Karnak, Red Chapel of Hatshepsut, 18th dynasty. Here are 100 more photographs by U. Christensen, Denmark, and a text, completing the original article


First part Second part Third part
The monument, presentation
Outside Overview
Exterior South (front) wall
Exterior West wall
Exterior North (back) wall
Exterior East wall
Inside Overview
Vestibule West wall
Vestibule East wall
Sanctuary West wall
Sanctuary East wall

Orientation of the building
The front door of the Red Chapel as reconstructed between 1997-2001 in the Open Air Museum faces to the south ('local Karnak') and the back door to the north. The OAM (Open Air Museum) is situated to the north of the western part of the first court of Karnak Temple. The north-south axis of the Red Chapel is perpendicular to the main axis (east-west) of the temple of Karnak. The chapel was build by Queen Hatshepsut, 18th Dynasty, and is supposed to have been erected in the centre of Ipet-sut (Karnak) temple, in the same place or nearly the same, where now the granite shrine from the time of Philip Arrhidaeus is standing.

Orientation

The front door of the Red Chapel would then have faced towards the west. If that location is true, then it is now turned 90 degrees counter clockwise (to the south), but that way it at least gives better sunlight on the long sides of the chapel.
In most publications of the Red Chapel, the supposed original orientation of the building are used to reference the walls, that is, the front entrance wall is called the west side, and the side where the Opet Festival scenes are carved on the 3rd course, is called the chapel southern exterior wall, but now that wall faces to the east ('local east'), and that makes it a bit complicated…One has to be aware which system (the original or as it is now) is used in a given text.
In this text and in the legend of the photos the new orientation system is used.

Geographical directions
So, the north, south, east and west directions in the text and the photos, make reference to the 'local Karnak' directions as the chapel is reconstructed in the OAM.
It was conventional for the old Egyptians to give directions for a building in relation to the Nile, which is always supposed to run from the south to the north, as it normally does, but not here in the Luxor region, where it runs to the geographical north-east.
The Karnak centre axis is used as the reference axis in the new 'Atlas of the Kings Valley' from the Theban Mapping Project, as their base west/east axis; that is, the TMP grid is based on the Karnak axis.

The building
The chapel is called the Red Chapel because it is build of blocks of red quartzite, though the foundation, doorframes and the cornice are in black diorite.
The red quartzite is a very uncommon type of stone to be used as a building material in pharaonic times in Egypt.
The building has two rooms, a vestibule (south) and a sanctuary (north).
The chapel is build like a brick building, it has 8 courses with alternative courses as 'headers' (short blocks) course 2, 4, 6 and 8, and 'stretchers' (long blocks) course 3, 5 and 7.
The blocks are very uniform in their size, they are all of the exact same height (excl. course 8). A 'header' block has as the exact size of the thickness of the walls, and they have decoration on both of their sides, one for the exterior and one for the interior wall. Only the lenght (along the wall) of the blocks can vary, of both the 'stretchers' and the 'headers', but overall they are very evenly sized.

Exterior walls

Please have a look here for details.

The outside walls have 9 courses.
The first course is the foundation in double high black diorite blocks with a little edge halfway up. Then comes 7 red courses. Courses 2 to 7 is made of blocks of red quartzite, which have the same height in all courses.
Course 8 (header) is also made of blocks of red quartzite, but they are a little higher, as there is an added horizontal torus moulding in the upper part of the blocks.
Course 9 is the black cornice blocks, the outwards rounded top-finish used in almost all egyptian buildings.
Only the outside front entrance wall (south) is different; it has an added double high red quartzite row as course 9, and the cornice top is then course 10.

The black base blocks all have a uniform decoration, they show Nile gods and goddesses, who represents nomes, buildings or other structures including canals All of them, on the east and west walls and the north wall (back) look in the direction of the back door. On the south (front) wall, they look to the front door.

Floor level
The floor in the vestibule is on the same level as the little edge of the black foundation blocks, that is, at about half the height of the black base blocks. In the sanctuary the floor level is 20 cm lower than in the vestibule. There is a step down at the door between the two rooms and a step up again at the back door (north) from the sanctuary to the outside.
It is very uncommon for the sanctuary floor level to be lower than the other rooms.

Interior walls

Please have a look here: redchap_inside for details.

In both the vestibule and the sanctuary there are 8 courses of red quartzite blocks.
Inside course 1 is at the same level as the back of the upper part of the outside black foundation blocks.
Courses 2-8 correspond to the outside courses 2-8, remember the 'header' blocks (short) are the same on course 2, 4, 6 and 8. In the sanctuary there is an added 20 cm course below the 1. ordinary red course, to compensate for the 20 cm lower floor level, or rather it is a plinth protruding a little from the wall, decorated with a lettuce frieze.
In the reconstruction there is no inside course at the back of the cornice blocks (outside course 9) and neither at the back of course 9 and 10 of the front wall.
The space may have been used by the now missing roof blocks ? In fact, there is no roof in the reconstructed chapel. But the people who rebuilt the chapel think the chapel never had one.

