Excavation in Egypt at Tell el-Balamun

Subsidiary temples of Psamtik I and Nectanebo I

South-east corner of the foundation of the temple of Psamtik I

The temple of Psamtik I was a small monument built on a sand-bed foundation measuring 53 x 34.55m. It was situated immediately adjacent to the citadel building at the south corner of the Twenty-sixth Dynasty temple enclosure.

The sand of the foundation was mostly intact. covered by only a thin layer of surface mud, and the extent of the temple was recovered by following the edges of the sand. The monument was of traditional form with a rectangular naos and a front pylon.

From the corners of the foundation under the pylon, and from one corner at the rear of the building, foundation deposits were retrieved at a high level View across the foundation of the pylon from the south-east in the sand. They contained model stone and copper vessels, plaques of various materials inscribed with the names of Psamtik I and models of objects connected with foundation-rituals.

In the axis of the pylon a fragment of limestone wall-relief was found with part of a Sed-festival scene, showing the figure of a meret-goddess.

The subsidiary temple of Nectanebo I is situated to the right of the axis of the main temple of Amun, with its own axis oriented at right-angles to the major one.

This is the classic position of a subsidiary temple or bark-station and no doubt his temple was intended to serve this function. Foundation deposit plaques, etc. of Psamtik I

All the stone structure of the building had been destroyed and the stone removed for re-use, leaving only a few blocks of masonry, lying out of their original positions. This quarrying seems to have occurred in the late fifth century AD, to judge from the pottery found in the disturbed fill of the foundation.

The building had been constructed on a large sand-filled foundation pit covering the entire area of the monument, some 53 x 25m excluding the entrance portico.

From the sand in the reThin gold plaques inscribed for Psamtik I ar corners of the foundation came parts of two foundation deposits, containing plaques inscribed with the names of Nectanebo I and objects of ritual significance, such as model quernstones.

The temple had consisted of a rectangular rear portion with a wider pronaos at the front. In front of the latter was a portico, probably consisting columns linked by  Foundation deposit at the rear east end of the pylon screen-walls, which extended for nearly 22m from the face of the pronaos. This portico had been built on individual sand-filled foundation trenches which were traced by excavation to determine the arrangement of the walls.

In 2001 some traces of additional sand-foundation trenches were found extending to the west in front of the portico, in an area damaged by an unrecorded excavation of the nineteenth century. These may have belonged to a Ptolemaic addition to the temple, but so little was preserved that the existence of two walls flanking the temple axis was all that could be confirmed.


Images (from top):

  • South-east corner of the foundation of temple of Psamtik I
  • View across the foundation of the pylon from the south east
  • Foundation deposit plaques, and other objects, of Psamtik I
  • Thin gold plaques inscribed for Psamtik I
  • Foundation deposit at the rear east end of the pylon