Karnak Temple – Temple of Amun in Luxor

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The Karnak Temple – The Temple of Amun

The religious center of al-Karnak is an extremely complex series of structures divided between three areas dedicated principally to the Theban Triad, Amun-Re, Mut, and Khonsu, but there are also other temples within the precincts.

The whole area was known as lput-Isut, ‘the most esteemed of Places’. То the North, with its own enclosure wall, is the Temple of Montu the war god, ‘Lord of Thebes’. Also inside its own enclosure and connected to the main temple with an avenue of sphinxes, the Temple of Mut the consort of Amun lies some distance to the South. Besides the Great Temple of Amun, the central enclosure (550m by 520m] contains a temple of Khonsu, the third member of the Triad of Thebes, just within the enclosure wall at the SW. There is also a Temple of Ramesses III, a small way-station of Seti II, and numerous other structures. Even Akhenaten built here; the site of his temple has recently been discovered just outside the main temples beyond the E wall. There is a Temple to Ptah and Sekhmet on the N side of the area; a Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III to the E of the original buildings; a small Temple of Amenhotep II between Pylons 9 and 10 and Chapel of Tuthmosis III between Pylons 7 and 8, as well as temples to Osiris and Apet. Although the main axis of the Great Temple is from W to E, it also has an N-S extension.’A large number of blocks of earlier temples, chapels, and other structures have been recovered from the ruins and from within the pylons, including a chapel of Senusert I, an alabaster chapel of Amenhotep I, and the talatat (stone blocks) of Akhenaten’s destroyed temples.

Central Enclosure.

The original temple lay further to the Е of the present building and may even have dated to the Old Kingdom. Some 12 Dyn. columns of Senusert I were still standing when Wilkinson examined the site in the early 19C between the sanctuaries and the Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III. Now all that can be seen are the granite sills of the early doorways and remains of an alabaster pedestal of Senusert I.

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in LuxorKarnak Temple consists in essence of the same elements as are usually found in a state temple: a pylon. the colonnaded court, hypostyle hall, vestibule, shrine, and storerooms, but the fundamental plan has been overlaid by extra pylons, added courtyards and colonnades and even subsidiary shrines, the whole time the temple moving further W, presumably following the retreating bank of the Nile. Structures were added by each king who came to the throne so that this extended building period has ensured that the unity present in the mortuary temples built at a single time for a single purpose is missing.

To follow the chronological order of the Great Temple of Amun would necessitate beginning at the E. However, today, to make sense of the temple it is necessary to enter at the W end.

First is an Avenue of Ram-headed Sphinxes probably erected by Amenhotep III or Horem- heb but later usurped first by Ramesses II and again by Pinudjem. This leads to the incomplete First Pylon (130m wide). Recent work by the Centre Franco-Egyptian, created in 1967 to coordinate the work at Karnak and preserve the art and architecture of the site, has established that there are several Ptolemaic and Roman levels in front of the pylon. It has been revealed that there are slipways for raising the sacred barks from the canal in front of the temple and a garden planted in front of the sphinxes watered by channels. The exact date of the slipways has not yet been established, but they must be later than the 22 Dyn as some of the blocks used in their construction bear cartouches of Sheshonq.

The First Forecourt (103m by 84m) seems original to have been planned by the 22 Dyn. rulers, though never completed. On the left is the small Shrine of Seti II, really a way-station of the sacred barks with chapels to Amun. Mut and Khonsu. It was cleared by Legrain in 1912, previously only the top courses being visible. The structure is of quartzite sandstone and originally stood in isolation in front of the temple. The facade shows Seti making offerings to different deities and above is a frieze of cartouches and crowned uraei alternating with red and white crowns. Surmounting this is the winged disk of Horus with the inscription ‘He of Bhdt, Lord of the Sky, Great God bright of plumage’. Interior scenes show the barks of the gods. The walls are unnecessarily thick, with the hieroglyphics and inscriptions poorly executed. The Set animal used for the king’s name has in many cases been erased. The foundations of the building are of stone from the quarries of the Gabal Ahmar near Cairo. Excavations were done for the building of the first pylon close by caused the collapse of the W wall of this structure, damaging the shrine of Mut, but it was subsequently replaced.

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
Karnak. Sphinxes in the First Court

In the center of the court are ten columns of Taharqa, part of a kiosk some 26.5m high, of which only one is standing. On the S side of the courtyard is the Temple of Ramesses III (see below), beside which is the Bubastite Portal of the 22 Dyn. whose kings originally planned the whole courtyard. It has scenes of Sheshonq’s victories over the Palestinians while to the N of the gate are scenes celebrating Prince Osorkon’s work as High Priest of Amun. The Second Pylon was called ‘illuminating Thebes’ (a copy of the third pylon, see below), and the vestibule was built by Horemheb. То the left is a colossal standing statue of Ramesses II (15m) with his daughter Benta anta in front of his legs. It was usurped by Pinudjem in the 21 Dyn.’The interior was filled with blocks from a temple of Akhenaten. The small Temple of Ramesses III on the S side of the courtyard is dedicated to Arnun in the two forms in which he appears most frequently, ‘Amun-Re. king of the gods and Lord of Kamak’ and ‘Amun-Re-Kamutef, he who is before his harim’. It is not certain when it was built but it must have been between years 11—22 of the king’s reign. When it was built it stood isolated in front of the pylon.

