Restored Ancient Tombs in Khonsu Temple Opening in Luxor

Restored Ancient Tombs in Khonsu Temple Opening in Luxor

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Four ancient Egyptian chapels and two temple tombs are to be opened up to visitors in the Khonsu Temple at Karnak, in Luxor.

Sometime between 1189 BC and 1077 BC in the Dra Abul-Naga necropolis at the Khonsu Temple in Karnak, on Luxor's west bank, two high status men were the focus of a highly-theatrical and elaborate death ritual. As the souls of these men undertook adventures in the afterlife, their tombs were sealed shut by their followers never to be opened again, until now that is.

On Sunday, a collaborative team of archaeologists from the American Research Centre in Egypt ARCE and the Ministry of Antiquities in Egypt celebrated the completion of a complex restoration project which was undertaken with a grant of $2.13 (EGP 35) from the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

Tombs Of A Sacred Scribe And High Priest Of Amun

An article in Ahram Online explains that the project at Khonsu Temple at Karnak required cleaning, documenting, and restoring the four temple chapels and two tombs. Patches from previous restoration work in the 1960s and 1970s were removed and replaced using current technology and major structural repairs were carried out on the ancient tombs’ architraves and ceilings.

The tombs at Khonsu Temple in Karnak have been restored and will be open to visitors. (Ahram Online)

According to the depictions on wall reliefs the first of the restored tombs belonged to Raya, from the 19th Dynasty, who was the fourth prophet of Amun. The priesthood of Amun constantly worshiped, and made offering to, the god Amun and the priesthood in Thebes had four high-ranking priests led by the Chief Prophet of Amun at Karnak, otherwise known as the chief priest.

The second tomb, dated to the 20th Dynasty, belongs to Niay who was the Scribe of the Table. Not everyone in ancient Egypt could read and write and the knowledge held by scribes was perceived as magical arts. Only scribes were permitted to have this sacred knowledge which most of us take for granted today.

Collaborative Archaeology Enhances Peace In The Middle East

While the Priesthood of Amun , the tomb builders , did everything to assure that the physical remains of these two men remained intact, so as not to disturb their soul’s existence in the afterlife, contrary to this mission a new visitor walkway, to facilitate access to the once sacred space, has been installed.

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A new visitor walkway has been installed in the tomb area of the Khonsu Temple. (Ahram Online)

Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany said that the project is a good example of “the cooperation that takes place between Egypt and the USA”, a relationship that according to the Embassy of Egypt’s, in Washington DC, website has for decades been a “meaningful, functioning alliance” grounded in a mutual commitment to advancing peace, prosperity, and stability in the Middle East .

This new facility is one of many that have recently opened in Egypt as attempts are made to rebuild the country's tourism industry in the wake of the significant downturn after the 2011 revolution that toppled longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.

In July this year, Khaled el-Anany told reporters at DW that a pair of ancient pyramids were opening to tourists for the first time since 1965. The 259 feet (79 meter) tall Bent Pyramid and another nearby pyramid are located roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of the capital, Cairo, and were built in the 4th Dynasty around 2,600 BC by founding pharaoh Sneferu.

In July 2019, Egypt opened the Bent Pyramid for tourism for the first time since 1965. (Lexie / CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Khaled el-Anany says he’s “very proud” of these efforts towards preserving Egypt’s heritage and humanity and he wished all success to the US associations in his new post and he promises to help create lasting jobs and prosperity in Egypt. The tourist dollar aside, what is really great in all these recent conservation and commercialization efforts in Egypt is that 59 young archaeologists and conservators were trained, hands-on, as these chapels and tombs were restored.

Archaeological Jobs Bring A Sense Of Security

Notwithstanding I might sound like a controversial president, what Egypt really needs are jobs. Lots of jobs. Jobs like you have never seen before. In May, an Arab Weekly article said that the unemployment rate in Egypt is moving down significantly but that Cairo needed to boost economic growth and “attract foreign investments”. And archaeology is a superb vessel to achieve this.

To facilitate on-site conservation work and training, ARCE established and outfitted a conservation laboratory in 2008, complete with equipment, a classroom, and administrative spaces. (Ahram Online / Fair Use )

The Egyptian unemployment rate dropped to 8.1% in the first quarter of 2019 which is the lowest in 20 years, but in comparison, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , in the first quarter of 2019 in the US the national unemployment rate remained at 3.7%. In an article in Egypt Independent , economics professor at Cairo University, Yumn al-Hamaqi, said the fact that more people are working is good for the economy because a drop in the joblessness rate means more demand in the market, more production and more “social and economic stability”.

