Entrance of Luxor Temple
|Location||Luxor, Luxor Governorate, Egypt|
|Official name||Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis|
|Criteria||i, iii, vi|
|Designated||1979 (3rd session)|
Luxor Temple is a large Ancient Egyptian temple complex located on the east bank of the Nile River in the city today known as Luxor (ancient Thebes) and was constructed approximately 1400 BCE. In the Egyptian language it is known as ipet resyt, "the southern sanctuary". In Luxor there are several great temples on the east and west banks. Four of the major mortuary temples visited by early travelers and tourists include the Temple of Seti I at Gurnah, the Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el Bahri, the Temple of Ramesses II (a.k.a Ramesseum), and the Temple of Ramesses III at Medinet Habu; and the two primary cults temples on the east bank are known as the Karnak and Luxor. Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the king in death. Instead Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the kings of Egypt were crowned in reality or conceptually (as in the case of Alexander the Great who claimed he was crowned at Luxor but may never have traveled south of Memphis, near modern Cairo.)
To the rear of the temple are chapels built by Amenhotep III of the 18th Dynasty, and Alexander. Other parts of the temple were built by Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. During the Roman era, the temple and its surroundings were a legionary fortress and the home of the Roman government in the area.
Luxor temple was built with sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila area, which is located in south-western Egypt. This sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila region is referred to as Nubian Sandstone. This sandstone was used for the construction for monuments in Upper Egypt as well as in the course of past and current restoration works.
Like other Egyptian structures a common technique used was symbolism, or illusionism. For example, to the Egyptian, a sanctuary shaped like an Anubis Jackal was really Anubis. At the Luxor temple, the two obelisks (the smaller one closer to the west is now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris) flanking the entrance were not the same height, but they created the illusion that they were. With the layout of the temple they appear to be of equal height, but using illusionism, it enhances the relative distances hence making them look the same size to the wall behind it. Symbolically, it is a visual and spatial effect to emphasize the heights and distance from the wall, enhancing the already existing pathway.
From medieval times the Muslim population of Luxor had settled in and around the temple, at the southward end of the mount. Due to the Luxor’s past city population building on top of and around the Luxor temple, centuries of rubble had accumulated, to the point where there was an artificial hill some forty-eight or fifty feet in height. The Luxor Temple had begun to be excavated by Professor Gaston Maspero after 1884 after he had been given the order to commence operations. The excavations were carried out sporadically until 1960. Over time, accumulated rubbish of the ages had buried three quarters of the temple which contained the courts and colonnades which formed the nucleus of the Arab half of the Modern village. Maspero had taken an interest earlier, and he had taken over the post of Mariette Pasha to complete the job in 1881. Not only was there rubbish, but there were also barracks, stores, houses, huts, pigeon towers, which needed to be removed in order to excavate the site. Maspero received from the Egyptian minister of public works the authorization needed to obtain funds in order to negotiate compensation for the pieces of land covered by the houses and dependencies.
It has been determined that the Luxor temple holds great significance to the Opet Festival. The Luxor Temple was dedicated to the Theban Triad of the cult of the Royal Ka, Amun, Mut, and Khonsu and was built during the New Kingdom, the focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple (ipet-isut) to stay there for a while, with his consort Mut, in a celebration of fertility – hence its name. However, other studies at the temple by the Epigraphic Survey team present a completely new interpretation of Luxor and its great annual festival (the Feast of Opet). They have concluded that Luxor is the temple dedicated to the divine Egyptian ruler or, more precisely, to the cult of the Royal Ka. Examples of the cult, of the Royal Ka can be seen with the colossal seated figures of the deified Ramesses II before the Pylon and at the entrance to the Colonnade are clearly Ka-statues, cult statues of the king as embodiment of the royal Ka.
Six barque shrines, serving as way stations for the barques of the gods during festival processions, were set up on the avenue between the Karnak and Luxor Temple. The avenue which went in a straight line between the Luxor Temple and the Karnak area was recently[when?] lined with human-headed sphinxes of Nekhtanebo I,21, in ancient times it is probable that these replaced earlier sphinxes which may have had different heads. Along the avenue the stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which held significance to temple. Each station had a purpose, for example the fourth station was the station of Kamare, which cooled the oar of Amun. The Fifth station of Kamare was the station which received the beauty of Amun. Lastly the Sixth Station of Kamare was a shrine for Amun, Holy of Steps.
On May 24, 2013, verified Weibo user Mr.Shen posted a picture of an engraving that read "Ding Jinhao was here" (Chinese: 丁锦昊到此一游) in Chinese on a sculpture. This discovery spurred debate about increased tourism after the media confirmed a Chinese student caused this and other defacements. On May 26, 2013, the engraving was partially cleared.
- Science, "Excavation of the Temple of Luxor," Science, 6, no. 6 (1885): 370.
- Bernd Fitzner, Kurt Heinrichs, and Dennis La Bouchardiere, "Weathering damage on Pharaonic sandstone monuments in Luxor-Egypt," Building and Environment, 38 (2003): 1089.
- Alexander Badawy, "Illusionism in Egyptian Architecture," Studies in the Ancient Oriental Civilization, 35 (1969): 23.
- Lanny Bell, "Luxor Temple and the Cult of the Royal Ka," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 44, no. 4 (1985): 251.
- Charles Nims, "Places about Thebes," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 14, no. 2 (1955): 114.
- Hiufu Wong, CNN (27 May 2013). "Netizen outrage after Chinese tourist defaces Egyptian temple". CNN.
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