Carnac - The first Gateway

View of the largely intact Ptolemaic gateway on the south-western wall of the precinct of Amun-Re at the temple complex of Karnak, with the pylon of the Temple of Khonsu behind it. Some local men are near the gateway and the remains of some sphinxes are visible in the foreground. The ninth and eighth pylons are partially visible on the right-hand side. Karnak, near modern Luxor, is a large complex of religious buildings covering an area of over one hundred hectares. It consists of three major sacred precincts dedicated to Amun-Re (the largest of the three), Mut and Montu, but it also includes other structures built both inside and outside the various precincts. It was built and continually extended and embellished by Egyptian rulers from at least the Middle Kingdom (2055-1650 BC) until the Roman period (30 BC-AD 395) but most of its surviving structures date from the second half of the second millenium BC, resulting in Karnak being the largest and best-preserved temple complex of the New Kingdom (1550-1069 BC). The gate is situated to the south of the Temple of Khonsu, built by Rameses III (1184-1153 BC) on the site of an earlier structure. Nectanebo I (380-362 BC) planned to front the temple with a new gate and pylon, but the project remained incomplete. Subsequently, Ptolemy III (246-221 BC) erected the present huge stone gateway between the planned pylon towers. To the south of the gate stood a sphinx-lined avenue connecting Karnak to Thebes (modern Luxor).

Object Details

Carnac – The first Gateway

Francis Frith



Albumen print

15.3 x 20.6 cm 

Acquired by King Edward VII when Prince of Wales