Obelisks in Amun Temple (3 Obelisks) Go to the list of all the Obelisks

Large Map


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Map of the Amun Temple

Present Site:  Karnak Great Temple of Amun [Amon], Karnak, Egypt         
N 25°43'06.2"(25.718390) E 32°39'29.8"(32.658280)

1. Pharaoh:  Sety II (New Kingdom the 19th Dynasty, 12 Century BC)
Location:  About 100-meter west of the 1st Pylon, before the Sphinx Avenue, right side
Measurement:  About 3.3 meters high
2. Pharaoh:  Thutmose I (New Kingdom the 18th Dynasty, 16-15 Century BC)
Location:  Between 3rd and 4th Pylons
Measurement:  19.5 meters high
143 tons in weight
3. Pharaoh:  Queen Hatshepsut (New Kingdom the 18th Dynasty, 15 Century BC)
Location:  Between 4th and 5th Pylons
Measurement:  About 30 meters high including the pedestal
323 tons in weight

About The Site:
The Temple of Karnak is a huge complex of various small and large temples and chapels. Its center is the "Great Temple of Amun [Amon]", which was registered as a UNESCO's World Heritage "Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis" in 1979. Thus, Precinct of Mut and Precinct of Montu, not only the Great Temple of Amun, are also included in the "World Heritage", but they are not opened for the public.
The construction started in the era of Senusret I (12th Dynasty, Middle Kingdom), and the extension and reconstruction were done in the era of 18th and 19th Dynasties (New Kindgom). Although it's closed now, but there were other approaching paths (avenues) from three directions in the past. Especially in the entrance gate to the east in the opposite direction from the current approach road was once the obelisks were erected.

There Has Been Many Obelisks: Right illustration shows the plan of the Great Temple of Amun. The down direction directs west.
At present, only three obelisks remains here as the complete form. But there were about 20 obelisks in this Great Temple of Amun, in ancient Egyptian times.
In the Google Map, if you enlarge the map, the restored figure of the ancient temple can be seen, instead of the current map. The marker shows the location of Tuthmosis I Obelisk (#2), and another one of pair obelisks, which remains the pedestal alone, can be seen. In addition, pair of two Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks (#3), which the one is currently toppled down, are standing. Furthermore, on the eastern side of the Tuthmosis I pair obelisks, there are a larger pair of obelisks than the Tuthmosis I obelisk. Also on the right side of the map, three large obelisks can be seen outside the eastern external wall on of the Great Temple. In addition, on the eastern outside of the external wall of the Karnak Temple Complex, one pair of small obelisks can be seen.
There is a large building of ticket office at the entrance of Great Temple of Amun, and inside of this building, there is a large restored model of the Temple (picture). With this model, there are six (6) obelisks in the Temple, and another three obelisks at eastern side of the Temple, like the restored figure of Google Map indicates.
Also in the website named "Digital Karnak" of UCLA, the restored figure of the Great Temple of Amun with CG (computer graphics) is introduced. In this figure, six (6) obelisks in the Temple are drawn like a Google Map, and five (5) obelisks are at eastern side of the Temple, and another one pair of obelisks are drawn at the souther side of the Seventh Pylon.

Great Temple of Amun Figure 1: Entrance of Great Temple of Amun
Sety II Obelisk is at Right End


After the entrance gate of Great Temple of Amun, there is a Sety II Obelisk (#1) on the right hand side. It's a squab obelisk, because of the thick and low shape. But most tourists don't pay attention to this, and go forward to the inside, because the Sphinx Avenue [Avenue of Ram-headed Sphinxes] leads, and the First Pylon stands towering at front.

The First Pylon is the western entrance of the Great Temple of Amun. This is supposed to be built in the era of Nectanebo I (4th century BC, 30th Dynasty), but this is unfinished, and the heights of left and right are different, and neither inscription nor relief were made.

After the First Pylon is the Great Court (or the First Court), and here are the Temple of Sety II on the left side, and the Temple of Ramses III on the right side. And, on the right side before the Second Pylon, the large statue of Ramses II stands. It is supposed to be facing with the statue of Ramses II on the left, but the statue on the left is missing. Instead, on the left side there is the large statue of Pinedjem that crosses the hands. The statue of Pinedjem was originally a statue of Ramses II, but the name has been rewritten by Pinedjem of 21st Dynasty.

Beyond the Second Pylon is the Great Hypostyle Hall which was built by Sety I. This is really great and overwhelming by its huge scale. Just like the name implies, the hall is forested with giant 134 stone columns. The capitals of columns forms the open flower of papyrus, so it's called "Open-flower papyrus colmuns". The reliefs still remain clearly, and the pigments remain on some columns.

