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Ancient Thebes

Photo provided by www.etravelphotos.com

Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis offers a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.

The site includes the two great temples the Valley of the Kings (Luxor) and the Valley of the Queens (Karnak).

Thebes was the capital of Egypt during part of the Eleventh Dynasty (Middle Kingdom), and most of the Eighteenth Dynasty (New Kingdom). It is located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile.

Map

Community Reviews


Jay T - June 2016

The temples and monuments of Ancient Thebes, including the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, are a must-see for anyone interested in Egyptian history. I visited this area found in the modern-day city of Luxor at the end of a three-day Nile cruise by dahabiya in 2012. After viewing many beautiful, smaller temples along the river, I was a bit overwhelmed at the size of both the Karnak and Luxor Temples in Luxor. The columns in Karnak Temple's Great Hypostyle Hall were massive and covered with hierogylphs, and the walls seemed to stretch in all directions. Statues of pharoahs were found throughout both temples, and one of a former pair of obelisks remained in front of the Luxor Temple; the other obelisk was given to France in the 19th century, and can now be seen in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Across the Nile River were a number of tombs, including the famous Tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, and the fascinating mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut, which were well worth visiting. I enjoyed my time in Luxor, and recommend at least two days to spend viewing the sites (and even that may be too short). I also recommend drinking plenty of water, since I saw at least one tourist faint from dehydration.

Logistics: The great temples in Luxor are on the east side of the Nile in Luxor, while the tombs are on the west side of the Nile; these can be seen as part of a tour or by arranging private transportation.


Clyde - September 2012

I visited the WHS in April 2010. It is the cradle of ancient egyptian civilization and includes the temples of Karnak and Luxor and the Valley of the Kings with Tutankhamen's tomb. I dreamt of visiting this WHS since I was child and would visit again in a heartbeat! Incredible!


Paula Fonseca - June 2011

Ancient Thebes, now named Luxor is everythig the books told us about Ancient Egypt. The Kings and Queens have their faces showed to you and you recognize all them. There, the Gods are expecting us at every corner you turn around. When you visit the tombs, temples, monuments there's a feeling you are visiting someplace marvellous and misterious and at the same time, that seems like your parents home.


John Booth - October 2010

The temples of Luxor and Karnak on the west bank and the Temple of Hatshepsut on the east bank of the Nile are simply amazing for the amount of work and effort that was expended creating them. Today, even with cranes and other machinery it would be difficult, but 5000 years ago it was all done by human power. And then followed all the work of painstakingly carving the designs and hyroglyphs. The effort surely dwarfs any construction project of the modern era.


stewart ayu - June 2009

A visit to the Valley of the Kings and Queens is remarkable. The tombs were mesmerizing spectacles. The chambers might have once be filled with artifacts like the one of Tutankhamon fame. The hieroglyphics were stunning . some filled entire chambers. Some told stories on the ceilings or pillars. It was unlike anything anywhere. This is not a place that one can describe in words. It was very complex and otherworldly. I was much more impressed with the tombs than the great architectural achievements. Many of the artifacts found in the tombs is on display at the incomparable Egyptian Museum in Cairo.


Ben Pastore - April 2006

Once the religious center of ancient Egypt, the Temple of Karnak was as impressive as they come. And while repeated exposure to ancient sites tends to leave one jaded to a place's importance, Luxor and its surrounds still made for a wonderful place to wander about and image the glory of the days of the Pharoahs


Christer Sundberg - February 2006

You can cruise up and down the Nile in many ways. As a matter of fact it is quite an industry these days and I heard that over 600 vessels have a permit to operate on the river. Have I known better in advance, I would rather have embarked on a felucca for a couple of days even though I must admit that the luxury of the Mövenpick Nile Cruiser was quite enjoyable after all...

