North Exterior Wall

Related Features

Originally built by Sety I – 1294 BCE to 1279 BCE

Other works initiated by Sety I:

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


The Akhmenu was a large, rectangular temple located in the eastern part of Karnak, just outside of the original early 18th Dynasty temple complex. Entrance to the building was gained through a main door in the temple’s southwest corner, as well as through a door (only recently discovered) in the center of the building’s west wall. The southwest entrance led to a line of nine small chambers to the south and to a short vestibule on the north. A small room north of the entrance corridor, known as the “hall of ancestors,” was the location of a type of king list; sixty-one kings, the royal ancestors of Thutmose III, were depicted seated and receiving offerings from the king. The earliest preserved king names listed refer to 4th Dynasty rulers of Egypt. The temple’s main pillared hall (the heret-ib) was covered with a beautifully painted blue ceiling with yellow stars. The roof was supported by two rows of uniquely shaped columns representing the poles of a portable tent. At the north of the hall stood three chapels decorated with relief scenes of cult rituals and processions, including the procession of royal statues (the wehem-ankh). Inside the largest of these shrines stood a quartzite triad of Thutmose III with the gods Amun and Mut. The southeast sector of the building, dedicated to the god Sokar, consisted of a suite of rooms leading onto a hall with eight fluted columns. The block of rooms just north of the Sokar suite were dedicated to the ithyphallic form of the god Amun and to the king himself. Depictions of exotic flora and fauna sighted by the king on his military campaign are inscribed onto the walls of the famous “botanical room,” located in the temple’s northeast section. The “botanical room,” fittingly adorned by four papyrus columns, led into the Akhmenu’s main sanctuary. Eight niches lined the sides of the sanctuary’s walls; each originally held a statue, possibly of the Theban Ennead. A larger niche in the rear was left for the placement of the naos. A stairway accessed from the northeast corner of the pillared hall led up to a solar shrine on the roof of the temple. A Heliopolitan-type solar altar, shaped like a series of hetep symbols, stood within this solar sanctuary. It is possible that the building overlaid an earlier temple on the same location dated to the reign of Hatshepsut or to the co-regency of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III.
Measurements: The building is 40m deep by 77.5m wide. The main pillared hall spans 40m.

Phases of Construction

Sety I

Sety I covered the exterior side of the hypostyle hall with relief scenes and texts of the king at battle with the enemies of Egypt. The many individual scenes on these wall expanses cover a number of different themes, including Sety’s campaigns against foreign towns or peoples (including the Shasu Bedouin of southern Palestine region, the Libyans, the Hittites and the Yenoam Asiatics), submission and presentation of tribute by foreign rulers to the Egyptian king, and the victorious king presenting the spoils of war to the important gods of Thebes.

Construction materials: sandstone

About the reconstruction model of Sety I

Photographs of king Sety’s reliefs on the northern wall and gate taken at Karnak temple were placed on the model based on the location of these scenes in the publication of the University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey (1986:pl. 1).

Modern Site Photos


University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey. University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey (1986),Reliefs and inscriptions at Karnak: The battle reliefs of King Sety I. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 107vol. IV

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

Brand, Peter. (2008),The Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project.