
divine king does not serve - also not in the case of Hatshepsut - as
a legitimation of the reign of the divine king in
whose temple it is presented. The frequently - especially by males -
voiced suspicion was that Hatshepsut had invented or exploited the "legend of divine descent"
in order to
legitimize her weak claim to the throne. This suspicion is only
worth a discussion if one finds an explanation which "weak" claim for
the throne had forced Amenhotep III (in Luxor temple) and Ramses II (in the
on their part to exploit the "legend of divine descent".
The "legend of divine descent" thus
reported exclusively about the
rebirth of the divine king in the afterworld and therefore, it has
its place in the cult.