Maat-ka-Ra Hatshepsut

The Solar Complex on the 3. Terrace of the Temple Djeser djeseru

update: 20.03.2015

The solar cult complex consist of a roofed vestibule and an open courtyard with the sun-altar. The predominating element of the sun-court is the great open-air altar for Ra-Horakhty erected in its center and equipped with stairs leading on its western side up to the platform. The walls to the northern chapel of Amun and to the courtyard of the 3. terrace both show a niche. The remains of a 3rd niche have been discovered during the excavation and restoration work. Obviously, the 3rd niche had been dismantled when Hatshepsut added the Upper Chapel of Anubis (Szafrańskj, 2001).

Above the Sun Altar seen from the vestibule (position 11 in the floor plan above which itself is not accessible for tourists). On the right side the upper Chapel of Anubis, opposite on the western wall and and on the left wall the two niches.

View of the Sun Altar from the wall separating the sun-court from the main part of the 3rd terrace. On the right upper corner the remaining walls and columns of the vestibule (photo taken from: Szafranski, 2001, p. 264)..

History of Construction
Wyzocki (MDAIK 43, 1987, and MDAIK 48, 1992) was first one who tried to provide a history of its building on the basis of the investigations of the Polish mission. After his interpretation the Solar Complex had been erected in 2 phases with several planning stages:
- according to Wyzocki the 1st phase had been carried out only in parts. According to the plans the Northern Chapel of Amun was the only enclosed room on the northern side of the festival court at that time. A colonnade with an ambulatory on the planned southern, eastern, and northern walls of the Solar Complex were not installed.
- in the 1st stage of the 2nd phase a yard or a hall with columns was planned east the northern chapel of Amun, with one entrance each at the Northern Chapel of Amun and at the "Night-Sun Chapel". If this plan had been implemented 12 columns before would have erected in front the Upper Chapel  of Anubis - at this time probably an impressing element of the festival court.
- in the 2nd stage of the 2nd phase the idea of a columned hall was rejected in favor of an open court, at the same time " Night-Sun Chapel" established.
- in the 3rd stage the Sun altar as well as the stairs leading to its floor were enlarged (see photo below).
The walls of the courtyard had not been decorated, the niches were most likely intended to worship Hatshepsut.

The investigations of the Polish team revealed that the Sun altar had been enlarged whereby the old altar had been just built over.

However, re-examination of the Polish archaeologists showed that the ideas of Wysocki concerning the building history must be rejected (Karkowski, 2003).
The results of the re-examination showed that from the beginning the rooms on the northern part of the festival court contained a Solar Complex with an open altar court and a roofed "Night-Sun Chapel".
The original plan has been slightly modified. A more important modification was the addition of the "Upper Chapel of Anubis", another one the repeated moving of the "Night-Sun Chapel" from its original position on the east to the west side of the altar court and then back to the east. As a rule, these modifications required the demolition of some walls. 
The niche in the northern wall of the open altar court was dismantled when the "Upper Chapel of Anubis" was added (Szafrańskj, 2001).

West-East cross section of the final scheme of the Solar Complex (from: Karkowski, 2003, plate 14C). The figure shows the "Night-Sun Chapel" to the east (right) side of the altar court, the central altar which was enlarged (built over), behind the altar the northern wall with the entrance into the "Upper Chapel of Anubis", and the western (left) wall with the niche.
The figure shows that the bottom of the niches were on the same level as the upper surface of the altar.

Based on the observation that the decoration of the "Upper Chapel of Anubis" includes representations of Thutmosis I the addition of the chapel is dated into the late period of Hatshepsut's reign.
The investigations of the Polish team showed that figures of Thutmosis I replaced three times figures of Neferu-Ra already during the reign of Hatshepsut. This is associated with the observation that Neferu-Ra disappeared from the records after year 11 of Hatshepsut.
On the other hand, the increased appearance of Thutmosis I among the temple's decoration may also be associated with the transportation of his mummy to KV20  (Karkowski, loc. cit., S. 48) - if one agrees that his original tomb was KV38 and not KV20.

The investigations showed that merely the "Upper Chapel of Anubis" and the "Night-Sun Chapel" had been decorated completely.
The walls of the solar court had been roughly smoothed by chisel strokes but not polished thereafter. The walls had not been decorated.
The decoration of the two niches of the solar court as well as the inscription of the altar had never been colored.

Destruction and Restoration
Apart from the destruction of representations and names of Hatshepsut under Thutmosis III, later the names and figures of Amun(-Ra) and the Gods of the crew of the solar barque (Saryt, Thoth, Wepwawet, Lady of the Barque, „Bull of the truth Ka-Ma'at" and Sia) were attacked - with exception of Ra-Horakhty and Atum - during the Amarna period.
The destroyed figures and names of gods were restored - most probably under Horemheb. The well preserved figure of Amun-Ra on the western jamb of the entrance may show the facial features of Horemheb.
Among the original decoration only the kings Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III had been depicted (Karkowski, loc. cit. p. 59), during the destruction of figures of the queen here and again she had been replaced by figures of Thutmosis II.
Due to the numerous destructions not all scenes could be reconstructed.