The name of the temple was ‘The House of Ramesses Ruler of Heliopolis in the House of Amun’. The dedication to Amun reads in part: ‘I made for you…in your city of Waset, in front of your forecourt to the Lord of the Gods, being the temple of Ramesses in the Estate of Amun, to remain as long as the heavens bear the sun. I built it sheathed it with sandstone, bringing great doors of fine gold; and I filled its treasuries with offerings that my hands had brought’. It is known as the N Building oí Ramesses III, as he built several others at Karnak. It was cleared of debris by Legrain in 1896—97 and published by Henri Chevier in 1933. Like the other temples, it shows signs of damage by floodwater and salt erosion and has been extensively restored It consists like other state temples of a pylon (10m wide), flanked each side by a colossus of the king, a court, decorated square pillars with Osiride figures of the king, leading to a portico with four columns, a hypostyle hall, and a series of sanctuaries dedicated to the Triad of Thebes. The deeply incised relief work of the figures and inscriptions in this temple still shows traces of color, but the workmanship is inferior to that of Madinat Habu built by the same king. Many of the hieroglyphs are blurred by the use of plaster which has run. Some of the reliefs have been altered, sometimes more than once; others have been copied from earlier ones in the main Amun temple.

In the second pylon the Vestibule of Horemheb, finished by Ramesses II and cased by Ptolemies III and IX leads into the immense Hypostyle Hall (102m by 53m). Erected by Seti I with additional decoration by Ramesses II, it is called ‘the Temple of Seti is glorious in the domain of Amun’. In total the area covered is 600sq. meter  (large enough to contain both St, Peter’s Church in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London).

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
Karnak Hypostyle Hall

The hall contains 134 columns, the 12 flanking the processional way higher (23m) to accommodate clerestory windows, some of the sandstone grids of which are still in position. Sandstone slabs that roofed the hall have been dislodged by earthquakes. The remaining 122 columns have papyrus bud capitals and are set on each side in nine rows of seven columns each. Thus they provide a forest of columns

intentionally representing, it seems, a papyrus marsh, a return to the original venue of the early temples. It has been suggested by Nims that the center colonnade was originally intended to have formed a separate long narrow hall as shown in certain tomb paintings (cf. the Tomb-Chapel of Neferhotep).

There is quite a lot of color still left on the upper part of the columns and on the roof slabs still in position. The N side of the hall was decorated by Seti I in delicate raised relief, and the S side by Ramesses II, whose artists abandoned the raised style for the less time-consuming sunk relief. The columns have been inscribed by several kings, starting at the top with the vertical cartouches of Setí I and at the base by Ramesses II. Ramesses IV and VI also inscribed them, the order being the same in each case. The central part of the column is taken up with offering scenes, the king before the deities of the temple, and those of Egypt in general.

Amun-Re appears most frequently, and among his epithets are ‘Lord of Thebes’, ‘Lord of the Two Lands’, ‘Master of the Thrones of the Two Lands. He is accompanied by his consort Mut, shown wearing either the white crown or the vulture headdress of the queens. She is called ‘Lady of Ishru’, or Lady of the Two Lands. Amunet, his older consort, called ‘the Lady of the South’, is also represented wearing either a White crown or a crown and sun disk. Khonsu-Neferhotep, the third member of the triad, is also shown. He appears as a young man wearing the side-lock of youth with a disk and crescent on his head.

On the inside wall of the second pylon, Seti is shown followed by Khonsu and led by Hathor to Amun-Re. Further N on the same wall are shown Ramesses I before eight divinities; Seti I kneeling before Seth and Nephthys, and Ramesses I before Horus and Hathor, Sobek and Wadjet. In a lower register Seti, I is shown with four bulls before Amun and Hathor; the king is also shown before Amun—Re-Kamutef, with Nubians climbing poles. On the S side of the N wall are some very delicate scenes of Thoth writing Seti’s name on the sacred ished tree, while the king kneels before him. On the far side of the door, the king receives a scepter and offers vases to Amun-Rec. On the front of the third pylon, there are a further 37 scenes of Seti before the gods receiving serpent scepters from Mut, pouring libations on an altar, and making offerings in which Ramesses II joins him. The scenes outside on the N wall show Seti’s Syrian and Palestinian campaigns, including the capture of the city of Yenoam, the king driving in his chariot, offering prisoners to Arnun-Re, and returning from his campaigns across the canal that marks the border of Egypt. The N Gate of the Hall leads to the small Temple of Ptah (see below).

The S side of the Hypostyle Hall was largely decorated by Ramesses II. On the E face of the third pylon, the king is shown before Amun-Re and оп the lintels over the S Gate he is shown running to Amun-ReC and Mut, and again to Amun-Re and Khonsu. Just E of the door the king is shown in a boat with a goose on the prow before Amun-Rec. Other scenes show the divine barks carried by priests in procession, and the king adoring the Theban Triad. On the outside of the S wall of the hall are scenes from the battle of Kadesh and his Palestinian and Syrian wars. At the E end prisoners are shown before the Triad of Thebes, while scenes throughout show the capture of Palestinian cities [much damaged), Ramesses II attacking a fortress, and the king binding captives. Beside the gate, the king is slaying captives taken in the war.

