Temple of Luxor (page 2 of 3 pages)





The large pylon front, a kind of triumphal entrance, is about 213 feet across. Two granite colossi of Ramses II on a throne (about 51 feet high) frame the entrance; originally four standing statues of Ramses II also were placed in front of the pylon. In addition, an 82 foot obelisk stands at the ceremonial entrance; it is placed on a base with ithyphallic baboons in relief. (See also Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel.) This obelisk's twin is in the Place de la Concorde, Paris. The pylon has four vertical indentations for the placement of flagstaffs. Inscriptions on the pylon cite Ramses II as the builder of the temple, even though he is only responsible for the pylon and the first courtyard. Bas-reliefs on the front depict scenes of military campaigns, specifically Ramses' battles with the Hittites in the fifth year of his reign.

The Entrance Pylon

 

Left: the base of the obelisk and right tower of the pylon; center: one of the remaining standing statues of Ramses II; right: the front of the temple from the west

 

The Courtyard of Ramses II

During the 19th Dynasty, Ramses added this courtyard surrounded with a double row of columns. This portico-courtyard is about 187 feet by 164 feet. The axis is slightly shifted; that is, the courtyard is not on the same axis as the pre-existing tall colonnade behind it.

Left: entrance into the courtyard; center: courtyard from southwest; right: courtyard looking west

 
The columns have capitals as closed papyri (or buds) and Osirian statues between the columns.
 

View from west with Colonnade of Amenophis and the Court of Amenophis (far right)

Working in reverse chronological order, we see the rest of the temple; although the colonnade was started by Amenophis, the project was abandoned by his son, who became Akhenaton and moved his capital to the new city dedicated to Aton, Tell el Amarna. This part of the temple was later completed by Tutankhamen, who returned to Thebes and dedicated himself to the traditional gods.
 

The Colonnade of Amenophis III--left: view looking south toward the Courtyard of Amenophis; center: view looking north toward the entrance; right: detail of calyx capitals

This area was originally planned as an additional courtyard. The colonnade is about 170 feet long with two rows of 7 columns, about 52 feet high, with capitals shaped like open lotus flowers. Tutankhamen had walls erected to complete the area but today these flanking walls are mostly collapsed. Jill Kamil explains that Tutankhamen "had the walls embellished with the reliefs representing the august annual festival, the Opet, when the god Amon visited his southern harem. The sacred barges were brought in splendid procession from Karnak to the Luxor temple, borne on the shoulders of white-robed priests from the temple to the river, and then towed upstream in a splendid and majestic procession. The festival took place at the height of the Nile flood and continued for twenty-four days of merry-making. Unhappily much of this relief work has been destroyed" (28).

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Work Cited: Jill Kamil. Luxor. A Guide to Ancient Thebes. London: Longman, 1983.

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© 2001 Mary Ann Sullivan. I have photographed (on site), scanned, and manipulated all the images on these pages. Please feel free to use them for personal or educational purposes. (I would appreciate being told if you find them useful.) They are not available for commercial purposes without my explicit permission.

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