picture of Eighth Nome symbol hieroglyph of Abydos map of north tour
  Eighth Nome Abydos  

North Tour of Abydos

You're just in time for a tour.  Today we will start in North Abydos, and will go south.  Abydos covers over 5 miles, but today, we are focusing on the temples and tombs.  Abydos is the main cult center for Osiris, and his tomb is here.  Pilgrims from all over Kemet come and leave offerings here. Abydos is also the burial place of our earliest kings. Saqqara also claims this honor, but of course we know that they are buried here. If you have a chance, go on our south tour as well.

Let's start at Osiris' Temple Enclosure and the Early Town
We are about three hundred feet away from Ramesses II's cenotaph temple, and a little over 1 km or .6 miles northwest of the famous Seti I temple. Elders say that in the Old Kingdom and even before, there was a structure here before this one. Seers say the vanished structure of mud brick with stone doorways will be called Kom el-Sultan. It was a temple to Khentiamentiu, "Foremost of the Westerners." In the 5th or 6th dynasty, people realized that Khentiamentiu was another name for Osiris. [He was assimilated]. In the 12th dynasty on, Osiris alone was honored here. This area has been special from the Old Kingdom all the way through to the present. We have founds a vase from Aha here, and Amenhotep I, Tuthomsis III, and Amenhotep III all rebuilt here. We can't go inside the current temple, of course, but the outside is beautiful.  Wouldn't you agree?

Now let's walk to the Ramesses Portal Temple and Thuthmosis III's Temple
Let's go to the southwest side of the Osiris complex to the Ramesses Portal Temple and the Tuthmosis III Temple. These mark the entrance to the processional route that will take us to Osiris' tomb. The Tuthmosis III temple is a small limestone temple, 9 by 15 meters, or 29 foot 6 inches by 49 feet. You'll notice that before this temple, there are these two large sacred trees and a mudbrick pylon structure 25 meters/ 8 feet thick. At the entrance to the inner temple, which you cannot see, there are 2 colossal Oriside statues of Tuthmosis III. This is a high quality temple. Inside, the walls are noted for their beautifully carved and painted decoration.  These are offering chapels and are made of white limestone.  It is said that unlike most sanctuaries one must go all the way to the rear of the chapel to enter the sanctuary.  North of the chapels, private individuals have built their own mudbrick offering chapels. Aren't they beautiful?

Let's go into the desert through the Route of Procession.
Notice that to the north and south of us, there are chapels commissioned by private individuals who wanted to participate in the rituals here.

Here we are at the Early Dynastic Royal Cemetary [Umm el-Qa'ab].
Royal Cemetary

The tombs underneath all this sand are elaborate, brick-lined, and have doors and windows.  You'll notice they have square or rectangular shapes. Esteemed ancestors buried here include Djer, Djet, Queen Mother Merneith, Den, Peribsen, Khasekhemwy, Aha, Narmer, and Ka.  People are still being buried here.  Mind the broken offering pots on the ground, and for goodness sake, don't step on any more! If we're not careful, we'll get known for breaking pots! [Um el-Ga'ab means "Mother of Pots."]

Let's retrace our steps and go back to the Thuthmosis temples.
Rameses II Temple

We are now 1/3 of a kilometer or 300 yards northwest of the Temple of Seti I. The priests say the artistic quality of this limestone temple is close to that of the Seti I temple. It has bright reds, yellows, and greens inside. The doorframes are of pink and black granite, and the pillars are of sandstone. The sanctuary is of alabaster. Although we cannot enter, since we are not priests, the priests have honored us by graciously telling me the floorplan of this lovely temple. You won't find the information anywhere else. There is the first granite pylon, a peristyle court, a second pink granite pylon, and a second court that is surrounded by pillars decorated with Ramesses in an Osirid pose (arms crossed in front of his chest like a mummy)on the north, east, and south sides. Then there is a portico leading to two halls with pillars and chapels off of the halls. In this temple is a king list that a seer says will be called the Abydos King List and will end up in the British Museum. But the seer must be wrong, because how can it move out of the temple? Rameses duplicates the list in the more famous Seti I temple. Rameses lists the kings of Kemet in three rows. Reliefs include the Battle of Kadesh, where Ramesses fought the Hittites around 1285 BC.

Now let's go south to the Temple of Seti I.  

Seti's Temple and Osireion
This famous limestone temple was begun by Seti I, who unfortunately died before he could finish it, so his successor Ramesses II did. Some say that future generations will feel this building was one of the artistic highpoints of our culture. Seti I began the first hypostyle hall and almost completed the second one. Ramesses II built the first courtyard. It is totally made of stone, except for the mudbrick magazines and enclosure wall.

The priests were kind enough to tell me the floorplan of this temple as well. One enters through two courtyards and a portico. After that, the temple proper begins. One enters through the first hypostyle hall, which is an interior section with columns supporting the roof. Our temple has twelve pairs of papyrus-style columns forming seven aisles that eventually lead to seven chapels, but more on that later. It orginally had seven doorways, but most have been filled in by Ramesses. The second hypostyle hall was almost completed under Seti I. There are 36 beautiful lotus-bud columns. The relief carvings created during the reign of Seti I are of the highest quality, even higher than under Ramesses II, who often used sunken relief. Scenes include fertility figures with nome standards above their heads. The seven chapels are a rare feature in our temples. From east to west, we have chapels for the deified Seti I, Ptah, Re Harakhte, Amun Re, Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Six of the chapels have false doors, but the Osiris chapel has a real door that leads to more rooms for Osiris, where mysterious rites are performed. The seven sanctuaries are like caverns, and they each have a stele. They are divided into two by pilasters, and the walls are decorated with scenes of rituals and the use of euipment like barques.

Notice the unusual L-shape to the building.  The section that juts out has rooms for Sokar, Nefertum, and other funerary gods.  There is a king list in the narrow passageway of the Hall of Ancestors that is said to be so wonderful it will be famous throughout time. It lists 76 kings in two rows, from the first king, Menes, to Seti. (There is a third row, but it repeats Seti's information). Only infidels claim that not all kings are mentioned, that the kings of the Second Intermediate Period are skipped, as well as the kings at the end of the 18th dynasty after Amenhotep III (Akhenaten, Smenkhare, Tutankhamen, and Ay). There are other rooms, including a court of sacrificial butchery and a hall of ritual barques.

Right behind Seti's Temple is the Osireion. 

Although Seti I built this beautiful building, the architectural style harkens back to the Old Kingdom. It is like a tomb for Osiris. It is made of quartzitic sandstone and granite. Some say Seti I only added inscriptions to himself long after the building was constructed. South of the Osireion will be a long passage, which Ramesses II says will be added by his successor, Merneptah. Some speculate that he will decorate the passageway with scenes from the Book of Gates. Since the Osireion isn't decorated yet, it will probably all be decorated by him, as well. The Osireion has a 10 meter deep shaft going to a long passageway of mud-brick and then sandstone. Then there is an antechamber, a short corridor, a narthex area, and in the center, a rectangular tomb with pink granite columns, with a pseudo-sarcophagus and canopic chest on an island surrounded by water, which probably refer to Nun, the primeval ocean. There are secondary, transverse rooms at each end of a hall that will have astronomical and funerary texts.

Now let's go to Senwosret IIIs Mortuary Temple.

Now we are 2 kilometers or 1.25 miles southeast of the Seti I temple. Isn't this a nice cenotaph temple?

Now let's go back to town.  If you want, you can join our south tour, which takes you south of the current town.


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