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The Temple of Seti I

In the Dynastic Period, the temple’s area was called Hefet-her-nebes, a phrase meaning that it lies “in front of its lord”. It was so named because the temple of Seti I is located in front of the Temple of Amen at Karnak, directly across the Nile. From the temple, one can behold the Hypostyle Hall at Karnak. The Temple of Seti I was badly damaged in November 1994, when torrential rains in the nearby Theban hills sent floodwaters cascading through desert valleys. The storm dumped thousands of liters of water into the temple and the floodwaters rose to over one meter into the temple’s compound causing the break of the enclosure wall and leaving tons of silt, sand, and stone in their wake. The temple’s mud-brick walls were washed away, but fortunately its stone walls emerged relatively intact and their decoration was undamaged. Though once measuring 160 meters (from pylon to rear wall), the temple’s structure was reduced into a smaller one. At entering the temple the north, one primarily finds the first courtyard with the First Pylon that once measured 69 meters wide and 24 meters high. In this court, one can observe the remains of sphinxes that stood along the temple’s main axis. Moving southwards, one finds a courtyard known as the ‘Festival Court’. Crossing it, one can eye the remains (have been recently cleared) of the King’s palace. From the terrace of this palace, the pharaoh used to behold the processions and ceremonies in the Festival Court. The Second Pylon disappeared and in its position, a small low mud-brick wall and a gate stand. In the west facade, are inscribed depictions indicating that Ramses II had finished the works of his late father. Side by side, scenes representing the unity of Lower and Upper Egypt appear. Like most of the mortuary temples in Thebes, the axis leads into a tripartite division: the central rear part of the temple (which is devoted to the cult of Amen); the left part (devoted to the King and his ancestors); and the right side (dedicated to god Ra). In the Hypostyle Hall, one can behold inscriptions of the Theban Triad (Amen, Mut, and Khonsu) and adoration devoted to many other gods (like Thoth, Osiris, Amen, Mut, Ptah, and Sekhmet). These inscriptions were begun by Sethi I and finished by his son Ramses II. The chambers in the rear part are devoted to the Festival of the Valley. At the end of the portico, stand chapels dedicated to Ramses I, father of Seti I and other chambers that served as storerooms.

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