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 Temple of Ptah at Karnak in Luxor

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PostSubject: Temple of Ptah at Karnak in Luxor   Sun Dec 20, 2009 10:44 pm

Ptah is a very ancient Egyptian god evidenced from at least the
Old
Kingdom where his cult was located in the Memphis
region.
At Karnak in Luxor
(ancient Thebes), his temple consists of three interconnecting sanctuaries that are,
together with Ptah, consecrated to his Memphite triad, which also included

Sekhmet and Nefertum. The sanctuaries are preceded by a small portico of two
columns and a pylon in the name of Tuthmosis
III, who built the core of the temple. It is oriented
west-east, like the Temple
of Amun. The temple was built on the site of an earlier
temple of the Middle
Kingdom in wood and brick that was restored by Shabaka
during the 25th
Dynasty and by the Ptolemies
and Romans.
Interestingly, the Ptolemies did not replace the earlier royal
cartouches with their own, but actually repaired damaged and
missing sections with the names of the original builders. The
Temple is located on the northern perimeter of the Temple of
Amun, just inside the gate leading to the Montu
precinct.
This was not the easiest temple ever excavated at
Karnak, for unusual
reasons. In 1900 when G. Legran began the work, his Egyptian laborers were
reluctant. They feared this place, where seven small children had been swallowed
up by a cave-in, causing its name locally to be known as the "infants'
grave. They thought that this must be the den of the ghoul, the ogress that must
have eaten them, for their bodies were never recovered. Therefore, to excavate
here was to attack the ogress in her very lair, and she was said to be guarded
in the north of the temple by a row of blacks who protected her from any who
came near. In that precise location, Legrain discovered a statue of Djehuty made
from black granite. Legrain tells us that:
<blockquote>
"In Karnak confidence was restored with the departure of Djehuty
(the statue was shipped off to Cairo). In the opinion of the peasants, by
discovering the black statue I had quite simply made the guardian genie of the
temple of Ptah my prisoner, and what's more, by copying and translating the
few lines of hieroglyphs carved there, I had made myself the master of the
magic grimoire, which would compel the surrender of the children eaters".

</blockquote>
Interestingly, one must also keep in mind that
Sekhmet, Ptah's consort, was
the sated devourer of blood who would destroy all humanity in her divesting
fury, if allowed to do so.
There were five gateways added at a later date to this small temple. A large
granite stela in the name of Tuthmosis
III was found between the fourth and
fifth gates, with the following text:
<blockquote>

"My majesty commands that there be built the temple of
Ptah-south-of-his wall, in Thebes, which is a station .... of my father
Amun-Ra, lord of Thebes... Lo, my majesty found this temple built of brick and
wooden columns and its doorway of wood, beginning to go to ruin. My majesty
commands to stretch the cord upon this temple anew, erected of fine white
sandstone, and the walls around it of brick, as a work enduring for eternity.
My majesty erected for it doors of new cedar of the best of the terraces
[Lebanon], mounted with Asiatic copper...


I overlaid for him his great seat with electrum of the best
of the countries. All vessels were of gold and silver, and every splendid
costly stone, clothing of fine linen, white linen... to perform his pleasing
ceremonies at the feasts of the beginning of the season."

