The west face of the north wing of the newly-found gate, taken in 1977, and its inner face (2006). On the west (outer) face, the king (left) walks toward the entrance and is greeted by Amun. Both figures stand on a sema-tawy (uniting the two lands) symbol supported by two figures representing Upper (right) and Lower Egypt. Even though the cartouche on the inner face is erased, enough traces remain to date the gate with certainty to the reign of Taharqa of Dynasty 25.
Under King Taharqa of the Kushite Dynasty 25, the Mut Precinct grew dramatically, the work apparently directed by one of Taharqa's most important officials, Montuemhat, Mayor of Thebes and Fourth Prophet of Amun. Taharqa and Montuemhat rebuilt much of the Mut Temple itself, using blocks from the earlier temple as building material for their expansion. Blocks of relief and inscriptions from the Dynasty 18, 19, and 20 temples are visible today in the foundations of Taharqa's temple. They also added two long columned porches to the north of the Mut Temple's first pylon that have parallels in the Kushite colonnades in the Amun precinct.
Taharqa also expanded Mut's precinct to include Temple A, which by Dynasty 21 had already become a mammisi, a temple celebrating the divine birth of a god (in this case Khonsu, son of Amun and Mut), and of the king himself. By this time, it appears that the temple of Ramesses III was no longer in use. Indeed, as the Mut Expedition has discovered, the second pylon of Temple A seems to have been constructed, in part, of stone quarried from Ramesses III's temple, including the feet, torsos, and heads of colossal statues that once stood in the court of that temple. As part of the precinct's expansion and the new use of Temple A, Taharqa created a processional way leading from a gate in the newly built western wall of the precinct to Temple A. The remains of this gateway were discovered by the Mut Expedition in one of its first seasons of work.
While Taharqa was celebrated in relief and inscription, Montuemhat and his work did not go unrecorded. When the east wall of the Mut Temple was being rebuilt, Montuemhat had a small chapel dedicated to himself included in the construction. In recent seasons, the Mut Expedition has uncovered remains of at least three other private chapels related to Montuemhat and to his son Nesptah, including one built into the face of the Mut Temple's First Pylon itself—a very unusual location for a private chapel. Indeed, there seems to have been a proliferation of small chapels in the precinct beginning in Dynasty 25, including one dedicated to Nitocris, God's Wife of Amun, that was built in the Temple A's first court, opposite the scenes depicting Taharqa's divine birth.
Since 1976, the Brooklyn Museum has been carrying out archaeological work at the Temple Precinct of the Goddess Mut (pronounced "Moot") at South Karnak, an important religious site for almost two thousand years. The Mut Precinct is perhaps best known for its statues of Sakhmet, many of which are now housed in museums (including the Brooklyn Museum).
Standing below ram of Amun is King Taharqa of Dynasty 25
Brooklyn Museum Excavations: In the Precinct of the Goddess Mut, Karnak, Luxor, Egypt
The SCA has selected a sculptures from a number of sites in Luxor and elsewhere to be exhibited in the new Museum of Civilization in Cairo. Among the objects chosen are several uncovered and/or restored by the Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition. This week, officials arrived to remove the selected objects, which include this magnificent and rare granite head from a large recumbent sculpture of a ram that dates to Dynasty 25. The ram is Amun, and the figure standing below his chin is King Taharqa of Dynasty 25. We are pleased that it will eventually be on display where everyone can enjoy it.
The work of the Mut Expeditions is conducted under the auspices of the American Research Center in Egypt and is supervised by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, which authorizes and supervises all archaeological work in the country. Under the direction of its Secretary General, Dr. Zahi Hawass, the Supreme Council is responsible for the exploration, preservation, and restoration of Egypt's rich cultural heritage. The Mut Expedition's 21st season of fieldwork begins in January 2007.