Visit the most historical places of
Egypt and see an exhibition of photographs showing the
different historical places.
is located about 33 miles south of Luxor.
The town's Greek name was Latopolis and here fish
(lates) where thought to embody the goddess Neith,
who was sacred to the area. Isna was increasingly
important during the 18th dynasty due to Egypt's developing
relationship with the Sudan. There was a route
established between Isna and Derr. Later, the city
slowly declined until it received renewed interest
during the 26th Dynasty. Later, under the Greeks
and Romans, it became the capital of the Third Nome
of Upper Egypt.
also know of an Isna about a hundred years ago from
Flaubert, who later wrote Madame Bovary, was propositioned
by a 'almeh' while aboard his boat. He went with her
to the house of Kuchuk Hanem, where she danced (not
so virtuously) the Bee. In other words,
wild times could be found here. Mohammed Ali had band
almeh (meaning learned women) from Cairo,
so they had gathered to make their living in Qena,
Isna and Aswan.
today, Isna is a somewhat sleepy if busy merchant
and farming town, with a weaving industry, on the
west bank of the Nile where the entertainment more
resides in the Saturday animal market. On the covered
market street, one may purchase fabric, or have the
fabrics made into clothing. There are some fine
old houses about with fine brickwork and mashrbiyya
screens. There is also a barrage just outside
of town which was built in 1906. About 4 miles southwest
of town is the Deir Manaos Wa al-Shuhada (Monastery
of the Three Thousand Six Hundred Martyrs), who's
10th century church is said to be one of the most
beautiful in Upper Egypt. Perhaps this monastery is
a lasting commemorative to Emperor Decius (249-51
AD) who degreed that all Christians would suffer death
if they did not sacrifice to the pagan gods.
His cartouche was the last to be carved on the walls
of the Temple of Khnum in Isna.
the main attraction is the Temple of Khnum, which
lies beneath the level of the houses in a pit.
Most of the ruins of around the Temple and the old
city are yet to be explored as they lay under these
modern dwellings. This was not the first temple
here, for during the reign of Thutmose III, a temple
was built here that preceded it. There are blocks
from an early Christian church in the forecourt of
the temple, foretelling of a time when Isna was an
important Christian center. Near the Temple
of Khnum on the stone quay along the corniche
are carved cartouches of Emperor Marcus Aurelius.
describes a vast conglomerate of ruined temples, chapels
and other buildings of various dates. The name Karnak
comes from the nearby village of el-Karnak. Whereas
Luxor to the south
was Ipet-rsyt, Karnak was ancient Ipet-isut, perhaps
the most select of Places. Theban kings and the god
Amun came to prominence at the beginning of the Middle
Kingdom. From that time, the temples of Karnak were
built, enlarged, torn down, added to, and restored
for more than 2000 years.
ancient Egyptians considered Ipet-Isut as the place
of the majestic rising of the first time, where Amun-Ra
made the first mound of earth rise from Nun. At Karnak,
the high priests recognized a king as the beloved
son of Amun, king of all the gods. The coronation
and jubilees were also held here. Staffed by more
than 80,000 people under Ramesses III, the temple
was also the administrative center of enormous holdings
of agricultural land.
largest and most important group in the site is the
central enclosure, the Great Temple of Amun proper.
The layout of the Great Temple consists of a series
of pylons of various dates. The earliest are Pylons
IV and V, built by Tutmosis I, and from then on the
temple was enlarged by building in a westerly and
southerly direction. Courts or halls run between the
pylons, leading to the main sanctuary.
temple is built along two axes, with a number of smaller
temples and chapels and a sacred lake. The northern
enclosure belongs to Montu, the original god of the
Theban area, while the enclosure of Mut lies to the
south and is connected with Amun’s precinct by an
alley of ram-headed sphinxes.
An avenue bordered by sphinxes
linked Karnak with the Luxor
temple, and canals connected the temples of Amun and
Montu with the Nile.
