Page images


After four years of excavation, the beautiful temple " erected by the Queen Hatshepsu or Hatasu of the “XVIIIth dynasty (B.C. 1500) was entirely cleared of the “ chaotic mounds of rubbish and Coptic walls which almost “hid it from view. But after the conclusion of the excava" tions an unexplored space still remained to the south of " the temple, between it and the southern horn of the semi.. “circle of cliffs which rise at the back of Deir-el-Bahari, “ This space was likewise covered by confused mounds of “rubbish. During the winter season of 1903-4 the syste

matic exploration of this untouched tract has been begun " by us, working on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund, " and has already met with a success which promises well “ for further work on the same site. The chief result has “ been the discovery of another temple side by side with the

great building of Hatshepsu ; this is the most ancient "shrine yet discovered at Thebes, being the funerary

temple or mortuary chapel of the King Mentuhetep "Neb-kheru-rā of the XIth dynasty (B.C. 2500). Frag

ments of architraves, etc., bearing the name of this king " had previously been found at Deir-cl-Bahari by MM. "Mariette, Maspero, and Brugsch Bey, so that it had " always been known that an XIth dynasty building existed "hereabouts. Also some fragments of octagonal sandstone " columns, lying on the rubbish, had been conjectured to " belong to this building, and the present excavations have "shown this conjecture to be correct. But the precise "condition and nature of the building itself were unknown * until now.

It is in an unexpectedly good state of preservation, and is, as far as can be seen, one of the best

preserved of the few Egyptian temples which can show “any structures in situ older than the time of the XVIIIth "dynasty

It has already yielded results of great importance to our knowledge of Egyptian art and architecture. " A large number of the sculptured slabs which once


[ocr errors]

" adorned the walls of its pillared hall, some in good “preservation, others fragmentary, have been found among " the ruins. These originally depicted the coronation of "the king in whose honour it was built, his reception of “the magnates and chief warriors of his court and of “ tribute bearers, his servants driving the cattle belonging “to the domain of his temple, and cutting down reeds to “build boats with, the procession of funeral boats on the “ Nile--all scenes appropriate to the ante-chamber of a

royal tomb at that period. These reliefs vary in artistic

quality; some are of the rough style which has usually “ been supposed typical of the work of the XIth dynasty, “ but others are of very good work, equal to the best XIIth

dynasty, delicate in touch and at the same time bold and “ free in style. Further, the aspect of the new temple forces “ us to modify various speculations which have been made “ with regard to the origin of the peculiar style in which “ the great temple of Deir-el-Bahari, that of Hatshepsu, was

One of the greatest charms of this temple is “ the unconventionality of its design, with its ramps or

ascents leading up from court to court, its colonnades " on either side of the ramps, and its simple proto “Doric' columns, like those of the tombs at Beni Hasan. “ Hitherto this design has been unparalleled in Egypt, “and various theories have been propounded to account " for it. It has been supposed that the great queen wished

to model her temple on the terraced hills of Somaliland “ (Punt), from which her famous naval expedition brought “ back the strange animals and plants, the frankincense and “ myrrh, which are depicted on the walls of her temple. " The real explanation has only come to light with the discovery of the temple of Mentuhetep. This was built on “ an artificially-squared rock-platform, approached by an “ inclined ramp, flanked by colonnades (only one has as yet been exca

cavated). The pillars of the colonnade are of

" built.


We are


" the same square form as those of Hatshepsu's lower "colonnades, and its sculptured facing-wall has the same balter or slope. Further, the pillars of the temple-hall

on the platform are of the 'proto-Doric' type of those " of Hatshepsu's upper colonnades, the Shrine of Anubis,

etc.; the only difference being that they are eight-sided,

while Hatshepsu's are sixteen-sided. “ reminded that the 'proto-Doric' column is unknown after " the Middle Empire, except in Hatshepsu's temple, whereas " its most typical form is found in the XIIth dynasty tombs

at Beni Hasan, and it occurs in other early tombs ; further, “ we find a modification of it used as a decorative motive " in the 'proto-Doric' pillar form commonly given to the "central supports of the head-rests which are found in “ tombs of the Vth and VIth dynasties. It is, in fact, " typically early. The conclusion is obvious : Hatshepsu's " architects simply imitated and enlarged upon the design of " the older temple of Mentuhetep which had already existed “at Deir-el-Bahari for a thousand years before they began " their work; for some reason they chose, instead of "building in the style of their time, to imitate an XIth

dynasty temple; the great temple of Deir-el-Bahari is " then simply a magnificent piece of archaism. Since

Hatshepsu copied her temple from one of the XIth "dynasty, a further interesting possibility presents itself.

