Karnak Canon king list

Also known as the Karnak king list, it include several kings of the First and Second Intermediate Periods, omitted by the king lists of Abydos and Saqqara. Originally located in the southwest corner of the Akh-Menu Hall of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak.

Created during the reign of Thutmose III, it listed sixty-one kings, only the names of thirty-nine kings are still legible, and one is not written in a cartouche. Interestingly, the names include a large number of Second Intermediate Period kings not found in the other monumental king lists.

The king list was first described by James Burton in 1825, while exploring and excavating the ruins around Thebes in the early 1820s. Most likely the walls were uncovered while he was excavating the ruins, as the Napoleonic expedition did not mention or copy the scene.

In 1843, as the Lepsius expedition was traveling up the Nile, looking to purchase or scavenge interesting Egyptian artefacts. To rescue the king list from certain German acquisition, French archaeologist Émile Prisse d’Avennes had the king list dismantled at night in order to secure it for France. It was hard work that took 18 nights, but at last it was boxed and sent to Paris in 27 boxes. The transport caused some lesser damage to a few of the stone blocks, but the painted bas-reliefs were in a good state when inspected upon arrival. Incredibly, the boxes were then left where they stood, some barely closed, in the courtyard outside the library, where they remained throughout the fall and winter. After several months of rain, wind, snow and sun, the painted reliefs were now completely denuded of paint. Quelle surprise!

Severely damaged, the blocks with the king list can be seen in the Louvre museum in Paris (Chapelle des ancêtres, Cat. no. E 13481 bis). The original site is in the Akh-menu (Heret-ib) festival hall, room SF-5 at Karnak.

The purpose of the list was to showered or celebrated "ancestors," and was not meant to be a chronological list. The seemingly arbitrary positions the pharaohs are placed in does not reflect the order of succession, and is written in the tradition of Upper Egypt, concentrating on kings of the South.

Karnak Canon king list

Content of the Karnak king list

Due to the poor state of the list, many of the names has been lost since its discovery. The early travellers who copied the inscriptions did so with varying accuracy.

Cartouches 38 and 57 (33, 59) record s-wꜢḏ-n-rꜤ, while 45 and 56 (42, 60) record s-nfr-[...]-rꜤ. Only one king with each of those names are known and identified. The recorded names were in all likelyhood mistakes by the scribes, as the wꜢḏ, nfr, and Ꜥnḫ signs look alike in hieratic.

The numbering system used in publications hail from the editio princeps of Auswahl, numbering the kings from the center to the edges, top to bottom. However, as the kings are facing the left and right edges, the correct way to read the scenes should be from the edges toward the center, which Lepsius corrected in 1853. However the numbering from Auswahl prevail, and is included in a parenthesis.

Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 1 (8)
?
Cartouche
Snoferu

s-nfr-w

The one who has been made perfect

Karnak Canon: 2 (7)
Cartouche
Sahu Ra

sꜢḥw-rꜤ

Ra has endowed me

Karnak Canon: 3 (6)
Cartouche
Ini

ini

Ini

Karnak Canon: 4 (5)
Cartouche
Isesi

issi

Isesi

Karnak Canon: 5 (4)
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 6 (3)
?
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 7 (2)
?
Cartouche
Sekhem Ra Semen tawy

sḫm-rꜤ smn-tꜢwi

The powerful one of Ra, who has made the Two Lands firm

Karnak Canon: 8 (1)
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 9 (16)
?
Cartouche
Intef

ḥr-.. in-t.f

Karnak Canon: 10 (15)
Cartouche
Intef

ḥr-(s)ḥr-.. in-t.f

Karnak Canon: 11 (14)
Cartouche
Mentuhotep

ḥr-tp-.. mn-..

