The History of Egypt - Luxor and Memphis

The History of Egypt - Luxor and Memphis

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In this segment, Dr. David Neiman describes the remains of the great temple complex at Luxor, colossal statues and pillars that still inspire awe today. Less remains in the capital of Lower Egypt, Memphis, where conquering armies destroyed many of the treasures of the ancient kingdom.


Founded around 3100 BCE, Memphis was the first capital of the unified kingdom of Upper and Lower Egypts. It was abandoned in the 7th century CE but remains an important archaeological site.

During its more than 3000 years of history, Memphis was an important political and religious centre, where the ancient Egyptian deity Ptah was venerated. It was also the city where the Pharaohs were crowned.

Memphis was the capital of Lower Egypt before the two lands were unified around 3100 BCE by the Pharaoh Menes, also known as Narmer, who founded the first of the thirty dynasties that would rule the kingdom for the next two and a half thousand years. At the height of its Golden Age it may well have been the most populated city in the world.

In 2240 BCE, Thebes - the modern day city of Luxor - superseded Memphis as capital city, and as the centuries passed it lost its significance in Egypt. Sped up by the founding of Alexandria in 332 BCE, it ended up being completely abandoned by the 7th century CE and become a quarry, with the remains of temples and other grand buildings being used to build the new capital city of Cairo.

In the area where the ancient great city of Memphis once stood, now stands the small town of Mit Rahina, home to an open-air museum where visitors can see what remains of the ruined former capital.

Middle Kingdom

The period between 2061 and 1785 BCE, ruled by the 11th to the 13th dynasties, is known as the Middle Kingdom. The eleventh dynasty marked the start of Thebes, on which the modern city of Luxor was built, as capital of Egypt.

The high points of this era saw Egypt expanding south into Nubia and enjoying great economic prosperity, however the thirteen dynasty saw its decline, with the arrival of the Hyksos, the "rulers of foreign lands", from Asia. They ruled the country for several dynasties until Ahmose I, the first Pharaoh of the 18th dynasty, waged war on them.


, The Greek name is Thebes or Diospolis, the Sahidic Coptic name ⲡⲁⲡⲉ, comes from Demotic Ỉp.t "the adyton", which, in turn, is derived from the Egyptian. The Greek forms Ἀπις and Ὠφιεῖον come from the same source. [3] The Egyptian village Aba al-Waqf (Arabic: أبا الوقف ‎, Ancient Greek: Ωφις ) shares the same etymology. [6]

The name Luxor is almost a literal translation of another Greek and Coptic toponym (τὰ Τρία Κάστρα ta tria kastra and ⲡϣⲟⲙⲧ ⲛ̀ⲕⲁⲥⲧⲣⲟⲛ pshomt enkastron respectively, both mean "three castles" [3] ) and comes from the Arabic al-ʾuqṣur ( الأقصر ), lit. "the palaces" [7] or "the castles" from the collective plural of qaṣr ( قصر ), [8] which may be a loanword from the Latin castrum "fortified camp". [9]

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 wAs.t (approximate pronunciation: "Waset"), which meant "city of the sceptre", and later in Demotic Egyptian as ta jpt (conventionally pronounced as "tA ipt" and meaning "the shrine/temple", referring to the jpt-swt, the temple now known by its Arabic name Karnak, meaning "fortified village"), which the ancient Greeks adapted as Thebai and the Romans after them as 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. [10] 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. [10] 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. [10] A Hittite prince from Anatolia even came to marry with the widow of Tutankhamun, Ankhesenamun. [10] 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. [10] 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 Amun rose in importance as well and became linked to the sun god Ra, thus creating the new 'king of gods' Amun-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 a new prince on the throne, Psamtik I. [10] 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. [10] Thebes remained a site of spirituality up to the Christian era, and attracted numerous Christian monks of the Roman Empire who established monasteries amidst several ancient monuments including the temple of Hatshepsut, now called Deir el-Bahri ("the northern monastery"). [10]