Hatshepsu's expedition to Punt is the only one known to " us at the comparatively late period of the New Empire; “all other known relations between Egypt and Punt are "confined to the period between the Vth and Vith "dynasties. Mentuhetep Sankhkara, a follower of Neb" kheru-rā on the throne, sent an expedition to Punt. It "may well be that Hatshepsu's expedition was merely an

echo of those of Sankhkara and his predecessors; she "copied the XIth dynasty in her temple building, and "carried her archaistic tendencies so far as to imitate them “ also in sending an expedition to Punt. The new dis

covery explains why Hatshepsu's architects, instead of ' building in the exact centre of the circus of Deir-el-Bahari, " crammed the new temple up against the northern slope “ of the cliffs, leaving the great space to the south which “ had seemed unoccupied until this season's work. We now "see that they were compelled to do this by the presence, “ which we moderns had hardly suspected, of the older

temple at Deir-el-Bahari. This temple, the newly dis“ covered one, certainly existed side by side with the new "temple of Hatshepsu, throughout the XVIIIth dynasty, “and did not fall into ruin until the Ramesside period or “later. One of the pillars of the hypostyle hall bears the “ royal label of a Rameses. The relief-slabs of the hall and “the pillars of the colonnade are covered with Ramesside

graffiti, both written and incised, and the colonnade

seems indeed to have been used as a sort of school or “practice ground for young scribes and decorators. This " would hardly have been tolerated if the building had still “ been in good repair, so that we can date its decadence “ with some certainty to the Ramesside period. As it was, “ in order to obtain room for their temple at all, Hatshepsu's “ architects were compelled to plant its upper platform, and “the shrine of the goddess Hathor adjoining, right on the

top of part of the temenos-wall of the older temple. This

comes out from under the XVIIIth dynasty building and "passes along masking the face of the cliff, till it joins, at "a remarkably acute angle, the facing-wall of the platform “ of the XIth dynasty temple. The platform, which was

originally about 15 to 18 feet high, is separated from the “ Hathor shrine of Hatshepsu's temple by an open court “some 60 feet broad. Its facing-wall, of remarkably fine

stonework, reminding one of Knossos and of the nearly

contemporary walls of Dashur in its general effect, and far “superior to anything of the kind in Hatshepsu's temple, is

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"about 120 feet long, running nearly east and west, roughly " parallel with the later temple. The platform is rectangular; " its eastern side is cut off vertically like the northern side, " and the facing-wall follows its right-angled turn round into " the colonnade. The stone pavement of the colonnade is "perfectly preserved ; it is 68 feet long and 14 feet wide. “Of its columns, which originally numbered 24, disposed "in two parallel rows of 12 each, the row nearest the "platform is complete. The columns, which are a little “over 2 feet square, were originally 11 feet or 12 feet high. They are broken off short at a height of from 4 feet to " 7 feet above the ground. The ramp at the southern end

of the colonnade has not yet been excavated. This

ramp led up to a great entrance gate on the platform, of " which the original finely-polished red granite threshold,

measuring 9 feet by 5 feet, was discovered in position, " with its door-socket, etc. This gate leads directly into "the hypostyle hall of octagonal 'proto-Doric' columns which

has already been mentioned. These pillars are small and " thin; they are about 2 feet 6 inches in diameter, and rest

upon circular bases 4 feet across. The bases of all are in "position, but of the pillars themselves only a few remain ; “the highest (now covered up again for the summer) is “about 9 feet high. Each bears the royal titles of King

Mentuhetep, as do also the square columns of the "colonnade below, and, like these also, they are made, “not of the white limestone which was used for the "facing-walls and relief-blocks of the temple and for “ similar columns of Hatshepsu's temple, but of a grey "sandstone which seems to have been specially affected " by Mentuhetep Neb-kheru-rā; we find it also in "work of his at Abydos. At Deir-el-Bahari the sand

stone columns are covered with a white colour-wash ; the “ hieroglyphs are sometimes blue, sometimes yellow. There

seem to have been eight rows of columns on either

[ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »