III. H. Jebel Barkal and Luxor Temple
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It is now important to observe a remarkable parallelism that existed between Thebes in the New Kingdom and Napata in the 25th Dynasty.  Each city had its pair of Amun temples that housed the same dual aspects of the god – “Amun of Karnak” (=northern Ipet-Sut) and “Amun of Napata/Ipet” (=southern Ipet Sut) - in the same directional relationship.  In New Kingdom Thebes, Karnak and Luxor were the two major Amun temples on the right/east bank.  At Napata, during the early decades of the eighth century BCE, the emerging Kushite rulers added a second Amun temple, B 800, at Jebel Barkal, which was built parallel to, and on the downstream side (=river “north”) of B 500, the old New Kingdom “Ipet-Sut”.  Both of these temples, too, were on the right bank - although here it was the west.  (Unlike Luxor, the temples at Jebel Barkal were both perpendicular to the river.)  Since the anthropomorphic “Amun of Karnak” and the ram-headed “Amun of Napata” are always mirrored in monuments at Jebel Barkal in the same left (=north) –right (=south) relationship respectively, it is fairly clear that the now badly ruined B 800 (”north” temple) at Jebel Barkal must have been built to house the Theban god at Napata in Dynasty 25, which would seem to imply that Luxor Temple had been built to house the Napatan god at Thebes during the New Kingdom.  B 800 was almost certainly the temple named by Nastasen as the r‐per Waset (“House of Thebes”) at Jebel Barkal (FHN 1996 [II]: 488); its main entrance was flanked by ram statues, and its early sanctuary was tripartite, suggesting that it originally housed the Theban triad.

Following the expulsion of the Kushites from Egypt, a third, smaller Amun temple B 700 was added to the Jebel Barkal sanctuary.  Founded by Atlanersa (ca. 650-640 BCE) and completed by Senkamanisken (ca. 640-620 BCE), B 700 was built immediately behind and between B 800 and B 500 (and directly beside B 600, the presumed coronation pavilion built originally by Thutmose IV).  By analysis of the temple’s poorly preserved (and poorly published) reliefs, Török (2002, 157-172) drew our attention here to the cultic amalgamation of the gods Amun of Napata (who was named on the temple’s bark stand), Amun of Pnubs (who was pictured inside the northeast pylon wall), and Osiris and Dedwen, who were both named in a fragmentary funerary monument found inside the temple (Priese 2005).  Török ultimately concluded that B 700 was a temple of Amun of Pnubs at Napata (Tőrők 2006, 237).  But unknown to him were the unpublished texts inscribed on the fallen columns in the inner and outer chambers (703 and 702) (fig. 90).

Fig. 90: View from inside B 700, looking from room 703 (the bark chamber) to 702.  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


Each of the columns in 703 (i.e. the bark chamber) was inscribed with four columns of text, naming - in all the variant ways - the major Amuns resident at Napata and Thebes:  “Amun, Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands, who is in Jebel Barkal,” “Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, who is in Jebel Barkal,” “Amun of Napata, who is in Jebel Barkal,” “Amun, Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands, who is in the Ipet,” “Amun, Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands, who is foremost in Ipet Sut.”  In the outer chamber 702, fragments of the only surviving column (of four) reveal that “Amun of Gem-(pa)-Aten” (Kawa) was added to the other Amuns.  Amun of Pnubs, pictured on one wall, was probably named on other columns from the same room, but these are not preserved.  Additionally, in both chambers there are fragments of a large funerary construction, inscribed for “my father Osiris,” or “Osiris-Dedwen” - Dedwen being the Nubian god associated with deceased kings (Priese 2005; Caminos 1998: 15; FHN 1994 (I): 234; Wilkinson 2003: 105).

Since B 700 was placed between and behind B 500 and B 800, it appears to have been built as a Napatan home for the prominent gods dwelling between Napata (represented by B 500) and Thebes (represented by B 800):  that is, Amun of Kawa, Amun of Pnubs, and Dedwen of Semna (and possibly others).  Since the bark stand in B 700 was a support for the bark of Amun of Napata (for whom it is inscribed), it is clear that the local Amun, by visiting all the temples in his carried bark, was able symbolically to visit - and merge with - all the major gods downstream as far as Karnak, with intermediate stops at Kawa, Pnubs, and Semna (which would explain why the opening lines of Aspelta's Coronation Stela could read: "Now His Majesty's entire army was in the town named Pure Mountain, whose god was Dedwen, foremost of Nubia - he is the god of Kush - after the Falcon (i.e. King Anlamani) had settled on his throne (i.e. died)" [FHN 1994 {I}]).  Since after the mid-seventh century BCE the Kushite kings could no longer visit Karnak (or Luxor) in person, their actual cultic journeys downstream probably extended  no farther north than Semna (the southern end of the second cataract), but they could keep up their cultic obligations to the Theban god(s) by visiting Napata’s Karnak substitute,  B 800.

