Information about Karnak Temple

Information about Karnak Temple

Table of contents

  1. History of Karnak Temple
  2. Etymology
  3. Edifices inside the temple
  4. Archaeological temples
  5. Sun falls perpendicular on the Karnak Temple

The Karnak Temple Complex, or the Karnak Temple, is a group of temples, huge columns, and other buildings, which was built for the divine trinity of Amun Ra, his wife, the goddess Mut, and their son, the god Khonsu, each of them has his own temple within the complex. The temple is located in Luxor Governorate, “formerly Thebes,” on the eastern bank of the Nile River, south of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

History of Karnak Temple

Middle Kingdom: After the Eleventh Dynasty ruled Egypt (2134 BC to 1991 BC), the land of Karnak was sacred at that time, so the worship of Amun in the temple greatly affected him, as it gave him wealth and increased his power, and gradually he was merged with “Ra”, the sun god. Senusret I, “the second king of the Twelfth Dynasty,” began using limestone in building the Middle Kingdom Court and the White Chapel (the oldest buildings inside the temple) in 1971 BC to 1926 BC.

The New Kingdom, “Golden Period”: After Amun was merged with the sun god Ra and became “Amon Ra”, he was worshiped as a god of war by the Eighteenth Dynasty (which is considered the first family to worship Amun Ra in the Old Kingdom), since the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Dynasties were famous for their interest in military expansions and facilities, they paid attention to the Temple of Amun-Ra, so Amenhotep I proceeded to build a temple for him, followed by Thutmose I who built the fourth and fifth edifices, and two granite obelisks (one of the two obelisks exists so far). After them, Queen Hatshepsut built the eighth edifice and two obelisks (these obelisks exist so far, one of which exceeds 29 meters in height), then Thutmose III surrounded the two obelisks that Hatshepsut established with a building of mud bricks and built the fourth and fifth edifices as well as some chapels, followed by Amenhotep III who built the third edifice. After that, the first unified pharaoh “Akhenaten” built a temple for the god Amun Ra and referred to it as the symbol of the sun, but Horemheb demolished the temple and built the ninth and tenth edifices in a desire to appease the priests.

Etymology

The temple was known at the beginning as (Bar-Amun), which means the house or temple of Amun, and during the era of the Middle Kingdom it was known as (Ipet-Sut), while it was called Karnak because the temple was a complex of temples, churches, edifices and other buildings, so it was similar to a village, and in the Arabic language, word Karnak means “the fortified village,” thus it was named the Karnak Temple.

Edifices inside the temple

The first edifice: is the main entrance to the temple, located on the western side of the temple, and the last edifice built by one of the kings of the Thirtieth Dynasty.

The second edifice: was built by Horemheb and Ramses I, and was approximately 97 meters long, then Ramses II added some modifications to it.

The third edifice: was built by Amenhotep III, but it was demolished.

The fourth and fifth edifices: were built by Thutmose I.

The sixth edifice: “The smallest edifice ever built” was built by King Thutmose III of granite, and is located on the western side of the temple.

The seventh edifice: was built by Thutmose III and is located on the southern side of the temple.

The eighth edifice: was built by Queen Hatshepsut.

The ninth and tenth edifices: were built by King Horemheb.

Archaeological temples

The Sacred Lake: was established by King Thutmose III, the sixth king of the Eighteenth Dynasty, the lake is about 80 meters long and 40 meters wide. This lake is considered one of the secrets of the Pharaohs, as it has never dried up throughout history, and its water level does not change even with the change of that of the Nile River, the lake in the past was surrounded by a huge wall, but it was demolished. The lake is located outside the main hall of the Karnak Temple, steps away from the pharaonic scarab statue (which was a gift from King Amenhotep III to his wife so that their love would last). The Sacred Lake was used by the ancient pharaohs for washing and purification, as the priests used to wash inside it before performing any religious ceremonies attended by the gods.

Temple of Ramesses III: was built by King Ramesses III on the southern side of the courtyard, for the resting of the sacred ships. At the entrance of the temple, there is an edifice preceded by two statues of the king from the outside, and from the inside there is the open courtyard, on both sides of which there are two rows of columns, each row of which consists of eight columns, and each column is topped by a statue of the king. The walls of the temple were decorated with inscriptions representing the different positions of the king before the god Amun-Ra, the Temple of Ramesses III is an integrated image of the Egyptian temple.

Temple of Khonsu: was built by King Ramesses III, followed by his son Ramesses IV, then Ramesses XI, then the High Priest Harihor, who completed its construction. This temple consists of an edifice followed by a courtyard with columns topped by crowns in the shape of a papyrus flower, the courtyard is followed by a corridor with columns that leads to the hall of the columns, which have inscriptions from the era of Ramesses XI and Harihor. At the end of the temple, there is the cabin that belongs to Khonsu and is surrounded by dark niches for resting the sacred ships, and a small courtyard with four columns behind the niche where seven rooms are connected to it, including a room that was designated for the worship of “Osir”.

Temple of Mut: was built by King Amenhotep III, and modified by some kings of the Ptolemaic era. The temple is located in the south of the Temple of Amun, about 350 meters, and reached through the rams road at the tenth edifice. It includes two temples, one of them is located on the northeastern side of the wall, and it belongs to the god Khonsu, and the other is located on the southern side of the temple of Ramesses III. It was built to worship the goddess Mut, who is the wife of the god Amun-Ra.

Sun falls perpendicular on the Karnak Temple

This astronomical phenomenon, which occurs specifically on the twenty-first day of December, is a reflection of the greatness of the ancient Egyptians and the extent of their development and knowledge of astronomy and the movement of the sun. On this particular day, the sun falls perpendicular on the Holy of Holies in the temple of the god Amun-Ra, announcing the beginning of winter, as this date coincides with the birth of Amun-Ra, but due to the difference between the number of days of the leap year and the normal year, the date of perpendicularity changes every four years to become December 22 instead of December 21.

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