Online Encyclopedia

LUXOR

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 147 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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LUXOR, more properly El-Aksur, " The Castles" (plur. of kasr), a town of Upper Egypt, on the east bank of the Nile 450 M. above Cairo by river and 418 by rail. Pop. (1907 census) 12,644. It is the centre for visitors to the ruins of and about Thebes, and is frequented by travellers and invalids in the winter season, several fine hotels having been built for their accommodation. There are Anglican and Roman Catholic churches, and a hospital for natives, opened in 1891. The district is the seat of an extensive manufacture of forged antiques. The temple of Luxor is one of the greatest of the monuments of Thebes (q.v.). It stands near the river bank on the S.W. side of the town and measures nearly 300 yds. from back to front. There may have been an earlier temple here, but the present structure, dedicated to the Theban triad of Ammon, Mut and Khons, was erected by Amenophis III. The great colonnade, which is its most striking feature, was apparently intended for the nave of a hypostyle hall like that of Karnak, but had to be hastily finished without the aisles. After the heresy of Amenophis IV. (Akhenaton), the decoration of this incomplete work was taken in hand by Tutenkhamun and Haremhib. The axis of the temple ran from S.W. to N.E.; a long paved road bordered by recumbent rams led from the facade to the temples of Karnak (q.v.) in a somewhat more easterly direction, and Rameses II. adopted the line of this avenue in adding an extensive court to the work of Amenophis, producing a curious change of axis. He embellished the walls and pylons of his court with scenes from his victories over Hittites and Syrians, and placed a number of colossal statues within it. In front of the pylon Rameses set up colossi and a pair of obelisks (one of which was taken to Paris in 1831 and re-erected in the Place de la Concorde). A few scenes and inscriptions were added by later kings, but the above is practically the history of the temple until Alexander the Great rebuilt the sanctuary itself. The chief religious festival of Thebes was that of " Southern Opi," the ancient name of Luxor. The sacred barks of the divinities preserved in the sanctuary of Karnak were then conveyed in procession by water to Luxor and back again; a representation of the festal scenes is given on the walls of the great colonnade. The Christians built churches within the temple. The greater part of the old village of Luxor lay inside the courts: it was known also as Abu '1 Haggag from a Moslem saint of the 7th century, whose tomb-mosque, mentioned by Ibn Batuta, stands on a high heap of debris in the court of Rameses. This is the last of the buildings and rubbish which encumbered the temple before the expropriation and clearances by the Service des Antiquites began in 1885. The principal street of Luxor follows the line of the ancient avenue. See G. Daressy, Notice explicative des ruines du temple de Louxor (Cairo, 1893) ; Baedeker's Egypt. (F. LL. G.)
End of Article: LUXOR
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