And, in achieving ‘social and economic stability’ Egypt will return to its golden years between 1189 BC and 1077 BC, for all evidence suggests in the 20th Dynasty, these key cultural factors had been achieved and maintained. So much so, dignitaries and high priests were buried in urban centers without fear of them ever being disturbed, especially not by advanced civilizations like our own claims to be.

Conservation of the Tomb of Anen

ARCE restores a Theban tomb of an 18th-dynasty priest with royal ties.

  • Era 18th dynasty
  • Project Director Lyla Pinch-Brock
  • Location Luxor
  • Affiliation American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE)
  • Project Sponsor USAID
  • Project Dates 2002-2003
  • Project Implementer ARCE

Situated at the highest point of the West Bank’s royal necropolis hill in Luxor, the tomb of Anen belonged to an ancient Egyptian priest who served under the reign of Amenhotep III. Time and neglect left the tomb damaged and full of rubble until ARCE took on a project to restore and open it to the public in the early 2000s.

A scene from the wall paintings of the tomb of Anen Photo: Francis Dzikowski / Lyla Pinch Brock

Anen probably served in the military before joining the priesthood, and earned a number of honorable titles, including Guardian of the Palanquin, Second of the Four Prophets of Amun and Greatest of Seers. Beyond his high spiritual standing, Anen also came from a notable regal line. The brother of Queen Tiye, Anen was the brother-in-law of Amenhotep III, a maternal uncle to Akhenaten and a maternal great-uncle to Tutankhamun.

The specific significance and scholarly value of Anen’s tomb made it a good candidate for an intensive restoration project backed by ARCE and directed by archaeologist Lyla Pinch-Brock. The effort focused on the deterioration of the tomb’s colorful wall paintings, as well as overall structural integrity, and has made the tomb accessible to scholars and visitors alike for the first time.

Whole view of completed rekhyt scene with Lyla Pinch Brock for human scale Photo: Francis Dzikowski

Composed of a main hall and an inner burial chamber, the T-shaped layout of Anen’s tomb is typical of the 18th dynasty. Two primary wall reliefs depict a series of powerful images, including rekhyt birds, a hieroglyph with flapping wings raised in adoration. This symbolic image was unique to the New Kingdom period and represents bound captives or the captured enemies of Egypt. A second exquisitely detailed image shows Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye receiving tribute from foreign visitors. The bowing figures beneath the thrones represent the Nine Bows, or the leaders of the foreign dynasties dominated by Egypt at the time: Minoa, Babylonia, Libya, Bedouin, Mitanni (the Assyrians), Kush, Irem (Upper Nubia), Iuntiu-seti (Nubian nomads) and Mentu-nu-setet (coastal Levant). The relief is teeming with movement and symbolism: a cat holds a duck by the neck beneath the throne of Queen Tiye and a leaping monkey and foreign enemies lay on King Amenhotep III’s foot cushion, crushed under the weight of the pharaoh’s feet.

At some point in the tomb’s history, the roof collapsed and filled the chambers with rubble. Exposure to extreme light and heat, as well as infrequent but intense flooding, left the wall reliefs badly deteriorated. In addition, looters cut sections of the reliefs from the walls and discarded fragments in the tomb, and chiseled the faces from the principal painting of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye.

The project conservator, Ewa Parandowska, first worked on the rekhyt relief. She relied on repetitive imagery to repair the mission sections and re-adhered fragments with special mortar. The team stabilized and reinforced the wall, and mechanically cleaned the relief with brushes and scalpels.

Conservation of the relief of Amenhotep III and Queen Tiye was more challenging. The relief is featured in a painting by Nina de Garis Davies recorded for an expedition of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1929 and still on display at the museum today. Parandowska used the painting as a guideline to restore the damaged or chiseled sections of the relief. These reproductions are differentiated easily from the original painting and mimic an ancient painting technique where craftsmen sketched the relief images in red ink before filling them with color.

As a final precaution, the team constructed a protective display box over the two restored wall reliefs to protect them from human or environmental damage and built a series of low slanted walls along the top edges of the tomb to divert rainwater. From a conservation perspective, these less invasive solutions are preferable to installing an entirely new roof in the tomb, which would have altered substantially the appearance and materials of its original walls and floor.

Speaking on the success of the restoration, project director Pinch-Brock explained that the tomb of Anen is a “good example of what can be done to restore a tomb apparently beyond help. ARCE conservation projects such as this one can open up otherwise inaccessible tombs to scholars, and further our knowledge of Egyptian history.”

