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Luxor Temple

Coordinates: 25°42′0″N 32°38′21″E / 25.70000°N 32.63917°E / 25.70000; 32.63917
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ancient Luxor Temple
Entrance of the temple (first pylon)
Luxor Temple is located in Egypt
Luxor Temple
Shown within Egypt
LocationLuxor, Luxor Governorate, Egypt
RegionUpper Egypt
Coordinates25°42′0″N 32°38′21″E / 25.70000°N 32.63917°E / 25.70000; 32.63917
Part ofThebes
Founded1400 BCE
Site notes
Official nameTemple of Luxor
Part ofAncient Thebes with its Necropolis
CriteriaCultural: (i), (iii), (vi)
Inscription1979 (3rd Session)
Area7,390.16 ha (28.5336 sq mi)
Buffer zone443.55 ha (1.7126 sq mi)

The Luxor Temple (Arabic: معبد الأقصر) 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 was known as ipet resyt, "the southern sanctuary". It was one of the two primary temples on the east bank, the other being Karnak.[1] Unlike the other temples in Thebes, Luxor temple is not dedicated to a cult god or a deified version of the pharaoh in death. Instead, Luxor temple is dedicated to the rejuvenation of kingship; it may have been where many of the pharaohs 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. During the Roman period a chapel inside the Luxor Temple originally dedicated to the goddess Mut was transformed into a Tetrarchy cult chapel and later into a church.[2]

Along with the other archeological sites in Thebes, the Luxor Temple was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979.[3]


The original two obelisks, as seen in 1832. The one on the right is now in Paris, known as the Luxor Obelisk.

The Luxor Temple was built with sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila area, which is located in South-Western Egypt.[4] This sandstone is referred to as Nubian sandstone.[4] It was used for the construction of monuments in Upper Egypt as well as in the course of past and current restoration works.[4]

Like other Egyptian structures, a common technique used was symbolism, or illusionism.[5] For example, to the Egyptian, a sanctuary shaped like an Anubis jackal was really Anubis.[5] 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.[5] 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.[5]


From the Middle Ages, the population of Luxor had settled in and around the temple, at the southward end of the mount.[1] Due to this, centuries of rubble had accumulated, to the point where there was an artificial hill some 14.5 to 15 metres (48 to 49 ft) in height.[1] The Luxor Temple had begun to be excavated by Professor Gaston Maspero after 1884, once he had been given permission to commence operations.[1] The excavations were sporadic 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 obtained 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. (There still exists a working mosque within the temple which was never removed.) 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.


Statues of Ramesses II at the entrance through the first Pylon of Luxor Temple

The Luxor Temple was built during the New Kingdom and dedicated to the Theban Triad consisted of Amun, his consort Mut, and their son Khonsu. The focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple (ipet-sut) to stay there for a while with his consort Mut, was to promote the fertility of Amun-Re and the Pharaoh. 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).[6] They have concluded that Luxor is the temple dedicated to the divine Egyptian ruler or, more precisely, to the cult of the Royal Ka.[6] 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 Grand colonnade are clearly Ka-statues, cult statues of the king as embodiment of the royal Ka.

Avenue of Sphinxes and Shrine stations[edit]

Luxor's Avenue of Sphinxes, an avenue of human headed sphinxes which once connected the temples of Karnak and Luxor.

The avenue (known as wi.t ntr "path of god"; طريق الكباش)[7] which went in a straight line for about 2,700 metres (8,900 ft)[8] between the Luxor Temple and the Karnak area was lined with human-headed sphinxes; in ancient times it is probable that these replaced earlier sphinxes which may have had different heads.[9] 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.[9] Along the avenue the stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which held significance to the temple.[9] Each station had a purpose, for example the fourth station was the station of Kamare, which cooled the oar of Amun.[9] The Fifth station of Kamare was the station which received the beauty of Amun.[9] Lastly the Sixth Station of Kamare was a shrine for Amun, Holy of Steps.[9]

A small mudbrick shrine was built in the courtyard of Nectanebo I in early second century (126 CE) and was dedicated to Serapis and Isis; it was presented to Roman Emperor Hadrian on his birthday.[10]

Abu Haggag Mosque[edit]

The Abu Haggag Mosque seen from the east

The active Abu Haggag Mosque (مسجد أبو الحجاج بالأقصر) is located within the temple, standing on the ancient columns themselves. That part of the Luxor Temple was converted to a church by the Romans in 395 AD, and then to a mosque around 1,200, which is more than 4,000 years of continuous religious worship.[11]


In 2013, a Chinese student posted a picture of engraved graffiti 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. The graffiti has since been partially cleared.[12]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Science, "Excavation of the Temple of Luxor," Science, 6, no. 6 (1885): 370.
  2. ^ "Chapel of Imperial Cult". Madain Project. Retrieved 10 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Ancient Thebes with its Necropolis". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Bernd Fitzner, Kurt Heinrichs, and Dennis La Bouchardiere, "Weathering damage on Pharaonic sandstone monuments in Luxor-Egypt," Building and Environment, 38 (2003): 1089.
  5. ^ a b c d Alexander Badawy, "Illusionism in Egyptian Architecture," Studies in the Ancient Oriental Civilization, 35 (1969): 23.
  6. ^ a b Lanny Bell, "Luxor Temple and the Cult of the Royal Ka," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 44, no. 4 (1985): 251.
  7. ^ Martina Minas-Nerpel (2018). "Pharaoh and Temple Building in the Fourth Century BCE" (PDF). Heidelberg University. p. 133.
  8. ^ Mansour Boraik (2017). "The Sphinxes Avenue Excavations to the East Bank of Luxor". Sustainable Conservation and Urban Regeneration. Research for Development. pp. 7–31. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-65274-0_2. ISBN 978-3-319-65273-3. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  9. ^ a b c d e f Charles Nims, "Places about Thebes," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 14, no. 2 (1955): 114.
  10. ^ "Chapel of Serapis". Madain Project. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  11. ^ Fletcher, Joann (2013). The Search For Nefertiti. Hachette. p. 27. ISBN 9781444780543. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  12. ^ Hiufu Wong, CNN (27 May 2013). "Netizen outrage after Chinese tourist defaces Egyptian temple". CNN. {{cite news}}: |author= has generic name (help)

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