Travel to Egypt

Day 7 (2) Karnak

Egypt


 

Karnak: The name of Karnak, borrowed from the neighboring village (el-Karnak), is used to describe a vast conglomerate of temples, chapels and other buildings in ruins belonging to different periods and they occupy an area of approximately 1.5 x 0.8 km. Constitute what is called in ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut, "The most select of places", The main site in which they loved the triad of Thebes with the god Amun of leader, and home for the same reason a number of deities "guests". There is no other place in Egypt that produce a more overwhelming and lasting impression that this seeming chaos of walls, obelisks, columns, statues, steles and decorated blocks. After the pharaohs of Thebes and the god Amun became predominant at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, when the capital of Egypt was firmly established in Thebes, in Karnak temples were erected, were enlarged, turned to throw, and there were additions and restorations for over two thousand years. The temple of Amun was the most important ideological sacred and economically throughout Egypt.

The complex can be divided into three groups properly, which are geographically defined by the remnants of brick walls that frame the precincts of the temple. The biggest and most important in the central hall, the Temple of Amun itself. And it is also the best preserved. The northern sector belongs to Montu, the local god original of Thebes, while that of Mut is to the south and linking to the site of Amun through an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes. An avenue, lined with sphinxes, linked Karnak with the temple of Luxor, and some canals connected the temples of Montu and Amun with the Nile.

Karnak - Avenue of sphinxes
Karnak - Avenue of sphinxes

The Site of Amon: The central sector, in the form of trapeze, contains the great Temple of Amun, built on two axes (east-west and north-south), several smaller temples, some chapels and a sacred lake. East of campus stood a temple of Amen-Hotep IV (Ajen-Aton) now completely destroyed, of enormous proportions, and two other structures under Ptolemaic era, also disappeared. The remains of some of the oldest buildings of Karnak, dating from the time Senuosret I, were discovered still in situ in the eastern part of the great temple, in the named central courtyard, after the pylon VI.

The provision of the great temple can be described as a series of pylons from different eras, with courtyards and rooms between them leading to the main sanctuary. The oldest are the pillars of different IV and V were built by Thutmosis I; from them is enlarged the temple, built in the west and south. The pilon I was preceded by a spring (probably rebuilt in its present form during the XXV Dynasty) and by an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes with, protective of the pharaoh, most of which bears the name of High Priest of Amun, Pinudjem I of the XXI Dynasty. South of the avenue are many smaller structures that include a boat chapel of Psammuthis and Hakoris, and parapets of the dynasties XXV and XXVI with texts that refer to the ceremony filled jars of the triad tebana.

Karnak - Obelisk of Hatschepsut
Karnak - Obelisk of Hatschepsut

The date of the pylon itself is not entirely safe, although it is likely that it comes from the XXX dynasty. The atrium contains a triple chapel of Sethy I, consisting of three adjoining chapels dedicated to Amun, Mut and Jonsu. At the center of the atrium there are remains of a flag with the unusual structure of Tajarqa and that remaining lifted a column. A small temple of Ramses III is oriented to the atrium from the south side.

The pilon II, a work likely to Hor-em-heb, which used much previous blocks for its construction, is preceded by a colossal statues of Ramses II, including one (on the north side) that it represents the princess Ben´anta. After the pylon is the hypostyle room, which is the most impressive of all the sacred complex, whose roof-now-disappeared were held by 134 columns in the form of papyrus, of which 12 in the central corridor are older and have different kinds of column tops. The decoration in relief of the hypostyle hall is the work of Sethy I and Ramesses II. The exterior walls describe some of these military campaigns of the pharaohs in Palestine and Syria, including the battle of Qadesh where Ramses II fought.

