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The Karnak
Karnak
Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak (/ˈkɑːr.næk/[1], from Arabic Ka-Ranak meaning "fortified village"), comprises a vast mix of decayed temples, chapels, pylons, and other buildings in Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I
Senusret I
in the Middle Kingdom and continued into the Ptolemaic period, although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom. The area around Karnak
Karnak
was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut ("The Most Selected of Places") and the main place of worship of the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad
Theban Triad
with the god Amun
Amun
as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes. The Karnak
Karnak
complex gives its name to the nearby, and partly surrounded, modern village of El-Karnak, 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) north of Luxor.

Contents

1 Overview 2 History

2.1 European knowledge of Karnak

3 Main parts

3.1 Precinct of Amun-Re 3.2 Precinct of Mut 3.3 Precinct of Montu 3.4 Temple of Amenhotep IV
Temple of Amenhotep IV
(deliberately dismantled)

4 In popular culture 5 Gallery 6 See also 7 References 8 Further reading 9 External links

Overview[edit]

Great hall, Karnak. Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection

The complex is a vast open site and includes the Karnak
Karnak
Open Air Museum. It is believed to be the second[citation needed] most visited historical site in Egypt; only the Giza Pyramids near Cairo receive more visits. It consists of four main parts, of which only the largest is currently open to the general public. The term Karnak
Karnak
often is understood as being the Precinct of Amun-Ra only, because this is the only part most visitors see. The three other parts, the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Montu, and the dismantled Temple of Amenhotep IV, are closed to the public. There also are a few smaller temples and sanctuaries connecting the Precinct of Mut, the Precinct of Amun-Re, and the Luxor
Luxor
Temple. The Precinct of Mut
Precinct of Mut
is very ancient, being dedicated to an Earth and creation deity, but not yet restored. The original temple was destroyed and partially restored by Hatshepsut, although another pharaoh built around it in order to change the focus or orientation of the sacred area. Many portions of it may have been carried away for use in other buildings. The key difference between Karnak
Karnak
and most of the other temples and sites in Egypt
Egypt
is the length of time over which it was developed and used. Construction of temples started in the Middle Kingdom and continued through to Ptolemaic times. Approximately thirty pharaohs contributed to the buildings, enabling it to reach a size, complexity, and diversity not seen elsewhere. Few of the individual features of Karnak
Karnak
are unique, but the size and number of features are overwhelming. The deities represented range from some of the earliest worshiped to those worshiped much later in the history of the Ancient Egyptian culture. Although destroyed, it also contained an early temple built by Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), the pharaoh who later would celebrate a near monotheistic religion he established that prompted him to move his court and religious center away from Thebes. It also contains evidence of adaptations, using buildings of the Ancient Egyptians by later cultures for their own religious purposes. One famous aspect of Karnak
Karnak
is the Hypostyle Hall in the Precinct of Amun-Re, a hall area of 50,000 sq ft (5,000 m2) with 134 massive columns arranged in 16 rows. 122 of these columns are 10 meters tall, and the other 12 are 21 meters tall with a diameter of over three meters. The architraves on top of these columns are estimated to weigh 70 tons. These architraves may have been lifted to these heights using levers. This would be an extremely time-consuming process and also would require great balance to get to such great heights. A common alternative theory regarding how they were moved is that large ramps were constructed of sand, mud, brick or stone and that the stones were then towed up the ramps. If stone had been used for the ramps, they would have been able to use much less material. The top of the ramps presumably would have employed either wooden tracks or cobblestones for towing the megaliths. There is an unfinished pillar in an out-of-the-way location that indicates how it would have been finished. Final carving was executed after the drums were put in place so that it was not damaged while being placed.[2][3] Several experiments moving megaliths with ancient technology were made at other locations – some of them are listed here. In 2009 UCLA
UCLA
launched a website dedicated to virtual reality digital reconstructions of the Karnak
Karnak
complex and other resources.[4] The sun god's shrine has light focused upon it during the winter solstice.[5] History[edit] Main article: History of the Karnak
Karnak
Temple complex

Egypt
Egypt
- Gate of Pylon, Karnak. Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection

The history of the Karnak
Karnak
complex is largely the history of Thebes and its changing role in the culture. Religious centers varied by region and with the establishment of the current capital of the unified culture that changed several times. The city of Thebes does not appear to have been of great significance before the Eleventh Dynasty and previous temple building here would have been relatively small, with shrines being dedicated to the early deities of Thebes, the Earth goddess Mut
Mut
and Montu. Early building was destroyed by invaders. The earliest known artifact found in the area of the temple is a small, eight-sided column from the Eleventh Dynasty, which mentions Amun-Re. Amun
Amun
(sometimes called Amen) was long the local tutelary deity of Thebes. He was identified with the Ram and the Goose. The Egyptian meaning of Amun
Amun
is, "hidden" or, the "hidden god".[6] Major construction work in the Precinct of Amun-Re
Precinct of Amun-Re
took place during the Eighteenth dynasty when Thebes became the capital of the unified Ancient Egypt. Thutmose I erected an enclosure wall connecting the Fourth and Fifth pylons, which comprise the earliest part of the temple still standing in situ. Construction of the Hypostyle Hall also may have begun during the eighteenth dynasty, although most new building was undertaken under Seti I and Ramesses II. Almost every pharaoh of that dynasty has added something to the temple site. Merneptah
Merneptah
commemorated his victories over the Sea Peoples
Sea Peoples
on the walls of the Cachette Court, the start of the processional route to the Luxor
Luxor
Temple. Hatshepsut
Hatshepsut
had monuments constructed and also restored the original Precinct of Mut, the ancient great goddess of Egypt, that had been ravaged by the foreign rulers during the Hyksos
Hyksos
occupation. She had twin obelisks, at the time the tallest in the world, erected at the entrance to the temple. One still stands, as the tallest surviving ancient obelisk on Earth; the other has broken in two and toppled. Another of her projects at the site, Karnak's Red Chapel, or Chapelle Rouge, was intended as a barque shrine and originally, may have stood between her two obelisks. She later ordered the construction of two more obelisks to celebrate her sixteenth year as pharaoh; one of the obelisks broke during construction, and thus, a third was constructed to replace it. The broken obelisk was left at its quarrying site in Aswan, where it still remains. Known as The Unfinished Obelisk, it demonstrates how obelisks were quarried.[7] The last major change to Precinct of Amun-Re's layout was the addition of the first pylon and the massive enclosure walls that surround the whole Precinct, both constructed by Nectanebo I. In 323 AD, Constantine the Great recognised the Christian religion, and in 356 Constantius II
Constantius II
ordered the closing of pagan temples throughout the empire. Karnak
Karnak
was by this time mostly abandoned, and Christian
Christian
churches were founded among the ruins, the most famous example of this is the reuse of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III's central hall, where painted decorations of saints and Coptic inscriptions can still be seen. European knowledge of Karnak[edit] Thebes' exact placement was unknown in medieval Europe, though both Herodotus
Herodotus
and Strabo
Strabo
give the exact location of Thebes and how long up the Nile
Nile
one must travel to reach it. Maps of Egypt, based on the 2nd century Claudius Ptolemaeus' mammoth work Geographia, had been circling in Europe since the late 14th century, all of them showing Thebes' (Diospolis) location. Despite this, several European authors of the 15th and 16th century who visited only Lower Egypt
Egypt
and published their travel accounts, such as Joos van Ghistele or André Thévet, put Thebes in or close to Memphis.

Hieroglyphs from the great obelisk of Karnak, transcribed by Ippolito Rosellini in 1828

The Karnak
Karnak
temple complex is first described by an unknown Venetian in 1589, although his account relates no name for the complex. This account, housed in the Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Firenze, is the first known European mention, since ancient Greek and Roman writers, about a whole range of monuments in Upper Egypt
Egypt
and Nubia, including Karnak, Luxor
Luxor
temple, Colossi of Memnon, Esna, Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae, and others. Karnak
Karnak
("Carnac") as a village name, and name of the complex, is first attested in 1668, when two capuchin missionary brothers Protais and Charles François d'Orléans travelled though the area. Protais' writing about their travel was published by Melchisédech Thévenot (Relations de divers voyages curieux, 1670s–1696 editions) and Johann Michael Vansleb (The Present State of Egypt, 1678).