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Figure 2: Thutmose I Obelisk (right)
and Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk


Although the Thutmose I Obelisk can be seen far before passing the First Pylon, it's getting gradually larger as we proceed into the Great Hypostyle Hall. From around before the Third Pylon built by Amenhotep III, the top of Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk can be seen at the back, so two obelisks become into our sight. Thutmose I Obelisk, only the right side remains between the Third Pylon and the Fourth Pylon. The left side obelisk was broken, and only the pedestal and its fragments remain.
Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk stands on the left side beyond the Fourth Pylon which was built by Thutmose I. Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk was erected as a pair, and both were surrounded by the wall which was built when the Great Temple of Amun was reconstructed in the era of Thutmose III' later years, together with the construction of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III. The right side obelisk was fallen, and only the lower part and the pedestal remain currently. The upper part fragment and the pyramidion are placed near the Sacred Lake.
The next Fifth Pylon was also built by Thutmose I. Since Thutmose I is the father of Queen Hatshepsut, so this means Queen Hatshepsut erected her own obelisks between the Fourth and Fifth Pylons which were built by her father.
On the east side of the Fifth Pylon, there is a small hypostyle hall, and and the next Sixth Pylon was built by Thutmose III. After the Sixth Pylon, through the narrow Court, we reach the center of the temple, The Sanctuary.
On the back (eastern side) of The Sanctuary, there is a space of the ruins of temple of Middle Kingdom Era, and the next, Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III. The further east side of this Great Festival Hall is an Eastern Precinct Gate on the external wall which is surrounding the Great Temple of Amun. On the eastern side of the Eastern Precinct Gate, three (3) large obelisks have once stood. Among those three obelisks, two are of Queen Hatshepsut, are broken now. The pyramidion part of the one obelisk is exhibited on the side of entrance of Egyptian Museum, and the fragment of the pyramidion part of another one of obelisks is placed on the east side of the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III. The remaining one is, Thutmose III began the construction and Thutmose IV completed it, was carried out in order to erect it in Constantinople (Instanbul now) by the Roman Emperor Constantine I [reigned 306-337], is standing now in Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano in Rome, which is the largest (tallest) obelisk among all the existing Ancient Obelisks in the world. (See here for the details about the Lateran Obelisk.)

On the wall of the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III, the relief of two obelisks amoung three obelisks built by Thutmose III, remain. Illustrated those two obelisks are the ones which were erected as a pair on the south side of the Seventh Pylon. One of them were transported away, and is standing in Istanbul now. Another one is, only the pedestal remains, and other broken parts remain here.
Also, another obelisk which is now exhibited in the Luxor Museum was discovered here in Karnak. According to the book authored by Wataru Matsumoto, this was excavated in 1923 from the western part of the courtyard between the 9th and 10th pylons of the Great Temple of Amun. However, the tourists are not allowed to enter south beyond of the 8th pylon because the maintenance work continues.
On the south side of the external wall which is surrounding the area from the 5th pylon to the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III, built by Sety I and Ramses II, the relief remains which illustrates Ramses II dedicates two obelisks. Those obelisks were erected outside of the external wall of the eastern side of the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III. At present, only their pedestals and fragments are discovered, but I couldn't go to the outside of closed Eastern Precinct Gate as this was a non-public area. (as of April 2016.)
Further to the Karnak Temple Complex, there are the ruins of the Precinct of Mut and the Precinct of Montu, but those areas are not open to the public. The pedestals of two large obelisks of Amenhotep III remain in the area between the ruins of North Gate and the Temple, and those existence can be confirmed with the Satellite picture of Google Maps, but only the fragments of the obelisks remain.

How To Get There:
Karnak Great Temple of Amun [Amon] is located at about 3 km northeast of Luxor Raiload Station. In case of the group tour, it's quick tour to see the key monuments, and it has no time to see the obelisks and relevant reliefs. So we need to visit the Great Temple of Amun on an individual basis.
Most hotels in Luxor are located near the Luxor Raiload Station, so walking to the Great Temple of Amun will be pretty tough. There is no public transportation such as buses in Luxor so individual travelers have to go to the Temple by a taxi or a carriage for the tourists.
When I visited Luxor in 2008, it was still before the revolution, so it was crowded with a lot of tourists and there were also rental bicycle shops, so I have been to the Great Temple of Amun by bicycle. However, when I visited again in 2014, there were only a few tourists and no rental bikes.
Despite the fact that there are few tourists, carriages and taxis for tourists are waiting for customers as before, so I think that they will call to us as soon as we step out of the hotel. In the case of carriage, it would cost around 20 EGP even if we let them wait for the return at the Temple of Amun. 20 EGP is equivalent to about 3 USD (as of 2016), but considering the price of Egypt it is extremely high foreigner rate. Although it would be better than walking in the hot sunshine, but the carriage is not cool, and as the smell of the horse does, it can not be said to be a comfortable ride.

