Temple of Seti I

The limestone temple, built by Seti I (and later usurped and added to by Ramesses II — surprised?) is in fine shape and every inch of the stone walls are covered in reliefs showing the resurrection of the god Osiris and, by extension, that of Seti I himself

the facade of the temple of Seti, Abydos

The stairs outside are a reconstruction of  the original stairs — it has 42 stairs, which has religious connotations to Osiris. The outer courtyard (which only faint ruins) was mostly built by Ramesses II, his famous son. It is mostly ruined, but the reliefs outside show the standard military motifs that cover nearly all of Ramesses II’s temples and monuments. The difference between the find bas-relief of Seti I and the harsher, deep-incised reliefs of Ramesses II are clearly visible in the temple. In some cases, Ramesses II’s work is called ‘second rate’ in my references — probably because he had all the finest craftsmen working on his own tomb and only added to this one as a gesture to his father.

the first hypostyle hall, and the inner columned hall

There are two hypostyle halls – the outer hall decorated in Ramesses II’s rough style, and the much finer inner hypostyle hall decorated by Seti. The first two rows of columns have papyrus capitals, while the last row have no capitals at all

the scorched ceiling and defaced inscriptions in the columned hall

The temple is unique in that it has not one, but seven sanctuaries to the gods — and to Seti himself (we can’t accuse the pharaohs of being humble, can we?). It is also unique in that the temple is L-shaped, instead of the simple rectangle of the other temples of this period. We don’t know why the temple kinks over to the side — perhaps structural problems with the water table or encroachment on earlier ruins.

the heads of the statues in the inner sanctuary of Seti I

From the second courtyard, there were originally seven doors leading to each of the sanctuaries, but all of the doors were sealed except for the sanctuary to Amun. The sanctuaries are consecrated to Seti, Ptah, re-Horakty, Amun, Osiris, Isis, and Horus — the three creator gods of Memphis, Heliopolis, and Thebes, the Osirieon triad, and the king. Seti was covering all his bases, it seems. Each of the sanctuaries is decorated with beautiful reliefs of offerings, blessings by the gods, and other ritual scenes. In each, the king makes offerings to each of the gods. They would have contained golden barques of the gods

offerings to the god Anubis by the king in the sanctuary

The sanctuary of Osiris does not have a false door in the back, like the others — it has a real door that leads to the Suite of Osiris, which contains vast reliefs of the story of Osiris.

the king in the arms of Hathor, Seti offering to the gods

Ramesses lassoing a bull, in the Hall of the Bull, Suite of Osiris

Perhaps one of the most interesting sights at Abydos is the narrow, vaulted corridor that contains the Abydos King List — the cartouches of all the kings to Seti I, in order, carved into the walls. A relief of the king Seti and his young son (presumably Ramesses II) taming a bull (in a side room called the Hall of Bulls), and then the narrow hall of the kings.

part of the Abydos King list

It is interesting to note that some of the more controversial leaders of Egypt are omitted from the list — including Hatshepsut and the heretic pharaoh Akhenaton. No one knows why the listing was here, perhaps it was a nod to ancestor worship.

76 kings and gods, fro Menes to Seti I

cartouches and serekhs of the kings of Egypt, Abydos King List

Through the narrow passageway is the entrance to the Osireion, a simple limestone cenotaph (false temple), reputed to be the burial place of Osiris himself..

Offerings to Horus and Amun

The king, in the dress of Amun, receiving blessings

and again, blessings of the god Amun

reliefs in the temple, the god Horus and the king, Seti

Receiving gifts from the god Horus and Isis

Offerings of perfume, lotus flowers, and other gifts

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