Luxor – The ancient Thebes

luxor city is known to be the greatest open-air museum in the world. It’s on the site of ancient Thebas, “ the Pharaohs” capital at the hight of their power on 16 th century BC. The city lies between the east and west banks of the River which is crosssed daily by tourists and locals with Felucca boats and Ferries.

No place in the world compares to the grandeur and scale of the monuments which have survived from ancient Thebes (Luxor). The city is famous with many ancient monuments which can’t be missed. These sites are either located in the east bank of the Nile river like Luxor temple and Karnak Tample, or in the west bank like Tomb of the Nobles, The Valley of Kings and The Valley of Queens. The two grand temples of Luxor are the Luxor and Karnak Temples linked by the Avenue of Sphinx which has been recently renovated.

The Temple sits in the heart of Luxor in the east bank of the Nile River. It was built by the pharoah, Amenhotep III (1390-1352 BC). The walls are decorated with some of the finest carvings in Egypt and protected beacause much of the temple was buried until 1885.

The temple would have been surrounded in ancient times by warrens of mud-brick houses, shops and workshops but now lie under the modern town. In 1885, excavation works began which have cleared away the village and debris of centuries to uncover what we can see of the temple today. In front of the temple is the beginning of the Avenue of Sphinxes which ran all the way to the temples of Karnak (3 km to the north) and is now almost entirely uncovered.

The location of the temple makes it a very easy site to visit even when it’s not open to visitors, the temple is visible during a stroll down the Nile cornishe or through downtown Luxor.

The Karnak Temple, located on the east bank of the nile river, is an extraordinary complex of sanctuaries, pylons and obelisks dedicated to the Theban triad but also to the greater glory of pharaohs.

Its site covers more than 2 Km 2 which is large enough to contain about 10 cathedrals. Contsruction of the Temple started around 4,000 years ago and continued up until around 2,000 years ago when the Romans took control of Egypt. Each Egyptian ruler made their own mark in the architectural work of the temple. The Karnak Temple was the most important place to worship in Egypt during the time of the New Kingdom. In the heart of the temple is the temple of Amun-Ra, the earthly ‘home’ of the local god. This main structure surrounded by the houses of Amun’s wife, Mut, and their son, Khonsu.

Chemical degradation associated with the intensification of agricultural irrigation and the rising water table over the last centurey, caused many conservation problems and accelerated damage to the stones, foundations and columns that have remained in place since ancient Egypt. This type of detoriation brings heavy losses to the historical record because many of the surfaces contain one of a kind carvings and hieroglyphs which are being actively threatened in the sense of the integrity of the site and compromising researchers’ abilities to understand the meaning of these decorative elements.

These tombs are some of the best visited attractions on the west bank of the

Nile River. It’s located between the Ramesseum and Hatshepsut’s Temple. The Nobles believed in the instant afterlife so they decorated the Tombs with cryptic passages from the Book of the Dead to guide them through the afterlife and made wonderful decorations with detailed scenes of their daily lives. Although there have been several discoveries on the hillside in recent years, these tombs are still being studied. They are divided into groups which are open to the public like the Tombs of Khonsu, Userhet and Benia, The Tombs of Menna, Nakht and Amenenope, The Tombs of Neferronpet, Dhutmosi and Nefersekheru.

There is no rival to Hatshepsut’s Temples. The unique multi-tiered structure is nestled up against the limestone cliffs at the shoulder of the river valley, a truly stunning sight. The site was used as a monastery during the early centuries which has experienced deterioration and has required to be heavely restored.

In the history of ancient Egypt, Hatshepsut was the only female pharaoh. After the death of her father she came to power during the age of the New Kingdom. Hatshepsut’s status as the only female to rule egypt in not the only reason for her fame but she was also a very successful pharaoh. She ruled over an era of peace, prosperity and expanded lucrative trade routes. This accomplishment is immortalized in the carvings of her temple. She also contributed significantly to many temples such as Karnak Tample. Until the mid-19 th century C.E., Hatshepsut’s name remained unknown for the rest of Egypt’s history. When her public monuments had been destroyed, Thutmose III diposed of the wreckage near her temple at Deir Elbahri. In the 19 th centurey C.E., excavations brought these broken monuments and statues to light, but no one understood how to read hieroglyphics at that time. Some of them believed these were decorations so her name was lost in history.

Egyptologist Zahi Hawass located her mummy from a tomb in the nearby Valley of the Kings to the Cairo museum’s holding and proved her indentity. Examination of that mummy shows that she died in her fifties. She is a commended presence in the enitrety of world history in present day and stands as the very role model for women that Thutmose III may have tried hard to erase from time and memory.

