(Pathyris, Per-Hathor)

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Limestone fragment of votive stela from the Temple of Het-Hert at Gebelein, 18th Dynasty

The town of Gebelein, whose archaeological site is known as Naga el-Gherira, is located in Upper Egypt 29 km south of Thebes on the west bank of the Nile.   Its name in Arabic means "the two mountains," and this derives from its Kemetic name of Inerty, "The Two Rocks."  The site consists of a northern hill with a cemetery and a southern hill with an ancient temple of Het-Hert located close to the Nile.  The temple was formed from a man-made cave, with a T-shaped plan containing a hall and a sanctuary.  A mud-brick wall fortified the temple during the Late Period.  There is most probably a connection between the worship of Het-Hert at Gebelein and that of her chief temple at Dendera, because she is referred to on many objects from Gebelein as "Mistress of Dendera." Her worship was so important to the town that sprang up at the foot of her temple, that the town took her Name, callling itself Pr-Hwt-Hr [Per Hewt-Her, or "House of Het-Hert"], which became "Pathyris" to the Greeks.   During its long history, the Temple of Het-Hert was a place of beauty, characterized by the excellent quality of its reliefs and furnishings.

Excavations of the area have been conducted primarily by the Egyptian Museum at Turin, Italy, and the earliest finds have been some linen cloths painted with boats, men and women in a funeral dance, and scenes of hippopotamus hunting and fishing.   These cloths, found in a predynastic grave in the northern hill cemetery, attest to the very ancient settlement in this area.  They are dated to the first phase of the Nagada civilization beginning from the first half of the 4th millenium B.C.E.

Another very interesting find is a royal stela from the end of the 2nd Dynasty which was built into the wall of the Temple of Het-Hert, confirming the existence of a sanctuary in Gebelein dedicated to her at this early date.  Though very damaged now, the stela was the work of a master craftsman, with delicate carvings in bas-relief of a king, court officials, and a royal boat.  The "followers of Heru" (Smsw Hrw) are mentioned in the hieroglyphs in the text of this relief.

Information about life in Gebelein comes from the painted scenes of ritual and daily life found in the tomb of Iti, a nomarch and King's Treasurer who governed during the 11th Dynasty of the First Intermediate Period.  The burial chamber of his tomb included alabaster and terracotta vessels, and a bronze mirror, all belonging to his wife, Neferu.

During the early Middle Kingdom, King Nebhepetre Mentuhotep built or extended the sanctuary of the Het-Hert temple, and reliefs from this shrine are now in the Cairo Museum.  Before the reunification of Egypt, which took place at some point during his reign, he used the title sA Hwt-Hr nbt iwnt [Sa Hwt-Her, Nebet Iunet -- Son of Het-Hert, Mistress of Dendera] written inside his cartouche.  Fragments of the naos consecrated during the reign of the 17th Dynasty King Sobekemsaf II have also been found.  Later evidence of Her worship in Gebelein comes from a foundation deposit containing models of tools, brick molds, and cartouches, showing that the temple was remodeled or enlarged during the reign of Djehutymose III at the beginning of the 18th Dynasty.  Stelae, most of which are dedicated to Het-Hert, have been discovered from both Djehutymose III's and Seti I's reign.

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Stela fragment from Temple of Het-Hert at Gebelein, beginning of 18th Dynasty, showing Het-Hert and Yinepu

This fragment forms the upper left part of a stela dedicated to both Het-Hert and Yinepu (Anubis).  In front of Yinepu are the words mery inpu [beloved of Yinepu] in hieroglyphs. The worship of Het-Hert and Yinepu is widely attested in this area and the names of both deities appear together on four other stela fragments. Their titles are nebet inerty, "Mistress of the Two Rocks," and neb ta hedj, "Lord of the White Land." It is possible that the cult of Yinepu was located in an area nearby the Temple of Het-Hert, similar to that of Sobek of Sumenu.  A third Name of Netjer associated with Het-Hert at Gebelein is Djehuty.

An interesting feature of the temple was a dromos, an avenue or passage that connected the shrine to the adjoining city.  In Greek times, these were often lined with rows of columns or statues.  The sanctuary and the city survived, most probably without interruption, until the Graeco-Roman period.  Papyri and demotic and Greek ostraka show that Gebelein was still important during this Pathyris-Aphroditopolis period.

References

Images are line drawings of artifacts from Roveri's "Gebelein," in Beyond the Pyramids: Egyptian Regional Art from the Museo Egizio, Turin, c. 1990.  Bard, Kathryn A., "Gebelein," Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, London, Routledge, c. 1999.
Scamuzzi, Ernesto, Egyptian Art in the Egyptian Museum of Turin, New York, Harry N. Abrams, Inc., c. 1965.
Roveri, Anna Maria Donadonni, "Gebelein," in Beyond the Pyramids: Egyptian Regional Art from the Museo Egizio, Turin (Gay Robins, ed.), Atlanta, Georgia, Emory University Museum of Art and Archaeology, c. 1990.  

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