Temple of Seti I

The Temple of Seti I is the most northerly of the Theban temples and situated just past the road to the Valley of the Kings, towards the village of el-Tarif. The present entrance is through a gate in the northern wall. The temple was begun by Seti I who named it ‘Glorious Seti in the West of Thebes’ and dedicated it to Amun-Re and the cult of the deified Rameses I. After Seti’s death, the building and decoration was completed by his son Rameses II. Like many of the West Bank temples, it saw a great deal of re-use after the New Kingdom, first during the Roman Period when it seems to have been an area where artisans worked and later during the Coptic era when parts of the temple were converted to a church and dwellings. Since 1972 the German Archaeological Institute have undertaken investigative and restoration work.

Qurna Temple of Seti I

The two great pylons were constructed from mudbricks and between these a row of sphinxes were placed on a processional route through the courtyards. Little remains of the first pylon today, but two sphinxes are still visible by the main gateway. The second pylon is also almost completely destroyed, probably due to the mudbrick construction and the natural flooding during inundation. A royal palace was situated to the south of the first court and was the first example of a ritual palace attached to a temple.

Temple facade

The façade of the temple is faced with a portico of ten columns. On the southern part of the rear wall are scenes showing the barques of Seti I, Ahmosi-Nefertari and the Theban Triad as well as portrayals of Seti and Rameses II. The northern part shows Seti I and Rameses II offering to various deities and a text from year 6 of Rameses III. At either side of the door to the hypostyle hall are stelae of Amenemesse which were later usurped by Merenptah-Siptah.

Reliefs of Seti I

The hypostyle hall has six elegant papyrus columns and very good quality reliefs, characteristic of the reign of Seti I, although decorated during the period of co-regency of Seti and his son. To the sides of the hypostyle, six chambers are dedicated to the Theban Triad and the Osirian mortuary deities. The second chamber on the right has an interesting portrayal of a goddess personifying the temple. A small vestibule behind the hypostyle also has chambers at each side, each with lintels showing fifteen named deities from Egyptian mythology.

The sanctuary area consists of a triple shrine of the Theban Triad (Amun, Mut and Khons) and was where the barques of the deities would have been housed during the ‘Beautiful Feast of the Valley’. The barque pedestal of Amun is still in situ. Behind this is the ‘holy of holies’, with many scenes of the king celebrating the temple rituals and a partly reconstructed false door of the king at the rear on the western wall.

False Door of Rameses I and Columns in the Hypostyle Hall

To the south of the hypostyle hall was a series of chapels associated with the royal mortuary cult. The central chapel was dedicated to Seti’s father Rameses I and has a beautifully-preserved false door at the rear showing Rameses I in a kiosk with a falcon above it.

Solar Court

The area to the north of the hypostyle hall was a court dedicated to the solar cult which was unmistakably decorated by Rameses II (the reliefs are less subtle than those of his father). This court originally had ten pillars, which are now gone and a large solar altar in the centre, unfortunately now broken. Around the walls, depicting scenes of Rameses II offering to various deities, were niches which would once have contained statues of the king. The arrangement of the royal and solar cult chapels in Seti’s Temple is similar in many ways to the upper terrace of Hatshepsut’s Temple at Deir el-Bahri. Behind this court is the remains of a staircase which went up to a roof sanctuary.

Recent excavations have uncovered much of the outer complex of the temple, with its rows of storage magazines to the north of the site and reconstructed walls and plinths in the courtyards. There is also a small sacred lake, now empty, on the south side of the temple. The work is still ongoing but this little-visited temple is well worth seeing.

Sacred Lake


The Temple of Seti I is open from 6.00am to 4.00pm in winter. Tickets costing EGP 30 should be bought from the West Bank ticket office.

~ by Su on February 9, 2009.