Thursday, March 19, 2015

Medinet Habu (Djemet)

A site on the western shore of the Nile at THEBES, once called Djemet, serving as a necropolis and monument depository. HATSHEPSUT (r. 1473–1458 B.C.E.) and TUTHMOSIS III (1479–1425 B.C.E.) erected a temple honoring the god AMUN at Medinet Habu. The dominating monument, however, is a fortified temple complex erected by RAMESSES III (1194–1163 B.C.E.), one of the most completely preserved shrines in Egypt. This temple is surrounded by a wall, complete with guardhouses and gateways, one fortified, and containing Ramessid reliefs. Other scenes and icons incorporated into the temple are valuable historical texts of the era.

Called a MIGDOL, or Syrian-style fortress, Ramesses III’s monument at Medinet Habu depicts Egypt’s defeat of the SEA PEOPLES of the time. A pylon and pavilion gate open onto a courtyard with pillars. The royal residence was attached to this enclosure, which leads to a second court and a pillared complex containing a treasury and sanctuaries for the barks of Ramesses III and the gods Amun, KHONS (1), MONTU, and MUT. Two statues of the goddess SEKHMET guard the entrance. There is also a WINDOW OF APPEARANCE in this area, as well as a chapel honoring the ENNEAD and chapels of the gods RÉ, PTAH, SOKAR, and the deified Ramesses III. Other pylons and courts, and a SACRED LAKE, lead to vestibules and an elaborate HYPOSTYLE HALL. The sanctuary connected to this hall has a FALSE DOOR depicting Ramesses III as the deity Amun-Ré. A stairway leads to the roof, where solar ceremonies were conducted, and Osiride statues of Ramesses III grace some areas.

The original temple foundation dating to the Eighteenth Dynasty was actually started by TUTHMOSIS I (r. 1504–1492 B.C.E.) and was called “Splendor of the West” or “Amun is Splendid in Thrones.” Hatshepsut directed much of the construction of the temple, but the dedication and opening of the site dates to the reign of Tuthmosis III. Four additional chapels in the complex were added during the Twenty-fifth (712–657 B.C.E.) and Twenty-sixth (664–525 B.C.E.) Dynasties. The mortuary cult of the GOD’S WIFE OF AMUN, or Divine Adoratrices of Amun, was also displayed in the complex. A columned forecourt honoring the Divine Adoratrice AMENIRDIS (1), a daughter of KASHTA (770–750 B.C.E.), and her burial site are part of the complex. The chapel of the Divine Adoratrices NITOCRIS (2) and SHEPENWEPET (1) are also in Medinet Habu.

The royal residence attached to the fortress was made out of mud brick and was decorated with stones and glazed tiles. Private apartments, vestibules, double staircases, and columned halls adjoined barracks, magazines, and workshops. The rulers of later historical periods refurbished and maintained Medinet Habu. In some troubled periods, the people of Thebes moved into the complex and kept it fortified and secure.

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