The ruins of the mortuary complex named Enduring-are-the Places of Khakaure-true-of-voice in Abydos are located at South Abydos. Erected for pharaoh Khakaure-Senwosret III (ca. 1878-1841 BC) of Dynasty 12, the Abydos complex includes a subterranean royal tomb built beneath a peak anciently called Anubis-Mountain, and a mortuary temple named Nefer-Ka (Beautiful-is-the-Ka) established for the afterlife cult of Senwosret III. Although the Egypt Exploration Fund initially discovered and examined the site between 1899-1902, the Senwosret III complex has for the last century remained enigmatic, partially through virtue of its location at Abydos. It has often been identified as an Abydene royal cenotaph. In 1994 the University of Pennsylvania-Yale University-Institute of Fine Arts, NYU Expedition initiated a renewed program of excavation at South Abydos. A focus of this work has been a comprehensive investigation of the Senwosret III mortuary temple. Excavation of the temple's well-preserved architecture in tandem with work on its surroundings now provides the basis for a detailed reconstruction of this major Middle Kingdom royal mortuary temple.
The volume includes six parts arranged in twenty-two chapters with three appendixes. Part I examines the organization of the Senwosret III complex as a whole. Part II is devoted to the architecture and functions of the containment building that housed the stone-built cult structure named Nefer-Ka . Part III examines the architecture, decorative and statue program of the cult building proper and presents a reconstruction of the building's layout and appearance. Part IV discusses the significant archaeological contexts that surround the temple including external activity areas, refuse deposits and the temple's ceramic assemblage. Part V includes publication of the seal corpus associated with the temple and presents a model of the temple's administrative structure based on institutional stamp seals and private name seals. Part VI examines the current evidence pertaining to the tomb enclosure and Senwosret III's subterranean tomb. The volume includes drawings and photographs of approximately one thousand objects: relief, statue and architectural fragments, small objects, seals and seal impressions, and ceramics.
In its overall characteristics, the Senwosret III complex is an innovative royal mortuary establishment. Although it has discernible roots in the preceding royal pyramid tradition, the complex as a whole displays traits which presage the New Kingdom format of royal burial complex in the Valley of the Kings. Its hidden tomb at the foot of Anubis-Mountain , paired with its cultivation-edge mortuary temple makes this site pivotal in the evolution of the Egyptian royal mortuary complex. The volume addresses our understanding of this site as either a cenotaph or burial complex for Senwosret III, and the cult of this king which was maintained at South Abydos for some 150 years until its decline at the end of the 13th Dynasty, ca. 1700 BC.
by Joseph Wegner