Temple restoration part completed
On the west bank of the Nile opposite the modern town of Luxor in Upper Egypt stands the beautiful Temple of Medinet Habu, with its soaring pylons, shrines, crypts, halls, and extravagant wall paintings and reliefs honouring the New Kingdom king Ramses III and commemorating the ancient Egyptian deity Amun-Re.
Today, restorers wearing white gowns and plastic gloves are standing on wooden scaffolding brushing the marks of time off the temple’s walls, while others are cleaning the reliefs and revealing original colours hidden for decades under dust, bird deposits, and dirt.
“We are rediscovering the temple and its interior decorations that have been concealed for decades under dust,” said one restorer while cleaning a column inside the temple. She added that the original colours of the relief had been revealed, making it look as vivid as if it had been painted yesterday.
“Returning the temple to its original allure is not easy,” Mustafa Waziri, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that the restoration project came within the framework of a Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities programme to preserve the country’s ancient Egyptian monuments, especially those in Upper Egypt.
“The golden chapel has been restored by skilled Egyptian restorers who worked day and night to complete the task and reveal the original colours of its distinguished wall reliefs,” Waziri said, adding that work is continuing to restore the whole temple.
Saadi Awad, head of the restoration and maintenance at the site, said that the restoration project at the temple had started in March this year with the golden chapel where dirt and bird deposits were removed from the walls and reliefs consolidated.
Wall paintings had been cleaned to reveal their original colours, and a new lighting system had been installed.
The Temple of Medinet Habu is one of the most important ancient Egyptian temples and was built in honour of king Ramses III. It was constructed to carry out funeral rituals and to worship the god Amun-Re.
It consists of a primary courtyard with inscriptions about the wars fought by king Ramses III and a second courtyard with inscriptions regarding celebrations. There is a corridor of columns on each side of which are the chapels of the temple devoted to various deities.
One of the most important is the golden chapel, which has been restored and returned to its authentic condition.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 11 August, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.