The temples of Karnak are considered among the greatest building constructed by man all over the world . They include many temples , chapels and huge pylons that were erected by the kings of Egypt starting from the reign of the Middle kingdom when Amun become the state god for about 3000 years until the year 30 B.c .
The constructions in this area were begun with a simple during the middle Kingdom . Then the Pharaohs of Egypt , especially those of the New Kingdom Completed to add more buildings as an approach to Amun-Ra .
The site of the Karnak temples is divided into three groups . The largest and most important group is that of Amun-Ra . The northern group is dedicated to Montu , the local god of Thebes . The southern group was built for Mut , the wife of Amun . The main element of the Karnak temples is the great temple of Amun-Ra , which occupies an area exceeding 60 feddans . The temple includes some other smaller temples for worshiping and it is surrounded by a 20 meters thick wall .
The Temple Of Amun in Karnak …….
In ancient times , the temple of Amun was liked to the Nile by a short canal ended by a sandstone platform . On this platform there were originally two small sandstone obelisks. Only of these is left bearing the name of Seti II a 21st Dynasty . The avenue that leads from the outside to the inside of the temple in lined with sphinxes , fantastic beasts having the body of a lion and the head of a ram , Each of these figures holds a statuette between its paws . The Statuettes represent Ramesses II who erected this avenue .
The original temple of Amun ,built by Hatschepsut and Thutmosis III , underwent many alterations and enlargements.
The First Pylon …….
This pylon is considered the greatest pylon of all Egyptian temples . Its total length is 113 meters and its thickness is 15 meters . The pylon was left unfinished . The northern tower is lower than the southern one . Neither of them has any decoration . On both towers are eight grooves for flagstaffs .
The main scenes on both towers are the usual representation of the king smiting his enemies . Below each scene is a list of the foreign cities that the king claimed to have captured in Nubia and Syria.
The Great Court ………..
The remple of Amun has only one court , but it is of unusual size 103*84 meters . It was a let addition to the temple . Along the northern and the southern side of the court are columns with papyrus bud capitals . In the northwestern corner lies the temple of SETI II with three chaples in which the sacred boats of Amun and his wife Mut and his son Khonsu were deposited during the solemn procession .
To the right of the entrance , just short of the second pylon is the temple of Ramesses III , which have the normal type of any temples . But like the temple of SETI III , Ramesses III temple served only a station chapel during processions . Thus it has no intended to house a statue . It was merely composed of three chapels in which the sacred boats of the divine triad laid for a short time .
Theses three chapels are at the rear of the temple . Facing them is a hypostyle hall with eight papyrus columns with bud capitals , and this in turn is preceded by a pronaos with four columns of the same type and four pillars flanked by mummy form statues of the king , linked by screen walls . In front of the temple are an open court and a pylon of the temple . In the middle of the Great Court are the remains of a large kiosk erected by Taharka , a king of the 25th Dynasty . It consists of ten large columns with papyrus capitals linked with screen walls . Only one of these columns is still standing .
The court is flanked on the right and left by covered colonnades . The ceiling of that to the right is borne by 7 square pillars against which stand mummy formed colossal statues of the king . To the left is a colonnade that has 8 papyrus columns . The southern colonnade represents the facade of the royal palace which stands to the south of the temple . The palace is connected to the first court by three doors and a large balcony window . To the right and left of this window , the king is represented slaying his foals . Under the window are depictions of dancers , and merry makers who are represented greeting the king on his appearance at the window with unrestrained joy . The scenes on the colonnade walls represent the wars , victories , and captive of the king . At the end , the king is represented going on his way to the feast of Amun attended by his fan bears .
The Second Pylon ……….
Stands behind the kiosk of Taharka . Two Colossi of Ramesses III flank the pylon’s gateway , with a third royal statue of the king who hold the crook and the flail having his Queen standing between his legs . This pylon was built by Horemhep and completed by his accessor , Ramesses I.
The inscriptions on the second pylon are yet more interesting . On the right tower is along inscription recording the victory of the king over a league of people of the lands of the Mediterranean who attacked Egypt from the directions of the sea and the land of Syria . On the left tower the king leads three rows of prisoners representing the conquered in that campaign before Amun and Mut .
