Thursday, March 19, 2015

Seti I

Temple of Abidos, Egypt. 19th. Dynasty 1317 B.C. This relief shows King Seti I on his throne at his coronation carrying the crook and flail scepters symbols of kingship, wearing the Atef crown and supported on one side by Edjo, the cobra Goddess of Upper Egypt and by Nekhbet, the vulture Goddess of Lower Egypt in the missing part of the relief, both in the guise of elegant Queens. A capable ruler, excellent field commander and energetic builder, Seti I embarked on a series of military campaigns in an effort to secure the boundaries of Egypt, echoing the achievement of Kings of the XVIII dynasty before Akhenaten. The sculpted reliefs of this reign attained a degree of refinement rarely excelled, particularly in the colorful scenes of the Abydos temple and his royal tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb, the deepest and longest in the valley, established an entirely new type of layout, an extended tunnel decorated with elaborate representations of the journey of the sun, incorporating the king, through the night sky and the mysteries of solar rebirth. Seti I was succeeded by his son, the famous Ramses II The Great.

Kingly Cutaway

Illustration by Christopher Klein, National Geographic
Ancient Egyptian workers carve out and embellish the tomb of Seti I in a cutaway illustration.
Painstakingly chipped into high limestone cliffs above the Valley of the Kings, also home to the tomb of King Tut, Seti I's tomb is among the hardest to reach but most rewarding. The tomb is the most ornate and largest in the valley—and it's growing.
The newly excavated stairway beneath the tomb isn't the only tunnel to surprise archaeologists and expand the tomb's square footage in recent years. In 2008 experts announced they'd found a new tunnel in the tomb proper, which expanded the crypt's length from 328 feet (100 meters) to 446 feet (136 meters).

Seti I (ruled 1290–79 bc) was a successful military leader who reasserted authority over Egypt’s weakened empire in the Middle East. The Mitanni state had been dismembered, and the Hittites had become the dominant Asian power. Before tackling them, Seti laid the groundwork for military operations in Syria by fighting farther south against nomads and Palestinian city-states. Then, following the strategy of Thutmose III, he secured the coastal cities and gained Kadesh. Although his engagement with the Hittites was successful, Egypt acquired only temporary control of part of the north Syrian plain. A treaty was concluded with the Hittites, who, however, subsequently pushed farther southward and regained Kadesh by the time of Ramses II. Seti I ended a new threat to Egyptian security when he defeated Libyans attempting to enter the delta. He also mounted a southern campaign, probably to the Fifth Cataract region.

Seti I’s reign looked for its model to the mid-18th dynasty and was a time of considerable prosperity. Seti I restored countless monuments that had been defaced in the Amarna period, and the refined decoration of his monuments, particularly his temple at Abydos, shows a classicizing tendency. He also commissioned striking and novel reliefs showing stages of his campaigns, which are preserved notably on the north wall of the great hypostyle hall at Karnak. This diversity of artistic approach is characteristic of the Ramesside period, which was culturally and ethnically pluralistic. Well before his death, Seti I appointed his son Ramses II, sometimes called Ramses the Great, as crown prince.

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