Archaeology Edit

In April 2018, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities announced the discovery of the shrine of god Osiris- Ptah Neb, dating back to the 25th dynasty in the Temple of Karnak. According to archaeologist Essam Nagy, the material remains from the area contained clay pots, the lower part of a sitting statue and part of a stone panel showing an offering table filled with a sheep and a goose which were the symbols of the god Amun. [11] [12] [13]

In November 2018, France's University of Strasbourg announced the discovery of two sarcophagi thought to be more than 3,500 years old with two perfectly preserved mummies and approximately 1,000 funerary statues in the Assasseef valley near Luxor. One of the tombs with paintings where the female body found, was opened to the public in front of the international media, but the other one was previously opened by Egyptian antiquities officials. [14] [15]

In October 2019, Egyptian archaeologists headed by Zahi Hawass revealed an ancient "industrial area" used to manufacture decorative artefacts, furniture and pottery for royal tombs. The site contained a big kiln to fire ceramics and 30 ateliers. According to Zahi Hawass, each atelier had a different aim – some of them were used to make pottery, others used to produce gold artefacts and others still to churn out furniture. About 75 meters below the valley, several items believed to have adorned wooden royal coffins, such as inlaid beads, silver rings and gold foil were unearthed. Some artefacts depicted the wings of deity Horus. [16] [17]

In October 2019, the Egyptian archaeological mission unearthed thirty well-preserved wooden coffins (3,000-year-old) in front of the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in El-Assasif Cemetery. The coffins contained mummies of twenty-three adult males, five adult females and two children, who are believed to be from the middle class. According to Hawass, mummies were decorated with mixed carvings and designs, including scenes from Egyptian gods, hieroglyphs, and the Book of the Dead, a series of spells that allowed the soul to navigate in the afterlife. Some of the coffins had the names of the dead engraved on them. [18] [19] [20] [21] ¸

On the 8th of April 2021, Egyptian archaeologists led by Zahi Hawass found Aten, a 3,400 years old "lost golden city" near Luxor. It is the largest known city from Ancient Egypt to be unearthed to date. The site was said by Betsy Brian, professor of Egyptology at Johns Hopkins University to be "the second most important archaeological discovery since the tomb of Tutankhamen". [22] The site is celebrated by the unearthing crew for showing a glimpse into the ordinary lives of living ancient Egyptians whereas past archaeological discoveries were from tombs and other burial sites. Many artefacts are found alongside the buildings such as pottery dated back to the reign of Amenhotep III, rings and everyday working tools. The site is not completely unearthed as of the 10th of April 2021. [23]

Upper and Lower Egypt took their names from the flow of the life-giving River Nile, from the East African highlands northwards to the Mediterranean Sea. Lower Egypt, in the north, was formed of twenty different districts called nomes, and had its capital city at Memphis. Known as Ta-Mehu or the Land of the Papryus, its symbols were the bee and the papyrus, and its Pharaoh wore an elongated red crown called a deshret. The patron of Lower Egypt was the cobra goddess Wadjet.

Upper Egypt, formed of twenty-two nomes, was represented by the symbols of the flowering lotus and the sedge, and its Pharaoh wore the tall white crown known as a hedjet. The capital was originally Thebes, where modern-day Luxor is now located, before the ancient city of Ptolemais Hermiou took over as administrative centre. Their patron deity was the vulture goddess Nekhbet.

The two halves of Egypt were united around 3100 BCE by the Pharaoh Menes, also known as Narmer, who became the founder of the first of thirty dynasties that would rule Ancient Egypt until its conquest by the Persians. The pschent was the double crown, combining the deshret and the hedjet, that Pharaohs wore to represent their power over the whole country.

The history of the Egyptian dynasties has been divided into three main time periods known as the Old Kingdom, the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom.

Luxor Museum

These are from the New Kingdom Period and reflect the Military strength that Thebes and the Pharaohs bore during this Period.

