Karnak Temple is a vast temple complex in Luxor dedicated primarily to Amun and dating from as early as 2000 BC. It is an impressive sight, and second only to the Great Pyramids in popularity. After a century of foreign occupation, the New Kingdom (1550-1150 BC) of Egypt emerged, with its capital at Thebes. The captial city was embellished with grandiose temples worthy of the majesty of the pharaohs, the greatest being Karnak. The temple complex of Karnak, dedicated to the Pharoah Amun, was the center of his worship and of his wife Mut and their son Khons. Each of them had a "precinct" (area) in the temple complex, the greatest and largest belonging to Amun. There was also a precinct for Montu, the falcon-headed local god. Construction on the Karnak temple complex began in the 16th century BC and continued into the Greco-Roman period - a period of up to 1300 years of construction. Around 30 successive pharoahs added their own touches to the complex: a new temple, shrine, or pylon and carved detailed hieroglyphic inscriptions. When the pharoah Akhenaton abandoned the traditional worship of Amun and took up the worship of Aten, the sun god, he built a temple to Aten at Karnak. But after his death, the Theban priests destroyed all signs of sun worship at Karnak and elsewhere.
Luxor Temple is a great temple complex in modern Luxor dedicated to Amun, a creator god often fused with the sun-god Ra into Amun-Ra. Construction work on the temple began during the reign of Amenhotep III in the 14th century BC. Horemheb and Tutankhamun added columns, statues, and friezes, and Akhenaten had earlier obliterated his father's cartouches and installed a shrine to the Aten. However, the only major expansion effort took place under Ramses II some 100 years after the first stones were put in place. Luxor is thus unique among the main Egyptian temple complexes in having only two pharaohs leave their mark on its architectural structure. Each year, to ensure the flooding of the Nile that was necessary to national prosperity, the statues of Amun, Mut (goddess of war), and Khons (the moon god) were sailed down the river to Karnak for a great festival. The temple fell into disrepair during the Late Period. Alexander the Great claimed to have undertaken major reconstruction work "to restore it to the glory of Amenhotep's times" in the 320s BC. During Rome's domination of Egypt it was converted into a centre for the Roman emperor cult. By the time of the Arab conquest, the temple was largely buried underneath accumulated river silt, to the extent that the Mosque of Abu Haggag was built on top of it in the 13th century (much reworked since, but one of the minarets dates back to the original construction).
The Valley of the Kings, Wadi el-Muluk in Arabic, is a valley in Egypt where tombs were built for the Pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The cult of death and the lifelong preparation for the afterlife were the focus of Egyptian religion, and the Valley of the Kings and other monuments in the West Bank necropolis are mute testimony to this obsession. The pharoahs were buried in secret tombs here and protected by the best security of the age, but few burial sites escaped the plundering of grave robbers. The Valley of the Kings was created and used from approximately 1539 BC to 1075 BC. It contains some 60 tombs, starting with Thutmose I and ending with Ramses X or XI. The official name of the site was The Great and Majestic Necropolis of the Millions of Years of the Pharaoh, Life, Strength, Health in The West of Thebes, or more usually, the Great Field. The Valley of the Kings also had tombs for the favourite nobles and the wives and children of both the nobles and pharaohs. Around the time of Ramses I (ca. 1300 BC) the Valley of the Queens was begun, although some wives were still buried with their husbands.
The Valley of the Queens is an isolated cemetery, at the southern part of the vast necropolis of Thebes, on the west bank of Luxor. It contains about 70 tombs, mainly belonging to Queens, Princesses, Princes and Nobles, who lived during the XIX and XX Dynasties. In general, these tombs are smaller than the ones of the Kings. The plans of these tombs usually consist of a small antechamber, a long narrow corridor with several side chambers, and at the end - the burial chamber. one of the most important tombs in the valley is the one that belongs to the famous Queen Nefertari, the principal consort of King Ramses II. This beautiful tomb was in a bad condition because of the salt crystals seeping through its poor quality limestone. It was restored and reopened for visitors, though nowadays it is closed to the general public because of the high CO2 levels, and water in breathparticles, which were damaging the beautiful artwork. Her tomb consists of a stairway leading down to a hall, where on the walls, there are representations of the Queen with different Gods and Goddesses. This hall leads to an inner side chamber decorated with religious scenes such as Queen Nefertari burning incense, and giving offerings to the Gods Osiris and Atum. A corridor then leads to the burial chamber, whose walls are decorated with scenes of the "Book of the Gates". Also located in the valley, are the tombs of three of the sons of King Ramses III, who were also buried there. Tomb 55 is considered to be one of the mostimportant tombs amongst them. It was dedicated to Prince Amon-khopshef, a son of King Ramses III who had died atan early age. Among the most beautiful scenes in this tomb, are on the walls of the 1st chamber. It is a scene representing the Prince, with his father, with the King making offerings to various deities. The large hall is decorated with some scenes of the "Book of the Gates". Tomb 44: This tomb belongs: to Prince Khaem-waset, who was another son of Ramses III. It consists of 2 long corridors, with 2 side chambers, and a square burial chamber. The walls of this tomb are decorated with various painted scenes, some of them representing the Prince with different deities, and with his father in front of the deities of the after world.
