Temple of Ptah (Karnak)

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Doorway of Thutmose III

The Temple of Ptah is a shrine located within the large Precinct of Amun-Re at Karnak, in Luxor, Egypt. It lies to the north of the main Amun temple, just within the boundary wall. The building was erected by the Pharaoh Thutmose III on the site of an earlier Middle Kingdom temple. The edifice was later enlarged by the Ptolemaic Kingdom.


This temple is a shrine located within the large Precinct of Amun-Re at the Temple of Karnak in Luxor, Egypt. This temple is dedicated to the ancient Egyptian god Ptah, his wife Sekhmet the goddess of war, and his son Nefertum. The god’s cult started in Memphis, which explains why he also have a temple there dedicated to the god as well. The temple was built approximated around the Middle Kingdom, 18th century B.C. and located in Karnak complex in Luxor upper Egypt. The temple’s reconstruction were restored by king Shabaka during the 25th Dynasty and by the Romans as well as the Ptolemies. The Ptolemies repaired damages but did not replace the original builder’s names with theirs but rather fix the missing areas on the cartouches and in some cases enlarged things. Later building ware erected by the Pharaoh Thutmose III on the site of earlier Middle Kingdom temple. The temple was later on enlarged as well throughout the reign of Emperor Tiberius. The Temple of Ptah serves as the city’s former power and was associated with the Egyptian town of Memphis. Notably, two very important statues reside in this temple. The first one is a statue of the god Ptah with his head missing and the second one is Sekhmet.


The temple consists of six small gateways built closely together. The first, to the west, was constructed by the Ptolemies. The gates date from the Eighteenth Dynasty with the first erected by Hatshepsut and the rest by Thutmose III. To enter the Temple of Ptah, you must enter through the first gateway that leads up to the other five gateways. The first gateway can be viewed from the exterior as well as the interior. Once you have entered the Temple of Ptah through the first gateway, the second gateway is a replica of the first gateway but much more enclosed. The third gateway consist of Ptolemy XIII cartouche with two engaged columns that connects with the fourth gateway. The fifth gateway serves as the entrance to the portico of four composite columns. The sixth gateway crosses through the pylons and runs through directly into the central sanctuary where the statue of Ptah is situated. Once you have passed through the altar, this is the most sacred part of the temple. The sanctuary of Ptah and Sekhmet are situated here. Inside the pylons the two sanctuaries are divided into sections, with the sanctuary of Ptah situated in the center and the sanctuary of Sekhmet situated on the far left.

Inscriptions and artworks

The first gateway crosses an enclosed cartouche of Ptolemy VI. On the interior façade of the first gateway are passages of Ptolemy XI and Ptolemy XIII. The jambs next to the first gateway depict Nefertum bearing a lotus feather topped.

The second and fourth gateways contain cartouches in the name of Shabaka. The third gateway cartouche is in the name of Ptolemy XIII. The fifth gateway leading to the portico columns of Ptolemy III contains the title of Tuthmosis III and on the gate contains the name of Ptolemy III.

The sixth gateway is the entrance to the sanctuary. This is where the doorpost of the pylon extends beyond the doors. There is a scene of the king wearing the white crown as he gestures for you to enter the sanctuary of Ptah and Sekhmet, only after being purified as much as four times. On the north side the king wears the red crown. On the south wall of the main central chamber scenes in sunk relief can be seen. On the right is a scene of the scepter of Amun with four vertical lines and more inscriptions.

Inside the sanctuary stands two statues. The sanctuary is the most sacred place of the temple, which is why statues of Ptah and another of Sekhmet stand here. Sekhmet's statue in the chapel is dedicated to the goddess Hathor. Below the statue of Sekhmet is a guide holding a burning piece of cardboard to illuminate the statue.

Behind the statue of Ptah, Khonsu in Thebes Neferhotep wears the crown prince braid. He holds scepters in his hand: the djed pillar, "was" scepter, ankh, heka scepter, and nekhakha scepter. With the addition of, the menat necklace. There are numerous painting of scenes of the king, showing offering with the sign of Ma'at to the god Amun Re. And last but not least the back outside walls also contains reliefs. "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 a stone that is now missing, and also one of Hathor, followed by two deified scribes from the Old and New Kingdom.[1]

Transformation today

Majority of the transformations were done under the reigns of Ptolemy III and Ptolemy IV who were generally concerned with the changes on the courtyard. Ptolemy VI built on the westward way between the Temple of Amun and Northern precincts of Karnak. Later constructions were done under the reign of Ptolemy XIII, who added a door between the two twenty-fifth dynasty gates, which was in turn decorated by King Shabaka, may explain why his name were on doors two and four.

Excavations have found figurines of Osiris, statuettes of baboons, Mut, Bastet, and more stele marked with the name of the god Ptah. The size and quality of the objects gave us a stepping stone into reconstructing the pieces through technologies. This shed light on surroundings of the Temple of Ptah. The Temple of Ptah is used more for tourist purposes. Since October 2008 an interdisciplinary program has been dedicated to the temple, located on the northern end of the temple of Amun-Re. In addition, "Hieroglyphic, hieratic and demotic graffiti are currently being studied to complete the global approach to researches on the Ptah temple."[2]


  1. ^ Thiers, Christophe. "The Temple of Ptah at Karnak". academia.edu. Egyptian Archaeology. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  2. ^ Dunn, Jimmy. "Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt; The Temple of Ptah at Karnak in Luxor, Egypt". touregypt.net. Tour Egypt. Retrieved 30 May 2017. 

External links

  • Excavation programm of the temple of Ptah and the southern structures by the Cfeetk (en)
  • Report 2009 on the excavation programm of the temple of Ptah and the southern structures by the Cfeetk (en)
  • Report 2010 on the excavation programm of the temple of Ptah and the southern structures by the Cfeetk (en)

Coordinates: 25°43′11″N 32°39′35″E / 25.7196°N 32.6597°E / 25.7196; 32.6597

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