Medinet Habu

Colored Columns

Medinet Habu is the modern name of the area where Ramses III built his mortuary temple.  Ramses III ruled Egypt for 31 years (c. 1183-1153 BC).  Medina means “city,” and Habu is the actual name of the city.  It is thus “Habu City.”  One straight axis runs through the temple, but originally there were a number of gates.  The entire temple would have been roofed in antiquity.

Counting Hands

Soldiers were often rewarded based on how many men they killed in battle.  To prove their valor, these warriors would present the hands of those they had killed.  In some of the autobiographies that the soldiers left in their tombs, they would claim to have participated in a certain campaign and have “presented so many hands” to pharaoh.  In return they were often given slaves or a medal of honor. A similar type of accounting is presented in 1 Samuel 18:27.

Depictions of the Philistines

In about 1175 BC Ramses III successfully stopped the Sea Peoples (including the Philistines) from invading Egypt.  This account is recorded on the walls of his mortuary temple.  The Philistines are known by their use of feather head dresses, swan decorations, two edged swords, spears, and rounded shields.  The majority of the Sea Peoples are clean-shaven, but a few Philistines are depicted with beards.

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Related Websites

Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu (Tour Egypt) A nice description of the temple and Nilometer.

Medinet Habu (Tour Egypt) A good summary of the history and features of the temple and complex.

The Inscriptions of Medinet Habu (PennState University) An essay on the inscriptions that relate to the invasion of the Sea Peoples (Philistines), with a link to excerpts of the texts.

Medinet Habu (The Egypt Archive) A very nice photo gallery.

Medinet Habu (Museum Photography) A collection of good photos.

Medinet Habu (Dr. Karl H. Leser) A good informational page, with pictures, drawings and diagrams of the temple.

Medinet Habu (Bluffton College) An extensive collection of pictures with brief explanations.