Working our way up the river, passing and visiting the temples of Edfu and Kom Obo my cruiser finally reached Luxor where I had decided to stay for a couple of days. I started with a visit to the valley of the Queens, which is less visited than the Kings and a better place to study the hieroglyphs and carvings in the ancient tombs. The graves of the valley of the Kings are of slightly larger proportions and despite the hordes of tourists it is quite exciting to enter the tomb of Ramses II and the other, since long gone, royalties of Egypt. I recommend you to skip Tutankhamen’s grave. It is very small and really nothing to see. The exhibition in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo on the other hand, is the place to go in this case.

The temple of Luxor and Karnak is an absolute must. If Luxor is impressing, Karnak is enormous and top of the pops when it comes to Egyptian temples and I read somewhere that over 80.000 people where working on the temple site in it’s heydays.

If you don’t want to do the full-fledged tour of Egypt, Luxor is the place to stay for a couple of days and indulge yourself in the ancient life of the pharaohs. I promise you it will be much rewarding.


Klaus Freisinger - June 2005

It´s hard to believe that this is the first review for Thebes, since it´s not only one of the Egypt´s, but also one of the world´s greatest archaeological sites and definitely worth a journey. Most people will combine visiting Thebes with a cruise on the Nile, and this is highly recommended - easily beats any Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise! Thebes (as the Greeks called it - it was Weset in ancient Egyptian) is the capital of Upper Egypt and was the country´s centre throughout the Middle and New Kingdoms. It was much larger in Antiquity than it is today, but seeing everything in the area still takes up a lot of time (worth it). On the east bank of the Nile, the Luxor Temple is great, but can´t be beaten by the Temple of Karnak connected to it by an avenue of sphinges, truly a wonder of the world with its huge columns and the impressive hieroglyphs. They are both in the city of Luxor, which offers many conveniences for visitors, but you have to cross the Nile to the west bank to see even more stunning attractions: the Valley of the Kings, the Valley of the Queens, the Memnon Colossi, and the Temple of Hatshepsut, all located in a beautiful desert landscape. The tombs of the pharaohs can be visited (at least some of them), and this is something nobody should miss - truly a fascinating experience.


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Site Info

Full name: Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis

Site History

Locations

The site has 3 locations.

  • Ancient Thebes Necropolis
  • Temple of Karnak
  • Temple of Luxor

Connections

The site has 53 connections.

Architecture

Constructions

  • Dynastic Burial Places Valley of the Kings
  • Granaries The Ramessuem - " behind the temple and the palace, were huge and extensive storerooms. Most of them appear to have been for grain, and had a hole in the roof through which sacks of corn could be poured. Barry Kemp has calculated that to fill all the granaries would have taken 226,328 sacks of grain, which would have been enough to feed 3,400 families for a year, and assuming an average sized family, this would mean 17,000 to 20,000 people" See
  • Historical zoos Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut established a zoo in Thebes around 1490 BC
  • Hypostyle Most Egyptian temples contained a Hypostyle Hall. The most famous is "The Great Hypostyle Hall" at Karnak
  • Necropolises 
  • Obelisk 
  • Sphinx Great Sphinx of Thebes

