1976 - 2015

Brooklyn Museum and the Precinct of Mut

Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum Archaeological Expedition to the Precinct of Mut, South Karnak

In January 2014 the Mut Precinct finally reopened after being closed to the public for almost 40 years. The opening was the result of the work of the Brooklyn Museum’s expedition to the Mut Precinct; the Johns Hopkins University’s Mut Expedition; and the American Research Center in Egypt (with a grant from USAID), which laid the paving and created walkways as well as funding the signage. What follows is a history of the goddess, the site, and Brooklyn’s work there.

In 1976, the Egyptian Antiquities Organization (now the Ministry of Antiquities and Heritage) granted the Brooklyn Museum permission to begin a systematic exploration of the northern half of the site and its monuments. The expedition has been led from the beginning by Richard Fazzini, now Curator Emeritus of Egyptian art at the Brooklyn Museum. The Detroit Institute of Arts assisted in this work from 1978 to 2001.

Since 2001, Brooklyn has shared the site with a team from Johns Hopkins University under the direction of Dr. Betsy Bryan, Alexander Badawy Professor of Egyptology. Although the two teams work independently, they collaborate on projects where appropriate. [http://pages.jh.edu/~egypttoday/egypttoday2.html]

When work began in 1976, most of the site was covered with rolling mounds of earth and debris.

We are grateful to the many senior officials of the Ministry of Antiquities and Heritage over the years who have granted Brooklyn permission to work at the site. We also acknowledge with thanks the cooperation and assistance of the Luxor office of the Supreme Council of Antiquities and the many SCA inspectors with whom we have worked over the years.


Who was Mut?

“Mistress of peace and of the war cry. Lady of heaven, queen of the gods – Great Mut. Creator. Protector. Lady of joy. Cobra of dread. The vigilant mistress of Karnak. Mighty ruler in her Theban Temple. She whose spirit exists because her temple endures. She whose temple and city will exist for millions of years.”

Above are excerpts from a stela whose inscription is a hymn in praise of Mut (pronounced “Moot”). She was the consort of Amun, one of Egypt’s most important gods, and the mother of the moon-god, Khonsu. In her human guise she bore & preserved Egypt’s kingship and, therefore, the king himself. In the form of lioness-headed Sakhmet (“The Powerful”) Mut was the fierce protector of Egypt, bringing defeat and death to its enemies. She could threaten Egypt, too, if the proper rituals were not performed to turn her into a gentle cat.

Mut and Sakhmet, along with Isis, Hathor, Bastet, and others, belonged to a group of goddesses known as the “Eye of Re,” who could be both gentle cats and fierce lionesses. Perched on the sun-god’s forehead, they could be sent to do the god’s bidding as he willed. The cults of Eye of Re goddesses became vital to Egyptian life and rule. As Mut was both the consort of Amun and an Eye of Re, her temple precinct in Thebes was an important religious center for almost 2000 years. Yet, until Brooklyn began its work there, the site had been only partially explored.

The rituals to placate Mut and Sakhmet and keep them contented and entertained involved singing, dancing, feasting, and drinking. This scene in the precinct’s entrance (the Propylon) shows a Ptolemaic king and two priestesses playing music before the goddesses.

The Mut Precinct

The Mut Precinct lies about 100 yards south of Amun’s temple at Karnak to which it is oriented. An avenue of sphinxes connects the two temple complexes. Its massive enclosure walls surround an area of approximately 20 acres. The site’s main features are the Mut Temple, surrounded on three sides by a sacred lake called the Isheru that is specific to Eye of Re goddesses; a large temple in the northeast corner, referred to as Temple A because its ancient name for most of its history is unknown; a ruined building on a rise, east of the Mut Temple, referred to as Chapel B; a temple of Ramesses III southwest of the Mut Temple; a gateway built by King Taharqa of Dynasty 25; and a number of smaller chapels.

Photograph: J. van Rensselaer IV

It was probably under Dynasty 30 (381-343 B.C.E.) or the earliest Ptolemaic kings that the Precinct achieved its present size and its distinctive trapezoidal shape. The site as it now exists includes not only the buildings described, but a large area to the south of the Isheru, which is still largely unexplored.

