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Pharaoh-Seti-I

Seti I

Seti I – Menmaatre Seti I (or Sethos I as in Greek) was a pharaoh of the New Kingdom Nineteenth Dynasty of Egypt, the son of Ramesses I and Sitre, and the father of Ramesses II. As with all dates in Ancient Egypt, the actual dates of his reign are unclear, and various historians claim different dates, with 1294 BC to 1279 BC[4] and 1290 BC to 1279 BC[5] being the most commonly used by scholars today.

The name ‘Seti’ means “of Set”, which indicates that he was consecrated to the god Set (also termed “Sutekh” or “Seth”). As with most pharaohs, Seti had several names. Upon his ascension, he took the prenomen “mn-m3‘t-r‘ “, usually vocalized as Menmaatre, in Egyptian, which means “Established is the Justice of Re.”[1] His better known nomen, or birth name, is transliterated as “sty mry-n-ptḥ” or Sety Merenptah, meaning “Man of Set, beloved of Ptah”. Manetho incorrectly considered him to be the founder of the 19th dynasty, and gave him a reign length of 55 years, though no evidence has ever been found for so long a reign.

The spectacular tomb of Seti I reveals the importance of his reign. As the son of Ramses I, Seti was only the second pharaoh of the 19th dynasty. However, many Egyptologists consider him the greatest pharaoh of the New Kingdom.

A Military Man

As the son of Ramses I and Queen Sitre, Seti Merenptah followed in his father’s footsteps as a military man. Egyptians considered him a powerful man, and he earned multiple titles, including troop commander, vizier and head archer. He led many campaigns during the reign of his father and during his own reign.

Upon the death of his father, Seti took the name Menmaatre Seti as his official pharaoh name, which meant “Established is the Justice of Re.” He married Tuya, the daughter of a military lieutenant. They had four children together. Their third child, Ramses II, would succeed Ramses on the throne in approximately 1279 BC.

Blurring of Dates

The exact dates of Seti’s reign are uncertain. Egyptian pharaohs frequently changed the dates of previous reigns to remove unpopular pharaohs from history. Because of this practice, many theories exist as to when rulers actually ascended to the throne and how long they remained in power.

Most researchers believe Seti reigned from 1290 BC to 1279 BC. Estimates of this vary from 5 to 20 years. The longest estimate is that he ruled for 55 years, although there is little evidence to this claim. Because of the revisions to history, birth and death dates are unknown.



Restoration of Egypt

Seti’s strong military experience played a major role during his reign. He personally led many military campaigns into Syria and Lybia. He continued expanding Egypt to the east and worked to restore the empire to the past glory of the 18th dynasty. His troops were the first Egyptian forces to meet the Hittites in battle, keeping them from invading Egypt.

Egyptians knew Seti as the “Repeater of Births,” meaning he began an era of order and restoration. Approximately 30 years had elapsed between the reigns of Tutankhamen and Seti I. The pharaohs during this time period focused on the restoration of not only the empire, but also the reliefs vandalized during the reign of King Akhenaten. Egyptologists recognize Seti I as the best known of all the restorer pharaohs due to his marking of repairs with his name.

Many of Seti’s restorations and additions are considered continuations of work left incomplete by previous rulers. He continued the work started by his father on the great Hypostyle hall at Karnak. He also began the construction of the Great Temple of Abydos, but left it to be finished by his son.

Seti’s Tomb

Archaeologist Giovanni Belzoni discovered the tomb of Seti I in October of 1817. Located in the Valley of the Kings in western Thebes, the tomb features an amazing display of display of tomb paintings covering the walls, columns and ceilings. The paintings and bas reliefs provide researchers with valuable information full of meaning and symbolism.

The quality of the reliefs throughout the parts of the building probably surpasses anything found at any other New Kingdom site.

Belzoni considered the tomb the finest tomb of all the pharaohs. Hidden passageways revealed secret rooms, while long corridors served to confuse tomb robbers. Despite the amazing tomb, Seti’s sarcophagus and mummy were missing. It would take archaeologists 70 years to find the final resting place of Seti I.