</blockquote>
There were actually seven total doorways that provided access to the
sanctuary of Ptah. While the first two doorways are constructed to have a
lintel, the following three that precede the pylon are of the "broken
lintel" variety topped by a cornice and a torus. On the exterior and
interior facades of the first doorway, which crosses an enclosure of baked
bricks, are the cartouches of Ptolemy
VI, while on the interior facades of the
passage are those of Ptolemy XI and
Ptolemy XIII. In the jambs of this doorway is
a depiction of Nefertum
bearing a lotus feather topped with two long feathers on
her head. Two menat counterweights also fall out of this.
The second and fourth doorways are in the name of Shabaka, though his
cartouches were later hammered out. The third doorway is in the name of Ptolemy
XIII, and consists of two engaged columns. The fifth doorway serves as an
entrance to a portico of four composite columns of Ptolemy
III. The columns are
very elegant, with a height of about 5.25 meters, while the space between the torus framing the doorway measures about half of this. The doorway leading to the
portico actually bears the titles of Tuthmosis
III. On the gate with the broken
lintel ascribed to Ptolemy III, as well as the doorpost of the pylon doorway
beyond, the king wears the white crown and makes a gesture of entering the
sanctuary after being purified four times. On the north, the king is wearing the
red crown.
The sixth door, all the way in the back, crosses through the pylon, and
beyond a small altar makes up the seventh doorway, which opens directly onto the
central sanctuary where the statue of Ptah
is located.
Inside of the pylon, on its south wing of the east facade, is a door leading
to a little chamber that has a second doorway leading out to the south. The
cartouches on the jambs of this first door are in the name of
Ptolemy IV, heir
of the god Euergetes. On the lintel, the king makes offerings to a seated Ptah.
There is a large scene to the right, where Ptolemy IV advances toward Hathor.
Beyond this doorway on the south wall of the main chamber, there is a scene
sculpted in light sunk relief. To the right, above the was scepter of Amun, are
four vertical lines of an inscription that Mariette saw in its complete state,
but which Legrain found nothing but the bottom half by the time he explored the
temple. The part that was lost allowed historians to date the Ptah feast
mentioned here as having taken place two months after Horemheb's coronation,
which coincided with the Beautiful Feast of the Valley at
Luxor. Oddly, however,
the cartouche here seems to have been usurped by Horemheb and the bas-reliefs in
no way resemble those styled during his reign. In this scene, behind Amun,
"Ptah, lord of Ma'at, king of the Two Lands, beautiful of countenance in
Thebes" stands on the pedestal of Ma'at, with his head tightly bound in a
blue lapis lazuli headdress. His two hands emerge from his wrapped body holding
the sheath that ends in the djed
pillar, from which the was scepter emerges.
Behind Ptah, Khonsu-in-Thebes-Neferhotep is wearing the crown-prince's braid,
which passes under his diadem. He holds in his hands a number of different
scepters, including the djed pillar, the was scepter, the ankh, the hek crosier
and the nekhakha scepter. He wears the menat necklace with its distinctive
counterweight.
Further along this wall towards the east, another scene on the south wall
depicts the king, wearing the blue helmet, making an offering of two vessels of
wine. Following him is his ka,
which wears the king's
Horus name, "Mighty
Bull Appearing in Thebes", on its head. The ka also holds in his right hand
a long cane topped by a bust of the pharaoh and with his left hand he holds the
key of life and the feather of Ma'at.
On the other side of this chamber on the north wing of the pylon, on the
interior of the doorway, the restorations completed by Ptolemy
III in this part
of the building are mentioned. The interior facade of the doorway is sloped and
here we find the cartouches of Tuthmosis
III, whereas the wall of the north wing
of the pylon is vertical and carved with the cartouches of Ptolemy
IV. Like on
the south wing of the pylon, the north wing also has an inner chamber and above
the small doorway of this chamber are found two scenes of worship in the name of
Ptolemy IV. On the bottom register the king, followed by Arsinoe, worships Ptah
four times. Here, Ptah stands in his naos followed by Hathor. On the upper
register, the king offers Ma'at
to the Theban triad of Amun,
Mut and Khonsu. To
the right of this scene are stairs that lead to the roof of the pylon and the
corner of the north wall.
Further around on the north wall of the chamber is a scene where
Ptolemy IV offers a statuette of a "sphinx bearing the cosmetics" to
Ptah, who is
standing in his naos and holding the was, the ankh and the djed
in his hands. Hathor stands behind him, followed by
Imhotep, son of Ptah. The famous Imhotep,
architect of the Old
Kingdom Step Pyramid of Djoser
at Saqqara and also a physician, was
deified in the Ptolemaic Period and merged with the Greek Asclepios. Behind
Imhotep, under the portico's architrave, is a text of three vertical lines in
the name of Tuthmosis
III which read:
<blockquote>
"To his father Ptah, beautiful of countenance, lord of the Two
Lands... He built the House of Ptah anew in fine white sandstone, the door
panels of cedar from the best of terraces [Lebanon], more beautiful than it
was before...When My Majesty found this house built of bricks."

</blockquote>
This text is very similar to that found between the fourth and fifth doors of
this temple.
Here, under the portico and above a small niche, is a bas-relief that is very
similar to that located on the opposite south facade, representing Tuthmosis
III followed by his ka.
Just in front of the sanctuary of Ptah
are two large columns. They have a
base diameter of about 106 centimeters with a shaft that measures some 3.5
meters tall. They measure about 4.02 meters from the base to the abacus.
In the sanctuary itself is a splendid statue of Ptah
(though headless) carved from a monolithic
block of black granite in such a way that a pink vein of stone starts from the
right and and crosses the chest. Ptah holds in his hands the same scepters as in
his representation in the bas reliefs. These include the was, which emerges from
a long sheath ending in the djed. The swaddled feet of the statue are massive,
and one might also note the detail of the user necklace. Before Ptah, on the
same pedestal, is the bottom part of a kneeling figure.
To the south of the sanctuary of
Ptah is that of
Sekhmet. The statue of her, made of black granite, was found in many pieces by Legrain and was pieced back together and re-erected
in its original site in the south chapel, just below a small orifice installed
in a paving stone of the roof, through which moonlight filters on certain nights
directly on the statue's head. The statue is striking for its slender body and
narrow thighs that contrast with the massive head that wears a flattened disk
with raised uraeus. She holds the wadj scepter with the flowering lotus and the
ankh of life in her hands.
The back, outside wall of the temple is also noteworthy. Here, at two
different levels going from left to right, are a representation of Ptah
in light
relief, whose head must have been sculpted on an a stone that is now missing,
and also one of Hathor, followed by two deified scribes from the
Old and New
Kingdom. One is Imhotep, son of Ptah while the other scribe is Amenhotep, son of
Hapi. Imhotep, who wears only a short loincloth and a pectoral, holds the was of
the gods in his hand. Amenhotep, who wears a long robe held up by a suspender,
carries the palette and scroll of the scribe. In front of Hathor is a very small

Horus the child (Harpocrates of the Greeks). Here, the Horus child also bears
the title of smatawi, "binding of the Two Lands".
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