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The two banks of the Nile, where today lies the city of Luxor, correspond to ancient Thebes. “Thebes of the hundred gates” (Homer - Iliad IX.381) or Uaset as it was named by the ancient Egyptians, was the capital of the 4th Nome of the Upper Egypt and, since the New Kingdom, it became the main political and religious centre of all Egypt.
The region of Thebes is an extraordinary archaeological site rich in holy and secular places, temples, tombs, palaces and mansions. On the east bank there are the temples dedicated to the god Amon, around which the ancient town grew: the temple of Karnak and the temple of Luxor linked by an avenue of sphinxes.
On the west bank there are the necropolis of the kings and the queens of the New Kingdom, the village of the artisans who worked on the tombs, the nobles tombs and a number of temples aligned from east to west all along the limit of the desert area and the cultivated fields. All these temples were devoted to the cult of the pharaohs together with the cult of Amon. The pharaoh Amenhotep III selected this bank and more precisely the Malqata area to build his palace, meanwhile, after the end of the Middle Kingdom an important centre developed in Medinat Habu, in the area of the temple of Ramses III.
All the pharaohs buried in the Valley of the Kings also have a temple between the valley and the western mountain. These buildings, once called Temples of Millions of years and identified with a name comprising that of the founding Pharaoh, were above all temples of Amon where the god assumed the king’s personality. Usually the structure reflects that of the traditional Egyptian temple where the pylon, the courtyard, the hypostyle hall and the sanctuary follow one another. A specific place for the offerings dedicated to the deceased pharaoh was actually missing, but a structure named after his predecessor (on the left side) and another consecrated to the god Ra (on the right side) were present. In this way the royalty of the pharaoh was granted because he was linked to his human predecessor and to his divine father.
Not far from Sheikh Abd el-Qurna, Ramses II built the greatest temple among the ones nowadays known and still preserved. Surrounded by a boundary wall measuring 260 m by 170, it is known as the Ramesseum. Many buildings are placed all around the core of the temple. Some of these structures were used for worship but many others had a practical use such as kitchens and warehouses. Ramses II built his temple in an area once occupied by an earlier necropolis, located in between the temples belonging to two kings of the XVIII dynasty: Amenhotep II on the northern side and his son the pharaoh Thutmosi IV on the southern side.
The temple of Amenhotep II, together with other temple structures, were briefly excavated by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie who published the results of his research in Six Temples at Thebes 1896.