Opet Temple

Related Features

Originally built by Nectanebo I – 380 BCE to 362 BCE

Modified by Ptolemy III – 246 BCE to 221 BCE

Other works initiated by Nectanebo I:

1st Pylon, Contra Temple, Opet Temple, Shoshenq I Court, Enclosures and Gates, Bab el Amara Gate, Other Processional Ways

Other works initiated by Ptolemy III:

Bab el Amara Gate, Opet Temple


The Opet temple is located in the southwest of the Amun precinct, just west of the Khonsu temple. A gateway on the southwest side of the Nectanebo I temple enclosure wall gives direct access to the temple. A small pylon and columned porch (not shown on the model) front the temple on its west side. Within the court stands a columned kiosk (also not shown on the model). A ramp provides access into the temple (raised on a platform) from the court. The visitor first enters a small hypostyle hall with two Hathor-headed columns. This hall leads to the main sanctuary, a square room with a niche for the divine statue. A number of crypts ran down from the temple into its platform, including a “tomb of Osiris” and a “birth chamber.” On the temple’s rear exterior (eastern) wall, a small shrine for the cult statue of Osiris could be accessed from outside. This shrine was located directly across from a door in the Khonsu Temple, suggesting a close link between the temples.
Measurements: The building sat on a podium of 19.6m by 22.7m. The podium extended 1.9m high.

Phases of Construction

Nectanebo I

The chronology of the Khonsu temple remains unclear. The temple’s architecture is currently being studied by the CFEETK and their work may greatly clarify the phases of construction.

The earliest part of the building seems to date to Taharqo, who added a porch of columns (not shown on the model) and possibly a small pylon. This construction implies an earlier temple to the goddess Opet stood in this location before the 25th Dynasty. Most scholars believe this temple to the goddess Opet existed in the mid-18th Dynasty.

Nectanebo pierced his massive mud brick enclosure wall with a sandstone gate leading directly into the temple. He may have begun construction on the temple proper.

Ptolemy III

Ptolemy III must have made additions to the temple, as the crypt representing the “tomb of Osiris” is inscribed by that king.

Construction materials: stone

About the reconstruction model of Ptolemy III

The reconstruction of the temple was based on the plan and axial drawings by Arnold (1999: fig. 110) and an axial drawing of the temple’s east side by Wilkinson (2000: 68).

Because the chronology of the temple’s phases of construction are not well understood, the entire temple on the model appears during the reign of Ptolemy III. This simplification was chosen in order to prevent misleading the viewer by providing levels of detail that are inaccurate. It should be stressed that the contribution of Nectanebo and Ptolemy III to the temple is still unclear. Once new research on the temple is made available, the model will need to be changed to reflect the new chronological understanding.

A number of parts of the building, including the columned porch, kiosk and a small pylon were not placed on the model due to lack in available information on the appearance of these features.

The model was given a simple stone pattern that reflects the size of the blocks used in the temple’s construction. The Hathor columns in the temple’s hypostyle were not modeled, as neither detailed drawings or photographs of the columns were available

Ptolemy VIII

Although Ptolemy II and Ptolemy III both added their names to the temple’s relief decoration, the Opet temple remained unfinished until the reign of Ptolemy VIII. Most of the building’s interior decoration dates to this king, although the exterior decoration was accomplished under the later Roman emperor Augustus Caesar.

The building’s proximity and connection to the Khonsu temple suggests a cultic link between the two temples. In one Egyptian myth, the god Amun dies as Osiris, only to be reborn through the mother-goddess Opet. In a close parallel, Khonsu, the child of Amun-Ra, was seen as the newly reborn sun god.

About the reconstruction model of Ptolemy VIII

Because the actual additions of Ptolemy VIII are unknown, the model of the Opet temple does not change from that of Ptolemy III (see explanation above).

Modern Site Photos


Azim, Michel. (1987),À propos du pylône du temple d’Opet à Karnak. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. VIII , 51-80.

Golvin, Jean-Claude and Jean Claude Goyon. (1987),Les bâtisseurs de Karnak. Paris: Presses du CNRS

Arnold, Dieter. (1999),Temples of the last pharaohs. New York: Oxford University Press

Wilkinson, Richard . (2000),The complete temples of ancient Egypt. New York: Thames & Hudson