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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

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

Abydos  

John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Abdjw]

Egyptian site, c. 50 km south of Sohag, and necropolis of the ancient city of This (perhaps modern Girga), which was briefly the capital of the newly united Egypt in the Late Predynastic period (c. 3000–c. 2925 bc). As the country’s most ancient capital, it remained significant throughout Egyptian history, becoming the principal cult centre of Osiris, a funerary deity who embodied the tradition of kingship. From the later Middle Kingdom (c. 1750 bc), the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc) royal necropolis was believed to contain the tomb of Osiris; because of this, it was visited by pilgrims until Roman times (30 bcad 395). Large cemeteries continued to accumulate, and they were characterized in the latest period by a distinctive Greco-Egyptian type of stele. These merged Egyptian and Classical styles with a largely Egyptian decorative repertory and were increasingly inscribed in Greek. Thus for two millennia Abydos was an important centre of non-royal art, as well as the location of major temples....

Article

(b Athribis, nr Benha, c. 1440 bc; d c. 1350 bc).

Ancient Egyptian architect and patron. Amenhotpe rose to prominence in his home town during the reign of Amenophis III (reg c. 1391–c. 1353 bc) as a royal scribe and chief of the priests of the local god Khentekhtai. About 1390 bc he moved to the royal court at Thebes and was rapidly promoted by Amenophis III to the position of chief royal architect, responsible for the whole process of temple construction, from quarrying to the sculpting of relief decoration, as well as the commissioning of royal statues. The full list of buildings for which Amenhotpe was architect is not known, but he certainly supervised the construction of a huge temple at Soleb near the second cataract of the Nile in Lower Nubia, where several of the reliefs depict him standing alongside the King during the temple consecration ceremony. He also built two tombs and a mortuary temple for himself on the west bank at Thebes (...

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

[Nebmaatre]

(reg c. 1391–c. 1353 bc). Egyptian ruler and patron. He reigned in the late 18th Dynasty (c. 1540–c. 1292 bc), a time of great national peace and prosperity. Amenophis III was a prolific builder: it was during his reign that Amenhotpe, the greatest Egyptian architect since Imhotep, rose to a position of power and influence as ‘Overseer of all the King’s Works’.

Although Amenophis III constructed numerous temples, from Memphis and Bubastis in the north of Egypt to Soleb and Sedeinga in the south (see Nubia, §III), only a small number of these have survived. His mortuary temple, built in fine white limestone on the west bank of the Nile at Thebes, must have been one of the most impressive buildings of the time, but it was systematically dismantled in the 19th Dynasty (c. 1292–c. 1190 bc). Only a few items of sculpture and stelae have been preserved from it, notably the celebrated ‘...

Article

Claude Vandersleyen

[Amenemhet III; Nymaatre]

Egyptian ruler. Both architecture and sculpture have survived from his reign in the 12th Dynasty (for chronological chart of Egyptian kings see Egypt, ancient, fig.). He built two pyramids, one at Dahshur and the other at Hawara in the Faiyum region, where is also a small temple, finished by Ammenemes III’s successor, Ammenemes IV; the reliefs in this temple have not been published in detail. Some reliefs of Ammenemes III were also found at Abydos (Philadelphia, U. PA, Mus.); they display little of the quality and interest of the reliefs of his predecessor, Sesostris III.

There are more than 50 statues and heads of Ammenemes III, easily identifiable because of his distinctive physiognomy. As with the statues of Sesostris III, they appear to correspond to various ages of the King; however, this progression is probably complicated by wider variations of style and dimensions. The characteristic traits of these heads are large eyes (always serious and impassive), exceptionally large ears and a nose that is far less prominent than that of Sesostris III and hooks back into the face after the bump of the nasal bone. His mouth has thick, curled lips, the corners of which turn up to end against fleshy protuberances. The cheek-bones are very high and wide and are cut by a wrinkle leaving the inside corner of the eye at an angle of 45°....

Article

D. Evely

[Arkalokhori]

Minoan sacred cave in central Crete, which flourished c. 1650–c. 1425 bc. Situated 33 km south-east of Herakleion, on the west slope of Profitis Elias, a mountain to the east of the modern village of Arkalochori, it was a cult centre throughout the Minoan era (c. 3500–c. 1100 bc). Excavations by Joseph Hazzidakis (c. 1911), Spiridon Marinatos and Nikolaos Platon (1935) uncovered prolific finds despite previous plundering.