The Valley of the Kings is located on the west bank of the Nile Rivr near Luxor, it’s the most well known site for excavations of unique antiquities and ancient remains. Building Tombs were part of the ancient egyptians’ beliefs of the afterlife and their preparations for the next world. They believed in the afterlife where they were promised to continue their lives and Pharaohs were promised to ally with the gods.

Mummification was important to preserve the body of the deceased to allow the re-awakening of the eternal soul in the afterlife. They included the tombs with all the belongings of the deceased which were believed they might need in the afterlife. These tombs incuded many kinds of foods and drinks as well as the precious objects that meant to help the deceased pass to the afterlife, they even buried some of the pharohs favored companions and served with them in the same site.

Across the huge area there are many fascinating structures, tombs, and temples like Seti, Tutankhamun and Ramses II. There are also tombs of most of the 18 th , 19 th and 20 th queens,

high priests and prietesses and other elites of these centuries. The Valley of the Kings was the major burial ground for most of the royal pharaohs during the New Kingdom’s period. Excavation is ongoing in some of them and until now it is continuously surprising archaeologists, but many are open to visitors on a schedule to allow for restoration. Seeing decorations on the walls of these tombs makes them a worthy visit even in the hottest months.

It is located on the west bank of the Nile River in Luxor. The intent for the Valley of the Queens was to hide the entrance of the tombs to preserve them from looters so all of the decoration was found underground. Although the builders here were no less successful in hiding these tombs over the millennia than they were at the Valley of the Kings, none of the tombs were found intact but some of the decorations are impressively preserved and they are similar to the tombs in the Valley of the kings.

The tombs in the Valley of Queens were not only for queens, they were used for queens, princes, princesses and various members of the royal family. Some of the most famous tombs in the valley are those of the sons of Ramsses III, the building of Medinat Habu and Nefertari’s tomb. Medinat Habu is an impressive sight with it’s pylon and many of it’s walls still intact and with much of the oringinal paint still visible on its carved surfaces. Nefertari’s tomb was said to be one of the most beautiful and famous attractions in Egypt. It was completely painted with scenes depicting Nefertari being guided by gods.

About 1 km from the Valley of the Queens, there is the worksmen’s village, an ancient town where workers and artists who created the tombs of the Valleys of the Kings and Queens lived and were buried in. The tombs of some workers are beautiful works of art and really worth a visit.

All of these magnificent Places make attending the 4 th international Conference on Conservation of Architectural Heritage (CAH) a great opportunity to experience and unforgettable adventure. The Conference will take place aboard a Nile Cruise sailing from Aswan to Luxor – Egypt from the 31 st of January to the 2 nd of February, 2020.

Soaring majestically through the sky, this colossal historical monument dominates the skyline, reducing you to ant-like proportions. Karnak Temple or this cradle of Egyptian religion took over 1500 years to build and walking through its columns takes you through a journey back to the time when fables about Amun, Mut and Khonsu permeated the atmosphere and pharaohs added temples and shrines.

Karnak temple complex in egypt

Start your journey at the Avenue of the Sphinxes and explore the 134 pillars of the Karnak, relish the intricate designs, and revel in the beauty of the temple’s reflection by the Sacred Lake.

Will You Be Harrassed?

I found Egypt particularly challenging to travel and by the time we reached Luxor my bullshit-o-meter was reaching catastrophic limits. I’ve written about our frustrations here but it really culminated in me wanting to sit in a corner, covering my head with arms whilst stamping my legs and shouting ‘just leave me alone‘.

So, I am happy to report that althought the entrance to Karnak Temple is busy with stalls and guides all touting for your attention, once you’re inside the complex there was no harrassment. Phew!

Restored Ancient Tombs in Khonsu Temple Opening in Luxor - History

Luxor Temple:

Luxor museum:

Karnak Temple:

Ramsis III Temple:

The entire Temple of Ramsis III, palace and town is enclosed within a defensive wall. Entry is through the Highgate, or Migdol, which, in appearance resembles an Asiatic fort. Just inside the Highgate, to the south, are the chapels of Amenirdis I, Shepenwepet II and Nitoket, wives of the god Amun. To the north side is the chapel of Amun.

These chapels were a later addition dating to the 18th Dynasties, by Hatsepsut and Tutmose II. Later renovations were done by the Ptolemaic kings of the XXV Dynasty.

To the west is the temple proper, which was styled after the Ramesseum. On the north wall of the temple are reliefs depicting the victory of Ramsis with the Sardinians, Cretans, Philistines and the Danu.

