Kemet Klub

The story of Deir el Bahri, a sacred space over time


Dr Patryk Chudzik
Two afternoons: Sunday 13 and 20 August 2023

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The story of Deir el Bahri: A sacred space over time. With Dr Patryk Chudzik

2 Sunday afternoons. 13th and 20th August 23 . Room opens at 1.30, lecture starts at 2pm UK times.

We love to see you for the live lectures, but if you have to miss one, don't worry, you can of course catch up (or watch again) at your leisure via the recordings. You will have access to the recorded lectures for a whole month after the last live lecture. Recordings will be available until Monday, 25 September.


Lecture 1: The rise of Deir el-Bahri sacred space: from the Old Kingdom to the time of Amenhotep I

We will begin our journey through the history of the sacred space of Deir el-Bahri by discussing the origins of Hathor worship. In the next step, we will focus on the building project of Mentuhotep II, the founder of the Middle Kingdom, the significance of his mortuary complex and the necropolis around it. Over the following centuries, Deir el-Bahri was known as the valley of Nebhepetra and he was worshipped by successive generations of rulers and common Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom and the Second Intermediate Period, the manifestations of which will be discussed in the next section. We will conclude our first meeting with a discussion of the most enigmatic royal foundation of Deir el-Bahri – the building founded by Amenhotep I.


Lecture 2: Masterpieces of ancient Egyptian architecture: The royal Temples of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III at Deir el-Bahri

There is no doubt that the symbol of Deir el-Bahri is now the temple of Hatshepsut, a female pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty. Considered one of the greatest monuments of the ancient world, the terraced structure was known as Djeser-djeseru (“holy of holies”), which fully reflects its character. This section will briefly discuss the layout of the temple and its decoration, as well as the history of the construction of the Hathor Shrine as seen in the light of recent fieldwork. The second part of this talk will focus on the temple of Thutmose III, whose blocks are now an example of Egypt’s best-preserved temple decoration. We will talk about why it was built and what its role was. Of course, there will be no shortage of the dark side of Thutmose III’s reign – the battle against Hatshepsut’s royal status.


Lecture 3: From decline to restoration. Deir el-Bahri in the late 18th Dynasty and the Ramesside period

Akhenaton’s destructive activities even reached Deir el-Bahri. In this section, we will begin with the story of the erasure of anything that did not fit the ‘new religion’ scheme. But in the next step we will begin to come out of the darkness, pointing to the restoration activities carried out primarily during the reign of Ramses II. I will also tell you “how much is Hatshepsut in the decoration of Hatshepsut” and who was interested in commemorating his name in this unique temple. At the end of this lecture, we will talk about the manifestations of popular religion at Deir el-Bahri; how ordinary people prayed in the shadow of great rulers and state religion.


Lecture 4: Post-New Kingdom history of Deir el-Bahri

The wealth of material at Deir el-Bahri is evident not only in the splendid architecture and decoration of the Middle and New Kingdom temples, but also in the materials of the great necropolis, whose tentative beginnings date back to the time of Mentuhotep II, but whose real apogee was in the first millennium BCE. When the royal temples were turned into ruins and were abandoned, the site was quickly turned into a burial ground. In this section, we will focus on the necropolis established at the beginning of the Third Intermediate Period and its development in the following centuries, as well as the mortuary landscape of Deir el-Bahri from the beginning of the first millennium BCE through to Roman era. Then I will talk about the resumption of worship at the temple of Hatshepsut, which, in spite of all the destructive activities, has survived all the difficult times best. The next item will be a discussion of the Coptic church and monastery of Phoibammon, to which we owe the name of this marvellous archaeological site. Finally, I will present an outline of the history of Deir el-Bahri research and sketch a brief vision of the future of the royal temples.

Dr Patryk Chudzik

Dr Patryk Chudzik  is an Assistant Professor at the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology of the University of Warsaw. He studied Prehistory, as well as Oriental and Classical Archaeology at the universities in Poznań and Wrocław. He received his PhD on the topography and architecture of the Theban necropolis in the Middle Kingdom (2017). He is the director of the Polish-Egyptian archaeological and conservation expedition to Deir el-Bahri and the co-director of the Polish Archaeological Expedition to North Asasif.


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