October 10, 2013

Tomb of Pepi-Nakht, called Hekaib

Tomb of Pepi-Nakht, called Hekaib
This is the tomb of the deified Elephantine nobleman, whose sanctuary was built on Elephantine, and who was honoured by no less than eight generations. His tomb is in poor condition, but his autobiographical text, recorded on each side of the entrance doorway, enables us to trace his activities.

Tomb of Pepi-Nakht
Pepi-Nakht conducted several campaigns into Lower Nubia. On one occasion, he suppressed a rebellion and returned with captives, including the children of the chiefs as hostages. On another occasion, he brought back two Nubian chiefs themselves in order to talk matters over with the Egyptians and come to an amicable settlement. Pepi-Nakht also had a confrontation on the Red Sea coast when he and his troop force slew large numbers of ‘sand- dwellers’; this was in retaliation against the bedouin tribes that had killed a certain Enenkhet and his men, who were building a ship on the Red Sea coast with which to sail to Punt. Pepi-Nakht returned to the Nile valley with the body of the deceased nobleman.

Tomb of Pepi-Nakht

Tomb of Sennedjen

Tomb of Sennedjen
The main chamber is all that remains today of the tomb of Sennedjen, an official at the time of the XIX Dynasty and «Servant in the Square of Truth». The paintings found here are, for their liveliness and freshness of colour, among the most beautiful of the entire valley. On one end wall is painted Sennedjen, who, accompanied by his bride, works in the Fields of Ialu (the Egyptian paradise), plowing, sowing and harvesting grain. On the other end wall (below) the husband and wife worship the gods in the After-life. At the head of all the other gods is Osiris who, with his green skin, symbolizes the renewal of life at springtime.

Tomb of Sennedjen

Tomb of Sennedjen

October 9, 2013

Tombs of the Middle Kingdom (c. 1980-1920 BC) Tomb of Sirenput I

Tombs of the Middle Kingdom (c. 1980-1920 BC) Tomb of Sirenput I
Sirenput was a prince of Elephantine in the reign of Senusert I, at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. It was he who was encouraged by his sovereign to erect the sanctuary of Hekaib, and the royal artists he entrusted with the work on the sanctuary also decorated his own tomb.

Tomb of Sirenput I
The fa9ade is carefully and finely sculpted. Sirenput is shown in seated position at the top of the staircase. Behind is a court with six pillars, all bearing representations of him. On the rear wall (left) is a large relief showing him followed by his sandal-bearer and two dogs, and hunting in the marsh (above). Cattle, including some angry bulls, are brought to him. To the right, he is seated in a colonnade with four women: his wife, mother and two daughters who bear him flowers.

Tomb of Sirenput I

Esna Temple Pictures and More

Esna
In ancient times this was the capital of the Illrd nome or province of Upper Egypt. It was called « Latopolis» by the Greeks because of the worship of a sacred fish, Lato, which was the object of a special cult and of which numerous mummified examples have been found.

The present village only contains a temple dedicated to the god Khnum which is a Ptolemaic restoration of a pre-existing XVIIIth dynasty temple. The hypostyle hall, which is 33 metres by 18 and contains twenty four columns 13.5 metres high, is more or less intact. The capitals of the columns are the most interesting feature thanks to the various sculpted floral motifs.

Esna


Esna

Esna Temple

October 8, 2013

The Tomb of Mekhu and Tomb of Harkhuf Facts

The Tomb of Mekhu
This tomb, built by Sabni for his father, comprises a single chamber, crude in both construction and decoration. There are eighteen roughly hewn columns, in three rows. A stone table or shrine with three legs is situated between the two columns facing the entrance.

The Tomb of Mekhu
Representations on the walls and columns are poor. They show the deceased receiving various offerings. To the left of the entrance is a rural scene of ploughing and tilling of the land and donkeys laden with the harvest. The stele on the rear wall, opposite the entrance, is in a recess approached by steps.

