Karnak Temple in Luxor in Egypt
After visiting all the sights of the west bank of the Nile near the city of Luxor ("city of the dead"), most often tourists are taken to Karnak Temple, which was Egypt's largest temple complex and had the status of a state religious institution. The Karnak Temple, as well as the Luxor Temple, is on the eastern shore, in the "City of the Living."
It is much more correct to call this place not a temple, but a temple complex, since there are more than a dozen temples here.
This complex was built over more than 1,600 years, it was built by 30 pharaohs. Every pharaoh built something or rebuilt.
The first pharaoh that began the construction was Sanurset I from the 12th dynasty, two thousand years before our era. He ruled even in the era of the middle kingdom, but the greatest scope of construction has already reached the era of the new kingdom. The main attraction of the Karnak temple, the column hall, was built by the great pharaoh of the Network I.
Each ruler of Egypt tried to write in this temple about his military exploits and other deeds. Unfortunately, many tried not only to write about themselves, but also to erase the memory of unloved predecessors. Particularly affected by the legacy of Amenhotep IV (Akhenaten), the temple of the god Athen (Aton) built by him was completely destroyed, or rather, disassembled for construction materials by his descendants.
Usually, the tour takes place in a simple scenario. They came in, looked at the columns, walked around a bit, went out. In this article, we will try to tell you about the most important places on the territory of the temple complex. Agree, it will be much more interesting to walk here, if you know what to look at, and what significance each building has.
Two to three hours are allocated for the inspection of the temple during the excursion. For an ordinary tourist this is more than enough to look at everything interesting here. If you are a big fan of ancient Egyptian history, then, of course, this time will be short.
The number of buildings on the territory is huge, and the number of statues is measured in thousands. There are still active excavations, and most of the Karnak temple is closed to tourists. Only the central part is opened, the sanctuary dedicated to the god Amon-Ra, the other sanctuaries dedicated to Amonra's wife, the goddess Mut, their son Khonsu and the place where the temple of Athena stood, are closed.
However, there is nothing terrible for visitors in this, all the most interesting and grandiose is in the sanctuary of Amon-Ra. Before entering the first gate, and all in the territory of ten gates, most of which are in a dilapidated state, you will see the alley of the sphinxes.
There were several such avenues, they were decorated with roads. This avenue has been preserved best, other similar roadside decorations now restore, literally, in pieces.
It is at this place is a tourist attraction, which is not known to all guides, it looks not very bright, but has a huge archaeological value. This is the embankment that enclosed the temples from the floods of the Nile River, and on the walls of the embankment records were made about the height of the spill. Now these are valuable archaeological data that scientists use to better understand the history of Egypt.
After visiting the alley of the sphinxes and the waterfront, you will pass through the first gate. These gates are considered to be one of the youngest structures in the temple complex, they began to be built in 340 BC and never finished until after the 332rd year in Egypt a new pharaoh appeared, with the construction almost stopped, The name of this pharaoh was Alexander the Great (Macedonian).
It is difficult to say where the gates were not completed, but where the traces of destruction. At the time when the Karnak Temple "fell into the hands" of archaeologists, near these gates were found several warehouses of building materials that remained from the builders, which gave an opportunity to get an idea of the technology of building buildings of that time.
Imagine that in our country any building materials were lying unattended for 2 300 years, and in Egypt it was so. This place for a long time was considered the most sacred, in Egyptian it was called Ipet-Isut, which translates as "The most sacred place".
All the fun awaits us outside the gate. Behind the first gate is the outer courtyard, a large rectangular area measuring 85 by 100 meters.
On the square there are several noteworthy places, which are worth paying attention to.
If after the entrance you look at the right, you will see the temple of Ramses III, the entrance to it is depicted in the photo on the left. The walls describe all the accomplishments of this pharaoh, who is considered one of the greatest in the history of ancient Egypt. The statues inside are well preserved, they all depict it, the pharaohs did not "suffer modesty" and were deified during their lifetime.
To the left of this structure are the gates, which are called Bubastite. A very interesting place to understand the value of which, you need to tell their story. About 1 000 years before Christ in Egypt, Pharaoh Sheshonk I ruled, and in Israel King Solomon. At the time of the pharaohs, the Egyptians made dynastic marriages for political purposes, but it was always the Egyptian pharaohs who married princesses from other countries. The first time the Egyptian princess was sent to marry a foreign ruler, one of the daughters of Sheshonka I went to Jerusalem and married King Solomon.
