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Talatat block in pylon at Karnak

Talatat are stone blocks of standardized size (ca. 27 by 27 by 54 cm, corresponding to ½ by ½ by 1 ancient Egyptian cubits) used during the reign of Akhenaten in the building of the Aton temples at Karnak and Akhetaten. The standardized size and their small weight made construction more efficient[1] Their use may have begun in the second year of Akhenton's reign.[2] After the Amarna Period talatat construction was abandoned, apparently not having withstood the test of time.[3]

Amenhotep IV talatats[edit]

Reconstructed Talatats from the Gempaaten.

The blocks used in the Temple of Amenhotep IV in Karnak and the other abandoned Aten temples were reused by Horemheb and Ramesses II as filler material for pylons and as foundations for large buildings. The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak is built on thousands of these blocks, as is the Second Pylon.[4]

Tens of thousands of the talatat have been recovered. The decorated stones are being photographed and the scenes they depict are reconstructed.[5]


The term talatat was apparently used by the Egyptian workmen[clarification needed] and introduced into the language of archaeology by the Egyptologist H. Chevrier.[6] Some think it may be derived from Italian tagliata, meaning cut masonry.[7]

Gallery of images[edit]


  • Dieter Arnold, The Encyclopaedia of Ancient Egyptian Architecture, I.B.Tauris 2002
  • Katheryn A. Bard, Encyclopedia of the Archaeology of Ancient Egypt, Routledge 1999
  • Ian Shaw, The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, Oxford University Press 2003
  • Nicholas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, Blackwell Publishing 1992


  1. ^ Arnold, op.cit., p.238
  2. ^ Bard, op.cit., p.392
  3. ^ Shaw, op.cit., p.274
  4. ^ Bard, op.cit., p.391
  5. ^ Bard, op.cit., pp.391f.
  6. ^ Grimal, op.cit., p.227
  7. ^ Bard, op.cit., p.391

External links[edit]