The Tomb of Mekhu
Tomb of Harkhuf
Harkhuf was an explorer, and his tomb contains lengthy descriptions of his pioneering expeditions; three were made in the reign of Merenre, and one in the reign of his successor, Pepi II.

Tomb of Harkhuf
Harkhuf called himself ‘caravan-leader’ and journeyed with pack-donkeys beyond the Second Cataract. His first journey took seven months. His second appears to have been even more adventurous and he was proud to record that ‘never had any companion or caravan-leader . . . done it before’. Each time he brought back precious products. Harkhuf had trouble on his third expedition. Some desert tribes were warring with one another, and Harkhuf became involved. He reduced the Temehu (a tribe related to the Libyans) to subjection and so impressed the Nubian chiefs that they offered him guides and cattle for his return journey.

Tomb of Harkhuf
On his fourth expedition Harkhuf brought back gold, ostrich feathers, animal skins, ivory, ebony, incense and gum. He also brought a ‘dancing pygmy’ for his pharaoh, the young Pepi II, who came to the throne at the age of six. In his record, Harkhuf states that he sent his messengers ahead of his convoy to inform His Majesty of his gift, to which Pepi wrote back in his great enthusiasm that the pygmy should be guarded night and day so as not to fall overboard. Harkhuf was so proud of the letter that he had it engraved on the fa9ade of his tomb.

Deir El-bahari

Deir El-bahari
One thousand two hundred years after Imhotep another architect, Senmut, won himself a place in Egyptian history by designing another architectural masterpiece. Queen Hatshepsut who was more of a patron of the arts than a military commander, ordered a funerary monument to be built for her father Tutmose I and herself, choosing for the site a valley which had already been consecrated to the goddess Hathor but had then been abandoned. The great insight of her architect- minister was the way in which he exploited the rocks spread out in a fan shape behind the monument. The conception of the monument was thus new, indeed revolutionary. The temple, pointing to the east, consisted of a series of vast terraces which by means of ramps led to the sanctuary. Access to the first terrace was by means of an avenue lined with sphinxes and obelises. At the end of this terrace was a portico from which a ramp led to the second terrace which was also closed at the end by a portico.

Deir El-bahari
On one of the walls a series of beautiful bas-reliefs depicts the birth and childhood of the queen as well as the expedition she organised to the mysterious country of Punt which has been assumed to be somewhere in the centre of Africa since among the things depicted are giraffes, monkeys, panther skins and ivory objects. The left hand side of the valley on the other hand was occupied by the gigantic funerary temple of Montu-Hotep I who, five hundred years before Hatshepsut, had also had the idea of building his temple in the valley. He built his tomb according to ideas some of which were typical of the Old Kingdom while others foreshadowed the New Kingdom. At a later period a Christian convent installed itself in Queen Hat- shepsut’s monument. This was called the « northern convent» which gave the area its present name of Deir el-Bahari. We should be thankful that the convent was installed in the temple because it protected it from later depredations.

Deir El-bahari Map

October 7, 2013

The Tomb of Siremput II

The Tomb of Siremput II
Siremput II was the «Hereditary Prince» during the reign of the Xllth dynasty pharaoh Amon- Emhat II. The hypogeum consists of an initial chamber with six pillars, a gallery flanked by six niches each with a mummy-shaped statue of the dead prince, a second square chamber with four pillars, each one decorated with a splendid picture of Siremput, and finally a frescoed chapel. In the latter is a scene showing the prince with his small son paying homage to him in front of a table laid for a meal with bread, sweets, fruit including bunches of grapes and even a duck. Beneath the table stand carafes of wine. The adjacent wall shows the prince’s wife, a priestess of Hathor, who is also seated before a ritual meal.



The Tomb of Siremput II

Amon-Emhat II Statue

Sennefer’s Tomb Pictures

Sennefer’s Tomb
This tomb is reached via a stair with 43 steps which goes down into the rock. Sennefer was the Prince of the Southern City during the reign of Amon-Ofis II. The tomb is famous for the beautiful bower of grapes painted on the ceiling of the vestibule.