Close to the temple is the remains of a Nilometer. These 'flood warnings' were positioned strategically along the river to determine the position of the river every year. Not only did these register the height of the river, but also determined the amount of silt that was being deposited.

The Valley of the Kings:

a- Seti I Tomb:

c- Tutankhamun Tomb:

The most famous Egyptian pharaoh is Tutankhamun. The boy king died in his late teens and remained at rest in Egypt's Valley of the Kings for over 3,300 years.

Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in November 1922 by the British Egyptologist Howard Carter who was excavating on behalf of his patron Lord Carnarvon. His tomb almost escaped discovery and could have been undiscovered to this day.

Carter had been searching for the tomb for a number of years and Carnarvon had decided that enough time and money had been expended with little return. However, Carter managed to persuade his patron to fund one more season and within days of resuming the tomb was found.

The tomb still contains the pharaoh's remains, hidden from view inside the outermost of three coffins. He is the only pharaoh still residing in the Valley of the Kings.

The tomb itself is very small and appears to have been destined for someone of lesser importance. Tutankhamun's unexpected early demise saw the tomb's rushed modification to accommodate the pharaoh.

The first three chambers were unadorned, with evidence of early entrance through one of the outside walls. The next chamber contained most of the funerary objects. The sarcophagus was four gilded wooden shrines, one inside the other, within which lay the stone sarcophagus, three mummification coffins, the inner one being solid gold, and then the mummy.


, The Greek name is Thebes or Diospolis, the Sahidic Coptic name ⲡⲁⲡⲉ, comes from Demotic Ỉp.t "the adyton", which, in turn, is derived from the Egyptian. The Greek forms Ἀπις and Ὠφιεῖον come from the same source. [3] The Egyptian village Aba al-Waqf (Arabic: أبا الوقف ‎, Ancient Greek: Ωφις ) shares the same etymology. [6]

The name Luxor is almost a literal translation of another Greek and Coptic toponym (τὰ Τρία Κάστρα ta tria kastra and ⲡϣⲟⲙⲧ ⲛ̀ⲕⲁⲥⲧⲣⲟⲛ pshomt enkastron respectively, both mean "three castles" [3] ) and comes from the Arabic al-ʾuqṣur ( الأقصر ), lit. "the palaces" [7] or "the castles" from the collective plural of qaṣr ( قصر ), [8] which may be a loanword from the Latin castrum "fortified camp". [9]

Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of Upper Egypt during the New Kingdom, and the glorious city of Amun, later to become the god Amun-Ra. The city was regarded in the ancient Egyptian texts as wAs.t (approximate pronunciation: "Waset"), which meant "city of the sceptre", and later in Demotic Egyptian as ta jpt (conventionally pronounced as "tA ipt" and meaning "the shrine/temple", referring to the jpt-swt, the temple now known by its Arabic name Karnak, meaning "fortified village"), which the ancient Greeks adapted as Thebai and the Romans after them as Thebae. Thebes was also known as "the city of the 100 gates", sometimes being called "southern Heliopolis" ('Iunu-shemaa' in Ancient Egyptian), to distinguish it from the city of Iunu or Heliopolis, the main place of worship for the god Ra in the north. It was also often referred to as niw.t, which simply means "city", and was one of only three cities in Egypt for which this noun was used (the other two were Memphis and Heliopolis) it was also called niw.t rst, "southern city", as the southernmost of them.

The importance of the city started as early as the 11th Dynasty, when the town grew into a thriving city. [10] Montuhotep II, who united Egypt after the troubles of the First Intermediate Period, brought stability to the lands as the city grew in stature. The Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in their expeditions to Kush, in today's northern Sudan, and to the lands of Canaan, Phoenicia and Syria saw the city accumulate great wealth and rose to prominence, even on a world scale. [10] Thebes played a major role in expelling the invading forces of the Hyksos from Upper Egypt, and from the time of the 18th Dynasty to the 20th Dynasty, the city had risen as the political, religious and military capital of Ancient Egypt.

The city attracted peoples such as the Babylonians, the Mitanni, the Hittites of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Canaanites of Ugarit, the Phoenicians of Byblos and Tyre, the Minoans from the island of Crete. [10] A Hittite prince from Anatolia even came to marry with the widow of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun. [10] The political and military importance of the city, however, faded during the Late Period, with Thebes being replaced as political capital by several cities in Northern Egypt, such as Bubastis, Sais and finally Alexandria.

