Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project

[First posted in AWOL 8 August 2012, updated 11 September 2014]

The Karnak Great Hypostyle Hall Project

Welcome to the Great Hypostyle Hall of the Temple of Karnak. In antiquity, Karnak was the largest religious sanctuary in Egypt's imperial capital of Thebes (modern Luxor) and was home to the god Amun-Re, king of the Egyptian pantheon. For over 2000 years, successive pharaohs rebuilt and expanded the temples of Karnak, making it the largest complex of religious monuments from the ancient world. 

At the heart of Karnak, the Nineteenth Dynasty pharaoh Sety I (reigned ca. 1291-1279 BCE) erected his Great Hypostyle Hall, a colossal forest of 134 giant sandstone columns supporting a high clerestory roof and enclosed by massive walls that after 3300 years remain substantially intact today. The Great Hall is vast. It covers an acre of land, and its great columns soar to heights of 20 meters. Not only does the scale and completeness of this monument remain a rarity among ancient Egyptian temples, but it is also the largest and most elaborately decorated of all such buildings in Egypt. Visitors often remark on the bewildering array of inscriptions covering every surface: the walls, columns, and even the roof! The patchwork of artistic styles and different royal names seen in these inscriptions and relief sculptures reflect the different stages at which they were carved over the centuries. Successive pharaohs, Roman emperors, high priests and common Egyptians added to its wealth of inscriptions and relief decoration, made architectural alterations and restorations, and even left pious graffiti on its walls... 
The Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project of the University of Memphis, William J. Murnane, Founding Director (1945-2000)
Although the University of Memphis' mission to Karnak only began in 1990, the roots of the Project go back decades earlier. From the early 1970s until his untimely death in 2000, Dr. William J. Murnane was the driving force behind the recording and study of the Great Hypostyle Hall. We dedicate this site and our ongoing work to our beloved colleague...

Preliminary Report 1992-2002

PDF Version

Preliminary Report 2004-2005

PDF Version

Preliminary Report 2011

PDF Version

Reliefs and Inscriptions
The main goal of the Karnak Hypostyle Hall Project is to record and publish all of the hieroglyphic text from the monument and to make them as widely accessible as possible through dissemination of English translations of all the texts with photographs and line drawing facsimiles of all the inscriptions. From this page, the user will find links to PDF documents of all the inscriptions that we have recorded and translated.

The Interior Wall Scenes

The War Scenes of Sety I

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