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Gebel Barkal, Nubia

   The Temple B700 Virtual World  

page updated December 24, 2007
Developed in the Fall of 1995, the original virtual world of Temple B700 features many of the elements that make LEARNING SITES products unique:
Temple B700 reconstructed

Screen shot from one of the first virtual ancient worlds ever created for interactive research, having linked databases, and high-resolution textures.

  • Reconstructions in stunning detail.
  • Painstaking archaeological accuracy.
  • Interactive display panels providing access to text, image, and (in systems supporting sound) narration databases linked to objects throughout the virtual environment.
  • Hierarchically nested datasets for browsing, researching, and learning about Gebel Barkal and Temple B700.
Originally, this virtual world was available from LEARNING SITES, for museums, exhibits, research, or coursework. Gebel Barkal: Temple B700 came in two versions (the world could have been viewed with or without HMDs):
    1) For Windows NT, 64Mbytes of RAM (128Mb recommended), 150Mb of available hard drive space, OpenGL graphics accelerator, and Sense8 Corporation's, WorldToolKit (version 2.1). 

    2) For Silicon Graphics Incorporated Onyx workstations with a Reality Engine 2, IRIX operating system version 5.3 or higher, and 150Mb of available hard drive space, and Sense8 Corporation's, WorldToolKit (version 2.1).

We wish to thank Intergraph Corp., Silicon Graphics Corp., and Sense8 Corp. for their assistance and participation during the development of this virtual world.  Archaeological reconstruction by Timothy Kendall and Donald H. Sanders; model by Richard Morse, Edward Hill, and Eben Gay; virtual reality programming by Eben Gay and Oren Levine.
Temple B700 remains today

View over the existing remains of B700 (photo courtesy of Timothy Kendall).

Temple B700 at Gebel Barkal was constructed about 650-640 BCE by two Kushite kings about whom little is known: Atlanersa, who died when the temple was only partly finished, and Senkamanisken, who completed the work.  These kings were the two immediate successors of the last Kushite pharaohs of Egypt, and thus the temple is clearly Egyptian in its architectural and decorative styles.  B700 is quite small, only about 20 X 33m, comprising a porch, pylon, two main inner rooms, and a small space added to the rear possibly in the first century BCE.
The temple was first excavated between February and April 1916 by George Reisner and his Boston team and again between March and April 1987 by the new Boston team led by Timothy Kendall.  In 1989 Kendall and his staff resurveyed the monument.
The first 3D computer model of the temple was created by Bill Riseman in 1990.  At the right is a rendering of the pylon of B700 from that model (click on the image to enlarge).
Image of the first computer model of the Temple B700 pylon (image size 21k)

General view of our reconstruction of B700 and (inset) a 19th-century traveler's drawing of the plyon remains.

(click on the image to enlarge)

Although little remains today of the wall carvings and inscriptions, the surviving evidence, excavation notes, and 19th-century drawings of the temple's pylon have enabled us to reconstruct the images and much of the building's narrative program.
Temple B700 - porch reconstruction

B700 pylon porch (digitally reconstructed).

(click the image to enlarge)

LEARNING SITES worked closely with Egyptologists to ensure the integrity of the resulting visualization of the Temple B700.  Under the leadership of Timothy Kendall, analyses of the hieroglyphics have provided clues to the function of this small religious structure.  However, whether the building was originally planned as temple to deceased kings or whether its function was established only following the premature death of Atlanersa is uncertain.
(compiled in 1997 for Learning Sites by Timothy Kendall, then of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

1820, December.  George Waddington and Barnard Hanbury.

1821, February.  Frédéric Cailliaud.

1821, February.  George B. English.

1821, October.  M. Linant de Bellefonds and Alessandro Ricci.

1822, April.  Frédéric Cailliaud.

1828.  Lord Prudhoe and Major Orlando Felix.

1828.  James Burton.

1829.  Edouard Rüppell.

1833.  George A. Hoskins.

1835, September.  John Lowell and Charles Gleyre.

1844, May.  Karl Richard Lepsius.

1848 and 1849.  John Gardiner Wilkinson.

1897.  E. A. Wallis Budge.

1906, December.  James H. Breasted.

1916, January to April.  George A. Reisner.

1986-present.  Timothy Kendall.

(compiled by Timothy Kendall, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

Budge, E. A. Wallis.   The Egyptian Sudan: Its History and Monuments. London, 1907, especially Vol. I, pp.139-43.

Burton, James.  Description of details of Temple B700 in a notebook now in the British Library, London (Burton Ms. 25651, 7 [top], 68 [top]). 

Cailliaud, Frédéric. Voyage à Meroé, au fleuve blanc.... Paris, 1826, especially Vol. II, pp.41-43 and Vol. III, pp.216-18.

English, George BA Narrative of the Expedition to Dongola and Sennar.... Paris, 1826.

Griffith, F. Ll. "Scenes from a Destroyed Temple at Napata," Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 15:26-28, 1929. (Lord Prudhoe Ms. Atlas (A) folio 37 (a), Alnwick Castle).

Hoskins, George ATravels in Ethiopia.... London, 1835, especially pp.140-41, pls.23, 25 (background).

Kendall, Timothy. The Gebel Barkal Temples 1989-90: A Progress Report on the Work of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Sudan Mission. Geneva: 7th International Conference for Nubian Studies, 3-8 Sept., 1990.

    "Gebel Barkal Temples, Karima, Sudan. 1987 Season, Museum of Fine Arts Boston." Institute of Art and Archaeology Newsletter. Memphis, TN: Memphis State University, 1988, pp.10-18. 

    "Gebel Barkal Epigraphic Survey: 1987. Summary of Second Season's Activities of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts Sudan Mission, " Nubian Letters 9:7-10, 1987.

Lepsius, Karl Richard.  Letters from Egypt, Ethiopia, and the Peninsula of Sinai. London, 1853, especially pp.18, 220, 222, and frontispiece.
    Denkmaeler aus Aegypten und Aethiopien. Berlin, 1849-59, especially Abt. I, Bl. 126.
Linant de Bellefonds, MJournal d'un voyage à Meroé dans les anneés 1821 et 1822. M. Shinnie, ed. Sudan Antiquities Service Occasional Papers #4. Khartoum, 1958, especially p.49 (Bankes Ms #xv A 26, 27, and xv C 8).

Lowell, John.  Description of Temple B700 in the Lowell Diaries, now stored in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Journal 6, part 2).

Reisner, George. "Inscribed Monuments from Gebel Barkal." Zeitschrift für Ägyptische Sprache und Altertumskunde 6:76-100. 1931.

    "The Barkal Temples in 1916 [Part II]." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 5:99-112. 1918.
Rüppell, EdouardReisen in Nubien, Kordofan, und dem peträischen Arabien. Frankfurt am Main, 1829.

Waddington, G. and Barnard Hanbury. Journal of a Visit to Some Parts of Ethiopia. London, 1822, especially pp.166-67.

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Reference Information

page added February 27, 1997
page updated December 24, 2007
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