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56. Beautiful walls

57. Exterior details

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Temple of Hatshepsut

Luxor, Egypt

Luxor, Egypt

Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, Egypt

Hatshepsut is the only woman ruling Egypt as a pharaoh, but this only happened through clever use of coalitions and marriage. She was the daughter of Tuthmosis 2, married to Tuthmosis 3 and after his death she claimed effective power by marrying infant Tuthmosis 4.
Her temple here at the foot of the Theban hills is among the most effectively designed structures of all of Egypt. While employing most of the grand effects of common temples, this temple makes use of open space and contrasts with nature. Most of the area is based upon the experience of the arrival. Wide columned halls are put on top of each others, with two ramps bringing you up to the 2nd floor, which is deliberately dwarfed by the huge hills in the back. But the temple almost continues into the hills, and the hills are not just any hills. It is the other side of the Valley of Kings, the place where kings built tombs in the form of shafts connecting to the underworld.
In modern times enough of the temple remains to impress visitors and help even the most insecure photographer to make fine shots. But there are two important parts gone, and you should allow yourself a moment or two to try to imagine how things may have looked.
The 1st Terrace was planted with myrrh trees, imported by Hatshepsut herself from Punt (probably modern Somalia). The myrrh trees looks really like a huge bush, and is not visually impressive, but the smell is unrivalled. Myrrh was compulsory in the religious rituals performed in any temple in Egypt, but here the temple employees could extract their own and even splurge in its delicate smell.
Leading from the lower ramp, there used to be sphinxes leading all the way down to the Nile, corresponding exactly with the axis of the Temple of Amon at Karnak across the river. Processional boats would connect the two sides of the Nile, allowing splendid all encompassing rituals. Several of these sphinxes are now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York, USA.
Hatshepsut called her temple Djeser Djeseru, "Splendour of Splendours". Today it is often called "Deir el-Bahri", a strange name, considering that it is neither the original name nor have any meaning for our modern times, rather referring to a Coptic monastery of the 7th century.
The temple was completely excavated in 1896 by Auguste Mariette, the founder of the National Museum. But there are still parts under restoration.
Luxor, Egypt

By Tore Kjeilen