Deir el-Bahri

Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

 18th Dynasty

The various parts of the temple

(at the bottom left of the picture can just be seen the remains of the Mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II (11th Dynasty).

Lower Court

Although the majority of the scenes here have been destroyed, some do still survive - most notiably a scene of Tuthmosis III dancing before the god Min, and also a scene showing the journey of two obelisks down the Nile (see were erected at the temple of Karnak).

Middle Court

Anubis Chapel

Any scenes of Hatshepsut have been destroyed, but scenes showing Tuthmosis III still survive (he is shown worshipping Seker). The chapel also has figures of many gods - Anubis, Nekheb, Uaset, Amen-Ra, Harmachis, Osiris (but Anubis occurs the most - in one scene Hatshepsut (now erased) makes offerings to him).

Anubis Chapel

Birth Colonnade

These scenes are a repetition of scenes carved on the walls of the temple at Karnak and show Hatshepsut's divine birth (these scenes are now much damaged, mostly due to a vengeful Tuthmosis III, but also to Akhenaten who had the images of Amun-Re erased as part of his religious crusade).

The scenes start with Amen-Ra and an astral version of the unborn Hatshepsut, the gods decide that Queen Ahmose (wife of Tuthmosis I) would be a perfect mother for this unborn child. Once this has been decided Amun-Re comes down to Earth and enters Ahmose's chamber after assuming the form of Tuthmosis I (Amun-Re at first finds Ahmose asleep but his godly presence wakes her), using his divine breath he impregnates Ahmose. Before he leaves, Amun-Re reveals his true nature to Ahmose and then that she will give birth to a daughter who will live to rule Egypt. Amun-Re then visits the god Khnum and tells him to fashion a human body for the unborn Hatshepsut:

Queen Ahmose is now heavily pregnant, she is led to the birthing room by the gods Heket and Khnum:

The Queen is then shown with midwives at the time of the birth, various gods also attend the birth (including Meskhent the goddess of births), after the birth two Hathor goddesses suckle the baby and its astral self. Finally the goddess of history, Safkhet, makes a record of Hatshepsut's birth.

Punt Colonnade

These scenes show the famous expedition to Punt during Hatshepsut's reign. The story begins with the Egyptian expedition (in two boats) arriving at the mysterious land of Punt, the sailors are rowing as the boats reach their destination:

"Arriving at the goodly way into God's Land, journeying in peace to the land of Punt".

Once the Egyptians land, a force of soldiers carrying spears, axes and shields are made ready in case of attack.The Egyptians have also brought with them some items to trade (strings of beads, an axe, a dagger, some bracelets and a wooden chest. The people of Punt welcome the Egyptians warmly, the Chief of Punt - Parahu - steps forward to meet the Egyptian officer (Parahu's wife is shown behind him, many different explanantions have been offered to explain her strange appearance ranging from suffering from a disease to being overweight), two sons and a servant drive along a donkey which the queen, Parahu's wife, sometimes rides:

The men of Punt then address the Egyptians:

"Why have you come into this land, which the people of Egypt do not know? Did you come down the ways of heaven, or did you sail upon the sea and upon the water's of God's land? Or have you trodden the path of the sun? As for the King of Egypt, is there no way unto his majesty that we may live by the breath which he gives?"

The village in which the people of Punt live is also shown:

The houses appear to have been built on stilts as the water seems to come right up to the steps.

The people of Punt then present the Egyptians with incense, gold rings and other valuable items - the Egyptians then give a feast in honour of thanks to the Chieftain of Punt.

The Egyptian soldiers are then shown carrying incense trees back to the ship in baskets:

The ships are shown, the baskets are being carried on board by the soldiers - along with many other items ( including a baboon, and trees in pots):

"The loading of the ships very heavily with the marvels from the land of Punt; all goodly fragrant woods, heaps of myrrh-resin, with fresh myrrh trees, with ebony and pure ivory, with green gold of Amu, with cinnamon-wood, khesyt-wood, with ahmut-incense, senter-incense, eye cosmetic, with apes, monkeys, dogs, with skins of the southern panther, and with natives and their children"

Other scenes then show the boats on their triumphant return to Egypt, thirty-one incense trees have been brought safely back along with cattle, incense leaves, skins, chests of gold, panthers, and other animals along with silver, lazuli, malachite and other precious stones.

Hathor Chapel

Several of the columns in the chapel have been destroyed, although the surviving columns show them to have Hathor capitals similar to those found at Denderah:

In a festival scene, soldiers run forward carrying branches of trees along with their axes.

Tuthmosis III is shown presenting a sacred oar to Hathor, Hatshepsut dances before Hathor, Hathor licks the hand of an enthroned pharaoh. In the shrine of the Hathor Chapel, Hatshepsut is shown suckling one of Hathor's udders, and at the end of the chapel Hatshepsut is shown seated between Hathor and Amun-Re.

The Upper Court

The name of Hatshepsut in this upper level has in most places been replaced by that of Tuthmosis III. The Upper Court consists of niches in the wall, in the middle is a doorway which leads to the inner sanctuary. The decoration inside consists of scenes of gods (Harmachis (there is also a limestone altar to Harmachis - any other gods near to this altar were destroyed by Akhenaten - Harmachis was as a form of the Aten) , Amun-Re, Min), once more any figures of Hatshepsut have been destroyed. There are also scenes of Tuthmosis I and Queen Senseneb (Tuthmosis I's possible mother - if he was a son of Amenhotep I) making offerings to Anubis.

Two images which come from the Upper Court - Hatshepsut, and a figure of Senenmut from one of the niches

The Sanctuary

In here there are various scenes of offerings to Amun-Re; Hatshepsut and her daughter Raneferu kneel before the barque of Amun-Re; Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III and the Princess Raneferu sacrifice to the barque of Amen-Re. The most inner room of the Sanctuary was re-built in Ptolemaic times and scenes honour the deified Imhotep and Amenhotep son of Hap.


The Mortuary Temple after Hatshepsut.

After Hatshepsut's death, Tuthmosis III replaced her image with his own - or erased her image completely as detailed above. Akhenaten then attacked the image of Amun-Re during his religious 'crusade' against the old gods, some additions to the temple were made by Ramesses II, Merneptah inscribed his name on the walls, in the Ptolemaic Period made some repairs to the temple (and mistook the temple to be in honour of Imhotep and Amenhotep son of Hap). Finally a Christian Monastery was built upon the ruins which left little of original temple visible.

Many burials are also to be found placed around the temple - in the 21st / 22nd Dynasty a cache of High Priests (163 mummies) was buried a few yards to the north of the temple.