About The Obelisk:
It is known from the literatures and archaeological studies that about 20 obelisks were erected in the Temple of Amun. But many were broken, and three were relocated to other places. For this reason, there are three obelisks remaining in the Temple of Amun now standing. In addition to the existing obelisks, this website also introduces fragments of obelisks that are collapsed, reliefs on obelisks, and so on.

3 obelisks remaining here
(standing)
1.  Sety II Obelisk
2.  Thutmose I Obelisk
3.  Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk
3 obelisks relocated from here
(standing)
to Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, Rome (Now), called "Lateran Obelisk"
to Sultanahmet Square, Istanbul (Now), called "Thutmose III Obelisk"
to Luxol Museum, Luxol (Now), called "Ramses III Obelisk"

The Pedestal of Sety II Obelisk
Figure 3:
The Pedestal of Sety II Obelisk

1.  Sety II Obelisk
This obelisk is standing soon after entrance gate of Great Temple of Amun. Here is a place where was once a quay of canal from Nile.
This was erected by Sety II (The 19th Dynasty, reigned 1200-1194 BC). Only one of the right side (the south side) facing the front of the Temple of Amun is standing and the other has only the rock of the pedestal left (Figure 3). It was 3.3 meters high with my actual measurement. The shaft is thick and the inscriptions of four lines are engraved on each side including horus name and coronation name of Sety II. Because it is made of red sandstone, preservation state is not good, the evidences that the defective part was repaired is conspicuous.
Of the four sides, the south side is comparatively well preserved, but since the rope is stretched and it is not allowed to enter, we can not take pictures unless going to the south side with a permission from the staff.
Strangely, many books and websites ignore the existence of this obelisk. Google Maps does. UCLA's website "Digital Karnak" does as well. Especially in the UCLA site, many lost obelisks are being introduced, but this existing obelisk is ignored. It's quite strange. One exception is a large restored model of the Temple (picture) in the ticketing office building of Temple of Amun. This model properly restores this obelisk.

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Figure 4: West side

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Figure 5: South side

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Figure 6: East side

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Figure 7: North side
Aug. 8, 2014 for West and South sides, May 5, 2017 for East and North sides
by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)


Figure 8: Statue of Pinedjem. The fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk can be seen on the left side of foot.


The pedestal of Thutmose III Obelisk
Figure 9: The pedestal of Thutmose III Obelisk (below of yellow arrows)

Thutmose III Obelisk (Fragment)
Thutmose III (The 18th Dynasty, reigned 1479-1425 BC) dedicated seven (7) obelisks to the Karnak Great Temple of Amun, including an unfinished one. Among them, one pair of obelisk was standing at the west side of currently existing Thutmose I Obelisk. The pedestals still remain at the original locations, but the fragments [of obelisk] are placed back of the large Statue of Pinedjem in the Great Court (or the First Court).
They are the upper portion including pyramidion, and two large fragments [of the center part of the obelisk], but their place is far from the original place. So, I assume those fragments were moved here [from the original place] and are exhibited. The width of the bottom of pyramidion is about 1.7 meters, by my actual measurement. From this size, I estimate that the whole length [of these obelisks] was around 24 to 30 meters. This would be a little shorter than the world's largest obelisk, Lateran Obelisk (32 meters), but longer than Thutmose I Obelisk (24 meters) which is standing here in Amun Temple, and this would be the size to approach the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk (30 meters).
The two lines of inscription are engraved on the obelisk, which is deeply engraved with a neat style. The coronation name and the birth name of Thutmose III are confirmed at the upper portion.
Initially, two obelisks were erected as a pair, but they were probably demolished when the 3rd pylon was constructed in the era of Amenhotep III (reigned 1390-1352 BC). In the UCLA's website: Digital Karnak, the Thutmose III obelisk is drawn in the form of being half buried in the 3rd pylon.

Figure 9 (on the right side) is a shot of an avenue between 3rd and 4th pylons from the 4th pylon (east side), and the two pedestals of Thutmose III Obelisk in the back (below of yellow arrows). However, the explanation panel [which is placed at the 3rd pylon of Amun Temple] indicates, right side pedestal (base) [which is piled up by two stones] in the Figure 9 is the "Obelisk base of Thutmosis I" (number 3 in red). In fact, the pedestal of the fallen Thutmose I Obelisk is removed from the location where it should be (which is indicated by yellow lines at right bottom), so it might have been moved to here.