The Propylon is the name given to the massive stone gateway that guards the entrance to the precinct. It is inscribed for Ptolemy II (285-246 B.C.E.) and Ptolemy VI (170-163 B.C.E., 145-116 B.C.E.). Like the gate in the Mut Temple’s first pylon, it contains scenes and texts relating to the cult of the goddess.

Photograph: D. Loggie

The earliest representation of the precinct is a relief in the tomb of Khabekhenet at Deir el-Medineh (Theban Tomb 2), from the time of Ramesses II (circa 1279-1213 B.C.E.), complete with an avenue of sphinxes leading to the temple, two colossal statues in front of the temple, a separate pylon gateway, and the crescent-shaped sacred lake on which the barque of Mut sails from the west side (bottom) to the east. The details of the relief have been outlined and highlighted to make them easier to see.

The site has long been famous for its statues of Sakhmet. Today many are housed in museums around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum. In the nineteenth century, the Sakhmets were what attracted the few photographers to visit the site. This photograph of the Mut Temple’s 1st court (above) was taken by French photographer Henri Béchard sometime between 1869 and the 1880s.

Early Exploration

Napoleon took scientists as well as soldiers with him when he invaded Egypt in 1798. The “Description de l’Egypte” (1822) produced by the scientists was the first to include a detailed scientific plan of the Mut Precinct (top left image). The Mut Temple and the Isheru, the temple of Ramesses III (lower right on plan), and traces of Temple A (upper left on plan) are all visible. The fallen colossal statue (bottom left image) still lies in front of Temple A.

A few other explorers visited the site, including the Royal Prussian Expedition of 1842-45 led by Carl Richard Lepsius. The Lepsius map was the basis for the plan produced by Auguste Mariette, first Director of Antiquities in Egypt, in his 1875 book on Karnak.

His book also included copies of important inscriptions, among them the ones in the Mut Temple’s Montuemhat Crypt (also called the Taharqa Crypt). Oddly enough, the texts on these plates are reversed. This image of the rear wall of the crypt comes from a copy of Mariette’s book owned by early American Egyptologist Charles Edwin Wilbour and shows his annotations and corrections.  Wilbour’s collection of books formed the core of the Brooklyn Museum’s Wilbour Library of Egyptology, one of the finest Egyptological research libraries in the world.

The first official excavations at the Mut Precinct were undertaken in 1895-1897 by two British women, Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay, the first women to direct excavations in Egypt.  Little is known of Janet, but Margaret was the daughter of the Archbishop of Canterbury and was considered brilliant by her contemporaries. As a woman in Victorian England, however, she could not pursue a college degree. They were nonetheless able to call on the expertise of the leading scholars in the field and their book “The Temple of Mut in Asher” is on a par with other reports of their time.

Benson and Gourlay on site
Photograph: Collection M. Pillet, CNRS-MOM, année 1921, inv. B134-10

The next major work at the site took place in the 1920s under Maurice Pillet, Director of the Egyptian Antiquities Organization, who cleared and mapped Temple A and the temple of Ramesses III (circa 1187-1156 B.C.E.). In the photograph to the right, the fallen statue in the background is the one shown in the previous Napoleonic drawing.  Pillet uncovered a second colossal statue of Amunhotep III (circa 1390-1352 B.C.E.) that had been usurped by Ramesses II (circa 1279-1213 B.C.E.) and a large alabaster stela carved from a block of a shrine of Amunhotep II (circa1426-1400 B.C.E.). It describes Ramesses’ marriage to a Hittite princess.

In addition to excavating the Ramesses III temple, Pillet re-erected the two colossal statues of that king in front of the temple.