Friezes
The first course in both the vestibule and the sanctuary (at the back of the upper part of the outside black foundation blocks) are decorated with a frieze that runs along the long walls only.
The frieze in the vestibule is the 'rekhyt' bird standing on a basket and they all face towards the sanctuary (north).
In the sanctuary the frieze is composed of the 'ankh'-sign, the 'djed'-pillar and the 'was'-sceptre, all three standing on a basket; the 'djed'-pillars all have a small cartouche with the throne name of Hatshepsut |(Maat-ka-Ra) in the middle. Note that the 'ankh'-sign always are on the side of the basket that is closest to the vestibule (south).

"Equipment"
In the vestibule there is a block stone that has been hollowed, giving it the appearence of a 'bathtub' 135 x 80 cm and 28 cm high in the centre of the room. It probably was the stone where the sacred bark was laid on. In the sanctuary there are two low stone platforms. The one near the door to the vestibule (almost in the exact centre of the chapel) is 131 x 94 cm and 8 cm high, the platform near the back door is 138 x 95 cm and 20 cm (?) high.
Both the 'bathtub' and the platform near the back door have a lettuce frieze on all their 4 sides. The 20 cm high plinths at the long walls of the sanctuary also has the lettuce frieze. The low platform near the door to the vestibule, in the centre of the chapel, also has a frieze. (I can't remember if it is lettuce, it looks like but ??)



Outside Overview

As seen when you arrive from the OAM ticket office. Front (south) and eastern side. Looking north.

View of the OAM near RC. From left (south): the White Chapel (12. dyn.), 2 alabaster chapels (Tm IV and Tm III, 18. dyn.) and front (south) of RC. Looking north-west

Front (south) and east side. The name stone of the building is to the right of the steps. Behind RC (north) is the new Tuthmose IV courtyard reconstruction. Looking north-west.

The name stone at the front and right (east) of the entrance to the Red Chapel

Front (south) and west side. Looking north-east


Exterior South (Front) wall



Front door (south), looking inside the vestibule. Seen from the south-east.

Front of RC (south) and some of the west side, seen from the south-west

Front side (south), the upper part to the left of the entrance door (west), course 4-9. HR

Front side (south), the upper part to the right of the entrance door (east), course 4-9

Front side (south). Detail. Blocks. Right (west) of the door, course 3-4.

Front side (south), the upper part to the left of the entrance door (west), course 4-9.



Exterior North (Back) wall


Back entrance side (north), the sanctuary west wall is seen inside. Seen from the north-north-east.

Back side (north), the part to the left of the back door (east), course 1½-8. Details of some of the blocks, see next two

Detail. Black base blocks to the left (east) of the back door. The 3 Nile gods and the goddess, who represent the 4 southernmost nomes in Egypt, from right to left: Elephantine, Edfu area, Hierakonpolis, and Waset (Theben). All face the back door

Back side (north), representation of the Heb-sed , with the ritual running of the Pharaoh

Back side (north), the part to the right of the back door (west), course 3-8.

Back entrance side (north), and east wall inside the sanctuary. Note the drain

Back entrance. Modern steps to the back door. We tested the drain from the sanctuary.



Exterior East wall


East side, southern end. The obelisk block is no. 2 from left in course 7

East side, the southern 2/3 of the wall. Seen from the front (south). The Opet festival is on course 3 (2. red), with way station 6 to the left (south), the missing left (last) block would have been the Luxor temple ?. Cont. on next

East side, center part. Opet festival in the 2. red course.Cont. on next

East side, the northern end. Start of the Opet festival in the 2. red course at the corner

Detail

East side. Detail. Blocks. 3. block from the north corner (left), course 3 (2. red). The Opet festival procession from the 1. station to the 2. way station; part of the 1. station on the block to the right.

Detail. Blocks. 3., 2. and 1. block from the north corner, course 3 (2. red). The Opet festival. The 1. station. Cont. from previous

Detail. Blocks. 1. block from the north corner, course 3 (2. red). The Opet festival. The bark in Karnak temple and the procession to the 1. station.

East side, the southern 3/4 of the wall. Seen from the back (north). The Opet festival is on course 3 (2. red), the missing block at right was way station no. 2.