Figure 12 (below right) is a shot of [standing] Thutmose I Obelisk from south side, and the left side stone block [of Thutmose I Obelisk] is considered as a pedestal of Thutmose III Obelisk. This pedestal is one size larger than the pedestal of Thutmose I Obelisk (on the right side). Hence, it's imagined that Thutmose III Obelisk was larger (higher) thing than existing Thutmose I Obelisk.

It's known that anothe pair of Thutmose III Obelisk was erected at the 7th pylon. (This will be mentioned later.) Because neither those pedestal nor the fragment were found, it's unknown the accurate location where those obelisks were erected.

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Figure 10: Fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk

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Figure 11: Upper Portion of Thutmose III Obelisk
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Figure 12: Pedestal of Thutmose III Obelisk (Left Side)
April 30, 2016    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)


Fragment of Fallen Thutmose I Obelisk

Figure 13: Fragment of Fallen Thutmose I Obelisk

2.  Thutmose I Obelisk
★This is the obelisk erected by Thutmose I (The 18th Dynasty, reigned 1504-1492 BC). Although this was erected as a pair as usual, between the 3rd and 4th pylons, but only the right side (south side) remains. Since the east and west sides of the obelisk have only a narrow space, and the obstacle at the base, it's difficult to look the front side of the obelisk. But, the whole shape of the south and north sides can be seen well. Particularly the inscription on the south side remains well.
When Thutmose I erected this obelisk, the inscription was only the center one line, but two lines were added both right and left sides in the era of Ramses IV (The 20th Dynasty, reigned 1153-1147 BC). So currently, the inscription is in three lines.

The hieroglyph of the central inscription is a enchanting and beautiful typeface that has a neat formal beauty. In terms of the beauty, it's as beautiful as to contest of top or the second with the Senusret I Obelisk in Heliopolis, I think.
This obelisk leans a little, about 1 degree toward the west. If you look at Figures 15 and 17, you can see it's leaning. Also the obelisk in Figure 16 (east side) can be seen as thick. This is because I took a picture a little obliquely from the aisle side to avoid obstacle at the base.

Its hight varies depends upon the sources. Approximately 24 meters (Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Obelisk" Article, including the pedestal), about 90 feet (27.4 meters) (Wallis Budge: Cleopatra's Needles), 21.8 meters (unknown source), 19.5 meters (Labib Habachi: The Obelisks of Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson: The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt, obelisk itself). In order to confirm the accurate numbers, when I visited here in 2017, I measured the height of the pedestal with a tape, and I took a picture of obelisk from a distance as far as possible and calculated the whole height from the ratio with the pedestal. As a result, It turned out that the pedestal is 1.45 m high and the obelisk itself is 19.5 m high.
With regard to the weight, it would be 143 tons [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Obelisk" Article].

Missing Left Side Obelisk: Although the right side (south side) remains, the fragments of the fallen left side obelisk are placed at the bottom of the existing Thutmose I Obelisk. This is a columnar stone on the left side of the pedestal of Figure 15, and it's about 4 meters high. The birth name of Thutmose I remains with the same writing style of the existing Thutmose I Obelisk. Currently, the pedestal of the fallen obelisk was completely removed from the original location, and the site became a good place for the group tour who hears the explanation from the tour guide.

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Figure 14: West Side

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Figure 15: South Side

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Figure 16: East Side

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Figure 17: North Side
August 8, 2014    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

3.  Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk
Thutmose II (The 18th Dynasty) initially made this obelisk, but could not completed it in his lifetime, and his wife Hatshepsut transported it to Amun Temple and erected it afrer Hatshepsut (Reigned 1479-1457 BC) robbed her son Tutmes III's right of pharaoh practically and ascend the throne. Currently, only the left side obelisk remains between Fourth and Fifth Pylons. There is one line inscription at the center of the shaft, and the coronation name is engraved at the lower portion of the east side. At the both sides of central inscription on each side, the illustration of Queen Hatshepsut and Thutmose III who are devoting to the God Amun is engraved. This is unique as a illustration of the obelisk.

