Yesterday after the Valley of Kings, we visited the Temple of Hathepshut.
It is dated to 1400 BC and the facade is remarkably well preserved. It has 2 chapels on either side – one for goddess Hathor, the cow goddess and the other for Anubis, the jackal god. .
Hathepshut was a queen who ruled for 30 years and prevented Tutmoses III from the throne. Later Tutmoses gained the throne, married Hathepshut’s daughter and erased Hathepshut’s name from everywhere. But Hathepshut cleverly engraved her name with the offerings to gods and so a few of these weren’t erased! She also created a legend that she was the daughter of Amun Ra (the main god – Sun) and also dressed herself as a man – all this to rule as a pharoah.
Then we saw the Colossi of Memnon – Memnon being the name Greeks gave. These huge statues in seated posture are of Amenhotep III from the 18th dynasty. The statues are in real bad shape having suffered a lot of damage from vandals, tomb robbers and also the earthquake of 26 BC.
These statues could possibly have served as the inspiration for Rameses II’s colossi in the Abu Simbel which we covered earlier.
We came back to the boat, took some rest and went back into the town of Luxor to see the mummification museum.
The museum has the various instruments used and the whole process has been explained here. There is also a well preserved mummy of a high priest and a few animal mummies like baboons, crocodiles etc.
The Egyptians through a trial and error process cracked the mummification process around 2600 BC.
First they cut the body on the left flank and extract the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver. These were then placed in the 4
canopic jars usually made of alabaster – protected by 4 sons of Horus – liver jar by Imesti (human head), Qebehsenuef, falcon head forintestines, Duamutef, jackal head for stomach and Hapy, baboon head for the lungs.
They left the kidney behind because it was not accessible easily and of course they needed to leave the heart behind for the final judgement, which we covered earlier. The most interesting thing, for all their advanced stuff, is that they didn’t consider the brain to be anything important! They used a sharp instrument inserted through the nose and whisked the brain into a liquid and extracted it out.
It is not clear how they drained the blood or did they not?
Then they put saw dust and into the internal cavities. Then they covered the body and the organs in Natron salt for 40 days. Then the body was washed with oils, spices and resins and then the body was wrapped in linen placing more salts and saw dust. They also placed amulets in each layer with appropriate recitations of holy texts by the priests.
After this the mummy was placed in decorated coffins which was then placed into a decorated sarcophagus with the canopic jars.
They also placed small statues of the deceased called Ushabtis into a wooden box. These Ushabtis are there to take the place of the diseased during various encounters in after life.
They also placed mummified animals, treasures, replicas of furniture, dresses, sandals etc to be used during the journey in the after life.
Once the process was complete, when the mummy is ready for the funeral procession, they do a ceremony called “Opening of the mouth” which they beleived breathed senses back into the body for the journey in after life.
The museum also had several instruments for cutting the body, removing the brain etc.
On the whole a fascinating trip into the mummification process.
Today we visited the Temple of Karnak – the most important site in all of Egypt and the Luxor temple.
More to come ….