About Karnak Temple

The Karnak Temple Complex, commonly known as Karnak , comprises a vast mix of temples, pylons, chapels, and other buildings near Luxor, Egypt. Construction at the complex began during the reign of Senusret I (reigned 1971–1926 BCE) in the Middle Kingdom (c. 2000–1700 BCE) and continued into the Ptolemaic Kingdom (305–30 BCE), although most of the extant buildings date from the New Kingdom. The area around Karnak was the ancient Egyptian Ipet-isut (“The Most Selected of Places”) and the main place of worship of the 18th Dynastic . Theban Triad with the god Amun as its head. It is part of the monumental city of Thebes, and in 1979 the UNESCO added it to thier World Heritage List along with the rest of the city. The Karnak complex gives its name to the nearby, and partly surrounded, modern village of El-Karnak, 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) north of Luxor.



The original name of the temple was Nesut-Towi, meaning “Throne of the Two Lands”. Other names included Ipet-Iset. Meaning “The Finest of Seats”, as well as Ipt-Swt, meaning “Selected Spot”, or Ipetsut, meaning “The Most Select of Places”.

Some believe that the modern name of Karnak is derived from Arabic: خورنق Khurnaq meaning “fortified village”. However, this speculation is not supported by any historical evidence.



Gate at Karnak. Brooklyn Museum Archives, Goodyear Archival Collection (before 1923)

The history of the Karnak complex is largely the history of Thebes and its changing role in the culture. Religious centers varied by region, and when a new capital of the unified culture was established. The religious centers in that area gained prominence. The earliest known artifact found in the area of the temple is a small, eight-sided column from the Eleventh Dynasty. Which mentions Amun-Re. Amun (sometimes called Amen) was long the local tutelary deity of Thebes. People identified him with the ram and the goose.

European knowledge of Karnak

Thebes’ exact placement was unknown in medieval Europe, though both Herodotus and Strabo give the exact location of Thebes and how long up the Nile one must travel to reach it. Maps of Egypt, based on the 2nd century Claudius Ptolemaeus’ mammoth work Geographia. Had been circulating in Europe since the late 14th century, all of them showing Thebes’ (Diospolis) location. Despite this, several European authors of the 15th and 16th centuries who visited only Lower Egypt and published their travel accounts. Such as Joos van Ghistele and Andre Thevet, put Thebes in or close to Memphis.