THESE ruins are situated on the western bank of the Nile, in the plain which every where within the precincts of ancient Thebes exhibits indications of that vast city. Around the Temple of Medinet Abou are extensive mounds and the walls of a large Christian town, which existed there when part of the ancient Temple had been converted into a Christian church; but this, too, has passed away, and the remains of their hovels are now encumbering and almost concealing the ruins of Medinet Abou. “This,” says Wilkinson, “is undoubtedly the ruins of one of the four temples mentioned by Diodorus, the others being those of Karnak, Luxor, and the Memnonium, or first Remeseum.”

    The portico seen in front is of a comparatively late date, and built out of the ruins of ancient structures: it serves as the entrance to a small temple erected by a Pharaoh of a later period. The taller tower-like building on the left of the portico, is part of the palace of Remeses IV., of which the square openings are the windows of small chambers, decorated with elegant sculptures of domestic subjects, that illustrate the habits and manners of the ancient Egyptians. It is behind this building that the ruins of the large Temple are found, in the second court of which are the later remains of a Christian church. The brick walls and mounds seen to surround the Temple are the ruins of the houses of the Christian population, which once enlivened this spot: now all is desolate. The situation of Medinet Abou at the base of the Libyan chain is fine, and behind it, rises the loftiest point of the range which lies between the town and the valley of Bibàn el Molook.

    The plain behind the city and the monticule on the right formed part of the vast necropolis of the great city, and it is seen to be every where pierced or excavated for tombs and sepulchral chambers. Many are interesting and some magnificent.

    Wilkinson has given a detailed account of this Temple and its sculptures, tracing, with much research, its progress under the Pharaohs, but leaving it very difficult to condense his information within the limit of our text.

    The founder of the principal part of the building was the monarch who raised the great obelisk at Karnak; Thothmes II. continued or altered the sculptures; and Tothmes III. completed the architectural details of the sanctuary and peristyle. To these were afterwards added the hieroglyphics of Remeses III. on the outside of the building, to connect, by similarity of external appearance, the palace-temple of his predecessors with that which he erected in its vicinity. Some restorations were afterwards made by Ptolemy Physcon; who, in addition to the sculptures of the two doorways, repaired the columns which support the roof of the peristyle. Hakoris, second king of the twenty-ninth dynasty had previously erected the wings on either side; and, with the above-mentioned monarchs, he completes the number of eleven who have added repairs or sculptures to this building.

    The pylon, or gateway, seen in this view is in advance of the ancient portion of the Temple, and was erected by Ptolemy Lathyrus. The sculptures added by Remeses III. on the outside of the walls represent his conquests over the people of the northern and southern frontiers of Egypt; but the sculptured decorations within the walls, illustrate the domestic life of the Pharaoh in his hareem, playing at draughts with females, who are decorated with wreaths of flowers of the upper and lower country; this has led other Egyptian antiquaries to conjecture that these figures are emblematical.


                Wilkinson’s Egypt and Thebes.