LNP 02 - 06 - 2010

Throughout our 6-day stay in Egypt, we have visited a wide range of temple complexes, mortuary sites, and tombs. The theme that seems to bind them together is the ultimate praise of the Pharaohs, rulers with divine right and apparent support from the gods. Pharaohs essentially strived to portray themselves as examples of God on Earth. The temple of Hatshepsut is not an exception to this theme. However, it is amazingly different from the other important sites to visit- and not only because it was built by a female Pharaoh. The first difference is its quality of extreme horizontality. As you can see from the picture below, there is strong emphasis on its visual length from left to right. The repetition of the bays between columns and the dark shadows they create contrast sharply with the bright color of the surrounding stone. Also, in comparison to other ancient Egyptian temples, the Temple of Hatshepsut lacks grand vertical scale. Visitors are not nearly as dwarfed by the structure as they are by the columns of the hypostyle hall at Luxor, for example. Third, the temple has much more change in elevation than the typical Egyptian temple. It is the terraces that are set into the land that effectively create the site's grandeur. It is designed to be a progressional experience as one moves up from large terrace to large terrace, toward the ultimate climax at the top. The two monumental ramps lead the visitor to ascend to the top, eventually to the main space deep under the surrounding cliff. And lastly, the Temple of Hatshepsut is built into the cliffside which is perhaps the strongest difference it has from other temples. Its crisp lines and linear terraces morph into the organic rock forms in a surprisingly efficient way. And it is perhaps the contrast between these forms that is the most dynamic. Overall, it is a truly impressive place to experience. The massive ramps and terracing are incredible and the way it receives the sun makes it nearly magical.

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