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Monday, January 14, 2013

Hatshepsut's Temple at Deir el-Bahri

I was planning to post last night about my favorite books from 2012, but then a nasty cold bug tried to take me down. Today was an ice day (no school!) so I figured some procrastinating work on my latest revision desk organization was in order. Guess what I found?!

A CD of pictures from my 2005 trip to Egypt!

I thought these were long gone, well, actually, locked on the old laptop with the fried hard drive. But no! So, yes, today's post is kind of like when you get dragged to someone's house to see their vacation slideshow, except this one has a history lesson too!

(You know that sounds riveting. Just nod and smile.)

So, without further ado, here's a trip back in time to Hatshepsut's Temple at Deir el-Bahri, right next door to the Valley of the Kings. 

When I'm dictator of the world, I plan to sweep other tourists out of the way for my cool historical pictures. You've been warned. 

Hatshepsut was Pharaoh during the New Kingdom (16th-11th c. BCE), often referred to as Egypt's Golden Age. As had many pharaohs before her, she left a trail of monuments to herself scattered about the country, the greatest of which was her mortuary temple at modern Deir el-Bahri, but called Djeser-djeseru (translated as Holiest of Holies) in her time. The temple fell into ruin in antiquity and has been rebuilt in modern times by a Polish archaeological expedition. (All of whom deserve rides on unicorns and cupcakes for life for reassembling this giant jigsaw puzzle).

Hatshepsut covered the walls of her limestone temple with scenes of offerings to the gods, the story of her divine birth (it's excellent propaganda to be the daughter of a god), and depictions of her general awesomeness (including her expedition to the mythical land of Punt, the photos of which seem to have disappeared from my file).

 Yes, those are the original paints. Did I mention they're roughly 3,500 years old?

 Her stepson, Tutmose, making an offering to the falcon god Horus. 

I know it's really hard to see, but if you squint you can make out Hatshepsut's mom being led to the birthing chamber to have little-Hat. And that bump that looks like she ate too much for dinner? Her 9-month pregnant belly. (The ancient Egyptians were big into body image).

So the old history books used to say that after her death, Hatshepsut's stepson took out his revenge against her (she kind of swiped his throne) by destroying all her images and temples. This doesn't really seem to be the case anymore, as most of the destruction took place at the end of his reign (if he was angry, why wait so long?) and only the images of Hatshepsut as pharaoh were erased. The new version is that Tutmose wanted to erase the aberration of a woman ruling from the history books--Hatshepsut as daughter, wife and step-mother to three separate pharaohs was fine, but she couldn't possibly be Pharaoh herself.


A pit was found near Deir el-Bahri containing destroyed statues of Hatshepsut (and also depictions of her possible lover, Senenmut), but those dedicated Polish archaeologists have lovingly pieced back together all those statues and put them in their original spots at the forefront of Hatshepsut's temple.

Right where they belong.


26 comments:

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yay, I'm so glad you found your photos. Well worth the desk cleaning chore to have these.
Do you think the paint held up so well because it was sealed away from elements? It's remarkable.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Tricia- I think Egypt's dry climate has a lot to do with the preservation of many of its treasures. I was constantly astounded by the vivid traces of paint on so many of the monuments!

Carole Anne Carr said...

Wonderful when you make such a discovery, and well worth re-living these experiences.

Jemi Fraser said...

Those are fantastic! So glad you managed to find them :)

L.G. Smith said...

What a horrible thought to believe all those photos gone.

And I remember going to the King Tut exhibit here a few years ago and being in awe of how some of the statues still bore their original paint after three thousand years. Amazing.

Sarah McCabe said...

My favorite part of Deir el-Bahri might be the way it looks very flat when approaching from a distance (which you have to) and as you get closer it sort of pops out from the hillside at you. Pictures don't really do the architecture justice!

Amalia T. Dillin said...

3500 year old paints totally blow my mind. Just BLOW my mind. The fact that some of these things still exist, have left such incredible evidence of themselves behind just leaves me in awe. Thanks for sharing the pictures!!

Stephanie Thornton said...

Carole--It's like finding an old photo album lying around!

Jemi--Me too! Now if I could just find the rest of them!

L.G.-Tut's artifacts are beyond cool. Many of them were traveling when I visited the Egyptian Museum, but that gives me a good excuse to go back!

Sarah--You're totally right. It's like the Grand Canyon--you really have to see it in person!

Amalia--I might have been tempted to try to swipe some and bring them home in my luggage. (Shhh! Don't tell anyone!)

Mark Noce said...

So jealous that you go to go to these places in Egypt! I totally would love to go, but...dumb question...is it safe to go?

Stephanie Thornton said...

Mark-We went in 2005 and 2009, before all the hullabaloo, but I had a student go last Christmas and she didn't have any problems. And one bonus for tourists visiting now--you pretty much have the country to yourself! That would surely save a lot of time photoshopping the crowds out of pictures of the Pyramids and Valley of the Kings.

Debra Giuffrida said...

OK...now for the 64 dollar question...when are you going to publish your Hatshepsut book???? That is the book I REALLY want to real :)

vbtremper said...

Very cool! Thanks for sharing.

(I know someone who can technologically sweep those tourists out of the way of your history lesson/photo.)

-Vicki

Stephanie Thornton said...

Debra--I just got an official date on it. DAUGHTER OF THE GODS will hit the shelves May 2014!

Vicki-The wonders of Photoshop never cease to amaze! Too bad I'm not savvy enough to figure out how to do it myself!

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