National Geographic : 1941 Oct
Amun-Re, "King of the Gods", Pays His Yearly Visit to Queen Hat-shepsut's Temple in Western Thebes H AT-SHEPSUT'S mortuary temple, designed and built for her by Sen-Milt, occupies an imposing bay of the west ern cliffs at Thebes, three miles back from the bank of the Nile and almost immediately opposite the great temple of Amun at El Karnak. Nestled into the base of the precipitous rock walls of the cliff and admirably adapted to its mag nificent natural setting, this unusual building, even in its present ruined state, is a monument of great charm. From the level of the desert plain the courts of the temple, each fronted by a beautifully proportioned colon nade, rise in wide, retreating steps, the upper court and the central sanctuary cut back into the living rock. Leading from the river bank to the temple there was in ancient times a walled avenue, three miles long, bordered by trees and flanked along its entire length by brightly colored sandstone sphinxes of the female "king." Once a year, on the occasion of the "Festival of the Western Valley," the image of the god Amuin was ferried across the river from El Karnak in the great state barge "Powerful-is-the-Front-of-AmLin." It was borne up this avenue in the richly adorned portable boat of the god, and deposited for a short timeinthe sanctuary ofthe temple, where the god would receivetribute (page 468). After accepting the prescribed offerings from the royal patron of the temple, the god, still inhis barque, was borne down the ramps to the plain, and for two days made visits to temples on the west bankbefore returning toElKarnak. The barque was carriedon the shoulders ofthirty-two priests, who paused to restfrom time totime at stations provided at regular intervals along the way. Amotley procession of standard-bearers, fan-bearers, censers, soldiers, musicians, singers, and priests preceded the barque. Outside the temple precincts the procession was joined by the townspeople of Thebes, for whom this festival, like the many others celebrated throughout the year, was a never-ending source of delight. The details of the barque and the procession are drawn chiefly from the somewhat later reliefs which the young King Tuit- ankh-Amun caused tobecarved inthe temple of Amfin at Luxor. The reconstruction ofHat-shepsuit's temple we owe largely to long yearsof work and study by the Egyp tian Expedition of New York's Metropolitan Museum.