The Temple of Seti I – A Beautiful Piece of Egypt’s History
Although not quite as popular as the temples of Luxor and the other Nile temples, Edfu and Kom Ombo, the temple of Seti I is still a worthwhile spot to visit for those journeying through the Nile. This temple was once an epicentre for the worship of the Egyptian God of the afterlife, Osiris, this beautifully crafted structure is a wonderful testament to the Pharaonic era’s artistry. It owes such a thing to its captivating paintings, strewn across the walls and ceiling of the temple plus its stunning sculpted column work.
The temple of Seti I is the main tourist highlight in the region even though the archaeology site there is quite vast due to the region once being the most important burial site in ancient Egypt. The temple was built using limestone and laid out upon three levels. This kind of construction was distinctive from other Egyptian temples.
Within these hallowed walls lie seven sanctuaries that honour the various gods of Egypt and also house the defied Pharaoh Seti I. Thus the front area of the temple is split into seven individual temples, each having its own entrance and with their chapels behind arranged side by side.
This massive complex can be entered from the northeast by way of a ruined pylon. Once through there, you’ll reach the first courtyard which, along with the second courtyard, were built by the son of Seti I, Ramses II. The art adorning the walls of these courtyards depict the glories of Rames II’s reign, portraying his victories in famed battles.
The second courtyard, which is better preserved, comes next. On both sides of the courtyard, you’ll be able to spot dedicatory inscriptions in Ramses II’s name. On the far end of the court, there’s a ramp that leads to the main temple and a vestibule comprised of 12 pillars.
Upon entering through the central doorway, prepare to be greeted by the temple’s first Hypostyle Hall, a magnificent room with its ceiling supported by 24 papyrus cluster columns with bud capitals. The second Hypostyle Hall is of a similarly grand construct with 36 columns supporting the architraves and roofing slabs.
The artistry on display upon these walls is often regarded as some of the finest accomplishments of Egyptian sculpture. These halls exude a truly grand atmosphere, one that can be easily felt as you walk through them.
Lining up with the second hall are seven sanctuaries, each dedicated to an Egyptian god with the exception of one which is dedicated to Seti I. Within the sanctuaries, you’ll find roofs embellished with stars and the names of Seti I, the walls of the sanctuaries feature vibrant reliefs that depict the ceremonies that once took place in the chapels.
From the second hall, you can access one of the most exuberant attractions of the temple, the Gallery of Kings. This long, slowly rising corridor hosts the famous Abydos Pharaoh list which has been an important discovery in learning the succession of Egyptian rulers.
Abydos was an essential location for ancient Egyptians as it served as the burial place of pharaohs and high court dignitaries. It is here whereupon the rituals for the burial of dead kings and the ascension for their successors took place. Mystery plays were also performed annually at the temple in honour of Osiris.
While the temple of Seti I remains the highlight of Abydos, there’s still more to uncover within this massive necropolis.