Photograph: Collection M. Pillet, CNRS-MOM, année 1921, inv. B137-10 

The Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition

Farouk Sharid Mohamed

While the Brooklyn Mut Expedition is made up of scholars from the United States, The Netherlands, and France, the Egyptians who do most of the actual excavation are the backbone of the expedition. Without their hard work (and it is hard work in the heat and dust of Luxor) and dedication, little would be accomplished. This is true for everyone from the unskilled laborers to the technicians (the Qufti, from the village of Quft), stone masons, conservators, and inspectors.

From 1976 to his death in 2014 the Mut Expedition’s “rais” (foreman) was Farouk Sharid Mohamed. His knowledge of the techniques of archaeology, his patience in dealing with foreigners whose grasp of Arabic was often limited, and his passionate interest in Egypt’s ancient heritage made him very special. Everyone who has ever worked with Rais Farouk will miss him.

The Early Mut Precinct

There may have been a temple to Mut here as early as the Middle Kingdom (circa 2008-1630 B.C.E.), and the Johns Hopkins expedition has discovered what may be the foundations of a late-2nd Intermediate Period or early-New Kingdom temple that had been covered by later construction. The earliest standing remains date to the reigns of Hatshepsut (circa 1478-1458 B.C.E.) and her co-regent and successor Thutmosis III (circa 1479-1425 B.C.E.).

Among the limestone chips in a hole beside the remains of a small limestone chapel in the oldest part of the temple, the Brooklyn expedition uncovered a fragment of a cartouche containing part of Hatshepsut’s name erased and replaced with the name of Thutmosis III.

The relief in Khabakhenet’s tomb suggests that the New Kingdom Mut Precinct probably consisted of no more than the Mut Temple itself and the Isheru. In 1983, the Brooklyn expedition discovered a gateway shown in nineteenth century maps but no longer visible. The photo above shows the gate’s west face, inscribed for Thutmosis III and Thutmosis II (possibly replacing an original Hatshepsut cartouche).  On the south reveal, where it would have been hidden by the open door, was the faint trace of a graffito of Senenmut, a powerful official under Hatshepsut. The rectangular cut-outs held blocks used to repair Amarna Period erasures of the name of Amun, and the gate also has a renewal inscription by Seti I (circa 1290-1279 B.C.E.) of Dynasty 19. The gate was set into what was the west wall of the New Kingdom Mut precinct.

We were able to trace the wall to its northwest corner, where it turns and runs on a line with the first pylon of the Mut Temple, confirming that, indeed, New Kingdom Mut was much smaller than it is today.

Temple A

Temple A may have been first built by Amunhotep III, although no trace of his building remains. It stood outside the Mut Precinct (known as “per-Mut” or “per-Isheru,” the House of Mut or House of Isheru) in a separate place called Ipet.

Ramesses II renovated and expanded the temple, which was now a “temple of millions of years” dedicated to the king and to Amun-Re. He added a new forecourt with a colonnade and a mud brick pylon. The two colossal statues and the Hittite Marriage Stela found by Maurice Pillet stood in front of this pylon. Rather than commissioning new statues, Ramesses simply replaced their original owner’s name with his own on existing statues. The head of the larger statue is in the British Museum and is clearly that of Amunhotep III. This kind of recycling was not uncommon in ancient Egypt, but Ramesses II was a particularly notable usurper of his predecessors’ monuments.

In 1979, the Brooklyn expedition discovered a second monumental alabaster stela to the south of the smaller colossal statue. This stela records Ramesses’ work on a temple, most likely Temple A before which it stood. The stela was carved on a block from the same Amunhotep II shrine as the Hittite Marriage Stela (visible in the background) and both preserve wonderful reliefs of that king on what became the bases of the stelae. The images to the left and right are two examples.

In 2003, the Centre Franco-Egyptien d’Etude des Temples de Karnak removed both stelae from the Mut Precinct when they rebuilt the Amunhotep II shrine in Karnak’s Open Air Museum.

Temple A did not become part of the Mut Precinct until the reign of Taharqa (690-664 B.C.E.) of the Kushite Dynasty 25. By this time it had become a mammisi or “birth house” where the birth of Mut’s and Amun’s divine child, Khonsu, was celebrated. A Ptolemaic relief of Mut, her divine child, and other gods on the rear wall of the central sanctuary shows that the temple remained a mammisi through the Ptolemaic Period and probably until the end of its history as a religious monument.

