Thursday, 1 December 2011
Drive Thru Temple of Tuthmosis III
After all the events of the last few weeks it is lovely to get back to some Egyptology. Today I was privileged to go around the Funerary Temple of Tuthmosis III with Dr. Myriam Seco Álvarez. First thanks to Mansour Boraik for arranging this for me. I find Tuthmosis III a really interesting character and his temple building on the West Bank adds to the enigma. We tend to assume that pharaohs build one temple on the West Bank and yes this is what most do. But Tuthmosis built three and at this point in time we do not understand the relationship between the three. We have the small temple at Medinet Habu which when it was built would have been the only temple at that site, we have the temple at Deir el Bahri and then the temple Dr Myriam is excavating. This is located close to the Ramasseum and in the fact the road goes right through the first courtyard, so one side of the road you have the mud brick first pylon and the other side the very large terraced remainder. (one hopes that eventually the road will be moved and the area under the road excavated as it has never been).
There is quite a lot of information on the team website http://thutmosisiiitempleproject.org/ and I also have notes from a lecture that Myriam gave http://luxor-news.blogspot.com/2009/02/mummfication-museum-lecture-tuthmosis.html
Going round today you can see that the team have done masses of work, loads of excavation and restoration. From the road the temple looks like it is made of mud brick but when you go to the top terrace and see all the stone fragments you realise that mud brick comprised only a very small part. Also the builders have made use of the natural landscape, carving into the bedrock in some places. Interestingly the temple appears to have been built on a necropolis for Middle Kingdom/ 2nd Intermediate Period and they have found a number of tombs, some intact/reused with pottery and mummies. It makes you wonder why he used that site, whether it was significant.
The stone fragments are beautifully carved and some have vivid colour on them and are worthy of museum display. The team hope to reconstruct and display what they have found but there is a LOT of work still be to done. Parts of the site are still unexcavated, lots needs recording, even more needs restoration. I suspect that Dr Myriam is going to be there a long time.
When you are on the upper terrace the layout of the temple is more obvious, split between Hathor and Amun, with separate entrances, the former being a late addition to the temple structure and boundary wall breeched in order to allow access.