Deir el-Bahari

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Dayr el-Bahari or Dayr el-Bahri ( literally meaning, "The Northern Monastery") is a complex of mortuary temples and tombs located on the west bank of the Nile, opposite the city of Luxor, Egypt.

The first monument built at the site was the mortuary temple of Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh dynasty. It was constructed during the 15th century BCE.

During the Eighteenth dynasty, Amenhotep I and Hatshepsut also built extensively at the site.


Mortuary temple of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep:

Mentuhotep II, Eleventh Dynasty king who reunited Egypt at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, built a very unusual funerary complex. His mortuary temple was built on several levels in the great bay at Deir el-Bahari. It was approached by a 16-metre-wide (150-ft) causeway leading from a valley temple which no longer exists.
The mortuary temple itself consists of a forecourt, enclosed by walls on three sides, and a terrace on which stands a large square structure that may represent the primeval mound that arose from the waters of chaos. As the temple faces east, the structure is likely to be connected with the sun cult of Rê and the resurrection of the king.

From the eastern part of the forecourt, an opening called the Bab el-Hosan ('Gate of the Horseman') leads to an underground passage and an unfinished tomb or cenotaph containing a seated statue of the king. On the western side, tamarisk and sycamore trees were planted beside the ramp leading up to the terrace. At the back of the forecourt and terrace are colonnades decorated in relief with boat processions, hunts, and scenes showing the king's military achievements.
Statues of the Twelfth Dynasty king Senusret III were found here too.

The inner part of the temple was actually cut into the cliff and consists of a peristyle court, a hypostyle hall and an underground passage leading into the tomb itself. The cult of the dead king centred on the small shrine cut into the rear of the Hypostyle Hall.

The mastaba-like structure on the terrace is surrounded by a pillared ambulatory along the west wall, where the statue shrines and tombs of several royal wives and daughters were found. These royal princesses were the priestesses of Hathor, one of the main ancient Egyptian funerary deities. Although little remained of the king's own burial, six sarcophagi were retrieved from the tombs of the royal ladies (Ashayet, Henhenet, Kawit, Kemsit, Muyet and Sadhe). Each was formed of six slabs, held together at the corners by metal braces and carved in sunken relief. The sarcophagus of Queen Kawit, now in the Cairo Museum, is particularly fine.

The burial shaft and subsequent tunnel descend for 150 meters and end in a burial chamber 45 meters below the court. The chamber held a shrine, which once held the wooden coffin of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep. A great tree-lined court was reached by means of the processional causeway, leading up from the valley temple. Beneath the court, a deep shaft was cut which led to unfinished rooms believed to have been intended originally as the king’s tomb. A wrapped image of the pharaoh was discovered in this area by Howard Carter. The temple complex also held six mortuary chapels and shaft tombs built for the pharaoh's wives and daughters.


Mortuary temple of Hatshepsut:

The focal point of the Deir el-Bahari complex is the Djeser-Djeseru meaning "the Holy of Holies", the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. It is a colonnaded structure, which was designed and implemented by Senemut, royal steward and architect of Hatshepsut (and believed by some to be her lover)[citation needed], to serve for her posthumous worship and to honor the glory of Amun.

Djeser-Djeseru sits atop a series of colonnaded terraces, reached by long ramps that once were graced with gardens. It is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it, and is largely considered to be one of the "incomparable monuments of ancient Egypt". It is 97 feet (30 m) tall.[citation needed]

The unusual form of Hatshepsut's temple is explained by the choice of location, in the valley basin of Deir el-Bahari, surrounded by steep cliffs. It was here, in about 2050 BC, that Mentuhotep II, the founder of the Middle Kingdom, laid out his sloping, terrace-shaped mortuary temple. The pillared galleries at either side of the central ramp of the Djeser Djeseru correspond to the pillar positions on two successive levels of the Temple of Mentuhotep.

Today the terraces of Deir el-Bahari only convey a faint impression of the original intentions of Senemut. Most of the statue ornaments are missing - the statues of Osiris in front of the pillars of the upper colonnade, the sphinx avenues in front of the court, and the standing, sitting, and kneeling figures of Hatshepsut; these were destroyed in a posthumous condemnation of this pharaoh. The architecture of the temple has been considerably altered as a result of misguided reconstruction in the early twentieth century A.D.
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