Sennefer’s Tomb

Sennefer’s Tomb

Sennefer’s Tomb

Sennefer’s Tomb

The Aswan Dam

The Aswan Dam
For thousands of years, leadership in Egypt has been associated with that great source of life the Nile. From the first pharaoh, Narmer (3100 BC), who traditionally diverted the river at Memphis, to Nektanebos (360 BC), the last Egyptian pharaoh, canals were cleared and irrigation projects were carried out. When the Persians conquered Egypt they repaired waterways. The Greeks reclaimed land. The Romans built aqueducts. The Mamluks constructed aqueducts and storage systems.

Aswan before High Dam
In 1842 the Mohamed Aly Barrage was built at the apex of the Delta north of Cairo. This first barrage was followed by others: at Aswan, Esna, and Assiut. The first Aswan Dam was constructed between 1899-1902. It was raised in 1907-1912, and again in 1929-1934, at which time 5,000 million cubic metres of water was stored in a reservoir that backed upstream to Wadi Haifa.

The High Dam (Saad el Aali)
The High Dam, situated six-and-a-half kilometres south of the Aswan Dam, was the cornerstone of the country’s economic development envisioned by Gamal Abdel Nasser. It was built during the years 1960-71 and was largely financed and supervised by the Soviet Union after the withdrawal of US and British financial aid for the project. Thirty thousand Egyptians worked on shifts day and night for ten years, under the supervision of two thousand technicians. A total of 17,000,000 cubic metres of rock was excavated, and 42,700,000 cubic metres of construction material was used.

The High Dam is a rock-filled dam - an artificial mountain of earth and rock over a cement and clay core. It is 3,600 metres long, 114 metres high, and the width at the base is 980 metres. The diversion tunnels on the western bank of the river (each with a diameter of sixteen-and-a-half metres), were hewn out of granite to a length of 1,950 metres. On the eastern bank are the High Dam’s twelve turbines, each with 120,000 HP. The annual hydro-electric capacity is ten billion KW hours.

Aswan Dam
High Dam lake was formed when the thwarted Nile swelled back upon itself for hundreds of kilometres where Nubia once stood. It is the world’s largest artificial lake. It extends for over 500 kilometres, 150 of which are in Sudanese territory. The average width is ten kilometres, and there are areas where it spreads across thirty kilometres. The storage capacity is 157 billion cubic metres.

Advantages The primary purpose of the High Dam is to expand Egypt’s arable land, provide hydro-electric power for the benefit of industrial development, and ensure a substantial rise in the standard of living. Due to this long-term storage of water, regular irrigation is possible, and Egypt’s productivity has been increased by over twenty per cent: from 800,000 hectares of reclaimed desert land, and from the increased yield resulting from the change-over from a one- crop to a three-crop cycle. The latter was made possible by the stabilisation of the river, which overcomes the danger of high and low floods and also enables permanent navigability.

The loss of silt has been compensated for by fertilizer, one of the many industries provided with hydro-electric power from the dam. Another industry is a shale brick factory that will replace the age-old brick made of Nile silt.

Aswan Dam
Disadvantages An increase in the arable land has led to a corresponding increase in the incidence of bilharzia which can now, fortunately, be controlled. Predatory fish from the Red Sea, no longer hindered by the fresh water flow that acted as a barrier, have been seen in the Mediterranean for the first time; the resulting loss to fisheries is partly compensated by a large fishing industry on the Lake. The loss of the annual flood, and the constant higher average water level, has resulted in increased salinity of the soil. This has affected crops and ancient monuments; the agricultural land, especially in the Delta, now requires constant irrigation and drainage; and the ancient monuments of Upper Egypt are suffering some damage from seepage and salt erosion.

The most tragic loss has, of course, been Nubia. No less than 100,000 persons had to be uprooted and relocated in Upper Egypt and the Sudan when plans for the High Dam went ahead and it was clear that their homes were destined to disappear forever. Ironically, it is due to the disappearance of Nubia that we know more about its history than we do of many sites in Egypt, including Luxor! For, during the years 1960-69, the doomed land was subject to the most concentrated archaeological operations ever mounted. Scholars, engineers, architects, and photographers from over thirty countries fought against time, and some great monuments were saved (page 146) or documented for future study. Countless objects were excavated and removed to safety. However, much of Nubia’s heritage in the form of towns, tombs, temples, churches, graffiti and inscriptions, has been engulfed by the waters.