Karnak Canon: 12 (13)
Cartouche
Hereditary Prince Intef

(iry-pꜤt ḥꜢt) in-t.f

Karnak Canon: 13 (12)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Teti

titi

Karnak Canon: 14 (11)
Cartouche
Pepy

ppy

Karnak Canon: 15 (10)
Cartouche
Mer en Ra

mr-n-rꜤ

The one whom Ra has loved

Karnak Canon: 16 (9)
Cartouche
Sehotep ib Ra

s-ḥtp-ib-rꜤ

He who satisfies the heart of Ra

Karnak Canon: 17 (23)
Cartouche
Nebu kau Ra

nbw-kꜢw-rꜤ

Golden are the souls of Ra

Karnak Canon: 18 (22)
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 19 (21)
?
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 20 (20)
?
Cartouche
Maa kheru Ra

mꜢꜤ-ḫrw-rꜤ

The righteous one of Ra

Karnak Canon: 21 (19)
Cartouche
Sobek neferu Ra

sbk-nfrw-rꜤ

The perfect one of Sobek and Ra

Karnak Canon: 22 (18)
Cartouche
Intef

in-t.f

Karnak Canon: 23 (17)
Cartouche
Kheper ka Ra

ḫpr-kꜢ-rꜤ

The manifestation of the ka of Ra

Karnak Canon: 24 (31)
Cartouche
Seqen en Ra

sḳni.n-rꜤ

The one whom Ra has made brave

Karnak Canon: 25 (30)
Cartouche
Senakht en Ra

snḳt.n-rꜤ

The one whom Ra has made victorious

Karnak Canon: 26 (29)
Cartouche
Seuser en Ra

swsr.n-rꜤ

The one whom Ra has made strong

Karnak Canon: 27 (28)
Cartouche
Nub kheper Ra

nbw-ḫpr-rꜤ

The golden one is the manifestation of Ra

Karnak Canon: 28 (27)
Cartouche
Neb hapet Ra

nb-ḥꜢpt-rꜤ

The possessor of the rudder of Ra

Karnak Canon: 29 (26)
Cartouche
Snefer ka Ra

s-nfr-kꜢ-rꜤ

The one whom the ka of Ra has sustained

Karnak Canon: 30 (25)
Cartouche
Unreadable traces

Traces of an unreadable name

Karnak Canon: 31 (24)
?
Cartouche
Khakara

ḫꜤ-kꜢ-rꜤ

The Ka's of Ra have appeared

Karnak Canon: 32 (39)
Cartouche
Kha nefer Ra

ḫꜤ-nfr-rꜤ

The appearance of the perfection of Ra

Karnak Canon: 33 (38)
Cartouche
Kha sekhem Ra

ḫꜤ-sḫm-rꜤ

The appearance of the power of Ra

Karnak Canon: 34 (37)
Cartouche
Sekhem Ra Snefer tawy

sḫm-rꜤ s-nfr-tꜢwi

The powerful one of Ra, who has made the Two Lands perfect

Karnak Canon: 35 (36)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Sekhem Ra Khu tawy

sḫm-rꜤ ḫwi-tꜢwi

The powerful one of Ra is the protection of the Two Lands

Karnak Canon: 36 (35)
Cartouche
Sankh ib Ra

s-Ꜥnḫ-ib-rꜤ

He who causes the heart of Ra to live

Karnak Canon: 37 (34)
Cartouche
Sewadj en Ra

swꜢḏ.n-rꜤ

He who is made to flourish by Ra

Karnak Canon: 38 (33)
Cartouche
..ka Ra

..-kꜢ-(rꜤ)

Karnak Canon: 39 (32)
Uncertain
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 40 (47)
?
Cartouche
Mer sekhem Ra

mr-sḫm-rꜤ

The beloved one of the power of Ra

Karnak Canon: 41 (46)
Cartouche
Mer kau Ra

mr-kꜢw-rꜤ

Beloved of the ka's of Ra

Karnak Canon: 42 (45)
Cartouche
Sekhem Ra Seuser tawy

sḫm-rꜤ swsr-tꜢwi

The powerful one of Ra, who has strengthened the Two Lands

Karnak Canon: 43 (44)
Cartouche
Unreadable traces

..-rꜤ

Only traces of Ra-sign remain

Karnak Canon: 44 (43)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Se nefer ib Ra

