Meaning of KARNAK in English

also called Al-Karnak village in Qina muhafazah (governorate), Upper Egypt, which has given its name to the northern half of the ruins of Thebes on the east bank of the Nile River, including the ruins of the Great Temple of Amon. Excavations in the 20th century have pushed the history of the site back to the Gerzean period (c. 3400c. 3100 BC), when a small settlement was founded on the wide eastern bank of the Nile floodplain. Karnak contains the northern group of the Theban city temples, called in ancient times Ipet-Isut, or Eptesowe, Chosen of Places. The ruins cover a considerable area and are still impressive, though nothing remains of the houses, palaces, and gardens that must have surrounded the temple precinct in ancient times. The most northerly temple is the Temple of Mont, the war god, of which little now remains but the foundations. The southern temple, which has a horseshoe-shaped sacred lake, was devoted to the goddess Mut, wife of Amon; this also is much ruined. Both temples were built during the reign of Amenhotep III (139053), whose architect was commemorated by statues in the Temple of Mut. Between these two precincts lay the largest temple complex in Egypt, and one of the largest in the world, the great metropolitan temple of the state god, Amon-Re. The complex was added to and altered at many periods and, in consequence, lacks a coherent plan. It has been called a great historical document in stone. In it are reflected the fluctuating fortunes of the Egyptian empire. There are no fewer than 10 pylons, separated by courts and halls and nowadays numbered for convenience from west to east, number one being the latest addition. Pylons one through six (now nearly vanished) form the main axis. The 7th and 8th pylons were erected in the 15th century BC by Thutmose III and Queen Hatshepsut, respectively, and the 9th and 10th during Horemheb's reign (13191292). These pylons formed a series of processional gateways at right angles to the main axis, linking the temple with that of Mut to the south and, further, by way of the avenue of sphinxes, with the temple at Luxor 2 miles (3 km) away. The history of the temple must be briefly sketched. There is no extant trace of the original Middle Kingdom temple save a small jubilee shrine of Sesostris I (Senusret I; reigned 19081875), now reconstructed from fragments found inside the 3rd pylon. At the beginning of the New Kingdom, Thutmose I (reigned 1493c. 1482) enclosed this 12th-dynasty temple and fronted it with two pylons (the 5th and 4th), with a pillared hall of gilded cedarwood between. Hatshepsut erected two tall obelisks, one of which still stands. In the reign of Thutmose III the temple was greatly enlarged; not only did he add to the existing structures and add a pylon (the 6th) and pillared courts containing halls in which he inscribed the annals of his campaigns, but he also built to the east of the Middle Kingdom area a transverse temple in the form of a jubilee pavilion. On the walls of one of the rear rooms of this temple is carved a kind of pictorial catalog of the exotic animals and plants he had brought home from Asia in the 25th year of his reign. He was probably also the builder of the wall that runs round the temple from the 4th pylon eastward and of the sacred lake to the south of it, on which the bark of Amon floated. Small additions were made by his successors, and Amenhotep III added a pylon (the 3rd) to the west and greatly embellished the temple. The most striking feature of the temple at Karnak is the hypostyle hall, commissioned by Ramses I (reigned 129290), that occupies the space between the 3rd and 2nd pylons. The area of this vast hall, one of the wonders of antiquity, is about 54,000 square feet (5,000 square metres). It was decorated by Seti I (reigned 129079) and Ramses II (reigned 127913), to whom much of the construction must be due. Twelve enormous columns, nearly 80 feet (24 metres) high, supported the roofing slabs of the central nave above the level of the rest so that light and air could enter through a clerestory. Seven lateral aisles on either side brought the number of pillars to 134. Historical reliefs on the outer walls show the victories of Seti in Palestine and Ramses II defeating the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh. Ramses III (reigned 118756) built a small temple to Amon outside the Ramesside pylon across from a triple shrine erected by Seti II (reigned 12041198). The Bubastite kings of the 22nd dynasty, in adding a vast court to the front of the temple, incorporated both these small temples in their forecourt. The Bubastite Gate at the southeast corner of this court commemorates the victories won by Sheshonk I (reigned 945924), the biblical Shishak, in Palestine. The Kushite (Nubian) pharaoh Taharqa (reigned 690664) planned a tall colonnade, of which one pillar still stands, and perhaps began the giant first pylon, 370 feet (113 metres) wide and 143 feet (44 metres) high, which was continued by Nectanebo I (Nekhtnebef I) in the 4th century BC but never completed. Beyond it, an avenue of sphinxes dating from Ramses II's reign leads to the quayside. Within the enclosure of the Great Temple of Amon are included a number of other notable small shrines and temples. A temple to Ptah, in the north side of the enclosure, was built by Hatshepsut and Thutmose III and added to by the Ptolemies, who also embellished the Great Temple of Amon by the addition of granite shrines and gateways. To the south, Ramses III dedicated a temple to Khons, the moon god, which merits attention. A small late temple to Opet, the hippopotamus goddess, adjoins it. Karnak and other areas of ancient Thebesincluding Luxor, the Valley of the Kings, and the Valley of the Queenswere added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1979. The site presents a constant problem to the architects who seek to preserve it, for the foundations are inadequate, and moisture from the Nile's annual flood has disintegrated the sandstone at the base of walls and columns. The work of repairing and strengthening goes on continuously, and, as this work is carried out, new discoveries are constantly being made. In one of the pylons, thousands of fragments were found from a temple built at Thebes by Akhenaton (reigned 135336 BC) to his god Aton; this temple was destroyed when the cult of Amon was restored. Margaret Stefana Drower The Editors of the Encyclopdia Britannica

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