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Deir el-Bahri

The Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

A popular visitor attraction for the many tourists that choose to holiday cruising the Nile, or taking a hotel break in the nearby city of Luxor, is Deirel-Bahri, also sometimes referred to as Deir el-Bahari, it lies between the Valley of the Queens and the Valley of the Kings on the west bank of the Nile opposite the city of Luxor which stands on the Eastern bank. This is the site of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut, daughter of Tuthmose I and Aahmes. Hatshepsut married her half brother who later became Tuthmose II, but in 1479 B.C.Tuthmose II died. At this point his son from one of his concubines named Moutnofrit, was declared heir to the throne as Tuthmose III. Until he became old enough to take on the responsibility, Hatshepsut took on the role of Regent. This went on until 1473 B.C. when Tuthmose was old enough to take over the throne for himself, but instead Hatshepsut declared herself Pharaoh, and became the fifth ruler of the 18th dynasty, this lasted until her disappearance and assumed death in 1458 B.C. Often pictured in Pharonic dress and wearing a false beard, Hatshepsut is now regarded as one of the most successful pharaohs of ancient Egypt where she resided over a time when trade flourished, temples were restored and many more built. She was also the only female Pharaoh, a mysterious break in Egyptian tradition, but one that seems to have been accepted purely based on her ability to do the job so successfully.

Hatshepsuts Architect and builder was a man named Senmut, he started out as a tutor for the family but soon grew to  position of great power during Hatshepsuts rule. The name Deir el-Bahri came from a Coptic monastery of the 7th century. The ancient Egyptians name for the temple was "Djeser Djeseru" translated as "Splendour of Splendours". The temple, built, into the Theban hills, has a design akin to much more modern temples. The temple has columned halls on top of each other with two wide ramps leading up to the first and second floors. The whole temple is dwarfed by the hills behind, on the other side of which lies the Valley of the Kings. There once was a processional way lined with sphinxes leading from the banks of the Nile all the way to the lower ramp.  A number of these sphinxes can now be seen in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, USA.

Three of the restored statues on the uppermost level, depicting Hatshepsut wearing a false beard and the twin crown of upper and lower Egypt. It is believed that the statues were damaged after her death under the orders of Tuthmose III as an act of revenge for depriving him from what he considered as his rightful status as the true Pharaoh.

Dispite Hatshepsuts undoubted ability and political astuteness, her reign came to an end after an uprising was put down by Tuthmose III and he took the throne for himself. After her death Tuthmose III attempted to remove any evidence of her rule, this is the reason why the site at Deit el-Bahri suffered such extensive damage and why so much restoration work has had to be carried out and still continues to this day.

Hatshepsut temple Deir el-Bahri 1 Hatshepsut temple Deir el-Bahri 2 Hatshepsut temple Deir el-Bahri 3 Hatshepsut temple Deir el-Bahri 4 Hatshepsut temple Deir el-Bahri 5

These are some of the images from the walls within the temple. They are not as bright and vivid as some of the examples that can be found within the tombs of the neighbouring valleys of the Kings and Queens, but considering that these are painted on walls that are to all extents external, we must consider ourselves lucky that there is  anything left to see at all.