3rd Pylon

Related Features

Originally built by Amenhotep III – 1390 BCE to 1352 BCE

Modified by Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten – 1352 BCE to 1336 BCE

Modified by Sety I – 1294 BCE to 1279 BCE

Other works initiated by Amenhotep III:

10th Pylon, 3rd Pylon

Other works initiated by Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten:

Aten Temples, 3rd Pylon

Other works initiated by Sety I:

Hypostyle Hall, South Exterior Wall, North Exterior Wall, 3rd Pylon


The third pylon now forms the east wall of the Great Hypostyle Hall. It is located between the second and fourth pylons along the temple’s east/west processional axis. It also marks the intersection of this axis with the north/south processional path. The inscribed decoration glorifies the jubilee (heb-sed) festival of Amenhotep III and presents the king and the god’s sacred bark on a festival journey to Luxor temple. Originally, some scenes depicted the king’s son accompanying his father, but these depictions of a young Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten were later defaced.
Measurements: Pylon 3 measures 28m tall.

Phases of Construction

Amenhotep III

Amenhotep III cleared away the “festival court” of Thutmose II and the numerous pillars, bark shrines and other monuments decorating this space to construct his new pylon. These features were dismantled and used in the foundation and fill of Pylon III, where they were found (often in quite good condition) in modern times. The construction of this new pylon shifted the main temple entrance eastward, remarkable as the temple until this time had gradually moved further and further west as the pharaohs continued to expand outward. The motivation for this change in policy is unknown. Scholars working at Karnak have suggested the king intended to build a colonnade in front of the pylon, similar to the one he sponsored at Luxor temple (Carlotti and Martinez 2010:134-138).

About the reconstruction model of Amenhotep III

The model of the third pylon was based on the plan of Carlotti (1995: pl. XIX) and the axial drawings by Golvin (1987: pl. II, IV).

A simple sandstone pattern was applied to the model.

Large wooden flagstaffs have been added to the pylon towers. These would have been topped with colorful cloth banners. The tall poles stood on stone bases, and were arranged within square notches left in the pylon’s exterior masonry. Clamps secured to the pylon itself (not shown on the model) further stabilized their upper portions. The form and size of the flagstaffs were based on representations of these features found at temples and tombs. These show the poles as reaching above the height of the pylon and tapering as they rise (Azim and Traunecker (1982: fig. 4).

Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten

Akhenaten helped finish the decoration of his father’s pylon and added (or completed) the vestibule/porch to the gate’s west face. Relief scenes on the vestibule depicted Akhenaten in both traditional style and pose – as triumphant pharaoh smiting his enemies. The gate’s decoration remained unfinished, however, seemingly a casualty of the king’s shift in focus to east Karnak.

About the reconstruction model of Amenhotep IV/Akhenaten

The model of the third pylon’s vestibule/porch was based on the plan of Carlotti (1995: pl. XIX) and the axial drawing and plans by Golvin (1987: pl. I-III).

A simple sandstone pattern was applied to the model.

Scholars working at Karnak have recently reassessed the vestibule/porch on the pylon’s west face. They suggest it was partly constructed in the reign of Amenhotep III, and completed by Akhenaten (Carlotti and Martinez 2010:136-138). In front of the third pylon they suggest Akhenaten built a pillared court with images of queen Nefertiti (Carlotti and Martinez 2010:139-140). This suggestion is not included in the model.

Sety I

The entire western façade of the third pylon was covered with a stone lining when Sety I constructed his new Hypostyle Hall between the second and third pylons. As well, the scenes of Akhenaten on the northern part of the vestibule were disguised by a covering of stone. The Akhenaten wall has been reconstructed and placed in Karnak’s Open Air Museum.

About the reconstruction model of Sety I

The stone lining on the third pylon and the additions of Sety I to the porch were based on the axial drawing and plan by Golvin (1987: pl. I-III).

A simple sandstone pattern was applied to the model.

These flagstaffs were removed from the pylon’s façade when the 3rd pylon’s western (exterior) face was incorporated inside the hypostyle hall

Modern Site Photos


Sa’ad, Ramadan. (1970),Les travaux d’Aménophis IV au IIIe pylône du temple d’Amon Re’ à Karnak. Kêmi: revue de philologie et d’archéologie égyptiennes et coptes. vol. 20 , 187-193.

Azim, M. and C. Traunecker. (1982),Un mât du IXe Pylône au nome d’Horemheb. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. VII , 75-92.

Redford, Donald. (1984),Akhenaten, the Heretic King. Princeton: Princton University Press

Golvin, Jean-Claude. (1987),la restauration antique du passage du IIIe pylône. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. VIII , 189-206.

Kozloff, Arielle, Betsy Bryan and Lawrence Berman. (1992),Egypt’s Dazzling Sun: Amenhotep III and His World. Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art

Murnane, William. (1979),The Bark of Amun on the Third Pylon at Karnak. Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt. vol. 16 , 11-27.

Carlotti, Jean-François. (1995),Contribution à l’ étude métrologique de quelques monuments du temple d’Amon-Rê à Karnak. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. X , 65-127.

Carlotti, Jean-François and Philippe Martinez. C. Leblanc and Z. Gihane (2010),Un « château de millions d’années » d’époque ramesside: la grande salle hypostyle du temple d’Amon-Rê à Karnak. Nouvelles observations architecturales et épigraphiques, essai d’interprétation. Les temples de millions d’années et le pouvoir royal à Thèbes au Nouvel Empire. Cairo: Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt., 119-146.

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