October 6, 2013

Mausoleum of the Aga Khan

Mausoleum of the Aga Khan
The late Aga Khan III, leader of the Ismaili community, a sect of Islam, found such peace and beauty in Aswan that before he died in 1957 he chose a site on the western bank of the Nile, on a peak overlooking his favourite part of the river, for his tomb. His Mausoleum, built in the Fatimid style with a single dome, is a landmark of Aswan today. It stands cool and isolated on an area of 450 square metres. It is constructed of rose granite, and the inner walls are of marble embellished with verses from the Koran. The Aga Khan claimed direct descent from Fatimah, the daughter of the prophet Mohammad. The tombs of the Fatimids are on the eastern bank of the Nile.

Mausoleum of the Aga Khan
Outdated traditions and rural continuum
The age-old tradition of prosperity or adversity being dependent on the Nile flood and the fervour with which the Nile festivals were celebrated, has finally run its course. It was started thousands of years ago by the earliest settlers of the Nile valley who thought that rites, spells, and offerings of thanks would control, appease, or please the power behind natural phenomena. In earliest times a bull or goose, and later a roll of papyrus, written with sacred words, would be cast on the waters.

Mausoleum of the Aga Khan
The eruption of the river and the subsequent blossoming of the land was regarded as the result of a marriage. Even after the Arab conquest, public criers walking the streets announced the progress of the flood, so that the qadi could prepare a ‘contract of marriage’. The Bride of the Nile Ceremony took place, during which a symbolic maiden would be given to the river. Witnesses confirmed the ‘consummation’ and, with elaborate oriental ceremonial, the dykes were broken. Until the 1970s, the arrival of the flood was the occasion for a public holiday, and a procession of garlanded boats filled with rejoicing people cast flowers upon the waters.

Today it is no longer necessary to please Hapi, the Nile-god. The water is released by sluices operated at man’s will, and the thirsty land quenches itself to man’s timetable. The Nile no longer revitalises the soil with its rich alluvium. The Black Land, Kmt, which was the name for Egypt, is deprived of its natural source of fertility.

Mausoleum of the Aga Khan
But continuity survives change, and in Upper Egypt one can best see the apparent paradox of Egypt undergoing repeated change, yet remaining changeless. Though new hotels, factories, and highways reflect the modern era, we can still see the simple village with dust roads and rectangular mud-brick houses. There are transport vehicles on the one hand, and the faithful donkeys as the beast of burden, on the other. Tractors and modern equipment are used alongside the time-honoured plough and the shaduf the most ancient of pumping devices for lifting water from the river to the canals.

Granite Quarries of Ancient Egypt

Granite Quarries
The old granite quarries about two kilometres from the city stretch along the Nile for about six kilometres. From the grooves which have been cut in a regular manner into the syenite walls we can get some idea of how the blocks of granite were removed. Wedges of wood were inserted into these grooves, which indicated the surface to be cut out, and then moistened. The expansion of the wood caused the stone to split along the desired directions and in this way fairly smooth surfaces were obtained which were ready for polishing. Nearby can be seen the famous «unfinished obelise» which would have been about 41 metres high with a weight of about 1267 tonnes.It was to have been erected for Queen Hatshepsut but fissures developed in several points and it was never removed from the rock.

Granite Quarries of Ancient Egypt

Granite Quarries of Ancient Egypt

Menna’s Tomb Pictures

Menna’s Tomb
The owner of this tomb, described as the «Scribe of the Land Register of the Master of Upper and Lower Egypt», utilized a pre-exist- ing tomb and enlarged it. The decoration depicts scenes (such as work in the fields, the pilgrimage to Abydos, the sons and daughters of Menna) which are among the most elegant in the whole necropolis.


