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Karnak Temple is an ancient Egyptian temple precinct located on the east bank of the Nile River in Thebes, known today as Luxor.

Luxor Karnak temple

Construction at Karnak Temple started by 4,000 years ago and continued up until the time the Romans took control of Egypt, about 2,000 years ago. It covers more than 100 hectares, an area larger than some ancient cities.

The division of Karnak Temple

  • The central sector of the site, which takes up the largest amount of space, is dedicated to Amun-Ra, a male god associated with Thebes. The area immediately around his main sanctuary was known in antiquity as “Ipet-Sun” which means “the most select of places.”
  • To the south of the central area is a smaller precinct dedicated to his wife, the Goddess Mut.
  • In the north, there is another precinct dedicated to Montu, the falcon-headed god of war. Also, to the east, there is an area — much of it destroyed intentionally in antiquity — dedicated to the Aten, the sun disk.

The magic of the temple

Karnak Temple would have made a great impression on ancient visitors, to say the least. The pylons and great enclosure walls were painted white with the reliefs and inscriptions picked out in brilliant jewel-like colours, adding to their magnificence.

 

Behind the high walls, glimpses of gold-topped obelisks which pierced the blue sky, shrines, smaller temples, columns and statues, worked with gold, electrum and precious stones such as lapis lazuli must have shimmered in the dusty golden heat.

 

There is a lot to discover, but after Egypt fell under the control of Rome in 30 B.C., works at Karnak Temple petered out and the great monument became the magnificent archaeological site it is today.