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Ramesses III MT

Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, viewed from the northeast.©

The Mortuary temple of Ramesses III is the mortuary temple of Pharaoh Ramesses III of the Twentieth Dynasty during the New Kingdom. It is located on the west bank of the Nile river at the site of Medinet Habu. Aside from its size and architectural and artistic importance, the mortuary temple is probably best known as the source of inscribed reliefs depicting the advent and defeat of the Sea Peoples during the reign of Ramesses III.

Excavation[]

The first European to describe the temple in modern literature was Vivant Denon, who visited it in 1799–1801.[1] Jean-François Champollion described it in detail in 1829.[2]

Initial excavation of the temple took place sporadically between 1859 and 1899, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. During these decades the main temple was cleared, and a large number of the Greco-Roman Period buildings, including a substantial Byzantine Church in the second court, were destroyed without notes or records being taken.[3]

The further excavation, recording and conservation of the temple has been facilitated in chief part by the Architectural and Epigraphic Surveys of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute, almost continuously since 1924.

Description[]

The temple, some 150 m (490 ft) long, is of orthodox design, and closely resembles the nearby mortuary temple of Ramesses II (the Ramesseum). The temple precinct measures approximately 210 m (690 ft). by 300 m (1,000 ft) and contains more than 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) of decorated wall reliefs. Its walls are relatively well preserved and it is surrounded by a massive mudbrick enclosure, which may have been fortified. The original entrance is through a fortified gate-house, known as a migdol (a common architectural feature of Asiatic fortresses of the time).

Just inside the enclosure, to the south, are chapels of Amenirdis I, Shepenupet II and Nitocris I, all of whom held the title of Divine Adoratrice of Amun.

The first pylon leads into an open courtyard, lined with colossal statues of Ramesses III as Osiris on one side, and uncarved columns on the other. The second pylon leads into a peristyle hall, again featuring columns in the shape of Ramesses. The third pylon is reached by continuing up a ramp that leads through a columned portico and then opens into a large hypostyle hall (which has lost its roof). Reliefs and actual heads of foreign captives were also found placed within the temple, perhaps in an attempt to symbolise the king's control over Syria and Nubia.

In the Greco-Roman and Byzantine period, there was a church inside the temple structure, which has since been removed. Some of the carvings in the main wall of the temple have been altered by Christian carvings.

The royal palace was directly connected with the first courtyard of the temple via the "Window of Appearances".

Minor king list[]

The Medinet Habu king list is a procession celebrating the festival of Min, with the names of nine pharaohs. It can be found on the upper register of the eastern wall in the second courtyard.

Royal procession[]

Ramesses III had inscribed processional lists of princes and princesses in similar fashion as Ramesses II had done at his mortuary temple; the Ramesseum. Despite the carved figures of princes and princesses, no names and titles were applied by Ramesses III at the intended spaces. Unlike the list of princesses, which remains empty of inscription, the list of princes had been inscribed for the most part by Ramesses VI. Ramesses VIII is the only one known to have made an adjustment, by changing his own princely name to his royal nomen during kingship.

Procession of princes
Position Name Titles Comments
1 Ramesses Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Generalissimo, Royal Scribe, King's Son Name enclosed within a cartouche.
2 Ramesses Nebmaatre-Meryamun Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Overseer of the Chariotry, Royal Scribe, King's Son Praenomen of Ramesses VI enclosed within a cartouche.
3 Ramesses-Amunherkhepeshef-Netjerheqaiunu Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Overseer of the Chariotry, Royal Scribe, King's Son Nomen of Ramesses VI enclosed within a cartouche.
4 Ramesses-Setherkhepeshef-Meryamun Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son Nomen of Ramesses VIII enclosed within a cartouche.
5 Pareherwenemef Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
6 Mentuherkhepeshef Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
7 Ramesses-Meryatum Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
8 Ramesses-Khaemwaset Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
9 Ramesses-Amunherkhepeshef Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
10 Ramesses-Meryamun Fanbearer on the King's Right Hand, Royal Scribe, King's Son, True of Voice
11-13 Left uninscribed

See also[]

References[]

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