Medinet Habu (temple)
Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, from the air on the East side. The long wall facing the camera is the Northeast wall.
|Excavation dates||1859 and 1899|
The Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu is an important New Kingdom period structure in the West Bank of Luxor in Egypt. Aside from its size and architectural and artistic importance, the temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.
Modern identification and excavation
As for much of ancient Egypt, the first European to describe the temple in modern literature was Vivant Denon, who visited the temple in 1799-1801. Champollion described the temple in detail in 1829.
Initial excavation of the temple took place sporadically between 1859 and 1899, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. During these decades the main temple was cleared, and a large number of Coptic period buildings, including a substantial Coptic Church in the second court, were destroyed without notes or records being taken.
The further excavation, recording and conservation of the temple has been facilitated in chief part by the Architectural and Epigraphic Surveys of University of Chicago's Oriental Institute, almost continuously since 1924.
The temple, some 150 m long, is of orthodox design, and resembles closely the nearby mortuary temple of Ramesses II (the Ramesseum). The temple precinct measures approximately 210 m (690 ft). by 300 m (1,000 ft) and contains more than 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) of decorated wall reliefs. Its walls are relatively well preserved and it is surrounded by a massive mudbrick enclosure, which may have been fortified. The original entrance is through a fortified gate-house, known as a migdol (a common architectural feature of Asiatic fortresses of the time).
The first pylon leads into an open courtyard, lined with colossal statues of Ramesses III as Osiris on one side, and uncarved columns on the other. The second pylon leads into a peristyle hall, again featuring columns in the shape of Ramesses. This leads up a ramp that leads (through a columned portico) to the third pylon and then into the large hypostyle hall (which has lost its roof). Reliefs and actual heads of foreign captives were also found placed within the temple perhaps in an attempt to symbolise the king's control over Syria and Nubia.
Minor king list
The Medinet Habu king list is a procession celebrating the festival of Min, with the names of nine pharaohs. It can be found on the upper register of the eastern wall in the second courtyard.
Further reading and references
- Denon, Vivant (1803). Travels in Upper and Lower Egypt. p. 96.
- Lettres de M. Champollion le jeune, écrites pendant..., 18th letter
- Jeffreys, David (12 October 2012). Views of Ancient Egypt since Napoleon Bonaparte: Imperialism Colonialism and Modern Appropriations. Taylor & Francis. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-1-135-39404-2.
- Medinet Habu by M. Parsons
- "Medinet Habu: The Mortuary Temple". Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- "Medinet Habu". Retrieved 2012-02-06.
- William J. Murnane, United with Eternity – A Concise Guide to the Monuments of Medinet Habu, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago and the American University of Cairo Press, 1980. ISBN 0-918986-28-1
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu I, Earlier Historical Records of Ramses III (OIP 8; Chicago, 1930)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu II, Later Historical Records of Ramses III (OIP 9; Chicago, 1932)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu III, The Calendar, the 'Slaughter House,' and Minor Records of Ramses III (OIP 23; Chicago, 1934)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu IV, Festival Scenes of Ramses III (OIP 51; Chicago, 1940)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu V, The Temple Proper, part 1 (OIP 83; Chicago, 1957)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu VI, The Temple Proper, part 2 (OIP 84; Chicago, 1963)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu VII, The Temple Proper, part 3 (OIP 93; Chicago, 1964)
- The Epigraphic Survey, Medinet Habu VIII, The Eastern High Gate (OIP 94; Chicago, 1970)
- W. F. Edgerton, Medinet Habu Graffiti Facsimiles (OIP 36; Chicago, 1937)
- Uvo Hölscher, Medinet Habu 1924-1928. II The Architectural Survey of the Great Temple and Palace of Medinet Habu (season 1927-28). OIC, No. 5. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1929.
- H. J. Thissen, Die demotischen Graffiti von Medinet Habu: Zeugnisse zu Tempel und Kult im Ptolemäischen Ägypten (Demotische Studien 10; Sommerhausen, 1989)
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