A previously unknown building of Queen Hatshepsut was discovered in 2016 by the German Archaeological Institute on the Island of Elephantine, Aswan. According to Felix Arnold, the field director of the mission, the building served as a waystation for the festival bark of the god Khnum. The building was later dismantled and about 30 of its blocks have now been found in the foundations of the Khnum temple of Nectanebos II. Some of the blocks were discovered previously by members of the Swiss Institute, but the meaning of the blocks has only now become clear.
On several of the blocks discovered this year Queen Hatshepsut was originally represented as a woman. The building must, therefore, have been erected during the early years of her reign, before she began to be represented as a male king. Only very few buildings from this early stage of her career have been discovered so far. The only other examples have been found at Karnak.
The newly discovered building thus adds to our knowledge of the early years of Queen Hatshepsut and her engagement in the region of Aswan. In the reign of her nephew Thutmosis III all mentions of her name were erased and all representations of her female figure were replaced by images of a male king, her deceased husband Thutmosis II.
Based on the blocks discovered so far the original appearance of the building can be reconstructed. The building thus comprised a chamber for the bark of the god Khnum, which was surrounded on all four sides by pillars. On the pillars are representations of several versions of the god Khnum, as well as rare or previously unknown gods, such as Imi-peref “He-who-is-in-his-house”, Nebet-menit “Lady-of-the-mooring-post” and Min-Amun of Nubia. The building thus not only adds to our knowledge of the history of Queen Hatshepsut but also to our understanding of the religious beliefs current on the Island of Elephantine during her reign.
(photos: DAI Kairo)