Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

An image of the front of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Updated On: June 01, 2024 by   Ciaran ConnollyCiaran Connolly

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is one of the most significant discoveries in Egypt, and many tourists worldwide come to visit. It was built by Queen Hatshepsut about 3000 years ago and is located in El Der El Bahary in Luxor. Queen Hatshepsut was the first female to rule Egypt, and during her reign, the country prospered and advanced. The Temple was sacred to the goddess Hathor and was the site of the earlier mortuary temple and tomb of King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep.

The History of the Queen Hatshepsut Temple

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Queen Hatshepsut was the daughter of Pharaoh King Thutmose I. She ruled Egypt from 1503 BC until 1482 BC. At the beginning of her reign, she faced many problems because it was thought that she killed her husband to seize power.

The Temple was designed by the architect Senenmut, who is buried under it. Its distinctive architectural design distinguishes it from the rest of the Egyptian temples.

Over the centuries, the Temple was vandalized by many Pharaonic kings, like Tuthmosis III, who removed his stepmother’s name, Akhenaten, who removed all references to Amun; and the early Christians, who turned it into a monastery and defaced the pagan reliefs.

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut consists of three consecutive floors built entirely of limestone. In front of the second-floor columns are limestone statues of the god Osiris and Queen Hatshepsut. These statues were originally coloured, but little remains of the colours now.

There are many inscriptions on the temple’s walls of marine journeys sent by Queen Hatshepsut to the country of Punt for trade and to bring incense, as it was a tradition at that time for them to present incense to the gods to gain their approval and all that has been depicted in paintings on their temples showing them making offerings and incense to various gods.

Queen Hatshepsut was interested in building temples, believing that the temples were paradise for the god Amun in the old Egyptian civilization. She also constructed other temples for other gods where the shrines of Hathor and Anubis were found, making it a funeral temple for her and her parents.

It was believed that Queen Hatshepsut built many temples to assure the royal family members of her entitlement to the throne and to address the religious conflicts that resulted from the Akhenaten revolution.

Hatshepsut Temple from the Inside

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut – Hatshepsut Temple – Pharaoh Hatshepsut – Travel to Egypt

When you enter the temple on the southern side of the Middle Terrace, you will find the Chapel of Hathor. On the north side is the Lower Chapel of Anubis, and when you go to the upper terrace, you will find the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re, the Royal Cult Complex, the Solar Cult Complex, and the Upper Chapel of Anubis.

During its time, the temple was different from how it looks now, where many archaeological monuments were destroyed due to the passage of time, erosion factors, and climate. There were statues of rams lining a pathway leading to the temple and a big gate in front of two trees inside a luxurious fence. These trees were considered sacred in the Egyptian Pharaonic religion. There were also many palm trees and ancient pharaonic papyrus plants, but unfortunately, they were destroyed.

On the temple’s western side, iwans are roofed on two rows of massive columns. On the north side, the iwans are worn out, but there are still some remains of Pharaonic inscriptions and engravings of bird hunting and other activities they did.

On the southern side, the iwans contain clear Pharaonic inscriptions until today. In the courtyard, there are 22 square columns; besides that, you will see 4 columns following the northern iwan. It was the place where births were given in the temple. To the south, you will find Hathor’s temple opposite Anubis’s.

The temple of Queen Hatshepsut has a central structure chamber, where you will see two square columns. Two doors direct you to four small structures, and on the ceiling and walls, you will see some drawings and inscriptions that represent the stars in the sky in unique colours and Queen Hatshepsut and King Thames III as they present offerings to Hathor.

You can reach the third floor from the central courtyard, where you will see the tomb of Queen Nefro. Her tomb was discovered in 1924 or 1925. In the upper courtyard of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, there are 22 columns and statues of Queen Hatshepsut that were assigned the form of Osiris. Still, when King Tuthmosis III was in control, he converted them into square columns. There was a row of 16 columns; most were destroyed, but some remain today.

Altar Room

In the temple of Queen Hatshepsut, there is a large limestone altar dedicated to the god Horem Ikhti and a tiny funerary structure devoted to worshipping Queen Hatshepsut’s ancestors. To its west is the Amun room, where you will find some drawings of Queen Hatshepsut presenting two boats to Min Amun. However, over the years, these drawings have been destroyed.

Another room is dedicated to the god Amun-Ra, and inside, you will find the engravings of Queen Hatshepsut, who is giving offerings to Amun Min and Amun Ra. One of the fascinating archaeological discoveries in the temple area was a large group of royal mummies uncovered in 1881. A few years later, a vast grave containing 163 mummies of priests was also discovered. Also, another tomb was found of Queen Merit Amun, daughter of King Tahtmos III and Queen Merit Ra.