The original plan contained most likely 6 niches:
- one each in the southern, western, and northern wall of the altar court; the niche of the northern wall was dismantled when the "Upper Chapel of Anubis" was erected;
- in addition, there were hints that two niches right and left of the door to the vestibule had been planned;
- another niche was planned in the northern wall of the vestibule.
The decoration of the niches of the Solar Complex follows the same scheme that was implemented in the small niches of the west wall of festival court.
The sidewalls (see next figure) showed always the queen on her throne with an table full of offerings in front of her. Opposite to her the Iunmutef-priest is shown performing the rites.

Part of the decoration of the left (eastern) sidewall of the southern niche of the altar court (taken from: Karkowski, J., DeB IV The-Temple-of-Hatshepsut-The-Solar-Complex, Warsaw 2003; plate 45 bis). On the left the Iunmutef is shown performing rites (which has been destroyed during the Amarna period), in the middle the table with offerings and above the offering list, on the right the destroyed figure of Hatshepsut.

The rear walls of the niches depicted Hatshepsut before one god or between two gods.

Details of the decoration of the rear wall of the southern niche (from: Karkowski, J., DeB IV The-Temple-of-Hatshepsut-The-Solar-Complex, Warsaw 2003; plate 45 bis). The scene showed Hatshepsut (destroyed) between Amun-Ra and Ra-Horakhty.

The niches had not been published before, all the following information is based on Karkowski (2003).

The southern niche starts 164 cm above the pavement of the altar court, the western niche 158.5 cm.
The inner jamb on the east side shows a much faded unfinished ex-voto of Senenmut which corresponds closely to other figures of him left behind doors in the temple. The sketch shows a 30 x 25 cm large figure of a kneeling Senenmut facing niche outwards, towards the altar.
The east wall of the niche shows a figure of Hatshepsut (78x105 cm, 54 cm above the pavement of the niche) sitting in front of a table with offerings. Opposite to queen a Iunmutef-priest is depicted performing the rites. The figure of the queen, her throne, the pedestal of the throne, and the accompanying inscriptions had been largely destroyed. The Iunmutef-priest was also destroyed but restored already in antiquity.
The southern (rear) wall showed (the destroyed figure of) Hatshepsut (79.5x105 cm, 56.5 above the pavement of the niche), presented to Amun-Ra by Re-Horakhty who also protected her.
The western wall shows a nearly identical scene (77.5x107 cm, 53.5 cm above the pavement of the niche) like the eastern wall, again the scene has been partly destroyed.

The western niche shows on its southern wall again an enthroned Hatshepsut (75x114.5 cm) in front of a table with offerings. Opposite to her the Iunmutef-priest is depicted performing the rites. The figure of the queen is completely destroyed, her throne has survived. The figure of the Iunmutef-priest was destroyed and restored in antiquity.
The west (rear) wall showed (a destroyed figure of) Hatshepsut (77.5x55 cm) who was presented to Amun-Ra by Ra-Horakhty who is also protecting her. The scene mirrors the scene on the rear wall of the southern niche.
The scene (78x110 cm) on the northern wall shows with minor differences to comparable scenes again an enthroned Hatshepsut in front of an table full of offerings. Opposite to the queen the Iunmutef-priest is depicted performing the rites. The figure of the Iunmutef-priest has been damaged during the Amarna period.

During the excavations a few blocks from the northern niche which had been dismantled before the erection of the "Upper Chapel of Anubis" were recovered. The preserved parts of the decoration show that the niche had been decoration like the other niches. Remains of the side walls showed an Iunmutef-priests before a table with offerings, remains of the rear wall showed a king embraced by a god.

Night-Sun Chapel (Vestibule)

View of the Night-Sun Chapel from the edge of the rock above. Left the northern wall with the niche, left of it the preserved legs of Amun and the queen. The vestibule is separated from the sun-altar by a slanting wall. Since spring 2015 the sun court is accessible to visitors.

The view from the edge of the rock on the temple shows the Night-Sun  Chapel (vestibule) with the remains of three pillars. It also shows the preserved remains of the passage to the Sun Court. The walls of the Chapel, the niche and the soffits of the main entrance were decorated throughout, but not all scenes are so well preserved that a reconstruction is possible.
The reconstruction of the "Night-Sun Chapel" revealed that the chapel had a ceiling and was separated from the Sun Court by a double-sided, sloped wall. Moreover, this wall contained two more niches, one each on the sides of the gate to the Sun Court, which were, like the others in the yard, only accessible from the court.


Gate from the upper terrace to the Night-Sun Chapel (photo tkane from Karkowski, j., Deir el-Bahari IV. the Temple-of-Hatshepsut-the-solar-complex, Warsaw 2003, table 18). The background shows the niche in the eastern half of the northern wall.

