Do we know what has happened to all the "missing pieces"?
We don't, unfortunately. The parts of the temple structure, now missing, came off at some point prior to modern documentation. Early reports indicate that local villagers utilized the stone's large flatness as a stepping stone over an irrigation channel.
The model to the right reconstructs what scholars think the temple gateway may have looked like. It's certainly a rare work, as not many model temples exist. It may have originally be constructed as part of a foundation deposit or to be a representation of a temple at another location.
What is this?
You're looking at a modern reconstruction, of an Ancient Egyptian model gateway of a temple! Do you see a similar slab of stone next to it?
That's the original, ancient model! It's a slab of quartzite that has been decorated and carved with sockets to emulate the layout of a full-scale temple gateway. The reliefs around the stone tell us that the model was dedicated by the pharaoh Seti I to three sun deities of Heliopolis: Kheperi, Re-Horakhty, and Atum.
Was this an actual place?
Based on the inscription this is more of symbol for a temple gateway than a recreation of a real location. In religious settings, the ancient Egyptians believed that a model could stand in for a real thing. This may have been a stand-in for the king Seti I building a temple to the sun.
Do you know how the old Egyptians used to get these shapes on the stone?
Chisels and sanding! They made the outlines of the shapes and hieroglyphs with chisels and then smoothed the edges and created the rounded volumes with abrasives the way we use sandpaper today.
Sunk relief like this, as you may have noticed, is very easy to see by the light and shadow created by the stone. It is also an easier way to carve, compared to raised relief, because the sculptor doesn't have to remove all of the stone in the negative space.
Woah - that's awesome. Thank you!
Tell me more about the "Modern Reconstruction of a New Kingdom Model of a Temple Gateway".
This reconstruction, made in 1966 from plaster, is based on the base of a model of a temple gateway on viewnext to it. The reconstruction was designed based on the inscriptions on the stone votive and on known examples of New Kingdom temples.
The original base is carved from quartzite, and was dedicated to three sun deities, Kheperi, Re-Horakhty, and Atum, all associated with the city of Heliopolis. It was dedicated to these deities by the Pharaoh Seti I.
When it was complete, the votive model was made of materials like limestone, bronze, and greywacke; bronze and greywacke would not have been used in the construction of a lifesize temple. The original purpose of the votive model, beyond being dedicated to the three sun gods mentioned above, is unknown. It may have been made to be placed in a temple or to buried as a votive.
From these two objects, you can get a good idea of how a typical entrance to a New Kingdom temple might look.
That said, it is not known whether the exact temple modeled in the votive model was ever actually constructed.
Ok thanks! That was very helpful
These symbols occur a lot together. What do they mean?
Great observation and a great photo! The one on the left is called an ankh which means life in the ancient Egyptian language. The sign on the right is "di" which means give. Together, they mean "given life" which is a popular part of many texts especially addressing the king.