The Mortuary Temple of Mentuhotep II

also known as the Akh-sut-Amun (Ancient Egyptian: 3ḫ-swt-Jmn “Transfigured are the places of Amun”).

It’s a temple of Ancient Egypt located in Upper Egypt. Mentuhotep II’s most ambitious and innovative building project remains this large mortuary temple. The many architectural innovations of the temple mark a break with the Old Kingdom tradition of pyramid complexes and foreshadow the Temples of Millions of Years of the New Kingdom. As such, Mentuhotep II’s temple was certainly a major source of inspiration for the nearby but 550-year later temples of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.

However, the most profound innovations of Mentuhotep II’s temple are not architectural but religious. First, it is the earliest mortuary temple where the king is not just the recipient of offerings but rather enacts ceremonies for the gods (in this case Amun-Ra). Second, the temple identifies the king with Osiris, a local Theban god which grew in importance from the 11th Dynasty onwards. Indeed, the decoration and royal statuary of the temple emphasizes the Osirian aspects of the dead ruler, an ideology apparent in the funerary statuary of many later pharaohs.

Finally, most of the temple decoration is the work of local Theban artists. This is evidenced by the dominant artistic style of the temple which represents people with large lips and eyes and thin bodies. At the opposite, the refined chapels of Mentuhotep II’s wives are certainly due to Memphite craftsmen who were heavily influenced by the standards and conventions of the Old Kingdom. This phenomenon of fragmentation of the artistic styles is observed throughout the First Intermediate Period and is a direct consequence of the political fragmentation of the country.

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