There are some different measurements of this obelisk. For examples, 30.4 meters high including pedestal [Unknown source], About 30 meters high [Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Obelisk" Article][Source: Labib Habachi: The Obelisks of Egypt], 29.56 meters high [Richard H. Wilkinson: The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt], A little more than 97 feet (29.1 meters) high [Source: Wallis Budge: Cleopatra's Needles], and so on. This is the tallest obelisk among the existing obelisks in Karnak.
With regard to the weight, it would be 323 tons [Source: Labib Habachi: The Obelisks of Egypt, Richard H. Wilkinson: The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt].

The broken remnant of the wall remains which was built around the obelisk at the era of Thutmose III. For this reason, we cannot go to the bottom of west and east sides. This obelisk was buried halfway by the wall for a long time, so the degree of weathering is different the exposed top portion and the below of middle portion covered with wall, it clearly shows that the color of obelisk, especially the north side has changed.
Not only the obelisk was surrounded by the walls, but the coronation name of Queen Hatshepsut on the north side is erased with scraping. But, the faint traces still remain, and the name is confirmes as Hatshepsut. At the top on the same north side, the horus name of Queen Hatshepsut remains without erasing, and the names on other sides are not erased.
Thutmose III was robbed of right of pharaoh practically by her mother-in-law Hatshepsut when he was young, and Hatshepsut ascends the throne. So, many people beleived that Thutmose III had a grudge against Hatshepsut, and after the death of Hatshepsut, after returning to the throne, devoted to the removal of Hatshepsut's record. This "grudge view" was supported by many books such as "Chronicle of the Pharaohs" by Peter A. Clayton and "Kodai-Ejiputo-no-Nazo" by Denroku sakai, etc. Hence, it was thought that the building of the wall surrounding the obelisk was caused by Thutmose III's grudge and revenge. I have also followed this view, but one of our readers of this website raised the question against this "grudge view". Then I have checked various literatures and researches, and I found that the different story is said recently.
For example, The British Museum Book of Ancient Egypt (written by A. Jeffrey Spencer) states the negative description: "There is no evidence for the personal relations between Hatshepsut and Thotmose III, and the erasures reflect not personal revenge but an effort to set the record straight and remove the anomaly of a female Horus, a female king." Queen Hatshepsut portrayed as a male pharaoh, with a beard, and is viewed as heretical from the Ancient Egypt's behavior which respects on the "tradition", so Thotmose III might want to deny such existence of abnormity.
UCLA's Digital Karnak Project states: "The Queen extensively renovated the hall of Amun Temple, and made a Wadjet Hall at the place where the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk currently stands, during her reign." and in the reign of Thutmose III, "He renovated the Wadjet Hall, and erected a stone gateway around the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk, and covered by the roof." However, "Her cartouches (names) were not removed before their encasement (construction of the gateway and the roof)", so "this new construction is not interpreted as the beginning of the proscription (interdiction or denial) against the Queen." In fact, the removed (erased with scraping) cartouches are above the stone gateway, and the birth names of Hatshepsut on the lower portions of north and south sides are not removed. Hence, the removals (erasures) of the Queen Hatshepsut would have been done after the construction of the stone gateway.

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Figure 18: South Side

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Figure 19: South-West Side

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Figure 20: North Side

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Figure 21: East Side
Aug. 8, 2014 for South-West side, May 5, 2017 for North side, May 1, 2016 for other sides
by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)


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Figure 22: Pedestal and the fragment of the Fallen Obelisk,
South Side


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Figure 23: Fragment of the Fallen Obelisk,
East Side

[Fallen] Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk (Fragment, 3 pieces)
This is one of pairs of Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk, which is currently fallen (or broken). Only the pedestal (Figure 22) and the fragment of lower part (Figure 22 and 23) remain on the south side of the existing (standing) Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk. And, the fragment of upper part (Figures 24 - 26) is placed near the Sacred Lake.
The current existing Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk has about 30 meters high including the pedestal, but this one (fallen or broken), pedestal + about 2 meters (fragment of lower part, Figure 23) + about 9.4 meters (fragment of upper part, Figures 24 - 26) = about 30% of the whole. Labib Habachi says in his book "The Obelisk of Egypt" (1977) that "most of the fragments exist". However, when I visited here in 2014, no such large fragments could not be confirmed except of the pedestal and the fragment of lower part, as shown in Figures 22 and 23. So, such fragments (Labib Habachi refers) might have be broken to the smaller pieces. Also Labib Habachi says that "Other fragments have traveled widely, to Boston, Liverpoor, Glasgow, and Sydney." I confirmed it of Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, U.S., and of Nicholson Museum in The University of Sydney, Australia.