The earliest, scanty remains are ceramic and date from the periods Early Minoan i and ii (c. 3500/3000–c. 2200 bc) and Middle Minoan i (c. 2050–c. 1800 bc). Material from Neo-Palatial times (c. 1650–c. 1425 bc) was also found, but a roof collapse severely curtailed worship thereafter. Low walls may have been constructed to give the cave an architectural focus, but all that survive are a passage and a possible cell. Most of the finds are Neo-Palatial metal ...

Article

Avebury  

Rob Jameson

Village in Wiltshire, south-west England, the site of a Late Neolithic ceremonial complex, including a massive Henge and stone circle (see fig.; see also Prehistoric Europe, §IV, 2, (iv), (a); Megalithic architecture, 2). The Avebury monuments are close to the contemporary earthwork at Silbury Hill, the earlier causewayed camp at Windmill Hill and the megalithic tomb at West Kennet. Alexander Keiller excavated and partially restored Avebury in the 1930s.

At the centre of the complex is the great henge, consisting of a ditch (originally 9 m deep) and an outer bank. Sherds of Windmill Hill ware, Peterborough ware and Grooved ware pottery were excavated from the bottom of the ditch. No material from Avebury has yet been dated by radiocarbon analysis, but finds of these pottery types and comparison with other large henges in the locality (such as Durrington Walls) suggest that construction began after c. 2500 bc. The ditch may have been dug in sections allotted to gangs of workers, which would explain irregularities in the shape of the earthworks, as well as the barely circular layout of the stone ring (diam. ...

Article

Charles C. Van Siclen III

[Egyp. Per-Bastet; now Tell Basta, nr Zaqāzīq, Egypt]. Site in the eastern Nile Delta 77 km north-east of Cairo. It flourished c. 2575 bcc. ad 300. The ancient city of Basta (Gr. Bubastis) was the home of the feline goddess Bastet (Egyp.: ‘She of Basta’), often associated in the later periods of Egyptian history with the cat. Both the city and the cult of Bastet date back at least to the beginning of the Old Kingdom (c. 2575 bc). Bubastis was a significant political, economic and religious centre, and during the 22nd Dynasty (c. 950–c. 730 bc) it was home to a family of pharaohs named Osorkon and Shoshenq, who ruled the whole of Egypt. The importance of the city declined with shifting trade routes, changing political structures and above all the appearance of Christianity and later Islam, when the site was abandoned. The great temple to Bastet and her joyous festival are both described by Herodotus (...

Article

Carnac  

P. R. Giot

Region of north-west France, centre of the principal concentration of prehistoric megalithic monuments (see Megalithic architecture, §2) in Brittany. Situated south-west of Vannes, the area includes the parishes of Carnac and Locmariaquer, extending to Quiberon. The monuments include more than a hundred passage graves (dolmens) and many standing stones (menhirs) arranged singly or in groups including large alignments (see also Dolmen and Menhir). Curiously, these numerous and often huge stones did not attract the attention of scholars before the 18th century.

The typical large alignments, three of which are at Carnac and another at Erdeven, have one or two oval structures of contiguous stones at each end. Between these, ten to twelve apparently parallel lines of more or less equally spaced stones extend over a distance that can exceed a kilometre (see fig.). In reality, these lines are irregular and undulating, and the structures are very ruined; some stones are missing, while others have been restored. The stones decrease in size from the ends of the alignments towards their centres. Neolithic-period material, including flints, stone axes and pottery, has been found in the packing around their bases. The blocks are of local granite; a few are quite large and heavy. Wild speculations concerning their alignments’ ritual or symbolic significance have flourished, particularly in the 19th century, when the first theories about astral worship and astronomical use originated. The alignments differ in orientation, however, and there is no scientifically conclusive evidence to support even the most recent hypotheses, although some large isolated menhirs could have served as foresights for solar or lunar observation....

Article

Dendara  

John Baines

[anc. Egyp. Iunet; Gr. Tentyris.]

Egyptian site on the west bank of the Nile c. 65 km north of Luxor. It was an important provincial centre throughout Egyptian history; its chief artistic monuments are successive temples of the goddess Hathor from the 6th Dynasty (c. 2325–c. 2150 bc) to the 2nd century ad (see fig.). The site stands to the south of the Nile, about 1 km away at the edge of the low desert. The temples stand within a high mud-brick enclosure wall and occupy the north-west part of the sacred space. The site was cleared by Auguste Mariette in the mid-19th century, and work continued sporadically until about 1960.

