Karnak Canon

The Karnak Canon is a king list that was located in the southwest corner of the Akh-Menu Hall of the Temple of Amun-Re at Karnak, Egypt. Karnak, Akh-menu (Festival Hall of Thutmose III), room SF-5

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 original is in the Louvre museum in Paris (Chapelle des ancêtres, Cat. no. E 13481 bis,) and the original site in the Akh-menu (Heret-ib) festival hall, room SF-5 .

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.

The numbering system used in publications hail from Auswahl, numbering the kings from the center to the edges, top to bottom. However, the kings are facing the edges, indicating that the correct way to read the scenes is from the edges toward the center, which Lepsius corrected in 1853. However the numbering from Auswahl prevail, and is included in the ALT. column.

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.

# Alt. Hieroglyphs Name in list Pharaoh
1 (8) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
Prisse gives Neferkara, but no other source shows any name.
2 (7) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sneferu Snoferu
s-nfr-w
Sneferu
3 (6) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sahura Sahura
sꜢḥw-rꜤ
Sahura
4 (5) Karnak king list: cartouche of Niuserra Ini Ini
ini
Niuserra Ini
5 (4) Karnak king list: cartouche of Djedkara Isesi Isesi
issi
Djedkara Isesi
6 (3) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
7 (2) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
8 (1) Karnak king list: cartouche of Djehuty Sekhemra Sementawy
sḫm-rꜤ smn-tꜢwi
Djehuty
9 (16) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
10 (15) Karnak king list: cartouche of Intef II Intef
ḥr-.. in-t.f
Intef II
11 (14) Karnak king list: cartouche of Intef I Intef
ḥr-(s)h-.. in-t.f
Intef I
The Horus name of Intef I is s-hr-tAwy which is the only Intef with the h-sign (Gardiner sign O4).
12 (13) Karnak king list: cartouche of Mentuhotep I Mentuhotep
ḥr-tp-.. mn-..
Mentuhotep I
The first signs of the Horus name (tpja) of Montuhotep I is tp (Gardiner signs D1*Q3).
13 (12) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Hereditary Prince Intef Uncertain
Not a pharaoh, but at least a key figure in the foundation of Dynasty XI
14 (11) Karnak king list: cartouche of Teti Teti
titi
Teti
Uncertain reading, Prisse shows hieroglyphs possibly as titi.
15 (10) Karnak king list: cartouche of Pepi II Pepy
ppy
Pepi II
Uncertain reading but Prisse show p-i, with traces of what could be another p-i.
16 (9) Karnak king list: cartouche of Nemtiemsaf I Merenra
mr-n-rꜤ
Nemtiemsaf I
17 (23) Karnak king list: cartouche of Amenemhat I Sehotepibra
s-ḥtp-ib-rꜤ
Amenemhat I
18 (22) Karnak king list: cartouche of Amenemhat II Nebukaura
nbw-kꜢw-rꜤ
Amenemhat II
19 (21) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
20 (20) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
21 (19) Karnak king list: cartouche of Amenemhat IV Maakherura
mꜢꜤ-ḫrw-rꜤ
Amenemhat IV
22 (18) Karnak king list: cartouche of Neferusobek Sobekneferura
sbk-nfrw-rꜤ
Neferusobek
23 (17) Karnak king list: cartouche of Intef IV Intef
in-t.f
Intef IV
24 (31) Karnak king list: cartouche of Senusret I Kheperkara
ḫpr-kꜢ-rꜤ
Senusret I
25 (30) Karnak king list: cartouche of Seqenenra Seqenenra
sḳni.n-rꜤ
Seqenenra
26 (29) Karnak king list: cartouche of Senakhtenra Senakhtenra
snḳt.n-rꜤ
Senakhtenra
27 (28) Karnak king list: cartouche of Bebiankh Seuserenra
swsr.n-rꜤ
Bebiankh
28 (27) Karnak king list: cartouche of Intef VI Nubkheperra
nbw-ḫpr-rꜤ
Intef VI
