gtp logo

Location information

Listed 6 sub titles with search on: Information about the place  for wider area of: "LUXOR Ancient city EGYPT" .

Information about the place (6)

Greek & Roman Geography (ed. William Smith)


LUXOR (Ancient city) EGYPT

Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities


   Thebai, in the poets sometimes Thebe (Thebe; Dor. Theba), later Diospolis Magna (Diospolis Megale, i. e. "Great City of Zeus"), in Egyptian Tuabu, in Scripture No or No Ammon. The capital of Thebais, or Upper Egypt, and, for a long time, of the whole country. It was reputed the oldest city of the world. It stood in about the centre of the Thebaid, on both banks of the Nile, above Coptos, and in the Nomos Coptites. It is said to have been founded under the first dynasty by Menes; but this is unsupported by any evidence. Others ascribed its foundation to Osiris, who named it after his mother, and others to Busiris. It appears to have been at the height of its splendour, as the capital of Egypt, and as a chief seat of worship of Ammon, about B.C. 1330 under the Nineteenth Dynasty. The fame of its grandeur had reached the Greeks as early as the time of Homer, who describes it, with poetical exaggeration, as having a hundred gates, from each of which it could send out 200 war chariots fully armed. Homer's epithet of "HundredGated" (hekatompuloi) is repeatedly applied to the city by later writers. Its real extent was calculated by the Greek writers at 140 stadia (fourteen geographical miles) in circuit; and in Strabo's time, when the long transference of the seat of power to Lower Egypt had caused it to decline greatly, it still had a circuit of eighty stadia. That these computations are not exaggerated is proved by the existing ruins, which extend from side to side of the valley of the Nile, here about six miles wide; while the rocks which bound the valley are perforated with tombs. These ruins, which are perhaps the most magnificent in the world, enclose within their site the four modern villages of Karnak, Luxor (El Uksur), Medinet Habou, and Kurna--the two former on the eastern and the two latter on the western side of the river. They consist of temples, colossi, sphinxes, and obelisks, and, on the western side, of tombs, many of which are cut in the rock and adorned with paintings, which are still as fresh as if just finished. These ruins are remarkable alike for their great antiquity and for the purity of their style. It is most probable that the great buildings were all erected before the Persian invasion, when Thebes was taken by Cambyses, who secured treasure to the amount of some $10,000,000, and burned the wooden habitations, after which time it never regained the rank of a capital city; and thus its architectural monuments escaped that Greek influence which is so marked in the edifices of Lower Egypt. Among its chief buildings, the ancient writers mention the Memnonium, with the two colossi in front of it, the temple of Ammon, in which one of the three chief colleges of priests was established, and the tombs of the kings.
   To describe the ruins in detail, and to discuss their identification, would far exceed the possible limits of this article. Suffice it to mention among the monuments on the western (Libyan) side the three temples of Seti I., Rameses II., and Rameses III. Near the second is the fallen colossus of Rameses II., the largest statue in Egypt. Beyond is the terraced temple of Queen Hatasu of the Eighteenth Dynasty, near which a remarkable series of mummies and papyri were found by Brugsch in 1881. At Medinet Habou is a great temple of Rameses III., with interesting sculptures describing his victories over the Philistines, and also a calendar. Northwest of this are the cemeteries of the sacred apes and the Valley of the Tombs of the Queens (seventeen sepulchres). On the eastern bank at Luxor is the beautiful temple of Amenoph III., with an obelisk whose fellow now stands in the Place de la Concorde at Paris. At Karnak is a splendid group of temples built under the Twelfth Dynasty. The finest portion of this maze of architectural magnificence is the Great Hall, 170 by 329 feet, with twelve imposing columns 62 feet in height and 12 feet in diameter, and 122 minor columns, and two obelisks, of which one is the tallest in Egypt, being 108 feet in height. On the walls are fine sculptures depicting the battles of Seti I. and Rameses II. against the Hittites, Arabs, Syrians, and Armenians. In one of the porticos is recorded the expedition of Shishak I. against Jerusalem in B.C. 971. In classical times Thebes was a great showplace, and was visited by both Greek and Roman tourists, among the latter being the emperor Hadrian.

This text is cited Oct 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Ministry of Culture WebPages

The Catholic Encyclopedia

The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites


  Known to Homer (Il. 9.38 1-83), it lies 714 km S of Cairo. It was known to the Egyptians as Waset, the city of the south, and more popularly as Diospolis Megale (Diod. 1.15.97), the great city of Zeus, identified with the Egyptian god Amun. It became the capital of Egypt in the 11th Dynasty (ca. 2052 B.C.), supplanting Memphis, the earlier capital. Its great period was during the 18th-20th Dynasties (ca. 1550-1100 B.C.) when it was the capital of the Egyptian Empire. Although Thebes had long ceased to be the political center of Egypt in the Ptolemaic period, it was still important. However the city revolted against Ptolemy V Epiphanes and was severely punished. The city is extensively described during that time by both Diodorus (1.15.97) and Strabo (17.1.46). Under Roman rule, building activities continued and the city attracted attention because of the colossi of Memnon as they were then known. During the Early Christian period, the W part of the city became a monastic settlement, and most of the temples were converted into churches. Modern Luxor contains but a small part of the remains of the ancient city, which extended to cover Karnak and a number of villages on the W bank of the Nile. The contribution both of the Ptolemies and of the Roman emperors to the religious continuity of the city is to be seen scattered all over the vast area. Alexander the Great has a naos within the enclosure of the Luxor Temple. The granite sanctuary at Karnak commemorates the coronation of Philip Arhidaeus by the Egyptian gods in the presence of Amun Ra. The Temple of Ptah--identified with the Greek Hephaistos, and Hathor, identified with Aphrodite--has gateways which were added during the Ptolemaic period. The fine granite gateway which lies in front of the temple of the war god Mont was built by Ptolemy Philadelphos. The small chapel to the W of the temple is also a work of the Ptolemies. The gateway of the Temple of Mut was erected by Ptolemy I Soter. Here the king is represented shaking the sistrum, the queen plays the harp, and a princess beats a tamborine before Mut and Sekhmet. In Thebes West, across the river, there still stand the two colossi representing Amenhotep III seated upon a throne of which the figure to the N was thought by the Greeks to be that of Memnon, one of the great heroes of the Trojan War, who was said to have led an army of the Ethiopians to the siege of that city. The rather small but beautiful temple at Deir el-Medina is entirely a work of the Ptolemies. Augustus appears in the Temple of Amun where a statue of him was found. The additional court and pylon which are to be seen in the Temple of Nectanebos at Medinet Habu, were dedicated by Domitian. Hadrian, who visited Thebes with his wife Sabina (A.D. 130), began the construction of the temple that stands to the S of Medinet Habu and dedicated it to Isis. Antoninus Pius completed it.

S. Shenouda, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Nov 2002 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains 6 image(s), bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.

You are able to search for more information in greater and/or surrounding areas by choosing one of the titles below and clicking on "more".

GTP Headlines

Receive our daily Newsletter with all the latest updates on the Greek Travel industry.

Subscribe now!
Greek Travel Pages: A bible for Tourism professionals. Buy online

Ferry Departures