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Medinet Habu Temple
Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, from the air on the East side. The long wall facing the camera is the Northeast wall.
Initial excavation of the temple took place sporadically between 1859 and 1899, under the auspices of the Department of Antiquities. During these decades the main temple was cleared, and a large number of the Greco-Roman period buildings, including a substantial Byzantine Church in the second court, were destroyed without notes or records being taken.
The further excavation, recording and conservation of the temple has been facilitated in chief part by the Architectural and Epigraphic Surveys of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute, almost continuously since 1924.
Mortuary Temple of Ramesses III, general view from the south
The temple, some 150 m (490 ft) long, is of orthodox design, and closely resembles the nearby mortuary temple of Ramesses II (the Ramesseum). The temple precinct measures approximately 210 m (690 ft). by 300 m (1,000 ft) and contains more than 7,000 m2 (75,347 sq ft) of decorated wall reliefs. Its walls are relatively well preserved and it is surrounded by a massive mudbrick enclosure, which may have been fortified. The original entrance is through a fortified gate-house, known as a migdol (a common architectural feature of Asiatic fortresses of the time).
The first pylon leads into an open courtyard, lined with colossal statues of Ramesses III as Osiris on one side, and uncarved columns on the other. The second pylon leads into a peristyle hall, again featuring columns in the shape of Ramesses. The third pylon is reached by continuing up a ramp that leads through a columned portico and then opens into a large hypostyle hall (which has lost its roof). Reliefs and actual heads of foreign captives were also found placed within the temple, perhaps in an attempt to symbolise the king's control over Syria and Nubia.
In the Greco-Roman and Byzantine period, there was a church inside the temple structure, which has since been removed. Some of the carvings in the main wall of the temple have been altered by Christian carvings.
The royal palace was directly connected with the first courtyard of the temple via the "Window of Appearances".
Minor king list
The Medinet Habu king list is a procession celebrating the festival of Min, with the names of nine pharaohs. It can be found on the upper register of the eastern wall in the second courtyard.
Sketch of the inscriptions on the northeast wall at the temple, by James Henry Breasted
Migdol entrance to Medinet Habu from the south-east
William J. Murnane, United with Eternity – A Concise Guide to the Monuments of Medinet Habu, Oriental Institute, University of Chicago and the American University of Cairo Press, 1980. ISBN0-918986-28-1