29 (26) Karnak king list: cartouche of Mentuhotep II Nebhapetra
nb-ḥꜢpt-rꜤ
Mentuhotep II
30 (25) Karnak king list: cartouche of Mentuhotep III Sneferkara
s-nfr-kꜢ-rꜤ
Mentuhotep III
31 (24) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed Uncertain
Impossible to tell which pharaoh's name the cartouche contained
32 (39) Karnak king list: cartouche of Senusret III Khakara
ḫꜤ-kꜢ-rꜤ
Senusret III
Destroyed, reading according to Prisse
33 (38) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep IV Khaneferra
ḫꜤ-nfr-rꜤ
Sobekhotep IV
34 (37) Karnak king list: cartouche of Neferhotep I Khasekhemra
ḫꜤ-sḫm-rꜤ
Neferhotep I
35 (36) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Sekhemra Snefertawy Unreadable
Destroyed, reading according to Prisse.
36 (35) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep I Sekhemra Khutawy
sḫm-rꜤ ḫwi-tꜢwi
Sobekhotep I
37 (34) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sankhibra Amenemhat Sankhibra
s-Ꜥnḫ-ib-rꜤ
Sankhibra Amenemhat
38 (33) Karnak king list: cartouche of Nebirau I Sewadjenra
swꜢḏ.n-rꜤ
Nebirau I
39 (32) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king ..kaura Uncertain
Cannot attribute the damaged name to a certain pharaoh.
40 (47) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
41 (46) Karnak king list: cartouche of Ined Mersekhemra
mr-sḫm-rꜤ
Ined
42 (45) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep VII Merkaura
mr-kꜢw-rꜤ
Sobekhotep VII
43 (44) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep VIII Sekhemra Seusertawy
sḫm-rꜤ swsr-tꜢwi
Sobekhotep VIII
44 (43) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Damaged Uncertain
Impossible to tell which pharaoh's name the cartouche contained.
45 (42) Karnak king list: cartouche of Senusret IV Seneferibra
s-nfr-ib-rꜤ
Senusret IV
46 (41) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep VI Khahotepra
ḫꜤ-ḥtp-rꜤ
Sobekhotep VI
47 (40) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep II Khaankhra
ḫꜤ-Ꜥnḫ-rꜤ
Sobekhotep II
48 (54) Karnak king list: cartouche of Rahotep [Sekhem]ra Wahkhau
[sḫm]-rꜤ wꜢḥ-ḫꜤw
Rahotep
The Sekhem sign is missing or damaged
49 (53) Karnak king list: cartouche of Senebmiu Sewahenra
swꜢḥ.n-rꜤ
Senebmiu
50 (52) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekhotep V Merhotepra
mr-ḥtp-rꜤ
Sobekhotep V
51 (51) Karnak king list: cartouche of Wegaf Khutawyra
ḫw-tꜢwi-rꜤ
Wegaf
52 (50) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
53 (49) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
54 (48) Karnak king list: cartouche of Sobekemsaf I Sekhemra Wadjkhau
sḫm-rꜤ wꜢḏ-ḫꜤw
Sobekemsaf I
55 (61) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Damaged Uncertain
Impossible to tell which pharaoh's name the cartouche contained.
56 (60) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Senefer..ra Uncertain
Cannot attribute the damaged name to a certain pharaoh.
57 (59) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Sewadj..ra Uncertain
Cannot attribute the damaged name to a certain pharaoh.
58 (58) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Sekhemra .. Uncertain
Cannot attribute the damaged name to a certain pharaoh.
59 (57) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
60 (56) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed
61 (55) Karnak king list: cartouche of an undetermined king Destroyed

Illustrations

Source: Young, Hieroglyphics, II, plate 96
Young (Burton) 1825

Plate 96
Size: 1800x1127 (632 kB)

Source: Wilkinson, Extracts from several Hieroglyphical Subjects, plate IV
Wilkinson 1830

