Thursday, June 14, 2018

Luxor Temple Egypt

Luxor is often called the world’s greatest open-air museum, but that comes nowhere near describing this extraordinary place. Nothing in the world compares to the scale and grandeur of the monuments that have survived from ancient Thebes.
 
Luxor is a city on the east bank of the Nile River in southern Egypt. It's on the site of ancient Thebes, the pharaohs’ capital at the height of their power, during the 16th–11th centuries B.C. Today's city surrounds 2 huge, surviving ancient monuments: graceful Luxor Temple and Karnak Temple, a mile north. The royal tombs of the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens are on the river’s west bank.

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.

The entrance to the temple itself is known as the first pylon. It was built by Ramesses II and was decorated with scenes of his military expeditions, in particular his triumph at the battle of Kadesh. The pylon towers originally supported four huge cedar flag masts from which banners would have fluttered in the breeze. Later pharaohs (most notably the Nubian kings of dynast twenty-five) added scenes recording their own military triumphs to the first pylon. This entrance was flanked by six massive statues of Ramesses, two seated and four standing, but unfortunately the two seated statues are still relatively intact.

There is also a twenty-five metre pink granite obelisk also built by Ramesses just inside the gateway. It is one of a pair - the other now stands in the Place de la Concorde in Paris. The four sacred baboons who greet the morning sun are carved on the pedestal and the names and epitaphs of Ramesses appear on each side of the obelisk.

Beyond the first pylon Ramesses II built a peristyle courtyard (replacing an earlier court thought to have been constructed by Amenhotep III) which was set at an angle to the rest of the temple in order to preserve three pre-existing barque shrines constructed by Hatshepsut (with later additions) which stand in the northwest corner. The court is composed of a colonnade including a number of colossal statues of Amenhotep III which were usurped by Ramesses II. The Abu'l Hagag mosque perches precariously at the top of the columns of this courtyard. As a result one of the doorways, on the eastern side, hovers uselessly above the ground.

The peristyle courtyard leads to the processional colonnade built by Amenhotep III with additional decorations added by Tutankhamen ,Horemheb and Seti I. By entrance to the colonnade there are two statues representing Tutankhamun, but on each his name has been replaced by that of Ramesses II.

 It is lined with fourteen huge papyrus topped columns and the walls are decorated with scenes depicting the stages of the Opet Festival. Other decorations celebrate the reinstatement of Amun and the other traditional gods following the Atenist heresy. They are ascribed to Tutankhamun, but his name has been erased and replaced by that of Horemheb

The inner sanctum is reached by a shadowy antechamber with eight columns which was used as a temple during the Roman period and Roman decorations overlay the original Egyptian carvings, but the original carvings can be seen in patches where the stucco is crumbling away. A second antechamber contains a further four columns and depictions of Amenhotep II offering incense to Amun.

Past the antechambers, there is a barque shrine built by Amenhotep III and rebuilt by Alexander the Great which would house the statue of Amun during the Opet festival. Finally there are private chambers for the use of the three gods and the Birth Shrine of Amenhotep III in which the divine origins of the king are proclaimed. Amun takes the place of his father, Tuthmosis IV, to father the god-king with Mutemwiya (Amenhotep's mother). Khnum makes the pharaoh on his potter's wheel and the newborn king is presented to the gods.

The temple of Luxor is first mentioned on a pair of stelae dated to the twenty-second year of the reign of Ahmose I found at the Maasara quarry, to the east of Memphis. The stelae record the excavation of limestone for a serious of temples including the Luxor temple, which is referred to as the "Mansion of Amun in the Southern Sanctuary." However, the earliest structure discovered at Luxor appears to date to the reign of Hatshepsut and Tuthmosis III. The shrine they constructed was later expanded and extensively remodelled by Ramesses II and the original construction.

This was not the last building at Luxor to be extensively remodelled or dismantled. Reused blocks from structures built by Hatshepsut, Thuthmosis III and Amenhotep II have been found at the site. Akhenaten built a sanctuary dedicated to the sun god next to the Luxor Temple but this building was destroyed by Horemheb.

