last update: 24.11.2013

"Palace of Maat" - South-Chambers of Hatshepsut


The floor-plan above shows the arrangement of the chambers of Hatshepsut around the Red Chapel. According to Porter & Moss II, Theban Temples, the rooms are with Latin numbers; the rooms numbered 1-5 on the north side are not numbered in Porter & Moss. The walls painted in yellow mark the boundary wall of the Middle Kingdom Court.
The floor plan is a modified excerpt from Burgos, Larché, La Chapelle Rouge, 2008, p. 337, extension phase (C) under Hatshepsut.

The southern rooms are not accessible to visitors because of the narrow space. The rooms were published by Barguet, Le Temple D ' Amon-Rê à Karnak, parts of the inscriptions were  already published by Sethe, Urkunden IV. Photos are available at the "Marburg Photo Archive", the "Chicago Oriental Institute Photo", and in Schwaller de Lubicz (e.g. plate 165), etc. Because of the size of the description the chambers are presented on a separate page.

The outer walls of the South-Chambers
Most visitors pass through the passage between the barque shrine of Philip III. Arrhidaeus and  the South-Chambers without recognizing that the northern wall at its show some remaining decoration from the time of Hatshepsut/Thutmose III, e.g. a heap of gifts (see the following figure), or a row of  offering bearers (next but one photo).

The entrance to the South-Chambers (see next photo) is located at the eastern end of the aisle, decorated in the name of Thutmosis III. Grothoff (Türnamen, p. 95) lists the lower inscription on the left jamb as the door name, although neither the term 'Door', nor a kings name is included:
"mrj mnw jmn-Ra n [aA] = beloved by Amun-Ra because [the size] of his monuments". Grothoff has taken the parenthesized part [size = aA] from the Urk. IV, 851.8, but he points out in the corresponding footnote 268 p. 95 that he did not find any traces for this addition.

According to Burgos, Larché the granite threshold between the two door jambs corresponds with the upper level of the "Podium of Hatshepsut".

The outer side of the East wall of the chambers (see photo above, viewed from the South-East corner to the North) is not decorated - no wonder, because this wall had been built against the wall of the Middle Kingdom (MK)-court. Since the wall of the MK-court had been taken down it is easily to recognize the slightly negative slope of which the East wall lent against the wall of the MK-court.

The South wall is completely decorated, on its West side with a representation of the enthroned Thutmosis III, then follows to the East a festival calendar (by Thutmose III), and at the eastern end a picture of an enthroned Senusret I. The decoration dates into the times of Thutmose III: He almost completely erased an older decoration of Hatshepsut, newly decorated the wall, and thereby he  honored Senusret I whose building East of the "Palace of Maat" had been taken down with this presentation.
According to Larché, 2007, a remnant of the original decoration of Hatshepsut  survived at the very western edge (see photo above). This figure "should have survived" because in the times of Thutmosis III a door jamb had been erected that should have covered it (however, it probably would also have partially covered the lion).

The western wall of the South-Chambers impress by a false-door  decorated for Thutmosis III (right photo below). Left of it Thutmosis III is depicted consecrating offerings to Amun.


Right of the false-door remains of the barque sanctuary erected by Thutmosis III in the center of the "Palace of Maat" after he had dismantled  the Red Chapel of Hatshepsut. Parts of the chapel made of red granite were mounted here in modern times, other parts were mounted behind the sanctuary of Philipp Arrhidaeus on the wall right next to the Middle Kingdom-court.

Room XVI
The walls of room XVI which is located in the North-East corner are severely destroyed.

The partly preserved decoration on the eastern side of room XVI shows a cleaning scene in which Thutmose III - like Hatshepsut in room XII of the North-Chambers - is cleaned by two gods (photo above). On the right southern wall - which is in the shadow here the king is led by two gods (here by Thoth and Horus) to Amun - like in room XII of the North Chambers.  With a speech Amun expresses his thanks for the construction of this temple.
The two other walls depict the king who is embraced by Amun (North wall) and by a non-identifiable deity (West wall).

The architrave of the door connecting room XVI and XVII is partly preserved. According to Porter&Moss II, p. 105, the king is depicted offering water (left) and wine (right) to Amun (see photo above).

In room XVIII which is located in the Northwest corner of the South-Chambers the remains of a staircase immediately attract attention. The staircase once led to a roof terrace or in a floor located left of room XVIII.

Staircase in room XVIII. For a better orientation: on the right side one recognizes the sanctuary of Philipp Arrhidaeus, in the background the northern obelisk of Hatshepsut.

The decoration of southern wall (which is in the shade here) of room XVIII shows Thutmose III wearing the Atef-Crown (red arrow) who is consecrating numerous gifts to Amun (figure hacked away, green arrow) - like on the southern external wall of the North Chambers. On the left wall of the passage to room XVII some parts of the decoration have survived: e.g. cartouches of Thutmosis III and remains (legs) of a scene in which he is depicted embracing Amun.