Hatchepsut (late 16th century BC – c. 1482 BC) was the fifth Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty of Ancient Egypt. She is generally regarded by modern Egyptologists as one of the most successful pharaohs, ruling longer than any female ruler of an indigenous dynasty. Hatshepsut was the daughter of Pharaoh Tuthmosis I and the wife of his successor Tuthmosis II, who died before she bore a son. Rather than step aside for the secondary wife who had borne him an heir, the plucky queen became co-regent of her stepson, the young Tuthmosis III. Soon she assumed absolute power. To legitmize her powerful position, Hatshepsut had herself depicted with a pharaoh's kilt and beard. She was a prolific builder, commissioning hundreds of construction projects throughout both Upper and Lower Egypt. Under her reign, Egypt's trade networks began to be rebuilt, after their disruption during the Hyksos occupation of Egypt during the Second Intermediate Period. She is believed to have ruled from 1503 to 1482 BC. Josephus writes that she reigned 21 years and 9 months. Hatshepsut is regarded variously as the earliest known queen regnant in history, as the first known female to take the title Pharaoh, and the first great woman in history, although all of these claims have been contested. After Hatshepsut's death, Tuthmosis III became pharaoh. Perhaps fearing a challenge to his legitimacy as a successor, he immediately chiseled all images of Hatshepsut off temples, monuments and obelisks, consigning her remarkable reign to oblivion until its rediscovery by modern archaeologists. In more recent history, tragedy struck in November 1997 when 58 tourists and four guards were killed by terrorists on the Middle Terrace. They hijacked a coach to get away, but the driver deliberately crashed it by the Valley of the Queens and villagers chased them down before the police arrived. All the sites in the area are now heavily guarded with multiple fences, security checkpoints and guards. There have been no attacks on tourists in Egypt since then.
Medinet Habu is the Arabic name for the Mortuary Temple of Ramses III, a huge complex second only to Karnak in size and better preserved. Medinet Habu is among the least visited of the major sights at Luxor, but it deserves more attention than it gets. The great pharoahs of ancient Egypt were buried in the Valley of the Kings but built great mortuary temples such as this one to honor their memory and to host the cult that connected them with the gods. Ramses III (1186-1155 BC) was buried in KV11 in the Valley and modeled his great mortuary temple on the Ramesseum of his ancester Ramses II. Ramses III was the second pharaoh of the Twentieth Dynasty and is considered the last great New Kingdom pharaoh to wield substantial authority over Egypt. During his long reign, Egypt was beset by foreign invaders (including the "Sea Peoples" and the Libyans) and experienced the beginnings of the economic difficulties and internal strife which would eventually lead to the collapse of Dynasty XX. The site of Ramses III's mortuary temple was sacred long before his time and is still regarded as having magical powers by local farmers (fellaheen). During Ramses' lifetime, he often lived in the adjacent palace. Then and afterwards, the statues of Amun, Mut and Khonsu visited every year during the Festival of the Valley; other deities resided at Medinet Habu permanently. During the Libyan invasions of the late Twentieth Dynasty, Medinet Habu sheltered the entire popular of Thebes. For centuries afterwards, it protected the Copic town of Djeme, which was built inside its great walls. In Coptic times, a Christian church filled the Second Court of the temple. Medinet Habu was first excavated sporadically between 1859 and 1899 by the Egyptian Antiquities Service, during which the main temple was cleared, a many Coptic buildings were removed and the site was made accessible to visitors. Since 1924, further excavations and conservation work has been led by Chicago University's Oriental Institute.
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