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Medinet Habu Temples

Medinet Habu Temples are of the most beautiful and well-preserved Pharaonic temples in Egypt. They are also of the most historically significant monuments, as they had witnessed the birth of new civilizations and the beginning of the weakness of the Pharaonic civilization. Here, there are well-preserved temples, patterns of military architecture from the Pharaonic Era as well as several monuments, the most important of which is the memorial temple of Ramses III (known as the Ramesseum). Thanks to the conservation of the original ceiling, the reliefs and paintings had survived to our time. The temple had a harbor where two canals met and where the ceremonial barks of the Festival of the Valley stood. Today, both the quay and the canal lay beneath a modern asphalt road and a coffee shop.

– The High Gate of Madinat Habu

The Madinet Habu was surrounded by two high walls, between which stands the 22-meter High Gate. On each side of the entrance, two stone Assyrian-styled towers were built with the military pattern of a fortified castle, upon which the prisoners’ heads are hanged. In the presence of Amen-Ra and the Egyptian gods, Ramses III is shown smiting the foes and captives from Syria, Sardinia, Palestine, western Asiatic countries, Nubia and Libya are bound. Since every corner of the temple attests and glorifies his victories, it is a clear witness of Ramses’ effort– as a warrior– to protect the Egyptian borders, especially in the North. Some Egyptologists, however, think the tower had a protective function (rather than being merely memorial), believing that it was meant to protect the complex from any potential attack by the population. Before the towers, stood two granite seated statues of the goddess Sekhmet, who is the goddess of war and power, wife of ptah and one of the personifications of Hathor. Above the entrance, there are small rooms that were dedicated to the King’s harem. It is thought that here, one of the wives of Ramses III, Tiy, conspired with officials of the harem to murder the King and to put her son, Pentwere, crowned in his place. After the conspiracy was discovered, Tiy and the others were arrested, judged and then killed. Ramses III died before the trial ends.

– The Forecourt of Medinet Habu

In the forecourt, in front of the building, near the garden, stood many buildings, among which are the royal stables. To the left of the court, the Chapel of the Divine Votaresses stands. The Divine Votaresses were princesses dedicated to serve god Amun. Near the High Gate, we find the Chapel of Amenirdis I of the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. It is also called the Vineyard of Anubis as in its center there is a four-columned hall with a black granite offering table decorated with loaves of bread, jugs of wine, and cooked fowl. Behind the column hall, there are shrines of Nitocris (a daughter of Psammetichus I (XXVI Dynasty), of Shepenwepet II, and of Mehitenweskhet (the mother of Nitocris). The bodies of the princesses were buried in small crypts below their chapel doors.

– The Eighteenth-Dynasty Temple in the Forecourt of Medinet Habu

To the north of the Chapels of the Princesses of Amun, there are the remains of a stone gate built by Nectanebo I (XXX Dynasty) appearing as part of a mud-brick wall. Behind it, to the north, a small chapel was built in the Eighteenth Dynasty, under the reigns of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. It was defaced by Amenhotep IV (Akhenaton), and restored by Horemheb, Seti I, Ramses III, who decorated its outer walls. Also found was a set of buildings belonging to the Middle Kingdom that were dedicated to the Ogdoad (four male and four female deities associated with Egyptian creation myths and with god Amen). A huge statue of Tuthmosis III and Amun was found in the temple and it is now being restored by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. In Greco-Roman times, the temple was significantly enlarged: forecourts, porticos, walls, and pylons were added to the east, in front of the original the 18th-Dynasty structure. To the north of the Eighteenth-Dynasty Temple, there is a small sacred lake that had been used as a Nilometer during the reign of Nectanebo II of the XXX Dynasty.

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