Canopic Jars

These Jars are displayed in their original box which is decorated with paintings from the Tomb of a Priest of Montu, found in the Tombs of the Nobles at Deir El Bahri. In the process of Mummification, Embalmers handled the Organs which were also dried out using Natron and then ritually placed into Canopic Jars which were guarded by the 4 sons of Horus and 4 Goddesses:

the Liver: guarded by God Imsety and Goddess Isis Human headed Canopic Jar

the Lungs: guarded by God Hapi and Goddess Nephthys: Baboon headed Canopic Jar

the Intestines: guarded by God Qubehsenuf and Goddess Selket Falcon headed Canopic Jar

the Stomach: guarded by God Duamutef and Goddess Neith: Jackal headed Canopic Jar

Model Boats

From the Tomb Cache of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. This Model is thought to be for Pharaoh’s use in the Afterlife as a Ceremonial Boat which would carry the revitalised Pharaoh with Sun God Ra across the sky, hence the name Solar Boat. For more information about Solar Boats, click here.

Including a Greywacke Statue of Pharaoh Thutmose III which was found in Karnak Temple a Statue of Pharaoh Amenhotep III and a Statue of God Sobek

The Great History of Memphis Egypt

This Ancient City of Memphis Egypt dates back to the last couple of centuries BC during the Greco-Roman period. It was the seat of power of the Old Kingdom of Egypt (2686—2181 BC) of, the special home to the Egyptian pharaohs, who raised the pyramids. Most of the great pyramids were built in the time when the city of Memphis Egypt was the capital and the most powerful city in Egypt. The most impressive thing about this city is the statue of Ramesses II that measures over 30 feet tall. It shows that the city remained important even 1500 years after the Giza Pyramids were completed.

The Decline Of Memphis

When the Ptolemaic Dynasty abruptly concluded with the death of Queen Cleopatra VII (69-30 BCE) and the annexation of Egypt by Rome as a province, Memphis was largely forgotten. Alexandria with its great learning centres supported by a prosperous port soon emerged as the base of Rome’s Egyptian administration.

As Christianity expanded during the 4th century CE, ever fewer believers in Egypt’s ancient pagan rites visited Memphis’ majestic temples and old shrines. Memphis’ decline continued and once Christianity had become the commanding religion across the Roman Empire by the 5th century CE, Memphis lay largely abandoned.

Following the Arab Invasion in the 7th century CE, Memphis was a ruin, its once colossal buildings pillaged for stone for the foundations of new buildings.


Construction and opening Edit

The resort was announced by Circus Circus Enterprises on November 14, 1991. Known temporarily as "Project X", the pyramid-shaped resort would cost $290 million, and would be built on the Las Vegas Strip, on land located south of the company's Excalibur Hotel and Casino. [7] Groundbreaking took place on April 21, 1992, with the project by then known as "Luxor", after the Egyptian city of the same name. [8] [9] [10] Veldon Simpson was the architect, [11] and Perini Building Company was the general contractor. [12] Waltek, a Cincinnati-based company, provided the metal-and-glass exterior for the pyramid. Standing 30 stories high, the pyramid was one of the largest metal-and-glass projects ever. [11] The pyramid was topped off on July 9, 1993. [12] The Luxor would compete against two other upcoming resorts, MGM Grand and Treasure Island. All three resorts had a family oriented focus. [7] [12]

The resort officially opened at 4 a.m. on October 15, 1993, to a crowd of 10,000 people. [13] When it opened, the pyramid, which cost $375 million to build, was the tallest building on the strip and contained 2,526 rooms and a 100,000 sq ft (9,300 m 2 ) casino. [4] [14] [15] The resort was financed by "petty cash" earned from other Circus Circus Enterprises properties and did not include any outside financial investors. [16] The hotel's pyramid is similar in size to the Red Pyramid and Bent Pyramid of Egypt. When the hotel opened, it was the tallest structure on the Strip, surpassed after only 11 days by Treasure Island [ citation needed ] , and featured the world's largest atrium, which has since been surpassed. [3]

