Deir el-Bahari, Temple of Hatshepsut

Deir el-Bahari, Temple of Hatshepsut

Most interesting finds:

– platform above the third terrace which protected the temple from rocks falling from the cliff
– statue of Amenhotep I
– graves of members of royal families of the 22nd–25th dynasties (Third Intermediate Period) on the Upper Terrace
– temple of Tuthmosis III

History of research:

Dates of PCMA expedition’s work:

Type of research:

Excavations, conservation and reconstruction works, epigraphic studies


Kazimierz Michałowski (1961–1981)
Zygmunt Wysocki, director of reconstruction works (1967–1988)
Andrzej Macur (1988–1989)
Janusz Karkowski (1989–1997) (Epigraphic Mission)
Franciszek Pawlicki (1993–1999) (Conservation Mission)
Zbigniew E. Szafrański (1999–2019)
Patryk Chudzik (since 2020)

Co-operating institutions:

– Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, University of Warsaw
– Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)
– Institute of Mediterranean and Oriental Cultures, Polish Academy of Sciences
– National Museum in Warsaw
– Faculty of Architecture, Wrocław University of Science and Technology
– State Ateliers for Conservation of Cultural Property (PP PKZ)

Additional information:

Two previous expeditions working at the site, British from the Egypt Exploration Fund and American from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, reconstructed the porticoes of the first and second terrace. In numerous lapidaries, they left more than 10,000 stone blocks and their fragments to be put back in their original positions. Egyptologists and architects documented, studied, and assigned these blocks to the proper parts of the temple. This work is still on-going.

Grants and sponsors: Commercial Union, Orlen, National Science Centre grants, Dialog grant of the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, grant of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Petrie Museum Friendship Association in London, Antiquities Endowment Found (ARCE) grant, Egyptian-Polish Businessmen Association.

Previously, the name Polish Archaeological and Conservation Mission at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari was used for the project.

Description of the site and research:

The Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari, called the “Temple of a Million Years”, was a mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, a pharaoh of the 18th dynasty. Built in the 15th century BC following the plans of architect Senenmut, it was mostly hewn in the rock. Three cascading terraces ending in porticoes were accessed by ramps erected on the temple’s axis. A vast courtyard closed by a stone wall surrounded the temple. A processional alley flanked by sphinxes with heads of Hatshepsut led to the entrance from the east. The walls of the temple were decorated with scenes from the queen’s life. On the southern side of the Middle Terrace, the Chapel of Hathor was erected, and on the northern, the so-called Lower Chapel of Anubis. On the Upper Terrace were located, among others, the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re, the Royal Cult Complex, the Solar Cult Complex, and the so-called Upper Chapel of Anubis. Statues of Hatshepsut as Osiris stood against the pillars of the porticoes of the Upper Terrace.

Polish research in the Temple of Hatshepsut in Deir el-Bahari was begun in 1961 by Prof. Kazimierz Michałowski. During excavations in 1962, the Temple of Tuthmosis III was discovered. At first, the expedition focused on reconstructing the third terrace of the Temple of Hatshepsut. Since 1967, large-scale reconstruction works have been conducted in the whole area of the temple. Also restored were statues, including the so-called Osiriacs (Hatshepsut as Osiris), e.g., nine monumental statues from the façade of the Upper Portico and the first of the sandstone sphinxes of Hatshepsut on the Lower Courtyard. The alley of sphinxes, which once ran here, was thus marked.

The Egyptological, architectural, and conservation studies resulted in the reconstruction of the Upper Festival Courtyard, the so-called Coronation Portico, and the platform of the Upper Ramp, which were opened for tourists in 2000. After reconstruction and conservation, the Solar Cult Complex and the Main Sanctuary of Amun-Re were also opened to the public (in 2015 and 2017, respectively).

Thanks to the excavations conducted in various places in the whole area of the temple, the appearance of the Upper Ramp could be reconstructed. Moreover, they resulted in the discovery of the graves of members of royal families, dating from the 22nd to the beginning of the 26th dynasty (Third Intermediate Period necropolis). The mixed fills of these graves contained more than 1,000 fragments of coffins and cartonnages, remnants of funerary equipment, Hieratic and Coptic papyri, mummy bandages, and remains of the deceased buried there. The work in the Lower Courtyard led to the discovery of, among others, the place where granite statues of Hatshepsut had been destroyed, workshops from the time of the construction of the temple, and a ramp leading to the Chapel of Hathor.

The members of the expeditions are presently conducting numerous reconstruction and conservation projects in different parts of the temple, as well as studying the epigraphic material and objects found during the excavations.

Project bibliography:

2023 Stupko-Lubczynska A., All Good and Pure Things on which a God Lives. Toward a Study of Intericonicity in the Chapel of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahari, (in): Bryan B., Dorman P.  (eds.), Occassional Proceedings of the Theban Wokshop: Mural Decoration in the Theban Necropolis (Studies in Ancient Cultures 2), ISAC of the University of Chicago, 209-236 (Open Access)

Bibliography can be found on the project’s website


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