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Showing posts from July 7, 2011

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…

The Great Columns of theGreat Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple

The double row of open-flower papyrus columns in the central nave of the Great Hypostyle Hall. Each one is 21 meters high.
The main east-west axis of the Hypostyle Hall is dominated by a double row of 12 giant columns, each rising to a height of 21 meters (70 ft). All the columns in the hall represent papyrus stalks, and the 12 great ones have open capitals imitating the feathery blossoms of flowering papyrus.
The diameters of these giant bell-shaped capitals are 5.4 meters (18 ft), wide enough to support 100 men. Papyrus stalks are not cylindrical but have three sides with ridges along each edge. The columns are round, but a slight ridge runs up each column like a vertical seam in imitation of the plant. 
Ramesses II even placed his cartouches on the papyrus blossom capitals of the great columns more than 20 meters above the viewer.
Every inch of these columns has been inscribed by Ramesses II. three offering scenes encompass them on their low…

The Clerestory and Roof of theGreat Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple

A reconstruction of the roof and clerestory of the Hypostyle Hall. Almost none of the roofing slabs have collapsed.
The word hypostyle means "having a roof or ceiling supported by rows of columns." The ultimate purpose of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall's 134 massive columns is to carry the load of an equally massive roof.  Although flooded with sunlight today, in antiquity, the Hall was somewhat gloomy.  Large slabs blocked out the sun, with a few small square holes cut in each one to admit a faint light. The roof slabs were supported by a network of ceiling beams resting on the columns. These beams are called architraves and many of them still survive.  Others have fallen and large fragments of them lie in the yards surrounding the temple proper.   One of the great window grilles from the Hall. these were the main source of light in the building, giving its atmosphere an eerie quality like that present at the dawn of creation.
The main…

War Scenes of SETI 1 in the hypostyle hall of karnak temple

The war scenes of Seti I on the north exterior wall of the Great Hypostyle Hall. At the far left is the north gateway. An equally large panorama of war scenes lies beyond it.
The whole northern exterior wall of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall is filled with a panorama of war scenes celebrating the military achievements of Seti I.  The first of the great Ramesside war monuments, they set the artistic standard for Seti's predecessors, but their superb style and composition were never equaled.  
 The war scenes are our main source for Egypt's foreign relations during Seti's reign.  The scenes are laid out in a symmetrical form on either side of the north gateway. 
A nineteenth century drawing of Seti I smiting prisoners.
On both sides of the north gate are two huge scenes  of the triumphant king smiting a group of prisoners with his mace in the presence of the god Amen-Re.  The text above them is purely rhetorical. Of genuine historical interest are…

War Scenes of Ramesses IIin the hypostyle hall of karnak temple

View of the south wall of the Hypostyle Hall showing the war scenes of Ramesses II. Part of our dismantled scaffolding is visible in the lower right corner. Ramesses II is perhaps best known for the battle of Kadesh fought against the Hittite Empire over the city of Kadesh in Syria. Although a military failure, Kadesh was a propaganda victory for Ramesses, and he displayed this "victory" prominently on the walls of several temples throughout Egypt. The Karnak Hypostyle Hall was intended as one of the venues for his Kadesh narrative of texts and war scenes, but before work was finished, pharaoh changed his mind and had scenes of his later wars in Syria and Palestine carved over top of the incomplete Kadesh scenes.
A giant figure of Ramesses II attacks two fortified towns in Syria. Here the king is on foot, but most war scenes show in his chariot. all the scenes have suffered from erosion and other damage, making them hard to underst…

Wall Scenes of Seti I Inside the Great HypoStyle Hall

. The fine grain of the limestone used to build the temple allowed for the intricacy of the work. Seti I is admired by many art historians for the superb quality of the relief carvings made during his reign. This pharaoh's high standards is especially appreciated when it is compared to the often poor quality of reliefs carved during the reign of his son Ramesses II and later in the Ramesside era. One scholar, Herbert Winlock, went so far as to write an elaborate description of Seti as an art connoisseur! The finest reliefs made during the reign are found in the temple of Seti I at Abydos. In this temple, flawless blocks of limestone were used to their full advantage by sculptors who embellished the reliefs with exquisite details usually done in paint. Only the fine grain of the limestone permitted this high level of detail. 
The reliefs in the Karnak Hypostyle Hall are typical of the excellent quality we expect from Seti I, although they are not quite as f…

Building the great hypostyle Hall and Decorating the Walls

The Egyptian construction method using ramps and embankments to raise tall buildings To construct the Hypostyle Hall, the builders laid down the foundations and then the bases of all the columns and the lowest course of blocks for the walls.  Next, they buried the whole area with earth. The next course of stones for all the columns and walls were then laid down and they too were buried. mud brick rams were added to allow the builders to drag the next layer of stone. The process was completed until the highest part of the roof was finished.  The Hyposytle Hall was structurally complete, but there was still much work to do. 
Egyptian construction method. On the left, rough blocks are set in place and an earth embankment is raised.  On the right, the embankment is being removed and the masons are smoothing down the walls. The masons who quarried the blocks only smoothed down the tops and bottoms so they would fit neatly on the walls. The outer surfac…

Function and Meaning of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall

Seti I kneels to receive symbols of life, dominion and "millions of jubilees" from the falcon-headed sun god Re-Horakhty and the lion-headed goddess Weret-hekau. In return for his devotion, the gods promised the pharaoh an eternal kingship "The God's Living Room"
The Karnak Hypostyle Hall can best be seen as a glorified vestibule, and even an introduction to the inner parts of Karnak temple beyond. Every wall and column inside is covered with inscriptions, displaying virtually a cross-section of what took place here. On some walls we see a sampling of the rituals that took place at Karnak. On others there are episodes of the festivals that were celebrated here, or at nearby temples.         Seti I defeating Libyan Tribesmen. War scene on the north wall of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall


War scenes on the exterior walls not only glorified the king as a warrior, they magically protected …