Since the fragment of upper part (Figures 24 - 26) which is placed near the Sacred Lake, can be seen closely, because it is laying sideways (horizontally). Here are 3 pictures, one is the front side, another two are the back side (from top side of the obelisk, and from bottom side of the obelisk), because I had to take the pictures from the diagonally due to the insufficient space to the wall. The upper side of the obelisk cannot be taken a picture due to the cover by the panel.
With this back picture, the removal (erasure) of the name of pharaoh under the central horus name of Queen Hatshepsut is confirmed. However, the horus name itself of Queen Hatshepsut is still kept. So it's mestery why such a way of removal (erasure) was done.
Also, looking carefully at the pyramidion of this (fallen or broken) obelisk, it's confirmed that the image of Queen Hatshepsut who receives the blessing kneeling before God Amun and the name of God Amun were restored after being removed off once. Thus, I assume that the same restoration was done for the pyramidion of currently standing Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk.

According to Figure 22, the remaining fragment is shifted right from the center of the pedestal. In other words, this fragment doesn't stand in the center of the pedestal. For this reason, it's unable to conclude from the current state whether the obelisk was broken by a crack or it was broken apart when it has lied down. The obelisks and the large columns in the Temple of Amun did not fall down and are still standing, so the cause of the collapse would not be an earthquake. I'm assuming that the cracks spread in the monolith of obelisk and collapsed in a way that it could not tolerate their own weight.

According to Figure 23, three obelisks are drawn in the top most of this fragment. This is the same to the inscription at the lowest part of the east side of existing (standing) Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk. The engraving of these three obelisks are the basis of speculation that "Unfinished Obelisk" in Aswan would be the Obelisk of Queen Hatshepsut. Please refer to the web page of Unfinished Obelisk for the details.

Fallen Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk 1
Figure 24: Front Side

Fallen Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk 2
Figure 25: Back Side (from top side)

Fallen Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk 3
Figure 26: Back Side (from bottom side)
August 8, 2014    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)


Relief on Obelisk
Figure 27: Relief in the Festival Hall of Thutmose III

[Fallen] Thutmose III Obelisks (Pair: Fragment for one, Missing for another one)
A peir of Thutmose III Obelisks were erected on the south side of the Seventh Pylon. However, no obelisk is standing here at present. As Figure 29 which was taken from the south side shows, only the fragment [of Thutmose III Obelisk] is placed on the pedestal on the right side, but the whole obelisk including the pedestal of the left side obelisk was carried away.
The standing two obelisks are drawn in the relief of the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III at the Great Temple of Amun in Karnak (Figure 27).

The missing left side obelisk is currently standing in Istanbul, Turkey. Refer to here for the detaild story of this obelisk. Referring to the Obelisk in Istanbul and the relief of the Great Festival Hall of Thutmose III, the right obelisk is identified to the Istanbul Obelisk. The height of Istanbul Obelisk is 19.6 meters, but it can understand the the lower approximate one-third is missing. For this fact, it was estimated that the whole height at the time of standing in the Great Temple of Amun was around 30 meters, which means that it was the largest-class obelisk.

Direction of the Inscription
Figure 28: Normal Direction
of the Inscription


Regarding the fallen (or broken) obelisk on the right side, its fragment (Figure 30) is laying sideways (horizontally) in the court between the 7th and 8th Pylons.
The left side of central inscription remains on the fragmented obelisk of Figure 30. There are the concave marks line at the upper surface corner, which is the evidence of dividing the obelisk fragment. The stones with such concave marks often remain at the quarry. This is a remnant which further divided the fallen fragment and diverted it to the stone of other buildings. The massive stone of Figure 31 is considered as a part of the bottom portion of the obelisk. The inscriptions are deep-engraved with authentic typeface. However, those inscriptions could not match with the inscriptions of Istanbul Obelisk.
By the way, the inscriptions of this pair obelisks notice that the both inscription are toward right. Normally, obelisks are erected on the both sides (left and right) of the gate, as shown in Figure 28, the inscription on the left side obelisk of the gate is toward right, the inscription on the right obelisk is toward left, and they are symmetrically arranged facing the pass way of the gate respectively. Hence, the direction of inscription of this Thutmose III Obelisk is quite peculiar example.
The reason for this is considered to be attributable to the positional relationship between the 7th Pylon and the sanctuary. Initially, the Amun Temple was built at the west side of the sanctuary, then rhe extensions were repeated at east and west sides. And, the Temple was extended to south direction of 7th to 10th Pylons by Thutmose III and the later pharaohs. When the 7th Pylon was built by Thutmose III, the sanctuary was located to the right direction. By the general rule that the inscription is toward the sanctuary, it's considered that the inscription of the right side obelisk was also engraved toward right.

