Only four of the pillars composing the peristyle of Thutmose IV remain in situ at Karnak today. A large section of the peristyle was removed in ancient times during the dismantling of the Thutmose II “festival hall.” Today, the remains of the structure found during modern work at Karnak have been reconstructed at the temple’s Open Air Museum. Many of the recovered blocks still have relief scenes accented with vivid red, yellow, green-blue and blue paint. The raised relief scenes on the pillars depict the king embracing the god Amun. The inscriptions reference the jubilee (heb-sed) festival of Thutmose IV.
Measurements: The pillars were 5m in height and 1m across. The shrine measured 4.7m across, 7m deep and 5.2m high.
Phases of Construction
Thutmose IV adorned the Thutmose II “festival hall” with a double peristyle of square pillars. A small calcite shrine, similar in construction to the calcite chapel of Amenhotep I, was positioned in the southwest corner of the hall between the pillars.
As part of the embellishment of the court, its walls were refaced in sandstone and redecorated. The west wall portrayed cattle being sacrificed and the king making offerings to the god Amun. The north wall showed the king before Amun performing rituals. The south wall contained more offering scenes and depicted the king, accompanied by his mother Tiaa, stretching the cord for the building.
Construction materials: sandstone, calcite
About the reconstruction model of Thutmose IV
A plan of the peristyle was not available when the model was constructed. The model version therefore was designed using photos of the reconstruction of the peristyle in the Open Air Museum and the plan of the location of the four existing columns at Karnak today (Carlotti 2001: pl. 1).
Recently, scholars working at Karnak published a detailed study of the form and decoration of the peristyle (Letellier and Larché 2014). Their reconstruction suggests that the pillars on the east side of the hall (bordering the 4th Pylon) extended only four rows on each side, while those on the west side extended seven rows. A row of five pillars linked the two sides of the hall on the north end, while only two pillars extended out on the south side, leaving the path through the southern gateway clear. The reconstruction also includes the presence of four chapels within the hall, including the Calcite Shrine of Amenhotep I (Letellier and Larché 2014: pl. 7).
A simple sandstone pattern was applied to most parts of the peristyle on the model. However, photographs from Karnak of the clear remains of painted stripes on the cornice and shaft of the pillars were used to add these colored details to the model. A small section of one of the relief scenes (showing some vertical lines at the top and the base lines for the scenes at the bottom) was copied and added to the model of each pillar to act as a placeholder, marking the general location of the scenes. Since the scenes on each pillar differ, it was decided not to place one scene on the model multiple times. Readers should refer to the photos from the reconstructed pillars at the Open Air Museum for examples of the original scenes.
Destruction: Amenhotep II
Amenhotep III tore down the pylon and “festival hall” of Thutmose II to construct the third pylon. His new pylon was situated east of the Thutmose II pylon, shrinking the area of the court between the temple’s entrance and the fourth pylon. The western half of the pillared peristyle of Thutmose IV was disassembled. Four pillars from the peristyle were discovered in the northeast corner of this smaller court, suggesting that the eastern peristyle may have remained. Many of the blocks from this peristyle were used as construction fill in the king’s new constructions at the temple.
Modern Site Photos
Bryan, Betsy. (1980),The reign of Tuthmosis IV. New Haven: Yale Universityvol. Ph.D.
Larché, François. (1993),Karnak, 1989-1992. Cahiers de Karnak. vol. IX , V-XX.
Carlotti, Jean-François. (2001),L’Akh-menou de Thoutmosis III à Karnak : etude architecturale. Paris: Recherche sur les civilisations
Letellier, Bernadette and François Larché. (2014),La cour à portique de Thoutmosis IV. Etudes d’égyptologie. Paris: Soleb