III. H. Jebel Barkal and Luxor Temple
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In order to prove that Luxor was founded and built as a “Theban Napata,” we would need to show that it post-dated the Egyptian discovery of Jebel Barkal.  Since Thutmose I’s expedition to Kush led him far beyond Jebel Barkal to Kurgus, we can be reasonably sure that Jebel Barkal was visited by Egyptians at least as early as Thutmose’s second regnal year (ca. 1504 BCE).  It has sometimes been reported that the earliest written evidence for  an Amun temple called Ipet-resyt derives from a stela of Ahmose (ca. 1550-1525 BCE), which records that the king extracted Turah limestone for the construction of temples of Ptah, Atum, and "for the good god Amun in Ipet-r[esyt]" (Urk IV, 25, 9-11). In this case, however, the text is quite damaged, and it appears much more likely that the correct reading is "Ipet-S[ut]"  (Ullmann 2002, 17-25).  If the Ahmose text is eliminated as "evidence" for a Luxor Temple, the next earliest proof of an Ipet-resyt at Thebes occurs in TT 81, the tomb of Ineni, an offical who lived between the reigns of Amenhotep I and Thutmose I and who died while Hatshepsut was queen (Ullmann, pers. communication).  Since the Ipet-resyt named in Ineni's tomb inscription would be earlier than the one known (from fragments at Luxor itself) to have been built by Hatshepsut, the earliest known Luxor Temple, thererfore, would seem to be precisely contemporary with Thutmose I.  One could theorize, thus, that it was built after his return from Kush in Year 2 or 3.

Ullmann, however, points out that an incipient north-south axis existed already in the Twelfth Dynasty temple at Karnak, which could suggest the presence of a Luxor cult (and an Opet procession) as early as the Middle Kingdom.  She also notes that two blocks bearing the name of Sobekhotep II of Dynasty 13 were recovered in the Luxor precinct (Daressy 1893).  The fact still remains, though, that all identifiable traces of a Luxor Temple and cult are contemporary with or immediately post-date the reign of Thutmose I and suggest that the Luxor site did not become important until after the Egyptians had consolidated their control of Kush.  Thutmose's daughter Hatshepsut is the first “king” known to have celebrated an Opet festival (Bell 1997, 147-8, 161, 177-8).

More than any other detail, it is the southward orientation of Luxor Temple that seems to acknowledge that its god had an important link with the south beyond Thebes.  Since the Opet festival coincided with the high Nile, one would assume that the orientation of Luxor acknowledged Amun’s role as god of the Nile and bringer of the inundation from the far south – that is, from Kush, where the Egyptians must have recognized that the Nile – and life – began (Leclant 1965, 240-246; Pamminger 1992, 113-115).  The god’s personification of the river and the inundation is well-known, especially from a relief at Karnak, in which Amun, accompanied by Mut and Khonsu, appears seated on the Nile waters, facing north, wearing curling ram-horns (suggestive of his link both to Ipet-resyt and to Jebel Barkal),  horizontal ram-horns (identifying him as a ba or resurrected solar god [see below, Part III, G]), and a tall crown with long streamer at rear, associating him with Kamutef (cf. Török 2002: 10; Golvin and Goyon 1987: 33; Gabolde 1995) (fig.  91). The text over his head describes him as “King of the Gods, Great God of the Ennead, who grants ... a great inundation and doubles [... the harvest?].”

