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one ruler named Mentuhotep, meaning Montu is satisfied, took the prenomen of Nebhepetre, and it is he who is credited with once again reuniting all Egypt under one ruler, and beginning the 11th Dynasty, what Egyptologists call the Middle Kingdom. Nebhepetre ruled for 51 years, and built the temple at Deir el-Bahri that most likely served as the inspiration for the later and larger temple built next to it by Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty.

Once again Thebes declined politically, as Amenemhat I of the 12th Dynasty decided to move his capital north again to a new site called Itjtawy or Lisht. Although the capital was moved, Thebes took on a new role as the religious center of the nation, as its god Amun was promoted to principal state deity. The oldest remains of a temple dedicated to Amun date to the reign of Senwosret I in the 12th Dynasty. The core of this Middle Kingdom building lay in the heart of the current temple, behind the sanctuary. Its walls were constructed of limestone which were later removed for use elsewhere. So now there is an empty space between the sanctuary and the Festival hall of Tuthmosis III. However, the small so-called "White Chapel" shrine built by Senwosret I has been rebuilt and stands in the Open Air Museum at Karnak.

The peak for Thebes came during the 18th Dynasty. Its temples were the most important and wealthiest in the land, and the tombs on the west bank were among the most luxurious Egypt ever saw. The center of the city during New Kingdom and later times stretched between the two major temples of Karnak and Luxor, along the avenue of sphinxes that connected them. The area is now almost entirely covered by the modern city of Luxor.

During the Third Intermediate Period, the High Priest of Amun formed a counterbalance to the 21st and 22nd Dynasty kings who ruled from the Delta. Theban political influence receded only in the Late Period.

Enjoy excursions in Luxor toThe main part of the town and principal temples were on the east bank. Across the river on the west bank was the necropolis with tombs and mortuary temples, but also the west part of the town. Deir el-Bahri is there, the mortuary temples of Nebhepetre Mentuhotep and Hatshepsut, and the temple of Amun by Tuthmosis III, the Ramesseum of Ramesses II, and other mortuary temples of Seti I at Qurna and Amenhotep III with the Memnon Colossi. Amenhotep III had his palace at el-Malqata there, and in the Ramessid period, Thebes centered north of there, at Medinet Habu.

Most of the temples on the west side of the Nile were royal mortuary temples to maintain the cult of the deceased kings buried in their tombs cut in the cliffs further west. The most important of these temples were at Deir el-Bahri, the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu. The mortuary temple of Seti I stands at Qurna, while only the Memnon Colossi and other fragmentary statuary now mark the site of the enormous temple of Amenhotep III. The temples dedicated to the deities Hathor, Thoth and Isis, all dating from the Graeco-Roman period, were also built in the area.

The west bank at Luxor is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. It is much more than what we refer to as the Valley of the Kings, though many have called the whole of the area by that name. In fact, many good books on the west bank at Luxor (ancient Thebes) are titled, "Valley of the Kings", even though they cover the entire area. It can be a bit confusing for the novice, particularly considering the actual conceptual scope of the religious concept. If one looks at just the Valley of the Kings, one only sees tombs, but the tombs were an integral part of larger mortuary complexes. Indeed, the whole west bank is honeycombed with tombs, not just of the ancient Egyptian Kings, but of their families and the noblemen who served them.

the west bank necropolis can be divided into a number of zones and sub-zones, of which the Valley of the Kings is only one zone. The northern sector of the west bank closest to the Nile River is often referred to as the Tombs of the Nobles, but it can be divided into about five different sub-zones. Farthermost north is an area known as el-Tarif, where large, row tombs were dug during the late Second Intermediate Period and early Middle Kingdom.

Just south of el-Tarif is Dra Abu el-Naga, which is a hillside with about 80 numbered tombs most belonging to priests and officials of the 17th through 20th dynasty, including some rulers of the 17th dynasty. Just southwest of Dra Abu el-Naga is an area called El-Assasif, where there are 40 tombs, mostly from the New Kingdom and later. Just south of El-Assasif is El-Khokha, a hill with five Old Kingdom tombs and 53 numbered tombs from the 18th and 19th dynasty.

Directly west of El-Khokha is Sheikh Abd el-Qurna. This hill was named for a mythical Muslim sheikh, and has 146 numbered tombs, most of which are from the 18th Dynasty. Here one finds some of the most beautiful private tombs on the West Bank.

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