If the above reveals that a bark procession at Jebel Barkal simulated a real voyage on the Nile connecting Napata with Thebes, then I believe we must presume that the Opet bark procession between Karnak and Luxor also simulated a real Nile voyage that connected Thebes with Napata.  The addition of B 700 to the Barkal sanctuary shows that visitations by the king and Amun of Napata to the other important temples in Lower Kush could be performed ritually at Napata simply by visiting B 700.  It is especially interesting that B 700 would seem to emphasize Kawa and Pnubs, because during the New Kingdom, these two sites possessed the only other Amun sanctuaries orientated, like Luxor, parallel to the river (with sanctuaries directed upstream), suggesting that they, too, had a unique connection with the latter and were important ritual stops when the Egyptian kings undertook real journeys to and from Napata (cf. Török 1997, 278-79; 2002, 142-156, 270-273).

The greatest obstacle to proving any real connection between Jebel Barkal and Luxor Temple is the complete absence of direct references to Jebel Barkal not just within Luxor Temple itself but everywhere else at Thebes.  Because Jebel Barkal was given names identical to Karnak (Ipet-Sut) - and perhaps also to Luxor (Ipet/Ipet-resyt) - we have no way of tracking it in records from Egypt because, if mentioned at all in temple inscriptions, it would never have been cited by a name we can recognize.  Adding to the confusion is the name Nesut-Tawy.  In Nubian texts, Jebel Barkal is familiarly known as Dju-Wa’ab (“Pure Mountain”), but Thutmose III tells us that the mountain’s official name was Nesut-Tawy (’Thrones of the Two Lands’), which was only another name for Karnak or East Thebes.  As we have seen, it was by this name that the Viceroy Huy called Jebel Barkal, when he noted that his authority extended from “Nekhen to Nesut-Tawy” (Davies and Gardiner 1926, 11).  Such a comment could only be correctly understood by context, which in Huy's case is clear.

Ever since the Middle Kingdom, in hundreds of his images at Thebes, Amun had been called Neb Nesut-Tawy (“Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands”), which meant that the title, prior to the mid-Eighteenth Dynasty, could have had no specific reference other than to the Theban area.  But by telling us that Jebel Barkal was called “Nesut-Tawy before it was known by the people,” Thutmose linked the epithet to Jebel Barkal and made the meaning retroactive.  Through this device, all older images of Amun bearing this epithet, and all like-named images created henceforth, could be identified with the god dwelling at Jebel Barkal. The real effects of these epithets, though, would have been to conceal the identity of Jebel Barkal in Theban monuments and to make it indistinguishable from Karnak  – which was evidently the purpose.  The two “Karnaks” of Thebes and Napata were apparently to be understood as aspects of the same place, and their gods, aspects of the same deity.  The same confusion of Amuns and titles can be seen wherever there were Amun temples (Guermeur 2005).  We should not be puzzled, therefore, to find no obvious references to Jebel Barkal in Luxor’s considerable textual record.   To the casual modern observer this would seem to confirm that the “Pure Mountain” of Kush had no connection with Luxor and had little or no importance for the Egyptians.  I would argue, however, that quite the opposite was true.  In the majority of the images of Amun preserved in Luxor Temple, he is called “Lord of the Thrones of the Two Lands” (Nesut-Tawy), “he who is before Karnak” (Ipet-Sut), “Lord of the Ipet,” “who is in his Ipet,” “Lord of the Upper Egyptian Ipet,” “Kamutef,” “Primeval One of the Two Lands” (Brunner 1977, 75)  – which are all epithets as closely tied to the god of Jebel Barkal as to the gods of Karnak and Luxor.  The dedicatory inscriptions in Luxor Temple seem to suggest that the temple was dedicated only to "Amun of Karnak" - but which one?  Amun of Karnak at Thebes, or Amun of Karnak at Napata, or both?

What were the motives behind this confusion of cult places and of merged titles and divine iconography?  Was the object to avoid direct acknowledgement in Egypt of an important cult place that existed in a potentially hostile foreign land?  Was it simply to render the Amuns and their cult places in Thebes and Napata (and those all over Egypt) indistinguishable so as to emphasize that they and all aspects of the god were conceptually “the same”?  Or was this part of a vast national program of public religious secrecy, of which one so often finds mention in Egyptian texts (Assmann 1995, 16-17, 136-137)?  Even if some scholars would insist that Jebel Barkal had no importance for the Egyptians in Egypt, they surely would not claim the same for the Kushites in Egypt - and yet, as far as I am aware, there is not a single specific reference to Jebel Barkal on any Kushite monument at Thebes!


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