The Temples of Abydos — A Site Dedicated to the Great Ennead and Restoration of Order
While Seti I was one of the least known New Kingdom pharaohs of ancient Egypt, this sacred site constructed under his orders at Abydos is likely one of the most famous still standing due to its impressive beauty and religious symbolism and energy. A large part of the attraction of Abydos’ temples is that they are dedicated to the nine deities of the Great Ennead in Egyptian culture who were worshiped at Heliopolis: Atum, Shu, Tefnut, Geb, Nut, Osiris, Isis, Seth, and Nephthys.
These sacred temples rest adjacent and above one of the most energetic power centers on the planet. Amid the great Hall of the Osirion, many spiritual travelers call upon the powers of Isis for guidance. An important character in his own right, Seti’s dedication of his temple to Osiris and other important Egyptian deities symbolized a return to the traditional way of life, thus allowing himself to be seen as a restorer of order, particularly after the social disruption resulting from the religious reforms geared towards monotheism under the rule of Akhenaten.
Sacred Spaces to Behold at Abydos
While Seti I began construction of the temple, its completion was overseen by his son Ramesses the Great. Many reliefs depict Ramesses worshipping Osiris and others show him slaying Asiatics. Seti’s personal temple was dedicated Osiris and boasts a chapel to honor the different forms of Osiris. This space features a massive pylon, two hypostyle halls, two open courts, seven shrines and numerous chambers flank the southern area of the temple. While this temple is arguably one of the most striking in existence today, it is the carving of the Abydos King List that found there that legitimized Seti’s rule and those of many of his predecessors.
How Abydos Altered Egyptian History Forever
The Abydos King List features 76 names of ancient Egyptian rulers that Seti decided to acknowledge as legitimate pharaohs. Interestingly, some rulers who were considered ‘illegitimate’ such as Akhenaten and Hatshepsut do not appear on the list. Aligned in three rows of 38 cartouches, the King List’s first two rows list Seti’s predecessors while the third simply repeats his throne name and praenomen.
Ultimately, as a part of a strategic construction project on behalf of Seti I to resolve chaos between neighboring countries and to further confirm his family’s royal kinship and lineage, the site of Abydos achieved both goals for centuries to come. In fact, many historians claim that the Abydos list and site itself has helped solve a number of mysteries concerning Egypt’s storied past and royal kingships.