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The Smaller Columns of theGreat Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple

The closed-bud capital of one of the smaller columns. The square blocks on top of the columns, called abaci, support the architraves.
The 122 columns which comprise the bulk of this vast stone forest 12 meters (40 ft) high. They are only small in comparison to the 12 great columns in the nave. The smaller columns have closed-bud papyrus capitals imitating stalks which have not bloomed.
As one part of the temple as a whole, the Hypostyle Hall functioned as the "public room" of the god's house. Egyptian temples were designed as grander versions of typical Egyptian homes.  Each house had a reception chamber with at least one column supporting the roof in even the poorest home. 
This grouping of hieroglyphs on the base of the columns in the Hypostyle Hall was a visual sign to the public that they had access to this part of the temple even if they could not read it. To the literate, it reads "all the common people worship the king."
Much grander by far than their own homes, the public was given access to this part of the temple during festivals to witness the procession of the god's portable shrine.  Only a few Egyptians could read the hieroglyphic texts, but  a pictorial design at the base of each column indicated they had permission to be here. 
Repeated several times around the circumference of all 134 columns is a design showing a small bird called a lapwing resting on a basket while adoring the king's cartouche with human arms that have sprouted from their chests. Above them, a tiny star spells out the word "adore." To the Literate scribes, they design reads: all the people adore the King.   The illiterate could easily be taught to recognize this design as a visual sign meaning "you may stand here."


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