July 29, 2012

Akhenaten’s Sun Temples at Karnak

Akhenaten’s Sun Temples at Karnak
The first scientific study of antiquities by computer was started in 1966 by the University Museum of Pennsylvania, subsidised in part by the then Egyptian Antiquities Organisation and in part by the Smithsonian Institution. It entailed a systematic study of the distinctive sandstone blocks, called Talatat, found at different sites at Karnak this century, but particularly from the 9th pylon of Haremhab. Painstaking work with scale photographs enabled the matching of decorations and representations into chains of scenes, from which it soon became clear that there was not one, but as many as half a dozen different Sun Temples.

Akhenaten’s Sun Temples at Karnak
In the 1975/76 archaeological season the site of one of the temples was found. Donald Redford, director of the archaeological team for the University of Pennsylvania, excavating an area east of Karnak, located the foundations of a long wall, together with fragments of relief which successfully identify the site as the Temple of Gem-pa-Aten.

Meanwhile, the Franco-Egyptian Centre at Karnak continue to extract Talatat from the core of the 9th pylon. The blocks were buried in the order in which the temple was dismantled; this enables immediate reconstruction and, in fact, an 18-metre wall has been reconstructed in the Luxor Museum (page 180).

The eastern avenue of sphinxes extends from the tenth pylon to the temple of Mut to the south. To the west is the temple of Khonsu and the temple of Osiris adjoins it.

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