(1—2) Ptolemy V and divinities. (3—4) Seti I led by Hathor to Amun and Mut, (5) Ramesses II before eight divinities. (6—7) Thoth writing the king’s name on a sacred tree; Seti I kneeling; sacred boats carried in procession. (8—9) 37 scenes of Seti I. (10—11) Seti l offering to gods. (12—13) Scenes of Ramesses II, crowned by Horns and Thoth, presented to Amun; running with a vase to Amun. Horus and Thoth binding the Southland and the Northland beneath the king. (14715) Ramesses before Amun—Re with sacred boat; the king running to Amun, (16—17) Boat of Amun being towed, blocks of Amenhotep III and Ay built into pylon. (18—19) Campaigns of Seti I in Asia, Syria, and Palestine including submission of Lebanese rulers capture of Yenoam; the king binding prisoners, march through Palestine, presentation of prisoners before Theban Triad, return to Egypt across a canal. (20—21) The king before Amun and Isis, the capture of Kadesh, campaigns against Libyans and Hittites. (22—23) Campaigns of Ramesses II, capture of Palestinian cities, the king attacking fortresses and binding captives, the king charging in chariot. (24) Door of Ramesses II, description and name. (25—26) The king fighting against a fort, charging enemy chariots. (27—28) The king and princes lead prisoners before Amun.

The Third Pylon was built by Amenhotep III. In the foundations were found several dismembered earlier shrines, some complete. They included a limestone Chapel of Serusert I. This was a way station where the boats of the gods could be rested during processions. Beautifully carved, this small chapel has square pillars and a stand on which the boats were laid. An alabaster Chapel of Amenhotep I is not of such high quality (both re-erected in an enclosure N of the forecourt called the Open Air Museum. ), parts of a quartzite shrine of Hatshepsut one block in Luxor Museum and sections of alabaster shrines of Amenhotep II and Tuthmosis IV. On the E face is a long text of Amenhotep, listing tribute while scenes show the sacred boats of the gods.

From the hypostyle hall, two other temples can be visited. NE against the enclosure wall is the Temple of Ptah (see below) and in the S corner of the enclosure is the Temple of Khonsu (see below).

Between the third and fourth pylons is a small court that originally contained four obelisks, but only one is now standing. The two bases nearest the pylon held obelisks of Tuthmosis III and the blocks are scattered around the court. Beyond these are the bases of the two obelisks of Tuthmosis I, of which the southernmost is still standing (23m high, 143 tons), embellished with later cartouches of Ramesses IV and VI. The blocks of the other obelisk are lying on the ground. They were erected by the architect lnneni and would have stood at the entry of the temple as completed by Tuthmosis I. When Amen- Hotep added the third pylon it boxed the obelisks in the narrow court. At the W end of the court is the Gateway of Ramesses IX to the court and pylons on the N—S axis (see below). To the S lies the Sacred Lake (see below).

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
Right Obelisks of Tuthmosis I – Left Obelisk of Hatshepsut

Third Pylon. (29—30) Remains of 71 columns of text of Amenhotep III. (31—32) Sacred boats and text of Ramesses II, Amenhotep III offering. Fourth Pylon. (33) Text of Seti II restoring pylon. (34) Restoration text of Tuthmosis IV. (35) Restoration text of Shabaka. (36) Tuthmosis IV before Amun. text of Shabaka.

Although the Fourth Pylon was constructed by Tuthmosis I, of sandstone faced with limestone, the restoration texts on the outer face are of Tuthmosis IV, Seti II, Shabaka, and Ptolemy VIII. It stands in front of a narrow Transverse Hall built by Tuthmosis I or III, now with 14 papyrus columns although probably originally with 16. Hatshepsut had two obelisks erected, one on each side of the passageway; only the N one is still standing (27.5m high, 320 tons). The blocks of the S obelisks are lying in the court with the pyramidion cap removed near to the lake. These two obelisks are depicted in transport from Elephantine to Thebes on the lower terrace at Deir El-Bahri . Including the quarrying and river transport, the process took seven months. They are dedicated to Amun, Presider over Karnak, and Lord of Thebes. Another inscription quashes any insolent inquiry from the future as to their purpose thus: ‘O ye people who shall see this monument in after years and who shall speak of that which I have made, beware lest you say ‘I know not why it was done’, I did it because I wished to make them as a gift for my father Amun and to gild them with electrum’. Tuthmosis III’s disapproval of Hatshepsut here took the form of encasing the obelisks as far as the ceiling of the hall. To a great extent, this preserved the lower parts, but the upper sections were defaced by Akhenaten.

(37) Colonnade of Tuthmosis I, Osiride pillars on W side. (38) Upper register, the figure of Tuthmosis III, and list of foreign countries. (39) lambs; dedication text of Tuthmosis III. (40) Remains of a Chapel of Amenhotep II; the king and file of Asiatic prisoners.

Forming the E wall of the transverse hall is the limestone Fifth Pylon with the name ‘Amun great of prestige’, also attributed to Tuthmosis I. On the W face are pictures of the king with Asiatic prisoners. On the same side are the remains of a small Chapel of Amenhotep II. Beyond the pylon is a SmaII Transverse Hall attributed to Tuthmosis III, divided by an enclosure, the two sections known as the North and South Pillared Courts. The 20 columns are somewhat smaller than those in the previous halls.

Beyond is the sandstone Sixth Pylon of Tuthmosis III, called ‘Amun secure of prestige’. Although much damaged, it contains interesting historical texts including a geographical list of the king’s conquests. On the W face is a list of peoples conquered at the battle of Megiddo.

