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Thebes lied on the east side of the Nile, in the centre of today's Egypt, 700 km south of modern Cairo. Luxor and Karnak now lies where Thebes once was. The city became important during the 11th Dynasty when the local governor gained control over the entirety of Egypt, and Thebes stayed on as capital until the 14th century BCE, when Akhenaten became Pharaoh.
On the western side of the Nile lie many more important monuments. These include the colossi of Memnon, the Ramesseum of Ramses 2, the temple of Ramses 3, and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the necropolis. The necropolis has many funerary temples, among them the one of Tutankhamon.
On the west banks of Luxor in the desert sand amid the Theban mountains is located the Necropolis of ancient Thebes, with the mortuary and cult temples as well as the tombs of the New Kingdom. In the bleak area, in the Valley of Kings, the pharaohs of the XVIIIth – XXth dynasties (1550-1070 BC) hid their tombs to protect them from being plundered, which finally, however, could not be prevented so that the mummies were eventually brought without their valuable funerary objects to a secret place. After thousands of years, in 1875, they were discovered by grave robbers. Some of the mummies could be saved and in 1881 were transferred into the Egyptian museum in Cairo.
Up to now 62 tombs have been found, the last in 1922 being the famous tomb of Tutankhamun discovered by Howard Carter. The first pharaoh buried in the Valley of the Kings was Tuthmose 1. In principle all these tombs consist of a long corridor with several rooms, which lead to the burial chamber, cut deep into the rock at a depth of 105 m. Walls and ceilings are decorated with marvellous colored reliefs and paintings of breathtaking beauty which, in the dimly-lit rooms, revive the myths of old Egypt, its culture and history. For the fact that the colours have survived thousands of years, we have to thank the old Egyptians, who used mineral substances.
The Valley of the Kings at Thebes West is another fascinating highlight and is so for thousands of tourists. Due to the great rush of visitors, you are only allowed to visit 3 tombs and, moreover, photographing is generally no longer permitted.
More about Thebes at: www.lexicorient.com
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