The mortuary temple of Ay, known in ancient times as ‘Menmenu’, was built on a site later adjoined on its southern side by Rameses III’s temple at Medinet Habu. The temple site may formerly have belonged to Tutankhamun as two colossal statues of the young king were found there. These had been inscribed by Ay and then usurped by Horemheb. The inner parts of the temple, consisting of two small pillared halls with side chambers and three lateral sanctuaries, were built by Ay, but Horemheb re-used and added to these buildings. Ay’s successor built three pylons and courts before the original structure and included a small palace in the third court. A peristyle court and broad columned hall were added to Ay’s temple, and the whole building was then usurped by Horemheb. The vast columned hall is at present being reconstructed.
Location of the Temple of Ay and Horemheb
The Temple of Ay and Horemheb is north and on the right of Rameses III Temple at Habu. It is quite a large site with many stone blocks and column bases that once must have been buildings. Some of the stones have hieroglyphs on them.
Ay and Horemheb sometimes seems to have acted as sort of a scheming pair at the end of the 18th Dynasty after the rule of the young Tutankhamun. Ay ruled first, taking Tutankhamun’s throne and his wife for legitimacy, and he was followed to the throne by Horemheb. As befits the pair, Ay built his mortuary temple at the southern end of the line of royal cult temples that fronted the west Theban hills, but soon after his death, Horemheb took it over. Ay built the inner part of the temple, and Horemheb the outer. When finished, Horemheb had Ay’s name erased from the inner section, thereby usurping the whole of the temple as his own.
The temple has three pylons leading into courts, with a palace located in the third court. Before reaching the sanctuary, there was a large, peristyle court and a series of pillared halls and chambers. The structure lies on sloping ground that rises at the rear, and the temple core was built of sandstone while the surrounding or outer areas were made of mudbrick. Most of the structure is symmetrical, except for the palace in the third court and a series of storage annexes to the left (southwest) of the inner temple section.