Episode 36: The White Chapel

Senuseret I (Part 3): Karnak.

The reign of Senuseret I is notable for the swathe of construction projects initiated at the king’s command. For the first time since the Old Kingdom, monuments are being erected up and down the Nile Valley. Most noteworthy are the contributions at Karnak, where the legendary temple finds its genesis; Elephantine, where existing temples are re-modeled and reconstructed; and Heliopolis, where Senuseret’s obelisk is the only surviving monument of antiquity.

The king’s pyramid at al-Lisht also attempts something new…with mixed results.

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A digital reconstruction of the White Chapel (Source: the UCLA Digital Karnak Project).

(More images of the White Chapel can be found here: Flickr User: Kairoinfo4u).

A digital reconstruction of the early Amun Temple at Karnak

(Source: the UCLA Digital Karnak Project).

The later Satet Temple at Elephantine. The surviving temple dates from far later than the Middle Kingdom (Source: Dominic Perry, 2008 – Use as you wish).


The Satet Temple looking Eastward. Near to this portion is deep pit, used to measure the annual Nile flood, for which Satet was partly responsible

(Source: Dominic Perry, 2008 – use as you wish).

The obelisk of Kha-kheper-Re Senuseret I at Heliopolis, erected as part of the Atum-Re temple (Source: Wikipedia).


The collapsed pyramid of Senuseret I at al-Lisht (Source: Wikipedia).

The king’s pyramid in diagram, showing the sixteen “cells” which made its construction so unique (Source: Wikipedia).

A polished shell, with the cartouche of the king (Source: Digital Egypt by UCL).


Wolfram Grajetzki, The Middle Kingdom of Ancient Egypt, 2006.

James H. Breasted, A History of Egypt, 1905 (1959 Edition).

UCLA Digital Karnak Project.