|History of the small temple of Amun
|However, excavations of the Oriental
Institute, University of Chicago (directed by U. Hölscher), during the thirties of the last
century suggest that the small temple of Amun
(blue frame) erected by Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III had replaced older
buildings which were probably raised during the Middle Kingdom.
According to Hölscher these investigations show that at least the foundations of two earlier
buildings lay beneath the eastern part of the temple which was built by
Hatschepsut and Thutmosis III with several alterations of its original plan.
Furthermore, Hölscher (1930) could prove that stone blocks
from an elder construction had been re-used in the temple erected in the 18th
The drawing above shows the floor plan of the "earliest"
building as reconstructed
by Hölscher (1930). From the
"earliest" chapel or the platform on which it
had been erected, only few of the lowest foundation stones of
the west side have been
Chapel and court had been enclosed by a mud-brick wall (1 m in thickness). A fragment
(= Brick) of the rear (west) wall has been preserved.
Half under the pillared gallery of the Thutmosis III and half to the east
in front of it Hölscher excavated the remains of a small building. About
180 cm beneath the pavement of the pillared gallery rests the lower course
of the foundation blocks of sandstone on a layer of sand. Upon the surface
of these blocks the alignment of the walls which formerly stood upon them
could be traced.
On the west side of the building, i.e. under the pillared gallery,
sandstone blocks from the 2nd course were found. Two blocks of the 3rd
course which lay above the pavement of the pillared hall were found in
situ concealed by the masonry of the
18th dynasty temple.
The east side disappeared completely. The size of the building could
only be estimated based on the surface of the sand bedding upon which the
lowest course was laid. From this it appears that the dimensions were approximately 8
(length) x 7.15 m (width).
With the help of these findings Hölscher reconstructed a chapel with three
rooms on the west
side of the building. Chapel and court were (see floor plan above)
surrounded by an enclosure wall of mud
bricks, approx. 1 m in thickness. A fragment (= Brick) of the rear (west)
wall has been preserved.
|Furthermore, Hölscher discovered fragments of another structure made of limestone
which had been re-used in the 18th dynasty temple (see photo below). These fragments and the finding of 4
limestone pieces of a rounded
parapet wall led Hölscher to the assumption that these fragment had
been part of a peripteral temple (i.e. a temple surrounded by pillared gallery).
It was not possible to determine where this peripteros stood or whether
it had any connection with the "earliest" chapel but Hölscher assumed that the the structure which he called "earliest" peripteral temple stood
in front of this chapel.
However, the relief of this peripteral temple were not completed
when it was
torn down by Hatshepsut together with her later erected chapel. Based on the fact that
the relief were unfinished Hölscher assumed that the peripteros was
probably begun by one of the immediate predecessors of Hatshepsut.
Limestone block of the eldest peripteral temple re-used in the southern wall of
the barque shrine. The block shows on the left a standing god (most likely Amun)
und behind him a vertical band which was intended for inscriptions. On the
destroyed right side of the block (left of the repaired crack) one recognizes
the back-side of a figure together with a bull's tail, i.e. the representation
of a king. Obviously, this block had been part of a row of scenes depicting from
left to right a king standing in front of a god.
|According to Hölscher the "earliest" chapel
(i.e. platform and chapel)
as well as the peripteral temple may be dated "before
Hatshepsut" but based on the findings a more precise dating is not
During the excavations Hölscher discovered the remains of 4 brick walls
(see drawing above; Hölscher, 1930). The remains of the thickest wall
(approx. 2.70 m) were directly found on the west side running parallel to
6 cult chambers of Hatshepsut. Beside the brick wall mentioned already
above which presumably surrounded the "earliest" chapel and her
court, the remains of 2 other walls which were approx. 1.3 m in thickness
were found beneath the pillared gallery of Thutmosis III, i.e. left of the
chambers of Hatschepsut.
The most eastern of these two walls lay directly beside (to the west) of
the old enclosure wall and contained bricks stamped with "Maat-ka-Ra".