Because Taharqa claimed to be a direct son of Amun, he had reliefs depicting his divine conception and birth carved onto the north wall of the temple’s first court. The most famous scene shows Taharqa and his royal “ka” (spirit/soul) being circumcised.

Taharqa also built (or rebuilt) Temple A’s second pylon, whose north wing has a mud brick core with a sandstone facing. As the Brooklyn expedition discovered, the facing and the south wing (which seems to be solid stone) were constructed, in part, of stone quarried from Ramesses III’s temple, which was no longer in use. The blocks include the feet, torsos and heads of colossal statues that once stood in the court of that temple.

In the southeast corner of the first court, the expedition uncovered the foundations of a small limestone chapel. Lying nearby was the chapel’s lintel depicting Nitocris, a God’s Wife of Amun of Dynasty 26. The God’s Wife was normally the daughter or sister of a king, and by the eighth century B.C.E. wielded considerable political power. These priestesses could even be shown performing rituals (e.g., offering to the gods) formerly reserved for the king alone.  While there are several chapels to God’s Wives in the Amun Precinct and at Medinet Habu, it is most unusual for one to have a chapel actually inside a major temple.

Lintel from Nitocris Chapel

Temple A presented one final surprise. Leaning against the face of the enclosure wall on the north side of the forecourt, we found a gilded and painted lintel from a chapel to Khonsu-the-Child, the form of Khonsu worshipped in the mammisi. The chapel itself has completely disappeared, although we did find traces of foundations that may belong to it.

Lintel found in Temple A

The Mut Temple

In 1985, the Brooklyn expedition discovered  the original Hatshepsut/Thutmosis III temple platform, which was three courses deep and had very neatly beveled edges. The outline of the components of that temple had been carefully chipped into the platform’s surface by the builders, so we have some idea of what stood on the platform. The temple was enlarged, probably by Thutmosis III, and the Johns Hopkins expedition discovered a dismantled “Porch of Drunkenness” built by Hatshepsut whose columns were reused in the foundations of this new, larger temple. Although nothing remains of his work, it is likely that Amunhotep III was responsible for a further enlargement in the New Kingdom.

Ramesses II added a stone facing with reliefs and inscriptions to the south side of the temple’s second pylon, and later Ramesside kings also left their names in the complex.

There were perhaps as many as 730 Sakhmet statues at one time: two for each day of the year. They formed a “litany in stone” as one scholar called it, guaranteeing that the rituals to keep Sakhmet appeased would continue even if there were no longer priests to perform the rites. While many of the Sakhmets are inscribed for Amunhotep III, they probably did not come to the Mut Precinct until Dynasty 19, when the link between Mut and Sakhmet became more important. Many scholars today believe that the statues originally stood in Amunhotep III’s funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile, where more continue to be discovered.

Under King Taharqa of Dynasty 25, Montuemhat, 4th Prophet of Amun, Mayor of Thebes and Governor of Upper Egypt, directed extensive work within the Mut Temple and elsewhere in the site. In fact, most of the temple was rebuilt using blocks from the earlier temple as building material for the expansion. As a demonstration of the extent of his power, Montuemhat included a small chapel to himself within the east wall of the temple’s second court that describes work he carried out in the Mut Precinct. It is known as the Montuemhat Crypt (or the Taharqa Crypt). Private individuals, no matter how powerful, were not usually commemorated this way.

Montuemhat Crypt

In the ruins of the Mut Temple’s small hypostyle hall, the Brooklyn expedition discovered parts of a 25th dynasty dyad of Amun and Mut. The god’s head was found by Benson and Gourlay in the 1890s, several feet away from where Brooklyn found the goddess’s face and the legs and feet of the god. The face is one of the most beautiful finds the expedition  has made.

