Chapels within the
enclosure wall of the
main Ptolemaic temple
This page was last modified on September 13th 2009
Chapel no. 4 had an outer and inner hall, pronaos and sanctuary, and was on a
northwest-southeast axis. Little remains of the outer hall, which had a bench against its
southern wall. 2 piers set off the entrance to the inner hall and pronaos. The pronaos, into
which the shrine projected, was of the same dimensions as the inner hall: 5.92 m wide x
2.31 m long. It was marked off from the latter area by 2 column bases joining partition
walls. A platform, 58 cm high, projected from the shrine, which was set off by a
whitewashed bench, now vanished. The sanctuary consisted of a single naos faced with
limestone. It had an arched door 108 cm high x 107 cm wide. The back wall of the niche
was of gypsum-plastered brick. Traces of 2 squatting figures with upraised arms were
found on either side of the doorway. Abutting the north wall of the chapel was another
annexe containing an oven.
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Chapel no. 3 consisted of an inner hall, pronaos and sanctuary. The building had 2 phases. Benches,
of which little survives, were set against the north and south walls of the hall, which had 2 columns
axially placed. 2 pillars joining screen walls defined the pronaos. A platform lay before the sanctuary
inside the pronaos. In its first stage, it contained only 1 naos, which was vaulted. In its second
phase, the sanctuary became tripartite, and had a flat ceiling.
It appears not to have had wall
decorations, being only whitewashed.
Benches were set against the back walls
of each niche. These were 42 cm high
and between 42-50 cm deep. Slots
were visible in the mudbrick thresholds
to each shrine, indicating the presence
of architraves. The sanctuary was cut
into the rock behind at an oblique angle.
Behind it was a narrow corridor, which
continued from the rear to the north
side of the sanctuary. To the south of
the pronaos was a flight of stairs
leading to the rock terrace above. A
narrow annexe abutting the south wall
of the chapel was entered by a doorway
in the wall of the inner hall.
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.
The chapels within the enclosure walls of the Ptolemaic temple at Deir el-Medina consist of a group
of four adjacent chapels situated on the southern side. During the Coptic period, when the temple
area was used as a monastery, these chapels underwent numerous alterations, some of which
affected the basic plan of the structure.
My aim was to compare Ann Bomann's plans and detailed descriptions using her text published in 1991
pp. 45-47 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.   
Chapel no. 1 consisted of hall, pronaos and sanctuary, little of which today
survives just south (left in the picture above) off the main temple building.
Originally the hall had columns and benches. They are all gone today. The
pronaos was joined to the southern wall of the main temple. Later, a door
was set into this wall to connect the pronaos with the temple.
The sanctuary was originally tripartite with vaulted ceilings. Today only two
niches survive. The southern niche (in the picture below, right) contained a
bench 57 cm wide x 110 cm long and 72 cm high.
View of the group of four chapels on the southern side of the main temple
In addition to these four adjacent chapels, lying south of the main temple, there was another
chapel, situated within the northwest corner of the enclosure wall. The chapel was first
excavated by Baraize, later by Bruyère, who labelled it
Chapel E. It is no longer visible. It
was damaged by the temple enclosure wall, which was built through it. It consisted of a
forecourt, inner hall, pronaos and sanctuary. Part of its northern wall was shared by chapels
outside the northern enclosure wall.  
More remains of small New Kingdom chapels, erected by the occupants of Deir el-Medina are
scattered within the northern enclosure wall.
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Chapel no. 2 consisted of outer and inner halls, pronaos and sanctuary, and enclosure. The outer
hall, no longer visible, had benches on the north and south walls and columns. A flight of steps led to
the inner  hall in which was a rectangular pit 2.37 x 1.03 m, containing a partition dividing it
unequall. The pit, called crypt by Bruyère, was cut into the rock, and was brick lined and plastered.
Today it is filled with debris. The pronaos was entered between 2 pillars abutting screen walls and
was vaulted. The sanctuary underwent 3 phases, but appears to have always been tripartite. The
wall decoration, bore painted cartouches of Tuthmoses III. There were benches in the central and
southern niches. The 1st was 63 cm high. All the naoi were vaulted, and during the Coptic period the
northern niche became a magazine. An enclosure abutted the southern wall of the inner and outer
halls. What appears to be a blocked door led from the enclosure into the inner hall. Another blocked
entrance was contained in the southern wall of the enclosure leading into chapel no 3.
Photography © Lenka Peacock