Anubis Chapel

It is located on the second level at the north end of the Hatshepsut Temple. Anubis was the god of embalming and the cemetery. He was frequently represented with a man’s body and the head of a jackal resting on a small plinth. He faces a heap of offerings that reach eight levels from the bottom to the top.

Hathor Chapel

Hathor was the guardian of the area of El Deir el-Bahri. When you enter, you will see columns filling this chapel’s court, like a sistrum, a harmony instrument associated with the goddess of love and music. The top of the column looks like a female head with cow ears topped with a crown. The curved sides ending in spirals are perhaps suggestive of cow horns. The chapel is located at the south end of the second level of the temple. Since Hathor was the guardian of that area, it was appropriate to find a chapel devoted to her inside Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple.

Osiride Statue

This is one of the famous statues located in Hatshepsut’s mortuary temple. Osiris was the Egyptian god of resurrection, fertility, and the other world. He is depicted holding a crook and flail as sceptres as symbols of his control over nature. The Osiride statue has the exact features of Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh; you will see the statue wearing the Double Crown of Egypt and a false beard with a curved tip.

The Phenomenon of the Sun Rising over the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

This is one of the most beautiful phenomena when sunrise rays hit the temple at a certain angle on the holy of holies. It happens twice a year: on 6 January, when the Ancient Egyptians celebrated the feast of Hathor, the symbol of love and giving, and on 9 December, when they celebrated the feast of Horus, the symbol of royal legitimacy and supremacy.

When you visit the temple on those days, you will see the sun’s rays infiltrating through the main gate of the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut as the sun crosses through the temple in a clockwise direction. Then the sun rays fall on the chapel’s rear wall and move across to light a statue of Osiris, then the light goes through the temple’s central axis, and then it lights some statues like the statue of the god Amen-Ra, the statue of King Thutmose III and the statue of Hapi, the Nile god.

This proves how ingenious the ancient Egyptians were and their progress in science and architecture. Most of the temples in Egypt have this phenomenon because the ancient Egyptians believed that these two days represented the emergence of light from darkness, which meant the beginning of the formation of the world.

Restoration Work on the Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

The restoration of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut took about 40 years, and the inscriptions were exposed to obliteration for many years. The restoration work began in 1960 with the efforts of the joint Egyptian-Polish mission. The target was to uncover other inscriptions of Queen Hatshepsut, which King Thutmose III previously removed from the temple walls because he believed that Hatshepsut had usurped the throne through imposed guardianship on him at a young age after the death of his father, King Tuthmosis II and that a woman had no right to assume the throne of the country. Some inscriptions referred to Hatshepsut’s trip to Somaliland, where she brought gold, statues, and incense.

Cultural Legacy

Influence on Egyptian Architecture

The architectural innovations of the Temple of Hatshepsut had a lasting impact on subsequent Egyptian architecture. Its harmonious integration with the natural landscape and the use of terraces became a model for later structures, including the nearby Temple of Thutmose III. The emphasis on axial alignment and the incorporation of astronomical elements also influenced later temple designs.

Hatshepsut’s Enduring Legacy

Hatshepsut’s legacy extends beyond her architectural achievements. As one of the few female pharaohs, she challenged traditional gender roles and left an indelible mark on Egyptian history. Her successful reign, marked by stability and prosperity, set a precedent for female leadership in a predominantly male-dominated society.

Modern Recognition

In modern times, the Temple of Hatshepsut has become a symbol of Egypt’s rich cultural heritage. It attracts scholars, historians, and tourists worldwide, drawn by its historical significance and architectural splendour. The temple’s inclusion in UNESCO’s World Heritage List underscores its universal value and the importance of preserving this ancient wonder.

Tickets and Opening Times

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and the ticket price is $10.
We recommend visiting the temple early in the morning to avoid the large crowds.

Conclusion

The Temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari stands as a monumental achievement of ancient Egyptian civilisation. Its architectural brilliance, historical significance, and cultural legacy make it a site of immense importance. Through its intricate design and rich symbolism, the temple offers a window into the life and reign of one of Egypt’s most remarkable pharaohs.

As we continue to explore and preserve this extraordinary site, we gain a deeper understanding of the complexities and achievements of ancient Egypt. The Temple of Hatshepsut not only honours the memory of a great ruler but also serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of human creativity and ingenuity.

One comment on “Temple of Queen Hatshepsut

  1. She was the only female Pharaoh. Not sure whey you are calling her a queen. She paved the way for trade and the country was rich with her guidance. She was a Pharaoh and earned it.

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