Sunday, October 28, 2007

Daily Photo - Deir el Hagar #1

Photographs of Deir el Hagar in Dakhleh Oasis, Western Desert. Deir el Hagar, "Monastery of Stone", was built under the reign of the Emperor Nero and was later added to by other Roman leaders (Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian). Known in Pharaonic times as "The Place of Coming Home", it was originally dedicated to the Theban Triad of Mut, Amun-Ra and Khonsu, but there are many other deities represented at the site, most notably Thoth and Seth (the latter being the principal deity of Dakhleh Oasis). In spite of considerable earthquaqe damage, burial in the sand for centuries, left many reliefs in good condition, with some of the original colours surviving. The temple was restored by the Dakhleh Oasis Project in 1995.

Click on the thumbnail image to see the full photograph.

Built in pale yellow limestone and red Nubian sandstone, with columns made of mud brick, it is a singularly attractive temple, and even though the Roman style carving is crude by comparison with that in Pharaonic temples, the remaining pigments show how colourful Deir el Hagar must have been in its heyday. It was surrounded by a mudbrick wall, remains of which are clearly visible today, and the inner surface of the enclosing wall was lined with coloured plaster, some of which survives at the temple, and has been restored.

As with many of the temples of Egypt, it was later used as a Coptic monastery. Historical graffiti can be found at the site, the most interesting of which were left by Edmondstone (1819), Houghton, Hyde, Cailliaud, and Gerhard Rohlfs.

The site is located immediately to the west of the Roman necropolois of rock cut tombs, Gebel el-Muzawaka, which was featured on an earlier Daily Photo.

More photos, with descriptions in French, can be found on the Deir el Hagar page on Alain Guilleux's site. There is a good plan of the site, available on the Rome In Egypt website.

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