Friday, January 25, 2013
Fridays are our days off from excavations, so we (Katie and Annie) headed over to the East Bank to visit Luxor Temple and the Luxor Museum.
Luxor Temple was the location of annual Opet Festival. During the festival the statues of the Theban triad, Amun-Re, Mut, and Khonsu, processed from Karnak five kilometers south to Luxor Temple. A structure existed at the site from at least the reign of Hatshepsut, but the temple which greets visitors today is largely the work of Amenhotep III and Ramesses II. Many people marvel at the depictions of Ramesses II’s battle against the Hittites at Qadesh located on the pylon, but an equally interesting story can be found within the inner section of the temple. In the Birth Room, the story of Amenhotep III’s divine conception and birth is recounted. The god Amun-Re disguised himself as Tuthmosis IV, Amenhotep III’s father, in order to impregnate Mutemwia. Amun-Re tells Mutemwia: Amenhotep, ruler of Thebes, is the name of this child I have placed in your body. On the walls of the Birth Room Mutemwia is shown pregnant, a rarity in ancient Egyptian art. While it was common for 18th Dynasty kings to refer to Amun-Re as their father, only Hatshepsut and Amenhotep III relate the tale of their divine birth in such wonderful detail.
Luxor Temple is also interesting for the evidence of layers of reuse. Not only did numerous pharaohs rework and add to the temple, but the Romans turned it into a fort and plastered and painted over the carved walls – luckily without irreversibly damaging the Egyptian decorations! Later, a mosque was built over part of the site. All of these adaptations add to the sense of history at Luxor Temple.
After wandering around Luxor Temple, we headed to Luxor Museum which contains numerous finds from the area. The museum is well organized and has didactic panels describing the conservation of three stone statues (which Katie greatly appreciated). Most importantly, at least for the Emory University contingent of the Malqata expedition, the Luxor Museum displays the mummy believed to be Ramesses I. The Michael C Carlos Museum (MCCM) purchased a large group of items from the Niagara Fall Museum in 1999, including a well preserved unwrapped mummy. Once studied, experts concluded that the mummy was Ramesses I and, being a royal mummy, should be returned to Egypt. The sign for the mummy thanks the Carlos Museum and the people of Atlanta. We are happy to report that Ramesses appears to very happy in his new environment.
We begin a new work week tomorrow, so look for more blog posts on our progress at the site.
Annie Shanley and Katie Etre