(41) Dedication text of Tuthmosis III after Battle of Megiddo. (42) Names of people conquered at Megiddo. (43) Names of peoples of the South. The area beyond the pylon is rather confused, but as after the pylon there is a vestibule flanked by two courts, In the center of the Vestibule, are two granite pillars showing Tuthmosis III embraced by Amun, the N with the symbols of Lower Egypt, the S with those of Upper Egypt. On the N side are two colossi of Amun and Amunet with the likeness of Tutankhamun. Against the W wall is a seated statue of Amenhotep II. Beginning on the N side and continuing around the walls are the annals of Tuthmosis III. The two flanking courts have the remains of columns indicating their original colonnaded aspect. In the N court a large number of fragmentary statues were found, some of the Middle Kingdom (now in the EM). N and S are several chapels, now ruined, built by Amenhotep I, usurped by Tuthmosis III. Directly beyond the vestibule is the Granite Sanctuary of Philip Arrhidaeus, the passage around which continues the texts of Tuthmosis III from the vestibule. The king is shown offering to Amun—Re and accounts are given of the years 23 and 25 of his reign. The exterior of the rose-granite sanctuary has scenes of Philip before Amun-Re, standards, and the king offering and running before Amun. Three registers show the king with deities and boats. The long narrow interior consists of two rooms. In the E room are texts giving an account of the building by Philip. It replaced an earlier structure, probably of Tuthmosis III.

(44) Tuthmosis III (years 28—29) and statistical table. (45—46) Annals of Tuthmosis III. (47) Dedication text of Tuthmosis III, On the N side a dark granite doorway opens on a series of rooms built by Hatshepsut but altered considerably by Tuthmosis III with her cartouches replaced by his. The Room of Hatshepsut (extra fee for opening this room) was walled up by Tuthmosis III which protected the decoration, and the colours have remained very bright. Hatshepsut is seen purified by Thoth and Horus. S of the sanctuary is another complex of rooms (from the steps in the northernmost of which a good photograph of the boats may be obtained). E of this complex lie the scattered alabaster and limestone blocks, the remains of the original 12 Dyn. temple which stood here, built by Senusert I.

(48) Dedication text of Tuthmosis III. (49) Tuthmosis III running towards Hathor with Ihy. (50) False door, dedication text of Tuthmosis III, (51) Tuthmosis dedicates treasure to Amun. (52) Section of Tuthmosis’ annals, year 23. (53) 11 Scenes of Philip with divinities and boats. (54) The king before Amun-Re. (55) Hatshepsut purified by Horus and Thoth.

On the E side of this ruined area stands the Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III, unlike any other Egyptian building. Like so much 18 Dyn. work it was erected transversely across the axis of the temple. Called ‘Men—Khepheru-Reº, blessed through his monuments, it is 44m long and 17m wide. There is a central nave and at a lower level two side aisles. It was later used as a Christian church. Entry is from the SW

through a vestibule into the Pillared Hall where the strange plan becomes apparent. The center columns are of a unique form and are considered to represent the tent-poles used in the campaign tent of Tuthmosis. They are higher than the square pillars in the side aisles and allowed for the use of clerestory windows. In the small room in the SW corner of the hall were found the stele known as the Kamak Table of Kings (now in the Louvre, No. 13481). On the N side are the remains of two uninscribed statues and a kneeling figure of Sety II. Behind these are several narrow rooms dedicated to the Triad of Thebes. To the SE is a series of rooms usurped by the Ptolemies,’ with one decorated by Alexander the Great. Just N of these is the Botanical Room’ with reliefs of alien flora and fauna said to have been brought back by Tuthmosis from his foreign campaigns in Asia. Beyond the NE wall of the hall is a room usurped by Ramesses IV. He is seen on the walls while on the floor is an altar of Ramesses III.

Dedication texts and titles of the king on the architrave pillars: the king wearing white, red and double crowns before Amun and Horus. (56—57) Dedication texts. (58) List of Syrian cities. (59) Three registers of seated divinities. (60) Two registers of heb-sed. (61) Top register, the king and Inmutef, Seth and Horus teaching the king to shoot. (62—63) The king offering malachite, incense etc. to Amun-Rec. (64—65) Speeches of Amun and Amunet. (66-67) The king running with vases followed by Horus of Edfu and running with oar and rudder. (68—69) The king dedicating treasure to Amun. (70) Dedication text. (71) The king with Atum and Montu. (72) The king between Seth and Nephthys.

(73) The king in carrying a chair with hawk-headed souls of Pe. (74—75) The king offers incense and collar to Amun. (76) The king before Sobek-Rec. (77) The king receives palm branches from Seth (destroyed). (78) Portrait head of Alexander before Amun. (79) Alexander before eight divinities. (80) Alexan- der with ka before Amun. (81—82) Plants and animals. (83—84) Plants and animals. (85) Birds.

(86) Ramesses III usurping texts of Tuthmosis III. (87) Tuthmosis III, two of scenes of building the temple.

A girdle wall built by Tuthmosis III surrounds the area and beyond the E wall is the Eastern Sanctuary of Aman-Rec, built by Hatshep- sut. Cut from a single block of alabaster, it is flanked by two lateral rooms and entered by a vestibule. On either side are the pedestals of two obelisks raised by Hatshepsut, of which nothing else remains.

