Small Temple of Abu Simbel

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The temple of Hathor and Nefertari, also known as the Small Temple, was built about one hundred meters northeast of the temple of pharaoh Ramesses II and was dedicated to the goddess Hathor and Ramesses II's chief consort, Nefertari.

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Location

Home > Middle East > Egypt > Abu Simbel > Temples > Small Temple of Nefertari

Overview

The Temple of Hathor at Abu Simbel was built by Ramesses II (circa 1279-1213 BCE) to honor both Hathor as the goddess of love/music and his wife Nefertari as a deified queen. The facade, resembling a pylon, has six standing colossal (over 33 feet/10 meters high) statues. The plan of the Small Temple is a simplified version of that of the Great Temple.

Remarkably, this is one of very few instances in Egyptian art where the statues of the king and his consort have equal size.

Exterior

circa 1300 BCE

Facade
The rock-cut facade is decorated with two groups of colossi that are separated by the large gateway. The statues, slightly more than ten meters high, are of the king and his queen. On either side of the portal are two statues of the king, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt (south colossus) and the double crown (north colossus); these are flanked by statues of the queen.

Interior

circa 1300 BCE

Hypostyle Hall
As the larger temple dedicated to the king, the hypostyle hall or pronaos is supported by six pillars; in this case, however, they are not Osiris pillars depicting the king, but are decorated with scenes with the queen playing the sistrum (an instrument sacred to the goddess Hathor) together with the gods Horus, Khnum, Khonsu, and Thoth, and the goddesses Hathor, Isis, Maat, Mut of Asher, Satis and Taweret; in one scene Ramesses is presenting flowers or burning incense.

The capitals of the pillars bear the face of the goddess Hathor (inspect); this type of column is known as Hathoric. The bas-reliefs in the pillared hall illustrate the deification of the king, the destruction of his enemies in the north and south (in this scenes the king is accompanied by his wife), and the queen making offerings to the goddess Hathor and Mut.

circa 1300 BCE

Vestibule
The hypostyle hall is followed by a vestibule, access to which is given by three large doors. On the south and the north walls of this chamber there are two graceful and poetic bas-reliefs of the king and his consort presenting papyrus plants to Hathor, who is depicted as a cow on a boat sailing in a thicket of papyri. On the west wall, Ramesses II and Nefertari are depicted making offerings to god Horus and the divinities of the Cataracts—Satis, Anubis and Khnum.

circa 1300 BCE

Inner Sanctuary
The small sanctuary with bas-reliefs on the side walls depicting scenes of offerings to various gods made either by the pharaoh or the queen. On the back wall, which lies to the west along the axis of the temple, there is a niche in which Hathor, as a divine cow, seems to be coming out of the mountain. The goddess is depicted as the Mistress of the temple dedicated to her and to queen Nefertari, who is intimately linked to the goddess.

Temple Complex

circa 1300 BCE

An aerial view of the two temples with the lesser temple of Nefertari and Hathor in foregroud to the right with Great Temple of Ramesses to the left in the background. The modern water levels of Lake Nasser can be seen in the lower left corner.

Gallery

See Also

References

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