About Digital Karnak

Through at least three thousand years of development, from local shrine in a regional town to national center of power, the temple of Amun-Ra at Karnak has known dramatic modifications tied in with political shifts, religious reform and ritual changes. As a legacy of a culture where every aspect of life was permeated with religion, the study of this temple complex touches upon every factor of human existence in ancient Egypt. Karnak therefore presents an excellent entry for understanding more about all aspects of ancient Egyptian culture and the study of its legacy.

The Digital Karnak Project aims to make the site of Karnak more accessible to students and instructors in the English-speaking world. The features of this website have been designed to provide college classrooms (and the interested public) with easily accessible, expert material relating to the temple precinct. As part of this goal, a Virtual Reality model of the temple was constructed, offering students a completely new way to view the temple: reign-by-reign, following the complex patterns of royal construction, modification and destruction that are now obscured by the latest building phases at the site. Footage of this model, as well as original videos and maps, are accompanied by thematic essays written and reviewed by Egyptologists to supply students and instructors with reliable information in a digital and visually dynamic platform.

A team of noted Egyptologists, educators, architects, and technologists were brought together to develop learning resources related to the Temple at Karnak in Egypt. The project had three primary goals: (1) to assemble databases of information related to Karnak, (2) build an interactive computer model of the site, and (3) create a series of resources using the model and databases that are available online free-of-charge through this website and can be easily used for undergraduate education.

The Digital Karnak Project combines the experience and talent of two sections of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA): the Experiential Technologies Center (ETC) and the UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology (UEE). Directed by Dr. Diane Favro through the School of the Arts and Architecture with support from UCLA’s Academic Technology Services, the ETC uses powerful information technology tools to support creative and cross-disciplinary research in archaeology, architecture, humanities, social sciences, and the performing arts. Dr. Willeke Wendrich of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures is director of the UCLA Digital Humanities Incubator Group (UDHIG) and the editor-in-chief of the online UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology (UEE), a repository for scholarly content related to Egypt.

The Digital Karnak Project was funded in part with a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH). Financial assistance was also provided by the Steinmetz Family Trust. Staff assistance and computing infrastructure was provided by UCLA’s Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) and UCLA’s Academic Technology Services (ATS). The Digital Karnak Project was launched online in 2008 at UCLA and the original content was migrated to a new website at UCSC in 2021-22 in order to sustain this content into the future. The 2021-22 redevelopment and relaunch of the site was partially funded by a UCSC COR grant.

Permission to undertake the project and support in Luxor was generously granted by Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of the Arab Republic of Egypt (SCA). We would especially like to thank Dr. Mansour Boraik, Chief Inspector of the SCA in Luxor for his help at Karnak.

The Digital Karnak Project would also like to thank the members of the Centre franco-égyptien d’étude des temples de Karnak (CFEETK) who offered invaluable advice and consultation in Luxor.

Photographs of the “Lateran obelisk” were supplied by Dr. Hendrik Dey.

Photographs of the “Istanbul obelisk” were gathered using copyright-free photographs posted on the internet.


Project directorsDiane Favro , Willeke Wendrich
Project coordinatorElaine Sullivan
Academic committeePeter Brand , Betsy Bryan , Donald Redford
Egyptology contentElaine Sullivan , Carrie Zarnoch
ModelsEunkwang Kim , Tom Beresford (model prototype) , Itay Zaharovits (Google Earth model) , Brendan Beachler (Google Earth prototype)
RenderingsEunkwang Kim , Bruce McCrimmon , Carrie Zarnoch (texture mapping) , Brian Zentmyer (texture mapping)
Additional contentMegan DuBois (map design, instruction video design and execution) , Jennie Dillion (instruction video design and execution) , Zoe Borovsky (metadata consultant)
Technology coordinatorLisa M. Snyder
Web site design and implementationCharlize Rice, George Mbugua, Jessica Pan, Daniel Chang, Angela Thalls, Elaine Sullivan, Xiao Li
Web site developmentCharlize Rice, Jessica Pan, George Mbugua, Angela Thalls, Xiao Li
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