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Thebes [Θηβαι Thēbai] is the Greek designation of ancient Egyptian niwt "(The) City" and niwt-rst "(The) Southern City". It is located about 700 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the Nile. It was the capital of Waset, the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. (The term "Waset" was also used for the name of the city as well.) In modern usage, the mortuary temples and tombs of the west bank are generally thought of as being part of Thebes as well. The city was the capital of Egypt during part of the Eleventh Dynasty (Middle Kingdom), and most of the Eighteenth Dynasty (New Kingdom), though the administration probably remained located at Memphis for much of this. With the Nineteenth Dynasty the seat of government moved to the Delta. Its archaeological remains offers a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height.
As the seat of the Theban triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu, Thebes was known in the Egyptian language from the end of the New Kingdom as niwt-imn, "The City of Amun. This found its way into the Hebrew Bible as נא אמון nōˀ ˀāmôn ( Nahum 3:8). In Greek this name was rendered Διοσπολις Diospolis, "City of God" ("God" here being Zeus, whom the Greeks regarded as a form of Amun).
The name Thebes is often mistakenly thought to derive from the Greek as there is a city in Greece with this name as well (see the article Thebes, Greece). Thebes, however, is likely a graecising form of ancient Egyptian t3 ipt-swt (lit. "The Most-select of Places"), one of the names of the temple of Karnak, which is located in the city.
Important Locations in Thebes
- Valley of the Kings
- Valley of the Queens
- Medinet Habu (mortuary temple of Ramses III)
- The Ramesseum (mortuary temple of Ramses II)
- Deir al-Madinah (workers' village)
- Tombs of the Nobles
- Deir el-Bahri (temples of Montuhotep II , Hatshepsut, etc.)
- Malkata (palace of Amenhotep III)
- Colossi of Memnon (mortuary temple of Amenhotep III)
- Gauthier, Henri. 1925–1931. Dictionnaire des noms géographiques contenus dans les textes hiéroglyphiques. Vol. 3 of 7 vols. Cairo: Imprimerie de l’Institut français d’archéologie orientale du Caire. (Reprinted Osnabrück: Otto Zeller Verlag, 1975). 75, 76.
- Polz, Daniel C. 2001. “Thebes.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, edited by Donald Bruce Redford. Vol. 3 of 3 vols. Oxford, New York, and Cairo: Oxford University Press and The American University in Cairo Press. 384–388.
- Redford, Donald Bruce. 1992. “Thebes.” In The Anchor Bible Dictionary, edited by David Noel Freedman. Vol. 6 of 6 vols. New York: Doubleday. 442–443.
- Strudwick, Nigel C., and Helen Strudwick. 1999. Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor. London: British Museum Press.
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