Thebes, the great capital of Egypt during the New Kingdom, was a crowded city stretching along the Nile's eastern bank, in the area extending between the present little town of Luxor and its suburb Karnak, about 500 kilometers south of Cairo. The ancient Egyptians called the city Waset "the city of the scepter" capital of Egypt's IV nome. It was the Greeks, many centuries later, who called it Thebes, a name already used by Homer who speaks of "Thebes of the Hundred Gates" referring not so much to the city's "gates", but to the impressive pillars of Ipet-isut "the most privileged of seats", as the nearby temple of Karnak, Egypt's largest temple built to the glory of Amun "the Unknowable, the king of gods", was called. If Thebes, the city of the living built on the Nile's eastern bank, was the kingdom of Amun, whose earthly son was the pharaoh, on the opposite bank of the Nile, at the feet of the Theban mountain, the sacred mountain, where the sun sets, stretched the capital's huge royal and civilian necropolis: it was the kingdom of Osiris, "Lord of Afterlife", called by the Egyptians imentit en waset, "the West of Thebes", ta geser "the sacred land". The west bank did not, however, include only the tombs of the kings of Egypt, of their families and of the leading dignitaries, whose paintings are among the highest expressions of the art of all times. It was also the place where the worship of the deified living king, besides that of the dead kings, was conducted in the so-called temples "of the millions of years", masterpieces of ancient architecture. The royal necropolises, referred to as "Valley of the Kings" and "Valley of the Queens", the private necropolises, best known by the name of "tombs of the nobles", and the great memorial temples such as Deir el-Bahri, the Ramesseum or Medinet Habu, have nowadays become touristic attractions visited every year by millions of tourists wishing to admire the works of art enclosed in the ancient kingdom of Osiris.
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