7th Pylon looking from south
Figure 29: 7th Pylon looking from south

Fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk1
Figure 30: Fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk

Fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk2
Figure 31: Fragment of Thutmose III Obelisk
April 30, 2016    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

Fragments of Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks
Queen Hatshepsut made another pair obelisks on th east side of the Amun Temple, in addition to the pair obelisks between 4th and 5th Pylons (One is standing, and one is broken, see above). However, after the death of Queen Hatshepsut, these obelisks were incorporated by the wall of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III which was constructed by Thutmose III, according to The Obelisks of Egypt (written by A. Labib Habachi). The restored figure of Google Map indicates that the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks stand just outside of the external wall of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III, but UCLA's website "Digital Karnak" draws the status that the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks were halfly incorporated by the wall.
When I visited here in April 2016, the external wall of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III remained in relatively good condition, but at the entrance area of the east side of the Festival Hall where Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks were supposedly standing was badly broken, and the symmetry of the building was also lost, probably due to the later rebuilt, and the base of the obelisk was also missing (Figure 32). However, the stones which seem to be the fragments of the obelisk were put together on the outside of the entrance on the east side of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III.
The pyramidion of one of the pair obelisks was transported to the Egyptian Museum (The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities) in Cairo, and currently exhibited at just a left side (western side) of the front entrance of the museum.
In the fragments remaining in this place (Figures 33, 34, 35), the pyramidion has also become a large number of fragments. The relief of Amun god who receives the offering from the Queen is left clean. The Hatshepsut image on the Pyramidion of the obelisk which remains between 4th and 5th Pylon has been repaired after being scraped off once, but this was not restored. Perhaps when the restoration of the Hatshepsut image was done, I think that this Obelisk had already collapsed.
By estimation of the length (1.65 meters) of base of pyramidion in the Egyptian Museum, the height of the original obelisk would be about 25 to 28 meters, which must have been the largest-class obelisk although it's slightly shorter than the existing Queen Hatshepsut Obelisk (about 30 meters).

Festival Hall looking from east
Figure 32: Festival Hall looking from east

Fragments of obelisk1
Figure 33: Fragments of obelisk

Fragments of obelisk2
Figure 34: Fragments of obelisk

Fragments of obelisk3
Figure 35: Fragments of obelisk
April 30, 2016    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)


East gate looking from the Festival Hall of Thutmose III
Figure 36: East gate looking from
the Festival Hall of Thutmose III

lateran_south.jpg
Figure 37:
Rebuilt obeliskin Rome

Site of former Thutmose IV Obelisk
Another obelisk, Thutmose IV Obelisk was erected further east of the Queen Hatshepsut Obelisks which were erected on th east side of the Amun Temple. This was alone (one), not a pair (two).
This obelisk began to be built in the reign of Thutmose III (c. 1460 BC), the construction was interrupted probably due to the death of Pharaoh (Thutmose III), and it was left unfinished for 35 years in the reign of Amenhotep II. In the reign of Thutmose IV (grandson of Thutmose III) after the death of Amenhotep II, the obelisk was completed and erected in the Amun Temple in Karnak. Such story is known from the inscription of this obelisk.
The Roman Emperor Constantine I [reigned 306-337] ordered the transportation to Constantinople (now Istanbul), and successfully transported to Alexandria in his reign. The pedestal and a large part of its foundation were destroyed during the removal work. His son and successor Constantius II [reigned 337-361] change the destination to Rome, instead of Constantinople. In 357, this obeliaks was erected in the Circo Massimo of Rome. At some unknown date and by some unknown cause, the obelisk fell, and in 16th Century, then Pope Sixtus V ordered a search for it. It was found in around 1587, broken into three pieces. On August 3, 1588, this obelisk was erected in the Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano (in Rome), where it has stood ever since. This obelisk is called "Lateran Obelisk" named after the place which is currently standing. The height is 32.18 meters, which is the largest (tallest) obelisk among all the existing Ancient Obelisks in the world.
I visited the place between the Festival Hall of Thutmose III and the east gate of the Great Temple of Amun, where is presumed that this obelisk have originally been standing. It's probably the place of Figure 36, but no evidence was there. It's said the pedestal was destroyed during the removal work, this may be by this reason.



Relief of obelisks
Figure 38
Releif on the external wall by Ramses II

Site of former Ramses II Obelisks
It's known that Ramses II dedicated two obelisks for the Great Temple of Amun.
The external wall was built from the 4th Pylon (of the Great Temple of Amun) to the Festival Hall of Thutmose III by Ramses II, and the reliefs of Ramses II who is devoting the contributions to various Gods are engraved on the south face of the wall. Among them, there is a relief of the illustration that Ramses II is devoting two obelisks to the male God (Figure 38). Due the the breakage, it's uncertain which God who the obelisks are devoted, but I assume he would be the Sun God Re because the thing like a sun circle on the head, although the figure has human face.

