Luxor, town in east centralEgypt, in Qina Governorate on the River Nile, adjacent to El-Karnak. Agricultural products include cereals, sugar cane, and dates. Many tourists visit Luxor because of the archaeological sites it shares with El-Karnak. Luxor is on the southern half of the site of ancient Thebes and contains the ruins of a great temple built in the 14th century BC. El-Karnak occupies the northern half of ancient Thebes. Population (1992) 146,000.
El-Karnak (ancient Hermonthis), village in eastern Egypt, on the Nile River. El-Karnak occupies the northern half of the site of ancient Thebes. The southern half is occupied by the village of Luxor. The fame of El-Karnak rests upon the ruins of a group of temples built here when Thebes was a centre of the Egyptian religion, beginning about the 11th Dynasty in 2134 BC. The temples, with their walled enclosures of rude brick and connecting avenues of sphinxes, extend over nearly 3 sq km (1 sq mi). Two small enclosures surround temples built in honour of the god Mentu and the goddess Mut by Amenhotep III. The greatest and most important temple, that of the god Amon, was begun by Sesostris I and was completed by Ramses II, although additions continued to be made until the 1st century BC. The temple of Amon stands in an enclosure measuring about 140 sq m (1,500 sq ft). Its most outstanding feature is a hypostyle hall, the roof of which rests on 122 columns that are more than 21 m (70 ft) high and built in nine rows. Reliefs and inscriptions cover the walls, and obelisks, statues, and pylon gates are found throughout the enclosure. Systematic excavation and restoration of the temple began in the late 19th century.