However, as the city of the god Amun-Ra, Thebes remained the religious capital of Egypt until the Greek period. [10] The main god of the city was Amun, who was worshipped together with his wife, the Goddess Mut, and their son Khonsu, the God of the moon. With the rise of Thebes as the foremost city of Egypt, the local god Amun rose in importance as well and became linked to the sun god Ra, thus creating the new 'king of gods' Amun-Ra. His great temple at Karnak, just north of Thebes, was the most important temple of Egypt right until the end of antiquity.

Later, the city was attacked by Assyrian emperor Assurbanipal who installed a new prince on the throne, Psamtik I. [10] The city of Thebes was in ruins and fell in significance. However, Alexander the Great did arrive at the temple of Amun, where the statue of the god was transferred from Karnak during the Opet Festival, the great religious feast. [10] Thebes remained a site of spirituality up to the Christian era, and attracted numerous Christian monks of the Roman Empire who established monasteries amidst several ancient monuments including the temple of Hatshepsut, now called Deir el-Bahri ("the northern monastery"). [10]

Archaeology Edit

In April 2018, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of the shrine of god Osiris- Ptah Neb, dating back to the 25th dynasty in the Temple of Karnak. According to archaeologist Essam Nagy, the material remains from the area contained clay pots, the lower part of a sitting statue and part of a stone panel showing an offering table filled with a sheep and a goose which were the symbols of the god Amun. [11] [12] [13]

In November 2018, France's University of Strasbourg announced the discovery of two sarcophagi thought to be more than 3,500 years old with two perfectly preserved mummies and approximately 1,000 funerary statues in the Assasseef valley near Luxor. One of the tombs with paintings where the female body found, was opened to the public in front of the international media, but the other one was previously opened by Egyptian antiquities officials. [14] [15]

In October 2019, Egyptian archaeologists headed by Zahi Hawass revealed an ancient "industrial area" used to manufacture decorative artefacts, furniture and pottery for royal tombs. The site contained a big kiln to fire ceramics and 30 ateliers. According to Zahi Hawass, each atelier had a different aim – some of them were used to make pottery, others used to produce gold artefacts and others still to churn out furniture. About 75 meters below the valley, several items believed to have adorned wooden royal coffins, such as inlaid beads, silver rings and gold foil were unearthed. Some artefacts depicted the wings of deity Horus. [16] [17]

In October 2019, the Egyptian archaeological mission unearthed thirty well-preserved wooden coffins (3,000-year-old) in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in El-Assasif Cemetery. The coffins contained mummies of twenty-three adult males, five adult females and two children, who are believed to be from the middle class. According to Hawass, mummies were decorated with mixed carvings and designs, including scenes from Egyptian gods, hieroglyphs, and the Book of the Dead, a series of spells that allowed the soul to navigate in the afterlife. Some of the coffins had the names of the dead engraved on them. [18] [19] [20] [21] ¸

On the 8th of April 2021, Egyptian archaeologists led by Zahi Hawass found Aten, a 3,400 years old "lost golden city" near Luxor. It is the largest known city from Ancient Egypt to be unearthed to date. The site was said by Betsy Brian, professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University to be "the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen". [22] The site is celebrated by the unearthing crew for showing a glimpse into the ordinary lives of living ancient Egyptians whereas past archaeological discoveries were from tombs and other burial sites. Many artefacts are found alongside the buildings such as pottery dated back to the reign of Amenhotep III, rings and everyday working tools. The site is not completely unearthed as of the 10th of April 2021. [23]

Luxor Travel Guide

Luxor is located on the Nile River in southern Egypt. The Nile River divides the city into two areas, the East Bank and West Bank. Luxor is built on and around the site of ancient Thebes, the capital of Egypt, during the period of the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. In ancient times, Egyptians believed the eastern side of the Nile, where the sun rises, was the home of the living. The temples were built on the East bank. The western side of the Nile, where the sun sets, was considered the land of the dead. It was here that the ancient Egyptians created a necropolis of royal tombs and funerary complexes.

Ever since I was young, I wanted to travel to Egypt and visiting Luxor was such a highlight of my trip and a dream come true. There is a lot to see and explore in Luxor, plan to spend 2 – 3 days here to get the most out of this fascinating place.



Karnak Temple is Egypt’s largest temple complex. It was built up over the years by various pharaohs. Each new ruler who came into power would add to the temple and expand it. The temple is dedicated to Amun, Mut and Khonsu.

