History and Archaeology of Luxor (Ancient Thebes)



By the Editors of the Madain Project

Luxor (الأقصر‎) is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt and the capital of Luxor Governorate. As the site of the Ancient Egyptian city of Waset, known to the Greeks as Thebes, Luxor has frequently been characterized as the "world's greatest open-air museum", as the ruins of the temple complexes at Karnak and Luxor stand within the modern city. Immediately opposite, across the River Nile, lie the monuments, temples and tombs of the west bank Necropolis, which includes the Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens.

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Brief History of Ancient Luxor

The history of ancient Luxor spans over 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest and most continuously inhabited cities in the world. Its roots can be traced back to the 11th dynasty of the Middle Kingdom of Egypt (circa 2000 BCE). In ancient times, Luxor was known as Waset or Thebes and served as the capital of the New Kingdom, the golden age of ancient Egypt. During this period, it became a center of immense wealth and power, with pharaohs constructing awe-inspiring temples, obelisks, and monuments that still captivate the world today.

Ancient Luxor, located in modern-day Luxor, Egypt, is often referred to as the world's greatest open-air museum due to its wealth of historical and archaeological treasures. The city's history dates back thousands of years to the ancient Egyptian civilization, making it one of the most significant cultural and religious centers in the ancient world.

Luxor was once known as Thebes, the glorious capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom period (1550-1070 BCE). During this time, Thebes reached the height of its power and influence, becoming a hub of art, culture, and architecture.

The city was home to the grand temples of Karnak and Luxor, dedicated to the gods Amun-Ra and Mut, showcasing the architectural prowess of ancient Egyptians. The Valley of the Kings, located on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor, served as the burial site for pharaohs and nobles, including the famous Tutankhamun, whose tomb was discovered nearly intact in 1922, unveiling a trove of precious artifacts.

Throughout its history, Luxor faced periods of prosperity and decline, experiencing occupations by various civilizations, including the Persians, Greeks, and Romans. Each culture left its mark on the city, enriching its heritage. The decline of ancient Luxor began with the shift of Egypt's capital to Alexandria and the rise of Christianity, leading to the fading of the city's religious significance.

History of Ancient Luxor (Thebes)

Archaeology in Luxor

Featured Article Dazzling City of Aten

Aten City, also known as The Dazzling Aten, is an ancient Egyptian city located on the west bank of the Nile in the Theban Necropolis near Luxor. It was named after the Egyptian sun god Aten and appears to have been a large administrative and industrial center during the reign of Pharaoh Amenhotep III in the 14th century BCE. The city remained relatively intact for over 3,000 years, and recent excavations beginning in 2020 have revealed the city to be the largest of its kind in ancient Egypt with an exceptional level of preservation, leading to comparisons with the preserved city of Pompeii.

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Featured Article Karnak Temple Complex

The Karnak Temple Complex is a vast ancient Egyptian temple complex located in the city of Thebes, near modern-day Luxor. It was constructed over a period of more than 1,500 years and was dedicated to the worship of the god Amun, his consort Mut, and their son Khonsu. The complex includes a vast array of temples, chapels, obelisks, series of colossal statues, towering columns and other structures, many of which were built by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, including Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, and Ramses II.

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Featured Article Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut

Built during the 15th century BCE, this grand structure is one of the most iconic and well-preserved temples in the country. It was constructed in honor of Hatshepsut, one of ancient Egypt's most notable pharaohs and the country's first female ruler. The temple is a harmonious blend of natural surroundings and human-made marvels, nestled against the rugged cliffs of the Theban Mountains, providing a dramatic backdrop that enhances its awe-inspiring presence. Hatshepsut's temple was not only a place of worship but also a powerful political statement, showcasing her legitimacy as a ruler. The temple's reliefs and inscriptions depict her divine lineage, emphasizing her connection to the god Amun, and narrate her ambitious military campaigns and prosperous trade expeditions.

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Featured Article Tomb of Sennedjem

The Tomb of Sennedjem is an ancient Egyptian burial site located in the necropolis of Deir el-Medina, near the Valley of the Kings in Luxor. Sennedjem was a skilled artisan who lived during the 19th Dynasty of the New Kingdom period, around 1250 BCE. He worked on the construction and decoration of royal tombs, including those in the Valley of the Kings. It is renowned for its well-preserved state and vivid wall paintings, which depict scenes from ancient Egyptian daily life, religious beliefs, and the afterlife. The paintings in Sennedjem's tomb offer valuable insights into the artistic style, social customs, and religious practices of the New Kingdom period.

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