Menna’s Tomb

Menna’s Tomb

October 5, 2013

Tomb of Sirenput II and Granite Quarries (Eastern Bank)

Tomb of Sirenput II
This tomb, belonging to the grandson of Sirenput I, who was a prince in the reigns of Amenemhet II and Senusert II, is one of the most well-preserved of the Middle Kingdom. It is entered through a courtyard leading to a narrow passage, an excavated hall with six elegant square undecorated columns, and a corridor with three recesses on each side, each containing a statue of the deceased sculpted from the living rock.

Tomb of Sirenput II
The small hall at the end of the corridor has four pillars and a recess at the rear. The condition of the reliefs in the recess is excellent, both the delicately worked hieroglyphics and the delightful family scenes. To the rear, the deceased is seated at a table. His son stands before him bearing flowers. On the right-hand wall is a representation of his mother seated at a table with the deceased to her right. On the left-hand wall is a similar scene with his wife and son.

Tomb of Sirenput II
Granite Quarries (Eastern Bank)
Situated in the eastern desert, directly to the south of Aswan, are the ancient quarries of granite in hues of red, yellow, brown and dark grey. Sculptors and builders for thousands of years drew their supplies from here.

The earliest pharaoh to exploit the quarry was Den of the ist Dynasty, who used blocks for the floor of his cenotaph at Abydos. The 2nd Dynasty pharaoh Khasekhemui used it for his fine temple at Nekhen (Hierakonopolis). Then, in the Old Kingdom the quarry was fully exploited, especially by the 4th Dynasty pharaohs who raised their monuments at Giza: nine great slabs of fifty-four tons each were extracted from the quarries for the ceiling of the so-called King’s Chamber of the Pyramid of Khufu (Cheops). Red granite was choscn for the Valley, or Granite, Temple of Khafre (Cheph- ren). Black granite w'as quarried and despatched for the lower reaches of the outer casing of the Pyramid of Menkaure (Myce- rinus). Thenceforth, right through to Graeco-Roman times, the quarry was in use.


Granite Quarries in Ancient Egypt
Many blocks were abandoned in various stages of completion, which enables us to see the process by which the stone was extracted. Holes were bored along a prescribed straight line. It was once thought that wooden wedges were driven into these, watered and left to expand until it split the stone. Recent excavations, however, have changed our understanding of the quarrying industry. Balls of dolerite, the hardest of stone, weighing up to five-and-a- half kilogrammes, have been found in their hundreds in the area of the quarry, and it is now believed that these were attached to rammers and simultaneously struck with great force by the quarry workers. They were also used to pound and dress the surface of the stone.

The system must have been reasonably sure because blocks were very often decorated on three sides.before being detached from the natural rock.


The huge Unfinished Obelisk, lying in the northern quarry, is still attached to the bedrock. The reason for its abandonment is that flaws were found in the stone. An attempt was then made to extract smaller obelisks from it, but these projects, too, were abandoned. There is no indication for whom it was intended. The only marks on the surface are those of the workmen. Had it ever been completed, it would have weighed some 1,162 tons and have soared to a height of forty-two metres.

Granite Quarries in Ancient Egypt
In the southern quarry, rough-hewn blocks show that statues and sarcophagi were roughly shaped before transportation in order to cut down the weight. In the case of the former, the sculptor would begin to hew out the feet at a point several inches above the base of the rock, leaving the lower segment as firm support fc/r the figure. In this quarry there are two rough-shaped sarcophagi that date to the Graeco-Roman period, a rock bearing an inscription of Amenhotep III, and an unfinished colossus of a king (or Osiris) grasping a crook and flail.

The Tomb of Siremput I

The Tomb of Siremput I
Of this tomb, which belonged to the son of Zat-Seni, a prince of the Xllth dynasty, there unfortunately remains today very little to bear witness to the fact that it was the biggest and the most richly decorated in the whole necropolis. One can still see part of the surrounding wall and the limestone doorway at the entrance which has delicate bas-reliefs showing scenes from the life of the dead prince. At the end, the facade of the tomb had a portico with six pillars.

