One of the most interesting places in Luxor is the “Open Air Museum” at Karnak. This is where a number of blocks and even whole temples that were reused in the fill of later structures have been put on display. A recent addition is a famous block that may be a representation of Amenhotep III’s palace at Malqata. This block was found, along with a number of others depicting structures in a desert landscape, underneath the large statue inscribed for the Priest-king Painedjem I in the first court of the Temple of Amun at Karnak. It is thought that these blocks may have come originally from Kom el-Hettan, the mortuary temple of Amenhotep III in Western Thebes.
The block has recently been studied by Aude Gräzer Ohara, who has identified it as a palace at Malqata with a series of paired hills, which she has suggested represent the mounds of the Birket Habu.
Shown in front of the palace are a corral with cattle, a zoo with antelope, a garden with a square pond, and a vineyard. The palace is shown with a “Window of Appearance,” where the king and queen would appear to a select audience, not unlike the balcony at Buckingham Palace. The window is shown in the upper story of the palace, with columned rooms and storerooms below. Outside stands a buttressed wall and beyond, pens with lions and possibly a food storage facility.
It is a matter of debate as to whether this is the palace we are working in, an earlier structure, or one somewhere else at Malqata. In any event, it provides an interesting glimpse into how this palace looked in the eyes of contemporary Egyptians.