04.10.2010 - 04.10.2010 42 °C
The Karnak temple complex is the largest religious complex in the world, covering 200 acres and includes a large sacred lake, which was used for ritual navigation of images of the gods during festivals. It is a city of temples built over 2000 years and dedicated to the Theben triad of Amun, his wife Mut and son Khonsu. Building commenced in 1300 BC and was added to by 30 different pharaohs.
This derelict complex is still capable of overshadowing many of the wonders of the modern world and in its day must have been awe inspiring.
There is a regular pattern to New Kingdom temples [such as this and the ones at Edfu, Kom Ombo, Philae and Luxor]. First a monumental pylon leading to an open court, surrounded by colonnades. Then a roofed hypostyle hall followed by smaller rooms leading to the sanctuary in which the image of the god was housed. They were called festival temples and were arranged to suit the processional ceremonies that were held within their walls.
In their day the temples were brightly coloured and probably looked something like this.
There is a long avenue of ram-headed sphinxes leading up to the large pylon at the entrance. This originally connected with the processional avenue of human-headed sphinxes leading to Luxor temple 2 miles away. Amun was originally represented as a goose, but as he grew in importance he was represented as a ram.
Images of chariots seem to abound on the walls of the pylon.
In the courtyard, there is a large statue of Pinedjem l, who reigned over Egypt from 1000 BC as the High Priest of Amun.
Two of the columns in the courtyard are still unfinished.
The Hypostyle Hall is impressive; with its 134 columns, it is still the largest room of any religious building in the world.
The capstones resting on the columns weigh 70 tons each, and it is thought that the builders used a ramp of mud-bricks to drag the slabs into position.
Around the main sanctuary, lie hundreds of stones, all waiting to find a place in the puzzle of reconstruction.
Near the sacred lake, is this statue of a large scarab beetle. The legend says that if you run around it 7 times in each direction, your wishes will be granted. So we held hands and ran around it!
We would love to know what these black fruits and fragrant flowers might be!