Fig. 91: Relief from Karnak, showing Amun, seated on the Nile waters facing north, as  bringer of the inundation.  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


Among the ram-headed images of the Luxor Amun published by Pamminger, one is particularly intriguing.  It is a limestone door lintel (British Museum BM 369) (fig. 92), in which the left half depicts Thutmose III standing before the members of the Theban triad (Amun, Mut, and Khonsu) together with Hathor “Lady of the North,” all of whom face left (=north).  The right half depicts Amenhotep I, standing before “Amun of Ipet-resyt” together with Khnum, Anukis and Satis of Elephantine, all of whom face right (=south).  Since the ram-headed Amun sits in front of the gods of Elephantine facing in the opposite direction from the Amun of Karnak, and since he seems to be looking upriver beyond Elephantine, one suspects that his real “Ipet-resyt” was not Luxor at all but Jebel Barkal (= southern “Ipet-Sut”).  This is further supported by textual evidence from the time of Thutmose III mentioning a festival dedicated to Amun in Elephantine, who is called "Amun of Ipet-resyt" (Waitkus 2008, 265). Since the latter four gods are confronted by Amehotep I, patron god of the Theban necropolis, we realize, too, that these gods must not only be associated with the South and Nubia but also with the West - that is, with sunset, night and primeval time - to which the Sun God must travel for the regeneration that supposedly took place within Luxor Temple.

Fig. 92: Limestone door lintel from western Thebes, picturing Amun of Karnak, the Theban triad and Hathor, on the left (=north), with “Amun of Southern Ipet” and the gods of Elephantine on the right (=south).  British Museum BM 369 (159).   (Pamminger 1992, 100)


If we seek other Theban representations of the ram-headed Amun, we find that they all occur on the west bank, only in the western chambers of the temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu, where they all have to do with the West and primeval time.  Here, for example, we find twin ram-headed Amuns (crowned only with a sun disk): one called “Primeval One of the Two Lands,” a name which he also bears at Jebel Barkal (Reisner and Reisner 1931, 37, l. 43); the other called “Great One of the Ennead,” referring to his role as the Creator god of Heliopolis (fig. 93, cf. also 91).  The same god, similarly crowned, appears at Jebel Barkal (fig. 94a), and again as the god who awards Piankhy his crowns (fig. 94b).  In a nearby room we also find Amun Kamutef in transformation to a ram deity (fig. 95); we find him as a lion-headed man (fig. 69), reminiscent of Amun’s leonine manifestations at Pnubs, Kawa, and Jebel Barkal (BD 162, 164); and we find him as a god variously called “Primeval One of the Two Lands” and “Min-Kamutef” (fig. 96a), who is identical to the unique representation of Amun, pictured at the top of Piankhy’s Victory Stela, and who is called “Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands, who is before Ipet-[Sut] of Jebel Barkal”  (fig. 96b).

Fig. 93: Ram-headed primeval Amuns on the western wall of the chamber of the Ennead in the temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu.  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


Fig. 94a: Ram-headed primeval Amun, identical to that in fig. 93, pictured at Jebel Barkal and called “Amun-Re-Horakhty-Atum, Lord of Ipet-Sut, Great God, Lord of Heaven.”  (Morkot 2000, 147; Dunham 1970, pl. 37)
Fig. 94b:  Amun of Jebel Barkal pictured like the gods in figs. 93 and 94a.  From the Sandstone Stela of Piankhy from Jebel Barkal .  Courtesy of the Sudan National Museum, Khartoum. (Reisner 1931)

Fig. 95:Kamutef in transformation to a ram-headed being, from one of the western rooms in the temple of Ramses III at Medinet Habu.  (Photo:  T. Kendall)


Fig. 96a: An anthropomorphic Amun, represented in one of the western chambers at Medinet Habu, identified as “Primeval One of the Two Lands” and “Min-Kamutef.”  In this guise he is identical to the Amun of Jebel Barkal, pictured in fig. 96b.  (Epigraphic Survey 1964, pl 530)

Fig. 96b:  Amun of Jebel Barkal, with Mut, depicted in the lunette of the Victory Stela of Piankhy.  He is identical to the god represented in fig. 96a.  (Grimal 1981a, pl. 5)

From these parallels it appears that the absence of ram-headed images of Amun inside Luxor can be explained simply as a factor of the temple’s situation on the east bank and in the north. The very small number of human-headed images of Amun at Jebel Barkal is probably to be explained by the site’s location on the “west” (=river east) bank in the south (Nubia).  Amun’s iconic transformations between Thebes and Napata probably have only to do with his perceived outward journey back in time, by passing to the west like the setting sun or passing south to his Primeval Mound in Kush, where he assumed ram-headed, lion-headed, or uraeus form.  When he journeyed back again to Egypt as a reborn god, he was associated with the east and north, which likely gave him human form.  Such north-south transformations of Amun - traveling to and from Nubia and primeval time - seem to parallel those of the goddesses in the legends of the “Eye of Re” and “Eye of Horus” (See Part III, B).

