July 27, 2012

Great Festival Temple of Thutmose III Facts

Great Festival Temple of Thutmose III: Plan 8
Before describing this ‘Most Glorious of Monuments’ as it was called, let us first recall that Thutmose III was the creator of a vast Egyptian empire. He went regularly to war each summer and returned to Egypt around the end of September. Among the splendid treasures he brought back with him were golden vases, arms and armour, precious metals and countless jewels. During the balmy winter months he would remain in Egypt where he would receive foreign envoys; sometimes these were members of the royal or noble classes, and sometimes representatives accompanied by caravans of costly gifts. Then, when the summer sun shone hot and dry, he would recruit his forces and march to battle once again. In a series of annals he gave full details of his seventeen campaigns and records of the spoils of battle. He was the first Egyptian Pharaoh to introduce military tactics, his most successful battle technique being the blitzkrieg', some 3,000 chariots, hidden behind a hill, simultaneously dashing into action with lances flying, hooves whipping up the dust, soldiers yelling. The resulting confusion in the enemy ranks was designed to weaken their morale. It inevitably did.

Temple of Thutmose III
Thutmose III was no war-monger. He never appointed Egyptian governors over the conquered territories. Instead he gave power to the local chieftains and, moreover, started cultural relations by bringing the sons of the chieftains to Egypt to study and absorb Egyptian culture, ideology and religion before returning to their homelands.

Following the victories of Thutmose III Egypt was justifiably imbued with a feeling of national pride, while the victor himself humbly gave thanks to Amon to the rear of the national temple a Karnak.

The central hall of the Festival Temple of Thutmose III is 44 metres wide and 16 deep. The roof is supported by 20 columns in two rows and 32 square pillars on the sides. One immediately notices lack of conformity; Thutmose ordered his workers to taper the columns downwards and not upwards and to top them with peculiar inverted calyx capitals. The capital gives a sort of tent-like effect and may have been designed to assuage the Pharaoh’s thirst for outdoor living. It was never repeated. The effect is definitely clumsy. The reliefs on the pillars, which are shorter than the columns, show Thutmose III in the presence of the gods.

Grouped around the sanctuary, which comprises three chambers, were some fifty small halls and chambers. Most lie in ruin today. To the left of the sanctuary is a chamber with four clustered papyrus columns (r). The lower parts of the walls are decorated with exotic plants and animals brought to Egypt from Syria in the 25th year of the Pharaoh’s reign. It says a great deal for the character of Thutmose III that, despite his prowess as a warrior, his ability to topple the powerful Queen Hatshepsut from the throne and his vow to revenge his people for their conquest by the Hyksos, he should have found time and interest to import flowers and animals into his native land.

To the right of the sanctuary is what is now known as the Alexander Room (s). It was originally built by Thutmose III and was restored by Alexander the Great. The reliefs show Alexander, and in some instances Thutmose III, sacrificing to the gods.

To the south of the Alexander Room is a hall with eight sixteen-sided columns (/). The two small chambers with columns («), followed by seven other chambers, carry reliefs of Thutmose III.

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