Churches in Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple (LUXOR)

Churches in Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple (LUXOR)

AT THE END OF THE THIRD CENTURY AD, the great temple of Amun in Luxor was no longer in use. Under the Emperor Diocletian (284-305), it was enclosed by defensive walls and became the center of a Roman military camp. The Persian army used it as administrative headquarters during their occupation of Egypt (619-629). After they left, the complex seems to have fallen into ruin.

A treasure of silver liturgical objects and coins dates the earliest Christian church in the former temple and camp to the first half of the seventh century. Two other churches were discovered that are dated to a slightly later period. One of these churches is situated under the mosque of Abu al-Haggag that was built in the court of Ramesses II. The west wall with a row of windows is well preserved. A fourth church was excavated in front of the pylon of Ramesses II, the gateway of the temple, while a fifth was built along the avenue of sphinxes that connected Luxor with Karnak.

Built with dressed stone, partly using blocks from the temple, they all show a basilican plan with a return aisle and an apse with side chambers. Little is left of the churches and even the plans cannot be reconstructed with certainty. During the restoration of the temple, a number of later structures were demolished in order to replace the reused temple blocks.

Sculptured block of one of the churches in the temple complex.
Sculptured block of one of the churches in the temple complex.
Fragments of sculptured friezes.
Fragments of sculptured friezes.
Column of the southwest church in Luxor Temple. In the background is the Forecourt of Amenhotep III.
Column of the southwest church in Luxor Temple. In the background is the Forecourt of Amenhotep III.
The Festival Hall ofThutmosis III in Karnak Temple. View to the north. The Festival Hall was converted in the late antique period to a church.
The Festival Hall ofThutmosis III in Karnak Temple. View to the north. The Festival Hall was converted in the late antique period to a church.
Painting of a saint on one of the monumental columns of the Festival Hall ofThutmosis III.
Painting of a saint on one of the monumental columns of the Festival Hall ofThutmosis III.

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