Many small temples and shrines lie to the N of the great temple (see below) and it is better to visit them from this point before continuing with the N-S axis of the Great Temple.

On the S side of the small court between the third and fourth pylons (see above) is the entry to the transverse complex of the Great Temple. It is entered through the doorway constructed by Ramesses IX which leads into the First Court built by Tuthmosis III. This court is interesting in spite of its ruined state, as a cache containing thousands of royal and private statues was found here in 1902—09. The W wall was decorated by Ramesses II, the most important text being the Hittite Treaty of year 21. On the E wall is a long inscription of Merneptah, some 80 lines, listing his victories. S of this is a copy of the ‘Israel Stele’ (original, from the destroyed temple of Merneptah on West Bank, now in the EM), which is the only Egyptian text to mention Israel. In front of the pylon at the 5 end of the court stand several statues, four colossi of Tuthmosis III and to the W three smaller figures, two 13 Dyn. kings and Amenhotep II at the end. Against the pylon, face is a stele of Horemheb. Remains of several buildings were found in the court, the earliest dating to Senusert I, and a complex of Amenhotep I.

(88) Four registers, battle of Ramesses II with Syrians. (89) Hittite treaty of year 21 of Ramesses II. (90) Ramesses storming Ascalon. (91) Victories of Memeptah. (92) Israel Stele of Merneptah. (93) Southern peoples. (94) Northern peoples. (95) Text of Tuthmosis III.

The Seventh Pylon (much ruined), built by Tuthmosis III, is decorated with the usual victory scenes with the names of conquered districts and the king killing the enemies before Amun. The doorway of granite capped with an alabaster lintel has been destroyed and the pylon has to be passed to the E. Immediately inside the Second Court are two Colossi, to the W Ramesses III and to the E Tuthmosis III (upper sections destroyed). Beyond is the base of an obelisk of Tuthmosis III; that corresponding on the W was removed by the Byzantines and still stands in Istanbul. Off this court to the Е opens a small granite Chapel of Tuthmosis III (very ruined). The interior texts mention the king’s jubilee and there is an alabaster shrine with a dedication text. (Tuthmosis’s statue and Sphinx from here are in the EM). On the external E wall of the court are scenes of Ramesses IX. The Eighth Pylon was raised by Hatshepsut but the cartouches have been altered. The name of Amun was erased by Akhenaten and replaced by Seti I who added his own cartouches. Seti and Tuthmosis are seen on the reliefs instead of Hatshepsut. The clear traces of burning on this pylon probably derive from one of the sieges that destroyed Thebes. The doorway shows Tuthmosis II (originally Hatshepsut) and Tuthmosis III. To the E of the last two courts is the sacred lake (see below).

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor

(96) Ramesses IX and his texts. (97) Dedication text of Tuthmosis. (98) Ramesses Dí before the gods. (99) Seti] before Amun followed by 15 divinities. (100) Upper register, boat of Amun and Tuthmosis I. (101—102) Door jambs originally Hatshepsut, changed to Tuthmosis II and III. (103) Boat of Amun-ReC carried by priests. (104) Ramesses III crowned by Atum and Re.

In the Third court, the S wall of the pylon shows Amenhotep II killing prisoners. Several colossi in various states of disrepair stand in front of the pylon; one to the E and four to the W. The two flanking the doorway are Tuthmosis II, the second to the W is Amenhotep I (most complete) and the third is Amenhotep II. All were restored by Tuthmosis III. There is little interest in the rest of the courtyard. Horemheb built the Ninth Pylon (much ruined) and its interest lies in the fact that he reused many of the talatat (stone blocks) from the five early temples of Akhenaten, deliberately destroyed by Horemheb. Several low stores on the edge of the court have been filled with blocks from here.

(105) Amenhotep Il smiling enemies before Amun. (106) Horemheb; cartouches of Ramesses IV. (107) Horemheb before sacred boat. Immediately inside the Fourth Court are the bases of two colossi of Ramesses II. Straddling the E wall of the court is the much-ruined Jubilee Temple of Amenhotep II, entered through a pillared portico extending the whole length of the building. Beyond this is the ZO-pillared hall with a small square-pillared hall leading off each side, that to the N with a small vestibule. The low reliefs here are of particularly fine workmanship. On the outer walls, probably constructed by Horemheb, are blocks of Tutankhamun and Amenhotep III.

The walls of the court have reliefs of Horemheb with on the W wall the Battle of Kadesh. In front of the next pylon flanking the entrance are two headless colossi of Horemheb usurped by Ramesses II. On the face of the Tenth Pylon are scenes of the victorious king and against the W side the Horemheb Stele giving an account of his reforms. A granite gateway leads through the pylon which was also constructed by Horemheb. Incorporated within it are more talatat of Akhenaten. In the thickness, Horemheb is seen before the gods, including Amun-Reº. Directly outside the pylon, which was the S face of the temple, are the remains of two colossi; that on the W of Amenhotep III and that on the E Amenhotep II.

(108) Marriage stele of Ramesses II. (109) Stele of Ramesses II with the king killing prisoners, battle of Kadesh. (110) Counting hands and soldiers. (111) Horemheb with rulers of Punt. (112) Horemheb with captives offers to Amun. (113) Horemheb killing northern prisoners. (114) Horemheb killing southern prisoners.


From the S face of this pylon an Avenue of Sphinxes with rams’ heads, erected by Horemheb, leads southwards to the Luxor temple.

