Sun Cult Complex at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The shrine complex of the Sun cult or the Solar Worship Complex, is located in the northern part of the upper terrace of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir El-Bahari. The complex comprises of an inner sanctuary dedicated to god Anubis and an outer alter court. It was first unearthed by the expedition of the Egypt Exploration Fund in 1893 under the direction of Edouard Naville and some of its texts and representations were published in his monumental publication of the whole temple.


The Sun Altar stood in the middle of the courtyard of the Solar Cult Complex, which was entered from the Upper Courtyard of the mortuary temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari. The Altar courtyard is, contrary to the Night Sun chapel, open to the sun light. The courtyard is dominated by the huge limestone altar which every day was touched by the sun rays. This part of the complex is dedicated to the diurnal journey of the sun in the sky.

Religious Cult

circa 1450 BCE

The main deity worshiped in the complex of the Sun cult was Amun-Re, but an important place was reserved also for Ra-Horakhty and Atum-Amun, which are nothing more than three different aspects and forms of the solar god, complementing each other.


circa 1450 BCE

Upper Anubis Shrine
The upper Anubis shrine, adjacent to the north wall of the altar courtyard, apparently was not an essential part of the complex but the exact function of this temple unit remains to be determined. The Night Sun chapel was decorated with the representations of the solar bark with the sun god while his nocturnal journey in the netherworld. The location of the chapel in the eastern part of the complex stressed the idea of the resurrection of the sun in the eastern horizon after having travelled through the netherworld at night. From this chapel comes also the very first attestation of the text called King as the Sun Priest, an important theological treatise that stresses the role of the pharaoh as the heir and the servant of the solar god.

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