The Great Hypostyle Hall ………
It covers an area of about 5000 meters . 100*50 meters . Its roof was supported by 134 columns , arranged in 16 rows . The central two rows were higher than the others and consisted of papyrus columns with open capital while the other rows had columns with closed capitals . The space between those pillars once held windows and served to light the entire hall . The walls of the hall , the columns of the abaci and the architrave are covered with inscriptions and reliefs , many of which still retain their ancient colors . These date back to the reign of SETI I and Ramesses II . The former decorated the northern half of the hall and the latter decorated the southern half .On the outside of the walls of this hall are historical reliefs of great importance commemorating the victories of SETI I and Ramesses II over the inhabitants of Palestine and Libya .
The Third Pylon ……….
The third pylon was built by Amenophis III , and is now completely ruined . Next follows the central court . In this court , there were four obelisks , two of which were erected by Thurmosis I and the other two by Thutmosis III , Only one of those of Thutmosis III’s is still standing in its place .
The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Pylons ……
The fourth Pylon ,which was built by Thutmosis I , it followed by colonnade . It stands on an obelisk erected by Queen Hatschepsut . This obelisk was made of a angle block of pink Aswan granite . Its apex was once covered with a mixture of gold and silver . Its weight is 100 tons and its height is 29 meters . Passing beyond the fifth and sith pylons of Thutmosis I and Thutmosis III respectively , we reach the court yard in front of the sanctuary . This was the holy of the holies where Amun dwelt . In front of the sanctuary are two columns standing carved with the Lower Egyptian lotus and the papyrus of Upper Egypt .
The granite shrine of Amun was built by Philip Archidaeus , the half brother of Alexander the great . It is divided into two rooms . The front room was the shrine where the god’s statue was kept and where the daily offering ritual took place . The boat of the god was resting on the pedestal in the inner room .
The Great Festival Hall ……….
It belongs to Thutmosis III . It covers an area of about 725 meters , 44*16 meters , it has 10 columns in middle and 32 square on the sides , supporting the roof . It has five aisle . The roof of the three central aisle in higher than the others . In the Christian era , this hall was converted into a church . Its columns still have the paintings portraying personages of the Coptic Church . At the southwestern corner of the hall is the chamber in which what is called the ” Karnak Table of the kings ” was found .
Fifth small halls and chambers were grouped around the sanctuary of the great festival hall temple . Most of them are now ruined . To the left of the sanctuary is a chamber with four papyrus columns . The lower parts of the walls are decorated with plants and animals brought to Egypt from Syrian in 25 year of King Thutmosis reign .
The Temple Of Khonsu ……
This temple was dedicated to the moon-god Khonsu the son of Amun and Mut. It was built by Ramesses II and completed by his successors Ramesses IV, Ramesses XII and Hrihor.
The Temple Of Osiris and Opet …………
The temple of Osiris and Opet adjoins that of Khonsu to the southwest . It has a rectangular hall of which the ceiling rests on two Hathor decorated columns . It also has a small hall flanked by two rooms and sanctuary
The Northern Buildings at karnak ……….
The northern buildings at Karnak are in bad condition expect the temple off Ptah , the patron god of Memphis . It was built by Thutmosis III and enlarged and restored by Shabako , the Ethiopian king , and by several Ptolemaics .
The Temple Of Mut …….
This ruined temple used to be surrounded by a lake on three sides . It was dedicated to the consort of Amun and it has a pair of open courts , one following the others . It has a sanctuary surrounded by antechambers . The construction was undertaken by many generations from Amenhoteo III to the Ptolemaic times .
The Temple Of Mont ……….
This temple lies to the north ,outside the enclosure wall of Amun’s temple . It was built for the war god Mont , the oldest local deity in Thebes . It was built by Amenhotep III , an 18th Dynasty king .
Karnak Sacred Lake ………….
To south of Amun’s temple lies a sacred lake . It was a symbol of Nun , the eternal ocean, where the priests of Amun ourified themselves in the holy water . The southern building from the seventh to the tenth pylons , The seventh pylon was built by Thutmosis III , The eight was the work of Queen Hatschepsut . The ninth pylon was built by Horemohep . The tenth pylon , which formed the southern entrance of the great temple of Amun was also built by Horemohep.