The magnificent aspect of the Avenue of Sphinxes that once connected the temples of Luxor and Karnak, where priests, royalty and the pious walked in procession to celebrate the Opet festival, is being rekindled. Many of the 1,350 human-headed sphinxes with the bodies of lions that once lined the avenue have been restored.
On the annual Opet festival priests trod the paving stones from Karnak to Luxor bearing a wooden bark holding the shrine of the triad of deities: Amun-Re, Mut and Khonsu.
The 2,700-metre-long avenue of sphinxes was built during the reign of Pharaoh Nectanebo I of the 13th-Dynasty. It replaced one built formerly in the 18th Dynasty, as Queen Hatshepsut (1502-1482 BC) recorded on the walls of her red chapel in Karnak Temple. According to this, she built six chapels dedicated to the god Amun-Re on the route of the avenue during her reign, emphasising that it was long a place of religious significance.
Sadly, however, over the span of history the avenue was lost, subjected to destruction as some of its sphinxes were destroyed and those sections of the avenue that were far removed from both temples were covered with sand and were buried under random housing.
Within the framework of the Ministry of Culture programme to restore ancient Egyptian monuments with a view to developing the entire Luxor governorate into an open-air museum, a project was planned to recover the lost elements of the avenue, restore the sphinxes and return it to how it was in ancient Egypt.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
More re Avenue of Sphinxes, Luxor
Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)