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Thebes (Greek: Θῆβαι, Thēbai, Arabic: طيبة, Ṭībah) is the Greek name for a city in Ancient Egypt located about 800 km south of the Mediterranean, on the east bank of the river Nile. It was inhabited beginning in around 3200 BCE. It was the eponymous capital of Waset, the fourth Upper Egyptian nome. Waset was the capital of Egypt during part of the 11th Dynasty (Middle Kingdom) and most of the 18th Dynasty (New Kingdom), when Hatshepsut built a Red Sea fleet to facilitate trade between Thebes Red Sea port of Elim, modern Quasir, and Elat at the head of the Gulf of Aqaba. Traders bought frankincense, myrrh, bitumen, natron, fine woven linen, juniper oil and copper amulets for the mortuary industry at Karnak with Nubian gold. With the 19th Dynasty the seat of government moved to the Delta. The archaeological remains of Thebes offer a striking testimony to Egyptian civilization at its height. The Greek poet Homer extolled the wealth of Thebes in the Iliad, Book 9 (c. 8th Century BCE): "... in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes."
The name Thebai is the Greek designation of the ancient Egyptianopet "The Karnak Temple". At 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),"no" in Hebrew meaning city with "no amon" or "City of Amon" referring to the Egyptian deity Amon-Ra, most likely it is also the same as נא ("No") (Ezekiel 30:14). In Greek this name was rendered Διόσπολις Diospolis, "City of Zeus", as Zeus was the god whom the Greeks identified with Amun. The Greeks surnamed the city μεγάλη megale, "the Great", to differentiate it from numerous other cities called Diospolis. The Romans rendered the name Diospolis Magna.
In modern usage, the mortuary temples and tombs on the west bank of the river Nile are generally thought of as part of Thebes.
Two towns at or near two important temples on the outskirts of Thebes are now called Luxor (Arabic: الأقصر, Al-Uqṣur, "The palaces") and al-Karnak (الكرنك).
Gauthier, Henri. 1925–1931. Dictionnaire des noms géographiques contenus dans les textes hieroglyphiques. 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. ISBN 0-385-42583-X (6-volume set)
Strudwick, Nigel C., & Strudwick, Helen, Thebes in Egypt: A Guide to the Tombs and Temples of Ancient Luxor. London: British Museum Press, 1999, ISBN 0-8014-3693-1 (hardcover)/ISBN 0-8014-8616-5 (paperback)