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The Osireion, also spelled as Osirion, is an ancient megalithic structure located at Abydos, to the rear of the Mortuary Temple of Seti I. Its original purpose is unknown. It is an integral part of Seti I's funeral complex and is possibly built to resemble an 18th Dynasty Valley of the Kings tomb.


The Osireion was discovered by archaeologists Flinders Petrie and Margaret Murray, who were excavating the site in 1902–03 CE. The Osirion was originally built at a considerably lower level than the foundations of the temple of Seti, who ruled from 1294 to 1279 BCE. While, with regard to the depth of the building, its untypical architectural style and its mythological context, there is disagreement as to its true age, in his 1998 CE dissertation on Seti I, Peter J. Brand, mainly emphasising on the numerous cartouches of Seti I found inscribed at the site, says it "can be dated confidently to Seti's reign".

circa 1300 BCE

It is an integral part of Seti I's funeral complex and is possibly built to resemble an 18th Dynasty Valley of the Kings tomb. The site contains a stone-paved island in the centre, chambers in both wings and, around the island, a water basin of yet undetermined but no less than 10.4 meters depth which was probably used as a well. Access was via a 69 meters stone lined passage. In the whole of Egypt, there is no architectural equivalent to the Osireion with its massive blocks, numerous trilithons, extraordinarily narrow and regular joints as well as a lack of round pillars except for the Valley Temple in Giza.


circa 1300 BCE

Western Access Passage
The entrance passage or corridor was discovered by Petrie and Caulfeild near the end of the 1902 CE excavation season. Further excavations, though limited in scope, were carried out by Margaret Murray in the subsequent season of 1903 CE. Total clearance of the entrance corridor would be done by Frankfort in 1925 CE. The wastern wall of the corridor is covered with inscriptions from the "Book of Gates" (inspect) and on the eastern wall inscriptions from the "Book of what is in the Underworld" are carved, but seem to be unfinished. Around the same time (circa 1925 CE) a roof was installed to protect the wall decorations by the Antiquities Department. The passage slopes towards the south by some 10 feet. The original entrance to the passage was through an arch in the bottom of the temenos-wall. The mud bricks that make up the shaft and enclosure wall are the same and stamped with Seti's cartouche.

circa 1300 BCE

Southern 'Great Hall'
The north, west and south walls of the 'Great Hall' are carved with various scenes.

circa 1300 BCE

Southern Chamber
The smaller southern chamber, according to Margaret Murray's plan, was carved with the 168th chapter of the 'Book of the Dead', which is dedicated to the "worship of the gods of the twelve qererts by the king". Originally, the southern chamber would have been roofed with stone beams, which were robbed in antiquity.

circa 1300 BCE

Western Transverse Hall
The north, west and south walls of the 'Great Hall' are carved with various scenes. The eastern and western walls of the chamber are faced with yellow limestone. This chamber was roofed in antiquity, which is now lost except for a few small blocks at the ends (north-east corner). The doorway connecting the transverse hall with the central hall is decorated with texts from the 'Book of the Dead', of which only small fragments remain.

circa 1300 BCE

Central Hall
At the heart of the Osirion lies a large rectangular structure. It is built with a mixture of limestone and sandstone; the walls and central island are made of sandstone, and behind the walls the structure is completed in limestone. The large pillars, beams, and roofing stones were all constructed out of granite. A moat (canal) runs around the entire floor of the hall, on all four sides without any interruption. The island in the center is lined with ten roughly square or rectangular piers that once supported the roof beams. The granite pillars are not all monoliths, seven are, but three are made of two pieces. Two sets of steps are carved on two ends on the longer axis of the island. In the middle of the island are found two recesses cut into the floor. There are 17 cells that surround the island.

circa 1300 BCE

Eastern Transverse Chamber "Tomb of Osiris"
The second transverse hall, also called the 'Tomb of Osiris', is accessed through the middle cell. There is no grand doorway into the second transverse hall, instead the hall appears to have been concealed, as a breach in the back wall of the east walls middle cell (inspect), gives access to the hall.

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