Festival Hall of Pharaoh Tuthmose IIIPrecinct of Amun Ra - Karnak Temple - Theban Temples
Ipet Sut, “Most Select of Places”
The Precinct of Amun Ra
The Festival Hall
“Most Splendid of Monuments”
Unsurprisingly the Festival Hall of Pharaoh Tuthmose III was built by Pharaoh Tuthmose III to celebrate his Heb-Sed or Jubilee Festival. To learn more about this very important Jubilee where Pharaoh had to prove he still had the stamina and fitness to rule Egypt, click here. Later, the Hall became part of the annual Opet Festival. To learn about this Festival where the Theban Triad promenaded down the Avenue of Sphinx, click here.
Pharaoh built the Hall on the site of a brick enclosure that was dedicated to the Goddess Nun.
Now lost from the site are the entrance Statues of Pharaoh wearing his Heb Sed regalia. The structure’s Roof is held aloft by 32 squared Pillars around its edges and the once 20 internal columns are based in Ancient Egyptian Military Tent Poles that are said to be symbolic of Pharaoh’s military prowess. Regardless of their full meaning, these are unique to this Festival Hall in all of Ancient Egypt. The Coptic Christians used part of the Hall as a Church and they painted haloed icons on top of the Pharaoh’s hieroglyphs and broke many of Pharaoh’s statues to pieces.
God Amun’s Suite of Chambers are at the top of the Plan I have drawn out, and this is where Pharaoh would have communicated with the God during his Heb-Sed Festival and later the Festival of Opet. There remains the quartzite platform on which the Barque Shrine of the God Amun would have “lived”. The entrance to this room is the Botanical Room. Aptly named for its Reliefs of flora and fauna which the Pharaoh had found during his foreign Military campaigns. This Chamber has 4 Columns which are approx. 7.5 meters tall and is decorated with reliefs of:
- National birds including a Cuckoo, White Egret, Rock Dove, Plover and a Crane
- Flowers including a Chrysanthemum, Iris and a Dipsacus
- Foreign birds including a Lapwing, a Greek Partridge and a Sea Eagle
- Pomegranates and Grapevines
- A Gazelle, a Goose, a Crow and a Grasshopper
The Statement written here by Pharaoh says:
“All plants that grow, all flowers that are in God’s Land and found by His Majesty when His Majesty proceeded to Upper Retenu, to subdue the countries, according to the command of his father, Amun, who put them beneath his sandals from first regnal year to myriads of years.
His Majesty said, ‘I swear, as Ra loves me; as my father, Amun, favours me; all these things happened in truth. I have not written fiction as that which really happened to My Majesty. My Majesty has done this from a desire to put them before my father Amun, in this great Temple of Amun as a memorial forever and ever’.”
Pharaoh is referring to his Military Campaign to the area we know as Syria in Year 25 of his reign.
To the very rear of the Hall and adjoining the room after the Botanical Room is the Room of the Hearing Ear. This is where the populace would approach the Hall and the priests who ran it as a Temple and ask for their intervention with the Deity on their behalf. These enquiries were known as Petitions and were dealt with by the lower levels of the Priesthood.
Again, below this on my plan is the Heb-Sed Festival Chambers are found behind the Hall and can be located by finding the 8 columns which hold the roof up. These are easy to spot as they are 16 sided columns.
Lastly, the King’s Chamber is at the very southwest of the main Hall area. It used to contain a list of approx. 61 Pharaohs of Upper and Lower Egypt commencing with Pharaoh Snefru. It is not a complete list of all the Pharaoh up to Pharaoh Tuthmose III, but unusually it does list the Pharaohs of the First and Second Intermediate Periods. The remains of it are now found in France in the Louvre Museum after it was stolen away in the night during 1843.