South Exterior Wall

Related Features

Originally built by Sety I – 1294 BCE to 1279 BCE

Modified by Ramesses II – 1279 BCE to 1213 BCE

Other works initiated by Sety I:

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

Other works initiated by Ramesses II:

Obelisks at Eastern Gate, Ramesses II Eastern Temple, South Exterior Wall, Hypostyle Hall, East Exterior Wall


The present-day south exterior wall of the temple includes the south side of the hypostyle hall.
Measurements: 52m across.

Phases of Construction

Sety I

Like the entire southern interior of the hypostyle hall, the building’s southern exterior wall was left undecorated at the time of Sety’s death.

Ramesses II

Ramesses II covered the southern exterior of the hypostyle with monumental relief scenes cut in sunk relief. These scenes parallel the battle reliefs of the king’s father, Sety I, inscribed on the hall’s north side.

The battle scenes originally carved onto the walls glorified the king’s military “triumph” against the Hittities at the battle of Qadesh, a battle most Egyptologists agree was at best a “draw” for the Egyptians. The text is known from a number of other sources, as Ramesses appears to have been particularly proud of his “victory.” Interestingly, Ramesses had his artists carve over these scenes before their completion. They were replaced with descriptions of fifteen years of military campaigns the pharaoh led in Syro-Palestine. These scenes spread out onto the west wall of the court of the seventh pylon.

About the reconstruction model of Ramesses II

The Ramesside battle reliefs were not placed on the model at this time. However, the accompanying photographs display some of these scenes.

Modern Site Photos


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

University of Chicago Oriental Institute Epigraphic Survey. (1954),Reliefs and inscriptions at Karnak: The Bubastite portal. The University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications. Chicago: University of Chicago Pressvol. III

Brand, Peter. (2015),The Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project. University of Memphis