One of ancient Egypt’s most impressive monuments is the great Hypostyle Hall from the Temple of Karnak in Luxor. The hall, begun by Pharaoh Seti I and completed by his son Ramesses II in the 13th century B.C., is made up of 134 soaring columns capped by papyrus-shaped capitals that once supported an 80-foot-high ceiling. Some of the columns are more than 30 feet in circumference, so large that it takes the extended arm spans of six individuals to completely encircle it. When completed, the Hypostyle Hall and its forest of pillars covered an area of more than 50,000 square feet, making it one of the largest interior spaces ever built.
Hypostyle halls were a regular part of Egyptian New Kingdom temple architecture. Standing just before the rooms of the temple’s inner sanctum, the darkened interiors of these halls were thought to symbolize the primordial Nile marshes out of which all life had emerged. But beyond their symbolic meaning, the towering columns and immense walls of these grand hypostyle halls provided ideal canvases for illustrating the virtues and victories of Egypt’s pharaohs. At the great Hypostyle Hall in Karnak, for example, the hall’s interior is covered with scenes of pharaohs making dutiful offerings to the resident god Amun; its exterior depicts their military victories over enemies in Palestine, Syria and beyond.
Answer: (D) Hittite axe-head
This bronze axe-head with curved blade and flared, barbed ribbing was recovered from the floor of a 14th-century B.C. temple at Beth Shean in the Jordan Valley. The axe’s long wooden handle, having long ago decayed, would have originally been attached to the blade through the open socket at the back end of the head (obscured in the photograph by the head’s accentuated ribbing).
Despite this example’s Canaanite provenance, such barbed axes were typically carried by Hittite warriors from Anatolia during the Late Bronze Age (1550–1200 B.C.). The barbed ribbing surrounding the socket and extending down the blade of the axe was characteristic of Hittite metalwork of the period, but similar blades were also forged by the smiths of northern Syria, Iran and even the Caucasus region.
So how did this exceptional find end up in a Canaanite temple in the Jordan Valley? In addition to being weapons of war, such skillfully crafted pieces were exchanged as precious commodities and ceremonial gifts among warriors, royals and foreign dignitaries of the Late Bronze Age. Often the recipients carried these treasured items with them to their graves or, as in this case, had them deposited in the local temple for safekeeping.
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