On Luxor’s west bank, in front of Habu Temple stands the small Ptolemaic chapel temple of Qasr Al Agouz -- now awaiting visitors. After seven years of being off Luxor’s tourist map for restoration, Qasr Al Agouz Temple is to be officially inaugurated next week.
Although it encapsulates a very important period in Egyptian history, the temple is virtually unknown to visitors.
It dates back to the reign of King Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and is composed of three oblong rooms, including an offering room and a sanctuary. The temple is dedicated to the god Ibis-Thoth who is represented with a human body and the head of an ibis. It is sometimes depicted wearing the lunar disc with the two phases of a full moon and crescent, sometimes also with a crown.
Two deified mortals of the Late Period showing Imhotep's role as healer and holy Amenhotep-son-of-Hapu are also represented on the walls. The Ptolemaic dynastic cult is well represented, including the ancestors of Ptolemy (with no mention of the first Ptolemy son of Lagus, who was a commoner) and their queens. Scenes depicting Thoth with other gods and goddesses are also shown.
“Although the temple is architecturally almost intact, its decorations have suffered a high rate of humidity and erosion,” Mohamed Beabesh, inspector chief of antiquities of Luxor’s west bank, told Ahram Online. He explained that scenes of Qasr Al Agouz are painted, not carved, which is very rare in Ptolemaic monuments and reflects the incompleteness of the building, as evidenced by the lack of decoration on the external walls which are not decorated.
The temple was subjected to an epigraphic survey by Dominique Mallet in 1909 from the French archaeological institute (IFAO). The Marc Bloch Institute of Egyptology of the University of Strasburg, solicited by the Supreme Council of the Antiques of Egypt, in collaboration with the IFAO, have carried out comprehensive restoration work since 2002.
The temple and its paintings were subjected to studies and research and in 2005 concrete restoration started.
Beabesh said that cracks spread over the walls have been repaired, the paintings consolidated, the floor covered with bubbles to absorb subterranean water and a new lighting system installed in order to make the temple accessible at night.