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Jaromir Malek

Site of the ancient Egyptian sun temple of King Neuserre (reg c. 2416–c. 2392 bc), on the western bank of the Nile north-west of Abusir, almost opposite the southernmost suburbs of modern Cairo. The temple, called Shesepib re (‘joy of the sun god Re’), is situated at the edge of the Libyan Desert, in the area of the Memphite necropolis.

Six sun temples were built for the state sun god Re-Horakhty by the kings of the 5th Dynasty, but by the late 20th century only two had so far been located. The sun temple of Neuserre was excavated by Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing in 1898–1901. Nearly all the reliefs were removed, mostly to German collections, and many perished during World War II. The temple was built mainly of limestone. It consists, from east to west, of the valley temple, causeway and upper temple. This arrangement is similar to that of pyramid complexes and suggests a generally accepted concept of a purpose-built temple during the Old Kingdom. A brick-built bark of the sun god was discovered near by....

Article

R. G. Morkot

Site in Egypt, on the west bank of the Nile in Lower Nubia, 280 km south of Aswan. With the construction of the Aswan Dam in the early 1960s, the temple complex was one of a number of ancient monuments saved by being moved to a new site. Having been cut into pieces and reassembled, it now stands on the shores of Lake Nasser, 64 m higher and 180 m west of its ancient site. It is not known whether any small rock-cut chapels already existed at Abu Simbel, but inscriptions from the Middle Kingdom show that it was already an ancient sacred site when Ramesses II (reg c. 1279–c. 1213 bc) chose it for his most grandiose, and most famous, Nubian monument.

The construction of the Great and Small Temples of Abu Simbel began in the early years of Ramesses II, and they were completed by around the 25th year of his reign. The Great Temple (...

Article

Robert S. Bianchi

[Arab. Bahbayt al-Hagar; anc. Egyp. Pr-ḥbyt; Lat. Iseum]

Site in northern Egypt, c. 100 km north of Cairo, an important cult centre for the worship of the goddess Isis, which flourished during the 4th century bc. The modern name is a combination of the ancient Egyptian name and the Arabic epithet ‘al-hagar’ (‘the stone’), referring to the jumbled mass of granite blocks from the collapsed Temple of Isis that now litters the site. The site is mentioned in inscriptions of the New Kingdom, but it rose to prominence during the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) when Nectanebo II (reg 360–343 bc) sponsored the construction of the Temple of Isis. The geographic proximity of Behbeit el-Hagar to Sebennytos, the capital during the 30th Dynasty, less than 10 km away, implies that Isis was the Dynasty’s titular deity. Behbeit el-Hagar (Iseum) eventually became the capital of an independent nome (administrative province) during the Ptolemaic period (after ...

Article

Edfu  

Eleni Vassilika

[anc. Egyp. Behdet or Djeba; Gr. Apollinopolis; now Idfū.]

Site in Upper Egypt. It is dominated by the Temple of Horus, the most completely preserved of all Egyptian temples, dating mainly to the Ptolemaic period (304–30 bc; see also Egypt, ancient, fig.). To the east of the temple are the ruins of a city (now covered by modern Idfū) dating back at least to the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc). The Temple of Horus was built and decorated by the Ptolemies, although the cult of the god Horus at Edfu is attested since the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc). The remains at Edfu include part of a pylon of Ramesses III (reg c. 1187–c. 1156 bc). Blocks from the forecourt, excavated in the 1980s, date back to the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), but they may have been dragged there from another site....

Article

Edda Bresciani

[Kawm Umbū; anc. Egyp. Nubt: ‘city of gold’, Gr. Ombos]

Site on a promontory of the west bank of the Nile, between Aswan and Edfu. Very little remains of the ancient Egyptian city of Ombos, which in Ptolemaic times (c. 332–30 bc) was capital of the 1st nome of Upper Egypt. However, the temple complex, dedicated to the crocodile-god Sebek and the hawk-god Haroeris (an aspect of Horus), is well preserved. The site was known to early European travellers and to the first Egyptologists, such as Champollion and Rosellini, but the clearance of the temple did not begin until the work of Jacques de Morgan in 1893.

The main temple was first constructed in the reign of Ptolemy VI Philometor (reg 180–145 bc), but its decoration continued throughout the Ptolemaic era (particularly in the reign of Ptolemy XII Auletes; c. 80–51 bc) and the period of Roman rule (Augustus, Tiberius, Domitian and Trajan; c. 30 ...

Article

Raphael Ventura

[Arab. Sarabīṭ al-Khādim]

Site of an Egyptian rock-cut sanctuary on a turquoise-bearing desert plateau in the south-western Sinai Peninsula. The evidence of Egyptian activity at Serabit el-Khadim (mainly associated with mining expeditions between the early 20th century bc and the late 12th) consists of 13 turquoise mines, parts of a temple of Hathor, 12th Dynasty free-standing stelae, rock-cut shrines, rock inscriptions and rough stone enclosures with single stelae.

The temple of Hathor was partly built and partly hewn out of local red sandstone and limestone. The earliest part, constructed in the 12th Dynasty (c. 1938–c. 1756 bc), is an artificial rectangular cave of uncertain function, with a single natural pillar at its centre and niches on the walls. Funerary inscriptions and cult scenes, still bearing traces of colouring, are carved on the walls and pillar. The rest of the temple consists of 12 decorated rooms in a row, starting from a massive pylon. They were constructed by a succession of New Kingdom pharaohs from ...

Article

William J. Murnane, Jean Lauffray, C. E. Loeben, Lanny Bell, Jadwiga Lipinska, C. A. Keller and Nigel Strudwick

[anc. Egyp. Waset; now al-Uqṣur, Luxor]

Site in Upper Egypt that flourished from c. 2100 bc until the end of the Dynastic period (c. 30 bc). Thebes was a favoured royal residence—although not always the national capital—and the home of the god Amun. The influence of Amun spread throughout Egypt and Nubia, and his cult remained the focus of Theban life and artistic achievements long after the city had lost its political significance.

William J. Murnane

Thebes (see fig.) first rose to prominence as the home territory of the kings of the 11th Dynasty (c. 2081–c. 1938 bc), who reunited Egypt after the disorder of the First Intermediate Period (c. 2150–c. 2008 bc). The 11th Dynasty probably originated in Armant, but they set up their capital at Thebes, where their presence is attested mainly by the mortuary complexes of the kings and their retainers on the west bank of the Nile—most notably that of Nebhepetre ...