The Temple of Merenptah
King Merenptah
King Merenptah

The temple of Merenptah

Merenptah was the thirteenth son of Ramesses II, and it was he who finally followed his father toward 1213 B.C., after his father’s (too) long reign.

When he took control, Egypt was no longer what it was in the time of the 18th Dynasty. It was a weakened polity, unethical, but still had resources that Merenptah, probably about fifty years old at the time of his accession to the throne, directed during his 10 years.

In spite of his age, he knew how to wage hard fights in Asia during the third year of his reign, and to bring back into line the Syria-Palestinian principalities, always fast to insurgent against Egyptian occupation. The Libyans were also put back in place in year 5.

As his father Ramesses II had succeeded it before him, he undertook to leave chronicles of his victories, on a wall close to the 6th pylon of Karnak, and on a famous stela.


It is dated from about 1210/1207 B.C. and was found in 1896 by Flinders Petrie, in the temple, it is maintained today in the Cairo museum and it is an (amazing!) copy that can be seen in situ.
The text is a poetic commendation dedicated to Pharaoh Merenptah. At the end of the poem, is a depiction of a campaign carried out by the Pharaoh in year 5 of its reign – toward 1210 B.C. – to the country of Canaan gives the first mention of Israel out of biblical context, and the only mention of Israel in the Egyptian texts.

The temple of Merenptah:

When Merenptah decided to construct his funerary temple, he placed it very near the one of Amenophis III, already in ruins, which he is going to use as a quarry, usurping the names of his famous predecessor – like his father had done extensively already before him.

The mortuary temple of Merenptah is situated on the right-hand side of the Necropolis road. Assumably due to its position close to the Nile flood plain, and the rising water which also eliminated the temple.

Merenptah was the son, and successor of Rameses II and his temple has long been destroyed, Merenptah used many blocks from Amenhotep’s temple, and from other nearby temples in the construction of his own monument. Petrie first examined the site in the 1890s, uncovering many of the earlier blocks.

The temple of Merenptah

Description of The temple of Merenptah:

The temple has been restored and rebuilt by Swiss, and Egyptian archaeologists, the major structure was fairly typical of the late New Kingdom funerary temple. Copied much of the design of his father’s mortuary temple, the Ramesseum.


There were two towers and courts, and it seems that the authentic building was changed, and it was enlarged replacing the mudbrick pylons with stone and adding statues.

In the first open court, a huge stela of Amenhotep 1 was found, which had inscribed texts by Merenptah, on the reverse side telling of his triumphs in the Libyan War. The earliest historical reference to Israel. It is known as the Israel Stela’, now in Cairo Museum.


The second pylon was on higher ground on the gently sloping desert between the flood plain and Qurnet Murai village.

The second court had three porticos with Osiris pillars.

The western portico formed part of the facade of the temple with two hypostyle halls.

The sanctuary, and sacred shrines for the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khons.

A chapel of Osiris was to the south and a sun court with a large altar was to the north.

A slaughterhouse was attached to the northwestern corner of the building.

Southern subsidiary buildings were additions and included a priest’s house.

It includes the temple well, and a complex of workshops.

The Temple of Merenptah has now been opened as a museum.

Many well-preserved blocks, and wall fragments including bright reliefs.

Alongside stonework from other monuments on plinths inside the temple Complex.

Including a part of a colossal limestone, Sphinx, and Jackal-headed sphinxes.

A purpose-built museum houses multiple artifacts and gives a history of rehabilitation.



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