Karnak Temple is one of the busiest attractions in Luxor. Our group arrived at the opening (6am) and were the first group to enter the site that morning. It was incredibly peaceful and magical arriving at sunrise. The morning light made it perfect for taking photos in the Hypostyle Hall. The Great Hypostyle Hall with 134 massive stone columns is one of the most famous aspects of Karnak. Every space on the columns, walls, gateways, and all exposed surface are decorated in inscriptions including hieroglyphic texts, religious scenes, ritual scenes and scenes of battle. The glow of the columns in Hypostyle Hall as the sun rises was unforgettable.

You can easily spend several hours wandering around the massive columns, colossal statues, obelisks, courtyards and temples. Our group was given an hour to take photographs and explore the site on our own before rejoining the group lead by our Egyptologist/tour guide. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and passionate. He showed us the most hidden and interesting spots while sharing the history of the site.

Top 10 Facts about the Temple of Luxor

Luxor Temple is a huge Ancient Egyptian temple compound located on the east bank of the Nile River. It is known by the name Luxor from ancient Thebes. The temple was constructed in 1400 BCE.

The Egyptian refer to it by its native name, ‘ipet resyt’, meaning the southern sanctuary. At the site of the temple, there are several great temples on the east and west banks.

The four main attractions at the site that were frequented by travellers are the Temple of Seti I at Gurnah, the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri, the Temple of Ramesses II.

Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple was not devoted to any god or a sacred version of the pharaoh in death by the Egyptians.

Instead, it was dedicated to the coronation of new kingship. It has served as a ceremonial place for most pharaohs of Egypt who received crowns.

When the Romans ruled the region transformed a chapel inside the temple that was dedicated to goddess Mut into a church. Here are 10 facts about the Temple of Luxor.

1. It is said to be the world’s largest outdoor museum

The temple of Luxor earned the title, the world’s largest outdoor museum because the site’s compound has some of the most exotic landmarks attracting millions of tourists annually.

The temple sits at the ancient Egyptian capital in Thebes. Some of its top attractions include Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, Colossi of Memnon, and splendid Karnak Temple.

Most of the ruins and artefacts at the site have been preserved and they are as still in their original forms.

The monuments and beautiful carvings still intact have impressed many that have visited the site. Making it the most visited historic monument in Egypt.

Two pharaohs that were involved in the development of the temple have left a significant mark on the architecture of the temple.

There are several towers at the temple that stretch up to 70 yards long. Its northern entrance is lined in a sacred way and is also known as the avenue of sphinxes.

Its massive courtyard has some the preserved columns on its eastern side, the courtyard dates back to the first pharaoh of Egypt.

There are at least 32 columns that lead to the inner chambers that served as a church during the Roman empire.

The birth shrine built by the Pharaoh III and a boat shrine that was used by Amun and built by Alexander is still in good shape.

2. It has always been a sacred site

By Marc Ryckaert-Wikimedia

As its name suggests, the site was treated as a sacred site since it was constructed. It served as a temple for the pagans in Egypt and later when the Romans took over, they used a chapel in the Temple as a church and a monastery, a Coptic church is on the west side on the temple’s compound.

The temple got buried beneath the streets and houses of Luxor as the city expanded. Later on, a mosque was erected over it in the 13 th century, the Abu el-Haggag Mosque and exist till date as a place of worship.

Before the pharaohs constructed the temple, the site had a much older temple and is believed to have been built by the fifth Pharaoh of the 18 th century. After the new structures were brought up, only a small pavilion of the older temple was left.

The older temple is believed to have a shrine dedicated to the god Amun.

3. The temple was built to celebrate the Opet festival

The Temple of Luxor was built to serve the purpose most temples built in the New Kingdom era as a place of worship and a ceremonial site.

The Pharaohs built the temple specifically for the Opet festival. This is an annual celebration where the statues of gods Amon, Mut, and Khonsu, were carried and followed by a large procession. It was celebrated when the Nile river flooded.

The celebrations marked rebirth, fertility and marriage. The celebration would culminate with the re-coronation of a pharaoh to reinforce his claim to the throne.

One temple the stands out at Luxor is the Karnak temple. It is connected to temple of Luxor through a long street that is 2 miles long and has around 700 sphinxes carved out of sandstone.

This street was built by the monarchs of the 30th Dynasty who had improved the features of the sphynxes by giving them the resemblance of a human head.

The Opet procession would start from the Karnak temple and proceed to the Luxor temple. The festival lasted between 11 days to almost a month.

4. The temple served as a burial site for the royals

The pharaohs built the Temple of Luxor to serve their different needs. On of the purpose of the temple was to be resting place for the pharaohs.

The burials at the temple were based on religious beliefs as they believed it was the home to Amun the god. The Egyptian royalty believed they were immortal and gods too.