Reached from the Hypostyle Hall of the main temple and situated against the N wall of the great enclosure in a picturesque setting of palm trees is the small Temple of Ptah. This is an attractive little building of two main periods, 18 Dyn. and Ptolemaic. It was built by Tuthmosis III on the site of an earlier mud-brick building.

The foundation inscription of Tuthmosis dedicates it thus: ‘I made it as a monument to my father Ptah, the Beautiful of Face, Lord of Life of the Two Lands, presiding over the Great Seat, erecting for him the House of Ptah anew of white sandstone, doors of new cedar of the best of the terraces It is more beautiful than it was before when His Majesty found it built of mud-brick with wooden columns. My majesty commands that there be built a temple of Ptah, South of his Wall, in Thebes, where he [may rest] on the day of ‘Bringíng in the God’ and at all his feasts during the year when he proceeds to the treasury of the South’. Tuthmosis also re-equipped the temple with everything requisite for the god’s services and rites. He inlaid his throne with electrum, and all the vessels used in the temple were of gold, silver, and of ‘every fine and costly stone’. The clothing was of fine white linen, and ointments and unguents were provided.

On Tuthmosis’ return from his first campaign, he endowed the temple richly with oxen, geese, bread, incense, wine, and fruit. Entry is from the W through a series of six gates. Gate 1 is the work of three Ptolemies—Ptolemy VII, Philometer I; Ptolemy XI, Alexander I and Ptolemy XIII, Neos Dionysos. The outer face shows Ptolemy VII with a scribe’s tablet in front of Ptah and Ma’at and before Khonsu and Mut. At the base with the Nile, fertility gods are Ptolemy XIII. Gate 2 was built by Shabaka (26 Dyn). The upper scene at the entry shows the king with wine before Amun-Re, Mut, Ptah, Hathor and Ament. The inner face is very damaged. Gate 3, built by Ptolemy XIII Neos Dionysos. Gate 4, built by Shabaka and Tiberius. Just to the N of this gate are five stelae including those of Horemheb and Seti I. The stele of Tuthmosis III from here has been removed to the EM. Gate 5, built by Ptolemy III Euergetes I. Gate 6, probably built by Tuthmosis III and restored later by Ramesses III (20 Dyn.), Ptolemy III Euergetes I, and Ptolemy IV Philopator. The outer face has the original restoration texts of Tuthmosis III above the scenes on the jambs.

This gate leads into a small Vestibule. At the E side are two columns of Tuthmosis III, but there are strong traces of Ptolemaic restoration work. Above the door, Ptolemy IV offers a sphinx to Ptah. The Tuthmoside dedication text is on the N side just by the N door. Horemheb also restored the temple and his inscription (only part legible) is on the S side of the vestibule. In this court are three offering tables, the central one of which is of Tuthmosis III, and that to the S is of Amenemhet I, presumably reused from the earlier mud-brick sanctuary. Beyond the vestibule is Three Sanctuan’es, one for each of the triad of Thebes. The central sanctuary is for Ptah (A), with Sekhmet to the left (C) and Nefertum to the right (B). Reliefs in Ptah’s chapel show Tuthmosis offering to Amun and Ptah and in the middle of the room is a headless statue of Ptah. In the S chapel is a very effective though broken statue of Sekhmet in lion form. There are many local stories about this figure.

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
The temple of ptah

(1) Ptolemy VII with the scribal tablet before Ptah and Ma’at. (2) Ptolemy before Khonsu and Mut. (3) Ptolemy XIII before gods, including Nefertum, (4) Cartouches of Ptolemy XI. (5) The king with wine before Amun. (6) Cartouches of Ptolemy. (7) Restoration texts of Tuthmosis III. (8) Ptolemy IV offers an image of Ma’at to the Theban Triad. (9) Dedication text of Tuthmosis III. (10) Tuthmosis III followed by ka figure. (11) Text of year 1 of Horemheb. Just W of the temple a gate in the great enclosure wall leads to the N enclosure and the Temple of Montu (see below).

On the S side of the main temple, reached either from the Hypostyle Hall or the Gateway of Ramesses IX, is the Sacred Lake. It is 200m by 117m and fed by underground channels from the Nile and so follows the fluctuation in height of the river. Recently extensive repairs have been made to the fabric. A series of priests’ houses were discovered on the E side during the construction of the seating for the Sound and Light program. Steps lead down to the lake surface and at the S is a station where the sacred geese could enter. Attached to the lake is a Nilometer. In ancient times the lake was used for certain ceremonies and the sacred boats would sail on it. Memories of this lingered until 19C with local tales of golden boats with music playing seen on the lake.

From the s side of the Hypostyle Hall, a path leads through the dismantled blocks of the main temple to the SW corner of the enclosure where the Temple of Khonsu stands. It is 125m long and typical in construction. Most of it is the work of Ramesses III and IV, with additions by later kings. However, it was probably founded earlier as blocks of Amenhotep III have been excavated.

At the S the Propylon was erected by Ptolemy III. Beyond this, there was a double row of columns with rectangular pillars behind the sphinxes. Most of these have disappeared. The arcade joined the propylon to the Pylon which is almost complete. It is 17.2m high and 31.9m wide with four vertical grooves for flagstaffs. On the outer face are inscriptions of Pinudjem I (21 Dyn.) making offerings to Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. At the entry, Alexander is seen offering to Mut and Khonsu while the ceiling has a cartouche of Ptolemy II Philadelphus.

