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Precinct of Mut

Karnak Temple - Theban Temples

Ipet Sut, “Most Select of Places”

Precinct of Mut

The Precinct of Mut was dedicated to Goddess Mut, wife of the God Amun and mother of God Khonsu; together they were known as the Theban Triad. To learn more about the Theban Triad, click here

This Precinct is 325 meters south of the main Temple structures in Karnak Temple, known as the Precinct of Amun, and approx. 250 meters south of the 10th Pylon itself. It can be accessed via a Pathway which is flanked on either side by Sphinx: walking toward the Precinct of Mut, your left-hand side would be the Avenue of Ram Headed Sphinx whilst your right-hand side would be the Avenue of Human Headed Sphinx. It is approx. 90,000 meters squared and includes:

  • Enclosure Wall
  • Temple of Mut
  • Contra Temple
  • Temple of Khonsupakherod
  • Temple B
  • Temple of Pharaoh Ramses III
  • Temple D
  • Isheru, the Sacred Lake

My Plan of Karnak Temple

Temple of Mut and Sacred Lake

It is thought that either Pharaoh Hatshepsut or her successor stepson Pharaoh Tuthmose III erected the original Temple of Mut and excavated the Sacred Lake here. Before this the land was used as a Village and was strewn with their houses. As with all her monuments Pharaoh Tuthmose III erased Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s cartouche from the Walls and replaced them with his own. The Temple of Mut was built with a cheap Sandstone and aligned directly with the Precinct of Amun. It was then added to on a large scale by Pharaoh Amenhotep III of Dynasty 18 and then the 1st and 2nd Pylons were added, we understand, in the 19th Dynasty.

Pharaoh Taharqa renovated the damaged Temple and added a columned Porch in the 25th Dynasty, whilst Pharaoh Ptolemy VI erected his own Chapel here.

At its height, the Temple had:

  • An Entrance Pylon
  • A Kiosk: an open structure which has columns supporting its roof
  • Court with 8 central columns
  • 2nd Pylon
  • Inner Court with Goddess Hathor Pillars and Goddess Sekhmet Statues, around 700 of them. Each are dedicated by a specific Pharaoh and are dedicated to the different natures of the Goddess Sekhmet. Pharaoh Amenhotep III dedicated the most Statues and Egyptologists now believe that many of these may have originated in his Mortuary Temple and were moved to this Temple.
  • Small Hypostyle Hall with Chapels either side
  • Inner Sanctuary which has some other small chambers around it, probably a treasury and some offering holding or storage rooms

Temple of Khonsupakherod

This Temple appears to have been built by Pharaoh Amenhotep III in the 18th Dynasty and then re-dedicated to Pharaoh Ramses II with God Amun Ra in the 19th Dynasty. Pharaoh Ramses II erected the Forecourt, a Pylon, two Statues of himself and dedicated two large alabaster Stelae’s on site in front of the Temple’s First Pylon: One explaining Pharaoh’s work at the Temple and the Second confirming his married to a Hittite Princess. The name may have appeared later when Pharaoh Taharqa of the 25th Dynasty changed it to a Birthing House to celebrate the God Khonsu, Goddess Mut’s son.

Pharaoh Taharqa, 25th Dynasty, redesigned and made additions to the Temple to the footprint that remains today. One of the most visible additions was a new Sandstone Gateway.

 

Contra Temple

Erected during the Ptolemaic Period from the same Sandstone that was used for Mut’s Temple.

Temple D: Erected during the Ptolemaic Period, it was a Chapel solely dedicated to the Goddess Mut.

Enclosure Wall: Erected in the 30th Dynasty.

Temple of Pharaoh Ramses III

Small Temple built by the Pharaoh, it has broken statues of the Pharaoh and shows some of his Military Victories against the Syrians and Libyans. Click here to learn more about Pharaoh Ramses III’s battles. The footprint for the Temple was the same as the one that Pharaoh built inside the Precinct of Amun. This Temple of Pharaoh Ramses III was in use until Dynasty 25 when it appears to have been abandoned and the stone used for Pharaoh Taharqa’s additions to the Temple of Khonspekhrod.

The whole site’s layout today is due to the vision of Montuemhet, Mayor of Thebes and Governor of Upper Egypt and his Pharaoh, Taharqa, from Dynasty 25.

The stone they used for the additions to the Temple of Mut and the Temple of Khonspekhrod were from the Temple of Pharaoh Ramses III which must have already been out of use as no Pharaoh would dismantle an in-use Temple deliberately (apart from Pharaoh Akhenaten) for fear of upsetting the Ancestors and the Deities. This would be the reason for the ruinous state today of the Temple of Pharaoh Ramses III.

Although they cannot currently be seen, the precinct would have hosted warehouses and storerooms for the offerings, a treasury, homes and workspaces for the Priests as well as numerous smaller Chapels and outbuildings. At least three of these were reserved by Pharaoh as Chapels for Governor Montuemhet and his son.

The Ptolemies added a new Entrance Gateway and made further additions to the Temples of Mut and Khonsupakherod, as mentioned above, and added Chapels which were dedicated for the Goddess Mut and the Goddess Sekhmet.

During the First Century AD the Precinct as a whole was in decline and the local populace moved back into the Precinct and built new homes using the Walls and stones of the Temples themselves.

The Precinct is still being excavated and parts of it may be reinstated for visitors to look at but currently much of it lies in a ruinous state. Its excavations have found:

  • Numerous small hand sized ceramic statues of women which were located either in or near the Sacred Lake
  • Baking Ovens and associated rooms
  • Granite life sized statue of Great Royal Wife, Queen Tiye, click here to find out more about her
  • Granary storage
  • Brewing Vats and associated rooms
  • Maybe a cemetery behind the Sacred Lake