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Ptolemaic temple of Hathor

The most prominent temple at Deir el-Medina is the Ptolemaic temple. It was dedicated to goddesses Hathor and Maat.
The building itself is small but belongs to one of the best preserved examples of a temple from that period that is still standing today. It sits within a tall mud-brick enclosure wall. Its compound embraces the sites of several New Kingdom temple structures and small chapels erected by Deir el-Medina inhabitants at the Northern side of their settlement.
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The view of the northern side of the settlement as seen and photographed by Warwick Barnard while flying over the settlement in a balloon in January 2007. Within the mud-brick wall stands the small building of the Ptolemaic temple.
Photography © Warwick Barnard 2007
The mud-brick enclosure wall and the entrance gate. The gate was built and decorated by Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (80-58, 55-51 BC) and bears scenes of the king offering to various deities.
The temple itself was built and decorated in the 3rd century BC. The work was started during the reign of Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-205 BC) and then was continued for the next 60 years under Ptolemy VI Philometor (180-164, 163-145 BC) and  Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II (170-164, 145-116 BC).
The small temple building is lying
within a mud-brick enclosure wall
within which there are also
numerous New Kingdom chapels
erected by Deir el-Medina's
occupants. To read more about
these chapels, follow the link here.
Dozens of Greek, demotic and
Coptic Christian graffiti cover the
temple's outer walls.
Hathoric and floral columns and extensive decoration
are characteristic for this temple. This is the view
looking through the columns above the curtain wall.
The curtain wall is covered with reliefs showing the king offering to various deities. Below is the eastern face of the curtain wall - Ptolemy VI Philometor facing Amun-Ra and Hathor.
View towards mammisi (the birth house)
of Ptolemy IX Soter II (116-80 BC) and Cleopatra III. Both are visible here in the wall relief, facing Amun, Mut and Khonsu (who are not visible in the photo).
The temple itself is entered via a vestibule that has two papyrus columns. The pronaos, that lies beyond the vestibule, is defined by a pair of columns, pillars, and curtain walls.
The view on the left looks from the vestibule, through pronaos into the central chapel.
Plan of the temple
drawn by Lenka Peacock:
Figures on the columns show Amenhotep, son of Hapu, and Imhotep, both architects who were deified after their death. The photo is taken in the vestibule, looking through pronaos towards the North chapel.
A painting by David Roberts
(1796-1864) as he showed himself
sketching in the vestibule of the
temple in 1838.
Compare the interior of the temple
as photographed in February 2007...
This offering scene below comes from the bottom
part of the portico of the pronaos. It dates to Ptolemy VI Philometor. The goddess is a female fecundity figure - the counterpart of all the images of Hapy that are found around the bottom of the walls. The sign on her head stands for 'marshes', which means that she represents one of the farms or estates that supported the temple.   The calf in the marsh might represent Hathor, Neith or Mehet-Weret.
Luxor_425-18.jpg the interior of the temple as recorded by the Commission des arts et des sciences in Description de l'Egypte by the artists, who arrived in Egypt with Napoleon's army in July of 1798. They called the site "du temple de l'ouest" in their publication.
This is a detail of a hieroglyphic inscription from the southern side of the doorway to the pronaos. This beautiful double glyph is a sign A80 with a phonetic value Htr. It is used as a determinative.
The western wall of the pronaos is covered in  hieroglyphic inscriptions. Its deep reliefs depict the king, Ptolemy VI Philometor, making offerings to
Hathor-Isis and Maat. Detail of the window - there are two Hathors and a lotus placed between them.
The western wall in the pronaos. The square Hathoric column stands on the left and the staircase leading up from the left side of the vestibule to the temple's roof is in the  foreground.
Pronaos - view of the reliefs on the western wall. The top register from the right: Nun, Nut, Heh, Hauhet, Kek, Kauket and Hathor all clasping symbols of life, receive the worship of Ptolemy VI Philometor.
The decorated ceiling in the pronaos retains ancient colours. Mineral based pigments were used to decorate the reliefs.
Pronaos - view of the reliefs on the northern wall. The top register: Osiris, Isis-Hathor, Horus, Nephthys-Maat.
The bottom register - Amun-Re, Mut, Khonsu, Montu, Tjenenyet. In both registers the gods receive the worship of Ptolemy VI Philometor.
                                                                                 The Southern chapel

The doorway on the left leads into a long and narrow chapel. It is dedicated to Amun-Sokar-Osiris. The well-carved wall reliefs depict the scenes of the judgement of the dead. Similar scenes are usually found on tomb walls or on papyrus scrolls. The carved figures, although Ptolemaic, are well proportioned and well modeled.
Part of a scene from the southern wall of the chapel. The goddess Maat leads a figure of the deceased king (Ptolemy VI Philometor) toward the hall of judgement. Above the king, forty-two judges sit ready to consider their verdict on his fate. Horus and Anubis weigh the heart of the deceased. The heart is balanced on a scale against the feather of Maat. Ibis-headed Thoth stands on the right, recording the result.
A lion-hippopotamus-crocodile figure called Ammit sits nearby, ready to devour the heart of the unjust. The four sons of Horus stand above a lotus blossom. The face Osiris (not seen in the picture), who sits on the throne.
The picture below shows an animal-headed
genii that can be seen in the top left register
of the doorway of the southern chapel.
A four-headed ram depicted at the lintel above the door (inside the chapel).
A detail of an offering table with blue lotus blossoms in front of Osiris's throne on the west wall of the souther chapel as decorated
by Ptolemy IV Philopator.
The lintel above the central chapel
door depicting seven Hathor heads.
                                                                                  The central chapel

The central chapel was dedicated by Ptolemy IV Philopator to Hathor. In the wall reliefs Hathor receives offerings from him, his sister Arsinoe, and Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator (145 BC), who continued the decoration of the chapel.
Ptolemy VI Philometor making an offering to Amun-Re, Mut, Khonsu, Hathor and Maat.
Ptolemy IV Philopator and the queen Arsinoe III are making offerings to Min Amun-Re.
Ptolemy VI Philometor making an offering to Amun, Amunet, Montu-Re, Maat and Raet.
Southern wall. The king Ptolemy IV Philopator making an offering to Hathor of Dendera and Horus.
Ptolemy VI Philometor making an offering to Amun-Re, Mut, Khonsu, Hathor and Maat.
Ptolemy VI Philometor is making offerings to Amun-Ra, Mut, Khonsu, Hathor and Maat.
The reliefs were restored by Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II, Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III.
                                                                                  The Northern chapel

The doorway on the right leads to the Northern chapel, dedicated to Amun-Ra-Osiris. The reliefs show the king before various deities, including Hathor, Isis, Nepthys, Horus, Anubis, Mut, Amun and others.
Northern (right) wall of the chapel
Nut                                  Osiris
Anubis                            Nepthys
Ptolemy VI Philometor
Horus                                 Isis
Southern (left) wall of the chapel
Ptolemy VI Philometor
Hathor                       Amun-Ra        
    Amun-Ra                                  Iat
    Maat                                  Isis
Detail of the papyrus and lily frieze.
Details of reliefs and inscriptions from the temple walls.
Wast (Weset) - the ancient
name for Thebes, modern Luxor.
The outer (back) wall of the temple. Octavian (who became Augustus in 27 BC and the first emperor of Rome) giving offering to goddesses Raet and Tjenenyet.
The remains of earlier structures on the northern side of the temple within the enclosure wall.

The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock

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London : Thames & Hudson, 2000.
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London : Kegan Paul International, 1991.
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