The Courtyard Between the Seventh and Eighth Pylons In the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt

The Courtyard Between the Seventh and Eighth Pylons
In the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt

By Jimmy Dunn

Doorway of the Seventh Pylon, Interior West Doorpost

Beyond the Courtyard of the Cachette in the Temple of Amun at Karnak in Luxor (ancient Thebes) is the second court defined between the Seventh and Eighth Pylons of Karnak's secondary north-south axis. Walking through the Seventh Pylon, the interior doorpost west of the passage includes a stylobate with niches surmounted by cartouches of Tuthmosis III and the winged disk. Between the niches is Amun-Ra, who is seated on a throne and extending the key of life to the falcon of the royal Horus name. The two cartouches crowned with feathers have been reworked in the name of Seti II. Note that the lintels of the two niches and the gap between them are made from one sole block. On the top register the king, perhaps accompanied by Atum and Montu, is completing the great stride towards the sanctuary. Note also the delicate nature of the carving and the perfection of the draftsmanship in this extremely durable crystalline granite.

Broken Colossus of Tuthmosis III at the Seventh Pylon, East Wing, southern facade

Inside the courtyard, there are two colossi of Tuthmosis III, which are unfortunately badly damaged and broken. These colossi were carved in red Aswan greanite, and the remaining ruins are remarkable for the crisp lines of the loincloth pleats and the detail of the musculature of the knees and the first lateral peroneal muscles, as well as for the lifelike way the fist lies along the body. These are technical masterpieces in a material that is extremely hard and difficult to work. Interestingly, the sole tools known for carving such stone are made of bronze, and this metal had to undergo special preparation to be able to work this granite. However, the procedure remains unknown at the present time. Under the left leg of the Colossus fronting the east doorpost, Ramesses II is carved in sunk relief, standing and wearing the nemes headdress, with the hek and nekhakha over his right shoulder.

Ramesses II beneath the feat of the Colossus of Tuthmosis III

Behind the colossus on the eastern wing of the seventh pylon, to the left, is the southern facade of the doorpost where "the doorway Menkheperre-Amun-Ra-Great-in-appearance" is horizontally inscribed on the uppermost of the two bottom lines. The cartouche on the lower line has been modified in the name of Heqamaatre Meryamun Ramesses (Ramesses IV), who also added his name to the statuary of the north facade in the Courtyard of the Cachette.

The king above wears the white crown of the South and holds the white club, and stands before Amun-Ra. The vertical inscription is in the name of Menmaatre (Seti I), who is said to have "renewed" this monument. On the right is a partially destroyed scene of the massacre of the defeated that has a counterpart on the west wing of this pylon. Here, the prisoners are from Nubia and the Sudan.

On the western wing of the southern facade, the king is depicted wearing the red crown of the North. He holds the white club "to strike down he great of Retenu [from] all the mountains, [from] all the inaccessible [mysterious] lands joined together under his fists. Here, the vanquished raise their arms and kneel in three superimposed rows. They are Asian warriors as evidenced by their recognizable beards and countenances.

The king smites his enemies on the Seventh Pylon, West Wing, South Facade

The makes baton held in the king's other hand separates them into two groups facing the opposite direction from each other. Under this scene is text that reads, "prisoners with escutcheons" indicating conquered cities. This list includes only the Palestinian cities that were captured.

Beyond the Seventh Pylon, on the outside north wall of the courtyard is the Alabaster Sanctuary of Tuthmosis III. Upon the entrance of the sanctuary we are told that each wall is made of a single piece of alabaster. Each of these monoliths is some eight meters long. This naos may have been intended to shelter the sacred barque. The sanctuary was originally a simple peripteral kiosk, built during the king's first royal jubilee, and was subsequently enlarged and adorned with a second row of pillars. At one time, in front of its facade, which depicts a miniature pylon, were two statues of in pink granite. On the outside north wall of the sanctuary, the central tableau depicts the king making the "great stride", holding the oar and rudder in his hands, in the presence of Amun. Amun wears a headdress crowned by two feathers that are each divided into fourteen sections.

The Northern exterior wall of the Alabaster Sacntuary of Tuthmosis III

After the Alabaster Sanctuary of Tuthmosis III, on the east wall near the Eighth Pylon is a doorway that connects this courtyard with the sacred lake. Here, an inscription carved on the inside of the gateway is by Amenhotep, son of the high priest Ramessesnakht, a contemporary of Ramesses II. The text recounts "that he reconstructed the dwellings of the high priests formerly raised by Sesostris I (Senusret I)" in the domain of Amun. These building very probably are the same as the remnants of the ancient dwellings unearthed east of the lake, near the enclosure with bastions attributed to Tuthmosis III. The deepest levels passing beneath the enclosure go back to the Middle Kingdom, and objects dating back to the Old Kingdom have also been recovered.

On the exterior of this eastern wall connecting the Seventh and Eighth Pylons are two tableaux that record the gifts of gold, sliver and all manner of precious things, made during the reign of Ramesses IX as a donation to the high priest of Amun, Amenhotep. To the left, the high priest, facing the king, raises his arms and looks toward the north. He is framed by two smaller officials, resting their hands upon his linen robe. His name and title are inscribe in front of his face as, "The vizier, great confidante of his mater, first prophet of Amunresonther, Amenhotep, maa'kheru [righteous of voice]". Other text tell us that the king credits him with acts of bravery and countless good deeds.