The pilon III was lifted by Amen-Hotep III, but his front porch was decorated by Sethy I and Ramesses II. Many blocks of earlier buildings were used in this pylon, which consists of a chapel with the festival for Senusret I (the "white chapel" now rebuilt north of the hypostyle hall), chapels of Amen-Hotep I and II, Hatshepsut (the "red chapel", so named for its building materials in red quartzite) and Thutmosis IV, and a porch with pilasters of the same pharaoh . The four obelisks that stood behind the pylon were erected by Thutmosis I and Thutmosis III to mark the entry of the original temple, only an obelisk of Thutmosis I still stands.

Karnak - Statue os Ramses
Karnak - Statue of Ramses

The pilon VI and the courtyard preceding it were built by Thutmosis III. Then follows a lobby with two magnificent pillars of granite and the emblems of Upper and Lower Egypt, who remain erected. The chapel boat (shrine) dates from Philip Arrhideo and stands next to a chapel erected by Previous Thutmosis III.

Behind the courtyard is the festive temple of Thutmosis III. One of the rooms of the temple is known as the "botanical garden" for his depictions of plants, birds and exotic animals.

Later they added another four pylons along the new line, which extended the great Temple of Amun in the southern direction. The courtyard of the north pylon VII is known as "sealing courtyard": it was there where earlier this century was found a warehouse with thousands of statues which originally stood in the temple. It was also found in the previous courtyard remains of buildings, as pillars of Senuosret I and several chapels of Amen-Hotep I. The pylons VII and VIII were built by Thutmosis III, and in the courtyard between them is the pier.

The pylons IX and X are due to Hor-em-heb. Many "talatat", or blocks of buildings of Amen-Hotep IV (Ajen-Aton), mostly before they were transported to El-Amarna, were reused in these pylons. In the courtyard stands between both there is a festival temple for Amen-Hotep II.

Karnak - Colonnade between the first and second pilon
Karnak - Colonnade between the first and second pilon

Near the northwest corner of the sacred lake of the temple there is a giant statue of the sacred beetle, which dates back to Amen-Hotep III, a symbol and god of the dawn. According to the Egyptians if you give three laps around it, you will have luck.

The temple of the goddess hippo Opet, immediately to the previous, was mainly due to Ptolemy VIII Evergetes II. Several post sovereigns, one of them Augustus, completed the decoration. There is a symbolic "crypt of Osiris" below the shrine and on the back of the temple.

Within the precincts of Amon there are about twenty other small chapels and temples, including a temple of Ptah erected by Thutmosis III, Shabaka, the Ptolemies and Tiberio (north of the great temple and next to the wall of the compound), and a chapel of Osiris Heqadjet "sovereign of the time", of Osorkon IV and Shebitju (northeast of the large temple and near the wall of the enclosure).

Karnak - Columns of the third pilon
Karnak - Columns of the third pilon

The site of Montu: The hall square of the northern part is the smallest of the three. It contains the main temple of Montu, several smaller structures (especially the temples of Jepri and Maat) and a sacred lake. In 1970, was discovered outside of the eastern wall the compound of a primitive Montu temple, built by Thutmosis I. The Temple of Montu is preceded by a wharf and an avenue of sphinxes with human heads that leads to the temple from the north. The Propylaea, known as Bab-el-Abd, was built by Ptolemy III Evergetes I and IV Filopátor, while the temple was lifted by Amen-Hotep III, but the subsequent pharaohs, and especially Tajarqa, introduced some modifications to the original level.

Karnak - Hypostyle hall
Karnak - Hypostyle hall

The site of Mut: The southern sector contains the Mut temple surrounded by a lake on a fourth-growing, and some subsidiary structures, especially the temple of Jonsu whose origins date back to the XVIII dynasty and a temple of Ramses III. The temple of Mut was built by Amen-Hotep III, but here the Propylaea of the wall is Ptolemaic (Ptolemy II Filadelfo and Ptolemy III Evergetes I), with subsequent additions to the temple of Tajarqa and Nectanebo between others. Amen-Hotep III brought to the temple in hundreds of black granite statues representing the goddess Sjmet lioness. Some of them may still be at Karnak.


 

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