The site the external eall is broken
Figure 39
The site the external wall is broken

The website of Digital Karnak by UCLA says; The Ramses II Obelisks were erected "on the eastern area of the Amun-Ra precinct". According to the Satellite picture of Google Maps, the road exists around the Great Temple of Amun and a space can be seen between the Great Temple of Amun and the external wall. Since the further details were unknown, I visited the actual site there. In fact, the area was not allowed entering into the space between the Temple due to the fence, but I found the broken wall for able to get into the area (Figure 39). From this point, it's about 150 meters to the East Gate (of the Great Temple of Amun) in the back.
In fact, it is not completely unmanned in this space, civil engineering work machinery etc have been left unattended, there were people who seemed to be managers who reside. Although I have almost been kicked out, I explained my objectives in English and asked for letting me taking pictures. And, I managed to take pictures of the surroundings of the East Gate in anyway.
Since I have looked there from the inside of East Gate on the previous day, I could assumed that nothing there except the stone blocks which the name of Ramses II is engraved, and just a weed-grown place.
When I actually was outside the East Gate, there was the big stone blocks at both sides of the East Gate (Figure 40). Figure 41 and Figure 42 are those blocks, and the coronation name of Ramses II was confirmed. But I couldn't detarmine they were the parts of the pedestal stones, and there were only some fragments which seem to be the ruin of the East Gate, but neither big stome materials were found around there, nor the stones which seem to be a fragment of obelisk.

East Gate lookeg from east (outside)
Figure 40
East Gate lookeg from east (outside)

Fragment of pedestal? (South side)
Figure 41
Fragment of pedestal? (South side)

Fragment of pedestal? (Nouth side)
Figure 42
Fragment of pedestal? (Nouth side)
May 1, 2016    by Hiroyuki Nagase    (For high definition image, please click the picture)

Ramses III Obelisks
This is a small obelisk which was discovered at the west side of the court between 9th and 10th Pylons in 1923, and it's currently exhibited in the Luxor Museum. This is the one by Ramses III [reigned 1184-1153 BC], and its height is only 95.5 cm. Since the bottom part is missing, the original height would be higher than now, but it would be no more than 3 meters considering with the thickness of this obelisk. It's considered that Ramses III dedicated pairs of obelisk for the Great Temple of Amun. But the companion is missing. This is the only one obelisk by Ramses III. Kindly refer to the Site of Ramses III Obelisk for the details.
I assume these pairs of obelisk were placed indore of the Temple, instead of was standing both side of the Pylons, considering with this small size.
Construction work continues on the south side of the 8th Pylon, so tourists can not enter, so I couldn't to visit the site.


The relief in the Red ShrineFigure 43
The relief of the Queen offering the obelisk.
Hatshepsut is illustrated at left as a male Pharaoh.
May 5, 2017    by Hiroyuki Nagase

Red Shrine
The block of the relief of Hatshepsut who offers the obelisk is in the Red Shrine. The Red Shrine is a reconstracted facility as one of facilities of the Open Air Museum, as an adjunct facility of the Great Temple of Amun. This block of relief was discovered as a filling during the restoration work of the 3rd pylon of the Great Temple of Amun, and was once in the Luxor Museum, but it's here now.
The relief (Figure 43) is placed upper side of right external wall of the Red Shrine. This shows the scene of the Queen Hatshepsut who is offering two obelisks to God Amen-Ra.
The Red Shrine is northern outside of the Great Court (or the First Court) of the Great Temple of Amun. In the Great Court, there is a small exit at the north of the statue of Pinedjem (H in the Map of the Amun Temple, above on this page). After the exit, there is a ticket office, and the Red Shrine is behind of this.

Notes For Pictures:
When visiting in 2008 Amen Temple was crowded with many tourists, but when I visited here again in 2014, only one group tourist came, and the others were several individual travelers from Europe, US and Japan who hired guides, it was in a quiet state just as there were. All the pictures posted here in this page are taken at midday, but I think that you can realize how few tourists are by these pictures. This state was good for me, because I can take pictures slowly and calmly. But the sharp decline of tourists in Egypt after the revolution was more than I imagined.


Copyright Hiroyuki Nagase nagase@obelisks.org and Shoji Okamoto okamoto@obelisks.org