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Article

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

E. P. Uphill

[now Abū Ruwāsh]

Site of necropolis in Egypt, 9 km north of Giza, which flourished c. 2925–c. 2450 bc. Mud-brick mastaba tombs of 1st Dynasty nobles are the earliest buildings at Abu Rawash. The largest mastaba (26×14 m) has eight large recesses in its long walls and is flanked by eight servants’ burials on its eastern side. Two funerary boats are associated with Tomb M25. The pyramid of King Radjedef of the 4th Dynasty dominates the site. Reached by a gigantic causeway, it is spectacularly situated at a height of c. 157 m above the level of the Nile Valley. It was originally c. 67 m high and 105 m square. The 1500 m causeway originally supported a stone corridor, which, with its side walls, measured 14 m wide, while the embankment below widened to 31.5 m at its base and reached a height of 12 m in places. Most of the stone has been quarried away, but the burial-chamber pit (now open to the sky) gives a good impression of the pyramid’s former splendour. The pyramid stood in a large enclosure (267×217 m) on levelled rock. The funerary temple was never completed as designed, but a boat trench (37×9 m) lies beside the pyramid, and a smaller ritual pyramid stood near by. The easternmost promontory of the mountain range was thought by the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius to be the rock core of an enormous mud-brick pyramid called by him Pyramid No. 1. In the 1980s the site was worked on by Nabil Swelim, who considered it to be the remains of an enormous step pyramid, with about a quarter of its mass being natural rock. He dated it to the end of the 3rd Dynasty, possibly having been built by King Huni, although other writers have suggested a later date, during the 4th Dynasty....

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

Akhmim  

Janice W. Yellin

[anc. Egyp. Khent-Min; Gr. Chemmis; Lat. Panopolis]

Site of the capital of the 9th Upper Egyptian nome, 200 km north of Luxor, which flourished from Early Dynastic times to the Roman period (c. 2925 bcad 395). Apart from a few excavations during the 20th century, the ruins of the town, as well as temples and extensive cemeteries, have never been completely surveyed or excavated.

Only one of the temples—a rock-cut chapel with relief decoration, dedicated to Min, the principal local god—has survived even partially intact. It was built by a local priest of Min during the reign of the 18th Dynasty king Ay (reg c. 1323–c. 1319 bc) and restored by another priest of Min during the reign of Ptolemy II Philadelphos (reg 285–246 bc). Within the main city there were two large temples with pylons (ceremonial gateways), one in the north-west area built by Tuthmosis III (reg...

Article

[anc. Akhetaten]

Site of an Egyptian city of the mid-14th century bc, on the eastern bank of the Nile, c. 90 km north of Asyut. The site, which has given its name to the Amarna style of art, was chosen by the 18th Dynasty king Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) for his new capital, which temporarily replaced Memphis and Thebes as the nucleus of the Egyptian empire. It was dedicated to the solar god Aten, thus its ancient name Akhetaten (‘Horizon of the Aten’), whose cult was intended to replace worship of the traditional Egyptian pantheon. The city was occupied for no more than 25 years, from the fifth year of Akhenaten’s reign until some time in the reign of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc). Because of this relatively brief period of occupation and the lack of prior and subsequent settlement, the site is a rare example of ancient Egyptian urban ...

Article

Ann Bomann

[anc. Egyp. Hwt-hery-ib; now Tell Atrib]

Site in Egypt, just north-west of Benha in the Nile Delta. The capital of the 10th nome administrative province of Lower Egypt, the town’s religious name, Kemwer (the ‘Great Black One’), was applied to the original local god (personified as a bull), the nome and the city itself. Subsequently the major deity was Khentekhtai, at first represented as a crocodile and additionally, from the 12th Dynasty (c. 1938–c. 1756 bc), as a falcon; mummified falcons dating from the Late Period (c.750–332 bc) have been found. The heart of Osiris was believed to be buried at Athribis, and Isis, Hathor, Sekhmet and Khwit, the major goddess after the New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), also had cults there. It was also the birthplace of Amenhotpe, son of Hapu, royal architect to Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). Apart from partial soundings and occasional discoveries by the Napoleonic expedition (...

Article

Paul T. Nicholson

[al-Badāri]

Site in Egypt on the east bank of the Nile, where a predynastic cemetery and settlement were meticulously excavated and recorded by Guy Brunton and Gertrude Caton-Thompson in 1922–5. They uncovered some 650 prehistoric pit graves and associated artefacts, which formed the basis for the definition of the so-called Badarian period (c. 6000/5500–c. 4000 bc). The Badarian graves were shallow and roughly oval, with sides sloping towards the base, probably originally roofed with sticks or matting. The deceased were each laid in a loose foetal or sleeping position, with their faces looking west, and there is no evidence of any deliberate attempt to preserve the bodies.