In 1881, Seti’s mummy was found in the mummy cache at Deir el-Bahri. Damage to his alabaster sarcophagus indicated that his tomb had been robbed and his body disturbed during antiquity. His mummy was damaged, but he had been carefully repaired and re-wrapped.

Examinations of his mummy revealed Seti died of unknown causes before the age of forty. Some researchers believe he died of an illness involving his heart. The hearts of most pharaohs remained in place during mummification. Seti’s mummified heart was located on the wrong side of the body, leading to the theory that perhaps it had been relocated in an effort to cleanse it of disease.

Sources: wikipedia, ancient-egypt-online.com. Reliefs image source: Flicker (kairoinfo4u).

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Temple of Kom Ombo

The Temple of Kom Ombo is an unusual double temple in the town of Kom Ombo in Aswan Governorate, Upper Egypt. It was constructed during the Ptolemaic dynasty, 180–47 BC. Some additions to it were later made during the Roman period. The building is unique because its ‘double’ design meant that there were courts, halls, sanctuaries, and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The southern half of the temple was dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek, god of fertility and creator of the world with Hathor and Khonsu. Meanwhile, the northern part of the temple was dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris, also known as Horus the Elder, along “with Tasenetnofret (the Good Sister, a special form of Hathor or Tefnet/Tefnut) and Panebtawy (Lord of the Two Lands).” The temple is atypical because everything is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis.

Temple outside view

The texts and reliefs in the temple refer to cultic liturgies which were similar to those from that time period. The temple itself had a specific theology. The characters invoked the gods of Ombos and their legend. Two themes were present in this temple: the universalist theme and the local theme. The two combine to form the theology of this temple. The temple was started by Ptolemy VI Philometor (180–145 BC) at the beginning of his reign and added to by other Ptolemys, most notably Ptolemy XIII (51–47 BC), who built the inner and outer hypostyle halls. The scene on the inner face of the rear wall of the temple is of particular interest, and “probably represents a set of surgical instruments.” A temple was already built in the New Kingdom to honor these gods, however, this site gained in importance during the Ptolemaic Period. Little remains of the New Kingdom temple. Much of the temple has been destroyed by the Nile, earthquakes, and later builders who used its stones for other projects. Some of the reliefs inside were defaced by Copts who once used the temple as a church. All the temples buildings in the southern part of the plateau were cleared of debris and restored by Jacques de Morgan in 1893.

A few of the three hundred crocodile mummies discovered in the vicinity are displayed in The Crocodile Museum.

The Name “Kon Ombo”, and History

The word “Kom” in Arabic means the small hill and the word “Ombo”, in the Hieroglyphic ancient Egyptian language, means the gold. Therefore, the word Kom Ombo, as a whole, means the hill of the gold.

The word Ombo was actually originated from the Pharaonic word “Nbty” which is an adjective derived of the word Nebo that meant gold. During the Coptic period, the word was slightly changed to become Enbo and when the Arabic language became common in Egypt, the word became “Ombo”.

Although Kom Ombo is famous today due to the Temple that was constructed during the Greco Roman era, the area was inhabited since the pre-dynastic period of the Egyptian history and many ancient burial sites were discovered in and around Kom Ombo.

The name of the town; Kom Ombo, or the hill of the gold clarifies how important it was for the ancient Egyptians from the economical aspect, despite the fact that the town never really flourished except when the Ptolemies took control of Egypt.

The Ptolemies have constructed many permanent military bases in the area situated on the Red Sea. This developed the commercial activities between the town located near the Nile and these bases, especially Kom Ombo which was a transit point where many trading caravans used to stop.

The most glorious days of Kom Ombo came when the Romans ruled over Egypt as it became the capital and the administrative center of the province and during this period a large portion of the Temple of Kom Ombo was constructed and many other sections were restored and renovated.

The Temple of Kom Ombo, which we view today and was built during the Greco Roman period, was constructed on the ruins of a much older temple which was called “Ber Sobek” or the house of the god Sobek.

This older temple was erected during the reigns of King Tuthmosis III and then during the ruling period of Queen Hatshepsut, whose marvelous temple is still standing in the West Bank of Luxor, and both belonged to the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom.

