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I probably had more interest in seeing the temple of Karnak than any other antiquity that we would encounter. I'd read and heard so much about it, that to be there at last was a highlight of my trip. I stayed long after the tour group had left, doling out baksheesh to the Guardians of the various small temples and chapels, and enjoying the changing appearance in the changing light. We went back for the son et lumiere show the next night, and that too was impressive.

Karnak was built over a long period of time - 1000 years or more; the hypostyle hall which is so impressive (two sides of 7 rows of 9, 42' high with a dozen even larger ones in the center) was built in the 18th Dynasty by Ramses II and his father Seti I; other parts were added by Hatshepsut, Seti II, Ramses III, and even by pharaohs in the Ptolomaic period. You can see a mud-brick ramp used to build the outermost pylon. Excavations are on-going as well as restoration work on the foundations which have been damaged by the salinity of the Nile since the High Dam has been built.

I wandered there for hours. Each little side-chapel or temple has its Guardian who, for a small sum, will show you around. I particularly enjoyed the Chapel of Osiris, with its seven false doors and seven ankhs. The whole complex is so vast that many people can be there without it seeming crowded - except during the worthwhile son et lumiere evening.

The First Pylon at Karnak
the entrance plaza
from the other side you can see the  supporting dirt as the wall was built
the inside of the first pylon, with dirt slope to build against.
in the hypostyle hall
the hypostyle hall I
in the hypostyle hall
In this one you can see the peristyle above
excavating to preserve the temple from salt damage in ground water
this excavation is an attempt to deal with the rising water table which is threatening the hall.
in the hypostyle hall
and another view of the hypostyle hall
Hatshepsut's obelisk
Hatshepsut's obelisk
and HER pylon, an area now being excavated by Americans
and the pylon for Hatshepsut, being excavated by a team from the University of Chicago

a fragment

a fragment in a sea of them.

the sacred lake, where priests of Amun would purify themselves.

the Sacred Lake. There's stadium seating for the Son et Lumiere show here.

seven keys...
Seven keys (ankhs, really)...

for seven doors

For seven doors (false, really)

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