Chapels north of the enclosure
wall of the main Ptolemaic temple
The page was last modified on September 6th 2009
1. Bomann, Ann H.: The private chapel in ancient Egypt : a study of the chapels in the workmen's
village at el Amarna with special reference to Deir el-Medina and other sites.
London : Kegan Paul International, 1991.
2. Wilkinson, R. H. : The complete temples of Ancient Egypt.
London : Thames & Hudson, 2000.
3. Clayton, Peter A.: Chronicles of the Pharaohs : the reighn-by-reign record of the rulers and
dynasties of ancient Egypt
London : Thames & Hudson, 1994.
The chapel of Hathor of Seti I.
consisted of a forecourt, outer and inner
halls, pronaos and sanctuary, and a left
annexe with dependencies. The forecourt
was entered from the southeast over a
ramp with a central slide flanked on
either side by ten steps.
The forecourt was paved in limestone.
It had two tomb shafts (now filled), one
of which existed prior to the
construction of the chapel.The other
dated to the Ramesside period. A flight
of five steps leads from the forecourt
into the outer hall.
A bench with five seats was set against the
southern wall. Bruyère suggested that
another bench with seven seats was
positioned against the northern wall. Two
column bases were aligned on either side of
the central axis. The floor was paved in
Two steps led from the outer hall into
the inner, hypostyle hall. A rectangular
limestone basin, no longer present, was
sunk into the floor at an angle to the
columns. There were originally two
limestone altars near the staircase to
the west of the hall. Fragments of wall
paintings also came from this part of
chapel. A flight of seven steps
ascended to the pronaos.
View back into the inner, hypostyle
hall and the outer hall behind it.
Seven steps opening directly into
the tripartite sanctuary.
Originally, the shrines were
symmetrical ; during the Ptolemaic
period, the central and northern
shrines were altered
The first group of the chapels at Deir el-Medina that I was investigating, lays to the north of the
enclosure wall of the main Ptolemaic temple. The chapel area covers the slope gently rising towards
the western steep cliffs. My aim was to compare Ann Bomann's plans and detailed descriptions using
her text published in 1991 pp. 48-51 with the remains of the cult buildings at Deir el-Medina in
February 2007. The results together with the photographs can be found on the pages below.         
The chapel of Hathor of Seti I.
Seti I (about 1291-1278 BC) built a temple for the workmen of the
village in the area just beyond the northern side of the enclosure wall
of the main temple. It was considerably larger in its structure than
the earlier building of the temple of the cult of Amenhotep I,
remains of which stand on the terrace above the Ptolemaic temple
enclosure. The chapel was excavated by Ernesto Schiaparelli in 1906.
Oriented on a northeast-southwest axis,
this chapel consisted of a large hall with a
single naos. A wall, forming a right angle,
joined the entrance of a right angle, joined
the entrance of the chapel and the rear
wall of the Chapel of Hathor. The hall was
entered by a doorway in the northeast
corner. At the opposite end of the hall were
two columns placed before the naos, which
was flanked by two small whitewashed
niches. The columns were in the form of
papyrus and carried the name of Khons, son
of Sennedjem. Fragments of decorated wall
plaster and a head of the goddess Taweret
also came from the chapel.
Detail view of the remains of
plaster from within the chapel wall
Chapel A
Chapel B
The chapel included a forecourt,
outer and inner halls, sanctuary,
and left annexe, and lay north and
west of chapel A. The forecourt
was 3.29 m wide x 3.60 m long.
At one time it accommodated
three jars of different sizes.
The outer hall beyond the court
was 4.92 m wide x 4.78 m long,
and had benches set against its
southern, eastern and part of its
northern walls. Against the
northeastern wall was a low
limestone platform. A doorway in
the southwestern corner led to an
annexe partitioned into two
Two steps led from the inner hall
to the small sanctuary, which
contained a single niche and a
bench around its walls. A limestone
threshold with a pivot hole
indicated that the sanctuary once
had a door. A stela once lined the
back wall of the niche. This may
have been the stela of the
foreman Amennakht, who was
shown seated holding two
Chapel C
View of chapels C and D
Both chapels lay the furthest up
the slope and north of the
northwest angle of the main
enclosure wall. They shared their
southern walls.