Activity of Pepy I (reg c. 2289–c. 2256 bc) is referred to in the Greco-Roman temple and attested by a fine statue. The 11th-Dynasty king Mentuhotpe II (reg c. 2008–c. 1957 bc) built a chapel to Hathor and her son Harsomtus which also celebrated his own status (Cairo, Egyp. Mus.). This chapel still stood in the time of Merneptah (...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

[Satra]

Greek city situated on the island of Crete, by the north-west foothills of mount Psiloritis (anc. Ida), 30 km south-east of the present-day city of Rethymnon. It was a centre for Aegean and Greek culture from the Prehistoric to the Byzantine periods (4th millennium bc–7th century bc).

Ancient Eleutherna is a typical example of a Cretan polis (city) inhabited continuously from at least from the 9th century bc (the so-called ‘Dark Age’ of Greek history) to the late Roman and Byzantine period (6th–7th century bc). Even before that, archaeological finds suggest the existence of a continuous presence on the site from the late Neolithic (4th millennium bc) through to a flourishing Minoan site of the 3rd to 2nd millennia bc. Although later construction all but eliminated traces of prehistoric architecture, there is still significant evidence to confirm unbroken habitation. In historical times (9th century...

Article

Faiyum  

R. J. Leprohon and T. G. Wilfong

Egyptian semi-oasis region c. 80 km south-west of Cairo on the Bahr Yusuf, an ancient channel of the Nile (see fig.). In the north-west is Lake Qarun, a remnant of the ancient Lake Moeris, an important part of ancient Egyptian cosmogony since it was reputed by some to be the site of Nun, the primeval ocean. Throughout the Dynastic and Greco-Roman periods (c. 2925 bcad 395) the major god worshipped in the Faiyum was the crocodile-headed Sebek (Gr. Suchos), but the region had a large Jewish community from the 3rd century bc, and Christianity probably arrived in the 1st century ad. Major sites in the Faiyum include the Middle Kingdom monuments at Hawara, el-Lahun and Qasr el-Sagha, and Greco-Roman towns at Qasr Qarun and Kom Ushim. The principal Coptic monuments are the monasteries of Deir el-Azab and Deir el-Malak, and there is a 15th-century mosque in the regional capital of ...

Article

Stephen T. Driscoll

Scottish royal centre in Perthshire, which reached its zenith in the late Pictish period (8th–9th centuries ad) and is the source of an assemblage of high quality ecclesiastical sculpture. Occupying the fertile heart of Strathearn, Forteviot has been more or less in continuous use as a ceremonial centre since the 3rd millennium bc and is the focus of élite burials from the Early Bronze Age (c. 1900 bc) through to the Pictish era. Cinead mac Alpín (Kenneth mac Alpine), the king traditionally identified with the foundation of the Gaelic kingdom of the Scots, died at the palacium (palace) of Forteviot in ad 858. It was eclipsed as a royal centre by Scone in ad 906, but remained a significant royal estate until the 13th century.

The only surviving fabric of the palace is a unique monolithic arch, presumably a chancel arch, carved with three moustached Picts in classical dress flanking a crucifix (now in the Royal Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh). Fragments of at least four additional sandstone crosses indicate the presence of a major church, perhaps a monastery. The celebrated Dupplin Cross (now in Dunning Church) originally overlooked Forteviot from the north. This monolithic, free-standing cross (2.5 m tall) bears a Latin inscription naming Constantine son of Fergus, King of the Picts (...

Article

Nabil Swelim

[anc. Egyp. Iunu; Bibl. On; now Tell Hisn]. Site near Cairo, Egypt. It was the capital of the 13th Lower Egyptian nome (administrative province) and a cult centre of the sun-god in its various guises (Re, Atum, Khephri). The symbol of Heliopolis was the benben, the precursor of the pyramid and obelisk, which represented the primeval hill on which the sun first rose. The oldest monolithic benben found at Heliopolis dates to the 6th Dynasty (c. 2325–c. 2150 bc). An obelisk of Sesostris I (reg c. 1918–c. 1875 bc) still stands on the site; two other obelisks of Heliopolitan origin—‘Cleopatra’s needles’—are now in London and New York. Remains of a temenos wall and chapel reliefs testify to the city’s importance as a religious centre as early as the Early Dynastic period (c. 2925–c. 2575 bc). Imhotep, who bore the title ‘Greatest of seers’ and served in Heliopolis under the 3rd Dynasty (...

