Now partially destroyed, the western wall of the Cour de la Cachette, in the Karnak temple, originally stood 30 feet high and about 158 feet long. Here we see a portion of it, along with a vertical drawing that locates the positions of its reliefs and gives page numbers for photos. The plan shows the area as if looking down on it. The dashed lines in the drawings represent reconstructed portions of the wall based on the extant wall and on clues provided by the fallen blocks that lie in the field before the wall. Two rectangular areas from which blocks are missing can be seen in the middle of the wall, at right in the photo; these areas correspond to the first two gray rectangles from the left in the vertical drawing.

The wall adjoins the great Hypostyle Hall, partially represented at the left end of the plan. Karnak’s great Hypostyle Hall, the largest such hall known from ancient Egypt, features 134 massive pillars. Hypostyle halls formed part of the standard architectural complex of Egyptian temples and symbolized the dense, papyrus filled marsh, where according to myth, Isis reared young Horus after Seth slew his father Osiris.

At the center of the wall photo, inscribed between two engaged pillars (the slight projections from the wall’s surface), is the Peace Treaty made by Ramesses II (1279–1212 B.C.E.) and the Hittite king Hattusilis III, after some two decades of hostilities over northern Syria. Four carved panels, two on each side of the Treaty, one above the other, depict battle scenes formerly attributed to Ramesses II but now identified as episodes from Merenptah’s Canaanite campaign. Scene 4 gives us the oldest known visual portrayal of Israelites. Additional panels to the right of the battle scenes depict the fruits of Merenptah’s successful campaign in Canaan.