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Great Temple of Abydos
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Great Temple of Abydos

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The Great Temple of Abydos, also known as the Funerary Temple of Seti I,  is a temple-cenotaph built during the New Kingdom at Abydos in Upper Egypt by the rulers Seti I and Rameses II of Dynasty 19. Completed by the nearby Osireion, the temple acts as a monumental ex-voto intended to attract the benevolent attention of Osiris, the god of regeneration and the ruler of the afterlife, to the deceased king. Since the Middle Kingdom, it has been customary in Abydos to build chapels decorated with votive stelae to honor this deity.

The Temple of Millions of Years of Seti I in Thebes is the actual funerary temple of King Seti I, who is buried in Tomb #17 in the Valley of the Kings.

The temple was called by the Greeks 'Memnonion' and by the Latins 'Memnonium' after a distortion of the word 'Men-Maat-Ra', the coronation name of Seti I.

Architecture

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The monument is built on sloping ground, which required the construction of successive terraces. Its plan is square; the main building is on a north-south axis. It is extended by the nearby Osireion, the fictitious tomb of the king, originally located under a tumulus, the two buildings being separated by only a few meters. The funerary temple is, however, completed by a side wing that stretches to the east. The limestone temple rests on a sandstone foundation 1.30 m deep. Its walls are decorated with numerous bas-reliefs, some of which still have their original colors. The temple honors seven deities, each of which has its own chapel, but Osiris is particularly honored.

Rameses II completed the work of his father, Seti I, by adding two courtyards and a 62-meter wide pylon to the monument, of which little remains today. Both of these courtyards end in a portico with twelve rectangular terraced pillars. The first courtyard contained a garden with trees and ponds.

Site features

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Access to the temple is via a short ramp that leads to a portico with twelve rectangular pillars. Three entrances are provided and each door leads (after crossing the two hypostyle halls) to three of the seven chapels of the temple. The main door leads to the shrine of Amen. Further to the right, other doors lead to the Shrines of Osiris and Horus.

In the hypostyle halls, a scene from the foundation of the temple can be seen. Sety and the goddess Seshat determine the outline of the building and lay the first stones. Another scene shows the divine birth of the king. On another wall, King Rameses II is purified by Thoth and Hathor. Farther on, he stands before Osiris and Isis and offers them a statuette of himself. Other depictions show the king incensing Osiris and then offering him a statuette of Ma'at, the Truth-Justice. Another scene shows the pharaoh erecting the pillar Djed.

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