Goddess’ Temple, known as Temple of the Winged Lions
“The Goddess’ Temple” in The Cats of Rekem, known today as the Temple of the Winged Lions, was originally excavated by Philip C. Hammond in the late 20th C, but when he shut down his excavation, the site remained exposed, eroding, and only partially documented. In recent years the Temple of Winged Lions Cultural Resource Management has been working with amazing dedication to preserve the temple’s ruins and continue excavation–with the cooperation and hands-on assistance of local communities. The archaeological map below, drawn by Chrysanthos Kanellopoulos (TWLCRM site archaeologist/artist) is the most recent available drawing of the temple ruins. No clear identification has been determined for plaza at the top of the picture, or whether it was part of the temple or a separate structure.
The plan above is altered based on my own imagination. I have imagined the rooms behind the temple as priestesses’ quarters, and the columned room beside the upper stairs as a triclinium, or sacred dining area. The small shrine and festival pool at the base of the main stairs by the Wadi Musa I created as part of the stage set for the Lamentations of Isis.
The plans above are my imagined floor plans of the different levels of the temple. I have pictured the 2nd and 3rd levels rather like balconies around the open area rising above the altar (the temple of Dushara has a similar plan, see below). Based on vaults revealed in temple excavations, I have imagined 2 subterranean levels, the lowest being used for temple rites and water storage. Nabataean temples often had large rock-hewn cisterns beneath them both for ritual and practical purposes, although as far as I know, there is no reason to suspect that there was one here.
Dushara’s Temple, known as the Qasr al-Bint
The Great Audience Hall, known as the Great Temple
This is my amplification of Chrysanthos Kanellopoulos’ original drawing, shown as best I can imagine it, as the area might have been at 30 CE. The pool and garden areas follow his plans almost exactly, although without what was apparently a later addition of a stairway access to the the pool from the Ez-Zantur houses on the hillside above. The exact nature of the main building is still not settled. For many years it was thought to have been a large temple, but the discovery of a later theater in the inner chamber has led many scholars to identify it as an audience hall or royal palace.
With the discovery by the North-eastern Petra Project (NEPP) of what appears to be a royal palace precinct on the slope in front of the “royal tombs,” this building seems less likely to be a royal palace. I have identified it as the king’s great audience hall, with royal apartments imagined at the rear. In my fantasy, these apartments might have functioned as a temporary palace while the buildings discovered by NEPP were being built. They were used so in A Cat Out of Egypt.
The royal palace, based on preliminary excavations by the NEPP
In the photo below (taken by S. G. Schmid of NEPP), the area outlined in white is the proposed area of royal residences and other government buildings.
There is much work yet to be done on the ruins discovered there, and no positive identifications have yet been made of the different structures. I chose one structure because of its relative size and decided to call it the palace. The drawing below shows the ruin as drawn by the NEPP team.
Below are my own plans of Structure 2, imagined as the palace, with garden level, main and second floor. I admit that I took some liberty with the archaeological plan.