Sunday, May 13, 2012

Much needed makeover for three goddesses

Al Ahram Weekly (Nevine El-Aref)

The temples of the Karnak complex stand majestically on the east bank of the Nile at Luxor, their awe-inspiring architecture flaunting the great and noble civilisation of ancient Egypt. We know from historical records that Karnak's vast medley of temples, chapels, columns, pylons, obelisks and above all the sacred lake have fascinated visitors for at least 2,000 years.

To the south of the Amun-Re temple complex, beneath the tenth pylon, stands the ruined temple of the mother goddess Mut. Since its construction by Pharaoh Amenhotep III (1388-1360 BC) the temple became a centre of interest for the pharaohs of the New Kingdom up until the Ptolemies (310-30 BC), who built several temples associated with the original Mut temple and its crescent-shaped lake.

The Mut precinct preserved its importance even after the Roman conquest of Egypt in 30 BC, but its decline began not long afterwards. Regrettably the temple has been devastated over time; it has lost some of its features completely, and most of its blocks were usurped in antiquity and reused to construct other structures at Karnak. Except for some walls, foundations and no less than 600 black granite statuettes of the lioness goddess Sekhmet found scattered at the courtyard. Some Theban residents even built residential houses within the precincts of the Mut temples.

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