Room XVII offers the first highlights of the South-Chambers, namely the remnants of two double statues, each showing a king seated (left as one is facing the dyads) next to Amun. The figure of Amun were - probably during the Amarna period - destroyed and processed. The larger dyad carries a cartouche of Amenhotep II on the back pillar, the smaller one shows a cartouche of Thutmose III next to the right lower leg of the King. Both kings put their feet on the Nine Bows.

Double statues in room XVII. The larger statue which carries the cartouche of Amenhotep II is placed in front of the northern wall of the room, the smaller dyad with the cartouche of Thutmose III was mounted left of the passage to room XVI.

Dyad of Amenhotep II (left) and Amun (right, completely destroyed).   Remains of the dyad of Thutmosis III (left) and Amun (right, completely destroyed).

From the perspective of the observer the wall behind the double statue of Amenhotep II shows (according to Porter&Moss, p. 105, pos. 316) remains of an offering list. The opposite southern wall of room XVII shows - a badly damaged scene - in which Thutmose III is suckled by a goddess (presumably Hathor) in the presence of Amun and Khnum. All figures of the deities have been destroyed.
A door in the southern wall opens to rooms XIX – XXIII, the double statue of Amenhotep II looks directly through this door into the central room XIX.

Room XIX
Room XIX impresses by a large red granite block that has been placed on the South side of the room (see the following picture). Originally, the block had a cavetto cornice und torus rolls. Both long sides (East and West) are decorated with a band of inscription (text see below). Several stairs (3 have survived) on the North side led to the damaged surface of the block - i.e. the block was probably used either an altar or as a shrine stand. Left of the uppermost step remains of a cartouche of Thutmose III are preserved.

According to Ernst (1988) the inscription of the eastern side (the one on the western side is nearly identical) reads:
"Mn-xpr-Ra [+htj-msjw] nfr-xpr [nb] tAwj [nb] jrj jh(.w)t njsw.t bj.t Mn-xpr-Ra zA Ra [+htj-msjw] nfr-xpr jrj.n=f [m] mrw=f n it=f Jmn-Ra jrj=f anx D.t =

 Mn-xpr-Ra [+htj-msjw] nfr-xpr [Lord] of the Two Lands, [Lord] of the rites. King of Upper- and Lower Egypt, Mn-xpr-Ra, Son of Ra [+htj-msjw] nfr-xpr, he made this as a monument for his father Amun-Ra, as he did [this], he was given life eternally".

In his doctoral thesis Ernst supposed that this block served as an altar on which the daily feeding of the gods had taken place. However, he also refers to the different interpretation of Barguet who - in analogy to a temple building erected by Taharqa - supposed that a shrine was mounted on this block. Both also refer to the decoration on the walls of room XIX and the surrounding rooms.

The northern wall of room XIX (se photo below) shows left of the door to room XVII Hatshepsut (cartouche changed to Thutmosis II) with a heap of gifts before Amun who expresses his thanks for erecting the temple. The cartouches on the architrave below the winged sun-disk are destroyed.

North wall of room XIX with the door leading to room XVII. Through the door  a part of the dyad of Amenhotep II is visible.

The eastern side (see photo below) is dominated by the entrances to rooms XX and XXI. Door and walls of room XX are better (top a higher) preserved than those of room XXI. The wall between the entrances shows the king embracing the an ithyphallic Amun.

The architrave above the entrance to room XX shows clear traces of revision or destruction, respectively. The cartouches in the two lower registers were hacked out, smoothed a little bit, and then changed from Maat-ka-Ra into AA-kheper-ka-Ra (upper register), and from Hatshepsut to Thutmosis (lower register).

The South wall shows in its western corner remains of two registers. In the lower register depicts the queen (amended to Thutmose II) who observes the ritual edification of four statues representing Dedwen, Sopdet, Sobek, and Horus (on the left, partly destroyed). The register above of the queen shows according to Ernst (loc. cit.) remains of a Hts-ceremony, which Barguet led to his comparison with the Temple of Taharqa (and thus to his interpretation that the red granite block was used to carry a shrine).

Room XX
Room XX surprises by its decoration – all preserved scene show the king before an ithyphallic Amun, i.e. no other manifestation of Amun occurs in this room:
- the North wall shows 3 scenes (next photo), from left to right: the king offers 4 bracelets to Amun, the king stands in front of Amun, the king "anoints" Amun;
- on the South wall the king is shown again in three scenes before the ithyphallic Amun, most of the scenes are heavily destroyed (relatively well preserved is the Northern scene (next but one photo) although the action of the king is not identifiable - presumably he embraces or anoints the statue of Amun);
- the remaining rest of the East wall depicts the king in front of the ithyphallic Amun.

