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Gebel Barkal Temple B300

   The Temple of Mut  

page updated December 24, 2007
HISTORY AND MEANING
The Temple of Mut (Temple B300), carved partly into the rock base of Gebel Barkal, was built by the pharaoh Taharqa in the 680s BCE.

General view across the temples at Gebel Barkal (B300 is the second from the left)

(click on the image to enlarge)

Gebel Barkal, Temple B300 (model by Learning Sites, Inc.)

Close-up view of the entry porch and pylon of B300.

Mut, Hathor, Bes are all represented in this unique temple.  All can be identified in some regard with the myth of the "Eye of Re."  It is possible that the colossal Bes images and the sistrum-headed Hathor images were included to soothe the anger of the goddess in the story, since Bes is a god of dance and the sistra makes rhythmic music.
Gebel Barkal, Temple B300 Bes statues (Learning Sites model)
The colossal Bes statues in Room 301 
(view looking north toward the gebel).
Further, the goddesses represented here have important maternal roles in the myth of the divine origin of the king. According to Timothy Kendall, the pinnacle of the gebel (rising prominently above the Temple of Mut) was seen by the Kushites as phallic and a symbol of Amun's regenerative power.  Thus, it is possible that this temple of Mut (mother) with its apotropaic symbolism (the line of Bes statues and the systra) could have been conceived of and constructed as a symbolic womb; a female counterpart to the pinnacle.

The temple could represent a birthing house or mythological passage of birth, playing a role in both royal birth rituals and coronation ceremonies (also a kind of rebirth).  The king then may have come to the temple to perform ritual acts of rebirth.

DIGITAL RECONSTRUCTION
The 3D digital model of the Temple of Mut (B300) by Learning Sites is based on the excavated evidence uncovered by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the plans and drawings of several 19th-century travelers to the site (Linant de Bellefonds, Cailliaud, and Lepsius), and new interpretations of Timothy Kendall.

The images shown here have been extracted from a Learning Sites animated flyover of the site of Gebel Barkal and flythrough of the Temple of Mut created for the Ninth International Conference for Nubian Studies  (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, August 22-25, 1998).

Gebel Barkal, Temple B300, wall carvings on cella wall (model by Learning Sites)
Digital model of the rock-cut wall carvings 
around the doorway leading into the sanctuary.

Click here for a short animation showing the current ruined condition of the inner rooms morphing into our computer reconstruction; 2.7MB (photo by Enrico Ferorelli).

Gebel Barkal, Temple B300, sanctuary wall carvings (model by Learning Sites)
Digital model of the wall carvings in the sanctuary (Room 305).
You may also venture into the virtual world of the Temple of Mut and explore on your own the wonderful wall decoration and sculpture.  However, before you do, please be sure you have the proper hardware and software to view our virtual worlds.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Cailliaud, F. Voyage à Meroé, au fleuve blanc.... 4 vols. Paris, 1826.

Kendall, T. "The Gebel Barkal Temples, 1989-90: a progress report on the work of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Sudan Mission." Seventh International Conference for Nubian Studies, Geneva, September 3-8, 1990.

Lepsius, R. Denkmäler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien.... Berlin, 1849-59.

Linant de Bellefonds, M. Journal d'un voyage à Meroé dans les années 1821 et 1822. edited by M. Shinnie. Sudan Antiquities Service Occasional Papers #4. Khartoum, 1958.

Robisek, Ch. Das Bildprogramm des Mut-Tempels am Gebel Barkal (Veröffentlichen der Institut für Afrikanistik und Ägyptologie der Universität Wien, #52). Wien, 1989.

Zabkar, L. Apedemak, Lion God of Meroe: a study in Egyptian-Meroitic syncretism. Warminster, 1975.

(citations and temple description supplied to Learning Sites by Timothy Kendall)
 



 
 
Reference Information

page added February 26, 1998
page updated December 24, 2007
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