Temple Run Part 2
Welcome to part 2 of our visit to ancient Egyptian temples!
Temple of Karnak
Karnak is one of the biggest temple complexes in the world. It is dedicated to the god Amun, who is usually depicted with the head of a ram. For this reason, there are many carvings of the god with a ram head, including an avenue of sphinxes with the head of a ram instead of the usual pharaoh head. However, in these statues, the pharaoh is shown under the chin of the sphinxes to show that he is under the protection of the god.
The reason why the temple is so big is because it was added on to by about 30 pharaohs from different points in time. These pharaohs include Tuthmosis III (the son of Hatshepsut), Akhenaten, Ramses II (his biggest addition was 134 pillars) and Hatshepsut (her addition was 2 enormous obelisks, but one is no longer standing). For this reason, there is no general plan or order to the temple. As a matter of fact, there are 10 facades for the temple!
Temple of Luxor
The temple of Luxor is also dedicated to the god Amun. The city of Luxor itself is very important because it was the capital city of Egypt, but at that time it was called Thebes. The temple of Luxor also used to be connected to the temple of Karnak by a long avenue of sphinxes, which may have been used to carry statues of the gods to either temple during festivals or important ceremonies. Although the avenue no longer joins the two complexes, there is work that is being done to find and preserve its remains.
This temple is also fascinating, as it was the site of an ancient Egyptian temple, a Christian church, and a mosque. The temple is currently the site of the Sufi Shaykh Yusuf Abu al-Hajjaj mosque, which is active today. An interesting feature of the mosque is the height of its doors and windows off of the ground. Before it was discovered, the temple was buried under sand. When the mosque was built, the ground level was much higher which is why the doors and windows are so high up.
In addition to the regular carvings of pharaohs and gods, there is an interesting carving of a ruler from a completely different country and culture. At the back of the temple is a shrine to the Greek leader Alexander the Great. After he conquered Egypt, Alexander the Great gained the trust of the Egyptian people by appearing to take on Egyptian beliefs. For this reason, he is shown in these carvings as a pharaoh.
Queen Hatshepsut’s Temple
During the time of the ancient Egyptians, most of the rulers were men because they were believed to be stronger and wiser. However, there were actually a few women who ruled Egypt. One of these women is Queen Hatshepsut. Queen Hatshepsut ruled for around 22 years as co-regent with her son Tuthmosis III, but she was clearly the principal ruler. In time, she assumed the full title and powers of a pharaoh. As men were the ones who were supposed to rule, Hatshepsut is often depicted in statues and carvings as a man.
After her death, her son took the throne. Throughout his reign, he destroyed almost every image of her to try to erase her from history. He was angry that she had kept the throne when it should have gone to him when he became of age.
Hatshepsut’s temple is a mortuary temple to honour her, similar to the one Amenhotep III had built with the Colossi of Memnon. This temple design is very different from the other temples we’d seen so far on our trip.
Seeing these amazing temples reminded me of the time we spent in Cambodia at Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples. It is fascinating to see how these buildings are still standing today despite the lack of modern technology. In my opinion, this makes these ancient constructions all the more impressive!