Time Travelling in Egypt: The Temple of Karnak
Egypt is well known for its rich history and well-preserved remnants of ancient times. From towering pyramids to glittering treasures dated thousands of years old, the enchanting treasures of Egypt are sure to mesmerize any traveler! One such awe-inspiring site is the Temple of Karnak, which remains one of the largest religious complexes in the world (Cummins, n.d.).
The Temple of Karnak complex is actually a site covering more than 250 acres and is filled with various temples and monuments (Jarus, 2012). Construction of this ancient temple complex began approximately 4,000 years ago, and the building process of the temple lasted for almost 1,500 years. A line of ram-headed sphinxes greet all visitors to the Temple of Karnak, and recent evidence suggests that these sphinxes once lined the roads all the way until the Luxor Temple (Lee, 2021). There are a myriad of architectural marvels within the complex, including the breathtaking Hypostyle Hall which features 134 colossal sandstone columns ranging from 40 to 70 feet high!
As the complex is situated on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes (modern Luxor), the main center temple was dedicated to the Theban god Amun-Ra as a place where the god would interact directly with the ancient Egyptians (Mark, 2016). Amun-Ra was the chief deity of the Theban triad (consisting of his goddess wife Mut and their son, the moon god Khonsu) and worshipped as the god of sun and air during the New Kingdom era, lasting from 1550 to 1070 B.C.E (Cummins, n.d.). The main sanctuary of the complex was hailed by ancient Egyptians as “Ipet-Sut,” which translates to “The Most Select of Places” (Millmore, n.d.). True to its old name, this ancient place of worship is lined with stone walls carved with intricate hieroglyphics that have withstood the test of time.
Aside from the main precinct, there are two smaller precincts dedicated to the ancient Egyptian goddess Mut, who was regarded as the mother goddess, and the falcon-headed god of war Montu (Jarus, 2012). The complex also is home to several smaller temples and structures dedicated to various deities such as Osiris, god of the afterlife, and Ptah, god of creation (Lee, 2021). Although much of the temple complex’s original architecture has eroded since its creation millenia ago, the Temple of Karnak maintains its breathtaking magnificence and continues to awe visitors to this day.
Cummins, Elizabeth. “Temple of Amun-Re and the Hypostyle Hall, Karnak.” Khan
Jarus, Owen. 2012. “Karnak: Temple Complex of Ancient Egypt.” Live Science,
November 30, 2012. https://www.livescience.com/25184-karnak-temple.html.
Lee, Jess. 2021. “Exploring the Temples of Karnak: A Visitor's Guide.” Planet Ware,
May 20, 2021.
Mark, Joshua. 2016. “Karnak.” Word History Encyclopedia, September 16, 2016.
Millmore, Mark. “Karnak Temple.” Discovering Egypt, n.d.