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
Temple of Khonsu

(1—2) Ptolemy adoring divinities. (3) The king with cows before Min. (4) Ptolemy offering to gods of the elements, and to Osiris, Isis, and Khonsu. (5) The king killing enemies before Osiris and Isis. (6) The king before his parents makes offerings. (7) Base, dedication text. (8) Pinudjem pouring libation before Amun-ReC and Khonsu. (9) Above, the king offers collar and pectoral to Amun—Rec and Mut. Below Queen Makere and Hentawi with sistra, (10) Architrave, Alexander before Amun and Khonsu.

On each side of the Forecourt, except the S, is a double row of columns. This is the work of Herihor (26 Dyn.) and on the E wall is a TEMPLE OF KHONSU 553 relief of the pylon of the temple with a text of this king. Other scenes show him before various deities. To the N the papyrus-bud columns are on a low platform and depict Herihor offering libations and flowers to Amun and Khonsu.

(11) Pinudjem offers flowers and ointment to Amun-Re and the Theban Triad. (12) Architrave, Ptolemy II before the gods. (13) Pinudjem before Khonsu. (14) The king before Khonsu and Montu and dedication text. (15) Text of Herihor. (16) Herihor before gods. (17) Third register, a scene showing temple pylon. (18) Herihor and two goddesses between Seth and Horus. (19) Herihor followed by Hathor before Theban Triad and Queen Ahmose Nefertari. (20) Herihor receives scepters from Hathor. (21) Herihor before Amun-Re’and Khonsu. (22) Herihor before Amun and Inmutef. (23) Stele of Herihor. (24) Nectenebo ll before Khonsu. (25) Architrave, cartouches of Nectanebo II. (26) Text of Pinudjem.

At the entry to the next hall are cartouches of Nectanebo II (30 Dyn.) but the architrave has texts of Herihor. The Hypostyle Hall extends across the width of the building and is divided by eight papyrus columns with dedication texts of Ramesses XI on the capitals. The columns at the sides are of bud form but those in the centre are open and also higher, thus forming a kind of nave. Most of the reliefs in this chamber are of the time of Ramesses XI and show Herihor before and after his accession. On the W side is a dedication text of Herihor. In the SE corner is a Ramesside altar.

(27) Architrave, titles of Herihor. (28) Ramesses presenting his name to Amun and Mut. (29) Ramesses purified by Thoth and Horus. (30) Architrave, cartouches of Tuthmosis III usurped by Ramesses XI. (31) Ramesses before the gods. (32) Sacred boats. (33) Columns with texts of Herihor and offerings to’ the gods, Ramesside altar. (34) Architrave, Moon adored by divinifies and Ptolemy X. The next doorway also has an inscription of Nectanebo 11. Beyond is the Sanctuary, where a statue of Khonsu was found beneath the floor (now in the EM). The red-granite shrine was—made for Amenhotep II but was usurped by Ramesses IV. In the corridor are scenes of the king before the Triad of Thebes. W of the Sanctuary are three side chambers and to the E another side chamber and the stairs to the roof (excellent View of Karnak). To the N is a room with four columns; although the doorway was provided by Ptolemy II, the rest is the work of Augustus Caesar. There is an interesting contrast in this room between the decoration of the later Ramesside period and that of the Roman period. W are three rooms of Ramesses III and IV. In the rooms to the E, much of the original color is retained and one contains cartouches of Ramesses IV.

(35) Renewal text of Ptolemy VIII. (36) Ptolemy before Thoth. (37) Above the door, Ramesses IV between Horus and Seth. (38) Ramesses IV before divinities. (39)

Augustus before Amun and Ptah with an image of Ma’ati (40) Ramesses III before Amun and Mut. (41) Queen Tentapi with sistra before Khonsu. (42) Ramesses IV before lion-headed and ox-headed gods. (43) The other three walls show Ramesses III before divinities. (44) Cartouches of Nectanebo II.

Adjacent to the SE is the small, square Temple of Apet, the goddess traditionally said to be the mother of Osiris. It was constructed by Ptolemy II with additions by later Ptolemies and into the Roman period. It was never completed.

Entry is from the E through two ruined forecourts into a two-columned Portico, which although it has windows is very dim. At the entry to the Sanctuary are texts of Ptolemy II and Cleopatra II and III. On the Е wall are scenes of Ptolemy before divinities and a niche where he is shown with Apet. Beneath the sanctuary is a crypt dedicated to Osiris. Surrounding the sanctuary are nine dark chambers. The exterior was decorated by Augustus Caesar with dedications and offering scenes on the N and W walls.

Karnak Temple - Temple of Amun - Egyptian Temples in Luxor
Temple of Apet

(1) Doorway, Ptolemy Auletes texts, and cartouches. (2—3) Dedication text. (4) Ptolemy VII before Osiris. (5) Above the cornice, a procession of deities. (6) Ptolemy before gods. (7) Osiris on the couch. [B) Ptolemy with child Horus, (9) Ptolemy and Cleopatra II before goddesses. (10) Text of Ptolemy and Cleopatra II. (11) Text of Ptolemy and Cleopatra III. (12) Ptolemy before Apet. (13) Ptolemy and Apet standard. (14) Kneeling goddess with food.

