Chapel of Serapis (Luxor)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Chapel of Serapis is a relatively small temple-structure in the outer court of the Luxor temple, in front of the first pylon. Originally a small shrine to Serapis was built in the courtyard probably by Gaius Julius Antoninus (circa 70 BCE). It was most likely built over an earlier shrine. However, during the reign of emperor Hadrian current chapel structure was built in the court of Nectanebo I.

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The Chapel of Serapis at Luxor Temple in Egypt is a fascinating testament to the syncretism of religious practices in the ancient world. This integration highlights the blending of Greek and Egyptian cultures following the conquest of Egypt by Alexander the Great and the subsequent Ptolemaic rule.

The Chapel of Serapis was most likely established during the Roman period, when the worship of Serapis, a deity combining aspects of the Egyptian gods Osiris and Apis with attributes of Greek gods like Zeus and Hades, became widespread. Serapis was created by the Ptolemies (the last dynasty of ancient Egypt) to unify Greek and Egyptian religious traditions and was intended to appeal to both Greek and Egyptian worshippers.

The small chapel in the northwest corner built by Hadrian and dedicated to Sarapis early in the second century CE and was reconstructed by Gaius Julius Antoninus, a former soldier and neokoro (temple attendant) of Serapis. Dedicated to Hadrian on his birthday in 126 CE, the chapel was recently restored. The platform on which the temple is built measures 12 by 8 meters. Several niches for statues were cut in the outer temple walls.


circa 100 CE

Exterior Construction
The Serapeum at Luxor was built in a peripteros-temple style (a type of ancient Greek or Roman temple surrounded by a portico with columns). At one time there were several Roman-era structures and monuments that stood in the court, of which only this small chapel dedicated to Serapis remains.

Built using burnt brick and dedicated to the Egypto-Roman deity of Serapis it is the only one remaining of all Roman structures in the Luxor temple complex.

circa 100 CE

Cellar Interior
The only remaining statue, it was one the several statues that were placed on a brick bench, originally almost a meter high, in the back of the inner sanctuary cellar. The small shrine chapel was built out of baked mud-bricks. The back of the cella is occupied by a brick bench originally almost a meter high, which supported a series of statues. Serapis is a Graeco-Egyptian deity whose cult, was introduced during the third century BCE on the orders of Pharaoh Ptolemy I Soter of the Ptolemaic Kingdom as a means to unify the Greeks and Egyptians in his realm.

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