Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak

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View of the Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak temple complex with columns showing polychrome decoration
Thebes. Great Hall at Karnak.
(Plate 34.)

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The New York Public Library
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Dated Nov. 28, 1838.

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Description

Perspective view of the Hypostyle Hall at the Karnak temple complex, with columns showing polychrome decoration.The hall was built under Pharaoh Seti I who reigned in the 13th century BCE. It is described as follows by George Henry Wathen[1]:

Majestic in ruin, what must it have been when perfect? The massive stone roof is supported by a phalanx of one hundred and thirty-four giant columns, ranged in sixteen rows; most of these are nine feet in diameter, and nearly forty-three feet high; but those of the central avenue are not less than eleven feet six inches in diameter, and seventy-two feet high. The diameter of their capitals at their widest spread is twenty-two feet. The walls, columns, architraves, ceilings—every surface exposed to the eye is overspread with intaglio sculptures—gods, heroes, and hieroglyphics, painted in once vivid colours. It is easy to detail the dimensions of this building, but no description can convey an idea of its sublime effect. What massive grandeur in its vistas of enormous columns! what scenic effects in the gradations of the chiaro-scuro, and the gleamings of accidental lights athwart the aisles!

  1. ^ Wathen, George Henry. Arts, antiquities, and chronology of ancient Egypt: from observations in 1839. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1843, p. 113-114.
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