Temples of Abydos in 360°

Abydos was the cult center of Osiris, god of the dead. Although there were shrines dedicated to the parts of Osiris throughout Egypt, the temple of Abydos used to be the most important of them. This was a place that most Egyptians wished to visit once in their lifetime or to have them buried here. Thus the area of Abydos was used as a necropolis from predynastic times to Christian times (4000 BC-600AD). The pharaohs of the first dynasty were buried in Abydos, including Narmer, the founder of the first dynasty. Nine or ten temples were erected here in Abydos from the first dynasty to the twenty-sixth dynasty. The array of temples included the Great Osiris temple, the temple of Seti I and the temple of Ramses II., out of which the temple of Seti I is the best preserved.

The 360° virtual tour focuses on the temple of Seti I and the Osierion showing areas that are usually not accessible to the public (ie. Ptah-Sokar complex). Besides the panoramic images, there is also detailed textual description describing each of the monuments included in the virtual tour. Interesting details, carved panels and scenes have been highlighted.

1. What to see

The temple of Seti I (1294-1279 BC) was dedicated to the six major gods, namely Osiris, Isis, Horus, Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakty and Ptah. It was also built to adore the early pharaohs.

1.1. Courtyards

Two courtyards and a largely destroyed pylon (gate) leads to the unusually L-shaped limestone building. Construction works were started by Seti I, but it was left to his son,  Ramses II to complete the unfinished temple. The innner 7 chapels and the 2nd hypostyle hall were built by Set I, while the 1st hypostyle hall, the courtyards and the pylon were finished during the reign of Ramses II.

1.2. 1st Hypostyle Hall

Carved panels of the hypostyle hall depict various scenes from the life of Ramses II. We can see as Khnum is modelling the king in presence of Ptah. The next panel shows Ramses II being suckled by Isis and 4 different Hathor goddesses. We can also find the the king’s purification ceremony before entering the temple.

1.3. Helicopter Hieroglyph

These mysterious hieroglyphs in Temple of Seti I. are said to represent modern vehicles like a helicopter, a yacht, a submarine, and a fighterplane. They are commonly explained as being the result of erosion, and later adjustments, or re-writing over the original inscriptions that left parts of the older text visible creating the illusion of modern looking machines.

1.4. Seven chapels

The way from the 2nd hypostyle hall leads to seven chapels facing a long corridor. The chapels are dedicated to: Seti I, Ptah, Re-Horakty, Amun-Re, Osiris, Isis, Horus. The Osiris chapel leads forward to the Osiris complex.

1.5. Osiris complex

The Osiris complex consists of two large halls and 6 small chapels.

1.6. Ptah-Sokar complex

Sokar is a god of the Memphite necropolis often displayed as a man with falcon head. He is strongly linked with Ptah and Osiris the god of the dead. These 360° panoramic images are unique since the Ptah-Sokar complex is usually closed to the public.

1.7. King list and bull hall

The Abydos King List is a chronological list showing cartouches of most dynastic pharaohs of Egypt from Menes (Narmer) until Ramesses I, Seti's father. Unsuitable pharaos were excluded from the list like the foreign Hyksos rulers, the female pharaoh Hatsepsut and the Amarna pharaohs (Akhenaten, Tutankhamun etc.).

1.8. Osierion

The Osireion is a widely debated underground historic monument located at the back of the temple of Seti I. It is built from large blocks of granite while limestone and sandstone was used for the temple of Seti I. The Osierion is definitely at a lower level than the temple of Seti I and is flooded nowdays. It used to be considered an Old Kingdom structure but now it is believed to be built by Merneptah (1213-1203 BC). Since the purpose of the temple of Seti I was the adoration of the early pharaohs, it is likely that the Osierion is a symbolic funerary chapel for them. There used to be a burial chamber and a dummy sarcophagus surrounded by water in the middle of it.

2. When to see

The Seti I temple and Osierion are open daily from 7:00 to 18:00.

3. Location
4. How to get there

The best way is to enjoy a Nile cruise which includes excursions to the most important places between Aswan and Luxor. If you have a day off in Luxor, simply get a cab to bring you to Dendera.

If staying in Hurghada (like our photographers did), you have to cross the desert to get to Dendera which should take you around 3 and half, maximum 4 hours. Please note that local cabs operating only winthin tourist restorts are not allowed to bring you to Dendera.

It is not recommended to drive on your own in Egypt due to the general negligance of driving rules. Singposts are usually written not only in Arabic, but it might be difficult to find remote places on your own. Our team has shot the 360° virtual tour in December 2010,  at that time it was not allowed to travel in the Nive valley without papers and it was common to find lots of checkpoints.

5. Where to stay

Staying for overnight is definitely not recommended in Abydos due to security reasons, depending on the actual situation, police might even ask you to leave the town before the evening sets in. On the other hand, you can find a variety of hotels in Luxor, from 2* hotels that are ideal for backpackers to 5* luxuary resorts. If taking part at a Nile cruise, you'll stay on your ship.

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