Obelisks at Contra Temple

Introduction


The obelisks stand in what was the far eastern part of the early 18th Dynasty Amun complex, just east of the Akhmenu. The obelisks’ bases now flank the Contra Temple. The pyramidion of the southern obelisk is now in the Cairo Museum, while that of the northern monument remains at Karnak.
Measurements: The original height of the obelisks is unknown. The size of the remaining fragments show that this pair was larger than the queen’s pair in the Wadjet Hall. In relief scenes at Hatshepsut’s west bank mortuary temple, Deir el Bahri, the transport of the eastern obelisks is shown. In the accompanying texts, the obelisks are claimed to have stood some 108 cubits (62 meters) high, although Egyptologists believe these measurements were inflated, and the obelisks were actually much smaller.

Phases of Construction

Hatshepsut

Hatshepsut erected two obelisks in east Karnak. Some scholars believe these obelisks marked the eastern entrance to the temple and the location of a precursor to the Akhmenu built by the queen. The raising of these obelisks was overseen by Senenmut, an important official during Hatshepsut’s reign. The obelisks were also claimed to have been covered in gold.

Thutmose III had the obelisks incorporated into the temple wall surrounding his Akhmenu temple and erased Hatshepsut’s names and images from the monoliths. The obelisks may have fallen on their own or been pulled down some time after this.

Construction materials: rose granite

About the reconstruction model of Hatshepsut

Because no measurements for the obelisks were available, a basic obelisk form was scaled to fit the size of the base. The exact height and shape of the obelisks is unknown, and the model versions should be understood only as an approximation of the original structures.

The obelisks were covered with a simple rose granite pattern created from photos of other red granite obelisks at Karnak.

Documentation

Golvin, Jean-Claude. (1993),Hatchepsout et les obelisques de Karnak. Hatchepsout: femme pharaon. Dijon: Editions Faton, 34-41.

Naville, Edouard. (1908),The temple of Deir el Bahari: the lower terrace, additions and plans. The Temple of Deir el Bahari. London: Egypt Exploration Fundvol. VI

Dondelinger, Edmund. (1977),Der Obelisk : ein Steinmal ägyptischer Weltanschauung. Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt

Habachi, Labib and Charles Van Siclen. (1977),The obelisks of Egypt: skyscrapers of the past. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press

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