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medinet habu


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The mortuary temple here belongs to Ramesses II -- and with his inimitable style, he has writ his name large on the structure here. The huge temple was begun in the second year of Ramesses II's reign and took nearly 20 years to complete. The temple is called "The House of Millions of Year of User-Maat-Re" Napoleon's archeologists dubbed it the Memnonium.

The temple is perhaps best known for the gigantic statue, toppled to the ground, which inspired Shelley's sonnet. Ozymandias, of course, is a Greek corruption of the name Usermaatre, throne name for Ramsesses II.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert...Near them on the sand
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its scuptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things
The hand which mocked them, and the heart that fed.
On the pedestal these words ap
'My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings
Look upon my works ye MIghty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

The ruins were nearly empty when we visited -- the site is not often mobbed by bus tours. This is an enormous, sprawling temple, surrounded by mudbrick walls and row upon row of storage rooms like long arched tunnels. Our guide told us that the storage held enough grain to feed the entire city for several years. Given the size of the place, I can believe that.


luxor temple Previous Monument medinet habu
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