IV, who changed his name to Akhenaten,
erected several temples for his new state deity to the
east of the central enclosure of Amun. The most conspicuous
features of these temples were open courts surrounded
by pillars and colossal statues of the king. The temples
were dismantled in the post-Amarna period and the stone
blocks reused in later structures, especially the pylons
built by Horemheb.
square northern enclosure is the smallest of the three
precincts and its monuments are poorly preserved.
It contains the main temple of Montu, several smaller
structures, particularly the temples of Harpre and
Ma’at, and a sacred lake. A structure thought to be
a treasury built by Tutmosisi I was discovered outside
the east enclosure wall.
Montu precinct is the most significant architectural
complex north of the Amun-Ra
temple. It was first built by Amenhotep III, on a
podium, its masonry including blocks belonging to
discarded monuments from Amenhotep I, Hatshepsut-Tutmosis
III, Amenhotep II and Tutmosis IV. It includes other
monuments besides the Montu temple.
III, the founder of the main Montu temple, built an
enclosure wall around the Montu precinct. In its current
state, the Montu precinct also includes several other
temples and structures. The temple of Ma’at, the only
one extant to this deity, leans on the rear side of
the Montu temple. Largely destroyed now, it still
preserves inscriptions of some of the viziers of Ramesses
III and XI. A previous Ma’at temple apparently existed
in this area, indicated by reliefs and stelae belonging
to the reign of Amenhotep III. The trials of the accused
tomb robbers were held in this temple.
precinct also includes a temple of Harpre. The temple
of Harpre is built along the east side of the Montu
temple. The oldest part, the sanctuary on the south
side, may date back to the 21st dynasty.
Nepherites and Hakor of the 29th Dynasty built a hypostyle
hall with Hathor capitals. A geographical procession
formed part of the decoration of the hypostyle hall.
An open court and a pylon were added to the north
façade during the 30th dynasty. A subsidiary
building in front of the pylon is known as the eastern
secondary temple, and may be related to the cult of
the bull of Montu.
sacred lake on the west side may have been dug by
Amenhotep III and restored by Montuemhat, who has
a biographical inscription in the Mut temple. A "high
temple" was erected by Nectanebo II as a storehouse
for the offerings.
ix doors in the south wall of the Montu precinct lead
to six chapels dedicated by Divine Votaresses of Amun
to different forms of Osiris.
The chapels are of Nitoqret, Amenirdis, an unattributed
one, Karomama, and one from the reign of Taharka.
dromos leading to a quay on a canal, which is no longer
extant, completes the complex. The dromos is a stone-paved
road leading from the gate of the precinct to a quay
on a canal north of the site. The quay may be dated
to the reign of Psamtik I. Two statues of Amenhotep
III have been found broken and buried under a chapel
in the middle of the temple dromos.
copy of the "Restoration Stela" of Tutankhamun
was erected here, as was a stela of Seti I, inscriptions
of Ramesses II, Merenptah, Amenmesses, and Pinedjem.
The eastern part of the temple collapsed at the end
of the New Kingdom, and reconstruction was probably
undertook by Taharka, who also built a great portico
on the main façade. This was dismantled and rebuilt
by the first Ptolemies.
the temple precinct, a limestone gate of Hathshepsut
and Tutmosisi III was usurped by Amenhotep II and
completed by Seti I. Only two brick walls of the chapel
dedicated to Osiris,
by Taharka, where a statue of the goddess Taweret
was found by Mariette. Farther west, a door of Ptolemy
IV marks the entrance to a small temple of Thoth,
now in ruins. In the northwest, a columned building
consecrated by Nitoqret to the Theban triad has suffered.
To the east of the Montu precinct, the remains of
a building known as a treasury, built by Tutmosis
I, have been excavated. It consisted of a barque station
of Amun, storerooms and workshops. This treasury may
be the oldest building on the site.
oldest remains on the site of North Karnak date back
to the end of the Middle Kingdom and belong to urban
settlements, with mud-brick houses, granaries and
these buildings are dedicated to Amun-Ra
of Thebes, even if rare mentions of Montu have been
found, mainly epithets describing various kings as
beloved of Montu. The dedicatory inscription of the
main temple attributes the sanctuary to Amun-Ra,
Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, Pre-eminent
in Ipet-Sut., and this inscription is confirmed by
various minor monuments such as the obelisks, the
two quartzite statues of Amenhotep III and other statues.
first dedicatory inscription to Montu appears on the
stela erected by Seti I in the court of the temple.
