Egypt’s Temple of Hepshetsu

Contributor: Sarah Robertson

One if the particular highlights of my trip to Egypt was our visit to the Temple of Hepshetsu, or Hot Chicken Soup, an easier nickname to remember, one of Egypt’s most infamous leaders.

In Hepshetsu’s time female’s were not permitted to rule Egypt permanently but disregarding protocol, this interesting character seized and held on to power through the rights of her children and by later imprisoning challengers to the throne. Egypt thrived under the rule of this cross-dressing, false -beard-wearing lady growing in power and riches who was helped by her strong alliances with both the priesthood and the commander of the Egyptian army. She also famously led expeditions into Africa including a trip to Punto land, now known as Somalia.

The grand temple built in her honour lies directly behind the Valley of the Kings and it is speculated that this plucky lady intended to burrow through the hillside to reach the Valley that she was forbidden from being interred in she was a woman.
The temple is quite spectacular, an imposing two-story, pillared structure built on the edge of the ridge that can be spotted from miles away. Many of the pillars are topped with stone sculptures depicting her likeness and a series of spacious courtyards lead visitors inwards towards the mountain. Most impressive of all was an avenue of sphinxes said to lead from the Nile to the entrance of her temple. Trees brought from the Punto expedition were also planted around the Temple.

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