East side. Detail. Blocks. 3. block from the south corner, course 5 (4. red). A bark with a funerary chapel ? (like the 1. shrine of Tutankhamun) is towed by another boat



Exterior West wall


West side, southern end. (no. 1/8). Cont. on next

West side, southern part left. (no. 2/8). Cont. on next

Detail

West side, center and southern part. (no. 3/8). Cont. on next

West side, center part. (no. 4/8). Cont. on next

West side. Detail. Blocks. Course 3-7, center. The jubilating Hatshepsut, course 5

West side, northern part right. (no. 6/8). Cont. on next. The acrobat block

West side, northern part left. (no. 7/8). Cont. on next

 

West side, northern end.

West side. Detail. Block. Block 2 from the northern corner (left), course 3 (2. red)

West side. Detail. Block 4 from the northern corner (left), course 1 (black base blocks). Nile gods representing some of the Delta nomes. Base block 1-3 are missing, so this is the first from the back (north) of the preserved blocks at the west side. All the gods or goddesses are looking towards the back (north) of the chapel.

West side. Detail. Block no. 287. Course 2 (1. red), center. The block with the text: year 2, month 2, day 29.

West side. Detail. Blocks. First blocks in course 3-4 (2.-3. red) from the southern corner.

West side. Seen from the back (north). Note the higher front wall (south) and the protruding ends at top.




Inside Overview

Inside the sanctuary, seen from the back door (north) towards the front. The east wall and the door to the vestibule. The drain goes towards the back door.

View from the front door (south) to the back door. The 'bathtub' in the vestibule and the two platforms in the sanctuary.

The eastern door between the sanctuary and the vestibule. The 20 cm lower floor level in the sanctuary. In the corner, below the door post, on the original treshold block there is a cartouche with the throne name of Hatshepsut |(Maat-ka-...), the 'Ra' is missing. The lower paving stone in the sanctuary with the hole for the door is new.

Sanctuary. The northern platform and the paving stones in the north end of the sanctuary. Seen from the back (north) door

The back (north) door seen from the middle of the sancturary. The northern platform and the drain. In the background (north) the new Tuthmose IV reconstruction

Sanctuary floor, northern part, seen from the back door, looking south. The northernmost platform and the drain towards the back door. The irregular protruding shape of the lower part of the platform is rather puzzling.

Sanctuary. Paving stone between the two platforms. The 'upper' part of the stone is set against the lower platform in the south of the sanctuary. It has the same motif as the 1st course of blocks above the plinth in the sanctuary, where the ankh sign on the basket, always are on the side towards the vestibule (south)



Vestibule West wall


Corner of the west wall and the front door (south) to the left.

West wall and the door to the sanctuary. The four lower courses. The rekhyt birds are in 1st course.

Corner of the west wall and the door to the sanctuary. Only the 3 upper courses (4-6) of black stone in the door have been preserved.

West wall. Courses (4-8)



Vestibule East wall


Corner of the east wall and the left door post of the front door; course 3 (half) to 8.

Corner of the east wall and the left door post of the front door; course 3 to 8.

Vestibule. East wall, upper southern corner (front). Course 3-8. Text see next

East wall, lower southern corner (front). Course 1-6. On the 2 blocks in course 3, the decoration overlaps blocks, a very unusual fact in the RC.

Vestibule. East wall, upper part of the wall and northern corner..

Course 2, block no. 2 from the south corner (front). Hatshepsut has got a new head.

Course 3, at the southern corner. The decoration continues from one block to the other, which is very unusual in the RC.



Sanctuary West wall


Corner of the west wall and the door to the vestibule. Course 1-5 and the lower 20 cms plinth.

Southern part. Course 1-7.

Center to northern part. Course 2-6. (Strange colors, the shadow has become violet !) See detail next .

Center, course 4-6. The two big blocks in course 5, are no. 3 and 4 from the northern corner (right).

Southern corner at the door to the vestibule. The 1. course just above plinth. Note the small cartouches in the djed-pillars with the throne name of Hatshepsut |(Maat-ka-Ra). Note that the ankh sign on the basket always are on the side towards the vestibule (south).



Sanctuary East wall


Sanctuary. East wall, the north-eastern corner. Course 1-8. Cont. on next

Sanctuary. East wall, northern center part. Course 2-8

Sanctuary. East wall, center and southern part. Course 1-8. The shadow is very black

Sanctuary. East wall. Detail. Block. Southern corner at the door to the vestibule. The 1. course just above the 20 cm high plinth, note the lettuce frieze. Note that the ankh sign on the basket, always are on the side towards the vestibule (south). See west wall

Sanctuary. East wall and northern doorway.

Sanctuary. East wall, northern end. Course 4-8

Sanctuary. East wall, center-south. Course 4-6

Corner of back wall (north) and east wall. Course 2 and just some of the first with the djed-pillar frieze