On the west bank of River Nile lies the valley of the Kings this is where the noblemen and pharaohs were buried in tombs that were carved into the rocks.

These tombs were among the recent excavations that were unveiled by Egypt’s ministry of antiquities.

5. It is one of the most preserved temples

Several ancient temples in the world are archaeological sites today but most are in ruins with little preservation and have been vandalized.

This is not the case with Luxor temple, it is considered as one of the well-preserved temples of all of the ancient monuments.

Most of the structure massive pylons, sculptures, and carvings are still undamaged. this makes Luxor Temple one of the most outstanding tourist attraction in the whole of Egypt.

Due to the frequent flooding of the Nile River, parts of the temple’s compound were buried under the mud and silt that had accumulated over time. This was after the temple was abandoned after the reign of the pharaohs.

When the careful work of excavation was done, they unveiled the mosque which was still in good condition and is an important part of the site to date.

The Luxor compound was used as a sanctuary for most of the pharaoh’s treasures. These massive tombs were called the temples of a million years, they were meant to last for eternity.

6. Separate sections of the temple served different purposes

By Olaf Tausch – Wikimedia

This grand temple is a glorious structure with many separate sections, each of which was designed with a specific purpose with and most specifically relating to their annual festival.

Parts of the temple served as a coronation area for new and existing pharaohs, another served as a shrine for the god Amun, another served as a vault for their treasures that was to last forever.

The temple also served as a place of worship for the pagans, Christians and Muslims.

7. Parts of the Artefacts excavated from the site of the temple are in The British Museum

By © Hans Hillewaert-Wikimedia

Historians believe that the first modern European explorer to discover the city of Thebes was a Jesuit, Claude Sicard who visited the area in 1715.

When he went back home and shared his findings, he got his fellow Europeans excited and curious about the new land, Egypt.

A group of European explorers then headed to Egypt to see the city for themselves, this group was part of the Napoleon army.

The explorers them measured and took records of the Temple of Luxor in the early 19 th century.

During their expedition they came across the Rosetta stone that has inscriptions of a decree that was issued in Memphis Egypt, it was written in hieroglyphics.

The Rosetta Stone can be found in the British National Museum, it has been there since 1802.

Other statues and crypts found at the site can be viewed at the Luxor Museum in Egypt.

8. One pillar from the Temple was swapped for a mechanical clock

Other than Britain, Paris also owns one of two pillars that were erected at the back of the courtyard of the Temple of Luxor.

They were the largest pillars at the temple and were erected by Ramses II.

The pillars, made of red granite, are both 25meters long and are more than three thousand years old. One still stands at the Temple while the other is the centre of Place de la Concorde.

Muhammad Ali Pasha, the ruler of Ottoman Egypt, gifted it to France in 1833 in exchange for a French mechanical clock that was discovered to be faulty. The clock was mounted at the clock tower at Cairo Citadel, it still does not work.

9. Only two of the six gigantic statues at the temple remain

The ancient Temple of Luxor had 6 massive statues of the pharaoh Ramesses the Great. He was the third pharaoh of the 19th-century reign.

Presently, only two of the statues are still intact. These two were discovered between 1958 and 1961 after excavation by archaeologist Dr Mohamed Abdel-Kader.

The statues however disintegrated and the Egyptian government decided to restore them using its original red granite stone although this raised a lot of controversies. The statues were restored to the Osirian position also known as death position with the statue’s feet equal, this is contrary to how statues of Kings were placed.

10. There is a shrine in the temple for Alexander the Great

In one of the huge halls in the Temple of Luxor, is a granite shrine that was dedicated to Alexander the Great. The shrine is surrounded by two rows of papyrus columns to replicate the papyrus plant in the bud.

The shrine was initially dedicated to Amun-re and is also known as the Antechamber. Alexander the Great reconstructed the shrine.

The representation in the shrine of Alexander the Great is him standing before figures of the ithyphallic Amun.


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Location & Weather of Luxor City

Luxor city is located in upper or Southern Egypt on the east bank of the Nile river. It has an area of 417 square km (161 sq mi) and a population of 506,558 individuals.

The climate of Luxor city is quite a hot desert weather, Luxor is one of the sunniest and driest cities in the world. The summertime from May to August, the temperature is at 40 C (104 F) while in the winter months from October to March the temperature is at 22 C (71.6 F). There is an average humidity of 39.9%, with a maximum of 57% during winter and a minimum of 27% during summer.

Watch the video: Egypt: Ancient tombs and temple restored in Luxor