The Karnak Temples
Unlock the Ancient Egyptian Mysteries
The temples of Karnak are located on the eastern bank of the Nile, 3 km to the north of Luxor Temple, marking the most elaborate “House of God” still standing in Egypt. The attempts to unlock the secrets of Karnak lead us to many paths, revealing mysteries related to the concepts of divinity and kingship in ancient Egypt, especially during the New Kingdom.
The complex includes several temples each dedicated to an ancient Egyptian god, while the main precinct is dedicated to the Theban triad: Amun-Re, Mut and Khunso. Other Temples include a Precinct dedicated for Mut, another for Montu (War God), and a small temple for Khunso inside the precinct of Amun-Re.
The World’s Greatest Open-Air Museum
The nucleus of the huge Temple is probably the White Chapel, which was constructed during the Middle Kingdom by King Senusret I (1971-1926 BC). It functioned as a royal kiosk to perform rituals of the Heb-Seb 'Jubilee Festival'.
The White Chapel was found dismantled and used in building the Third Pylon during the New Kingdom. In 1940, blocks of the kiosk were reconstructed and erected within the temple enclosure in the Open-Air Museum.
The divine temple was built on different stages and added to by almost all kings of the New Kingdom and Late Period, as well as the Macedonian Philip Arrhidaeus, to reassure their kingship and stability and gain the blessings of the Theban Triad.
Explore Hypostyle Hall: One of the Wonders of the Ancient World
During the New Kingdom, construction of the Temple was initiated by Thutmose I. He built the Fourth Pylon as the main entrance to the temple, as well as the Hypostyle Hall: a vast hall covering an area about 5000 meter squared, with 134 huge columns supporting the roof. It is listed among the Wonders of the Ancient World.
The main entrance of the Temple was led by the ‘Way of Rams’, which stretched 200 m from the Nile bank to the First Pylon, lined with ram-headed sphinx statues on both sides, each holding a standing-statue of Ramesses II between its forelimbs.
Thutmose III Vs. Hatshepsut at Karnak
The struggle between Thutmose III and his step mother Queen Hatshepsut over the throne of Egypt, is one of the major topics commemorated within the Temple. The racing events that took place after the death of Thutmose II could be easily traced. Thutmose III was a child upon the death of his father, and Queen Hatshepsut took over the throne as the guardian of the child-king.
The strong-willed woman did not allow anyone or anything to stand in her way. She gradually gained political control and thus declared herself as the Daughter of Amun-Re and the official King of Egypt (1498-1483 BC). The daughter of Amun-Re erected two red granite obelisks, a chapel, and constructed the Eighth Pylon which initiated the secondary axis (North-South) to connect between Amun-Re and Mut precincts.
Shortly after her death, Thutmose III (1504-1450 BC) had a clear field and set about expunging the memory of his stepmother Hatshepsut from the monuments. He walled up the granite obelisks, leaving only the top part in respect to Amun-Re. In addition to that he constructed the ‘Hall of Annals’ within the Sixth Pylon. The Hall was inscribed with ‘Karnak Kings-List' which commemorated the names of 61 Kings, excluding the name and reign of Hatshepsut.