Reconstructed Temple of the Night Sun in Mortuary of Queen Hatshepsut opens to the public
More than 1.2 million rotations of the Earth on its axis since her death, Queen Hatepshut has not been eradicated from memory by her ancient successors. Far from it. Still today, nearly 3,500 years after she died, scholars are working to remember this monarch of ancient Egypt by rebuilding and refurbishing her vast temple in the Theban necropolis near Luxor.
In February 2015 officials opened the part of her temple upon which work was most recently completed, the temple of the Night Sun, where ancient priests invoked the famous solar deities of ancient Egypt, including Ra and Amun-Ra.
Polish and Egyptians scholars and officials did an opening ceremony of the Solar Cult Complex in the temple of Hatshepsut. Polish conservators and archaeologists reconstructed the temple. (Photo: P.M. Jawornicki)
Hatshepsut was the longest reigning female pharaoh and was known as “The Woman Who Was King.” The Egyptian economy flourished during her time as pharaoh. She directed the construction and repair of many buildings, memorials and temples. However, upon her death, her successors tried to erase any memory of her. While the goal may have been to eradicate her from memory, these attempts only fueled the desire of modern civilizations to know more about her.
Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt about 3,500 years ago.
Her buildings were considered to be much grander than those of her predecessors, and many of her successors attempted to claim them as their own. Hatshepsut’s greatest building accomplishment was a mortuary temple built in a complex at Deir el-Bahri, located on the West bank of the Nile. This is considered one of the architectural marvels of ancient Egypt.
Polish and Egyptian archaeologists and officials recently celebrated the opening of a newly reconstructed part of her temple complex that Polish scholars and conservators have been
"There was … an attempt to reconstruct the original appearance of the courtyard of the Solar Altar. It is believed there could be a sacrificial table and two obelisks," said the website Science & Scholarship in Poland, quoting a press release.
The website says the “Solar Cult Complex is a group of rooms located in the northern part of the Upper Terrace, which consists of the Night Sun Chapel, Solar Altar Court and the Anubis Shrine. … This is the place of worship of Amun-Ra, as well as Ra- Horachty and Atum-Amunm, two other aspects of the solar god. Night Sun Chapel is located in the eastern part of the complex, reflecting the idea of the resurrection of the sun on the eastern horizon after an overnight journey by barge through the Underworld. Sculptural decoration of the chapel illustrated the overnight journey. The altar, according to Egyptian custom, is located in the courtyard under the open sky, so that the life-giving rays can reach it without hindrance. The priests would walk up the stairs to the top of the altar to offer sacrifice to the sun, the researchers believe.”
Twenty-two years after taking her reign as pharaoh, in around 1458 BC, Hatshepsut died, in her late 40s. She was buried in a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, in the hills behind Deir el-Bahri. She had her father’s sarcophagus relocated into her tomb as well, so they could lie together in death. After her passing, Thutmose III, Hatshepsut’s stepson, claimed the role of pharaoh, ruling for 30 years beyond Hatshepsut’s death. Thutmose III demanded that evidence of Hatshepsut’s rule be eradicated. He arranged for her image as pharaoh to be removed from temples and monuments. Thutmose III likely wanted to remove evidence that Egypt had been ruled by a strong woman. For this reason, scholars knew very little of Hatshepsut’s existence prior to 1822 A.D., when the hieroglyphics on the walls of Deir el-Bahri were decoded.
Upon discovery of her existence, there was much speculation as to the location of her remains. In 1902 archeologist Howard Carter discovered Hatshepsut’s sarcophagus, but it was empty. Many years later Dr. Zahi Hawass began searching for Hatshepsut’s mummy. He searched several tombs, finally perfectly matching a tooth from one box with a female mummy with a missing tooth. Testing was conducted, and through the power of modern forensic science, the mummy was positively identified as Hatshepsut in 2007. Now she is more famous than the son who tried to have her erased.
Remains of Pharaoh Queen Hatshepsut Identified (28/05/07): A DNA test of a single tooth was key to solving one of the greatest mysteries of ancient Egypt. Image source.
Featured image: The Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri. ( Image source: Wikipedia)
By Mark Miller