The Temple of Karnak is the same name of “Ipet-isu” that the ancient Egyptians called it. It is a city of temples built more than two thousand years ago and dedicated to the Theban snake of Amun, Mut and Khonsu.
This dilapidated place is still capable of overshadowing many wonders of the new world.
A Temple for Gods
For the mainly unschooled ancient Egyptian population, this could only have been the place of the gods. It is the most important religious building ever built, covering about 81 ha (1.5 km by 0.8 km), and was a place of pilgrimage for nearly 2,000 years. The area of the sacred enclosure of Amun alone is 25 ha and can hold ten average European cathedrals. The great temple at the center of Karnak is so big that St Peter’s, Milan, and Notre Dame Cathedrals would fit within its walls.
The Beautiful Hypostyle hall
The Hypostyle hall, at 54,000 sq. feet (16,459 meters) and that includes 134 columns, is still the largest room of any religious structure within the world. In addition to the main sanctuary, there are several smaller temples and a vast sacred lake – 423 feet in 252 feet (129 in 77 meters). The sacred barges of the Theban Triad once floated on the lake during the annual Opet centenary. The lake was enclosed by storerooms and living quarters for the priests, along with an aviary for aquatic birds.
To achieve this magical renewal, the ancients held the cent of Opet annually in Karnak and Luxor.
It took twenty-seven days and was a celebration of the link between pharaoh and the god Amun. The procession started at Karnak and finished at Luxor Temple, one and a half miles (2.4 kilometres) to the south.
Ancient Egyptian festivals
It was the statue of the god Amun and covered with holy water and linen sheets, and decorated with gold and silver. The priests then placed the god in a memorial and onto the traditional baroque supported by poles for carrying. Pharaoh arose from the temple, his priests carrying the baroque on their shoulders, and together they moved into the crowded streets. A crowd of Nubian militaries serving as guards beat their drums, and musicians escorted the priests in song as incense filled the air.
At Luxor, (right)Pharaoh of Egypt and his clergy entered the temple and a ceremony was held to revive Amon, reconstitute the universe and transfer the power of Amun to Pharaoh.
When he finally emerged from the temple sanctuary, the enormous crowds cheered him and celebrated the guaranteed fruitfulness of the earth and the expectation of plentiful crops.
During the festival, the ancients presented to the audience more than 11,000 loaves of bread and more than 385 jars of beer, and allowed some to enter the temple to ask questions to God.
The priests talked the answers through a hidden window high up in the wall, or from inside hollow statues.