Most distinctive among the associated artefacts is the fine pottery, consisting of three types of thin-walled, handmade vessels: ‘Polished Red’, ‘Polished Black’ and ‘Black-topped Polished Red or Brown’. Some of this pottery had a ripple-burnished surface, created either by rubbing a rounded pebble over the leather-hard clay or by combing ripples into the wet clay and then burnishing when leather-hard. The manner of production of the black-topped ware remains a matter of debate. The shapes of the pots were usually simple and mostly bowls....

Article

A. J. Mills

[Arab. al-Baḥriyya; Bahria Oasis]

Site in Egypt, just south of the latitude of Cairo and about 200 km west of the Nile, occupied from the 17th Dynasty (c. 1630–c. 1540 bc). Most of the small settlements of which the oasis is composed are clustered at the northern end of an oval depression. Contact with the Nile seems to have been frequent. The oasis is best known for several decorated tombs with the remains of painted scenes, the earliest being that of Amenhotep Huy, a governor during the 19th Dynasty (c. 1292–c. 1190 bc). Another group of tombs, of officials from the 26th Dynasty (664–525 bc), includes the tomb of Bannentiu, which has a variety of painted religious scenes whose vivid colours are well preserved. There are two ruined temples, both with the usual Egyptian style of relief decoration. One is a large limestone temple, dated to the reign of Apries (...

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

Donald B. Spanel

[Arab. Banì Ḥasan al-Shurrūq]

Site of a vast necropolis in Egypt, on a steep hillside on the east bank of the Nile, about 250 km south of Cairo. The tombs at Beni Hasan contain the most extensive and important group of wall-paintings in Middle Egypt, dating to a period from the late Old Kingdom to the Middle Kingdom. The site also includes Speos Artemidos, the Temple of Pakhet built by Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III (for chronological chart of Egyptian kings see Egypt, ancient, fig.).

The cemetery contains more than 900 tombs divided into an upper and lower range. In the lower section of the hill there are 888 modest, L-shaped pit- or shaft-tombs; many were found intact and have produced a wealth of information about ancient Egyptian burial customs. Most of these lower tombs were built between the Old and Middle Kingdoms. The two oldest tombs (Nos 481–2) belong to the late Old Kingdom or the years immediately following....

Article

Donald B. Spanel

[Arab. Dayr al-Barshā]

Site of a necropolis in the 15th nome of ancient Egypt, on both flanks of a wadi on the east bank of the Nile, about 300 km south of Cairo. The highest civil and religious leaders of the 15th (‘Hare’) nome were buried at Deir el-Bersha, and their tombs, dating from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2008–c. 1630 bc), are best known for the wall paintings and decorated coffins.

In the Old Kingdom (c. 2575–c. 2150 bc), tombs were built not far south of Deir el-Bersha, at el-Sheikh Said. Both Deir el-Bersha and el-Sheikh Said have been much ruined by earthquakes, quarrying and theft. As a result, the tomb paintings at Bersha are less famous than the nearly contemporary ones at Beni Hasan. The most important tombs are on the northern flank of the mouth of the wadi. The northern hill at Bersha, like that at Beni Hasan, has an upper terrace of large, rectangular chambers cut in the face of the cliffs and a lower section of smaller chambered tombs and L-shaped pit- or shaft-tombs sunk into the slope. The most famous ...

Article

Bucheum  

Elizabeth L. Meyers

Site of an ancient Egyptian animal necropolis on the west bank of the Nile, immediately to the north of Armant, about 15 km south of Luxor. From the 30th Dynasty (380–343 bc) until ad 340, the Bucheum was the burial site of the Buchis (Egyp. bekh) bulls, sacred to the war-god Montu. The site was discovered by Robert Mond in 1927.

The burial preparations of the Buchis bulls differ in several ways from those of the Apis bulls at the Saqqara Serapeum (see Saqqara). Judging from the excavated remains of the Buchis bulls and the documentary evidence provided by the Vienna Papyrus (Vienna, Ksthist. Mus.), their viscera were not removed. Whereas the burial chambers at the Serapeum were elaborate and carved from the living rock, those in the Bucheum were built structures, varying greatly both in architectural size and in quantity of burial equipment (only a few of them incorporating a sarcophagus). As at the Serapeum, records were kept of the dates of birth and death of the sacred bulls. Just as the Apis bulls were identified by particular markings, the Buchis bulls were credited with the ability to accomplish hourly changes in the colour of their hides (which are supposed to have grown in the opposite direction to those of normal bulls, according to the Classical writer Macrobius)....

Article

Dahshur  

R. J. Leprohon

[Arab. Dahshūr]

Site of an ancient Egyptian necropolis consisting of Old and Middle Kingdom pyramids, on the west bank of the Nile, 75 km south of Cairo. The oldest pyramid is that of King Sneferu (reg c. 2575–c. 2551 bc), which is the first to have been designed from the start as a true pyramid. The angle of its sides was decreased halfway up, giving it a rhomboidal appearance, hence its name of Bent Pyramid (see Pyramid, fig.b). Inside the pyramid is a complicated system of corridors and portcullises, and some inner chambers have high, corbelled ceilings. Reliefs in the pyramid’s valley temple depict processions of female figures representing Sneferu’s estates throughout the country. The pyramid is still in very good condition, retaining most of its outer casing. Sneferu’s other monument, the Red Pyramid, lies 2 km north of the Bent Pyramid. The angle of its sides is the same as that of the upper part of its southern predecessor. Although the pyramid’s casing was almost completely removed by later builders, its capstone has been found; this ...