Room XXI
The south wall of room XXI shows three scenes: the left scene depicts the king libating before the striding Amun, the middle one shows Hatshepsut - amended to Thutmosis II (the cartouches show clear traces of a revision) - offering wine to the ithyphallic Amun, the right scene is so destroyed that only the legs of the king and those of the striding Amun have survived.

The North wall was also decorated with 3 scenes in which the king is depicted standing in front of the god before Amun and bringing gifts, again the scene in the center shows an ithyphallic  Amun. The remaining part of the East wall shows the king also before this appearance of Amun but the action is not identifiable.

Rooms XXII and XXIII
Both rooms exhibit severe destructions. For example the whole western rear wall of room XXII (see following photo, left room) is missing. The figures and names of Amun were hacked out during the Amarna-period but partially restored. Despite many destructions both rooms impress by their colored scenes.

Views of the two rooms XXII (left) and XXIII (right) on the West side of the South-Chambers of the "Palace of Maat". In the foreground the altar or shrine base of Thutmosis III (photo: E. Noppes).

Furthermore, it must be noticed that both rooms do not have the same height as the surrounding rooms of the "Palace of Maat", e.g. rooms XII and XIII of the northern chambers. The stones of the ceiling in both rooms show remnants of the original decoration with a starry sky (golden stars on a blue background; see the following photo). The side walls in two rooms close at their top with a Kheker-frieze that probably has been painted under Thutmose III over the original decoration - the cryptogram of Hatshepsut - which is still visible in some places!

Starry sky with golden stars on a blue ground (room XXIII).

How the complex above the two rooms XXII and XXIII looked like and what function these rooms had is not known. Burgos & Larché reconstructed a 2nd floor with two other rooms (Burgos & Larché, 2008, drawing p. 320) which were accessible via the stairs in room XVIII. Burgos & Larché "reconstructed a separation wall between the two rooms on the upper floor" (see model in: Larché, F., La cour à portique de Thoutmosis IV. Éditions Soleb 2013, plates, p. 38.), thus, an open "Court with Sun altar" is not conceivable.

Room XXII which is located in the southwest corner of the "Palace" show the following (the description is partly based on Porter & MOSS):
North wall (photo below)-
4 scenes, Hatshepsut (cartouches changed to Thutmose II) is depicted in front of the two manifestations of Amun, from right to left:
-the 1st scene with the ithyphallic Amun is largely destroyed,
-in the 2nd scene, she offers a collar,
-in the 3rd she scatters sand before the ithyphallic Amun,
-in the 4th scene she sacrifices incense;

Panoramic view of the north wall, composed on 4 individual photos. A double click on the picture leads to a high resolution version (a double click on the local image leads back to this page).

South wall (next photo) –
4 scenes, Hatshepsut (cartouches amended to Thutmosis II) is depicted purifying both manifestations of Amun with natron;

Panoramic view of the South wall, composed on 4 individual photos. A double click on the picture leads to a high resolution version (a double click on the local image leads back to this page).

Room XXIII shows the following scenes (description partly based on Porter & Moss):
North wall-
4 scenes, all depict Hatshepsut (cartouches amended to Thutmose II) before the two manifestations of Amun, from right to left:
-in the 2nd scene, she sacrifices incense,
-in the 3rd scene, she offers four vessels,.
-the two other scenes are largely destroyed so that her action can not be identified;

Panoram ic view of the North wall of room XXIII, composed of four individual photos. The Kheker-frieze which closes the decoration at the top is still visible. A double click on the picture leads to a high resolution version (a double click on the local image leads back to this page).

West wall -
Thutmosis II (most likely usurped from Hatshepsut) is shown consecration gifts before Amun;

West wall of room XXIII. The king (standing on the right side) is shown consecrating gifts before Amun (figure destroyed) who is depicted on the left). Again, a Kheker-frieze is visible above the scene. A double click on the picture leads to a high resolution version (a double click on the local image leads back to this page).

South wall –
4 scenes, all show Hatshepsut (cartouches changed to Thutmosis II) in front of the two manifestations of Amun, from left to right:
- scenes 1 and 2 show her purifying the god,
- scenes 3 and 4 show her embracing or anointing Amun.

Panoramic view of the South wall of room XXIII, composed of 4 individual photos. Again, a Kheker-frieze is visible above the scene. A double click on the picture leads to a high resolution version (a double click on the local image leads back to this page).

As mentioned above, the cartouches of Hatshepsut were - partly very - carefully changed into those of Thutmosis II. However, a thorough inspections of the cartouches, as well as other parts of the inscriptions, reveal that the walls were originally decorated for a queen.

For example these cartouches on the western part of the South wall of room XXIII had been amended to Thutmosis II. However, a thorough inspections reveals that the feather of the goddess Maat is still visible in the right cartouche (green arrow). Furthermore, the artists did not forget to erase the sign T in "sA(t)-ra" (red arrow) but its traces are still visible.




Copyright: Dr. Karl H. Leser (Iufaa)