The American Research Center in Eygpt

Karnak and Luxor Temples

Karnak and Luxor Temples

Karnak and Luxor Temples

Groundwater and Structural Monitoring, Conservation at Luxor - Temple Ramessess II Court, Mut Temple Visitor Access, Conservation at Khonsu Temple, Signage Placement, April 2007 - Ongoing

Directors: ARCE staff and consultants

The Karnak and Luxor temple complexes on the East Bank of the Nile at Luxor are, without a doubt, iconic symbols of ancient Egypt. Yet, rising ground water has, until recently, been slowly destroying these sites. In 2006, USAID (United States Agency for International Development) funded a groundwater lowering project at the two temple complexes. Now, with a new multi-million dollar USAID grant add-on to the Egyptian Antiquities Conservation Program (EAC), ARCE has begun an essential monitoring and conservation project at the two temple complexes.

Begun in April 2007, the project calls for the monitoring of the east bank temples’ structural integrity as the water recedes from the foundations, the active conservation of damaged blocks, the construction of a conservation laboratory for the use of conservation staff of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA), a training program for Egyptian conservators who will be maintaining the sites into the future, investigation and intervention at the Sacred Lake of the Karnak Temple and the Sacred Lake of the Temple of Mut at Karnak, and cleaning the remaining painted relief sculpture of Ramesses IV in the Temple of Khonsu at Karnak. All work within the Karnak Temple enclosure walls is being conducted in concert with the SCA, the Franco-Egyptian Center, Chicago House of the University of Chicago, The Brooklyn Museum, and the Johns Hopkins University.

Diagram of the dewatering system at Karnak.

An ARCE project headquarters has been set up in Luxor. The facility includes offices and a hostel for housing the conservators and other visiting experts, as well as some project staff, throughout the ongoing project.  And in partnership with the (SCA), a conservation lab has been constructed on site at Karnak temple. The lab provides workspace for conservators as they focus on the cleaning and conservation of reliefs throughout the complex and especially at the Khonsu temple. The lab also provides classrooms for the training of Egyptian conservators, ultimately helping them build the skills needed to continue conservation efforts in a sustainable manner once ARCE's involvement is concluded.

ARCE is working at the site of the Mut Temple at Karnak, in consultation with expedition leaders Richard Fazzini, Director of the Brooklyn Museum of Art mission, and Betsy Bryan, Director of the Johns Hopkins University mission. ARCE is investigating conservation issues of the temple’s sacred lake, as well as continuing the conservation program conducted by Professor Bryan begun under the aegis of ARCE’s USAID-funded Egyptian Antiquities Project (EAP). 

At Luxor temple, monitoring and conservation will also be ongoing under the supervision of Dr. Ray Johnson and his team from Chicago House (University of Chicago/Oriental Institute). A comprehensive and varied conservation effort is concentrated in the area of the Khonsu Temple, a beautiful example of an almost complete New Kingdom temple that is rarely visited by tourists. The SCA has asked ARCE to assist in preparing the Khonsu Temple for easier and safer access to tour groups. Overseeing work within the Khonsu temple is British archaeologist Pamela Rose and a team of stonemasons, epigraphers, and conservators. Read more about Khonsu Temple initiatives>>

Overseeing all aspects of the overarching Luxor project is John Shearman, Associate Director—Luxor.

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