From the reign of Taharka we have a comprehensive
documentation in the decoration of the portico, stating
that Montu, Lord of Thebes, is the main god of the
temple. Scenes on the Ptolemaic gate of the precinct
confirm this rank for Montu.
southern part of Karnak contains the temple of Mut,
on the east bank of the Nile, more than 900 feet south
of the temple of Amun-Ra.
It is surrounded by a crescent shaped sacred lake
called Isheru, and subsidiary structures, especially
the temple of Khons-pekhrod, originally of the 18th
Dynasty, and a temple of Ramesses III.
the New Kingdom, Mut, Amun and Khonsu their son became
the pre-eminent divine family triad of Thebes. The
earliest reference to Mut, Mistress of Isheru, occurs
on a statue of the 17th Dynasty. Inscriptional
evidence also links the site to Mut in the early 18th
Dynasty reign of Amenhotep I. The earliest, securely
dated Mut Temple remains are no later than the reigns
of Tutmosis III and Hatshepsut.
temple of Mut was built by Amenhotep III, but here
too the propylon in the enclosure wall is Ptolemaic,
Ptolemy II Philadelphus and III Euergetes I, and there
are later additions to the temple by Taharqa and Nectanebo
I among others. Hundreds of statues of the goddess
Sekhmet inscribed for Amenhotep III are in museums,
but some are still on site, perhaps moved from the
king’s mortuary temple on the West Bank.
excavations indicate that much, and possibly all,
of the present precinct was village settlement, until
some time in the Second Intermediate Period.
Hatshepsut and Tutmosis III, the precinct seems to
have consisted of the Mut Temple and the sacred lake
and to have extended no further north than the temple’s
first pylon. Parts of the west and north walls of
these precinct have been uncovered, including a gate
bearing Tutmosis III’s name and a Seti I restoration
inscription. The eastern and southern boundaries of
this precinct are as yet undefined.
Mut Temple was enlarged later in the 18th
Dynasty, when the Tutmoside building was completely
enclosed by new construction, probably by Amenhotep
III. The Mut temple’s present second pylon, of mud-brick,
dates no later than the 19th Dynasty, and
may have replaced an earlier precinct or temple wall.
Its eastern half was built of stone late in the Ptolemaic
period. The temple’s first pylon, also of mud-brick,
has a stone gateway built no later than the 19th
Dynasty, and displays at least one major repair. This
pylon may also replace an earlier northern precinct
wall. Also in the 19th Dynasty, Ramesses
II rebuilt Temple A, which lay outside the precinct
and which was already enlarged by Amenhotep III. In
front of Temple A, Ramesses II erected two colossal
statues, at least one usurped from Amenhotep III,
and and two alabaster stelae recarved from parts of
a shrine of Amenhotep II. One stelae indicates that
Temple A was at that time dedicated to Amun.
A was more extensively renovated during the 25th
Dynasty, during which time it functioned at least
in part as a birthhouse, celebrating the birth of
Amun and Mut’s divine child, with whom the king was
identified. A significant part of the Mut Temple was
the 25th and 26th Dynasties
a proliferation of small chapels began. These include
at least two dedicated by Montuemhat, an official
in the reign of Taharka, a magical healing chapel
dedicated by Horwedja, Great Seer of Heliopolis, a
chapel related to Divine Votaresses, a small Ptolemy
VI chapel, and Chapel D dedicated to Mut and Sekhmet,
built by Ptolemies VI and VIII.
massive enclosure walls built by Nectanebo II of the
30th Dynasty give the precinct its current
shape and size, incorporating Temple C and a large
area south of the sacred lake as-yet unexplored.