Amun head
Mut face

Montuemhat also built a small temple abutting the rear wall of the Mut Temple, called a Contra-Temple. What is left of its inscriptions duplicates some of the biographical texts from the Montuemhat Crypt. The entrance bears an inscription by Nectanebo I (381-362 B.C.E.), and the facade and a doorway between two rooms were decorated in the Ptolemaic Period, probably by Ptolemy VIII (170-163 B.C.E., 145-116 B.C.E.).


In his crypt, Montuemhat says that he added a 24-column colonnade to the front of the Temple. When Brooklyn began work, only the tops of two columns on each side of the entrance were visible and they were clearly Ptolemaic in date.

When the Brooklyn team excavated the area north of the gate, it uncovered two porches of 12 columns each, just as Montuemhat had said. While the Ptolemies had rebuilt the southern end of the porches, they seem to have been content simply to repair the rest of the columns.

Two important finds were made in the porches.


Built into the mud brick pylon at the south end of the West Porch was a small chapel called a “Hwt-ka,” dedicated to the “ka” (spirit/soul) of Montuemhat’s son, Nesptah. Only the lower two courses of the south wall were still in situ, but the team found other blocks from the chapel in the same area. Like the Nitocris chapel in Temple A and the Montuemhat Crypt, Nesptah’s chapel is another rare example of a chapel for a private person in a major temple.

In 1979, at the north end of the East Porch, the expedition found a large granite head of a ram with a king below his chin, along with fragments of the king’s body (left). The rest of statue was only a shapeless lump of granite. Stylistically the sculpture dates to the reign of Taharqa. A second ram was found in 2001 at the north end of the West Porch. While headless, Taharqa’s name is preserved on the base, confirming the date of the sculpture found in 1979. The Ptolemies seem to have left this pair of Kushite criosphinxes in place when they rebuilt the porches hundreds of years later. While there are many such sculptures of Taharqa in the Sudan, the ones at Mut are rare examples of such sculptures in Egypt itself.

In front of the west tower of the first pylon are seven large criosphinxes. The expedition found no evidence for such sculptures in front of the east tower. Instead, we uncovered a series of vaulted rooms built against the pylon’s face and other structures occupying the area between the Temple A’s pylon and the Mut Temple’s East Porch. Coin evidence suggests that the earliest phases of these structures date to the Ptolemaic Period while the latest coin found dates to the reign of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius (138-161 C.E.).

East Mut gate

The present entrance to the Mut Temple is through a massive stone gateway set into a mud brick pylon. In the New Kingdom, however, the entrance was probably a smaller gate set into the mud brick enclosure wall.

The walls of the gateway still bear Ramesside reliefs and inscriptions, but these were recarved in the Ptolemaic Period when Ptolemy VI (180-164 B.C.E., 163-145 B.C.E.) remodeled and enlarged the gateway. Ptolemy XII (father of the famous Cleopatra) may have been responsible for the large Bes figures as his name is carved nearby and we found more relief fragments with his titles during excavations in this area. The Ptolemaic inscriptions on the gateway are important for the study of the goddess and her cult. They were published in 2015 by the Brooklyn Expedition. Ptolemy VI also built a small chapel in the second court of the temple.

West Mut gate

The northwest quadrant: Taharqa Gate and Ptolemaic Chapel

Northwest quadrant of the precinct, 1977

When Brooklyn began work in 1976, only a few small walls and some scattered blocks were visible in the northwest quadrant of the precinct.

When Charles Edwin Wilbour visited the site in the mid-1880s, he copied the inscriptions on these walls; his copies are preserved in his notebooks in the Museum’s Wilbour Library of Egyptology. As you can see, by the 1970s, the upper part of one of the walls had disappeared, so Wilbour’s notes are the only record of the inscriptions. Wilbour also annotated the publications of other Egyptologists of his day, sometimes correcting their mistakes. Wilbour’s notebooks and the books he owned remain a valuable resource today.

Ptolemaic chapel before restoration

The walls belong to a small chapel built by Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII. Because its walls were in poor shape, the Brooklyn team dismantled the whole building and rebuilt it from the ground up.

