Luxor is a city in Upper (southern) Egypt; it was once known as Thebes (a Greek name). With the temples of Luxor and Karnak and the necropolis on the Nile’s west bank (Valley of the Kings and Valley of the Queens), Luxor is one of the world’s greatest open air museums, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Thebes was actually Egypt’s capital during parts of the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom dynasties, and was known as “the City of Amun” (a reference to the god Amon-Ra) at the end of the New Kingdom days. The name Luxor means “the palaces” and refers to the two important temples of Luxor and Karnak.
By the 11th dynasty (Middle Kingdom days, about 2000 BC) Luxor was an important center of art, education, religious supremacy and political power. The pharaohs from this area had dealings with people from Kush (today’s northern Sudan), Canaan, Syria and Phoenicia and people came from all over to trade and study here.
Eventually the desert sands covered the great monuments; the dry desert sands preserved them until they were rediscovered and unearthed during the 19th and 20th centuries. It was in Luxor’s Valley of the Kings that archeologist Howard Carter made his famous 1922 discovery of the tomb of King Tutankhamun, a young king that ruled during the 18th dynasty (1333 BC to 1324 BC), by far the most intact tomb ever found in the Valley of the Kings. Mr. Carter is also famous for finding the much grander remains of Queen Hatshepsut’s tomb nearby.