Renovations Edit

A $240 million expansion occurred in 1996, and included an IMAX theater. [17] A theater and two additional towers totaling 2,000 rooms were added in 1998 for $675 million. [4]

In July 2007, owner MGM Resorts International announced plans to thoroughly renovate the Luxor, spending $300 million to remodel 80% of Luxor's public areas, removing much of the ancient Egyptian theme and replacing it with more adult-oriented and modern lounges, restaurants and clubs. [18]

Incidents Edit

On May 7, 2007, a vehicle exploded in a Luxor Hotel parking garage due to a homemade pipe bomb which left one dead. [19] Local authorities believe the victim, a 24-year-old employee at Nathan's Famous hot dog restaurant in the Luxor food court, was the intended target. The hotel was not evacuated, operations continued uninterrupted, and the parking structure as well as the casino were undamaged. [20] [21] Two men were found guilty of the bombing, and in 2010 were sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Luxor Las Vegas includes 20,000 sq ft (1,900 m 2 ) of convention space, four swimming pools and whirlpools, a wedding chapel, Nurture Spa and Salon, and 29 retail stores. [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] As of 2010, the Luxor was designated as a 4 Key rating from the Green Key Eco-Rating Program, which evaluates what is known as "sustainable hotel operations." [27] The hotel features inclined elevators which travel up the side of the building on a 39-degree incline. [28]

The Atrium Edit

Luxor Las Vegas has the largest atrium in the world (by volume) at 29 million cu yd (22 million m 3 ).

The Luxor is home to three shows which consist of "Fantasy" (a topless revue), comedian Carrot Top, [29] and the Blue Man Group.

Since 2009, the resort has hosted Bodies: The Exhibition, an educational display on the human body, and Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition the exhibits replaced the hotel's three-story arcade. [30] [31]

Former attractions Edit

At its opening, the resort featured the Nile River Tour which was a river ride that carried guests to different parts of the pyramid and passed by pieces of ancient artwork on a river that encircled the casino. [32] The river tour was removed three years after the hotel's opening. [33]

The hotel also featured King Tut's Tomb and Museum, a replica of King Tutankhamen's tomb as found in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. [16] The replica tomb was closed in June 2008 and its recreated artifacts were donated to the Las Vegas Natural History Museum. [34] [35] The Natural History Museum displays the artifacts in its "Treasures of Egypt" exhibit, which opened January 30, 2010. [36] [37] [38]

Secrets of the Luxor Pyramid was a collection of three attractions which also debuted at the hotel's opening. [39] The attractions included:

Theater of Time was replaced [40] with IMAX-Cinema, which operated from 1996 to 2008. [41] At time of the opening it was one out of 20 IMAX screens.

From 2000 to 2005, the Luxor Theatre was the home of the performance-art show Blue Man Group, which then moved to the Venetian Las Vegas. [42] Blue Man Group returned to the Luxor Theatre starting November 18, 2015.

Clubs Edit

On August 31, 2007, LAX Nightclub officially opened at a party hosted by Britney Spears. [43] A number of other celebrities, including Christina Aguilera, also hosted events at the club. [44] The two-level, 26,000 sq ft (2,400 m 2 ) venue contained 78 VIP tables and Noir Bar, which according to the Las Vegas Review Journal was an "ultra-elite bar" with a reservations-only policy. LAX Nightclub was closed on April 1, 2017 and was transformed into an esports venue, Esports Arena Las Vegas. [43] Work on the Esports Arena began in July 2017 and completed in March 2018.