Ptolemaic chapel after restoration

The chapel’s front room was dedicated to Mut and a lioness-headed goddess named Ash-Sedjmet, a protector of young women (left). This is one of the few reliefs of Mut preserved in her precinct. The rear room was probably dedicated to the Polemaic ancestor cult as the expedition found a block showing Ptolemy VI worshipping two of his deified ancestors.

South and west of the Ptolemaic chapel the expedition was surprised to discover the top of a monumental gateway over 7 yards wide. No sign of it was visible on the surface and it did not appear on any of the nineteenth century maps of the site.

Like the chapel, the stone of the gate was in terrible condition to the point that the gate was unstable.

The gate and the wall into which it was set were built by Taharqa to enlarge the Mut Precinct. Up to his time, the precinct extended no further north than the Mut Temple’s first pylon. The gate opened a new processional way to Temple A, which was now incorporated into the precinct. The Ptolemaic chapel had been built just inside the north wing of the gateway.

Thanks to the skill of the Egyptian conservators and stone masons who worked with us, we were able to dismantle the gate and not only rebuild it, but restore several scattered blocks from the gate to their original position.

When the new enclosure walls were built in the fourth century B.C.E., the Taharqa Gate was no longer needed. It was eventually blocked and the land to the west was filled in and leveled so that houses could be built. The houses were within the protection of the new enclosure walls but outside the sacred area of the precinct, whose western limit was probably the walls running off the Taharqa Gate. The village was occupied from about the late-third century B.C.E. to the mid-second century B.C.E., when the Mut Precinct went out of use as a religious center.

Conservation and Preservation

One of the great tasks facing all archaeologists, in Egypt as elsewhere, is preserving and restoring the monuments uncovered – making them “live forever” as their creators intended – so that future generations may study and wonder at them. Like other sites in Egypt, the Mut Precinct’s monuments are threatened by rising groundwater levels and the increasing salinity of the soil in which the monuments sit. Over the years of work, the Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition is proud to have carried out a number of restoration projects, which will be described briefly.

When we began work, the rams and sphinxes east of the Precinct entrance were partly buried in dirt that drifted down from the enclosure wall behind them. We rebuilt the inner face of the wall, reproducing the batter of the original wall.  With the sculptures now protected, we could carry out some restorations.

First we put the head back on the body of the easternmost sphinx in the line.

More challenging was conserving the ram at the west end of the row that had been lying on its side for about 2,000 years and was very fragile. Brooklyn conservators, working with Egyptian colleagues and a specialist from the Centre Franco-Egyptien d’Etude des Temples de Karnak, were able to restore it, lift it and put it on its new base.

Today the rams and sphinxes once again have regained their ancient dignity.

Contra Temple before restoration

The sandstone used in many of the Mut Precinct’s buildings was of rather poor quality. Blocks in close contact with the ground had a tendency to decay into sand. This happened to the lowest, undecorated course of the east and west walls of the Contra Temple’s front room. In the 1990s, we took the walls apart and built a new lower course with a barrier to isolate the blocks from further seepage. We were also able to restore some fallen blocks to their original position.

At the east end of the Mut Temple’s first pylon is a small, uninscribed gate that the expedition calls the “Lepsius gate” because it first appears on the plan in C.R. Lepsius’s publication of the work of the Royal Prussian Expedition. The foundations of its east wing were badly deteriorated, so the Brooklyn Expedition took it apart in 2006, created new foundations, and put it back together.

Lepsius gate before restoration

The east wing of the Mut Temple’s second pylon was rebuilt in stone in the Ptolemaic Period, but the west wing was left mud brick and very little remains. We rebuilt it in mud brick to a height of three meters to give some idea of what it looked like in antiquity, and to protect the Sakhmets in front of it from drifting dirt. In 2013, we rebuilt what was left of the stone gateway as well.

The reliefs on the rear wall of the Montuemhat crypt show a number of items that may be cult objects, statues, and other treasures stored in the temple. Below them, Taharqa, Montuemhat and Nesptah offer to Mut.

Of particular interest to us was the small baboon with four strokes above its head, shown here in a photograph and Mariette’s copy of the wall (left). The image has been reversed to give the relief’s true orientation.

