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The Osirian Temple

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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #15 on: August 28, 2009, 12:02:03 am »

The Osireion, located in Abydos.



Floor plan for the structure.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #16 on: August 28, 2009, 12:02:55 am »



The Osireion viewed from the North East. The base of the Temple is 30ft below the level of the desert with the central part 40ft deep this is also below the Nile flood plane. This means that the centre part of the Temple forms a island with a flooded moat surrounding it.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2009, 12:03:38 am »



Five pairs of massive granite pillars mark the edges of the 'island'.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2009, 12:04:40 am »



A view of the Osireion from the South East.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2009, 12:05:15 am »



A view of the Osireion from the North East.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2009, 12:05:56 am »



A view of the Osireion from the East.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2009, 12:06:40 am »



Much of the wall surfaces of the Osireion are decorated with scenes from the book of the dead. These were done after Seti's death by his grandson Merenptah.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2009, 12:07:03 am »



Part of the decoration of the end wall of the central chamber. Some of the chapters of the Book of the Dead that appear on the walls are rarely recorded elesewhere.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2009, 12:07:36 am »




A chamber that formed part of the original entrance to the Temple. Again decorated by Merenptah. The Book of the Caverns on the East wall and the Book of Gates on the West wall. Some of the decoration was never finished and some was painted rather than carved.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #24 on: August 28, 2009, 12:08:07 am »



A side wall of the Osireion showing the unfinished masonary with 'bosses' still visible on the some of the stones.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #25 on: August 28, 2009, 12:08:39 am »



Close-up of one of the massive pillars in that form the central part of the Island.
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Ian Nottingham
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« Reply #26 on: August 28, 2009, 12:09:13 am »




The granite stones where held together by stone dovetail clamps.
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« Reply #27 on: August 28, 2009, 12:10:01 am »



Another view of some of the pillars in the central hall.
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« Reply #28 on: August 28, 2009, 12:10:29 am »



Another view of a detail on one of the pillars of the central hall.
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« Reply #29 on: August 28, 2009, 12:11:21 am »

Who built the Osireion?



Photo © copyright Richard Wilkinson, The
Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, p. 148.

Strabo visited the Osireion in the first century B.C. He wrote:


Above this city [Ptolemaïs] lies Abydus, where is the Memnonium, a royal building, which is a remarkable structure built of solid stone, and of the same workmanship as that which I ascribed to the Labyrinth, though not multiplex; and also a fountain which lies at a great depth, so that one descends to it down vaulted galleries made of monoliths of surprising size and workmanship. [Geography, 17.1.42]

Strabo identified the builder as Ismandes, or Mandes (Amenemhet III), under whom the Labyrinth was constructed. Naville, who excavated the site in 1913-14, saw similarities between Khafre's Valley Temple at Giza and the Osireion, and concluded that they were of the same Old Kingdom era. Both are stark and megalithic, and the style of the Osireion is noticeably different than that of the Temple of Seti I. It is also situated some fifty feet lower and thus generally flooded with water.

In time, more clues were discovered. Frankfort found the cartouche of Seti I in a granite dovetail joint. Another tenon bearing the king's cartouche was exposed when part of the sandstone wall blocks broke away (blocks that were once clad in granite), indicating its presence in the original construction. There are astronomical scenes, also made by Seti, on the ceiling of the northern transverse chamber. Other decorations were made by the king's grandson, Merenptah. Sandstone was used in the original construction (for central court wall-cladding and for the base of the island), a material used mainly beginning in the 11th Dynasty.

Some authors pay particular attention to the layout of the Temple of Seti II. In The Traveler's Key to Ancient Egypt, John Anthony West wrote, "The curious and unique L shape of the main temple could well be explained as a result of initial groundwork in Seti's time uncovering the hitherto buried older temple, necessitating a change of plan." (p. 391) The problem with this scenario is that the location of the Osireion is fully integrated into the plan of the temple complex as a whole (see plan below). The axis of the Osireion is north-northeast, matching exactly the axis of the temple complex. Such uniformity could hardly be accidental. It becomes clear, then, that the site is comprised of a mortuary temple in front of the tomb (or in this case, cenotaph, dedicated to Osiris) in the classical arrangement.
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