Damaged

Geography

History

  • Assyrian Empire 
  • Buried treasures Tomb of Tutankhamun / by: Howard Carter / in: 1922/ now: Cairo Museum
  • Contains significant structures from the 20th Century New Gourna: built by Hassan Fathy, one of the best-known (and to me only-known) Egyptian architects of the 20th century, and is considered a prime example of the fusion of Modern architecture with traditional building techniques
  • Early Archaeology Belzoni and Carter discovered many of the tombs in the 19th century. This was the first attempt to systematically excavate the Valley of the Kings, which had been a well-known source for antiques long before.
  • Historical Food Remains Tutanchamon Tomb (3,000 year old doum fruit)
  • Hittites Representations of the Battle of Kadesh between the forces of Egypt and the Hittites (Ramesses II ("The Great") and Muwatalli II) exist in the Temples of Luxor and Karnak and at the Ramesseum. e,g The Karnak Hypostyle Hall. The "Poem of Pentaur" describes the Egyptian version of events on the walls and was first translated by James Henry Breasted in 1903.
  • Oldest Buildings 2100-2000 11th Dynasty tombs. Thebes was inhabited from around 3200 BC.. (and) was the capital of Egypt during part of the 11th Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) and most of the 18th Dynasty" Wiki (After which its use for burials continued throughout the New Kingdom period to the 20th Dynasty - 1189-1077BC). The 11th Dynasty ruled from c 2200BC to 1991BC approx and the tombs of its rulers are visible today at Thebes. Most of "its rulers were buried in complexes cut into low gravel hills at Tarif, at the northern end of the Theban Necropolis. Called saff tombs (saff meaning "row" in Arabic), these complexes were fronted by a long rectangular courtyard and a western portico consisting of a row of pillars behind which lay rock-cut offering chambers and burial crypts. Some think these saff tombs had pyramidal superstructures, but no traces of these now survive." Mentuhotep II (2061 - 2010BC) broke with tradition and had his mortuary temple built at Deir el-Bahar. This structure certainly had "buildings" with walls and roofs and its built ruins are visible today
  • Oldest continuously inhabited cities Luxor, c. 3200 BC
  • Specified on Herodotus' Oikumene 
  • Strikes Around 1152BC the workers at Deir el Medina went on strike: the first documented strike in history!

Human Activity

  • Astronomy and Astrology Tomb at Deir el-Bahari: astronomical ceiling containing the oldest version of an Egyptian celestial diagram ever discovered
  • Board Games Tomb of Nefertari with a mural showing her playing the ancient Egyptian game of "Senet"
  • Masks Burial mask of Tutankhamun's mummy
  • Mummies Mummy of Ramesses II was found here (now displayed in Cairo museum). Also Tutankhamun and others
  • University of Chicago Oriental Institute The OI's "Epigraphic Survey" has been operating on site since 1925 - originally in a building "behind" the Colossi of Memnon. See
  • Writing systems Champollion came here and developed some of the ideas which led to his decipherment of the script

Individual People

  • Giovanni Belzoni in 1815 he removed the enormous bust of Ramesses II from the Ramesseum and had it shipped to England. Henry Salt presented it to the British Museum where it is still on display. On a return trip in 1817 he made a string of finds including the tombs of Ramesses I and Seti I
  • John D Rockefeller Jr The excavations over many years at Luxor by the Chicago Oriental Institute (which itself had been founded with the assistance of Rockefeller) were funded by the Rockefeller Foundation). John D Rockefeller had a direct personal relationship with the Institute's founder Henry Breasted who had initiated a direct request to him for funds, and visited the dig in 1929.
  • King Chulalongkorn of Siam (Rama V) (9-10 Nov)
  • Prince Pückler Karnak, Luxor temple, Ramesseum, Valley of Kings - tombs of Rameses IV and VIII
  • Queens and Empresses Queen Hapsetshut (1508-1458BC) 5th Pharaoh of 18th dynasty. Several Buildings initiated by her - The red chapel of Hatshepsut in Karnak and the Deir el-Bahari Temple
  • Sir William Matthews Flinders Petrie Discovered and interpeted the Merneptah Stele at Luxor in 1896. Though primarily about Libya, the inscription also refers to a people who Mernaptah had "smitten" during a military campaign in Canaan (c 1208 BC) which has been widely interpreted as specifying "Israel" ("Israel is laid waste and his seed is not") and is thus considered to be the "first probable instance of the name "Israel" in the historical record" (Wiki)

Religion and Belief

  • Goddesses Temple Precinct of Mut at Karnak
  • Mosque Abu Haggag Mosque, which stands atop the ruins of Luxor Temple

Timeline

Trivia

WHS on Other Lists

  • World Monuments Watch (past) Mortuary Temple of King Ahmenhotep III, Luxor (2004, 1998); Valley of the Kings, Luxor (2006, 2002, 2000); West Bank of the Nile, Luxor (2008)

World Heritage Process