Karnak is a complex in Egypt where ancient ruined temples are located. These temples are from the era of Pharoah Ramses II, from around 1391-1351 BC. This area was the most important place for worship during this time. The Great Temple of Amun was a very large building, and it is still available to visitors today. The Karnak Temple Complex is located near Luxor, south of Cairo, Egypt. It is visited more than any other historical area in the world, after the Giza Pyramids, and it is the largest ancient religious preservation in the world.
This area is very significant because it reveals much of the history of this area through scenes that are displayed in the complex. There are battle scenes between pharaohs and enemies, and rulers were made a permanent part of history through these memorials. Many remarkable displays of the history of this time are still standing, such as the statue of Pinedjem I which is 10.5 meters tall. The sandstone that was used in the temple’s complex was brought from over 100 miles away on the Nile River. Another amazing feature of the Precinct of Amun-Re is the panora of a freize that displays very clear images of ancient characters that still stands today. In 323 AD, when Constantine the Great recognized the Christian religion, the complex was closed down, and Christian churches were built.
There are four main temples in the complex, and the Precinct of Amun-Re is the largest. Here, people worshiped the god Amun-Re. The complex contains many monuments and structures, and it is very large. Parts of the building are not accessible to the public because of restoration. There is an open-air assembly spot that visitors may see. It is where the temples of Opet and Khons can be found. The Cult Terrace is the entryway that has partially visible images for a few of the kings of the Third Intermediate Period. The pylon, or monumental gateway is also here for visitors to see. The first pylon is constructed of mud bricks and gives modern day visitors an idea of how construction of the temple took place long ago.
The construction of the temple and its pylons, monuments, and other buildings were an ongoing process that was begun by one king and often completed by the next one. Sometimes newly anointed kings left old structures and added on to them, and other times they were torn down during their reign. For instance, Seti I began construction of the Great Hypostyle Hall, and Ramesses II who changed his father’s engravings and name to his own. Some areas of the complex are very unique, such as the Third Pylon that has portions of it that are gold-plated.
Thousands of artifacts were once found buried under the First Court or Cachette Court. There were more than 750 statues found there as well. High waters entered the area before the artifacts could be removed. Great numbers of artifacts have been found in many other areas of the temple complex that also act as puzzle pieces to complete the picture of life during this time.
There is another precinct, the Precinct of Mut, that still stands. It was a dedication to the mother goddess, Mut, the wife of Amun-Re. There is a sacred lake located here where priests once bathed before worship. This temple is not open for tours because part of it has been ransacked and damaged. Many clues that have been discovered at this temple reveal the importance of the priestess at this time, such as a sacred festival that drew hundreds of thousands of people to it.
Tour companies offer tours of the great complex, along with other interesting sites in Egypt. Tickets are required to enter Karnak, and different areas require separate tickets.