Article

Elizabeth L. Meyers

[Egyp. Hut-sekhem; now Hiw.]

Site in Egypt about 50 km west of modern Qena, occupied continuously from prehistoric to Roman times. A large variety of Predynastic tombs and associated artefacts (including amulets, beads and slate and ivory statuettes of animals) have survived, indicating that Diospolis flourished during this phase. The earliest finds date from the Tasian–Badarian period (c. 4000 bc). The site was first excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1899, providing some of the information for his ‘sequence dating’ system of pottery styles, which led directly to the establishment of a Predynastic chronology. Renewed excavation at the site in the 1980s allowed this ceramic material to be re-examined, producing greater refinement and broad corroboration of Petrie’s system.

The excavations have also revealed about 40 burials of the 4th or 5th dynasties (c. 2575–c. 2325 bc), as well as a number of shallow pit graves dating to the 6th–11th dynasties (...

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

Faras  

R. G. Morkot

[Egyp. Sehetepneterw; Copt. Pachoras.]

Site in Egypt on the west bank of the Nile, 35 km north of Wadi Halfa. Since the completion of the Aswan High Dam in 1970, Faras has been submerged beneath Lake Nasser. There were three important phases in the history of Faras: the later New Kingdom (c. 1540–c. 1075 bc), when it was rebuilt by Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc) as the administrative capital of Lower Nubia; during the Meroitic period (c. 300 bcad 360), when it was again a regional capital; and Christian times (8th–15th centuries ad) when it was the seat of a bishop.

In terms of Nubian art the Meroitic and Christian phases at Faras are the most important. The large Meroitic cemetery has produced a great quantity of pottery vessels in fine painted wares, and painted pottery has long been recognized as one of the most important aspects of Meroitic art, revealing influences from Pharaonic, Hellenistic and Roman Egypt in its forms and the decorative motifs employed (...

Article

Philip J. Watson

[Dayr al-Gabrawi]

Site in Egypt, c. 5 km north of Asyut, that was the necropolis of the governors of the 12th Upper Egyptian nome in the 6th Dynasty (c. 2325–c. 2150 bc). The nomarchs and other important officials were buried in two groups of rock-cut tombs. The earlier, northern, group comprises 104 tombs, although very few of these preserve any trace of decoration. In time the necropolis was moved eastwards, and this led to the formation of the more important southern group of 52 tombs. The tombs of Ibi and Djau are large and fully decorated, while seven others preserve the names of their owners. The tomb of Ibi (no. 8) has a rectangular chamber, which originally had two square pillars, with a deep niche in the back wall. In addition to the main burial pit there were two others, one of which was intended for Ibi’s wife. The upper parts of all walls are covered in plaster decorated with paintings. The walls to either side of the doorway depict Ibi fishing and fowling; the shorter side walls contain a biographical text, agricultural scenes and a procession with dancing girls; on the back wall are more agricultural scenes and depictions of craftsmen at work. The niche contains false doors, lists of offerings and prayers. Some of the scenes were reproduced in the 26th Dynasty (...

Article

Kawa  

R. G. Morkot

[Egyp. Gem-Aten]

Site of a large town in Sudan, on the east bank of the Nile in the fertile Dongola Reach, 5 km south of New Dongola. The earliest known monuments were set up by Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc), although the town may have been founded in the reign of Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc) or Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Only the main temples have so far been excavated. A small temple (designated ‘A’) was built by Tutankhamun; it associates the King with the god Amun as ‘lion over the south country’, in the form of a ram-headed sphinx.

The main temple (‘T’) was dedicated to the Gem-Aten aspect of Amun; it dates to the reign of the Kushite pharaoh Taharqa (reg 690–664 bc), but it may have been built on the site of an earlier, 18th Dynasty temple. ...

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

Maidum  

R. J. Leprohon

[Arab. Maydūm]

Site of the first true pyramid in ancient Egypt. Maidum was first excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1891; it lies on the west bank of the Nile, 75 km south of Cairo. The pyramid was probably started by King Huni (reg c. 2600–c. 2575 bc) and completed by his successor, Sneferu (reg c. 2575–c. 2551 bc). It was originally conceived as a many-tiered structure, much like the earlier Step Pyramid of Djoser (reg c. 2630–c.2611 bc) at Saqqara. The design was subsequently changed to that of a true pyramid when the steps were filled in and the sides were evenly cased with limestone. Although portions of these angled sides still remain around the base of the pyramid, all that can be seen on the site today are some of the original steps, making the whole appear as a tower set on a hill formed of the fallen stone debris covered in sand....