The southern door jambs show on both sides the titles of Hatshepsut (amended to Thutmosis II). The architrave shows symmetrically  to a  %mA-tAwy-scene the god Amun presenting life to Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III. Below the vertical registers with the titles the remnants of two door names are visible. Karkowski reconstructed the names to:
"sbA Mn-xpr-Ra Jmn +sr Axt  = Doorway of Men-kheper-Ra, Holy in the horizon of Amun" (on the left, West side) and -
"sbA MAat-kA-Ra Jmn +sr.t Axt = Doorway of Maat-ka-Ra, Holy in the horizon of Amun" (on the right, eastern side of the door).

The western reveal of the door shows a single scene that follows the trapezoidal shape of the wall: Hatshepsut (amended to Thutmosis II) enters the Night-Sun Chapel, dressed with the shendjyt, a wesekh-collar, and the Double Crown. She is striding to Amun who gives her life. The falcon-headed Ra-Horakhty is shown behind the queen touching her shoulder protectively with one hand on and fixing the Double Crown on her head with the other.
The eastern reveal once showed in sunken relief a kneeling Senenmut praying with raised hands and looking into the chapel. Figure and text were carefully chiselled out. The soffit of the doorway was decorated  with yellow stars on a blue background.

On its southern (inside) side the lintel of the doorway carries three horizontally arranged registers. The upper register was decorated with a winged solar disk with two pendent uraei. The two registers below show symmetrically arranged to an anx sign the throne name "Maat-ka-Ra, loved by Amun-Ra" (middle register) and the birth name "Hatshepsut, loved by Amun-Ra". In both lines the cartouches had been amended to Thutmosis II. and the "beloved of Amun-Ra" had been replaced by "Amun-Ra, king of gods".
The door jambs on both sides carry in two vertical registers the queen's throne and her birth name (amended to Thutmosis II).
Above the architrave interior was decorated the with a scene, the originally showed Hatshepsut and behind her Thutmosis III -  both kneeling - how they offered wine to an enthroned deity. The figure of Hatshepsut was erased and replaced by a pile of offerings. The representation of the deity is destroyed and no the deity longer identifiable.
Right (West) of the doorway some stone blocks have survived with remains of a representation of Thutmosis II remain who honored the ithyphallic Amun. Originally showed the scene showed Hatshepsut embracing the ithyphallic Amun but was reworked.

The East wall was decorated with at least two scenes showing Hatshepsut serving as a priestess of the Sun God. The decoration refers to the night journey of the Sun, from the first hour of the night after sunset in the West up to the dawn and sunrise in the East.

The North wall shows on its western (left) side remains of a representation of the queen before Amun, however, only of their legs (see photo above) have been preserved. In the eastern side of the North wall there is a niche (described below).

Only a few scattered stone blocks of the west wall have survived. From the few details shown on these blocks, Karkowski (loc. cit.) reconstructed - probably - identical scenes right and left of the door passage to the Sun Court:
each left and right side of the doorway the queen was probably shown embracing Amun. In each scene,  probably the Ibis-headed Thoth was depicted behind the queen and recording her countless years.
The preserved blocks of the door jamb show the titles of the queen (amended to Thutmosis II). Above the architrave of the door (of which no blocks have been found) Karkowski reconstructed a solar barque. However, up to now just one block of this scene has been found .

Niche of the Night-Sun Chapel
The eastern part of the north wall of the Night-Sun Chapel contains a niche (opening 152x82 cm) about 138 cm above the pavement (lower border).
The jambs of the niche showed in two identical symmetrical texts in two registers the titles of Hatshepsut. The inscriptions were almost completely erased later but divine names restored.
The western reveal once showed a representation of an adoring Senenmut which is known from other temple areas. The 111 x 33 cm tall figure of the kneeling Senenmut faced left looking into the Night-Sun Chapel. The figure in sunken relief was chiselled out. The accompanying inscription located above his head is completely illegible.
The eastern reveal  carried a mirror-image. The kneeling Senenmut was facing right, out of the niche. The 110x26 cm tall figure of Senenmut  and the text above his head were completely chiselled out.

The decoration repeats the scheme of decoration of the niches of the Sun Court, i.e., on the side walls were decorated with an enthroned Hatshepsut sitting before a table of offerings, opposite to her a Iunmutef priest is performing the rites.
The North wall (back wall) showed Hatshepsut (completely destroyed) who was probably embraced by Amun. In the aftermath of Amarna, the figure of Amun has been restored, whereby the scene was changed, because the figure of Hatshepsut was not restored

3rd Portico and upper Terrace

Main Chapel of Amun-Ra

Cult Chapels of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis I

Southern Chapel of Amun-Ra

Northern Chapel of Amun-Ra


Upper Chapel of  Anubis

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

Description of the Monument

Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)