In Photos: Luxor visitors witness annual solar alignment at Karnak Temples

Nevine El-Aref , Thursday 21 Dec 2023

Visitors of Luxor witnessed on Thursday the breathtaking annual solar alignment at Karnak Temples marking the start of winter, which reveals the architectural brilliance of ancient Egyptians.



In this remarkable event, the rising sun casts its golden rays upon the Karnak Temples, illuminating a carefully orchestrated alignment, which highlights the temple's intricate design and astronomical significance.

The solar alignment comes upon the main holy shrine of the Amun-Re sanctuary in Karnak Temples. This alignment phenomenon occurs annually on 21 December, announcing the beginning of the winter solstice.

Sun shines on the main axis of Amun-Re temple in Karnak Temples, passing through the eastern gate and ending at the temple’s main pylon.

During the event, the sun appears in the middle of the temple’s eastern gate and then illuminates the sacred parts of the site, including the open courtyard, the hall of columns, and the sanctuary of the god Amun-Re.

Mostafa El-Sagheer, director-general of Karnak Temples, said that an area was allocated at the Karnak Temples to ensure clear visibility for all visitors. This was accompanied by the broadcast of historical musical tunes as part of the sound and light show. Additionally, scout members lined up with flags and school students participated, dressed in distinctive Pharaonic attire.

“It is a distinguished phenomenon, where the ancient Egyptians showcased their genius by linking astronomical calculations with architectural engineering, temple planning, and orientations,” El-Sagheer pointed out.

Archaeological studies on the texts presented by King Senusret I, related to the construction of his temple dedicated to Amun-Re, indicated a specific direction for the temple's axis. Recent archaeological discoveries from the Middle Kingdom's 11th and 12th Dynasties supported the idea of a unique axis for the temple, different from the main axes of the ancient city of Thebes, he explained.

Ancient Egyptian texts explained the connection between the construction of the temple, the determination of its direction, and its movement and axis with the sun at the beginning of the winter season.


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