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Karnak Temple: Great Court
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During the New Kingdom, the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak was the most important place of worship in Egypt. (Amun-Re was King of the Gods and father to the pharaoh.) The entire temple complex covers an area of nearly 75 acres, and there are two other, smaller complexes within the Karnak precinct. The farther back one walks in the Temple of Amun-Re, the older the structures become, so this initial Great Court is one of the more recent constructions.

First Pylon The First Pylon at Karnak Temple.

You start by facing west towards the First Pylon, a massive wall 372 feet wide. Look at its base for the remains of an earth-and-mud-brick ramp, which ancient workers used to haul stones up during the gateway's construction. Swinging around the right (north), you'll see the bottom half of a huge column. It is the only one remaining of the Kiosk of Taharka, a seventh-century B.C. Ethiopian pharaoh; the kiosk once boasted 10 such columns and held processional barks.

Detail from Great Court Ramses III smites his enemies in this detail from the Great Court.

To the right of the column, near the palm tree, stands a 50-foot-high statue of Ramses II. To the east are the ruins of the Second Pylon, begun by Horemheb and finished by Ramses II, and to the south lies the entrance to the Temple of Ramses III. In the image as a whole, see if you can locate the Shrine of Seti I, a small temple with two visible doors.

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