Thebes is probably the richest archeological site in the world. It lies about 500 miles south of Cairo on the West Bank of the Nile. It can be divided into: the cultivated land lying between the Nile and the desert, the low-lying desert, and the barren desert cliffs and mountains.
Cities in ancient Greece were built in fertile plains and close to a high ground for protection and they were all walled (except Sparta). In the big and fertile Boeotian plain there were numerous ones, among them Orchomenos and Thebes, very ancient cities which became big powers.
Thebes is partly occupied today by the modern towns of Al Karnak and Luxor. It was named Thebes by the Greeks, who knew it also as Diospolis (“heavenly city”). In the Hebrew Bible it is identified as No (“city”) or No-Amon (“city of Amon”).
Thebes began to figure in the recorded history of Egypt during the Old Kingdom. Tombs dating from the 6th Dynasty of Egyptian kings have been discovered in the original necropolis. As the biblical name of Thebes indicates, the local deity of the city was Amon, originally the Egyptian god of the reproductive forces and, later as Amon-Ra, the “father of the gods.”
Around 2500 BC, the territory, especially the north Boeotia, was occupied by the so-called Minyans. They build the city of Orchomenos, famous later for its riches and culture. Orchomenos, in the archaic age was controlling a very large area and it was one of the first cities to issue coins in Greece. Minyans undertook the construction of the colossal project to drain and irrigate the plane of kopais. With the passing of time though, they lost power and political supremacy was passed to Thebes.
Around 1500 BC, the legendary hero Kadmos with an unknown number of Phoenicians came and founded Thebes. On a high ground, Kadmeia build a palace. In the 13th century, the city was totally destroyed and this confirms the legend of "The Seven against Thebes", when Adrastos with the Epigonoi conquered Thebes and razed the city. About 1200 BC, people coming from Arne in Thessaly and from territories from the mount Boeon in Epirus and occupied the place.
Few traces of archeological evidence can be found near the cultivated land, due to the silt deposited by the annual flooding of the Nile River. This area is now very important to the modern economy.
Thebes has some of the best preserved monuments of Ancient Egypt, even if the old settlement is now covered by modern houses. At Karnak, the temple of Amen lies which was constructed for the first time around 2000 BCE, but was built on for 2000 years. The temple that lies in modern Luxor centre, was begun in 1417 BCE.
On the western side of the Nile lie many more important monuments. These include the colossi of Memnon, the Ramesseum of Ramses 2, the temple of Ramses 3, and the temple of Queen Hatshepsut and the necropolis. The necropolis has many funerary temples.
Comment on this article!