After the death of King Solomon, Pharaoh Sheshonk made a campaign to Palestine, and, taking advantage of the split in the country and the weakness of King Rehoboam, from which half the country split, captured the entire region.
Many cities and prisoners were taken, and on the gate, we can say, the results of an inventory of the captured. Here are written the names of cities and captives. The inscriptions are not very well preserved, but even in this condition, they are priceless for archaeologists, in fact, this is a complete list of the ancient cities of Palestine.
So Egypt again took full control of the Palestinian lands.
Strange, but in these lists there is no Jerusalem, although the Jewish capital was definitely taken, the royal treasury went to the Egyptians.
These gates are very important, King Rehoboam is mentioned only in the Bible, and no more mention is found of him, King Solomon is mentioned not only in the Bible, but in some other sources that are not documentary. The very existence of these rulers could be called into question, but it is these records that confirm "from the Egyptian side" that the story described in the Bible did indeed occur.
On the other side of the outer courtyard are the second gate, which is much worse. Once they were the main gate to the temple complex, and the alley of the sphinxes, which we saw before the first gate, was located here, it was moved.
It is behind the first gate and there is a column hall. This building was once a full-fledged building with a roof that collapsed with time, now there are only columns.
Altogether there are 134 columns, which form 16 rows. The largest columns have a girth of 10 meters, if you eat together, you can not embrace them, you will have to cooperate with other tourists to solve this problem.
The height of the largest columns is 24 meters, it's just below the 9-storey well-known to us, of which there are many Russian cities.
The first question that you involuntarily ask yourself when you see these columns, "how did the ancient Egyptians build it?". The stones that are at the top of the columns weigh 70-80 tons.
There are several assumptions for the construction of this room created a special platform of wood, or, there is another version that during construction, the construction site was simply covered with soil, and then dug this soil, exposing the finished building.
The author of this article would choose the second technology, it seems more logical and believable. You probably noticed that there are inscriptions on the columns. The hall itself was built by the pharaoh of Seti I, but it was not immediately possible to determine, for a long time there were different versions of which of the rulers of Egypt is a real builder.
With Network I, the hall was built, but the decoration and printing of the inscriptions was not finished. The inscriptions were applied by the following pharaohs Ramses II, and others. It was Ramses II who was often credited with building, remembering his long reign and greatness. Some of the descendants did not consider it criminal to remove the inscriptions of their predecessors, and replace them with their own. Also, the inscriptions suffered in subsequent epochs, when the legacy of ancient Egypt was destroyed. Pay attention, the inscriptions at the top, where they were difficult to get, were unharmed.
Behind the column hall are the third gate, and behind them, almost immediately, the fourth.
Between these two gates there are two obelisks.
The first obelisk is dedicated to Thutmose I, it is smaller in size, 21 meters in height, the second is 30 meters high and is dedicated to Queen Hatshepsut. The inscriptions, of course, glorify the ruler and the ruler (Hatshepsut was a woman-pharaoh) and their deeds during the reign.
Obelisks are very impressive, especially if you know the fact that they are monolithic weighing about 150 tons first and 330 tons second, and are made of granite. Just transporting the obelisks from the quarry to the installation site took more than six months. And the technology of their installation in place in the vertical position, in general, remains unclear.
As for the installation technologies, and how exactly the Egyptians could separate such a piece of stone from the rock, there are disputes, there are different theories. It's a pity, but the details of construction technologies of that time were not documented, apparently, they believed that the descendants would not be interested.
The inscriptions in the Karnak temple are everywhere, each of the thirty pharaohs tried to capture their history and their activities in the temples. At some points in history, this memory was tried to be erased, and time tried, but the grandiose structure contains so many of them that they could not destroy them. It is the inscriptions that attract most tourists with cameras.
In addition to the above-mentioned places, on the territory you can see:
- Museum in the open air, to enter which you need to pay an additional fee.
- A sacred lake that does not dry out and is supported by groundwater.
- The hall of celebrations of Thutmose III, he is right behind the fourth gate.
The rest of the sanctuary is usually closed to tourists, but there are many interesting things on the open side, and most visitors just get tired when they are examined. The area of one sanctuary of Amon-Ra is more than 240,000 square meters.
We recommend that you stock up on this excursion with water, as it will take a long time to walk, and the heat in this place is felt especially strongly.
Good luck with visiting the attractions in Luxor and read the following article about Luxor Temple.
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