Temple of Amun-Ra
I, the entrance to the temple complex, is preceded
by a quay, probably reconstructed during the 25th
Dynasty and an avenue of ram-headed sphinxes,
most of which bear the name of the high priest of
Amun, Pnudjem of the 21st Dynasty. This
pylon, which is unfinished, was probably built in
the 30th Dynasty by Nectanebo I, though
an earlier pylon may have stood here. South of the
avenue are several smaller structures, including a
barque shrine of Psammuthis and Hakoris, and parapets
of the 25-26th Dynasties.
court which opens behind this pylon contains a triple
barque shrine of Seti II made of granite and sandstone,
consisting of three contiguous chapels dedicated to
Amun, Mut and Khonsu. In the center of the forecourt
there are remains of a colonnaded entrance of Taharqa,
one of the columns of which has been re-erected. A
small temple or barque station, of Ramesses III faces
into the forecourt from the south. This temple was
a miniature version of the mortuary temple at Medinet
doorway on the north side of this court leads to an
open-air museum, where a number of small monuments
have been reconstructed, including the limestone barque
chapel of Senwosret I and Hatshepsut’s Chapelle Rouge.
II, probably a work of Horemheb, is preceded by two
colossal statues of Ramesses II. Only the feet of
one remains. A third statue of the king includes Princess
Bentanta standing between his feet. Behind the pylon,
the now lost roof of the Great Hypostyle Hall, the
most impressive part of the whole temple complex,
was borne by 134 papyrus columns. The relief decoration
of the hypostyle hall is the work of Seti I and Ramesses
II. The exterior walls depict military campaigns of
these kings in Palestine and Syria, including the
Qadesh battle against the Hittites.
III was built by Amenhotep III, but the porch in front
of it was decorated by Seti I, and Ramesses II. Numerous
blocks from earlier buildings were found reused in
the pylon : a sed-festival waystation of Senwosret
I, the White Chapel, shrines of Amenhotep I and II,
Hatshepsut, the Red Chapel, and Tutmosis IV, and a
pillared portico of the same king. The four obelisks
which stood behind the pylon were erected by Tutmosis
I and III to mark the entrance to the original temple,
but only one obelisk of Tutmosis I is still standing
IV and V, both built by Tutmosis I, and the narrow
once-pillared area between them, are the earliest
parts of the temple. Two obelisks of Hatshepsut made
of red quartzite can be seen here, one still standing.
east is the Festival Temple of Tutmosis III. One room
in this temple is known as the "Botanical Garden",
because of its representation of exotic plants, birds,
and animals., It may have contained the core sanctuary
of the temple.
the 20th Dynasty, Ramesses III built a
triple barque shrine in the western court and undertook
the construction of the temple of Khonsu.
in the 25th Dynasty built the large sacred
lake with a temple, the lake edifice, at its north-west
corner. He also built columned pavilions leading to
the eastern and western entrances of the temple and
in front of the temple of Khonsu. The small pylon
of the temple of Opet was also begun during the 25th
large gate of Ptolemy III Euergetes was built in front
of the temple of Khonsu and at the back of the Opet
temple. Extensive repairs were made to the bases of
walls damaged where ground water had risen. Repairs
were also made to the Hypostyle hall walls, and the
eastern and western gateways were entirely redone
court north of Pylon VII is known as the Cachette
Court : Here a deposit of thousands of statues which
originally stood in the temple was found in 1903.
the northwest corner of the temple’s sacred lake is
a colossal statue of the sacred scarab beetle on a
tall plinth, dating to Amenhotep III.
temple of Khonsu stands in the southwest corner of
the enclosure. Its propylon in the main enclosure
wall, built by Ptolemy III Euergetes I, is approached
from the south by an avenue of ram-sphinxes
protecting Amenhotep III. The pylon was decorated
by Pnudjem I , the forecourt by Herihor, an dthe inner
part by various Ramessids. There is also some Ptolemaic
20 other smaller chapels and temples are within the
precinct of Amun-Ra,
including one of Ptah built by Tutmosis III, Shabaka,
several Ptolemies and Tiberius.