Karnak: Decoding Egypt's Greatest Temple
History Hit’s ancient history expert, Tristan Hughes, digs deep into one of Ancient Egypt's greatest treasures, a site that ranks among the world’s most impressive religious sanctuaries in both its size, splendour and importance.
But there is another, fascinating side to exploring Karnak beyond the monumental structures - one that requires close analysis of its buildings and countless hieroglyphs. In the company of the director of Karnak, El Tayeb Gharieb Mahmoud, Tristan discovers that you can only really understand this enormous temple complex if you know how to decode the devotion to the local Theban god: Amun - a deity who was venerated here by pharaoh after pharaoh for well over a thousand years.
Tayeb helps translate the hieroglyphs that reveal this story, from Senusret I in the Middle Kingdom to Hatshepsut, Seti I and Ramesses II in the New Kingdom. We discover a shape-shifting god who represented everything from fertility to the cosmos.
We also find out how Karnak was a vast pharaonic notice board - revealing stories of war with its huge reliefs of military triumphs; and peace, with the first peace treaty in the world, agreed between Egypt and the Hittites after the Battle of Kadesh. Tayeb translates this massive treaty written in stone, possibly Ancient Egypt’s most important contribution to the modern world.