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Burial complex of Mentuhotep II

The Temples at Deir el Bahri (the temple of Mentuhotep II is in the foreground, that of Hatshepsut is behind)

Instead of building a 'saff' tomb like those of his predecessors, Mentuhotep II decided to build an impressive tomb by the cliffs of Deir el Bahri (the same location chosen in the 18th dynasty by Hatshepsut). A T-shaped terrace was built using masonary and by using the natural rock. The walls built on this terrace were then decorated both inside and out with painted relief carving.

Pyramid or no pyramid?
The question of whether or not the temple / tomb was topped with a pyramid has proved a problem (move the mouse over the picture to see both versions of the reconstruction). Previous reconstructions thought that there was a pyramid - the Abbott Papyrus refered to Mentuhotep II's tomb with the word for 'pyramid'. But recent investigations have shown that the structure could not have the supported the additional weight of a pyramid (also by the time of the Ramesside kings the word for 'pyramid' had changed to mean a more general term for 'tomb').


 statue of Mentuhotep II from his temple/tomb

 The tomb within the temple
In the centre of the court the entrance to the burial shaft for Mentuhotep's tomb begins as a rectangular trench. The trench becomes a tunnel through the rock of the mountain, the first part of the tunnel clad in sandstone with niches that once held wooden human models showing them working in bakeries, granaries and ships.
The tunnel descends 150m and ends in a burial chamber 44.9m below the court. The chamber held an alabaster shrine (taking up three-quarters of the room), this shrine once held the wooen coffin of Mentuhotep II.

The Gate of the Horseman
In the plain in front of the temple is an entrance to a deep tunnel which leads to a chamber beneath the temple.

Other burials at the temple:
The Tombs of the Royal Ladies
In 1920 shrines and shaft tombs belonging to 6 women belonging to the royal circle:
Henhenet, Kemsit, Kawit, Sadeh, Ashayt and Muyet.
All were under 20 years old (Muyet the youngest was about 5)
Burials surrounding the temple:
many other burials from the period have also been found near to the temple/tomb of Mentuhotep II:
Queen Tem (mother of Mentuhotep III), Queen Neferu (Mentuhotep II's wife and sister). The chancellor Akhtoy, viziers Dagi and Ipi, the Chief Steward Henenu. (Dagi's impressive limestone sarcophagus had a full version of the Coffin Texts)
Also nearby was a mass tomb of 60 soldiers killed who were killed in battle - most likely in Nubia. All had been shot by missiles falling from above, the few that had only been wounded were killed by a blow to the head. Marks on the bodies by birds of prey show that the bodies were left on the battlefield for some time before they had been recovered for burial.