The recent temple of Kom Ombo was built during the period from 205 till 180 BC in the ruling period of King Ptolemy V. The construction process of the temple went on for many years afterward in the period from 180 till 169 BC with each king having his addition to the complex of the Temple of Kom Ombo.

A large portion of the Temple of Kom Ombo, including the hypostyle hall, was constructed during the reign of Emperor Tiberius, from the year 81 till 96 BC. The buildings work of the temple went afterward for more than 400 years during the ruling period of Emperors Caracalla and Macrinus till the middle of the 3rd century AD.

The Ptolemies have constructed the Temple of Kom Ombo for the worship of two gods, Sobek; the Crocodile god, and Horus, the falcon god. This is why the complex mainly consists of two parallel temples with all the traditional components of such ancient Egyptian religious structures are present in the two temples.

The Temple of Kom Ombo was constructed mainly with limestone in the shape of a rectangle, with a plan and a design which is quite similar to many temples constructed in the Greco Roman period like the Temples of Dendara and Philae which are considered among the most important monuments in Upper Egypt, visited by numerous tourists.

The design of the Temple of Kom Ombo starts with a front courtyard, a hypostyle hall following it, three inner halls, and then two sanctuaries; one dedicated to Sobek and the other to Horus.

Description of the Temple

A set of steps lead from the ground to the gate of the temple, which consists of a large structure made of blocks of stones. The façade of the Temple of Kom Ombo has some of the wonderful wall carvings of the Ptolemaic kings beating the enemies and presenting the offerings to the gods.

After passing through the gate of the temple, the guest enters the hypostyle hall, constructed in the Roman period, which is largely ruined and damaged due to several reasons with time passing by.

The courtyard of the temple consists of a rectangle open space with sixteen columns surrounding the courtyard from three directions. Unfortunately, only the bases of these columns survived until today with some of the capitals that were located at the top of the columns.

After the courtyard, the guests enter the first inner hall that was constructed during the ruling period of Ptolemy XII. To the East of this hall, there are many portraits of the Ptolemies being purified by the gods Sobek and Horus, in a scene that would be found in other temples like the Edfu and Philae.

The inner hall of the Temple of Kom Ombo has a design which is similar to the outer hall but the columns here are quite shorter and the stone capital of these columns have the shape of the lotus flower, one of the most important and sacred plants in ancient Egypt.

The Temple of Kom Ombo is featured for having two sanctuaries dedicated to the two gods of the temple; Sobek and Horus. The two sanctuaries consist of two similar rectangle halls which are considered to be among the most ancient sections built in the temple as they were constructed during the reign of Ptolemy VI.

The birthplace of the Temple of Kom Ombo is located in the South Eastern section of the complex and it was constructed during the period of Ptolemy VII. This structure consists of an outer courtyard that leads into a front hypostyle hall that leads in turn to another two halls where rituals of the birth of the son of the gods were carried out.

Chapel of Hathour

The Chapel of Hathour is located in the North Eastern section of the Temple of Kom Ombo and it consists of a rectangle shaped chapel constructed higher than the ground and reached through climbing some steps. The chapel is 5 meters long and 3 meters wide.

Inside the chapel of Hathour, there are three glass galleries that display three mummies of crocodiles representing the god Sobek. The façade of the chapel has a portrait displaying Hathour sitting in front of the entrance.

The temple of Sobek at Kom Ombo is yet another of the fascinating temples along the Nile

Chapel of Sobek

Situated in the North Eastern section of the temple of Kom Ombo, a Roman-style chapel constructed in the 3rd century AD was dedicated to the god Sobek.

Emperor Caracalla is portrayed on two columns that dominate the entrance into the chapel that hosts many portraits of the god Sobek, which was worshiped by many Egyptians during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods.

Sorces: wikipedia, ask-aladdin.com.
Temple outside view image source: flicker.

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Tombs of the Nobles

The riverscape of Aswan is dominated by the sand-covered hills of the West Bank which is strewn with rock-cut tombs of high-status officials of the Old and Middle Kingdom. At the crest of the hill is the domed tomb of a Muslim prophet which gives the hill its local name, Qubbet el-Hawa or ‘Dome of the Winds’.

