III. H. Jebel Barkal and Luxor Temple
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The most detailed account of an Egyptian coronation occurs in the coronation inscription of Horemheb, which took place at Luxor (Gardiner 1953).  According to this text, the god Horus first led the aspiring king to Karnak (Ipet-Sut), “in order to induct him into the presence of Amun for the handing over to him of his office of king.”  At this point there followed “the beautiful festival of southern Opet (Ipet-resyt=Luxor)” in which the king-to-be and the god of Karnak traveled to Luxor.   There Horemheb prepared himself in the attached palace of the temple and was soon led by Amun into the Per-wer.  There they found the goddess Weret-Hekau, “[her arms] in welcoming attitude, and she embraced his beauty and established herself on his forehead.”  God and king next proceeded to the Per-neser where they found all the gods of the Divine Ennead, including Nekhbet, Wadjet, Neith, Isis, Nepthys, Horus, and Seth, who raised “thankful clamor to the height of heaven, rejoicing at the good pleasure of Amun, (saying);  ‘Behold, Amun is come, his son in front of him, to the Palace in order to establish his crown upon his head and in order to prolong his period like to himself’ ” (Gardiner 1953, 15).

Archaeological evidence from Jebel Barkal indicates that Horemheb also visited Napata and held a coronation there identical to the one he held at Luxor.  An architrave inscribed with his throne name (fig. 97) was found directly beside the ruins of temples B 1100 and B 1150, which can almost certainly be identified as the Per-Wer and Per-Neser at Jebel Barkal (See III, B).  Their identification is based on an inscription, naming both structures, which was carved on a stone doorway in B 1200, which led to them.  This doorway was part of the Napatan Palace – from a level dating to the period of Anlamani (late seventh century BCE) (See III, B) (Dunham 1970, pl. LXII; Kendall 2008, 125, n. 21).  The Anlamani palace, however, almost certainly lies over the foundations of a New Kingdom palace at Jebel Barkal, which would have been the equivalent of the palace at Luxor mentioned in the Horemheb text (Kendall 1991b; 1997a; Kendall and Wolf 2007).  The presumed Per-Wer at Barkal (B 1100) still exhibits three levels: the earliest, dating from the late Eighteenth Dynasty (exhibiting talatat foundations), the second, dating from Dynasty 25, and the third and final, dating to the Meroitic Period.  The evidence from Jebel Barkal suggests that the Per-Wer and Per-Neser, which were used for coronations by the New Kingdom pharaohs, were restored in Dynasty 25 and continued to be used and renewed, as necessary, for Kushite coronations well into Meroitic times.  Horemheb’s coronation text even records his visit to Nubia:

Fig. 97: Block inscribed with the throne name of Horemheb, found beside the ruins of B 1100, the presumed Per-Wer, or coronation temple of Weret-Hekau, goddess of the crowns, at Jebel Barkal.  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


“Now when this festival in Ipet-resyt was ended, Amun, King of the Gods, having returned in peace to Thebes, faring downstream by his Majesty with the statue of Harakhti.  And lo, he set in order this land, organizing it after (the manner of) Re.  He renewed the temples of the gods (from) the marshes of the Delta to Ta-Seti (=“Nubia”)…” (Gardiner 1953, 15).

Jebel Barkal is famous in Napatan texts as a primary coronation site; these texts reveal that the coronations of the Kushite kings and their annual re-enactments were the most important rituals performed at the site during the Napatan Period.  A growing body of data, however, indicates that these ceremonies were not original to the Kushites.  They seem to have replicated those that had been performed at Jebel Barkal centuries before by Egyptian kings at least since the reign of Thutmose III, if not Thutmose I.

It was Thutmose III who left a statue of himself in Heb-Sed costume at the site (Dunham 1970, pl. III).  It was Thutmose IV who left the oldest surviving structure on the site, B 600, which appears to have been a coronation and/or Heb-Sed pavilion (tjentjat) (See B 600).  Like B 1100, this building, too, underwent repeated restorations well into the Meroitic era, showing that the Kushites continued using it, evidently for the very same enthronement rituals for which it was originally built.  Akhenaten, too, within his first five years of rule, seems to have developed the site for his own Heb-Sed rituals – paralleling those held at Karnak (Kendall 2009).

In his fifth regnal year, Amenhotep III traveled to the limits of Kush to wage a military campaign. A description of this episode, set up at Bubastis, records that he celebrated a coronation at a mountain called “Hua,” which, like Jebel Barkal, seems to have been a point of safety on the river, where enemy captives were assembled (Breasted 1906, 334-342).  While there is no evidence that “Hua” was Jebel Barkal, its characteristics, as described, are similar, and it is interesting to see that in a relief from the south wall of the main hall of his Great Temple at Abu Simbel, Ramses II had himself depicted being crowned at Jebel Barkal by Re-Horakhty - immediately left of the image of Amun seated inside the mountain, and of himself driving before his chariot a group of fettered Nubian war prisoners (fig. 98).

Fig. 98: Relief from the south wall of the great hall inside the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel, showing events on his southern frontier:  While making offerings to Amun inside Jebel Barkal and the royal uraeus in the form of the pinnacle, he is also being crowned by Re-Horakhty in the presence of Thoth.  Below, the king with his lion drive a herd of Nubian prisoners of war.  (Martini 1964, 15)


It is a pity that we have so little information about New Kingdom royal visits to Nubia.  Looking at the distance between Thebes and Napata, it seems unlikely that most rulers would ever have made the long and arduous trek more than once or twice during their reigns, if they made it at all.  The remoteness of Jebel Barkal and the periodic instability of the Nubian frontier would surely have discouraged regular royal visits.  Still, between Thutmose III and Ramses II, the evidence suggests that all the kings took a major interest in the site, and perhaps regarded a visit to the god there as an obligation (just as did the later Napatan kings).  Probably most of them visited Jebel Barkal at least once, early in their reigns, to receive the ka directly from the demiurge and to celebrate a coronation in "his presence."  Since Amenhotep III undertook no construction at Jebel Barkal, one wonders if his grand enlargement of Luxor Temple was undertaken as a votive gift to the “southern” Amun "of Karnak" just as his Soleb Temple was a votive gift to his own ka which that god had created and in whom that god was equally manifested.

