Egypt Encompassed
Published: November 23, 2005
Page: 11
Karnak

Karnak is a large sprawling temple complex in the modern day city of Luxor, which in antiquity was known as Thebes. The construction of Karnak Temple spanned nearly two millenia with successive pharaohs adding new sub-temples to the work of earlier pharaohs. Initial construction began by the Egyptians in the dynasty XII under Sesostris I, who ruled circa 1962-1928 BC. Additional temple construction continued to be added piecemeal to the complex until the reign of Nectanebo I of dynasty XXX, who ruled circa 380 - 362 BC. There were also minor projects undertaken by Greco-Roman conquerors to gain favor with the Egyptians as late as the first century AD.

First Pylon
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Ramses II
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Second Pylon
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Karnak is entered via the first pylon, which is also the latest structure to have been constructed on the site. After the first pylon is a courtyard, the most prominent feature of which is on the side opposite the first pylon. A 45 feet tall statue of Ramses II stands alongside the entryway of the second pylon. Beyond the second pylon lies one of Egypt's great construction achievements from antiquity. The great colonnaded hall is flanked by the second and third pylons. The hall contains 134 columns between 75 and 48 feet in height. Unlike monoliths like the pyramids, mere photographs do a poor job of conveying the scale of the great colonnaded hall. The columns were once entirely topped by a roof, of which some segments remain. The underside of the roof contain well preserved carved and painted hieroglyphics that have been largely shielded from the elements in the desert.
Karnak Columns I
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Roof Remnants I
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Roof Remnants II
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Karnak Columns II
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Karnak Columns III
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Columns From Afar
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Beyond the remnants of the third pylon are the two remaining large obelisks that have not been been removed from Egypt. After this point the obvious direction a visitor might wish to take is unclear. The area to the southwest contains an impressive collection of hieroglyphics and a spring fed pool known as the Sacred Lake. To the east is an expanse of minor ruins.
Obelisks of Karnak
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Karnak Decay
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Pharaoh's Wrath
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Karnak Ruins
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