The King an the High  Priest, Amenhotep

To the right, the priest is turned to the south and the two minor officials are now behind his robe. Here, texts records that:

"The king in person said to the great and to his companions that were at his sides, 'Give numerous tributes, countless rewards in fine gold and silver and thousands of good things to the first prophet of Amunresonther, Amenhotep...because of the numerous and perfect monuments that he has made in the house of Amunresonther [inscribed] in the great name of neter-nefer."

Also on the outside of the court, on the lintel of the doorway that opens onto the staircase of the east wing of the Eighth pylon, is depicted two kneeling priests facing each other with their hands raised in gestures of adoration toward the now erased royal cartouches. On the left (south) the priest is named Roy, while on the right he is called Rome. Actually, these are both the same individual. Rome-Roy was a first prophet of Amun near the end of the reign of Ramesses II, and he remained the head of the Thebes' clergy for about twenty-five years, until the reign of Seti II.

Rob-Rome, shown above the door and to the right of the door

In front of two priests with shaved heads who wear formal linen robes who represent Rome-Roy and his son, Beknekhonsu, to the right of the doorway, is a long inscription dating to the reign of Seti II. The first six lines of this inscription consist of an adoration by Amun's first prophet, Rome:

"I come to you, master of the neter, Amun, who was at the beginning, neter of neters (gods), creator of all that exists, master of neters and men, chief of Heliopolis, prince of Thebes, great bearer of the crown in Het-Berber {the sun temple at Heliopolis]; when the eyes of men gaze upon you, the breath comes forth from your mouth towards every nostril...''

''Thou didst grant me long life carrying thy image, while my eye beheld thy two uraei every day, and my body was endowed with health, being without sorrow and free from all fear, O powerful king of eternity, thy food is with me, thy favors come due, thy name is protection for me.''

Beginning with the seventh line, the text is now apparently in the name of Roy:

"Greatest of Ra-Atum's seers in Thebes, second prophet of Amun, first prophet of Amun, Roy... he says, 'O wab priests, scribes of the house of Amun, excellent servants of the divine offerings, bakers, mixers, confectioners, makers of loaves...performing all their duties (?) for their lord, thou who enter this workshop each day that is within the house of Amun, 9may all of you0 utter my name each day and remember me with good thoughts...''

''I found this room in complete ruins, its walls falling, the woodwork rotted, the doorposts of wood perishing (as well as) the paint of the bas-reliefs. I restored it in its entirety, more vast than it had been, heightening, widening... excellently (?); and I made its doorposts of sandstone, and mounted upon them doors of true pine; (I made) a (comfortable) workshop (for) the bakers and mixers who are in it. I made it in work that was better than before, for the protection (of thepersonnel?) of my neter Amun, master of neters."

Plan of the courtyard between the Seventh and Eighth Pylons

The Eighth Pylon, which terminates this courtyard and is one of the best preserved on the secondary axis at Karnak, is believed to have been constructed during the reign of Hatshepsut. On the bottom register of the east wing's north facade is a depiction of Tuthmosis I, Hatshepsut's father, and a twenty-line text recorded by Hatshepsut that pays homage to her father, as well as confirming her as "king". In the top register is the sacred barque, carried on the shoulders of priest towards the east and preceded by the king who is introduced by the great lion-headed magician followed by Hathor. This is followed by the king who now wears the white crown and presents himself before Amun in front of fifteen neters in three rows. Tuthmosis II's titles are carved on the west doorpost, while on the east doorpost is that of Tuthmosis III, but with a combination of his cartouche and that of Queen Menkheperkare.

Within the passage of the Eighth Pylon that leads to the next courtyard, we also find Ramesses II, who is holding the hek and nekhakha scepters over his shoulder, receiving the panegyrics from a seated Amun. Here, the king is introduced by Montu-Ra and Mut, the great lady of Asheru (who replaces Tum here), before Amun, who gives him the panegyrics. These tableaux are from Ramesses II, but the horizontal legend is from Ramesses III. There are small, square and rectangular cavities which were intended to hold ceramic plates, of which several were found intact and in place.

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See also:

The Approach to the First Pylon (Western)

The First Courtyard in the Temple of Amun, Karnak

The Open Air Museum

The Great Hypostyle Hall

Part One, An Overview and the Exterior Walls

Part Two: The Columns

The Interior Walls

The Obelisk Courtyard (Between the Third and Fourth Pylons)

The Hypostyle Court of the Temple Proper

The Colonnade of Tuthmosis I and the Vestibule and Antechamber of Tuthmosis III Between the Fifth and Sixth Pylons

The Peristyle Court of Tuthmosis III, The Naos of Philip Arrhidaeu and the Sanctuary of Hateshpsut Beyond the Sixth Pylon

The Central Courtyard and the Festival Hall of Tuthmosis III

The Temple of the "Hearing Ear", The Eastern Temple of Ramesses II, the Colonnade of Taharka and the Gate of Nectanebo I at Temple of Amun at Karnak

The Courtyard of the Cachette

The Courtyard of the Cachette, Part I

The Courtyard of the Cachette, Part II

The Courtyard Between the Seventh and Eighth Southern Pylons

The Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Pylons and the Courtyards Between them

The Osirian Temple of Taharqa at KarnakThe Sacred Lake and the Scarab