last update: 24.09.2009


and other small buildings from the time of upheaval


During the numerous excavations in Karnak many fragments from the time of Thutmosis II, Hatschepsut, and Thutmosis III came to light. Several limestone blocks were discovered during the excavation of the Cachette in the court before the 7-th pylon where they had been used in the foundation of the eastern side of the court. Today bigger blocks are displayed in the OAM, in the southern stone camp, and in the Luxor-Museum.

Gabolde (2005) has examined the numerous fragments and reconstructed the existence of 4 lime-stone buildings erected at Karnak - the "NTrj mnw = Divine Monument", a small Chapel with niches, dedicated to the cult of several members of the royal family, a (Barque?-)Chapel, and at least a small chapel of which only minor fragments have survived.
The examination of the blocks decorated with bas-relief revealed that these buildings that they were erected during the time of upheaval when the Great Royal Wife, God's Wife of Amun, Hatshepsut became Queen Regent for young Thutmosis III and finally took the full power as the King of the Two Lands as Maat-ka-Ra - a period which is less documented in the other monuments.

NTrj mnw = Divine Monument"
This Monument is mentioned in three texts (Larché, 2007): on a statue of Hapuseneb, which is dated into the reign of Thutmosis II (on this statue which is today in the Louvre, A 134, Hapuseneb wrote: I have built a temple of beautiful white limestone (called): "Maat-ka-Ra who is divine by [her] monuments."), on the Red Chapel (western gate,  Block No. 131: " Temple of Men-kheper-Ra (called): " Amun, divine by [his] monuments"), dating into the time of the co-regency of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III, and in the "Texts de la Jeunesse" of Thutmosis III (Sanctuary (called): Divine Monument made of beautiful white sandstone.").

Up to now totally 204 limestone blocks of this monument have been recovered (Larché, 2007). These blocks allow a reconstruction of the monument as well as a reconstruction of the decoration. The drawing below (modified according to Gabolde, 2005) shows his attempt to reconstruct the ground plan. However, it was neither possible to reconstruct a complete ground plan nor the original place where the monument had been erected.
However, the CFEETK is planning a re-erection of the monument near the entrance of the Open-Air-Museum at Karnak in the near future. The area where the chapel will be re-erected has already been excavated in 2008/2009 to check what is covered there.

Based on the blocks recovered up to now the chapel obviously had been dedicated to Amun only. This my indicate that this monument had been built in the center of Karnak near the chapel for the barque of Amun.

The remaining decoration allows to identify four persons: Thutmosis II, Hatshepsut, Thutmosis III and Neferu-Ra - but they do not appear together. Thutmosis II and Hatshepsut are shown together, occasionally accompanied by Neferu-Ra who, on the other hand, never is appears alone. Furthermore, Thutmosis III and Hatshepsut are depicted together in one scene (Wall 2). In this scene both are shown standing individually before Amun or its ithyphallic form, respectively, i.e. king Thutmosis III and the God's Wife  (and Great Royal Wife) Hatshepsut both separately perform the rites.

The photo above shows the Great Royal Wife Hatshepsut offering 2 vessels, behind her her daughter, the God's Wife, Neferu-Ra is shown (that this is Neferu-Ra is testified by the next block which shows the cartouche with her name; Gabolde, 2005, plate XI). The rear side of the block is less good preserved and shows the husband of Hatshepsut, Thutmosis II, seated an his throne (Gabolde, 2005, plate X).

A large number of the scenes shows traces of later changes of the names and titles whereby most of the figures itself remained unaltered.
Several scenes show the names of Thutmosis II and that of his son written one over the other (palimpsest). However,  the name of Thutmosis III did not replace that of his father as one would generally expect, but vice versa - Thutmosis III had been replaced by Thutmosis II.

Furthermore, on some places the name of Thutmosis III had been replaced by the name of Hatshepsut.

The photo above shows a part of a scene from Wall 2. The scene shows Thutmosis II followed by his little daughter princess Neferu-Ra (see name in the cartouche; Gabolde, 2005, plate III). To the right the scene is continued on another block showing the "Great Royal Wife, Hatshepsut".

The photo above shows a part of Wall 7 (Gabolde, 2005, plate XV) with 3 titles of Hatshepsut from the reign of her husband: "King's Sister, God's Wife of Amun, Great Royal Wife".

The photo above shows a part of Wall 8 (Gabolde, 2005, plate XVI) and shows three cartouches - the left one ist nearly completely missing - of Hatshepsut from the reign of Thutmosis II with the preceding titles "[Lady?] of the Two Lands [nb.? ]t tA.wj; Great Royal Wife (= Hm.t nsw wr.t); ??? of Upper and Lower Egypt (= ... ^maw MHw)".

Only one single block shows traces of a change from Hatshepsut into Maat-ka-Ra. The block is also unique in another aspect - it was discovered re-used in the Ach-menu.

The sequence of the alterations suggests a start of construction work in the first years after the death of Thutmosis II and the accession to throne by his son, Thutmosis III. Correspondingly the building is listed also among the temple personification on the lower register of the Red Chapel (western gate,  Block No. 131): " Temple of Men-kheper-Ra (called): " Amun, divine by [his] monuments".
We do not know anything about the idea behind these changes. However, assuming that the period had been politically "unsafe" one might suppose a "political" explanation: Thutmosis III had already succeeded his father on the throne but the importance [of the reign of] Thutmosis II should be emphasized posthumously and those of his son and successor reduced. 
Likewise, the changes of Thutmosis III into Hatshepsut also indicate that this action had have taken place in the first years of the reign of Thutmosis III, i.e. when Hatshepsut had been Queen Regent. Here too the changes may have been done to upvalue the former Great Royal Wife of Thutmosis II and the actual Queen Regent for Thutmosis III.

