Precinct of Mut
The Precinct of Mut, located near Luxor, Egypt, is one of the four main temple enclosures 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 was originally 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.
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 CE its use steadily declined and when worship of Mut ended, so did the function of the complex. The passage of time has not been kind to the precinct. 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
Its main features are the crescent-shaped lake, the later temple of Ramesses III, the temple of Mut, and the temple of Khonsupakhred. 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 avenue of ram-headed sphinxes leads north for approximately 400m, 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 Amun-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.
Two Grade I listed statues at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire, England, collected by the 6th Duke of Devonshire, dating from c.1570–1304 BC and said to represent Sekhmet, are believed to have come from this site.
- Weigall, A.E.P. A Guide To The Antiquities of Upper Egypt, Methuen, London, 1910
- English Heritage. "Egyptian statue behind the Duke's Greenhouse (Grade I) (81634)". Images of England. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- English Heritage. "Egyptian statue behind the Duke's Greenhouse (Grade I) (81635)". Images of England. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- The Precinct Of Mut, Queen Of The Gods, Karnak, Egypt (Brooklyn Museum)
- Dig Diary: Brooklyn Museum Excavations at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut
- Margaret Benson and her excavations in the Temple of Mut