Ptolemaic temple of
Hathor
The most prominent temple at Deir el-Medina is the Ptolemaic temple. It was dedicated
to goddesses Hathor and Maat. The building itself is small but belongs to one of the best
preserved examples of a temple from that period that is still standing today. It sits
within a tall mud-brick enclosure wall. Its compound embraces the sites of several New
Kingdom temple structures and small chapels erected by Deir el-Medina inhabitants at
the Northern side of their settlement.
The page was last modified on February 7th 2009
Sources:
1. Wilkinson, R. H. : The complete temples of Ancient Egypt. London :
Thames & Hudson, 2000.
2. Weeks, K. R. : The treasures of Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.
Vercelli : White Star, 2005.
3. Bourguet, Pierre du: Le temple de Deir al-Medina
Caire : Institut Francais d'Archeologie Orientale, 2002.
4. Roehrig, Catharine H.: Explorers and artists in the Valley of the Kings
Cairo : The American University in Cairo Press, 2001.
5. Description de l'Egypte / Publiee par les ordres de Napoleon Bonaparte.
Edition complete.
Koln : Taschen, 2002.
6. Clayton, Peter A.: Chronicles of the Pharaohs : the reign-by-reign
record of the rulers and dynasties of ancient Egypt
London : Thames & Hudson, 1994.
7. Wilkinson, R. H. : The complete gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt.
London : Thames & Hudson, 2003.
The view of the
northern side of the
settlement. Within the
mud-brick wall stands
the small building of
the Ptolemaic temple.
The mud-brick enclosure wall and the
entrance gate. The gate was built and
decorated by Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos
(80-58, 55-51 BC) and bears scenes of
the king offering to various deities.
The temple itself was built and decorated in the 3rd
century BC. The work was started during the reign of
Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-205 BC) and then was
continued for the next 60 years under Ptolemy VI
Philometor (180-164, 163-145 BC) and Ptolemy VIII
Euergetes II (170-164, 145-116 BC).
Temples
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View towards mammisi (the birth house) of
Ptolemy IX Soter II (116-80 BC) and
Cleopatra III. Both are visible here in the
wall relief, facing Amun, Mut and Khonsu
(who are not visible in the photo).
The small temple building is lying
within a mud-brick enclosure wall
within which there are also
numerous New Kingdom chapels
erected by Deir el-Medina's
occupants. To read more about
these chapels, follow the link
here.
Dozens of Greek, demotic and
Coptic Christian graffiti cover the
temple's outer walls.
Hathoric and floral columns and extensive decoration
are characteristic for this temple. This is the view
looking through the columns above the curtain wall.
Figures on the columns show
Amenhotep, son of Hapu, and
Imhotep, both architects who
were deified after their death.
The photo is taken in the
vestibule, looking through pronaos
towards the North chapel.
The temple itself is entered via a
vestibule that has two papyrus
columns. The pronaos, that lies beyond
the vestibule, is defined by a pair of
columns, pillars, and curtain walls.
The view on the left looks from the
vestibule, through pronaos into the
central chapel.
The curtain wall is covered with reliefs showing
the king offering to various deities. Below is the
eastern face of the curtain wall - Ptolemy VI
Philometor facing Amun-Ra and Hathor.
This offering scene below comes from the bottom
part of the portico of the
pronaos. It dates to
Ptolemy VI Philometor. The goddess is a female
fecundity figure - the counterpart of all the
images of Hapy that are found around the bottom
of the walls. The sign on her head stands for
'marshes', which means that she represents one of
the farms or estates that supported the temple.  
The calf in the marsh might represent Hathor,
Neith or Mehet-Weret.
This is a detail of a hieroglyphic inscription
from the southern side of the doorway to
the pronaos. This unusual double glyph is
not listed in Gardiner's list.
The western wall in the pronaos.
The square Hathoric column stands
on the left and the staircase
leading up from the left side of
the vestibule to the temple's roof
is in the foreground.
The western wall of the pronaos is
covered in hieroglyphic inscriptions. Its
deep reliefs depict the king, Ptolemy
VI Philometor, making offerings to
Hathor-Isis and Maat. Detail of the
window - there are two Hathors and a
lotus placed between them.
The decorated ceiling in the pronaos retains ancient
colours. Mineral based pigments were used to decorate
the reliefs.
A painting by David Roberts
(1796-1864) as he showed himself
sketching in the vestibule of the
temple in 1838.
...to the interior of the temple as recorded
by the Commission des arts et des sciences in
Description de l'Egypte by the artists, who
arrived in Egypt with Napoleon's army in July
of 1798. They called the site "du temple de
l'ouest" in their publication.
Compare the interior of the temple
as photographed in February 2007...
The picture below shows an animal-headed
genii that can be seen in the top left register
of the doorway of the southern chapel.
Anubis              Nephthys
Horus                     Isis
Ptolemy VII Philometor
Amun-Ra                Iat
Maat                     Isis
Part of a scene from the southern wall
of the chapel. The goddess Maat leads
a figure of the deceased king (Ptolemy
VI Philometor) toward the hall of
judgement. Above the king, forty-two
judges sit ready to consider their
verdict on his fate. Horus and Anubis
weigh the heart of the deceased. The
heart is balanced on a scale against
the feather of Maat. Ibis-headed
Thoth stands on the right, recording
the result.
The lintel above the central chapel
door depicting seven Hathor heads.
A four-headed ram depicted at
the lintel above the door (inside
the chapel).
Detail of the papyrus and lily frieze.
The text on this page was written by Lenka Peacock
Photography © Lenka and Andy Peacock
The Southern chapel

