Egypt’s Luxor: Place of the Living & Place of the Dead

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Many of us have as we grew up found ourselves fascinated with the the ancient tales of the Pharaohs of Egypt but especially with the tales of mummies and the treasures of their tombs. And the two that probably fascinated us the most were King Tut (the boy king) and Queen Nefertiti. The images that first stuck with us were the Pyramids which are not found in Luxor but rather in Giza just outside of Cairo which is hundreds of miles north of Luxor. In reality Luxor is in my mind the far most interesting place to study the ancient Egyptians.

Luxor located on the Eastern and Western banks of the Nile in Southern Egypt stands on the site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes and reached its height during the period known as the New Kingdom from the 16th to the 11th century BC. The east bank monuments of Luxor (Thebes) are focused on the living and the celebration of life while the West Bank monuments are the place of the dead and focused on the burial and afterlife of the dead.

The east bank is dominated by the Karnak which is a vast complex of ancient temples linked to the Temple of Luxor. It is the largest religious site in the world famous for its columns, obelisks, the sitting statue of Ramses II, many chapels, and illustrated panels.

Every night the Karnak is the site of a Sound and Light Show of the history of Thebes which is not to be missed.

The west side of the Nile, the valley of the dead, is the location of the Valley of the Kings (Wadi al Muluk) which is the lcoations of the tombs of the pharaohs and powerful nobles of the New Kingdom from the 16th to the 11th century BC. There are many tombs (including most of the Ramses’s) but the most famous is probably the tomb of the boy King Tutankhaman which was discovered in 1922. These tombs, buried in the walls and rocks of the valley, can be visited but no photos are allowed. In every case you enter the tomb through a long passageway that ends in the burial chamber itself.

Nearby is the Valley of the Queens which is the burial site of the wives of ancient pharaohs as well as several princes and princesses. It is still being restored and includes many colorful storied panels as well.

Valley of the Queens photo credit: Afrotourism

And, as you drive out of the Valley of the Queens, you find the immense statues Colossi of Memnon which are two identical statues of the Pharaoh Amenhotep III which guard his mortuary temple.

Bruce Fredrickson
When you have visited almost 100 countries and flown over 7 million miles, you have plenty of stories and a lots of experiences to share. Bruce Fredrickson, founder of Curiouscruiser.com, loves to share, write and take photos. While he lives in Boulder, Colorado he has never lost his curiosity and his love of sharing with and teaching others, so his travels go on.
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