Chapels north of the temple enclosure wall
The first group of the chapels at Deir el-Medina that I was investigating, lays to the north of the enclosure wall of the main Ptolemaic temple. The chapel area covers the slope gently rising towards the western steep cliffs. My aim was to compare Ann Bomann's plans and detailed descriptions using her text published in 1991 pp. 48-51 with the remains of the cult buildings at
Deir el-Medina in February 2007. The results together with the photographs can be found on the following pages.
The chapel of Hathor of Seti I.
Seti I (about 1291-1278 BC) built a temple for the workmen of the village in the area just beyond the northern side of the enclosure wall of the main temple. It was considerably larger in its structure than the earlier building of the temple of the cult of Amenhotep I, remains of which stand on the terrace above the Ptolemaic temple enclosure. The chapel was excavated by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906.
The chapel of Hathor of Seti I. consisted of a forecourt, outer and inner halls, pronaos and sanctuary, and a left annexe with dependencies. The forecourt was entered from the southeast over a ramp with a central slide flanked on either side by ten steps.
The forecourt was paved in limestone.
It had two tomb shafts (now filled), one
of which existed prior to the construction
of the chapel. The other dated to the
Ramesside period. A flight of five steps leads from the forecourt into the outer hall.
A bench with five seats was set against the
southern wall. Bruyère suggested that
another bench with seven seats was
positioned against the northern wall. Two
column bases were aligned on either side of
the central axis. The floor was paved in
Two steps led from the outer hall into
the inner, hypostyle hall. A rectangular
limestone basin, no longer present, was
sunk into the floor at an angle to the
columns. There were originally two
limestone altars near the staircase to
the west of the hall. Fragments of wall
paintings also came from this part of
chapel. A flight of seven steps
ascended to the pronaos.
View back into the inner, hypostyle
hall and the outer hall behind it.
Seven steps opening directly into
the tripartite sanctuary.
Originally, the shrines were
symmetrical ; during the Ptolemaic
period, the central and northern
shrines were altered.
Oriented on a northeast-southwest axis, this chapel consisted of a large hall with a single naos. A wall, forming a right angle, joined the entrance of a right angle, joined the entrance of the chapel and the rear wall of the Chapel of Hathor.
the hall was entered by a doorway in the northeast corner. At the opposite end of the hall were two columns placed before the naos, which was flanked by two small whitewashed niches.
The columns were in the form of papyrus and carried the name of Khons, son of Sennedjem. Fragments of decorated wall plaster and a head of the goddess Taweret also came from the chapel.
Detail view of the remains of
plaster from within the chapel wall
The chapel included a forecourt,
outer and inner halls, sanctuary,
and left annexe, and lay north and
west of chapel A. The forecourt
was 3.29 m wide x 3.60 m long.
At one time it accommodated
three jars of different sizes.
The outer hall beyond the court
was 4.92 m wide x 4.78 m long,
and had benches set against its
southern, eastern and part of its
northern walls. Against the
northeastern wall was a low
limestone platform. A doorway in
the southwestern corner led to an
annexe partitioned into two
Two steps led from the inner hall to the small sanctuary, which contained a single niche and a bench around its walls. A limestone threshold with a pivot hole indicated that the sanctuary once
had a door. A stela once lined the back wall of the niche. This may have been the stela of the foreman Amennakht, who was shown seated holding two w3dt
View of chapels C and D
Both chapels lay the furthest up
the slope and north of the
northwest angle of the main
enclosure wall. They shared their
The building consisted of a
forecourt and outer hall, an inner
hall, pronaos and sanctuary. The
whole building underwent several
The outer hall was approached by
two steps and was 4.44 m wide
and 3.80 m long. It had a bench
against the northern wall. One
step led into the inner hall.
This chapel and chapel G were called Chapelles Religieuses by Bruyère. The chapel was on an east-west axis, and abutted the north
wall of Chapel B. It consisted of an outer and inner hall and pronaos.
At the time of excavation, the
sanctuary was no longer surviving.
The outer hall was 4.20 m wide x 4.75 m
long and had pylons before entrance.
According to Bruyère, the pylons were 85 cm
thick. An engaged brick pillar abutted the
centre of the southern wall and supported at
one time a main beam of the roof.
A limestone staircase leading into the inner halls seems to have had 6 steps originally, but the plans and this photograph (after
reconstruction) show only 5.
Inner hall. A bench 3.25 m long, 34 cm wide and 35 cm high abutted the south wall.
This, in turn, was adjacent to a limestone platform in the southeast corner, which was
1.64 m x 88 cm x 26 cm high.
On the north wall the bench was 1.37 m long x 38 cm wide x 46 cm high.
Inner hall. A bench 3.25 m long, 34 cm wide and 35 cm high abutted the south wall. This, in turn, was adjacent to a limestone platform in the southeast corner, which was 1.64 m x 88 cm x 26 cm high.
On the north wall the bench was 1.37 m long x 38 cm wide x 46 cm high.
The chapel was approached from the southeast by a double staircase of 3 steps each. These led to 2 terraces. From the 2nd terrace, 2 elongated steps, followed by a flight of stairs with 4 steps set between the usual balustrade, led to the outer hall.
The remaining 5 limestone steps.
Remains of a trough in the outermost pier.
This chapel lay north of Chapel F and on a west-north-west to east-south-east axis. It is dated to the Ramesside period, and consisted of an approach ramp, outer and inner halls, 2 side chambers contained within the structure, a pronaos and sanctuary. A ramp of undressed stone set between brick balustrades , and with overall measurements of 5.50 m long x 2.75 m wide, led to the outer hall or court.
The court or the outer hall had pylons on either side of its entrance. The southern
pylon was 73 cm thick, the one to the north was 76 cm thick. They were plastered and whitewashed.
The court was 5.43 m wide x 5.47 m long and was built over an earlier tomb shaft.
Four limestone steps in the west of the inner hall led
to a limestone platform before the sanctuary.
On either side of the flight of stairs was a small enclosure.
The sanctuary consisted of a single naos cut into the cliffs behind and measured 3.73 m long x 2.50 m wide. The interior rear wall of the niche had a retaining wall 57 cm thick.
An earlier tomb shaft.
Pylons also framed the entrance to the inner hall.
A limestone threshold in the entrance had 2 pivot holes and grooves for architraves, indicating that
a double door served this part of the building.
The inner hall had 3 phases of building. In the 3rd phase it became hypostyle, with 2 columns and a flat roof. The column bases had a diameter of
70 cm. The floor of the inner hall was of packed earth. The walls were decorated. Part of the design
consisted of a floral frieze, which circumscribed the wall in the style of the Ramesside period.
The walls of the sanctuary abutted them from
Pylons also framed the entrance to the inner
hall. A limestone threshold in the entrance had
2 pivot holes and grooves for architraves,
indicating that a double door served this part of
the building. Detail.
Photography © Lenka Peacock 2007
1. Bomann, Ann H.: The private chapel in ancient Egypt : a study of the chapels in the workmen's village at el Amarna with special reference to Deir el-Medina and other sites.
London : Kegan Paul International, 1991.
2. Wilkinson, R. H. : The complete temples of Ancient Egypt.
London : Thames & Hudson, 2000.
3. Clayton, Peter A.: Chronicles of the Pharaohs : the reighn-by-reign record of the rulers and dynasties of ancient Egypt
London : Thames & Hudson, 1994.