Additional nightlife destinations within Luxor include CatHouse, Aurora, Liquidity, and Flight. [45] [46]

At 42.3 billion candela, the Luxor Sky Beam is the strongest beam of light in the world, using curved mirrors to collect the light from 39 xenon lamps and focus them into one intense, narrow beam. On a clear night, the Sky Beam is visible up to 275 miles (443 km) away by aircraft at cruising altitude, such as over Los Angeles. [47] [48]

Each of the 39 lamps is a 7,000 watt [49] Xenotech fixture [50] costing about $1,200. When at full power, the system costs $51 an hour to operate, with $20 per hour of that just for its 315,000 watts of electricity. [49] The beam has operated reliably since first enabled on October 15, 1993. [47]

The lamp room is about 50 feet (15 m) below the top of the building and serviced by a staff of two workers during the day. [51] The room's temperature is about 300 °F (150 °C) while the lights are operating. [52] Since 2008, only half the lamps are lit as a cost- and energy-saving measure. [53]

Luxor is located on the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip. [54] The resort is flanked by the Mandalay Bay to the south and by the Excalibur to the north all three are connected by the Mandalay Bay Tram, [55] as well as by walkways, with The Shoppes of Mandalay Bay, a boutique shopping centre built on a bridge over Mandalay Bay Road, directly connecting the Luxor with the Mandalay Bay resort to the south. All three properties were built by Circus Circus Enterprises, which in 1999 became Mandalay Resort Group, which was then succeeded by MGM Mirage in April 2005 (now named MGM Resorts International). [56] [57]

This destination hotel is often viewed as a prime example of 1990s Postmodern architecture, and appeared on the cover of architecture scholar James Steele's book Architecture Today. [58] Since opening in 1993, the hotel has appeared in numerous films including the 1996 film Mars Attacks! (in which a major character is depicted as an employee of the hotel, dressed in Egyptian costume), [59] and the film 2012. [ citation needed ]

In Up in the Air, George Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is asked to take a picture in front of the Luxor hotel. The Hotel was also seen in the movie The Hangover. [60] The hotel has also been featured in the television shows Fear Factor, Criss Angel Mindfreak, Great Hotels, and CSI. [59] [61] A replica of the Luxor, named "The Camel's Toe", appeared in the Las Venturas area of the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and another replica appeared in the Las Vegas area of the 2000 video game Driver 2. [62] The Luxor Las Vegas also appears in Futurama episode, "Viva Mars Vegas". It also appears in Vegas Vacation starring Chevy Chase. Tupac Shakur also stayed in The Luxor in September 1996 when he was gunned down on the strip after a Mike Tyson-Bruce Seldon fight on September 7, 1996. Will Smith filmed the 1998 video for "Gettin' Jiggy Wit It" in the hotel's lobby and in front of its sphinx.

Memphis Egypt

Memphis Egypt: Less than 30 kilometers from the center of Cairo, the first capital of unified Egypt, the glorious Memphis founded by Narmer, 3,000 years ago.

Memphis entered World Heritage Sites. It was the capital of Egypt in the era of the Old Kingdom and its current location is Badrasheen, Giza.

Memphis became known as the “White Wall” until the twenty-sixth century BC, until the Egyptian called it “Nefir”, a name that the Greeks called “Memphis” and then the Arabs called it “Memphis”.

The name of Memphis comes from Men-nefer, “perfection is stable”, name of the pyramid of Pharaoh Pepi I. The city was also called “the white wall”, in memory of the first enclosure, “the balance of the Two Lands “,” The life of the Two Lands “, because it was the point of balance and union between the Low and Upper Egypt.

History of Memphis

Throughout Pharaonic history, and even when Thebes was a rich and shining capital, Memphis remained the economic center of the country. The city housed several temples, including Hut-ka-Ptah, “the temple of the creative energy of Ptah”.

Wrapped in a kind of white shroud, Ptah is the owner of the creative verb, which guides the hand of artisans to breathe life into matter.

Innumerable masterpieces were created in the workshops of Memphis whose decline was only really accentuated with the birth of Alexandria.

Necropolis of Memphis

The term “necropolis”, city of the dead, is on the other hand improper, because in those great places we will not find death but its opposite: the resurrected life.

Watch the video: What Did Ancient Egypt Look Like? Cinematic Animation (May 2022).