s-nfr-ib-rꜤ

The one whom Ra’s heart has made perfect

Karnak Canon: 45 (42)
Cartouche
Kha hotep Ra

ḫꜤ-ḥtp-rꜤ

The appearance of the peace of Ra

Karnak Canon: 46 (41)
Cartouche
Kha ankh Ra

ḫꜤ-Ꜥnx-rꜤ

The living appearance of Ra

Karnak Canon: 47 (40)
Cartouche
[Sekhem] Ra Wah khau

[sḫm]-rꜤ wꜢḥ-ḫꜤw

The [powerful] one of Ra is enduring of appearances

Karnak Canon: 48 (54)
Cartouche
Sewah en Ra

swꜢḥ.n-rꜤ

The one whom Ra has made enduring

Karnak Canon: 49 (53)
Cartouche
Mer hotep Ra

mr-ḥtp-rꜤ

The one whom the peace of Ra has loved

Karnak Canon: 50 (52)
Cartouche
Khu tawy Ra

ḫw-tꜢwi-rꜤ

Ra protects the Two Lands

Karnak Canon: 51 (51)
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 52 (50)
?
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 53 (49)
?
Cartouche
Sekhem Ra Wadj khau

sḫm-rꜤ wꜢḏ-ḫꜤw

The powerful one of Ra is flourishing of appearances

Karnak Canon: 54 (48)
Cartouche
Unreadable traces

..-rꜤ

Only traces of Ra-sign remain

Karnak Canon: 55 (61)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Senefer..ra

s-nfr-..-rꜤ

Whom the ... of Ra has made perfect

Karnak Canon: 56 (60)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Sewadj..ra

s-wꜢḏ-..-rꜤ

The one who ... Ra flourish

Karnak Canon: 57 (59)
Uncertain
Cartouche
Sekhemra ..

sḫm-rꜤ ..

The powerful one of Ra ...

Karnak Canon: 58 (58)
Uncertain
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 59 (57)
?
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 60 (56)
?
Cartouche
The cartouche is lost

Karnak Canon: 61 (55)
?

Gallery

Bibliography

  • Map with original location of the king list Karnak, Akh-menu (Festival Hall of Thutmosis III), room SF.5
  • Burton, James., 1825. Excerpta Hieroglyphica. Cairo: plate 1.
  • Young, Thomas., 1828. Hieroglyphics. London: Plate 96 (copy from Burton)
  • Wilkinson, J. G., 1830. Extracts from several Hieroglyphical Subjects found at Thebes, and other parts of Egypt. Malta: Pl. IV
  • Lepsius, Karl Richard., 1842. Auswahl der wichtigsten urkunden des Aegyptische Alterthums. Leipzig: pl. I
  • d’Avennes, Prisse., 1845. Notice sur la salle des ancêtres de Thouthmès III au Temple de Karnak. Revue archéologique, 2: pl. 23, pp. 5-15
  • l’Illustration, Journal Universel., 1846. Vol. VII. Paris: 244-245 PDF link (English tr.)
  • de Rouge, Emmanuel., June 1846. Examen de l'ouvrage de M. Le Chevalier de Bunsen. Annales de philosophie chrétienne, 78: 432-458. Plate 46 visit
  • d’Avennes, Prisse., 1847. Monuments Égyptiens, bas-reliefs, peintures, inscriptions, etc.. Paris: Plate I
  • Lepsius, Karl Richard., 1853. Über die zwölfte Aegyptische Königsdynastie, APAW, 1852. Berlin: 425-455, pl. 1
  • Sethe, Kurt., 1906. Urkunden der 18. dynastie Abteilung IV, Band II, Heft 5-8. Leipzig: 607-610. visit
  • Porter, Bertha, & Moss, Rosalind., 1972. The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, II2. Oxford: 112 [342].
  • Grimal, Nicolas., 2010. Les ancêtres de Karnak. CRAIBL 154.1, pp. 343-370 External link: Click to view (original) External link: Click to view (English tr.)
  • SITH (in French) Detailed description (by Egyptologists) of SF-5 with hieroglyphs, bibliography etc.