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Karnak Temple Karnak Temple
image © 2004

The Karnak is actually a complex of many temples and other buildings. The site was added by Pharaohs and Ptolemies in more than 2000 years. The largest of the complex is the AmunWho is this deity? temple enclosure.

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To the south is the MutWho is this deity? temple enclosure which is connected to the Amun temple via an avenue of ram-headed sphinxesWhat does it mean?. To the north is the MontuWho is this deity? temple enclosure.

Amun temple enclosure:
The temple is accessible through a processional way bordered by ram-headed sphinxes to the west (See Image 1), which takes you to the first great pylon probably built by King Nectanebo I of the 30th dynasty. It is unfinished though.

The court (See Image 2) beyond the first pylon has a northern shrine built by Seti II with 3 chapels dedicated to the Theban triad of Amun, Mut and KhonsuWho is this deity?.

In the south lies the small temple of Ramesses III (See Image 3). A northern small doorway in the court leads to an open-air museum with a number of monuments on display.

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The court is adorned by eight columns to the north. The second pylon is probably the work of Horemheb. Beyond is the Great HypostyleWhat does it mean? Hall that is an imposing part of the temple (See Image 4). The hall has 12 central massive columns and other smaller 122 columns. It was once roofed. It is built by Ramesses I, Seti I and Ramesses II.

The third pylon is built by Amenhotep III. Behind the pylon there were once four obelisksWhat does it mean?, of which only one built by Thutmose I (a.k.a. Thutmosis in Greek) stands (see Image 5).

Next is the fourth pylon which marks that start of the temple proper. The fourth and fifth pylons are built by Thutmose I.

The court in between them had once 14 pillars. One of the pair of obelisks raised by Hatshepsut is still standing here while the other one lies broken on ground. The next sixth small pylon is in ruins.

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The temple has several rooms including the sacred barqueWhat does it mean? sanctuary, a central court, Botanic gardens (See Image 7), a festival hall built by Thutmose III and a sanctuary decorated by Alexander the Great (See Image 6). The largest obelisk in the world, known as the Lateran obelisk, once stood here and but ended up in Rome.

Southern axis:
The southern axis runs from in between third and fourth pylons of the main axis to the south. The axis acted as a processional way that finally leads to the southern Mut temple enclosure through an avenue of sphinxes. This section of the temple has 4 more pylons and is surrounded by walls to form series of courts.

The court located just before the seventh pylon is called the cachette court (See Image 8). In this place several thousands of bronze and stone statues were discovered in 1903.
Some of them are currently on display in the Egyptian museum in Cairo. Thutmose III built the seventh pylon while the eighth was built by Queen Hatshepsut. The ninth and tenth were built by Horemheb.

Sacred Lake:
To the east of the Amun temple southern axis lies the sacred lake used by priests for ablution.

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To the northwest of the lake is a large scarabWhat does it mean? statue and further north a fallen obelisk once erected by Hatshepsut lies broken on ground.

Temples of Khonsu and Opet:
There are a number of other monuments included in the Amun temple enclosure. On the southwest corner there are two temples dedicated to Khonsu (See Image 9) and Opet (See Image 10). Khonsu temple was started by Ramesses III and added/decorated by other Pharaohs including Herihor and Pinedjem I. The pylon of Khonsu temple is facing the avenue of sphinxes that once led to the Luxor temple. The avenue passes through a gateway built by Ptolemy III Euergetes I.

Temple of PtahWho is this deity?:
The small temple lies to the north of the Amun temple (See Image 11). It was built by Thutmose III and enlarged by Shabaka.

Montu temple enclosure:
The temple is to the north of Amun temple and its access is near to the temple of Ptah. Montu temple was built by Amenhotep III and dedicated to the local deity of Montu, the warrior-god.

Image 11

Mut temple enclosure:
The temple is south of the Amun temple and is connected to it by an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes that runs to the tenth pylon. The ruined temple is also built by Amenhotep III and added by several rulers. The temple is surrounded by a crescent-shape sacred lake.

Sound and light:
The sound and light show starts at the first pylon and moves on to the Hypostyle Hall and then to the sacred lake where there are seats for the spectators. The show briefly narrates the Theban history in a magnificent way.

Lithograph 1

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Old Photo 2
Old Photo 3

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