Khonsu Temple

Related Features

Originally built by Ramesses III – 1184 BCE to 1153 BCE

Modified by Taharqo – 690 BCE to 664 BCE

Other works initiated by Ramesses III:

Ramesses III Temple, Khonsu Temple

Other works initiated by Taharqo:

Taharqo Kiosk, Taharqo Edifice and Nilometer, Ramesses II Eastern Temple, Khonsu Temple, Western Processional Way


The Khonsu Temple is located in the southwest corner of the temple precinct, facing south. The Bab-el Amara gate gave direct access to the temple. A porch of open papyrus columns stood before the temple’s main pylon. This led to an unroofed court enclosed by a double peristyle of closed-bud papyrus columns. A small ramp led from the court into the central part of the temple. The temple contained not only a suite of rooms for the housing of the statue of the god, but also a separate bark chamber. While the existing Khonsu temple dated to Ramesses III, scholars believe that an earlier version of the temple may have existed in the 18th Dynasty. Reused blocks found in the bark sanctuary of the Ramesside temple dated to the reign of Amenhotep III. However, these blocks may have originated not at Karnak, but from the west bank mortuary temple of that king
Measurements: The pylon was 34.5m long, 7m wide, and 18m high; the columns in the hypostyle hall measured 7m (the four central columns in the nave) and 5.5m (the two rows of outer columns); the overall temple stretches about 70m long 27m wide.

Phases of Construction

Ramesses II

Ramesses III began construction of a new temple to the child god Khonsu (son of the god Amun-Ra and the goddess Mut in the Egyptian pantheon) at Karnak. Decoration inscribed for Ramesses III, Ramesses IV, Ramesses XI, Ramesses XII, Herihor and Pinedjem adorned the temple and pylon. Some scholars believe Ramesses III or IV completed the construction of the temple, while the following kings and high priests of Amun took advantage of the large blank spaces to apply their names and images to the temple of the god. Other scholars have argued that each inscribed area was built by the respective ruler.

Construction materials: stone

About the reconstruction model of Ramesses II

The model reconstruction of Khonsu temple was based on the basic plan of the temple published by Carlotti (2001: pl. 1) and the wooden model of the temple created by CFEETK artist Rashid Migalaa.

A plain stone pattern was put on the model of Khonsu temple. The sizes of each block approximate the sizes of the stones in the actual building.

The two lines of ram-headed sphinxes flanking the porch and forming a processional running southward from the temple (probably moved here after the 20th Dynasty) were not added to the model. The small chapel appended to the rear of the temple was also not added to the model.


Taharqo added a porch of four rows of five papyrus-shaped columns in front of the temple’s pylon. This porch was very similar to one the king placed in front of the temple of Ramesses II on the Amun precinct’s east side. Each row of columns may have originally been joined along the temple’s axis by stone architraves. These could have supported a timber roof, as a stone roof would have been too heavy to span the 7.2m to 8.2m space between each column. Red granite blocks were used to pave the space between the columns.

Construction materials: sandstone, red granite paving

About the reconstruction model of Taharqo

The model of the Taharqo porch was based on the plans from Laroche-Traunecker (1982: fig. 4) and its position on the general map of Karnak published by Carlotti (2001: pl. 1). The design for the porch’s individual columns was based on the columns of the Taharqo porch at the temple of Ramesses II in eastern Karnak.See the webpage Ramesses II Eastern Temple for a discussion of these columns.

The columns were given a simple sandstone pattern. The red granite paving was not included on the model.

Modern Site Photos


El-Molla, Magdi. (1993),L’allée sacrée du temple de Khonsou. Rapport sur les fouilles de l’avenue de sphinx à têtes de béliers effectuées en 1982-1983. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. IX , 239-262.

University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey. (1979),Scenes of king Herihor in the court. The temple of Khonsu. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1

University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey. (1981),Scenes and inscriptions in the court and the first hypostyle hall: with translations of texts and glossary for volumes 1 and 2 [of The temple of Khonsu]. The Temple of Khonsu. Chicago: Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2

Schwaller de Lubicz, R. A.. (1999),The temples of Karnak. London: Thames & Hudson

Laroche-Traunecker, Francoise. (1982),Données nouvelles sur les abords du temple de Khonsou. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. VII , 313-337.

Leclant, Jean. (1965),Recherces sur les monuments thebains de la XXVe dynastie dite ethiopienne. Bibliothèque d’étude. Le Caire: Institut français d’archéologie orientalevol. 36 , 262-286.

Cabrol, Agnès. (1995),Une Représentation de la tombe de Khâbekhenet et les dromos de Karnak-Sud: Nouvelles Hypothèses. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. X , 33-64.

Carlotti, Jean-François. (2001),L’Akh-menou de Thoutmosis III à Karnak : etude architecturale. Paris: Recherche sur les civilisations

Lauffray, Jean, Serge Sauneron and Ramadan Sa’ad. (1975),Rapport sur les travaux de Karnak. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. V , 1-42.