3 Facts about Amazing Mortuary Temple of Seti I.

Step into the heart of ancient Thebes with Seti I’s Mortuary Temple: a tapestry of history, art, and unparalleled Pharaonic craftsmanship.

Among the timeless wonders of ancient Egypt, the Mortuary Temple of Seti I remains a testament to the grandeur and reverence of Pharaonic architecture. Nestled in the Theban Necropolis in Upper Egypt, this monumental structure offers profound insights into the reign and religious beliefs of New Kingdom Pharaoh Seti I.

Historical Background: Who was Seti I?

The Seti I temple is located in Abydos, which is one of Ancient Egypt’s most important archaeological sites. Abydos is located in Upper Egypt, approximately 10 kilometers from the Nile River. It served as a necropolis for Egypt’s early kings before becoming a pilgrimage site for the god Osiris. It was also where ancient Egypt’s deified kings were worshipped.

Seti I was a ruler of Egypt’s Nineteenth Dynasty, reigning from around 1290 to 1279 BCE. As the son of Ramses I and the father of Ramses II, two significant Pharaohs, Seti I played a crucial role in consolidating the New Kingdom’s rule after the tumultuous period of the Amarna revolution under Akhenaten.

Location & Significance

The temple’s strategic location in the Theban Necropolis, which sits across the River Nile from the bustling modern city of Luxor, was not coincidental. This area was considered sacred, housing numerous temples, tombs, and mortuary temples dedicated to various New Kingdom pharaohs.

The temple’s entrance is to the northeast, through a large pylon that has been destroyed and leads into the first open court, which has also been severely damaged. A stairway ramp on the temple’s main axis leads to a raised terrace with a pillared hall, which leads to the second court via three back-of-hall entrances. Ramesses II decorated the courtyards with scenes from the Battle of Qadesh and the king’s offerings to the gods. Another staircase ramp leads to a raised terrace with the covered portion of the temple. The facade is formed by a pillared portico, and seven gates, all but the central one, were closed by Ramesses II.

Lead to the first hypostyle hall. The hall contains twelve pairs of sandstone papyrus columns with bud capitals. Another seven gates lead to the second hypostyle hall, which features thirty-six columns similar to those in the first hypostyle hall. This hall is beautifully decorated with depictions of Seti I kneeling before the gods.

The second hypostyle hall contains seven chapels dedicated to seven gods: the deified versions of Seti I, Ptah, Re-Horakhty, Amun-Re, Osiris, Isis, and Horus. The state of completion of these shrines indicates that they were among the first areas of the temple to be decorated, and thus completed before Seti I died. These chapels are decorated with scenes of the king making offerings to the gods and receiving symbols of life and dominion, as well as royal insignia, in exchange. These scenes would have been complemented by rituals performed by priests within the chapel walls, which would have transformed the king into Osiris, the god of death and resurrection.

The southern extension of the temple includes more chapels, including those of the gods Ptah-Sokar and Nefertem, the “Hall of the Barques” (where the barques used to carry the gods’ statues during ceremonies) and the unfinished “Hall of the Butchers” (the temple slaughterhouse). This section also includes the “Gallery of the Ancestors,” which houses the well-known Abydos King List.

Architectural Marvels of Mortuary Temple of Seti I

The Mortuary Temple of Seti I stands out for its architectural grandeur and intricate artwork:

  1. Layout: The temple’s layout is linear, beginning with a forecourt, followed by hypostyle halls and various chapels dedicated to deities such as Osiris, Ptah, and Ra-Horakhty.
  2. Reliefs and Carvings: One of the temple’s distinct features is its well-preserved reliefs. The wall carvings depict Seti I making offerings to gods, showcasing religious rituals, and portraying scenes from the “Book of Gates,” a funerary text guiding the deceased through the afterlife.
  3. The Abydos King List: A significant artifact found in the temple is the Abydos King List. This chronological list showcases 76 kings, omitting certain pharaohs Seti I possibly considered illegitimate or wanted to erase from history.
  4. The Chapel of Osiris: This chapel is noteworthy because of its detailed reliefs showcasing the various phases of the life of Osiris, the god of the afterlife, ranging from his death to his resurrection.

Restoration and Preservation of Mortuary Temple of Seti I

Over the millennia, the temple experienced significant wear and tear. Ramses II, Seti I’s son, is known to have added to and renovated the temple, potentially to complete his father’s vision. Today, extensive restorative efforts have been made to preserve this historical gem for future generations.


The Mortuary Temple of Seti I is not just an architectural masterpiece; it’s a bridge to the past. As one wanders its corridors and chambers, it’s impossible not to be transported back in time, visualizing the grand processions, rituals, and ceremonies that once resonated within its walls. For any history enthusiast or traveler, this temple offers a profound connection to the ethos and spirit of ancient Egypt, making it an unmissable destination in the heart of the Theban Necropolis.

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