Hölscher supposed that Hatshepsut had built this wall in the first period
of her reign. Although remains of the wall were found only beneath the
pillared gallery of Thutmosis III, he supposed that this wall enclosed the
all buildings of that time (the "earliest" chapel and the "earliest"
This wall was torn down by Hatshepsut and a new one erected approx. 3 m
to the west to to make place for her shrine (see the next picture).
|Below a reconstruction outlined by Hölscher (1930) which shows on the east side
the platform (sandstone; approx. 8 x 7.2 m), on which the "earliest" chapel
(also made of sandstone) had been erected, and on the rear (west) side the
shrine built by Hatshepsut. The front of the shrine rest half upon
the platform of the "earliest" chapel. The observation
that a few sandstone blocks of the "earliest" chapel were
found in situ below the east wall of the temple led Hölscher to the
assumption that at least some part of the "earliest" chapel was
still present when Hatshepsut began to build her shrine.
|Reconstruction of Hölscher (1930) which shows in front the platform
(approx. 8 x 7.2 m) on which the earliest chapel was erected. Behind
it a small shrine had been erected by
Hatschepsut in the first period of her reign. The hatched blocks have been preserved, everything else is a reconstruction.
The platform of the "earliest" chapel and the
shrine of Hatshepsut can still be recognized in the floor plans on the right (eastern) side of the temple half
covered by the later buildings of Hatshepsut and Thutmosis III..
The 2nd enclosure wall was torn down later and moved further to the
west by Hatshepsut who made way for further extensions of the temple.
|The photo above shows the foundation blocks at the west-south
corner of the temple unearth in 2005 by the Epigraphic Survey Project.
The investigations of Hölscher revealed additional foundations which
indicated that Hatshepsut extended the building on its west side by 6
chapels and a transverse hall (on the east front of the chapels). The central
foundation below the transverse hall indicates that the hall should be supported
most likely by a row
pillars, perhaps 4 in number (see drawing below). These building
operations resulted in a square place with her shrine in the center,
this place was converted into a peripteral temple.
However, according to Hölscher, probably Hatshepsut did not begin with these chapels before the 2nd half of her reign.
|The reconstruction above shows the temple after Hatschepsut had built her (from
west to east) 6 chapels, the transverse hall (Width approx. 11 m, Depth
approx. 4.3 m) and the shrine (approx. 5.25 m) enclosed by
a pillared gallery (by: Hölscher, 1930). With regard to the columns
the transverse hall recent investigations of the Oriental Institute did
not prove the presence of bases, i.e. this reconstruction is most likely
wrong, these columns had never been erected.
Except for some minor details, the construction of the 6 cult chambers and
the transverse hall were most likely completed under Hatshepsut. The relief finished
by her showed here and again Thutmosis III, but as a coregent. After he
became sole ruler he added relief and inscriptions where these were
missing (see the following drawing). In rooms L and M the completion of
the relief had probably been delayed under Hatschepsut, because the front
sides (door passages) were been left open.
Thutmosis III has changed the construction again (see
floor plan below). The peripteros and its shrine became enlarged at the expense
of the transverse hall in front of the cult chambers which was
taken down. The new shrine was twice as long as the previous one (10 x 20
Egyptian ells, approx. 5.25 x 10.5 m) of Hatshepsut.
At the time of Thutmosis III the shrine was about 1 m lower than it is today. The upper
two stone layers were added in the Ptolemaic period. Originally the
ceiling was on the same level as the ambulatory. Whether the chamber
received light through an opening in the roof is not known.
The outer walls of the shrine were decorated directly when it was built.
