Archaeology - Medinet Habu: The Temple of Ramesses III

In ancient Egypt, the palaces, houses, warehouses and all buildings used by the common people were built with materials that are easy to find, but also items like silt and straw. Instead the temples, where the immortal gods lived, had to be built to last for ever and only the stone could ensure this duration.

The vastness of the Egyptian sanctuaries required a massive use of raw material, then you understand how he could be born at the pharaohs, the practice of obtaining the building stone by dismantling the buildings blasted by predecessors. For this reason, many monuments were completely demolished down to the level of the foundation.

Not even the funerary temples that the sovereigns of the seventeenth and nineteenth dynasty had built on the left bank of the Nile, in front of Karnak and Luxor, to perpetuate forever the memory of their name, escaped this fate.
Only one of Ramesses III, located in the neighboring town of Medinet Habu, has survived largely intact.

In fact, after the great ruler of the Twentieth Dynasty, the Egyptian power declined inexorably and there was no longer any king can put in the pipeline in the Theban necropolis architecture of such a huge amount, to justify the total dismantling of an older building to extract material Building.

Medinet Habu is one of the first places of the Theban to have been associated with the god Amun. There was a sanctuary, whose construction was begun by Amenhotep I, and then completed by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III. Dedicated to the god of Thebes, the temple remained in use until the time of Roman.
Probably just because of the sacredness of the place Ramses III Medinet Habu chose to build his funerary complex. A group of buildings took the sovereign included a temple and a palace surrounded by warehouses and housing for the clergy and the court. Everything was contained inside a mighty wall of brick. Given the political instability of the Twentieth Dynasty, Ramses III decided to further protect the core of the buildings.

So he did raise around a dual ring of crenellated walls, equipped with fortified gates shaped tower on the east side and the west.
In front of the east gate was dug a landing (now deceased) connected to the Nile by a canal: here docked boats sacred, they carried in procession the statues of the gods, and the actual ship, on which the sovereign came regularly from the residence of Delta, to participate in the most important holidays.

Outside the tower that rises above the east entrance it is decorated with scenes depicting Ramesses III while defeating the enemies of Egypt and, in the act of making offerings to deities. The upper rooms of the building, however, are decorated with reliefs depicting the king in the privacy of his family.

Immediately to the right of the door there is the shrine of the eighteenth dynasty. It was shut down in the double wall of Ramses III, which was later demolished, here, to create the necessary space to the various extensions of the sacred building. On the left, however, there are some chapels built during Saitic for priestesses engaged in the worship of the god Amun in Thebes.

In line with the fortified gate east at a distance of about fifty meters, it is the mortuary temple of Ramesses III, whose interiors are modeled distribution already adopted in the Ramesseum. A first pylon leads into a courtyard, which on the north side an array of seven pillars, each of which rests a giant with the features of the king. On the opposite side a row of columns form an entrance porch to the rear of the royal palace.

The plan of this, initially conceived as a copy of the palace of Ramesses II, later underwent some functional changes, which led to more and more detailed breakdown of the interior. From the courtyard, through the second pylon, it switches to a court that has north and south two porches supported by papyrus columns and east portico with pillars Osirian.

A flight of sixteen steps leading to a terrace, where a peristyle is supported by eight pillars Osirian followed by four columns. Behind the peristyle is a hypostyle hall with three naves that enter the sacred area, the focus of which is represented by a naos preceded by two colonnaded rooms.

From the naos it passes finally to a series of rooms that take up the entire back of the building, where it was practiced the cult of "Amon joined with eternity", personification of the local Theban god, in close association with Ramesses III. Chapels dedicated to various gods and environments accessories fill the remaining space of the sacred area.

The whole temple is enclosed by an imposing stone wall often more than three meters, on whose outer walls Ramesses III had engraved the record of their deeds, accompanied by superb reliefs depicting key moments of the action.

This would have kept the images of the battles fought by the ruler of the twentieth dynasty, to try to maintain balances the borders of Egypt an increasingly in crisis: the campaigns against the Nubian and Libyan people and the popular war against the Sea Peoples.

With the victory over the last Ramesses III he succeeded in blocking the advance of the border of Egypt nomadic populations that had already brought destruction across the Middle East and had led, among other things, the fall of the Hittite. Inside the temple, however, the wall decorations acquired a sacred character.

The temple was surrounded on three sides by groups of buildings which were located houses, shops and offices. Around the building stood a wall of mud brick, which was reinforced by projections placed at regular intervals. After the death of Ramses III, with the growing power of the priests of the god Amon, Medinet Habu was used as an administrative center of the Theban region.
Author Nova
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