The ticket office is to the northern end of the tomb area and a steep climb up several flights of stone steps leads to the upper level of the cemetery where there are around 6 or 7 tombs open to visitors. The guide will usually begin at the southern end of the upper level where the most interesting tombs can be seen. These ancient tombs are roughly cut from the natural rock, and though they are not as well preserved as some of those to be visited in the Luxor or Cairo areas they are well worth seeing. Tombs of this period are usually fairly inaccessible in most places south of Cairo and these show fine examples of hieroglyphic texts detailing the careers of their owners as well as scenes of daily life in the earlier periods. Many of the tombs are linked together as family members added their own chambers.



Tombs 25/26: Sabni and Mekhu –
The owners of these tombs were father and son, both Overseers of Upper Egypt in Dynasty VI during the reign of Pepy II. Reliefs on the walls of Mekhu’s tomb record his murder while on an expedition in Nubia and the revenge taken by Sabni, his son. He seems to have been buried with much ceremony. The tombs were roughly constructed in Old Kingdom style, with small obelisks at the entrance doorway and an offering table of Mekhu still in situ.

Tomb 31: Sarenput II –
The next major tomb in the sequence is that of Sarenput II, Overseer of the Priests of Khnum and Commander of the Garrison at Elephantine, dated to the reign of Dynasty XII king, Amenemhet II. This is one of the best-preserved tombs at Aswan. It consists of a large chamber with six perfectly symmetrical undecorated pillars and a gallery flanked by six niches each once containing mummiform statues of the deceased prince. The four pillars of a second chamber were decorated with images of Sarenput. Beyond this, a chapel cut deep into the rock is plastered and painted in vivid colors and depicts his wife, a Priestess of Hathor and other family members. In the niche at the back of the chapel, Sarenput is named as ‘Hereditary Lord’. This biographical text is very colourful with well-depicted hieroglyphs and shows the cartouche of ‘Nebkaure’ – Amenemhet II as well as an unusual glyph of an elephant. The style of painting and the hieroglyphs are distinctly similar to the Old Kingdom tombs, leading some Egyptologists to suggest that the same artists decorated them and that the length of the 1st Intermediate Period was therefore very short.

Tomb 31: Khunes –
This is a Dynasty VI tomb, its owner Khunes was a Lector Priest and Chancellor. A side chamber to the left of the entrance was re-used as a Coptic cell and another chamber on an upper level was a serdab. The tomb contains scenes of the deceased and his family in daily life.

Tomb 31: Harkhuf –
Harkhuf was an Overseer of Foreign Troops during the reigns of Pepy I, Merenre and Pepy II in Dynasty VI. This tomb is famous for Harkhuf’s biographical text and a copy of a letter from Pepy II requesting that Harkhuf should hurry to bring the young king a dancing pigmy from an expedition into Africa.

Tomb 35: Pepynakht (also called Heqa-ib)-
The owner of this tomb was another Overseer of Foreign Troops during the reign of Pepy II of Dynasty VI. The tomb has a columned façade, biographical texts and good reliefs showing hunting and bull-fighting scenes. Heqa-ib was the deified official whose cult chapel stood on Elephantine Island.

Tomb 36: Sarenput I-
The last major tomb on the upper level dates from Dynasty XII and the reign of Senwosret I. Sarenput I was a Governor of Elephantine and Overseer of the Priests of Satis. A columned court has scenes on the rear walls of the deceased hunting and fishing with his dogs and his sandal-bearer. In a hall with four columns, there are scenes of daily life, a boating scene and a biographical text with finely painted hieroglyphs. A chamber at the rear of the tomb has a ‘false door’.

Note the causeways which run down the hillside from the different cemetery levels. These would have been the original ‘paths’ to the tombs and coffins and burial goods would have been dragged up these steep inclines from the river. At night the whole cemetery area is floodlit and can be seen from all over Aswan.

The tombs are mostly quite deep in the hillside and therefore very dark. Photography is not usually allowed.

How to get there

To get to the Tombs of the Nobles, there is a ferry which leaves from the northern end of the Corniche. Alternatively, you can hire a felucca which will wait and bring you back. You could also combine a visit to the tombs with a longer felucca trip.