Beneficiary - and therefore also the initiator - of these actions could have been Queen Regent Hatshepsut, maybe that these actions were part of the prearrangements before her seizure of power.

Chapel with niches
The following two representations show Thutmosis II or the God's Wife Hatshepsut. Gabolde (Gabolde, 2005, plate XLI) located both scenes in two neighboring niches which were part of the southern wing of the western wall of a "Great Ceremonial Court" built by Thutmosis II and which opened into the court (i.e. to the east).

The red arrow in the plan above points to the "Chapel with niches" in the southern wing of the western wall of the "Great Ceremonial Court" (modified plan according to Larché, 2007).

The third niche was dedicated to Neferu-Ra and shows the "Daughter of the King, the King's Sister", between a cow-headed Hathor (on the left) and Amun (on the right). This block had been mounted for some times in the southern stone-store at Karnak.

Both photos (above and below) show a block which is on display today in the OAM. On side (photo above) shows the God's spouse (Hmt nTr) Hatshepsut receiving "life" from Seth, the "One from Ombos who rules over the south" and who is embraced by Nephthys, "who rules Karnak" (on the left.

The other side of the block shows Thutmosis II is given the Red Crown by Osiris (right), "Hrj-ib Ipt-swt = who resides at Karnak" und Isis (left), "the Divine".

The photo above shows a block which is also a part of the "Chapel with niches" (Gabolde, 2005, plate XLII). The scene shows the God's Wife, Neferu-Ra, as testified by the remains of her cartouche, led by the goddess Hathor (left) to Amun (right) who embraces the princess (today the block is on show in the southern stone magazine at Karnak).

As far as it is possible on the low number of fragments that have survived Gabolde (Gabolde, 2005, plate XXXVI) reconstructed a rectangular building with two rooms (about 5 m wide, more than 6 m long, and about 6 m high) that may have looked like the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut.
The fragments only show Thutmosis II and Hatshepsut, neither Thutmosis III nor Neferu-Ra could identified on the remains of thee building.

The following blocks show Thutmosis II who presents 2 bulls and one calf - most likely the original scene showed 2 - to Amun. The king wears the Double Crown (Pschent), the royal apron, a collar decorated with two crossed falcon wings, and in the right hand a staff. 
Behind Thutmosis II Hatshepsut is depicted. A fan carried by an anx-sign protects the royal couple. The blocks continue on the right with the remains of a scene in front of the ithyphallic Amun.
The fact that Thutmosis II is performing the rites before Amun while Hatshepsut stand behind him, and that Thutmosis III is missing in all remaining scenes of the sanctuary, suggest that the building had been erected during the reign of Thutmosis II.

Thutmosis II followed by Hatshepsut presents 2 bulls and 2 calves to Amun; all blocks are on display in the Luxor-Museum; site of discovery unknown, most likely in the Court of Cachette.

The representation of Hatshepsut deserves special interest. Quite obviously it was changed afterwards, i.e. presumably during her regency. Catching one's eye are the remains of the cartouche with her throne name "Maat-ka-Ra" which she certainly has not used as Great Royal Wife of Thutmosis II. In addition, the shoulders were widened to get a more "masculine" appearance, the wig was converted into a "nemes" headscarf, and the scepter of the king's wife was converted into a HqA-scepter. The right leg was pulled forward to change the presentation from a figure resting on its closed feet to a presentation of a walking person. The remaining part of the right leg also shows short above the knee the edge of a simple, tightly fitting dress. Traces of the dress are also to be recognized by the left shoulder strap.

Modified presentation of Hatshepsut

Only a few limestone blocks of the 4th building have survived. Two blocks were published by Labib Habachi, they fit to each other and show beside the scepter of Amun in 6 columns of text an eulogy of Maat-ka-Ra / Hatshepsut. According to Gabolde (2005) the cartouche had been recarved replacing Hatshepsut by Maat-ka-Ra.
One limestone block each has been located in the Brooklyn Museum, New York (Inv. No. 87.1), resp., in the Egyptian Museum Cairo (JE 40640). The block in New York shows fragments of the face of a royal or divine figure. The block in Cairo shows the remains of the titles of Maat-ka-Ra and Thutmosis II, the latter one has been partially destroyed.

The 4 limestone monuments identified from blocks scattered over Karnak throw light on the time of upheaval at the beginning of the new empire.
Between the death of her brother and husband Thutmosis II and her own acceptance of the royal power in the regnal year 7 of Thutmosis III Hatschepsut has taken over the regency from which one willingly suppose that she formed it actively. However, little was known up to the present time, because it is only very poorly documented on the monuments.
These four buildings - the "NTrj mnw =  Divine monument", the small Chapel with niches which was dedicated to the cult of some members of the royal family, (Barque?-)Sanctuary, and, at least, the small chapel of which only fragments have been preserved - give some clues which possibly allow to show that the transition of Hatshepsut from the position of the royal widow and regent of the kingdom to that of the Pharaoh took place very progressively, and furthermore that the queen seized extremely early - maybe even already during the last months of the rule of Thutmosis II - certain royal prerogatives.
In addition, the investigations give rise to check once more the historical frame of this period. They specifically referred on royal titles which had been the targets of - in some way unexpected - revisions, e.g. the exchange of the name of Thutmosis III by that of Thutmosis II, and the "progressive masculinization" of Hatshepsut. These investigations allowed rather exactly to record in which steps the royal rights were transferred gradually to Hatschepsut - until she achieved the full power of Pharaoh.



Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)