The Tomb of Siremput I

Kiki’s Tomb Pictures

Kiki’s Tomb 
The «royal superintendant» Kiki was buried in this tomb which later was used as a stable. On one of the walls is depicted the journey of the dead man’s remains to Abydos and one can see the professional mourners wailing as well as servants carrying offerings.

Kiki’s Tomb

Kiki’s Tomb

October 4, 2013

Valley of the Nobles

Valley of the Nobles
The tombs of the great dignitaries from the dynasties of the Middle Kingdom are to be found in three adjoining areas, Assassif, Khokhah and Sheik Abd el-Gurnah. Their main characteristics are extreme architectural simplicity compared with the royal tombs and a choice of iconography notable for its freshness and vitality. Furthermore the tombs in this valley furnish valuable information on court life in ancient Egypt such as the offices and functions of the various dignitaries.

Valley of the Nobles

Valley of the Nobles

Valley of the Nobles

The Great Temple of Amon at Karnak

The Great Temple of Amon at Karnak
This great national monument of Egypt has no equal. It is not a single temple, but temple within temple, shrine within shrine, where almost all the pharaohs, particularly of the New Kingdom, wished to record their names and deeds for posterity. Though most of the structures were built in honour of Amon-Ra, his consort Mut and son Khonsu, there were numerous shrines within the complex dedicated to what might be called ‘guest deities’, like Ptah of Memphis and Osiris of Abydos.

Temple of Amon at Karnak
As successive pharaohs replanned entrance pylons, erected colonnades and constructed temples, they often reused valuable blocks from earlier periods. In the core of the Third Pylon built by Amenhotep III, for example, there were blocks of no less than ten temples and shrines from earlier periods. In cases where it was found necessary to remove a construction completely (either for purposes of design, for political reasons, or in times of threat of war), the temple or shrine was carefully dismantled and buried.

Temple of Amon at Karnak
The Sun Temples of Akhenaten suffered this fate. Thousands of distinctly uniform, decorated sandstone blocks, known as talataat, were buried beneath the Hypostyle Hall and the Second Pylon, as well as within the core of the Ninth and Tenth Pylons. One of the most challenging problems facing Egyptologists today is to trace the history of the temple of Amon at Karnak through such reused or buried evidence.

The Entrance Pylon (P. i) was possibly constructed during the Kushite Dynasty and it was never completed. It is approached from a landing stage where there are two small obelisks erected by Seti II, down a flight of stairs, and between a double row of ram-headed sphinxes. Between the forepaws of each sphinx is a statue of Ramses II.

Temple of Amon at Karnak
Passing through the first pylon, we enter the Great Court (i), which spreads over an enormous area of 8,919 square metres and contains monuments spanning many Dynasties. The single smooth- shafted column with lotus capital near the centre of the court was one of ten raised by the Kushite pharaoh T aharka. T o the rear is the Second Pylon (P. 2) built at the beginning of the 19th Dynasty. To the left is a shrine (2) built by Seti II in honour of the three gods of Thebes. To the right is the Temple of Ramses III (3), which is a fine example of a traditional temple.

Tomb of Sirenput I

Tomb of Sirenput I
Sirenput was a prince of Elephantine in the reign of Senusert I, at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. It was he who was encouraged by his sovereign to erect the sanctuary of Hekaib, and the royal artists he entrusted with the work on the sanctuary also decorated his own tomb.

The fa9ade is carefully and finely sculpted. Sirenput is shown in seated position at the top of the staircase. Behind is a court with six pillars, all bearing representations of him. On the rear wall (left) is a large relief showing him followed by his sandal-bearer and two dogs, and hunting in the marsh (above). Cattle, including some angry bulls, are brought to him. To the right, he is seated in a colonnade with four women: his wife, mother and two daughters who bear him flowers.

