The Temple of Amada is the oldest surviving monument on Lake Nasser and also one of the most delightful. It is situated in one of the most dramatically beautiful parts of Nubia.
Although the exterior of the temple is very plain, the interior contains game of the finest relief carving to be seen in any of the Nubian monuments. It was built by the kings Tuthmosis III, Amenophis II, and Tuthmosis IV of the 18th Dynasty, and restoration and timber decoration were carried out by the kings of the 19th Dynasty.
During the reign of Akhenaton, with his monotheistic cult of the Aton, the name of Amon was erased throughout the temple; it was later restored under Seti I.
In the early Christian period the temple was convened into a church, a mud-brick dome was built on the roof, and the brightly colored relief carvings were covered with a layer of plaster. Fortunately this was beneficial to the reliefs in the long run, as the plaster protected both the reliefs and the colors.
The Temple of Amada contains two important historical inscriptions:
1. The first is in the sanctuary of the temple and describes the completion and dedication of the temple by Amenophis II concluding with an account of a military campaign against the Asiatic in the second year of that king’s reign, in which he dealt particularly ruthlessly with seven important prisoners-of war.
2. The other inscription, on the left of the entrance doorway, records the suppression of a Libyan-backed rebellion in Nubia in Year 4 of Merenptah, the successor of Ramesses II.
During the Nubian Rescue Campaign, the Temple of Amada was moved by a team of French engineers! Met the forepart of the temple was dismantled, the rear section was jacked up onto flatcars and gradually moved backward on rail track for 2.6 kilometers and it took just 3 months to move it.
The temple was dedicated to the gods Amon-Re and Rehorakhty. At the entrance of the temple is a small pylon gateway, with a stone doorway flanked by side wings of sun-dried mud brick. When the temple was moved to its new location, the two wings were partially reconstructed to give an indication of their original appearance!
The construction of the temple, from sandstone blocks quarried in the vicinity, was begun by Tuthmosis III and completed by his son Amenophis II. At the time, the entrance through the pylon led into an open court enclosed by mud-brick wall and the temple proper was fronted by a portico of four proto-Doric columns.
Later, Tuthmosis IV converted the open court into a roofed pillared ball by erecting twelve square pillars in three rows.
There is an inscription describes Tuthmosis IV as “beloved of Senusert III”, the 12th Dynasty pharaoh who was regarded as a god in Nubian monuments of the New Kingdom for his conquest of Nubia.
The crude carvings of camels on the cornice of the temple facade are not contemporary with the paranoiac decoration, but are graffiti that were probably made by travelers or Bedouin in the early Middle Ages, when the building was no longer used as a church and was partly filled with sand.
Beyond the portico, the inner part of the temple consists of a vestibule and the sanctuary, which is flanked by a side chamber and small cult chamber on each side.
In the sanctuary the side walls show the respective kings in complementary scenes with several deities; while the rear wall is entirely taken up by the inscription from Year 3 of Amenophis II surmounted by a scene of the same king in a boat offering wine to Rehorakhty and Amon-Re. The inscription refers to the king’s campaigns in Syria and his ruthless treatment of the bodies of seven Syrian chieftains, whom he had clubbed to death. The bodies were brought back to Egypt hanging at the prow of the king’s own ship; six of them were displayed on the walls of Thebes, and the seventh was taken south to Napata in Upper Nubia. The new king wished; as he goes on to say that he was as capable a ruler as his eminent predecessor.