Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

History of the Temple Djeser djeseru

last update: 23.12.2010

Djeser djeseru as Gaston Maspero had seen in early in the last century, right photo: the northern colonnade;
from: Maspero "Geschichte der Kunst in Ägypten", 1913

Since 1960 Djeser djeseru is excavated by Egyptologists of the University of Warsaw in cooperation with the Egyptian antiquity service (SCA = supreme Council of Antiquities) and restored in the last years on basis of the results of the excavations. The illustration on the page "Location of the Monument" shows the situation in December 2000. At that time the most restoration work was finished (e.g. compare the restored ramps with those on the starting side where only the 1. ramp is finished but the ramp leading to the 3. terrace is still under construction). Furthermore, in April 2001 I had the opportunity to visit and take photos on the 3. terrace - at this time it was still closed for tourist. These and older photos were used here on the individual pages.
The excavations of Djeser djeseru and the architectural analyses of the building showed - particularly in opinion of Wysocki (Wysocki, Z, 1986, 1987, 1992) - that the monument was raised according to two different plans and in two subsequent phases. Due to different architectural findings he concluded that the temple - and/or the upper terrace - was begun under and/or for Thutmosis II and that Hatshepsut "took over" the building site after the death of her husband, changed the plan and finally finished it largely.

For his opinion Wysocki raised among others the following arguments:
  • based on the architectural analyses the upper terrace is the oldest part of the building and apparently was a larger copy of the adjacent temple of Mentuhotep II. No foundation-deposits had been found on the upper terrace  - also none of Hatshepsut - thus, he excludes her as the owner of the building.
  • Foundation-deposits of Hatshepsut were found on the lower courtyard and explicitly report about "the time of the measurements" (i.e. to pull the measuring cords) for the construction of the temple.
  • the exchange of her name for that of Thutmosis II in the decoration of the lower courtyard and the Hathor chapel which was initiated after her death by her successor, Thutmosis III. The changes were extended also to those areas of the temple where no foundation-deposits of Hatshepsut had been found. The procedure is probably rather unique in the Egyptian history in which usually the name of the predecessor was replaced by that of the successor. But Thutmosis III used the name of his father probably clarify who was actual founder of the temple.
  • finally, the sudden change in the spatial layout of the unfinished temple which - in his opinion - clearly points to a change of the owner. In his opinion the reason for the sudden extension of the architect’s plan was the death of Thutmosis II who did not live long enough to complete the temple. Hatshepsut took over the unfinished building of her husband and let extend the upper terrace and added the lower parts of the temple

Reconstruction of a foundation deposit from the temple Djeser djeseru of Hatshepsut (from: Hayes, W.C., The Scepter of Egypt. Part II, Cambridge, Mass., 1959).

However, it must be stressed that the assignment of the first building phase to Thutmosis II by Wysocki has probably hypothetical character.
The director of the Polish excavation team, Dr. Barwik, told me that there obviously are no finds that would testify this assignment from the view of the Egyptologists. According to Barwik the building was completely raised during the reign of Hatshepsut as king (personal communication, December 2001), whereby he dates the commencement of construction to the time of the accession of Hatshepsut (in this connection he favors the time around year 7; see in addition: Dating of her accession to the throne).

According to his opinion the building was begun in regnal year 7 of Hatshepsut and finished in regnal years 20 to 22. On the basis of some ostraca discovered in the building the following persons were involved in the execution (s. a. Persons): Senenmut, Hapuseneb, Nehesj, Djehutj, and others. From sculptors employed at the temple these people received so called "name stones" which carried the inscription "Maat-ka-Ra, who surrounded Thebes with walls". These name stones were embedded in the walls of the temple and in the causeway - however, we do not know their purpose.

To obtain a clear arrangement I have split the two building phases in two own pages, the links in the first line below lead to the appropriate pages.

Phase 1 under Thutmosis II Phase 2 under Hatshepsut

Djeser djeseru Location of the Monument Description of the Monument Djeser djeseru - the times after

Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)