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Karnak Temple

Theban Temples - T vs MT - Thebes - The Places

Ipet Sut, “Most Select of Places”

Described by Egyptologists as, “an archaeological ocean” of
which we have, “barely dipped below its surface”

My Plan of Karnak Temple

The Temple is situated alongside the Eastern Bank of the River Nile in modern day Luxor, previously known as Thebes or Waset. The Temple can be a little complicated to navigate as it remains the largest Religious Complex on Earth! Disclaimer: at the time of writing.

It has 3 Precincts:

  1. The Precinct of Amun Ra
  2. The Precinct of Mut
  3. The Precinct of Montu

Inside the Precincts are:

  • 12 Temples
  • 2 Sacred Barques
  • 1 Chapel
  • 1 Sanctuary
  • 10 Pylons
  • Many Obelisks
  • And even more Columns
  • Hundreds of Thousands of Cartouches
  • And probably millions of individual hieroglyphs and reliefs

Come with me on a journey as I guide you around the Temple Complex.

Brief History

Karnak Temple does not appear to have been even a small Temple until the 11th Dynasty of Ancient Egypt as this is the earliest Archaeologists have found any evidence of buildings or human activity on site. The 11th Dynasty artifact is a small column which is dedicated to the God Amun so it has been extrapolated that there may have been a small Shrine or Temple to the God on site at this point.

This Dynasty was ruling from Thebes during the labelled First Intermediate Period until Egypt as a whole was reunited by Theban leader, Pharaoh Mentuhotep II. Click here to learn more about Pharaoh Mentuhotep II. It was during this unstable period for the remainder of Egypt that Waset thrived and the Temple of Karnak, particularly the Precinct of Amun was considered to be Holy Ground. Latterly the God Amun was merged with the God Ra to become Amun-Ra.

During the Middle Kingdom, the White Chapel of Pharaoh Senusret I, the second Pharaoh of the 12th Dynasty; and the Middle Kingdom Court were constructed.

By the time of the New Kingdom the united Egypt’s wealth was blossoming and the Temple of Karnak with it. Karnak gained wealth, prestige and patronage. It expanded into a country wide known religious hub and as such Pharaoh after Pharaoh added to its buildings and its influence. These included:

  • The Enclosure Wall
  • Hypostyle Hall
  • Barque Shrines
  • 4th and 5th Pylons
  • 9th Pylon
  • Obelisks

During the Third Intermediate Period the Priesthood of Amun took over ruling Thebes and its surrounding areas due to the fragmented rule of the Pharaohs who appeared to be content to remain in Lower or Northern Egypt. These Pharaohs did not add any considerable building work to the Temple.

Latterly, for the Dynasties of Egypt:

  • The 22nd Dynasty added the 2nd Pylon and Colonnade
  • Pharaoh Taharqa of the 25th Dynasty added the Edifice of Taharqa inside the First Courtyard and a Colonnade to Montu’s Preceinct
  • The First Pylon and the outer Enclosure Walls were built under the instructions of 30th Dynasty Pharaoh Nectanebo I

To learn more about the History of Thebes, which was very much echoed in the Temple’s History, click here.