The mortuary temple of Hatshepsut (Egyptian: Ḏsr-ḏsrw meaning “Holy of Holies”) is a mortuary temple built during the reign of Pharaoh Hatshepsut of the Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt.Located opposite the city of Luxor, it is considered to be a masterpiece of ancient architecture.[c] Its three massive terraces rise above the desert floor and into the cliffs of Deir el-Bahari. Her tomb, KV20, lies inside the same massif capped by El Qurn, a pyramid for her mortuary complex. At the edge of the desert, 1 km (0.62 mi) east, connected to the complex by a causeway lies the accompanying valley temple. Across the river Nile, the whole structure points towards the monumental Eighth Pylon, Hatshepsut’s most recognizable addition to the Temple of Karnak and the site from which the procession of the Beautiful Festival of the Valley departed. The temple’s twin functions are identified by its axes: its main east-west axis served to receive the barque of Amun-Re at the climax of the festival, while its north-south axis represented the life cycle of the pharaoh from coronation to rebirth.

Construction of the terraced temple took place between Hatshepsut’s seventh and twentieth regnal year, during which building plans were repeatedly modified. In its design it was heavily influenced by the Temple of Mentuhotep II of the Eleventh Dynasty built six centuries earlier.[d] In the arrangement of its chambers and sanctuaries, though, the temple is wholly unique. The main axis, normally reserved for the mortuary complex, is occupied instead by the sanctuary of the barque of Amun-Re, with the mortuary cult being displaced south to form the auxiliary axis with the solar cult complex to the north. Separated from the main sanctuary are shrines to Hathor and Anubis which lie on the middle terrace. The porticoes that front the terrace here host the most notable reliefs of the temple. Those of the expedition to the Land of Punt and of the divine birth of Hatshepsut, the backbone of her case to rightfully occupy the throne as a member of the royal family and as godly progeny. Below, the lowest terrace leads to the causeway and out to the valley temple.

The state of the temple has suffered over time. Two decades after Hatshepsut’s death, under the direction of Thutmose III, references to her rule were erased, usurped or obliterated. The campaign was intense but brief, quelled after two years when Amenhotep II was enthroned. The reasons behind the proscription remain a mystery. A personal grudge appears unlikely as Thutmose III had waited twenty years to act. Perhaps the concept of a female king was anathema to ancient Egyptian society or a dynastic dispute between the Ahmosid and Thutmosid lineages needed resolving. In the Amarna Period the temple was incurred upon again when Akhenaten ordered the images of Egyptian gods, particularly those of Amun, to be erased. These damages were repaired subsequently under Tutankhamun, Horemheb and Ramesses II. An earthquake in the Third Intermediate Period caused further harm. During the Ptolemaic period the sanctuary of Amun was restructured and a new portico built at its entrance. A Coptic monastery of Saint Phoibammon was built between the 6th and 8th centuries AD and images of Christ were painted over original reliefs. The latest graffito left is dated to c. 1223.

The temple resurfaces in the records of the modern era in 1737 with Richard Pococke, a British traveller, who visited the site. Several visitations followed, though serious excavation was not conducted until the 1850s and 60s under Auguste Mariette. The temple was fully excavated between 1893 and 1906 during an expedition of the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) directed by Édouard Naville. Further efforts were carried out by Herbert E. Winlock and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MMA) from 1911 to 1936, and by Émile Baraize and the Egyptian Antiquities Service (now the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA)) from 1925 to 1952. Since 1961, the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology (PCMA) has carried out extensive consolidation and restoration works throughout the temple.