Obelisks of Festival Hall East Pair

Related Features

Originally built by Thutmose I – 1504 BCE to 1492 BCE

Other works initiated by Thutmose I:

5th Pylon and Court, Obelisks of Festival Hall East Pair, 4th Pylon and Enclosure, Wadjet Hall


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

Thutmose I

Thutmose I erected his obelisks in front of the main western gate to the temple precinct of the time. According to their inscriptions, the pyramidions capping the obelisks were originally encased in electrum, no doubt splendidly reflecting the rays of the sun. The central lines of text running vertically down each side of the preserved obelisk states that Thutmose I “made it as a monument for his father Amun-Ra.” The obelisks are thought to ensure the presence of the god within in the temple.

During the reign of Ramesses IV, columns of inscriptions were added to either side of the original Thutmoside inscriptions. Ramesses IV’s cartouche was later inscribed over by Ramesses VI. These inscriptions employed standard phrases for glorifying the king.

Construction materials: rose granite

About the reconstruction model of Thutmose I

The obelisks were reconstructed based on the plan and axial drawings of Gabolde (1993: pl. III-VII).

Photographs of the southern obelisk were used to recreate its appearance in the model. The northern obelisk, now fallen, was given a generic rose granite pattern to match the southern obelisk.

Modern Site Photos


Larché, François. (2003),Karnak, 1994-1997. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. XI , 7-64.

Coulon, Laurent, François Leclére, and Sylvie Marchand. (1995),‘Catacombs’ Osiriennes de Ptolémée IV à Karnak. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. X , 205-257.

Leclére, François. (1996),A cemetery of Osirid figurines at Karnak. Egyptian archaeology. vol. 9 , 9-12.

Leclére, François. (2002),Fouilles dans le cimetière osirien de Karnak – travaux récents. Bulletin de la société d’égyptologie. vol. 153 , 24-44.

Leclere, François and Laurent Coulon. Eyre, Christopher (1998),La nécropole osirienne de la “Grande Place” à Karnak : fouilles dans le secteur nord-est du temple d’Amon. Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Egyptologists, Cambridge, 3-9 September 1995. Leuven: Peeters, 649-659.