Article

Alain-Pierre Zivie

[Djeserkheprure]

(reg c. 1319–c. 1292 bc). Ancient Egyptian ruler and patron of the post-Amarna period. The reign of Horemheb was rich and fascinating in terms of art and architecture, although the amount of evidence is small and the situation is confused by the large number of monuments usurped from his predecessors. It would be too simplistic to consider him merely as one who restored order and traditional religious cults after the so-called anarchy or revolution of the reign of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). It was during the reign of Akhenaten that he first came to prominence, perhaps under the earlier name of Paatenemheb, later appearing in the monuments of Tutankhamun (reg c. 1332–c. 1323 bc) as the general-in-chief and regent, Horemheb. He became even more powerful during the reign of Ay (reg c. 1323–c. 1319 bc), whom he eventually succeeded. It is possible that his wife Mutnodjmet was of royal descent and thus conferred on him a legitimacy that he had at first lacked....

Article

Imhotep  

Nabil Swelim

(fl c. 2600 bc).

Egyptian official and architect. Imhotep, who bore the title ‘Greatest of Seers in Heliopolis’ and served under the kings Djoser (reg c. 2630–c. 2611 bc) to Huni (c. 2600–c. 2575 bc), was traditionally the architect of the step-pyramid complex at Saqqara. His name was inscribed on the base of a statue of the owner of that monument near the beginning of its entrance colonnade. Imhotep was probably the builder of another step-pyramid complex for Horus Sekhemkhet at Saqqara, where his name appears once more. By the Late Period (c. 750–332 bc) Imhotep had been deified, and there are numerous bronze statuettes dating from the Late and Greco-Roman periods (332 bcad 395) showing him seated and reading from a papyrus roll. He was worshipped at the temple of Karnak, Thebes, and an unfinished chapel at Philae was dedicated to his cult. He was traditionally also the builder of the temple at ...

Article

Kamares  

D. Evely

Minoan sacred cave in central Crete, which flourished c. 2050–c. 1650 bc. Situated at the west end of the Mesara Plain, beneath the eastern summit of a twin-peaked mountain on the south flank of the Ida massif, around 1700 m above sea-level, the Kamares cave is impressive and remote, and the vast arch of its entrance is visible even from the plain, especially against the snows of winter. It was explored by Antonio Taramelli in 1904 and more extensively by Richard MacGillivray Dawkins in 1913.

The cave descends quite steeply for some 100 m, forming two main chambers; some built walls may have supported terraces. No clear focus of worship has been detected: the finds seem scattered without pattern. The earliest material found is Final Neolithic (c. 4000–c. 3500/3000 bc), although whether this represents habitation or is the result of some religious impulse is undetermined; the same may be true for the scanty Pre-Palatial ...

Article

Kea  

R. L. N. Barber

revised by Gordon Campbell

[Keos; Ceos; Zea]

Greek island at the north-western extremity of the Aegean Cyclades. It has several Bronze Age sites, by far the most important of which, in terms of both architecture and finds, is the settlement of Ayia Irini, on a small promontory in the sheltered western bay of Ayios Nikolaos. First identified (1956) as an important prehistoric site by K. Scholas, it was excavated (1960–c. 1971) by the late J. L. Caskey for the University of Cincinnati. Ayia Irini was occupied for most of the Bronze Age. Some houses date from the Early Cycladic (ec) period (c. 3500/3000–c. 2000 bc), while the chief Middle Cycladic (mc; c. 2000–c. 1600 bc) remains are of fortifications—one system with horseshoe-shaped bastions and a later one with square towers (see Cycladic §II 2.). There are some cists and more elaborately built tombs of the ...

Article

Dimitris Plantzos

A distinctively Macedonian type of monumental chamber-tomb, consisting of a built chamber roofed with a barrel-vault, sometimes also preceded by an antechamber, and covered by an earth tumulus. The type emerged some time in the 4th century bc, and was widely used in Macedonia and its sphere of influence well into the Hellenistic period (323–27 bc).

Inhumations and cremations were practised contemporaneously in Macedonia, and are often found in the same tomb; it seems that the choice was a matter of personal preference or family tradition. Cremated remains were deposited inside a chest (larnax) made of stone, metal or wood, or a metal or clay hydria (water-jug). The tombs were furnished with couches, thrones, stools, chests, tables, benches etc reproducing actual interiors. The furniture presumably had a practical as well as symbolic role as it may have been used in funerary rituals. Movable offerings were also deposited to accompany the deceased in the afterlife, offering a glimpse into a world of skilful extravagance and sophisticated luxury....