The Theban necropolis, to be found on the West Bank of what is now called Luxor, contains several of Egypt's most famous sights.  It was here that the deceased of the New Kingdom, that period between the 16th and 11th centuries BC when the Ancient Egyptian civilisation was at its peak, were buried - from pharaohs down to craftsmen. Though you could probably see a good chunk of the area within a day by car, I opted to spread my sightseeing over bits of three days, by foot, bicycle, and taxi.

My first afternoon there had the modest aim of walking from the ferry to the Colossi of Memnon then on to the ticket office and thence Medinet Habu for sunset. One noticeable different between the East and West Banks is that there is significantly less hassle on the West Bank, due to the fact that 99% of the tourist accommodation and facilities are on the East. There was no path as such so I simply walked beside the main road. I received hellos and waves from many of the people I passed, and also a kid on a donkey cart stopped and asked for baksheesh.

Over the fields to the northwest, it was soon possible to see the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut. Its simple but large-scale design is instantly recognisable and it gave me a thrill to have a sighting of such a famous monument, albeit at distance. Further encouragement came from passing the Colossi of Memnon, a pair of statues from the reign of Amenhotep III. The name Memnon actually comes from a King of Ethiopia who participated in the Trojan War - for whatever reason, the Greeks gave this name to the Colossi and it has stuck since. Their associated mortuary temple a little to the west is only now being excavated - in its day it was larger than Karnak Temple but now is in poor condition so the Colossi sit just off the road, seemingly in relation to nothing nearby, sentinels watching for anyone approaching the necropolis.

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  • John McCabe

    From the UK, lived and worked in Japan and the US. Currently on a multi-year trip having a look at the rest of the world. Fir…

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