Photograph of the temple complex taken in 1914 - Cornell University Library

The first drawing of Karnak
Karnak
is found in Paul Lucas' travel account of 1704, (Voyage du Sieur paul Lucas au Levant). It is rather inaccurate, and can be quite confusing to modern eyes. Lucas travelled in Egypt during 1699–1703. The drawing shows a mixture of the Precinct of Amun-Re
Amun-Re
and the Precinct of Montu, based on a complex confined by the three huge Ptolemaic gateways of Ptolemy III Euergetes / Ptolemy IV Philopator, and the massive 113 m long, 43 m high and 15 m thick, first Pylon of the Precinct of Amun-Re. Karnak
Karnak
was visited and described in succession by Claude Sicard
Claude Sicard
and his travel companion Pierre Laurent Pincia (1718 and 1720–21), Granger (1731), Frederick Louis Norden
Frederick Louis Norden
(1737–38), Richard Pococke (1738), James Bruce (1769), Charles-Nicolas-Sigisbert Sonnini de Manoncourt (1777), William George Browne (1792–93), and finally by a number of scientists of the Napoleon expedition, including Vivant Denon, during 1798–1799. Claude-Étienne Savary describes the complex rather detailed in his work of 1785; especially in light that it is a fictional account of a pretended journey to Upper Egypt, composed out of information from other travellers. Savary did visit Lower Egypt
Egypt
in 1777–78, and published a work about that too. Main parts[edit] Precinct of Amun-Re[edit] Main article: Precinct of Amun-Re This is the largest of the precincts of the temple complex, and is dedicated to Amun-Re, the chief deity of the Theban Triad. There are several colossal statues including the figure of Pinedjem I which is 10.5 meters tall. The sandstone for this temple, including all the columns, was transported from Gebel Silsila 100 miles (161 km) south on the Nile
Nile
river.[8] It also has one of the largest obelisks, weighing 328 tonnes and standing 29 meters tall.[9][10]

A panoramic view of the great hypostyle hall in the Precinct of Amun Re

A panorama of a frieze in the Precinct of Amun
Amun
Re

Precinct of Mut[edit] Main article: Precinct of Mut

Map of Karnak, showing major temple complexes and sacred crescent lake of Mut

Located to the south of the newer Amen-Re complex, this precinct was dedicated to the mother goddess, Mut, who became identified as the wife of Amun-Re
Amun-Re
in the eighteenth dynasty Theban Triad. It has several smaller temples associated with it and has its own sacred lake, constructed in a crescent shape. This temple has been ravaged, many portions having been used in other structures. Following excavation and restoration works by the Johns Hopkins University team, lead by Betsy Bryan (see below) the Precinct of Mut
Precinct of Mut
has been opened to the public. Six hundred black granite statues were found in the courtyard to her temple. It may be the oldest portion of the site. In 2006 Betsy Bryan, an archaeologist with Johns Hopkins University, excavating at the temple of Mut, presented her findings about one festival that included apparent intentional overindulgence in alcohol. [11] Participation in the festival was great, including the priestesses and the population. Historical records of tens of thousands attending the festival exist. These findings were made in the temple of Mut
Mut
because when Thebes rose to greater prominence, Mut absorbed the warrior goddesses, Sekhmet
Sekhmet
and Bast, as some of her aspects. First, Mut
Mut
became Mut-Wadjet-Bast, then Mut-Sekhmet-Bast ( Wadjet
Wadjet
having merged into Bast), then Mut
Mut
also assimilated Menhit, another lioness goddess, and her adopted son's wife, becoming Mut-Sekhmet-Bast-Menhit, and finally becoming Mut-Nekhbet. Temple excavations at Luxor
Luxor
discovered a "porch of drunkenness" built onto the temple by the pharaoh Hatshepsut, during the height of her twenty-year reign. In a later myth developed around the annual drunken Sekhmet
Sekhmet
festival, Ra, by then the sun god of Upper Egypt, created her from a fiery eye gained from his mother, to destroy mortals who conspired against him (Lower Egypt). In the myth, Sekhmet's blood-lust was not quelled at the end of battle and led to her destroying almost all of humanity, so Ra had tricked her by turning the Nile
Nile
as red as blood (the Nile
Nile
turns red every year when filled with silt during inundation) so that Sekhmet
Sekhmet
would drink it. The trick, however, was that the red liquid was not blood, but beer mixed with pomegranate juice so that it resembled blood, making her so drunk that she gave up slaughter and became an aspect of the gentle Hathor. The complex interweaving of deities occurred over the thousands of years of the culture. Precinct of Montu[edit] Main article: Precinct of Montu This portion of the site is dedicated to the son of Mut
Mut
and Amun-Re, Montu, the war-god of the Theban Triad. It is located to the north of the Amun-Re
Amun-Re
complex and is much smaller in size. It is not open to the public. Temple of Amenhotep IV
Temple of Amenhotep IV
(deliberately dismantled)[edit] Main article: Temple of Amenhotep IV The temple that Akhenaten
Akhenaten
(Amenhotep IV) constructed on the site was located east of the main complex, outside the walls of the Amun-Re precinct. It was destroyed immediately after the death of its builder, who had attempted to overcome the powerful priesthood who had gained control over Egypt
Egypt
before his reign. It was so thoroughly demolished that its full extent and layout is currently unknown. The priesthood of that temple regained their powerful position as soon as Akhenaten died, and were instrumental in destroying many records of his existence. In popular culture[edit]

In Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the final battle between Optimus Prime versus Megatron, The Fallen, and Starscream takes place in the hypostyle hall at Karnak. Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile
Nile
takes place mainly on the steamship S.S. Karnak, as well as using the temple itself in one of its scenes. Lara Croft
Lara Croft
visited Karnak
Karnak
for three levels in Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation (Temple of Karnak, The Great Hypostyle Hall
Great Hypostyle Hall
and Sacred Lake) and it was featured in the level editor package. In the movie The Mummy Returns, Karnak
Karnak
is one of the places Rick O'Connell and the others must go to, in order to ultimately reach the Scorpion King. The British symphonic metal band Bal-Sagoth have a song called Unfettering the Hoary Sentinels of Karnak. The first person shooter PowerSlave
PowerSlave
is set in and around Karnak. The first part of the modernist long poem, Trilogy, by H.D. is dedicated, "For Karnak
Karnak
1923". Karnak
Karnak
is featured as a location for exploration in the PC game The Sims 3: World Adventures. Karnak
Karnak
is featured as a location in the PC game Serious Sam. Karnak
Karnak
is featured in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. According to the Stargate SG-1
Stargate SG-1
episode Serpent's Song, Apophis' host was a scribe in the Temple of Amun
Amun
at Karnak. In the original Battlestar Galactica series, For Lost Planet of the Gods, Part II, some shots of the pyramids at Kobol were actually filmed at the site of the Great Temple at Karnak
Karnak
and the Pyramids of Giza, in Egypt.

Gallery[edit]

The Sacred Lake of Precinct of Amun-Re

View of the first pylon of the temple of Amun-Re
Amun-Re
at Karnak

Ram statues at Karnak

Hypostyle hall of the Precinct of Amun-Re, as it appeared in 1838. From a tinted lithograph by David Roberts RA and Louis Haghe, 1806–1885

Ramses II

Scarab

Egypt
Egypt
- Karnak. Gate and Pylon., n.d., Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
Archives

Egypt
Egypt
- Karnak. Great Statues., n.d., Goodyear. Brooklyn Museum Archives

See also[edit]

List of megalithic sites

References[edit]

^ "Karnak". Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. Merriam-Webster, 2007. p. 1550 ^ Egypt: Engineering an empire engineering feats ^ Lehner, Mark The Complete Pyramids, London: Thames and Hudson (1997) pp.202–225 ISBN 0-500-05084-8. ^ "Ancient Egypt
Egypt
Brought To Life With Virtual Model Of Historic Temple Complex", Science Daily, 30 April 2009, retrieved 12 June 2009 [1] ^ Brian Handwerk (December 21, 2015) Everything You Need to Know About the Winter Solstice National Geographic ^ Stewert, Desmond and editors of the Newsweek Book
Book
Division "The Pyramids and Sphinx" 1971 pp. 60–62 ^ The Unfinished Obelisk
Obelisk
by Peter Tyson March 16, 1999 NOVA online adventure ^ Time Life Lost Civilizations series: Ramses II: Magnificence on the Nile
Nile
(1993) pp. 53–54 ^ Walker, Charles, 1980 "Wonders of the Ancient World" pp24–7 ^ "The Seventy Wonders of the Ancient World", edited by Chris Scarre (1999) Thames & Hudson, London ^ "Sex and booze figured in Egyptian rites" nbcnews.com, Oct 30, 2006

Further reading[edit]

Blyth, Elizabeth (2006). Karnak: Evolution of a Temple. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-203-96837-6. 

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Karnak
Karnak
temple complex.

Wikisource
Wikisource
has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Karnak.

CFEETK – Centre Franco-Égyptien d'Étude des Temples de Karnak
Karnak
(en) Temple of Amun, numerous photos & schemes (comments in russian) Karnak
Karnak
images www.karnak3d.net :: "Web-book" The 3D reconstruction of the Great Temple of Amun
Amun
in Karnak. Marc Digital Karnak
Karnak
UCLA Karnak
Karnak
Temple picture gallery at Remains.se

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