Precinct of Mut

Precinct of Mut

The Precinct of Mut, located near Luxor, Egypt, is one of the four main enclosed areas that make up the immense Karnak Temple Complex and occupies some 150,000 m². It is dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Mut, the mother goddess. The area in which the precinct is located, originally was known as Isheru (or Asher). Isheru was the name of the spring-fed, crescent shaped lake on the site of this portion of the temple complex. Currently the area is not open to the public or to tourists.

Brief history

It has been used, added to, or enhanced from the 18th Dynasty to the Graeco-Roman Period of rule in Egypt. By the 1st century its use steadily had declined and when worship of Mut stopped, so did the function of the complex. After that, time has not been kind to it. Today, the site is so levelled that practically nothing over one metre high is still standing. Hundreds of statues are scattered all over the central part of the site.

The Goddess Mut

The goddess Mut was the wife of Amun, Egypt's imperial god, and the mother of the moon-god, Khonsu. In her human guise she was the heavenly regent of the kingship. In the form of lioness-headed Sakhmet


Its main features are the crescent-shaped lake, the later temple of Ramesses III, the temple of Mut, and the temple of Khonspekhrod. In addition there are a number of smaller buildings and shrines, as well as the temple of Nectanebo II, the bark station of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III, and the Sanctuary of Amun-Kamutef, which is located just outside the enclosing wall. Kamutef, the Bull of His Mother, would have been the solar god offspring of Hathor, another aspect of Mut. In later mythology he becomes the counterpart of Mut, identified as a husband.

From the main entrance an approximately 400m long avenue of ram-headed sphinxes leads north, directly to the tenth pylon of the Precinct of Amun-Re. This avenue is under restoration. Another avenue of sphinxes, also starting from the entrance, leads 250m west to catch up and flow into the 3km long avenue of sphinxes that connects the Gateway of Ptolemy III Euergetes I of the Precinct of Amen-Re with Luxor Temple.


The area was visited and surveyed by Napoleon's expedition in 1799-1801, and then by The Royal Prussian Expedition of 1842-1845, which was led by Karl Richard Lepsius. Recording continued under Auguste Mariette and Gaston Maspero, but it was Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay who undertook the first major excavations in 1895 through 1897. The area was not excavated again until the 1920s by Maurice Pillet. Since 1976, when the Egyptian government granted the Brooklyn Museum exploration rights to the entire site, it has been in a state of ongoing excavation and restoration, and presumably it will be a while before that changes. The Detroit Institute of Arts also is associated with this excavation, together with a Johns Hopkins University team, under Betsy Bryan who has uncovered many details about a building projects of the pharaoh, Hatsheput that included adding the porch for use in the Festival of Drunkenness that celebrated a change of the goddess Sekhmet (an aspect of Mut) from a fierce warrior lioness needed during a long period of war, to a more peaceful figure.


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