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Monday, December 28, 2009

Hatshepsut Temple | Luxor Egypt Day 2

After the Valley of the Kings, we proceeded to the Hatshepsut Temple which was located not too far away. In Arabic the temple is called Al-Deir al-Bahari Temple. Hatshepsut was a female Pharaoh - an impressive figure in Ancient Egyptian history.

She was an 18th dynasty Pharaoh, daughter of Thuthmose I and Ahmes. When her father died her half brother, Thuthmose II, ascended to the throne. He was young, apparently younger than Hatshepsut herself.

The Egyptian tradition of having the Pharaoh marry a royal woman led Thuthmose II to marry Hatshepsut. (The women in Egypt carried the royal blood, not the males. To become Pharaoh, the man had to marry a female of royal blood, often a sister, half sister or other near relative. Usually it was the eldest daughter of the previous Pharaoh.) Thuthmose II died soon after becoming Pharaoh, leaving the widow Hatshepsut, a daughter Neferura, and a son by another wife - Thuthmose III.

Due to the young age of the Pharaoh, Hatshepsut became his regent. They ruled together for a number of years until she proclaimed herself Pharaoh (perhaps when Thuthmose III was reaching manhood) - something almost unheard of, despite the higher status of women in Egypt compared to women in other cultures at the time. Women could own land, inherit from family members, and even go to court to defend her rights. But before Hatshepsut, there were queens who had ruled Egypt... but not a female Pharaoh.

She managed to rule for about twenty years, before disappearing from history - coinciding with Thuthmose III's becoming Pharaoh in his own right.

Hatshepsut began to adopt several male attributes, after the Oracle of Amun pronounced it Amun's will that Hatshepsut should be Pharaoh. She gradually took on the new role, rather than appearing all at once as the Pharaoh. That would have been a drastic step - she was rather cautious. She dropped her titles relating to those only a woman could hold, and took on those of the Pharaoh, and slowly started the trend towards appearing like a male, wearing the shendyt kilt, nemes headdress with its uraeus, khat head cloth and false beard. She even, eventually, dropped the female ending from her name ('t') and became His Majesty, Hatshepsu.

Interesting! Her history is depicted on the walls of her impressive temple. However, there is evident damage. Someone, most likely Thuthmose III, tried to erase her name and image from every monument that may have had her name.

The temple is created out of the mountain - a sight to behold.


Hatshepsut Temple


Massive Mountains at the Hatshepsut Temple


Walking Up a Massive Ramp to Get to the Hatshepsut Temple




Inside the Hatshepsut Temple


After the visit to the Hatshepsut Temple, we were brought to an alabaster factory. They make the figurines and vases from alabaster by hand. Impressive.


Alabaster Factory at Luxor Egypt


Artisans work on Alabaster by Hand, Luxor Egypt


Artisans work on Alabaster by Hand, Luxor Egypt


We returned to our cruise ship for lunch. After a short rest, we went to visit the Colossi if Memnon in Luxor. The Colossi of Memnon are two massive stone statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. For the past 3400 years (since 1350 BC) they have stood in the Theban necropolis, across the River Nile from the modern city of Luxor. The statues are badly damaged - but the sheer size of it is remarkable.

The original function of the Colossi was to stand guard at the entrance to Amenhotep's memorial temple (or mortuary temple): a massive cult centre built during the pharaoh's lifetime, where he was worshipped as a god-on-earth both before and after his departure from this world. In its day, this temple complex was the largest and most opulent in Egypt.

Colossi of Memnon, Luxor Egypt

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