The Temple of Montu at Tod in Egypt

The Temple of Montu at Tod in Egypt

by Jimmy Dunn writing as Mark Andrews

A part of the Ptolemaic temple at Tod

Tod, ancient Djerty, and during the Graeco-Roman Period, Tuphium, is a small village built around an ancient mound (Kom) on the eastern bank of the Nile about 20 kilometers south of Luxor (ancient Thebes). It sits just across the Nile from Armant (ancient Hermonthis). Jean-Francois Champollion was one of the first investigators of the ancient ruins. He visited what was left of a high crypt that emerged from the temple that remained buried beneath the village.

Then, in 1934, Fernand Bisson de la Roque cleared the ruins of the first two halls, both of which could be dated to the Ptolemaic period. The first was a hypostyle hall, and the other was dominated by the high crypt. At the back of the temple on the far end were revealed traces of a church, built directly on the limestone paving of the pharaonic sanctuary. Made of sandstone, the eaves of Ptolemaic date surround an ancient limestone wall and are linked to this paving. They carry a lengthy historical inscription from the Middle Kingdom King, Senusret I, and were part of an earlier temple of that king.

The columned court (hypostyle hall), which was probably begun during the reign of Ptolemy VIII, had various chambers including a hidden treasury room above the chapel on the south side.

Ground plan of Senusret's symmetrically designed temple of Montu at Tod

Below the paving slaps were unearthed blocks from previous construction phases of the temple dating back to the very early Middle Kingdom kings, Montuhotep II and III, dating to the 11th Dynasty and to Amenemhet I who is credited with founding the 12th Dynasty. However, some blocks were even discovered that date back to the 5th Dynasty reign of Userkaf. These blocks and some of the Middle Kingdom material can be seen in the small open magazine at the site.

In the foundation sand of the Middle Kingdom structure, beneath a narrowed eave, were found four copper chests in the name of King Amenemhet II. Known as the "Tod Treasure", these were filled with lapis lazuli, silver and some gold objects. These items are now in the Egyptian Antiquity Museum in Cairo, and also in the Louvre in Paris. The lapis lazuli was all either raw, uncut pieces, fragments of beads or cylinder seals from various origins in the Near East, and dating back to the third and the beginning of the second millennium BC. The silver was made up of flattened ingots, ingot chains and coiled cups. The origins of these remain disputed among archaeologists, but the most consistent hypotheses is that they were of Minoan or Syrian creation, for the most part, representing foreign tribute. Some items came as far a field as Afghanistan lapis lazuli).

One of the caskets discovered in the Tod Treasure

Somewhat above the "Tod Treasure" was also found a rather common and unremarkable find of Saite (26th Dynasty) bronze figures of Osiris.

Between 1981 and 1991, the site was again excavated, this time by Musee du Louvre focusing on the temple's surroundings. This work unearthed a terrace built at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. There, the excavators discovered private chapels that survived until the New Kingdom. There was no western entrance to the temple until the dromos (an avenue or entranceway) was created in the third century BC, probably by Ptolemy IV, who probably also built the two Ptolemaic halls as replacements for those dating back to the time of Tuthmosis III. The dromos was never finished and the platform overlooking the pier was redesigned in the second or first century BC to include a monumental door, which was also never completed. Here, there are also the remains of an avenue of sphinxes.

Two of the flimsy silver bows and a handled cup from the Tod Treasure, showing what many scholars believe to be Minoan influence

Prior to the Ptolemaic period, the temple was accessed only from the north, as indicated by the placement of a wayside park chapel begun by Tuthmosis III, and completed by Amenhotep II. Talatats, which were standard sized blocks used in construction during the reign of Amenhotep IV, were most likely brought from Karnak, and were possibly used to complete the upper sections of the temple at the end of the Ptolemaic period, or even as late as the Roman Period. Decorations are mostly attributed to Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Ptolemy XII, though the most recent reliefs are dated to the Roman Period during the reign of Antonius Pius.

The Temple of Senusret I at Tod

The Middle Kingdom temple complex was mostly dedicated to the cult of the important Egyptian god, Montu, who has a number of other temples in this region dedicated to him. The surviving monuments today are of New Kingdom and later date. They include the partially preserved barque shrine of Montu built by Tuthmosis III and restored by Amenhotep II, Seti I, Amenmesse, and Ramesses III and IV. It stands before the chambers built during the Ptolemaic period. Only the front wall of Senusret I's structure remains, though it has good examples of later usurpation and reworking.

A Roman kiosk was located near the Ptolemaic temple. North of the two Ptolemaic halls there was a lake dug out, either while or shortly after the halls were built. To the south, another kom indicates different stages of urban growth, and not of some other temple.






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