The doorway on the left leads into a long and narrow chapel. It is dedicated to Amun-Sokar-Osiris.
The well-carved wall reliefs depict the scenes of the judgement of the dead. Similar scenes are
usually found on tomb walls or on papyrus scrolls. The carved figures, although Ptolemaic, are well
proportioned and well modeled.
The central chapel

The central chapel was dedicated by Ptolemy IV Philopator to Hathor. In the wall reliefs
Hathor receives offerings from him, his sister Arsinoe, and Ptolemy VII Neos Philopator
(145 BC), who continued the decoration of the chapel.
Southern wall. The king Ptolemy IV
Philopator making an offering to
Hathor of Dendera and Horus.
Ptolemy VI Philometor making an
offering to Amun-Re, Mut, Khonsu,
Hathor and Maat.
Ptolemy IV Philopator making an
offerings to Maat and Montu.
Ptolemy IV Philopator and the
queen Arsinoe III are making
offerings to
Min Amun-Re.
The Northern chapel

The doorway on the right leads to the Northern chapel, dedicated to Amun-Ra-Osiris. The reliefs
show the king before various deities, including Hathor, Isis, Nepthys, Horus, Anubis, Mut, Amun and
others.
Ptolemy VI Philometor
Hathor                   Amun-Re
Pronaos - view of the reliefs on
the northern wall.
The top register: Osiris,
Isis-Hathor, Horus,
Nephthys-Maat
The bottom register - Amun-Re,
Mut, Khonsu, Montu, Tjenenyet
In both registers the gods receive
the worship of Ptolemy VI
Philometor.
Pronaos - view of the reliefs on
the western wall.
The top register from the right:
Nun, Nut, Heh, Hauhet, Kek,
Kauket and Hathor all clasping
symbols of life, receive the
worship of Ptolemy VI Philometor.
Plan of the temple. Drawn by Lenka
Peacock                                                                  
Ptolemy VI Philometor is making
offerings to Amun-Ra, Mut,
Khonsu, Hathor and Maat.
The reliefs were restored by
Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II,
Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III.
Ptolemy VI Philometor making an
offering to Amun, Amunet,
Montu-Re, Maat and Raet.
A detail of an offering table with
blue lotus blossoms in front of
Osiris's throne on the west wall of
the souther chapel as decorated
by Ptolemy IV Philopator
The outer (back) wall of the
temple. Octavian (who became
Augustus in 27 BC and the first
emperor of Rome) giving offering to
goddesses Raet and Tjenenyet.
A lion-hippopotamus-crocodile figure called Ammit
sits nearby, ready to devour the heart of the
unjust. The four sons of Horus stand above a
lotus blossom. The face Osiris (not seen in the
picture), who sits on the throne.
Nut                        Osiris
Northern (right) wall of the chapel
Southern (left) wall of the chapel
The remains of earlier structures
on the northern side of the temple
within the enclosure wall.
Details of reliefs and inscriptions from the temple walls.
Wast (Weset) - the ancient
name for Thebes, modern Luxor.
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