Khentika Tomb and Hibis Temple
New Valley Governorate
The Western Desert
February 28, 2020
I had the good fortune to visit two important Ancient Egyptian sites in the Western Desert.
The Mastaba of Khentika
The Mastaba (Tomb) of Khentika, is located in the center of the necropolis of the 6th Dynasty (2323 -2150 BCE), Egypt’s Old Kingdom.
Khentika was the governor of the Dakhla Oasis under the reign of Pharaoh Pepi II, (2284 – c. 2216 BCE).
A Mastaba (“bench” in Arabic or Per-djet "house of eternity" in Ancient Egyptian) is a type of ancient Egyptian tomb in the form of a flat-roofed, rectangular structure with inward sloping sides, constructed out of mudbricks or stone. A deep shaft descends to the underground burial chamber.
The Temple of Hibis*
The Temple of Hibis in the Western Desert is the epitome of Egypt’s function through the ages: a melting pot of cultural influences.
Situated in Kharga, one of the five oases of the Western Desert, the largest and best-preserved temple in the area is a testimony of ancient Egyptian and Persian artistic mastery. It demonstrates how civilizations can meet and leave wonders for the future, even after a period of conflict and confrontation.
The temple was constructed during the Third Intermediate Period of Egypt, specifically in the sixth century BCE, during the reign of Nectanebo II, the last pharaoh and native ruler of ancient Egypt.
The reign of Nectanebo II ended when the Persians and the Greeks conquered Egypt. Probably the last building erected under direction of the last pharaoh, the Temple of Hibis illustrates the deep influences of the political changes during and after its construction.
The Temple of Hibis was dedicated to Amun, the most important ancient Egyptian deity; Mut, the mother goddess of ancient Egypt; and Khonsu, the god of the moon. However, it became mostly associated with Amun, who was worshipped by many of Egypt’s pharaohs.
The temple’s walls are full of decorations from classical Theban traditions. The temples of Karnak and Luxor appear to have left their mark or inspired the builders.
Apart from the ancient Egyptian influences, the temple’s walls showcase texts that date to the time of Persian King Darius I (550-487 BCE). Drawings depicting Darius I while praying in an ancient Egyptian fashion adorn many walls in more evidence of the amalgamation of Egyptian and Persian cultures and mutual artistic influences.
The Persians ruled Egypt during the sixth and fifth centuries BCE. Like all the civilizations that reached the land of the pharaohs, Persia left its mark, and this is shown in the Temple of Hibis.
* Ahmed Megahid, The Arab Weekly, 2-12-2018