Seti I was the son of the pharaoh Ramses I
(19th Dynasty), a general who became third in a line of non-royal Pharaohs. Ramses only ruled
for about 2 years, and had no time to plan and build a mortuary temple of his own but his son
Seti was an enthusiastic builder and completed temples in both Upper and Lower Egypt,
including the magnificent temple to Osiris at Abydos.
Seti was one of the great warrior pharaohs of Egypt, and
spent much of his reign repairing the damage, that the neglect of foreign affairs in the
Amarna period under Akhenaten had done to Egypt's empire. Once he had subdued the rebellious
tribes - he recovered territory from the Syrians, Hittites and Libyans - he concentrated on
building his temples and his tomb and on restoring the temples of gods that had previously
fallen from favour.
This Temple of the Million Years, being siutated in Adb el
Gurna, is the most northerly of the West Bank temples. It is called Qasr el-Rubaiq by the
locals but in pharaonic times was originally known as "Seti I is Beneficent in the Domain of
Amun, which is on the West of Thebes". The temple, which is aligned to the East, was
intended to be a companion to the hypostyle hall which Seti had enlarged at Karnak and is
built to face it. It is believed that it became the seat of government for the West Bank
during and after Seti's reign.
The craftsmanship used by the builders of Seti's tomb and
temples is at the highest peak of Egyptian work. Unfortunately, he died before this temple
was completed and it was finished by his son Ramses II. The difference in craftsmanship
between father and son can easily be seen. Ramses was above all else concerned with the
quantity of his monuments - even taking other monuments as his own - and quality did not seem
to be so important to him.
Originally, the temple was built with two sets of pylons
enclosing two courtyards, leading to the fašade of the temple proper. The first pylon has
almost completely disappeared into the surrounding village, and the second has just the
barest outline as they were made of mud brick. The whole complex, including a small symbolic
palace for the soul of the dead king, a sacred lake and storehouses was surrounded by a mud
brick wall. Much of the damage to the temple was done during the Christian period, when a
church was built in the northern part of the site, and houses were built within its precincts.