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The Inner Sanctum & its Courts

Precinct of Amun Ra - Karnak Temple - Theban Temples

Ipet Sut, “Most Select of Places”

The Precinct of Amun Ra

Sanctuary Court

The Sanctuary Court was commissioned and constructed during the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmose III, later to be remodelled by Macedonian King Philip Arrhidaeus. King Philip reused many of Pharaoh’s block work which can still be seen in situ today.

 

Central Court

This Courtyard is also known as the Middle Kingdom Courtyard was completed by Pharaoh Senwosret I who reigned during the Middle Kingdom Period and was the first Pharaoh to undertake major works inside the Precinct of Amun Ra, setting this as a theme for later Pharaohs to follow.

It was here that Pharaoh Hatshepsut remodelled the area and added a Podium to erect her Red Chapel inside the Precinct. The Red Chapel was later taken apart as used as filler for the inside of Pylon 3 by Pharaoh Amenhotep III until it was discovered by the collapse of the Third Pylon and then it was transported and re-erected in the Open-Air Museum inside the Enclosure Wall of Karnak Temple. All that remains of this Court today are the bases of the doors.

Inner Sanctum

To understand the Inner Sanctum, you need to understand what an Ancient Egyptian Temple actually was. The short answer: The Mansion Home of the Gods and Goddess. To understand further, click here to visit the webpage “What is an Ancient Egyptian Temple?”.

The Inner Sanctum was the most mysterious, religious and secluded part of the Temple. It is the actual and physical Home of the Deity, in our case at Karnak Temple, the God Amun Ra. Where the Deity lived during the Day in its Statue Form inside the Sanctum, inside its Sacred Barque on the Plinth shown in the Images. During the period that Ancient Egypt was ruled by the Pharaohs this area inside the Temple was reserved for the Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s Great Royal Wife who Pharaoh had appointed with the Title, God’s Wife of Amun, and High Priest or High Priestess.

 

Daily rituals were performed to give offerings to the Temple’s dedicated Deity:

  • at sunrise the Deity was woken with light
  • cleaned, anointed with oil and then dressed
  • given their daily food and drink
  • presented with a Statue of Ma’at to remind them of their role in keeping Chaos at bay within Egypt
  • throughout the day specific Hymns and Music was played for the Deities enjoyment and specific poems and prayers would have been recited

This process was then reversed to put the Deity “to bed” at night. To understand the “lives” of the deities further, click here.

The Deity’s Sacred Barque and Statue was removed from the Inner Sanctum on the occasions of Festivals. The best known of these are:

  1. The Opet Festival: a festival of renewal where God Amun was joined by his consort, the Goddess Mut, and their son, the God Khonsu and they were taken along the Avenue of Sphinx from Karnak Temple to Luxor Temple. For more details about this Festival, click here.
  2. The Beautiful Festival of the Valley: a festival of remembrance of the dead. Again, the God Amun was joined by his consort, the Goddess Mut, and their son, the God Khonsu, and together they made a sacred journey from their home inside Karnak Temple on the Eastern Bank of the River Nile and travelled by their Sacred Barges to visit the “Temples of Million Years of the King” or the Mortuary Temples for each deceased Pharaoh in the Theban Necropolis on the Western Bank of the River Nile. For more details about this Festival, click here.

My Plan of Karnak Temple