Temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb

My ARCHAEO-Crush for April is…

TEMPLE OF AMENHOTEP III AT SOLEB
Type: monument (jubilee temple)
Civilisation: ancient Egypt
Date: New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, reign of Amenhotep III, circa 1386-1349 BCE
ARCHAEO-Crush: The temple at Soleb, built in Sudan by the Egyptian pharaoh Amenhotep III, is probably my favourite Nubian monument. (During the New Kingdom the Egyptians had colonised Sudanese Nubia.) I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for Amenhotep III, but the reason of my ARCHAEO-Crush is much more visceral than that. The temple at Soleb is in fact the first Egyptian temple I ever visited, even though I had visited Egypt 18 years prior. I have a very vivid souvenir of seeing this temple for the very first time, on the trip from Khartoum to Sedeinga. I was on the lorry that crossed the Bayuda Desert and travelled further north to remote towns and villages. It’s a long trip and a fun story that I hope one day to include in the Day in the Life of an Archaeologist chronicle. As I was saying, I was on the lorry, sharing the front seat with the driver and another gentleman, when I saw magnificent ruins in the distance. I knew immediately it was the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb—its profile is unmistakable. The other passenger, with whom I had been chatting in horrible Arabic (me, at the time I knew about a dozen words!!!) and slightly better English (him), pointed to the ruins and asked me if that’s where I was going to work. No, not there. There are too many columns at this temple. The temple at Sedeinga has only one column still standing. This is Soleb. The temple of Amenhotep at Soleb…

During the dig season, when the Sedeinga dig director offered me to visit Soleb in the company of Hourig Sourouzian, visiting Egyptologist and expert Amenhotep III, I immediately said yes. I had a fabulous day exploring the site with Hourig and two other archaeologists. We also helped her search for fragments of statues of Amenhotep in the old storerooms of the Schiff-Giorgini mission. It was amazing to have the site entirely to ourselves… something you’ll not experience at Luxor or Karnak where you’ll be surrounded by tons of tourists.

The site of Soleb is amazing and one of the most impressive in Sudan: several columns are still standing and two of them actually still hold up an architrave! I could talk about this temple and many others until your ears fall off (I wrote my thesis on Amun temples in Nubia and this temple was included in my corpus). So, instead, I’m leaving you with a few pictures I took of this incredible temple during my one and only visit to Soleb.
Bucket list status: Been there, done that… and would love to do it again!
Additional info: The site of Soleb and its temple are not on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

How many bricks would a pharaoh make if a pharaoh would make bricks?

Bricks, bricks, nothing but bricks… and math! A fun post from Malqata… about bricks. Lots of bricks.

iMalqata

Tony Crosby

We cannot begin to know how many mud bricks were actually used to construct Amenhotep III’s palace at Malqata, but we can develop a rough estimate. To start with, the enclosure wall is 2.5 meters thick and was probably over 600 meters long. Each 1 meter of length of a wall 1 meter high requires 540 bricks – if the wall was only 2 meters high, over half a million bricks would be necessary. But a 2.5 meter thick wall would surely be at least 3 meters high, so I’m raising our estimate of the number of bricks in the enclosure walls to slightly more than 800,000.

The walls comprising the palace rooms generally are much thinner, the majority being 0.6 meters thick, although some are only 20 cm thick and some are 1.6 meters thick. For the sake of argument, let’s say that the average thickness of the palace walls is 0.6…

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I wonder what the king is eating tonight?

Here’s the other iMalqata post I had enjoyed yesterday. Want to learn more about Egyptian food, meat in particular? Read this entry by Salima Ikram. Enjoy!

iMalqata

Salima Ikram

It is fabulous to be at Malqata—an ancient Egyptian settlement with areas that show social stratigraphy and organisation. Kings, nobles, and commoners all lived here and celebrated the sed festivals of King Amenhotep III. I first worked on animal bones that were excavated from Malqata in the 1970s for my Ph.D., and am thrilled that the Met is digging now in different parts of the site so that there is a fresh source of bones to examine. The animal bones that I am studying come from trash pits, and undisturbed fill that lay in the North Village. By examining these, we are learning about what people ate and how animals were butchered.

Part of the [] bone of a calf, with butchery marks. Part of the rib of a cow that has been chopped in half.. Many of the bones I am examining come from a pit just outside the enclosure wall of a ceremonial area known as the Audience Pavilion…

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Bath Time in the Palace

A couple of great posts on the iMalqata blog today. Here’s one about ancient Egyptian bathing rooms… I didn’t realise there were no fewer than 10 bathrooms in Amenhotep III’s palace! The pictures of the ‘shower stalls,’ then and now, are quite humbling. So much has disappeared in the last +100 years…

iMalqata

Peter Lacovara

The ancient Egyptians seem to have placed great importance on personal cleanliness. For most people, bathing appears to have been done in pools, rivers and canals but shower stalls were a feature in the Royal Palaces and in the model palaces.

In these stalls, the bather would stand on a stone slab with a drain cut into it and water would be poured over them by a servant standing beside a half wall enclosing the shower. Soap was made from natron and was beneficial for the skin. It may have even been scented as were soaps made from animal fat or vegetable oil.

The Palace of the King at Malqata boasted at least ten bathrooms. Only scant traces of them remain today, but when the Palace was excavated by Robb de Peyster Tytus in 1901 to 1903, he discovered a very well preserved bath in room N11, in one of the…

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Amenhotep III back on his feet

A statue of Amenhotep III has been put together again and raised back to his feet after it had toppled over during an earthquake…. more than 3000 years ago. You can read an article about this in Art Daily by clicking on the link.

Amenhotep III was an extremely prolific builder and there are numerous statues in His Majesty’s likeness still buried at his mortuary temple on the West Bank of Thebes, near Luxor.  I have a soft spot for this pharaoh… here’s a photo of yours truly at his feet. Literally.

At the feet of Amenhotep III

At the feet of Amenhotep III… a colossal statue of the king and his wife in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.