Mortuary Temple of Amenhotep IIIMortuary Temples - The Buildings - Builders & Buildings
Pharaoh Amenhotep III died when he was roughly 50 years old, after ruling as Pharaoh for approx. 40 years. He is remembered as a prolific builder as well as reigning over a time of prosperity and with a firm grasp of the governance offering a time of stability. For more details about the life and reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, click here.
For his own remembrance and as somewhere for his Cult to be celebrated after his demise he created not only his Tomb in the Valley of the Kings but also the largest Mortuary Complex known in the Theban Necropolis.
Pharaoh Amenhotep III’s Mansion of Millions of Years
Unusually for any Egyptian Period, his Cult was functioning approx. 10 years before his demise which went against the usual customs. Standardly Priests would have been hired and instructed by Pharaoh as to the running and maintaining of his Cult before his death but not physically running the Mortuary Temple Complex and Cult as though Pharaoh had already died and was already deified.
The Mortuary Complex was located within 3km of his other great building project, the Malkata Palace City Complex.
The Complex was originally 600 meters long by 100 meters wide.
It hosted 3 Mudbrick constructed Pylons.
The First is where the Colossi of Memnon are situated. The Second and Third each have another set of Statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III
- Processional Pathway which leads through the centre of the Temple and is flanked either side of the Pathway
- Open Solar Courtyard
- Roofed Hall
- Inner Sanctuary
- Sacred Altar
Loss of the Mortuary Temple and its Complex
As with many other ancient Temples, within and outside of Egypt, time and the weather has not been kind to the home of Pharaoh’s Cult. His Mortuary Temple in particular was sited very close to the River Nile which flooded on a yearly basis. Whilst this is perfect for the agriculture of Egypt it is not so convenient for a Temple. To learn more about the Nile’s annual Flood, click here.
Furthermore, later Pharaohs robbed stone and the statues, sphinx and stelae away from the Temple for their own reuse. We cannot view this as a form of theft by the monarch but rather that the offending Pharaoh viewed the co-opting of other Pharaoh’s building stones into their own monuments as a way to make them sacred and bring a gravitas of importance to their own projects. If the stone was marked with another Pharaoh’s cartouche this almost made it like a modern time reliquary’s – even more sacred and bound with even more meaning. To learn how the builders used Stone and other material to build the Monuments of Ancient Egypt, click here.
To compound these two destabilising measures, the area has been subject to at least one earthquake in 27 BC.
Although extensive work is now being undertaken by Egyptologists to recover and protect what remains at the site, now that the Nile no longer floods its banks due to the 1970s constructed Aswan Dam, the site is currently best known for the two gigantic statues which are colourfully known as the Colossi of Memnon who guard the entrance to the Temple site. When I state they are gigantic they really are even compared to other massive statuary which can be found in Thebes. They are around 21 meters or 70 feet tall, the size of the average 6 stored building. The weight makes the stones used at the pyramids look pitiful, topping in at 650,000kg or 720 tonnes. The statues are actually of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and have now been repaired to look slightly more like the King they originally resembled rather than the earthquake damaged statues of the recent past. The Greeks misnamed the Pharaoh’s own statues as a mythological Ethiopian King called Memnon.
Stela found inside the Mortuary Temple have been translated as saying:
“Pharaoh Amenhotep III, beloved of Amun-Ra, Lord of the thrones-of-the-two-lands, who presides over Karnak, given life; who rejoices as he rules the two lands like Ra forever. The good god, lord of joy, very vigilant for his maker Amun, King of Gods; who enlarged his house and contented his beauty by doing his ka’s desire. It pleased his majesty’s heart to make very great monuments, the likes of which had not existed since the beginning of the two lands. He made as his monument for his father, Amun, lord of thrones-of-the-two-lands, the building for him of an august temple on the west side of Thebes, a monument of eternity and everlastingness, of fine sandstone worked with gold throughout… It is adorned…and enriched with statues of the king…of all kinds of costly stones…. It resembles the horizon of heaven when Ra rises in it. Its pond is filled by great Hapi…. Its workhouse is filled with male and female slaves and with children of the princes of every foreign country that his majesty despoiled… Its good name, which his majesty gave, is “Who receives Amun and exalts his beauty.” It is a resting-place for the Lord of Gods at his valley festival, during the journey of Amun to the West, to see the gods of the West. In return may he give to his majesty life and dominion”
“The Pharaoh is content with the work for his father Amun, Lord of thrones-of-the-two-lands, in southern Ipet: of fine sandstone, wide, very great, and exceedingly beautiful… When the people see it they give praise to his majesty. I made another monument for my father Amun-Ra, lord of thrones-of-the-two-lands, who set me on his throne, in making for him a great bark upon the river, “Amun-Ra-firm-of-brow,” of new pine wood, cut by my majesty in the countries of god’s land, and dragged from the mountains of Retjenu by the chiefs of all foreign lands. It is very wide and great; the like has never been made. Its interior is made pure with silver; it is worked with gold throughout… The king made another monument for Amun in making for him a very great gate in front of Amun-Ra which is inlaid with real lapis lazuli and worked with gold and costly stones. The like had never been made. Its pavement was made pure with silver, the portal in its front firmly set. There are stelae of lapis lazuli, one on each side. Its twin towers reach to the sky, like the four supports of heaven. Its flagpoles shine skyward, being worked in fine gold. His majesty brought the gold for it from the land of Kry on his first victorious campaign of slaying vile Kush”
“Speech of Amun, King of Gods: My son, of my body, my beloved Nebmaarta, My living image, my body’s creation. Born me by Mut, Ashru’s Lady in Thebes, Mistress of the Nine Bows, Who nursed you to be sole lord of peoples! My heart is very joyful when I see your beauty, I did a wonder for your majesty, You repeat your youth, For I made you the Sun of the Two Shores. Turning my face to the south I did a wonder for you, I made the chiefs of wretched Kush surround you, Carrying all their tribute on their backs. Turning my face to the north I did a wonder for you, I made the countries of the ends of Asia come to you, Carrying all their tribute on their backs They offer you their persons and their children, Beseeching you to grant them breath of life. Turning my face to the west I did a wonder for you, I let you capture Tjehenu, they can’t escape! Built is this fort and named ?Akre? my majesty, Enclosed by a great wall that reaches heaven….. Turning my face to sunrise I did a wonder for you, I made the lands of Punt come here to you, With all their fragrant flowers of their lands, To beg your peace and breathe the air you give”
“Marriage Scarab Year 11 The Living Horus Strong Bull Appearing in Truth. He of the Two Goddesses Establishing Laws, Pacifying the Two Lands. The Golden Horus, Great of Valour, Smiarg the Asiatic’s. King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Lord of the Two Lands, Neb-Maat-Re Son of Re, Amenhotep Ruler of Thebes, given life The Great Royal Wife Tiye, may she live. The name of her father is Yuya, the name of her mother is Tuya. She is the wife of the mighty king whose southern boundary is as far as Karoy, whose northern is as far as Naharin”