September 25, 2013

The Necropolis in Luxur

The Necropolis
The necropolis lies on the western bank of the Nile at Luxor. Its monuments include a series of mortuary temples built by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom, royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, and hundreds of tombs of noblemen that extend from the Dra Abu el Naga in the north to the Asasif in the south.

Necropolis in Luxur
Although it is known as the ‘city of the dead’, the necropolis was once a populated and busy community. Beside each mortuary temple there were dwellings for the different orders of priests, stalls for sacrificial animals, guard-houses and store-houses, each with its superintendent. Surrounding, or in front of each temple there were lakes, groves and beautifully laid out gardens; some of the plants were imported from Syria and Punt.

Necropolis in Luxur
The pharaohs themselves took up temporary residence on the necropolis to w'atch the progress being made on their mortuary temples, and supervise their construction and decoration. Excavations at Kurna, the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu have revealed large palaces with numerous chambers. The largest and best preserved of these complexes lies to the south of Medinet Habu, where Ramses III watched his name being carved, literally, in history.

Necropolis in Luxur
Also on the necropolis, at Deir el Medina, was a village of workers who carried out the secret task of digging and decorating the royal tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Excavations over the last half century have revealed that this walled city contained some eighty families. Their professions ranged from quarrying and mortar- mixing, to draughting, painting and designing. There were scribes and foremen, and a director of works who headed the community. Each family had a simple, sparsely furnished house, and they constructed the tombs nearby. From the tombs at Deir el Medina, and from some 40,000 pieces of inscribed pottery (ostraka) found at the site, archaeologists have been able to trace the activities of this community for generation upon generation, throughout a span of nearly three centuries. Their very personalities have been revealed: pride in their professional activities, joy at family celebrations, and even their grievances.

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