Northern Enclosure.

Leaving the great Central Enclosure by the gate in the N wall near the Temple of Ptah (see above) almost immediately the visitor arrives at the wall of the N Enclosure. This is smaller (150m sq.) and contains several temples and chapels, the largest of which is the Temple of Montu. A visit here takes more time than the usual half-day afforded to Karnak.

The Temple of Montu, the war god, for an unknown reason is orientated N to S so that the visitor arrives at its rear. It is best to walk around to the front. It was built by Amenhotep III (18 Dyn.) whose cartouches appear in various rooms but was restored by Ramesses IV (20 Dyn.) and his cartouche can be seen at the entrance to the hypostyle hall. Uncovered in the foundations was the Stele of Tutankhamun (now in the EM) recording his restoration of the temples of Thebes. It had been usurped by Horemheb.

The temple consists of a Forecourt, with 20 columns ani screen walls and the bases of two obelisks of Amenhotep III. Beyond this, the Hypostyle Hall is more of a columned chamber with a double row of columns on the S side, in which a portico leads into the columned vestibule. Off this is a series of subsidiary chambers. The Sanctuary to the S is a long narrow room. In the NE area of the enclosure are the remains of the Sacred Lake.

To the W is the Temple of Amun, a small, square building raised by Nectanebo II (30 Dyn.). Against the SW wall of the enclosure are six small chapels, each with its own gate through the wall. The southernmost four are ruined but the other two are more complete. The second from the end is the Chapel oí Queen Amenortais (daughter of King Kashta, 25 Dyn.) where a statue of the queen was found (now in the EM). She also constructed the gates for the chapels in the wall. Northernmost is the Chapel of Nitocris (i.e. Shepenwept III, daughter of Psamtik I, 26 Dyn.).

Outside the enclosure to the NW are several ruined temples including two Temples of Osiris, one 18 Dyn. reconstructed by Taharqa (25 Dyn.) and the other 26 Dyn. Beyond the village to the E is another Chapel of Nitocn’s (26 Dyn.) and at a greater distance to the W are two Ptolemaic temples, one dedicated to Thoth.


Southern Enclosure. S of the central Great Enclosure along an Avenue of Sphinxes (350m) lies the Southern Enclosure, surrounded by a mud-brick wall (350m by 250m]. This contains another group of temples and a large lake. The main entry at the end of the avenue is in the S wall. It is the work of Ptolemies II and VII as is also the Propylon to the main building in the enclosure, the Temple of Mut. This temple, orientated N to S, is very ruined. It was partly cleared by the Misses Benson and Gom’ley in 1895—96 and recently reinvestigated by Brooklyn Museum. Amen— Hotep III founded the temple on the site of an earlier one which was probably the Middle Kingdom. Earlier 18 Dyn. the material was also found including statues of Senmut, Hatshepsut’s architect. It was restored by Ramesses II and III. An avenue of sphinxes joined the propylon to the Pylon built by Seti I, probably the remains of the original avenue. The pylon also has a bas-relief of Bes and Ptolemaic texts including a hymn to Mut.

In the Forecourt are two statues of Sekhmet, that on the W wall with an inscription of Pinudjem. Beyond this is a colonnaded Court, a smaller Hypostyle Hall, and an early shrine. N of the temple over- laying the great wall is a small shrine probably erected when the main temple was falling into ruins. From here steps lead down to the Sacred Lake. This has an unusual horseshoe shape and extends from the rear of the temple and along the flanks.

The temple of Mut

(1—4) Cartouches of Ptolemy II and seven nomes of Upper Egypt and six nomes of Lower Egypt, Ptolemy VII. (5) Bas-relief of Bes. (6—7) Ptolemaic texts including a hymn to Mut. (8) Inscriptions of Mentemhet.

At the NE corner of the enclosure is the smaller Temple of Amenhotep III, orientated W to E. It was restored by Ramesses II. Entry is through a Court, once with a colonnade. On the N side are circumcision scenes. There were 16 columns and a portico leading to a small Hypostyle Hall with two groups of eight columns and a central aisle. Beyond is a Vestibule, with four transverse columns, where a short flight of steps leads into the Second Vestibule or Hall of Offerings. This also has four columns but forms a square. Chapels lead off each side. The Sanctuary containing the altar does not open off the W as is usual but from the NE chapel. Only the bases of many of the walls remain. Thus only the feet of the figures can be seen but enough is visible to indicate that this was one of the temples built by Amenhotep III to demonstrate, with Amun as his father, his divine birth.

W of the Temple of Mut is the southern Temple of Ramesses III. Its full title is ‘Temple of Ramesses, Ruler in Heliopolis, on whom be Life, Health and Strength, Possessed of Joy in Karnak’. Much of the building has been despoiled and the stone removed. The thick Pylon was once flanked by two statues of Ramesses III, but only that on the W remains. Beyond this is a peristyle First Court with rectangular pillars originally faced with statues of Ramesses as in his temple at Karnak. A ramp leads to a transverse columned Vestibule which opens into a small Hypostyle Hall with four columns. Side chambers surround this hall, the two to the E are chapels. Behind a narrow transverse Hall of Offerings. At either end are side chambers and to the S the Sanctuary of Amun. On each side of the sanctuary is a chapel, for the other two members of the Theban Triad. Along the exterior W, wall are scenes of the wars of Ramesses against the Libyans and Sea Peoples.

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