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The temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Luxor  
       By Seif Kamel

 
In a spot sacred to the goddess Hathor in the West Bank of Luxor, situated under the foot of one of the huge Theban Mountains, the Queen Hatshepsut has built her mortuary temple that was so fascinating that was called many names in ancient times. One of these names was "The splendor of splendors".
 
 
   
    Who was Queen Hatshepsut  
  Hatshepsut was the first queen to rule over Egypt in the ancient Egyptian history. Despite the fact that there were many people and royal members who objected the idea of having lady to rule over Egypt, she was able, through her many achievements to prove her abilities to be one of the most important and successful rulers of Egypt throughout history.

 Hatshepsut was the daughter of king Tuthmosis III, who was an important army leader during the reign of the 18th dynasty. However, Tuthmosis III didn’t have the royal right to be the king of Egypt. This was because he didn’t belong to the royal family as he was a noble who married a royal princess, Ahmose, the mother of Hatshepsut.  

By marring the royal bride, Tuthmosis III was able to declare himself as the king of Egypt. However after the death of the mother of Hatshepsut, he had to step down and there were many complicated debates concerning who would rule Egypt after him. The Royal court at the time decided that Hatshepsut, who was a royal princess, should be the legitimate ruler of Egypt.  

When Hatshepsut became the queen of Egypt, she wanted to prove to all the people that they took the right decision to make her the ruler of Egypt. This was why she started a process of internal reforms that included digging canals to enable the irrigation water to reach more lands to be cultivated. She restored many of the temples that were constructed in later periods.  

Hatshepsut has also started a series of trading journeys especially to the lands of Punt to export wood and perfumes to be used in Egypt. Her mortuary temple, located in the West bank of Luxor is the strongest evident on how strong and successful she was as the first queen to rule over the land of the Nile.

 
 
    The discovery and the name of the temple of Hatshepsut   
  Although travelers visiting the West Bank of Luxor in the 19th century gave exact details and descriptions of temples like the Ramesseum and the Temple of Madinet Habu, they have never mentioned anything about the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.

This was probably because the temple of the great ancient Egyptian queen at that time only consisted mainly of a pile of dust and ruins on which a Christian monument was established.    

This large Christian structure that was established in the same location of the temple of Hatshepsut gave its name to the site.

The whole complex was called "Al Deir Al Bahry", or the Northern Monastery in the Arabic Language, for a very long time and some people still, until today, use this term to refer to the temple of Hatshepsut.

 
    The discovery of the Temple of Hatshepsut
  It wasn't until 1858, when Auguste Mariette, the famous founder of modern excavations in Egypt, led a mission to unearth the structures of the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut.  

Other archeological excavation missions, including these of Eduard Naville in 1891 and Herbert Winlock in 1931, that were trying to reveal the secrets of the Temple of Hatshepsut, were able to discover the ruins of the most ancient temple built in that spot which is the temple of Mentuhotep II, the founder of the 11th dynasty.  

In 1961, a Polish Egyptian mission has began the excavation work once again discovering the ruins of the mortuary temple of Tuthmosis III. The scholars belonging to this mission were able to discover all the wonders that we see today when we visit the Temple of Hatshepsut or El Deir Al Bahry Complex

 Queen Hatshepsut, the only lady to rule over Egypt as a pharaoh, was very wise when she chose senenmut, a high governmental official in her region, one of the cleverest architectures in ancient history,  and the tutor of Nefru Ra, the only daughter of the queen Hatshepsut, to construct her mortuary temple. This temple, when it was built between the periods from 1480 to 1455, it was extremely divine for all the ancient Egyptians that they even called it "the sacred of sacreds".

 
    The description of the temple of Hatshepsut  
  The temple of Hatshepsut mainly consists of three trances ranging in levels with the first one constructed at the facade of the temple, the second which is called the upper terrace was built on the second floor,  and the third which is the highest contains the sanctuary of Amun to which the temple was dedicated together with the god Re-Herkhaty.  
 
    The Punt Portico  
  The most interesting and most visited part of the temple of Hatshepsut is so-called punt portico. Located in the Southern part of the colonnade that closes the second terrace, this section of the temple is truly fascinating.

The drawings and colorful scenes carved on the walls of this part of the temple illustrate an expedition mission that went to the land of Punt, near Nubia, during the rule of the Queen Hatshepsut.   The main objective of this expedition mission that consisted of five huge ships was to obtain perfumes and wood from these lands to be used in the land of the Nile.

History tells us that more than thirty Myrrh trees were transported from the land of Punt to Luxor to be transplanted in the Karnak Temple

 
    The Chapel of Hathor    
  One of the most significant and beautiful elements of the temple of Queen Hatshepsut in El Deir Al Bahry Complex in the West Bank of Luxor is the chapel of Hathor. It lies directly to the south of the Punt Portico.  

The chapel of Hathor consists of six pillars decorated with the Hathor capital on top, eight huge decorated columns, and a hypostyle hall that includes 12 columns.  

Afterwards, the guest reaches the sanctuary, which is not open for pubic now, and where many of the secret ceremonies dedicated to the worship of the Hathor, the goddess of love, pleasure, and beauty in ancient Egypt, took place.   T

he decorations and drawings on the walls of the vestibule and hypostyle hall contain images of the goddess Hathor disguised as a cow as a representation of fertility and generosity.

 
    The Chapel of Anubis  
   This chapel is situated exactly in the same position as the chapel of Hathor, but on the left hand side of the entrance to the second terrace of the temple.

The walls of the chapel of Anubis exhibit scenes of the divine birth of the Queen Hatshepsut. All the rituals of this holy birth are performed by the god Amun in the disguise of the father of the Queen, Tuthmosis III.  

 The chapel of Anubis, the same as the chapel of Hathor, consists of a hypostyle hall containing 12 columns supporting an astronomical ceiling. At the end of this hall, there is also a rock cut sanctuary, which is not open for public.

The most amazing feature of the chapel of Anubis is the ornaments and decorations of the hypostyle hall which is almost flawlessly intact.  

 
    The statues of Queen Hatshepsut disguised as a Pharaoh  
  The tall columns of the upper terrace of the temple are decorated with outstanding Osiride statues of the Queen Hatshepsut represented as a male king with a beard.   
 
Many of these statues were damaged with time passing by. However, many of them were restored to be in a perfect shape.

These statues are among the most remarkable elements of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut.

 
    The Punt Portico  
  The most interesting and most visited part of the temple of Hatshepsut is so-called punt portico. Located in the Southern part of the colonnade that closes the second terrace, this section of the temple is truly fascinating.

The drawings and colorful scenes carved on the walls of this part of the temple illustrate an expedition mission that went to the land of Punt, near Nubia, during the rule of the Queen Hatshepsut.   The main objective of this expedition mission that consisted of five huge ships was to obtain perfumes and wood from these lands to be used in the land of the Nile.

History tells us that more than thirty Myrrh trees were transported from the land of Punt to Luxor to be transplanted in the Karnak Temple

 
 
 
The Karnak Temple

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The tombs of the Valley of the Kings originally contained many other items that were transferred to the Egyptian Museum like the royal belongings of the king that he will use in the afterlife
 
The Queen Hatshepsut Temple

In a spot sacred to the goddess Hathor in the West Bank of Luxor, situated under the foot of one of the huge Theban Mountains, the Queen Hatshepsut has built her mortuary temple that was so fascinating that was called many names in ancient times
 
 
The Luxor Temple

Located in the heart of the modern city of Luxor, the Luxor temple, especially the two colossi of Ramses II situated at the entrance of the temple, has become a land mark of the city.
 
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