Amun’s role as bringer of the Nile inundation is mentioned in numerous New Kingdom texts (Assmann 1995, 131, 140-41, 143, 180-85).  When we examine these, we read that the Nile emanated from the primordial Nun, that the god Re was born from these waters at the beginning of time, that he was a “venerable ba” who took form as “a ram, great of forms,” that he was “secret of transformations,” that every night he “united with his corpse (i.e. Osiris)” at the Primeval Mound of “southern Heliopolis,” and that the locus of these events was the Underworld.  If the purpose of the Opet bark procession was to carry the king and his father Amun of Karnak to their progenitor at the Nile sources so that they could bring the river's fertility back to Egypt, it seems to me that the Luxor journey was merely a symbolic simulation of one that would actually have taken them to Upper Nubia, where their regeneration was thought to have occurred.  Looking at the texts more closely, we find clear indications that, in the Egyptian mind, Upper Nubia was where the king and god had to travel in order to find their Maker:

“The heaven carries your ba and raises your radiance,
The underworld contains your corpse and conceals your body…
Water is inundated with gold from your influence…” (Assmann 1995, 181)

“He is a Khnum (i.e god of the cataracts), the excellent potter
The breath of life; the breath of the north wind;
a high Nile, whose ka provides life, which takes care of gods and men…” (Ibid. 182)

“the primeval waters bear his secret…
The sail wind bears him on his voyage to the west
When he travels to the secrets of the underworld.” (Ibid 183)

“He travels forth to the western passage,
Where the “Pillar” (=Osiris?  Jebel Barkal pinnacle?  See Part III, D) in its function
arises for him;”

Only very rarely do the texts become more explicit, as in an ostracon of the later New Kingdom, which suggests that the Nile emanated from “a goddess” (uraeus?) on a “cliff” at a place whose name is obscure – although Jebel Barkal would seem to be implied:

“Now Dgr(?) is the name of the town of a distant land.  Who is the god of its cliff?
As for Nekhesmekes, it is the name of the goddess (of?) the water from which Amun comes forth in the land of Kush” (Zibelius-Chen 1996: 197-199).

In Papyrus Boulaq 17, which preserves a text known from the late 17th Dynasty, Amun is described as:

“Lord of the Throne (Nst) of the Two Lands, prince of (khenty) Ipet-Sut, Kamutef, who stands before his fields, who steps widely, first one of Upper Egypt, Lord of the Medjai (i.e as Min?) and Ruler of Punt, Eldest of the sky; eldest of the earth…One whose perfume the gods love when he returns from Punt, and eldest of the dew when he comes down from Medjai land; beautiful of face when he returns from God’s Land.” (Rocheleau 2005, 19-20; Assmann 1995, 120-121).

This text is noteworthy in that in lines immediately preceding the mention the god’s return from Nubia, he is called “One to whom praise is given in the Per-wer, and who is crowned in the Per-neser.”  This reveals that the god is in the form of a king – a royal ka - in coronation.  The Per-wer and Per-neser were the chapels of the royal uraeus goddesses, and it was in them that the king received his crowns during his coronation (See Part III, B, C).  The implication here is that Amun’s coronation took place before his return from Nubia - when he was in the ka-form of a king.  Naturally, therefore, we could suspect that it took place at Jebel Barkal rather than at Luxor – although ambiguity in these matters seems always to have been an Egyptian preference; the two sites would seem to have meant the same place.

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