Thebes, Egypt

Thebes, Egypt
Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis *
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Country Egypt
Type Cultural
Criteria i, iii, vi
Reference 87
Region ** Arab States
Inscription history
Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)
Thebes, Egypt is located in Egypt
Location of Thebes, Egypt in Egypt
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List
** Region as classified by UNESCO

Thebes (Θῆβαι, Thēbai, Arabic: طيبة‎, Ṭībah) is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile within the modern city of Luxor. The Theban Necropolis is situated nearby on the west bank of the Nile.



Lithic core: Museum of Toulouse

Thebes was inhabited from around 3200 BC.[1] It was the eponymous capital of Waset, the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. Waset was the capital of Egypt during part of the 11th Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) and most of the 18th Dynasty (New Kingdom), when Hatshepsut built a Red Sea fleet to facilitate trade between Thebes Red Sea port of Elim, modern Quasir, and Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Traders bought frankincense, myrrh, bitumen, natron, fine woven linen, juniper oil and copper amulets for the mortuary industry at Karnak with Nubian gold. With the 19th Dynasty the seat of government moved to the Delta. The archaeological remains of Thebes offer a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height. The Greek poet Homer extolled the wealth of Thebes in the Iliad, Book 9 (c. 8th Century BC): "... in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes."

Luxor Temple

The name Thebai is the Greek designation of the ancient Egyptian opet "The Karnak Temple" (from coptic ta-pe, Ta-opet became Thebai). At the seat of the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, Thebes was known in the Egyptian language from the end of the New Kingdom as niwt-imn, "The City of Amun." This found its way into the Hebrew Bible as נא אמון (nōʼ ʼāmôn) (Nahum 3:8),"no" in Hebrew meaning city with "no amon" or "City of Amon" referring to the Egyptian deity Amon-Ra, most likely it is also the same as נא ("No") (Ezekiel 30:14). In Greek this name was rendered Διόσπολις Diospolis, "City of Zeus", as Zeus was the god whom the Greeks identified with Amun, see interpretatio graeca. The Greeks surnamed the city μεγάλη megale, "the Great", to differentiate it from numerous other cities called Diospolis. The Romans rendered the name Diospolis Magna.

In modern usage, the mortuary temples and tombs on the west bank of the river Nile are generally thought of as part of Thebes.

In 1979, the ruins of ancient Thebes were inscribed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage site. The two great temples the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens, Luxor Temple (Arabic: الأقصر, Al-Uqṣur, "The palaces") and al-Karnak (الكرنك), are among the great achievements of ancient Egypt.

Names in hieroglyphs

City of the Sceptre[2]
in hieroglyphs
R19 t
in hieroglyphs
t Z1
M24 t
niw.t rs.t
Southern City[3]
in hieroglyphs
O28 nw
Heliopolis of the South[4]
in hieroglyphs

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Adolf Erman, Hermann Grapow: Wörterbuch der ägyptischer Sprache. akademie Verlag, Berlin, 1971. p.259
  3. ^ Wörterbuch, p.211
  4. ^ Wörterbuch, pp.54,479


  • Gauthier, Henri. 1925–1931. Dictionnaire des noms géographiques contenus dans les textes hieroglyphiques. Vol. 3 of 7 vols. Cairo: Imprimerie de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire. (Reprinted Osnabrück: Otto Zeller Verlag, 1975). 75, 76.
  • Polz, Daniel C. 2001. "Thebes". In The Oxford Encyclopedia of ancient Egypt, edited by Donald Bruce Redford. Vol. 3 of 3 vols. Oxford, New York, and Cairo: Oxford University Press and The American University in Cairo Press. 384–388.
  • Redford, Donald Bruce. 1992. "Thebes". In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 6 of 6 vols. New York: Doubleday. 442–443. ISBN 0-385-42583-X (6-volume set)
  • Strudwick, Nigel C., & Strudwick, Helen, Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor. London: British Museum Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8014-3693-1 (hardcover)/ISBN 0-8014-8616-5 (paperback)

External links

Preceded by
Capital of Egypt
2060 BC - 1785 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Capital of Egypt
1580 BC - c. 1353 BC
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Capital of Egypt
c. 1332 BC - 1085 BC
Succeeded by

Coordinates: 25°43′14″N 32°36′37″E / 25.72056°N 32.61028°E / 25.72056; 32.61028

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