Seti I and Ramses II both worked to enlarge B 500 at the "Karnak" of Napata with hypostyle halls, just as they did at the "Karnak" of Thebes, and I would imagine that Ramses’ great temples to his own ka at Abu Simbel, each fronted by rows of colossal statues (fig. 99a, b), were inspired by the cliff front at Jebel Barkal, which presented its own natural “colossi.” (fig. 100).  Following Ramses’ long reign, however, it appears that no further construction was undertaken at Jebel Barkal until the Kushite era, and it is unclear whether any more Egyptian kings actually visited the site before it fell away from Egyptian control near the end of Dynasty 20.  As a parallel phenomenon, no additional construction seems to have been undertaken at Luxor Temple until the Kushite period, and, after Herihor, there is very little evidence that Luxor was even used during the Third Intermediate Period, despite Bell’s belief that that the latter was used continuously from the New Kingdom to the Roman Period (Bell 1997, 154).

Figs. 99a, b:  The rock-cut facades of Ramses II’s two temples at Abu Simbel.  It seems likely that these gigantic images were inspired by Ramses’ response to the Jebel Barkal cliff, which also possessed four evenly spaced statue-like projections - four times higher.  (Photos:  T. Kendall)

Fig. 100: The façade of Jebel Barkal showing its row of natural “colossi.”  (Photo:  T. Kendall)

That Luxor and Jebel Barkal were not identical, and that they had differing, if complementary, functions, is indicated by Napatan royal texts, in which we recognize that Jebel Barkal was primarily a royal venue for the celebration of the New Year ceremonies in early August, which heralded the start of the inundation (Török 2002: 18; Kendall 2008, 122).  Luxor was primarily used as the site of the Opet festival, which occurred one or two months later, coincident with the arrival of the high Nile at Thebes (Bell 1997, 158). Given the excellent knowledge possessed by the Kushites of New Kingdom Egyptian royal practices, we can probably safely assume that the rituals they themselves performed at Jebel Barkal and Luxor followed New Kingdom custom.  Under Egyptian control, Jebel Barkal would have been the ideal place to celebrate the New Year ceremonies because Napata, as the official upper limit of the Egyptian empire, would have been the first place where the rising Nile could be first officially observed and monitored.  That there were coordinated royal rites linking Jebel Barkal with Luxor - when the king controlled both sites - is revealed by Piankhy in his Victory stela, who asserted his unwillingness to start for Egypt until he had first performed the New Year ceremonies at Napata:

“After the ceremonies of the New Year have been performed [at Jebel Barkal], I shall offer to my father Amun on his beautiful festival, when he makes his beautiful appearance of the New Year that he may send me in peace to see Amun in the beautiful festival of the Feast of Opet.” [FHN 1994 (I), 77]).

From this text it is clear that once Piankhy had completed the New Year rites at Napata, he set off downstream for Thebes, where, as he stated, he arrived three months later and celebrated the Opet (Török 1997, 159, 163, 318-20).  Like the Luxor Opet, the New Year Festival at Jebel Barkal would have included a coronation which recognized the king’s receipt of his ka.  Piankhy, who calls himself “Strong Bull (=ka) crowned in Napata,” and who pictures himself in reliefs in B 500 accompanied by his ka (fig. 101), then acted on behalf of Amun to bring fertility to the rest of the land by sailing downstream to Egypt as Lord  of the Flood –  as Hapy (god of the Nile) himself, in whose persona the Egyptian pharaohs accomplished the same feat (Török 2002, 11-12).  The Opet celebrated by Piankhy at the conclusion of his long journey would have allowed the exhausted king (and god embodied by him) a welcome “rebirth;" it would also have offered an excuse for a great public festival at Thebes in which he could be greeted and feted by a joyous populace.  Following his Opet at Thebes, Piankhy could also call himself “Strong Bull (=ka) crowned in Thebes” (Török in FHN 1994 [I], 47-52).  It seems highly likely that Luxor was similarly used in the New Kingdom:  as a kind of grand reception center for kings returning from Nubia and as a place where offerings could be made to the remote god at “southern Ipet-(Sut)” who had sent them on their way downstream many weeks or months previously.

Fig. 101: Relief fragment on the NE wall (=upstream/”south”) of court 501 of the Great Amun Temple B 500 at Napata.  The scene pictures Piankhy, followed by his ka, celebrating his Heb-Sed or “30-year Jubilee.”  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


That the Kushites did indeed distinguish an Amun of Luxor from the Amun of Jebel Barkal is clear, for the ithyphallic “Amun in the Ipet,” pictured so many times in reliefs inside Luxor, is also represented on the southwest (=downstream, “north”) wall of room 305 of Taharqo’s Mut temple (B 300), where he follows the Theban triad:  the anthropomorphic Amun of Karnak (“Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, of Ipet-Sut”), Mut “Mistress of Heaven”, and Khonsu “of Thebes”  (Robisek 1989, 117).  These were the major gods of Thebes - but they were probably also the gods who resided locally within B 800.

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