Class Activity: The Significance of Deir El-Bahri



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CHAPTER 4

Egypt: Hatshepsut



Class Activity: The Significance of Deir El-Bahri

Task


Consider the significance of Deir el-Bahri in the general context of New Kingdom building programs.

Activities



1 What features of Deir el-Bahri contain evidence of the following?

2 Use the sources to research the significance of the features of Deir-El-Bahri

SOURCE 1: Roberts, Alison, Hathor Rising, Inner Traditions International, Rochester 1997

SOURCE 2: Roth, Ann Macy, ‘Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri: Architecture as Political Statement’, in Roehrig, Catharine H., (ed) Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, 2006, New York, 147–151

3 Fill in the following features/significance of Deir El-Bahri.

Location





Architecture







Reliefs







Statuary





Festivals







5

Identify each of the numbered parts of the plan of Deir El-Bahri and write a short description of each.

Deir el-Bahri – Third Terrace

Significance of the Decorative Program at Deir el-Bahri

According to Alison Roberts (Hathor Rising) the three terraces represent three aspects of Hatshepsuts’s relationship with Amun:

First terrace – ‘the Cult Ruler of Egypt’

• Scenes of the transportation of a pair of granite obelisks for erection at Amun-Re’s Karnak temple, emphasises Hatshepsut’s service to Amun-Re as monarch of Egypt.



Second terrace – ‘the Life Sphere’

• Hatshepsut’s divine birth as daughter of Amun-Re, her coronation, and suckling by Hathor in the Hathor chapel emphasise life-giving and nurturing aspects of Hatshepsut’s reign.

• Expedition to Punt shows how Hatshepsut provided for her people.

Third terrace – the creation realm

• Osiride structures and scenes on this level point clearly towards the renewal and rebirth of the dead in the afterlife.

• Location of Deir el-Bahri directly opposite Karnak temple on the east bank served to link Osiris’ realm of the dead with Amun-Re’s realm of the living.
An Egyptian temple was seen as a world in itself, whose centre lay at its innermost shrine and its decoration was arranged cosmographically.

• Main temple axis usually oriented to the east-west passage of the sun

• Decoration on the south side depicted the king wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt and smiting Nubians: on the north side he wore the red crown of Lower Egypt and defeated enemies from Asia.

Traditional temple decoration

Deir el-Bahri

• Exterior decoration near the entrance showed places farthest from the temple, including scenes of foreign wars or of hunting and fishing in the far deserts and Delta marshes.

• Such images represented the king’s mastery over chaos.



• Lower colonnades: Geographical arrangement = conquest/violence.

• Southern colonnade = Egypt’s southern influence from Nubia to Aswan, e.g. Nubian scenes:(i) Dedwen, (ii) quarrying of obelisks.

• Northern colonnade = Hatshepsut as a sphinx trampling on Asians ‘Her arrow is among the northerners’.

• Central north colonnade – hunting and fishing in the Delta = king’s ordering of environment.



• Interior decoration more ordered scenes of festivals and the king receiving gifts and prisoners.

• Middle colonnades = divinity + divinity of Hatshepsut’s kingship.

• Southern colonnade: Punt expedition = peaceful trading mission, on behalf of Amun (emphasis on service/relationship to the gods).

• Northern colonnade – Divine birth and coronation reliefs (probably in Memphis).

• Hathor chapel (south side) = mistress of Punt; Theban mortuary goddess; daughter of Re; queen of Horus; identified with Isis as mother, kingmaker.

• Anubis chapel (north side) – mortuary god (mummification); his name (jnpw) = designated prince; heir to throne.


• Innermost rooms intimate scenes of the king offering to the gods.

• Upper colonnades and terrace = Hatshepsut (and family) in the company of the gods = afterlife.

• Southern colonnade – offering scenes (badly damaged).

• Northern colonnade – long coronation inscription.

• Osiride statues in front of colonnades = king’s afterlife.

• Altars, chapels, shrines: central shrine to Amun; altar to Re (north side); double chapel of Hat and Thutmose I (south).

SOURCE: Roth, Ann Macy, ‘Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple at Deir el-Bahri: Architecture as Political Statement’, in Roehrig, Catharine H., (ed) Hatshepsut: from Queen to Pharaoh, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Yale University Press, 2006, New York, 147–151


6 Write extended responses to one or more of the following:

a Explain the significance of Deir el-Bahri in the reign of Hatshepsut.

b Assess the significance of Deir el-Bahri in the reign of Hatshepsut.

c Explain the purpose of Hatshepsut’s building program.

d Assess Hatshepsut’s achievements as a New Kingdom pharaoh.

Antiquity 2 Interpreting the Past ISBN 978 0 19 556027 5 © Oxford University Press 2009



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