With the exception of the eastern wall which was worked over in the Ptolemaic
period the decoration of these walls was preserved including the
destructions of the Amarna period. The inner walls were completely
reworked in the Ptolemaic period. However, an attempted was obviously made
to keep closely to original decoration - even a note of restoration added
by Sethi I was correctly reworked.
|The floor plan above shows the parts of the small temple of Amun which
were built during the reign of Hatshepsut (I-----I)
or Thutmosis III (I-----I). The red
lines in the chapels built by Hatshepsut mark the walls which had been
decorated by Hatshepsut - all other parts of the walls were either
decorated by Thutmosis III or sketched by Hatshepsut but carved for Thutmosis
Above a reconstruction of the small temple of Amun after the temple had
been extended by Thutmosis III (Hölscher, 1930)
|The decoration of the temple of Amun was changed several times and completed in later time.
|Above: View of the entrance to the gallery from the forecourt, which was
raised during the reign of Kushite kings between the bark shrine and the
pylon (s. a. the following drawing)
In the 20. dynasty the small temple of Amun became part of the precinct of the temple
of Rameses III at Medinet Habu. It was during the reign of Rameses III
that the outer walls of the temple (with exception of the western rear
wall) were decorated
all around with the typical scenes showing the king before various gods.
Since the location
of the small temple of Amun was regarded as a "holy place"
Rameses III had integrated the temple into his temple,
most likely in order to achieve a more "holy" appearance for his own building.
|Djeser set, the small temple of the Amun in Medinet Habu
was enlarged at the time of the Kushite kings (25th Dynasty, approx. 715-664 B.
C.) - probably during the reign of Taharqa. The drawing above (Hölscher,
1958) shows a
windowless pillared mud-brick hall raised in front of the Thutmosid shrine and a
demarcating small pylon with 4 flagpoles.
|Recent investigations of the Epigraphic Survey Project of
the Oriental Institute, Chicago, showed that this reconstruction of
Hölscher (see drawing above) was
wrong. Instead of a narrow hall a colonnade with 6 columns on both sides
had been built. However, the columns were not freestanding elements but
were connected by intercolumnar walls. Between the colonnade and the pylon
a vestibule was directly built to the west side of the pylon (see the
following drawing; OIC, Epigraphic Survey - Annual Report 1996-96).
|In the Ptolemaic period this colonnade was altered. The
intercolumnar walls and the vestibule were removed, the number of columns
on each side was increased to 8. Together with new flanking walls the
colonnade now formed a triaxial hall which had two gates shortly before
the pylon (see below).
| In Persian (Saite) period the temple was extended by a
barque station in front of the Kushite pylon. The builder can not be
ascertained anymore, in scraped out cartouches Nectanebos I. has
Hölscher (1958) reconstructed here a barque station formed by two rows of
4 columns on each
side which were connected by intercolumnar
walls. Most likely this barque station resembled that of Taharqua (Great
Colonnade) at Karnak temple. These intercolumnar walls were sufficient
high to conceal the interior from the exterior.
|During the Ptolemaic and Roman (2nd century AD) times
- apart from
additional modifications - a 2nd pylon (see photo below), the side
wings at the peripteros of Thutmosis III and the "Roman" gate (originally
a portico with 8 columns and a forecourt were planned but never finished) were added.
|Above the pylon built during the reign of Ptolemaios VII
and the "Roman" gate in front of itI; the view
follows the axis through the Kushite pylon to the entrance of the gallery
During the Ptolemaic and Roman extensions obviously numerous stone blocks
from the Ramesseum had been re-used whereby the blocks were partly built in
so that there original decoration were adjusted to the core of the walls.
|The photo above shows the "bedroom scene" which is part
of the "Myth of Birth". The scene shows the "sexual intercourse" of Amun (left) with the elected queen (right). Both
are carried on the "lion bed" by two goddesses (lower right: Neith, see
also Brunner, H., Die Geburt des Gottkönigs., 1986). This block was built
upside down into the southern Ptolemaic wing added to the peripteros of
Thutmosis III. Several other blocks were re-used in this wall, among them
one shows the cartouches of queen Tujj, mother of Rameses II, i.e. these
blocks were taken from the Ramesseum.
Room P contains a Ptolemaic naos (= shrine) which was brought in after the rear wall
had been taken down. Some stones of the rear wall still show today the
demotic signs which had been used to mark the position of stone which laid
next to each other. These marks were used during the re-erection of
the rear wall (see photo below).
|Demotic markers on two stones which were located in the rear wall next to each other.