Following my top 10 archaeological sites in the Mediterrnean, here comes a list of the top 5 Egyptian temples with photos from my recent trip:
It’s impossible not to be completely awestruck by the size of the Karnak temple complex! It’s absolutely gigantic and most people only visit the Temple of Amun proper. The entire site really takes a couple of days to explore fully. I especially enjoyed the festival hall of Tuthmosis III and the rather scary statue of Sehkmet in the Temple of Ptah. It’s very busy in the morning, but if you can take the heat, it’s great to be there at noon, when it’s possible to have the massive complex all to yourself.
The temple also has some very interesting evidence of large-scale destruction and mutilation of reliefs (which is a plus in my book). The photo shows the east side of the pylon with examples of so-called ‘pilgrim gouges’ and mutilated figures.
Number 3 on my list is Abydos. What struck me about the Temple of Seti I was the unique plan and its wonderfully preserved colour decoration. In the Chapel of Seti I in the Osiris complex, it seemed that a follower of Umm Seti had set up camp. In the hypostyle hall, a guard was kind enough to point out the famed ‘helicopter/UFO’ among the hieroglyps in the ceiling. Wonderful stuff.
Although partially flooded, the Osireion was also well worth a visit. The local police now seems to be a lot more relaxed about visitors than previously here, giving more time to explore the site. The photo to the right shows the decoration of a niche in the second hypostyle hall in the Temple of Seti I.
With access to both crypt and roof, the Temple of Hathor at Dendera is a surefire hit. It’s also interesting to note here now the early Coptic church is built on the exact same alignment as the mammisi.
The photo shows a couple of the Hathor-headed columns in the hypostyle hall. Many of these were systematically targeted by early Christians who must have climbed ladders to carry out their zealous acts.
Although extremely important for my research, I was perhaps a little disappointed by Philae. Maybe my expectations were too high? You can’t bet the setting though. So even faced with fierce competition, the site takes 5th place on my list. The boat trip to the temple is a nice bonus too.
Shortlisted for the list were Medinet Habu and the Temple of Hathor at Deir el-Medina which I’ll return to in a future post.