Plate IV
Size: 1646x1037 (412 kB)

Source: Lepsius, Auswahl 1842, pl. 1
Lepsius 1842

Plate I
Size: 2577x1588 (561 kB)

Source: Prisse d'Avennes, Monuments Égyptiens, plate I
d'Avennes 1847

Plate I
Size: 1370x914 (500 kB)

Source: Lepsius, APAW 1853, plate I
Lepsius 1853

Plate I
Size: 2400x1154 (768 kB)

Source: L'Illustration 1846
L'Illustration 1846

Page 244 top
Size: 1037x839 (328 kB)

Source: L'Illustration 1846
L'Illustration 1846

Page 244 bottom
Size: 435x583 (86 kB)

Source: L'Illustration 1846
L'Illustration 1846

Page 245
Size: 626x725 (189 kB)

Bibliography

  • Burton, James: Excerpta Hieroglyphica, (Cairo 1825), plate 1. Young, Hieroglyphics 1828
  • Young, Thomas: Hieroglyphics, Vol. 2, (London 1828) Plate 96 (copy from Burton) Young, Hieroglyphics 1828
  • Wilkinson, J. G.: Extracts from several Hieroglyphical Subjects found at Thebes, and other parts of Egypt, (Malta 1830) Plate IV Karnak king list by Wilkinson 1830
  • Lepsius, Karl Richard: Auswahl der wichtigsten urkunden des Aegyptische Alterthums, (Leipzig 1842) Plate I Lepsius, Auswahl 1842
  • l’Illustration, Journal Universel, Vol. VII, p 244-245, (Paris 1846)
  • de Rouge: "Examen de l'ouvrage de M. Le Chevalier de Bunsen". Annales de philosophie chrétienne, No. 78, June 1846, 432-458. Plate 46
  • d’Avennes, Prisse: Monuments Égyptiens, bas-reliefs, peintures, inscriptions, etc., (Paris 1847) Plate I d’Avennes, Monuments 1847
  • Lepsius, Karl Richard: Über die zwölfte Aegyptische Königsdynastie, "APAW 1852" (Berlin 1853), 425-455, pl. 1 Lepsius, APAW 1853
  • Sethe, Kurt: Urkunden der 18. dynastie Abteilung IV, Band II, Heft 5-8, 607-610 (Leipzig, 1906)
  • Porter, Bertha, & Moss, Rosalind: The Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Statues, Reliefs and Paintings, II2, 112 [342]. Oxford
  • Grimal, Nicolas: "Les ancêtres de Karnak". Comptes rendus des séances de l’Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres 154, N. 1, 2010. pp. 343-370
  • Map with original location of the king list Karnak, Akh-menu (Festival Hall of Thutmosis III), room SF.5
  • SITH (in French) Detailed description (by Egyptologists) of SF-5 with hieroglyphs, bibliography etc.
End of page
Kinglists
Ancient historians
Terms & information

OK – Old Kingdom
Dynasties 3-6

MK – Middle Kingdom
Dynasties 11-12

NK – New Kingdom
Dynasties 18-20

SIP – Second Intermediate Period
Dynasties 13-17

Thebes – The Southern capital

Memphis – The Northern capital

Epitome – Manetho’s original Aegyptiaca was lost in antiquity, and in the following centuries, it was replaced by Epitomes (summaries) by rivalling advocates of Jewish, Egyptian, and Greek history that saw each side trying to establish the truth according to their point of view.

Vorlage – From the German for prototype or template, a vorlage is a prior version of a manuscript, in this case an earlier version of the canon.

Recto and verso – Recto is the front side and verso is the back side of a written or printed text.

Cartouche – oval band enclosing a pharaohs name

Hieratic – cursive form of hieroglyphic script

Hyksos – Greek form of ḥḳꜢ-ḫꜢswt or “rulers of foreign lands,” referring to peoples who migrated and controlled parts Egypt during the SIP.

Mortuary Temple – where the gods and the king who built the temple were worshipped.

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