Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – CLXXXIII. A Return Visit (12 of 15)

The Temple of Luxor

The name Luxor is derived from the Arabic word al-qasr (palace). Perhaps a reference to the enormous Temple that dominated this area. The ancient Egyptians named this complex Weset; the Greeks named it Thebes, and Thebes it remains to the present day.

At its height, during the XVIII and XIX dynasties, Thebes covered all the ground of Luxor and Karnak and may have had as much as one million inhabitants.

It would be an arduous enterprise to visit the whole thing. I only visited a small part. Moreover, the description provided, of necessity, is condensed.

The temple of Luxor is well preserved; the intervening centuries have been kind to it. It was largely built under Amenophis III (XVIII Dynasty) on the site of an older sanctuary. This Pharaoh built many other monuments including an enormous mortuary temple on the west bank of the Nile; today, only the Colossi of Memnon remains.

Amenophis III inaugurated an era of building on a large scale that persisted through the New Kingdom.

When the French army saw the temples of Luxor and Karnak in 1799, they were astounded. A lieutenant describes the reaction of the soldiers as follows: “Without an order being given, the men formed their ranks and presented arms, to the accompaniment of the drums and bands.”

The first antechamber in the temple which once had a roof supported by eight columns, had reliefs on its wall of Amenophis. But in the 3rd or 4th century AD, the walls were whitewashed and covered with paintings. Two competing views exists as to what happened here: It became the chapel of a Roman imperial cult; or it was used as a church. The paintings do not resolve the mystery; they may have been fine at one time, but are now badly damaged and inconclusive.

The second antechamber is smaller, with four columns; the reliefs around the wall show Amenophis driving calves to sacrifice, offering incense to the god Amun; this area was the offering chapel.


The Karnak site is enormous, in that space, you can fit 10 European cathedrals! It is 4 km north of the temple of Luxor, thus, you can even elect to walk there.

Karnak is not only huge, it covers many historical periods. It goes back to the Old Kingdom when the war god Mont was worshipped. By the beginning of the Middle Kingdom, Amun (sun god) achieved pre-eminence. The early pharaohs of the New Kingdom turned Karnak into the principal sanctuary of their kingdom.

You approach the site along a short processional way lined with ram-headed sphinxes with figures of Ramses II with mummy wrappings between their forelegs.

A great court follows; it was built by the rulers of the XXII Dynasty but includes earlier structures. Columns line the north and south sides of the court, while a tall doorway leads to a pylon.

Beyond the pylon, you enter the Hypostyle Hall, and there you’re greeted by one of the most spectacular sights in Egypt. The height and massiveness of its columns will overwhelm you. On either side of the central aisle, the columns are tightly packed. Perspective is lost for the eye can take only a glimpse of the whole at any one moment.

What this whole temple must have looked early on (and it was not, as already mentioned, built all at once) defies human imagination. Of course, our group wondered about that, but their questions were left unanswered, for nobody really knew.

I could say so much more about Karnak, but I am stopping here. You have to see it for yourself to appreciate its grandeur.

One more point: Throughout both temples, you will see many obelisks; but some obelisks are no longer there; they grace European capitals and the U.S. capital. They are but a tantalizing sample of what you can see in Egypt. And many people are indeed tempted and come to visit this extraordinary country.

Comments are closed.