Tutankhamun built extensively at Luxor, but his constructions were largely usurped by Horemheb and Ramesses II. At one time there was a chapel dedicated to Hathor (built during the 25th dynasty by Taharqa) and a colonnade built by Shabaka, but both have been destroyed. Hadrian built a small mudbrick shrine to Serapis but all that remains of this structure is a statue of Isis and some rubble.

The Romans built a fort at the site and it is thought that around 1,500 Romans were stationed at the site. Although it seems that the religious function of the site had largely been eclipsed by its military function and some blocks of masonry from the temple were used in the construction of military buildings, a few other Roman additions suggest that this process was not complete.

A Christian basilica was added to the north east corner of the temple and later a mosque dedicated to the Muslim saint Abu'l Hagag was constructed on top of the ruins of this Christian building.

Construction

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

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.

Excavation

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 14.5 to 15 metres (48- 50 ft) 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. (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.

Festivals

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.

Shrine stations

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 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.

 Luxor, Arabic Al-Uqṣur, also called El-Aksur, city and principal component of Al-Uqṣur urban muḥāfaẓah (governorate), Upper Egypt. Luxor has given its name to the southern half of the ruins of the ancient Egyptian city of Thebes. Area governorate, 21 square miles (55 square km). Pop. (2006) governorate, 451,318.

Luxor was the ancient city of Thebes, the great capital of (Upper) Egypt during the New Kingdom, and the glorious city of Amun, later to become the god Amun-Ra. The city was regarded in the Ancient Egyptian texts as w3s.t (approximate pronunciation: "Waset"), which meant "city of the sceptre" and also as t3 ip3t (conventionally pronounced as "ta ipet" and meaning "the shrine") and then, in a later period, the Greeks called it Thebai and the Romans after them Thebae.

Thebes was also known as "the city of the 100 gates", sometimes being called "southern Heliopolis" ('Iunu-shemaa' in Ancient Egyptian), to distinguish it from the city of Iunu or Heliopolis, the main place of worship for the god Ra in the north.

It was also often referred to as niw.t, which simply means "city", and was one of only three cities in Egypt for which this noun was used (the other two were Memphis and Heliopolis); it was also called niw.t rst, "southern city", as the southernmost of them.

The importance of the city started as early as the 11th Dynasty, when the town grew into a thriving city. Montuhotep II who united Egypt after the troubles of the first intermediate period brought stability to the lands as the city grew in stature.

The Pharaohs of the New Kingdom in their expeditions to Kush, in today's northern Sudan, and to the lands of Canaan, Phoenicia and Syria saw the city accumulate great wealth and rose to prominence, even on a world scale. Thebes played a major role in expelling the invading forces of the Hyksos from Upper Egypt, and from the time of the 18th Dynasty to the 20th Dynasty, the city had risen as the political, religious and military capital of Ancient Egypt.

The city attracted peoples such as the Babylonians, the Mitanni, the Hittites of Anatolia (modern-day Turkey), the Canaanites of Ugarit, the Phoenicians of Byblos and Tyre, the Minoans from the island of Crete. A Hittite prince from Anatolia even came to marry with the widow of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun. The political and military importance of the city, however, faded during the Late Period, with Thebes being replaced as political capital by several cities in Northern Egypt, such as Bubastis, Sais and finally Alexandria.

However, as the city of the god Amun-Ra, Thebes remained the religious capital of Egypt until the Greek period.The main god of the city was Amun, who was worshipped together with his wife, the Goddess Mut, and their son Khonsu, the God of the moon.

With the rise of Thebes as the foremost city of Egypt, the local god Amon rose in importance as well and became linked to the sun god Ra, thus creating the new 'king of gods' Amon-Ra. His great temple, at Karnak just north of Thebes, was the most important temple of Egypt right until the end of antiquity.
 
Later, the city was attacked by Assyrian emperor Assurbanipal who installed the Libyan prince on the throne, Psamtik I. The city of Thebes was in ruins and fell in significance. However, Alexander the Great did arrive at the temple of Amun, where the statue of the god was transferred from Karnak during the Opet Festival, the great religious feast.

Thebes remained a site of spirituality up to the Christian era, and attracted numerous Christian monks in the Roman Empire who established monasteries amidst several ancient monuments including the temple of Hatshepsut, now called Deir el-Bahri ("the northern monastery")




























Link
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_GWoT0jtQw
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luxor_Temple
http://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/luxortemple2.html

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