Back in March 2004 there was a lecture about this temple and although not written for publication (this was pre my blog) here are my notes from the lecture.
Seti I by Rainer Stadelmann
The mortuary temple of Seti I is a direct line from Karnak and the 1st station on the road to Del el Bahri as used by the Feast of the Valley. Mortuary temples, in order to ensure worship continued at that them, became station temples in this feast. They wanted to be temples of millions of years and have endless offerings. By using the Feast of the Valley they did ensure worship fir 1 ½ thousand years. The barques of the Gods would stay at Del el Bahri for a few days. The feast took place in the second month of summer (approx May). The king had to attend this feast or at least the first part. It dates from the Middle kingdom as there was graffiti at Mentuhotep about it.
The Karnak relief’s show the barque of Amun coming out of his sanctuary and being carried around the open parts of Karnak. Then the barque of the God was transferred by Royal barge to the West Bank. It went along a canal until it got to the first station Seti I temple. The main part of the temple is for this feast. The king desired endless offerings and this was his way of getting them. Not only Amun was carried in procession but also Mut and Khonsu. At Seti’s temple there are also chapels to Ptah and Osiris. Seti went back to 4/5 dynasty to try and consolidate things after the chaos of Akhenaton.
When the procession got to the temple it would be taken to the barque room and from there to a shrine. The God is shown standing before the King with Thoth and Horus purifying. The dead king them became identified with Amun in this temple and sort of transfigured into the God. The king is shown sitting receiving offerings and holding the sign of life indicating that he had become a God. There is a goddess with a temple on her head called Merien Ptah and besides her it says I am the temple mother, you are reborn as Amun. Each side of the steps there is a chapel to Hathor and to Put. These are divine chapels where you enter the world of the Gods.
The temple of Seti I has been rather neglected by modern scholars. Napoleon’s expedition visited it. Wilkinson and Hayes were there. In 1842 the Prussian expedition of Richard Lepsius drew up plans and showed the sphinxes of the first pylon. A plan of 1932 showed the extensive magazines and very houses in the area. Petrie excavated for 3 days and found jars and sealings.
In 1970 it became part of the German excavation work in Egypt and Willy Brandt even came to visit and see progress.
In 1994 a huge thunderstorm hit the site and destroyed half the temple area including the first pylon and place area. Fortunately enough of the foundations remained for the team to reconstruct.
There is a tremendous problem with salt destroying the temple (like so much of Egyptian antiquities) and although they have cleaned a lot it comes back very quickly and the temple is in danger like every where else.
The problem is exasperated by the fact the land has chemicals on it since the Nile no longer fertilises the land and this is seeping into the water table. At the excavations at Amenhotep III temple the water came into a hole they excavated like a shower.
In the West of the temple there is false door which they also had in palaces. This enables the spirit of the dead king to enter and leave. Amun could also use it in order to do his night journey before getting up in the morning.
The Seti I temple at Abydos was like a mortuary temple for all the Gods of Egypt. Including Seti himself. Abydos had been used for Old Kingdom burials and cenotaphs in the Middle Kingdom. Ahmoses of the New Kingdom was buried there.
We don’t how the temple functioned in the late period but certainly in Greco Roman times there was a big revival and the 1st pylon was reinforced and a pavement created. This proved to be of Steele from Seti and Ramses laid face down. So the team have been able to recover these and put them on display.
In S/E corner there was a very small church, probably only held 20 people. And in late Roman times it was used by a rich person we know this as not only ceramic but glass has been recovered. It was in use until 6/7th century.
After it stopped being used as a mortuary temple it was quickly inhabited by the priest that worked there. Hence the number of magazines used to store offerings.
Medinet Habu was unique because the high secondary walls protected a large population.
There would have been a peristyle court at Seti I. The first court is not like Ram III it might have been an open court
The architraves of the first door are displayed along the processional way. The pylon gate could not be saved
Inside there is a scene of the goddess Seshat writing the names of Seti
At the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu there is a temple place to the south but Dr Stadelmann does not believe it was inhabited because there were no kitchens.
Seti I temple place had the same dimensions with a 12 pillared hall, steps leading to a window of appearances, a throne room, bathroom and a false door. The statue of the King would appear at the window of appearances.
Before Seti all the temples were supplied by Karnak but from him onwards all temples have their own magazines to store offerings.
In front of the pylon there are pedestals for sphinxes, these must have been huge. The south gate leads to a small mortuary temple for Ramses I Seti’s father who had no time to build a mortuary temple due to the shortness of his reign.
There are scenes of the feast of the valley on the walls, the barque being carried by priests using 6 poles. Also the barque of Amens Nefertari. The barques are shown inside a shrine on the royal barge. The ram’s heads are symbols of Amun.
There was a wide open court with an altar. The niches were thought to be late additions but they have been found to have royal cartouches so are contemporary. The kings offers flowers (a big part of the feast). Ordinary people would also bring flowers and then have taken them to their family tombs. There is s sacred lake with 2 staircases and a room so it would have been used for Nile offerings.
In the S/w corner foundation deposits were found of faïence animals with the name of Seti. Also found were bricks of Ram I the head of Queen Tuya wife of Seti and mother of Ram II
The team have planted the holy tree persea. This species had dies out in Egypt but now there are 2 in the garden of the Cairo museum. The Seti tree came from Abyssinia