The temple of Queen Hatshepsut in Deir El Bahari in Egypt is among the most characteristic temples in the whole country due to its distinct design and spectacular decoration. Unlike other temples, this one was built with limestone and was a funerary temple that belonged to the New Kingdom period.
The location of the temple is very unusual and it is situated directly against the rock which forms a natural amphitheatre around it so that the temple itself seems to grow from the living rock. This mortuary temple shares similar resemblance to the mortuary temple of Montuhotep which is located nearby. It’s believed that the temple was initially built from mud brick and was dedicated to Amenhotep I and Queen Ahmose Nefertari but it was later on destroyed and a new temple here was built dedicated to queen Hatshepsut.
More about Hatshepsut’s Temple
Hatshepsut seems to have been an intriguing character and it’s said that she ruled as a regent for Tuthmosis III who was her step son. But, she then rose to power as a pharaoh instead of passing down the throne to her son who became eligible for the same. Her temple is among the most spectacular monuments form ancient Egypt even when the same now remains in a semi ruined state. The temple was designed by Senenmut who designed the place as garden for the pharaoh’s father and had here planted exotic trees and shrubs from Punt which were planted in the lower courtyard. But after the death of Hatshepsut, Tuthmosis III and Akhenaten are believed to have intentionally damaged the monuments. During the Ptolemaic Period the temple was repaired in places which they apparently thought was dedicated to Imhotep and Amenhotep son of Hap. Sometime later, a Christian Monastery was built upon the ruins which covered much of the original temple. Today the temple is known as the Temple of Deir El-Bahri, which means in Arabic, the “Temple of the Northern monastery”.
The unique temple dedicated to Hatshepsut clearly reflects the serious conflict and disagreements which she had with her nephew and son in law which shows why since many of her statues were destroyed, and the followers of Tuthmosis III damaged most of her Cartouches, after the mysterious death of the queen.
The temple plan
The temple has three imposing terraces and two lower ones might have been full of trees. The southern part has one famous scene of transportation of Hatshepsut’s two obelisks. The 2nd terrace can now be reached by a ramp which must have had stairs initially. The temple has a very famous Punt relief and the journey to Punt (now called Somalia) was the first pictorial documentation of a trade expedition recorded, and discovered, in ancient Egypt; until now. The colonnade leads to the sanctuary of the Temple, which consists of two small chapels. In the Ptolemaic period, a third chapel was added to the sanctuary which was also decorated with various scenes.