Carnac - The two Obelisks

View with the obelisk of Thutmose I (1504-1492 BC) and that of Hatshepsut (1473-1458 BC) amongst the remains of the forth pylon at the temple complex of Karnak. A local man is visible in the foreground to the left, facing the obelisks. 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). These are the only two obelisks still standing at the site. They were both originally part of two different pairs erected by the two pharaohs, who were also father and daugther. Hatshepsut’s monument is the tallest ancient obelisk still standing in Egypt. The tallest in the world is the one started by Thutmose III (1479-1425 BC) and completed during the reign of Thutmose IV (1400-1390 BC). The monument was moved from Karnak to Rome by Emperor Constantius II (317-AD 361) and subsequently restored and re-erected in 1588 near the Lateran Palace and basilica of St John Lateran in Rome.

Object Details

Medinet Habou – View in 2nd Court

Francis Frith



Albumen print

15.8 x 20.8 cm

Acquired by King Edward VII when Prince of Wales