The building consisted of a
forecourt and outer hall, an inner
hall, pronaos and sanctuary. The
whole building underwent several
The outer hall was approached by
two steps and was 4.44 m wide
and 3.80 m long. It had a bench
against the northern wall. One
step led into the inner hall.
Chapel F
This chapel and chapel G
were called Chapelles
Religieuses by Bruyère. The
chapel was on an east-west
axis, and abutted the north
wall of Chapel B. It
consisted of an outer and
inner hall and pronaos. At
the time of excavation, the
sanctuary was no longer
The outer hall was 4.20 m wide x 4.75 m
long and had pylons before entrance.
According to Bruyère, the pylons were 85 cm
thick. An engaged brick pillar abutted the
centre of the southern wall and supported at
one time a main beam of the roof. A
limestone staircase leading into the inner halls
seems to have had 6 steps originally, but the
plans and this photograph (after
reconstruction) show only 5.
Inner hall. A bench 3.25 m
long, 34 cm wide and 35 cm
high abutted the south wall.
This, in turn, was adjacent to
a limestone platform in the
southeast corner, which was
1.64 m x 88 cm x 26 cm
high. On the north wall the
bench was 1.37 m long x 38
cm wide x 46 cm high.
The chapel was approached
from the southeast by a
double staircase of 3
steps each. These led to
2 terraces. From the 2nd
terrace, 2 elongated
steps, followed by a flight
of stairs with 4 steps set
between the usual
balustrade, led to the
outer hall.
Remains of a trough in
the outermost pier.
Chapel G
This chapel lay north of Chapel F and on a west-north-west to east-south-east axis. It is
dated to the Ramesside period, and consisted of an approach ramp, outer and inner halls, 2
side chambers contained within the structure, a pronaos and sanctuary. A ramp of undressed
stone set between brick balustrades , and with overall measurements of 5.50 m long x 2.75 m
wide, led to the outer hall or court.
The court or the outer hall
had pylons on either side of
its entrance. The southern
pylon was 73 cm thick, the
one to the north was 76 cm
thick. They were plastered
and whitewashed. The court
was 5.43 m wide x 5.47 m
long and was built over an
earlier tomb shaft.
Pylons also framed the entrance to the
inner hall. A limestone threshold in the
entrance had 2 pivot holes and grooves
for architraves, indicating that a
double door served this part of the
building. The inner hall had 3 phases of
building. In the 3rd phase it became
hypostyle, with 2 columns and a flat
roof. The column bases had a diameter
of 70 cm. The floor of the inner hall
was of packed earth. The walls were
decorated. Part of the design
consisted of a floral frieze, which
circumscribed the wall in the style of
the Ramesside period.
Four limestone steps in the west
of the inner hall led to a limestone
platform before the sanctuary. On
either side of the flight of stairs
was a small enclosure.
Four limestone steps in the west
of the inner hall led to a limestone
platform before the sanctuary. On
either side of the flight of stairs
was a small enclosure. The walls of
the sanctuary abutted them from
the rear.
The sanctuary consisted of a single
naos cut into the cliffs behind and
measured 3.73 m long x 2.50 m
wide. The interior rear wall of the
niche had a retaining wall 57 cm
An earlier tomb shaft.
Pylons also framed the entrance to the inner
hall. A limestone threshold in the entrance had
2 pivot holes and grooves for architraves,
indicating that a double door served this part of
the building. Detail.
Back to top
Back to chapels
A double stairway with 3 steps to
the south and 2 steps to the north
led to the pronaos. This part of
the chapel was delineated by brick
piers rather than walls. 2 piers
abutted the north and south walls
of the pronaos and 1 pier marked
the centre. Judging by the
foregoing arrangement of the
pronaos, it  probably had 2
principal shrines, with a
compartment to the south.
The remaining 5 limestone steps.
Photography © Lenka Peacock 2007