Perspective View of Esna North, from Description de l'Egypte


Perspective View of Esna North, from Description de l'Egypte  [ edit ]

This plate from the monumental publication of the Napoleonic expedition, Description de l’Égypte, represents one of the possible templates for Austin’s New Haven Cemetery gate, a small satellite temple north of the Esna (approximately fifty-five kilometers south of Luxor on the east bank of the Nile). In this perspective view, the artists Prosper Jollois and Édouard Devilliers have restored the facade of the temple, whose partially ruined state was also included within the publication (Antiquités vol. 1, pl. 84). Constructed and decorated during the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods, the temple of Esna North stood for almost two thousand years, but had vanished by 1830. Thus, the depictions of the temple in the Napoleonic publication and descriptions in other early traveler’s accounts are the only surviving record of this ancient Egyptian monument.

The temple of Esna North is dedicated to Khnum, a ram-headed creator deity, who is also the cult focus of the larger temple at Esna proper, which remains well-preserved to this day. Although the decoration of the temple at Esna North can no longer be studied, descriptions of eighteenth and nineteenth century visitors indicate that the reliefs and inscriptions, as well as the monument’s architectural form, mimicked that of the larger temple of Esna. The existence of “twinned” temples at Esna, one being a small copy of a larger monument finds interesting parallels elsewhere in Egypt; for example, Ramesses III built a model of his west bank mortuary temple (now Medinet Habu) within the temple of Amun at Karnak on the east bank. While later architects who designed Egyptian Revival monuments had no way of knowing this, the construction of small-scale replicas of temples existed already in pharaonic Egypt.


Private Collection

C. C. Gillispie and M. Dewachter, The Monuments of Egypt, The Napoleonic Edition (Old Saybrook, 1987), A Vol. I, pl. 88.

J. Hallof, 2011, “The Temple of Esna North,” in W. Wendrich (ed.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles.

J.-M. Humbert, in J.-M. Humbert, M. Pantazzi, and C. Ziegler, Egyptomania: Egypt in Western Art, 1730-1930 (Ottawa, 1994), pp. 260-261 (no. 148).