The Temples of Montu
Montu was a falcon-headed deity whose origins date back to the Old Kingdom. During Dynasty XI the god achieved the status of patron of the Theban kings and became associated with war. Several temples to the north and south of Thebes were dedicated to Montu during the Middle Kingdom and added to by pharaohs of later dynasties.
The Temple of Montu at Tod
The village of Tod is on the east bank of the Nile, 20km south of Luxor. Its ancient name was Djerty and Tuphium in classical times. The site of the remaining temple dates back to Userkaf of Dynasty V in the Old Kingdom when there was a local cult of the god Montu here.
The modern entrance is at the rear of the site and the visitor walks first through a magazine store with hundreds of facinating blocks from all periods dating from Old Kingdom to early Christian. A large granite slab from Userkaf’s original shrine can be seen here and there are also some lovely fragments of Middle and New Kingdom reliefs as well as many decorated elements from the early Christian churches on the site.
Major building works at the site date to the Middle Kingdom and the reigns of Mentuhotep Nebhepetre, Mentuhotep Sankhkare, Senwosret I and Amenemhet I, though little remains now from this period.
Fernand Bisson de la Roque excavated at Tod in 1936, clearing the ruins of two Ptolemaic halls. Towards the rear of the temple, remains of an early Christian Church were revealed, and below this the Middle Kingdom remains. Digging deeper, a cache of gold and silver artefacts known as the ‘Tod Treasure’ was discovered. Now on display in Cairo Museum and the Musee du Louvre, this hoard of gold ingots and silver vessels filled with uncut lapis lazuli, shows evidence of Asiatic or perhaps Minoan trade with Egypt during the Middle Kingdom.
Proceeding to the temple’s entrance on the western side of the site, a well-preserved quay with paved flooring leads to what was once an avenue of sphinxes and the main part of the temple. This western entrance was a later addition to the temple and a planned monumental gateway was never completed.
To the north there is a way station which would have housed the barque of Montu. This was built by Tuthmose III and restored by Amenhotep II then later Ramesside kings. Some of the reliefs remaining here on the lower walls are very fine, although the better preserved inscriptions belong to Dynasty XIX and XX restorations.
Also to the north-east, remains of a small sacred lake can be seen which was constructed with many re-used early blocks.
To the east lies the main part of the remaining temple, dating from the New Kingdom to Roman times. The front of the temple as you approach, is Ptolemaic and Roman. These later buildings were constructed against a remaining Middle Kingdom wall and you can see a Ptolemaic relief carved over the original long hieroglyphic text of Senwosret I.
The larger part of the buildings today consist of a columned hall begun by Ptolemy VIII with beautifully decorated round columns. Although many of the cartouches remain blank, rulers represented in the decoration include Ptolemy VIII, Ptolemy XII and Antonius Pius. The Ptolemaic halls contain several chambers, including a hidden side room which was a treasury above a chapel of Thenent on the south side of the temple. This Chapel of Thenent constitutes a ‘birth house’ which shows beautiful depictions of goddesses, including the hippopotamus goddess Tauret.
How to get there
Before going to Tod, an entrance ticket must be bought at Luxor Temple. The visitor today can reach Tod by taxi. Follow the road towards Esna and turn off at the traffic station south of Luxor, continiung for around 15km. Crossing the railway tracks, follow the road east for about 6km until you come to the village of Tod. Driving through the village, take a right turn and the temple lies at the end of the road.