Could they be the four baboons Benson and Gourlay found in the rear of the temple in the 1890s? The expedition restored them and put them back in the place where they probably stood originally: against the wall (now missing) of a room in the temple. In 2007, they were removed from the site to be exhibited eventually in the Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo.

As mentioned previously, we dismantled and rebuilt both the Taharqa Gate and the Ptolemaic chapel just inside the north wing of the gate. The photograph on the right shows both buildings after their restoration. Part of the paving of the roadway leading to the Taharqa Gate can be seen to the right of the gate. The rows of platforms on the left side of the picture are some of the “mastabas” (Arabic for bench) that the expedition has built to hold blocks of temple decoration that cannot be put back in place.

Photograph: J. van Dijk

Built into a later structure we found blocks from a small magical healing chapel (left). We later discovered that the chapel’s lintel had been reused in the base of one of the sphinxes east of the Precinct entrance. So we decided to rebuild the chapel.

Horwedja chapel

The chapel is a rare Upper Egyptian monument of Horwedja, an important northern official of Dynasty 26, based in the Delta. We don’t know where the chapel stood, but we do know that there were a number of small chapels in the front area of the Precinct, so we re-erected it just north of the Mut Temple’s first pylon. It is the smallest standing chapel in Karnak.

Perhaps our most important long-term conservation project has been the preservation and restoration of the remaining Sakhmet statues in our area of the Precinct; the Johns Hopkins team has done the same work in the area for which they are responsible.

Most had been partially buried in drifting dirt and were at risk from rising ground water. These photos show the statues in the Mut Temple’s first court when we began work.

All the statues have been conserved and placed on waterproof bases. Where necessary, the mud-brick walls in front of which they stand have been rebuilt. There are approximately 200 whole and partial Sakhmet statues left in the precinct. Thanks to the efforts of both Mut expeditions, we can hope that they will delight and awe visitors for many more years.

Further Reading

(The reports on the work of the 1996 – 2013 seasons of fieldwork are available at the Brooklyn Museum website.)


R. Fazzini and W. Peck, “The Precinct of Mut During Dynasty XXV and early Dynasty XXVI: A Growing Picture,” SSEAJ 11 (1981), pp.115-126.


R. Fazzini, “A Monument in the Precinct of Mut with the Name of the God’s Wife Nitocris I”, H. De Meulenaere et al., Artibus Aegypti. Studia in Honorem Bernardi V. Bothmer a Collegis, Amicis, Discipulis Conscripta (Brussels, 1983), pp. 51-62.


R. Fazzini and W. Peck, “Excavating the Temple of Mut,” Archaeology 36 (1983), pp.

16-23, and 80.


R. Fazzini, “A Sculpture of King Taharqa (?) in the Precinct of the Goddess Mut at South Karnak,” Mélanges Gamal Eddin Mokhtar I, BdÉ XCVII, 1 (Cairo, 1985), pp. 293-306.


R. Fazzini, “Some Aspects of the Precinct of the Goddess Mut in the New Kingdom,” in E. Ehrenberg (ed.), Leaving No Stones Unturned. Essays on the Ancient Near East and Egypt in Honor of Donald P. Hansen (Winona Lake, Indiana, 2002), pp. 63-76


Richard Fazzini, “Some Objects Found Before the First Pylon of the Mut Temple”, in Zahi Hawass and Janet Richard (eds.), The Archaeology and Art of Ancient Egypt:  Essays in Honor of David B. O’Connor I, CASAE 36 (Cairo, 2007), pp. 277-289


Richard Fazzini & Paul O’Rourke, “Aspects of the Mut Temple’s Contra Temple at South Karnak – Part I”, in  Hommages offerts à Jean-Claude Goyon offerts pour son 70e  anniversaire, BdÉ 143 (2008), pp. 139-150


R. Fazzini, “Two Semi-Erased Kushite Cartouches in the Precinct of Mut at South Karnak,” in P. Brand and L. Cooper (eds.), Causing His Name to Live: Studies in Egyptian Epigraphy and History in Memory of William J. Murnane, CHANE 37 (Leiden, 2009), pp. 95-101


