The Khonsu Temple is in the southwest corner of the area around Amun-Ra at Karnak Temple. During Ramses III’s rule (1186–1155 BC), it was built and dedicated to Khonsu, the son of Mut and Amun. The temple confronts Luxor Temple, with which it is united by an avenue of sphinxes that were just recently shown in their completeness. The avenue of sphinxes connects the two temples. Even though the temple is only about 70 by 30 meters (230 by 99 feet) in size, it is very well put together.
It is made up of a pylon, a court, a hypostyle hall, a barque shrine, an ambulatory, and several chapels, one of which is on the roof. Almost every surface has carvings in both bas-relief and intaglio. Many of these carvings, especially in the chapels, have kept their color. The temple is built on the site of at least one other temple, and most of it is made of sandstone, except for the inside of the barque shrine, which is made of granite. The sandstone blocks are all used for different things.
Ramses III demolished a temple that had previously stood on the site in order to construct the current temple, and some of the stones came from that structure. Other stones came from other temples on the west bank of Luxor. The blocks are used in a way that honors where they came from. In other words, the blocks in the Khonsu Hypostyle Hall came from the Hypostyle Hall of a temple that had already been quarried.
Temple of Amun Mut Khonsu
Khonsu was the son of Amun and Mut. He was part of the Theban triad with his parents. He was a moon god who looked like a man with the head of a falcon and a crescent moon on top of his head. He is sometimes shown as a baboon, like Thoth, who was also a moon god. People thought that Khonsu could get rid of evil spirits. Ramses II sent a statue of Khonsu to a friend who was the king of Syria so that the friend’s sick daughter would get better.
The Karnak Temple of Khonsu is made up of a peristyle court and a portico with twenty-eight columns on either side. There is also a hall called the hypostyle that is connected to the sanctuary of the barque. To the left and right of the hall are chapels, and a staircase leads up to the roof. The complete pylon is 113 feet long (34.5 meters) and 59 feet high (18 meters). Its front is cut with four grooves that can hold masts with banners. In front of the pylon are the sphinx-guarded remains of a colonnade.
Temple of Khonsu at Karnak
People think of Khonsu Temple as a great example of a small but full New Kingdom temple. Ramses III started it, but a number of subsequent kings, including Libyan generals who were kings of Upper Egypt, finished it. Khonsu was the son of Amun and Mut, and the temple was named after him. It has a peristyle court with a portico of twenty-eight columns that leads to a hypostyle hall that is connected to a barque sanctuary.
Some of the best-preserved and most colorful relief carvings at Karnak were hidden for hundreds of years inside the Khonsu Temple, where smoke and dirt covered them. At the end of the road of sphinxes that led to the Luxor Temple is the entrance to the Khonsu Temple. During the time of the Ptolemies, Ptolemy III Euergetes built a large gate and a wall around the temple.
Only the gate still stands today. During the time of Herihor, writing was added to the front of the temple. During the time of Pharaoh Ramesses XI, Herihor was an officer in the Egyptian army and the High Priest of Amun in Thebes. The hypostyle hall was built by Nectanebo I and is not very large.
Inside, two baboons that looked like they were carved by Seti I were found. It probably came from the building that was there before. There are a lot of blocks with decorations that don’t match or are backwards. This shows how much material from nearby temple complexes was rebuilt and used again, especially during the Ptolemaic period.