Tomb of Sirenput I

Tomb of Sirenput I

October 3, 2013

Tomb of Prince Amon-her-Khopechef

Tomb of Prince Amon-her-Khopechef
(It should be noted that those of the pharaohs’ offspring who died in childhood were also buried in the Valley of the Queens). The decoration in this tomb intended for the son of Ramses III is exceptional both for the brilliance and the intensity of the colour which is dominated by a magnificent ultramarine blue. In the first room we see the Pharaoh presenting his son to various gods, Thot, Ptah and the four sons of Horus (Hapi, Amset, Duamutef and Keben- senuf). The latter four gods after taking part in the rite of mummification of Osiris with Anubis became the patrons of the canopic jars.

Tomb of Prince Amon-her-Khopechef

Tomb of Prince Amon-her-Khopechef

Tomb of Prince Amon-her-Khopechef

Luxor Egypt Pictures and Facts

Luxor

Background
Perhaps no city in the world has bequeathed to us more numerous nor mightier monuments than Thebes. The ancient city stood on both sides of the Nile, and few spots in Egypt are so ideally suited to such a purpose. The range of hills to the east and west curve away from the river’s bank leaving broad plains on either side. Here marvellous monuments were raised in honour of Amon-Ra.

Luxor Egypt
Luxor, which developed into the great capital of the Egyptian empire, had no particular importance during the first thousand years of Egypt’s ancient history. When Narmer moved northwards to unite the Two Lands and establish Memphis as capital; in the Early Dynastic Period when the kings constructed their cenotaphs at Abydos; during the Great Pyramid Age when granite was quarried from Aswan in the south and transported to the necropolis of Giza to the north throughout all these long centuries Luxor was no different from the chief cities of other provinces.

Luxor Egypt
It was only after the collapse of the Old Kingdom, when the country had passed through the period of disorder known as the First Intermediate Period, that a noble family from Armant, a village south of Luxor, began to assert themselves. They had already shown their powers of leadership by distributing grain between various provinces in times of low flood, and towards the end of the ioth Dynasty (2133 BC), they annexed Luxor and moved northwards. Their aim was to reunite the Two Lands and take over leadership.

At this time another powerful family from the Fayoum area ruled from Memphis to Assiut, and aware of the aspirations of the Theban family, they moved their forces to meet them. The result was a long and bitter struggle. However, the Thebans emerged victorious, reunited the Two Lands, and launched Egypt on its second great period: the Middle Kingdom.

For some two centuries (1991-1786 BC) Egypt enjoyed a period of peace and prosperity. Luxor, however, was capital for only a short time before the pharaohs chose a site more suitable for a central government: El Lisht, some thirty kilometres south of Memphis. Political stability led to an art and architectural revival, important irrigation projects, and extensive commerce with neighbouring lands. Egyptian influence spread to Libya, Crete, Palestine, Syria, and southwards to Nubia where great fortresses were built (page 127)The most significant event in Luxor, however, was the introduction of the god Amon-Ra and the building of modest shrines in his honour.

It was only after the Hyksos occupation and expulsion that Luxor and its local god achieved prestige, and then on a scale never imagined. For, after the Thebans (Kamose followed by his brother Ahmose, father of the New Kingdom) won the war of liberation, they not only drove the hated occupiers out of Egypt but swore to avenge their country for its suffering. They followed the enemy into Asia, and the age of conquest began.

Luxor Egypt
The New Kingdom (1567—1080 BC) was the empire period. Thutmose I extended Egypt’s southern border towards Kush (page128) and Thutmose III established Egyptian supremacy in Asia Minor and all the neighbouring countries. As trade flourished, Luxor became paramount among the cities of Egypt. Caravans from the conquered territories, laden with gold and silver, precious metals, ivory, timber, spices, rare flora and fauna, made their way to Upper Egypt.

The priests of Amon-Ra, into whose hands a vast portion of the wealth was pouring acquired increasing influence, and the pharaohs ordered the construction of marvellous monuments in honour of their god. They declared that Amon-Ra was not only ‘God of Karnak’ and ‘God of Thebes’, but was, in fact, the ‘King of Gods’, and that their priesthood was second to none.
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