R. Fazzini, “Aspects of the Mut Temple’s Contra-Temple at South Karnak Part II,” in S. D’Auria (ed.), Offerings to the Discerning Eye: An Egyptological Medley in Honor of Jack A. Josephson, CHANE 38  (Leiden and Boston, 2010), pp. 83-101


Richard Fazzini & Jacobus van Dijk, “Recent Work in the Mut Precinct at South Karnak,” Egyptian Archaeology no. 31 (Autumn 2007), pp 10-13


R. Fazzini and J. van Dijk (eds.), The First Pylon of the Temple of Mut, South Karnak: Architecture, Decoration, Inscriptions (Leuven, 2015)


B. Bryan, “A Newly Discovered Statue of a Queen from the Reign of Amenhotep III,” in S. D’Auria (ed.), Servant of Mut: Studies in Honor of Richard A. Fazzini, (Leiden and Boston, 2008), 32-43


B. Bryan, “The New Kingdom Temple of Mut,” in R. Danforth (ed.), Preserving Egypt’s Cultural Heritage: Conservation Work by the American Research Center in Egypt 1995-2005 (San Antonio, 2010), 31-36


B. Bryan, “Hatshepsut and Cultic Revelries in the New Kingdom.” in J. Galán, B. Bryan, P. Dorman (eds.), Creativity and Innovation in the Reign of Hatshepsut, SAOC, 69 (Chicago, 2014), 93-124


E. Waraksa, Female Figurines from the Mut Precinct: Context and Ritual Function, OBO 240 (Fribourg and Gottingen, 2009)


E. Sullivan, A Glimpse into Ancient Thebes: Excavations at South Karnak (2004-2006) (Oxford, 2013)


The work of the Brooklyn Museum’s archaeological expedition to the Precinct of Mut, South Karnak has been made possible by the generosity of a number of corporations, foundations and individuals. The 1976-1979 seasons were funded primarily by the Coca-Cola Company of Atlanta, Georgia. Institutional funding for subsequent seasons has been provided by the Brooklyn Museum’s Charles Edwin Wilbour Fund and the Egyptian Art Council; The Founders Society and the Antiquaries of the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, and the Long Island Society of the Archaeological Institute of America. Additional corporate support has come from Conoco, Inc.; the Getty Oil Company; American Motors, Inc.; and the Cairo Sheraton Hotel, Towers and Casino. Major funding was also provided by the following individuals, listed in alphabetical order: Mrs. Thomas Brush; Richard Fazzini and Mary McKercher; Marjorie Fisher; Louis D. Fontana; W. Benson Harer, Jr.; Jo Ann Harris; Jack Josephson and Magda Saleh; John Moran; William and Elsie Peck; Harold D. Winters; Beverly Zweiman. In addition, the following people have also contributed to the work over the years: Heide van Doren Betz, Adelaide De Menil, James L. Frey, Howard Gilman, Theodore Halkedis, Charles Herzer and Adrienne Rourke, Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Jacoff, Reuben and Norma Kershaw, Alan May, Mrs. Henry L. Moses, Kathy Putnam, Carl and Florence Selden, and Emma Swann Hall. We thank them all for their generosity.

For inquiries about the Brooklyn Museum and Mut images, please contact the Museum by phone at (718) 501-6202, or email us at reproductions@brooklynmuseum.org.

If you are interested in licensing for commercial use or require higher resolution images for personal and study use, please see the Brooklyn Museum Image Services page at http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/image_services.php for image usage guidelines and fees, and fill out our online application form, which includes details about available image sizes and formats.

Credits: Story

Role — Richard Fazzini, Curator Emeritus, Egyptian Art, and Director, Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition
Role — Mary McKercher, Photographer, Brooklyn Museum Mut Expedition
Role — Anya Szykitka, Associate Editor, Editorial
Role — Cindy Choung, Editorial Assistant, Editorial

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Translate with Google