White Chapel of Senusret I

The White Chapel of pharaoh Senusret I, also referred to as the Jubilee Chapel of Senusret I, was built during the Middle Kingdom of Egypt.

circa 1950 BCE

White Chapel of Senusret I as seen looking from south towards north, is made of limestone. Its columns hold reliefs of a very high quality, which are hardly seen elsewhere at Karnak, and depicts Pharaoh Senusret being crowned and embraced by Amun, Horus, Min and Ptah.

circa 1950 BCE

The building is an almost square (6.8 x 6.45 metres) platform with a shallow staircase with a central ramp at either end. It was dismantled and used in the core of third pylon, constructed in the time of Amenhotep III. Between 1927 and 1930 all of the pieces were carefully removed and assembled into the building that is seen today.

circa 1950 BCE

At first it was assumed that it was a barque shrine, where the boat carrying the statue of the god would rest temporarily, and it has been restored with a pink granite pedestal of the appropriate height. However, the pedestal is inscribed with the names of Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV who reigned a century or more after Senwosret.

circa 1950 BCE

The pillars are decorated with relief work of exceptionally high quality, typical of the Senwosret’s works. The central theme in the decoration of the pillars involves the pharaoh and Amun who takes the form of the fertility god Min. He wears a double feather crown on his head and carries a flail, a symbol of kingship.

circa 1950 BCE

Senusret I, the original builder of the White Chapel, was the second pharaoh of the Twelfth Dynasty of Egypt. He ruled from 1971 BCE to 1926 BCE (1920 BCE to 1875 BCE), and was one of the most powerful kings of this Dynasty. He was the son of Amenemhat I. Senusret I was known by his prenomen, Kheperkare, which means "the Ka of Re is created". Senusret I dispatched several quarrying expeditions to the Sinai and Wadi Hammamat and built numerous shrines and temples throughout Egypt and Nubia during his long reign. He rebuilt the important temple of Re-Atum in Heliopolis which was the centre of the sun cult, including this White Chapel.

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