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Pharaoh Mentuhotep II's Mortuary Temple

Deir el Bahri - Theban Mortuary Temples - T vs MT - Thebes - The Places

“Splendid are the Places of Nebhepetre”

Pharaoh Mentuhotep II’s Mansion of Millions of Years

When looking at the plan for the now ruined 11th Dynasty Mortuary Temple of Pharaoh Mentuhotep II at Deir el Bahri I was struck by how similar the layout was intended to be to the Pharaohs who built on the Giza (click here to visit the Giza Necropolis) and Saqqara Necropoli (click here to visit the Saqqara Necropolis).

The Pharaoh who ended the First Intermediate Period, commenced the Middle Kingdom and reunited Egypt moved away from the more dynastical traditional burial areas in Dra’ Abu el Naga and built his Mortuary Complex at Deir el-Bahri.

To learn more about Pharaoh Mentuhotep II, click here.

Layout

To enter the Mortuary Temple, in ancient times, you need to walk along a 16-meter-wide Causeway which led from his Valley Temple to his Mortuary Temple.

The Causeway was graced either side with 11 seated Statues of Pharaoh, 22 in total, which were probably an addition to the area after Pharaoh’s Heb Sed Festival in Regnal Year 39. Those of the North side of the Causeway were wearing the Red Crown, whilst on the South side were wearing the White Crown. Regrettably the Valley Temple was lost in antiquity due to others building along it and robbing it for materials.

The Mortuary Temple itself is entered via an Entrance Gate into a Forecourt and was surrounded by the Forecourt Walls on 3 sides. Following on to a ramp which led up to the Terrace, either side of the ramp were trees: Sycamore and Tamarisk.

On the Terrace is topped with a Mastaba or Pyramid structure, which is home to Shrines and Tombs for some of Pharaoh’s Wives and Daughters:

  • Queen Kawit
  • Queen Ashayet
  • Queen Henhenet
  • Queen Kemsit
  • Princess Muyet
  • Princess Sadhe

 

These Royal ladies were perhaps chosen because they were charged to act as Priestesses of the Goddess Hathor, and as such, they were honoured as they were buried in individual Tombs beside their Pharaoh. Each burial had a beautifully carved Sarcophagus which had been carefully installed from 6 pieces of Stone which were welded together using metallic braces.

Moving further inside, you find that the Temple is cut into the cliff face itself: inside this contains a Hall, a Hypostyle Hall which has the Cult’s Inner Sanctum rooms adjoined to it, and then the Corridor which leads to the Pharaoh’s Tomb.

Pharaoh’s Tomb descends down the Corridor which could better be described as a Tunnel for approx. 150 meters and his Tomb, where his wooden coffin was found, is 45 meters underground.

Other Structures

  • 6 Mortuary Chapels
  • Gate of the Horseman: gateway in the Wall of the Forecourt which led to an underground corridor and on into an unfinished Tomb which hosted a statue of the Pharaoh in a seated position.
  • Decorated Reliefs: at the rear of the Forecourt there are Reliefs decorating the Walls showing military and hunting scenes as well as the more formalised Processions with Boats, interspersed with statues of the later 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Senusret III.

Pharaoh Mentuhotep II’s Mortuary Temple would have been the final destination for the Barque and Statue of the God Amun when it made its journey from Karnak Temple to the West Bank for the Beautiful Festival of the Valley, click here to learn more about the Festival