Press Release - May 2005



A Visit to Karnak

Within the framework of the cultural and archaeological cooperation between Egypt and France to restore, preserve, document and protect Karnak Temple --one of Egypt's most awe-inspiring landmarks-- Dr. Zahi Hawass Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), along with top antiquities officials and a number of Egyptian and French Egyptologists, will be paying a visit to Luxor on Saturday, June 4. They will embark on an inspection tour around the Karnak’s various pylons to check on recent work being carried out by the Franco-Egyptian Institute for Karnak Studies (CFEETK), established in 1967 as a permanent mission for archaeological cooperation between Egypt and France.  The head of the Supreme Council of Luxor, Major General Samir Farag; French Ambassador Jean-Claude Cousseran;  head of the Department of Pharaonic Antiquities within the SCA, Sabri Abdel Aziz; Holeil Ghaly, head of the central administration of Upper Egypt; the newly appointed head of the CFEETK, Emmanuel Laroze; and Dominique Valbelle from the Sorbonne will be among the visiting delegation.


The first leg of the Franco-Egyptian delegation will be to the northern side of the fifth pylon, the area between the eighth and ninth pylons, and the Wadjyt Hall. This last area is the site of the most important recent discovery at Karnak, a double limestone statue of 13th dynasty king Neferhotep. This was unearthed in a niche 1.5m below the foundation pit of an obelisk.

What has been uncovered so far shows a life-size statue of the king in the customary royal striding position, wearing a nemes headcloth and holding a mace in one hand. “The statue is beautifully carved from limestone, wonderfully inscribed, and shows the ability of the late Middle Kingdom to Second Intermediate Period artists to create masterpieces,” said Dr. Hawass. “There were two important kings of this dynasty named Neferhotep,” he continued, “and we do not know for sure which one this is, but I believe it is Neferhotep I. He was of non-royal blood, and ruled in the middle of the 13th Dynasty, before the kings had been forced to retreat to Thebes.”

  A number of artifacts belonging to this king have been found, including a stela from the site of Abydos, which says that he made repairs to the temple of Osiris there, and another double statue, with the king in two different costumes, found in the early 20th century in the Karnak cachette. “This discovery adds to our information about this very interesting period of Egyptian history, and about the statues and chapels that these kings built within the precinct of Amun at Karnak,” says Hawass. “You could almost write the history of Egypt just from the discoveries at Karnak.”The second half of the statue is still buried in sand, waiting to be unearthed during the next archaeological season, after which the piece will be on display near its find spot. The part already revealed suggests that the two figures are holding hands, and Neferhotep's cartouche is carved between their shoulders. This discovery suggests the existence of an important installation in this zone before the New Kingdom (1569-1081). 

The studies carried out have led to the conclusion that this royal dyad, a buried calcite base,and Osirian sandstone statues excavated in the foundations of southern Wadjyt hall are connected to each other.

A similar statue ascribed to Neferhotep was previously unearthed in 1904 in the Court of the Cachette and is now on display at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Excavation work in the Wadjyt hall started last October with small sounding in disturbed areas of the courtyard pavement as part of a comprehensive research program carried out since 2002 in the central zone of Karnak. This aims to clarify our understanding of the various phases of construction of the sanctuary from the Middle Kingdom to the reign of Amenhotep III (1410-1372). It will also shed more light on the different stages of construction of this area during the 13th dynasty as well as analyzing the vestiges found in the foundations that testify to former occupation.

Karnak Open Air Museum

The delegation will pay a visit to the temple's Open Air Museum where a number of royal chapels are on display after being dismantled, restored and re-erected.


Calcite chapel of Amenhotep II (1454-1419).

This chapel was rebuilt in 2004 at the entrance of the Open Air Museum; this year it was cleaned and its blocks were consolidated.


Monument of Amenhotep I (1545-1525)

Some 1400 blocks have been found within the structure of the third pylon, the Cachette Court and the northern corner of Karnak temple. Architectural studies have clarified the history of these blocks, which were part of a chapel of Amenhotep I. After these blocks have been restored, this monument be rebuilt and put on show at the open-air museum.

 Houses used by Karnak priests located beside the sacred lack have been also restored as well as statues and entrances of the fourth pylon.

In collaboration with Memphis University, the last part of a relief featuring military scenes found at the external southern wall of the Hypostyle Hall has been restored and documented.

In an attempt to shed more light on different construction stages of the area enclosed between the Middle Kingdom court and the fourth pylon, Rashid Migalaa, a member of the Egyptian team, has fabricated a wooden model of this area. This model will be put on display in a suitable place in with the Karnak precinct.


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