Thebes


Thebes
Thebaic /thi bay"ik/, adj.Theban /thee"beuhn/, adj., n.
/theebz/, n.
1. an ancient city in Upper Egypt, on the Nile, whose ruins are located in the modern towns of Karnak and Luxor: a former capital of Egypt.
2. a city of ancient Greece, in Boeotia: a rival of ancient Athens.

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I
Greek Thívai

Ancient city, Boeotia, east-central Greece, one of the chief Greek city-states.

Traditionally said to have been founded by Cadmus, it was the seat of the legendary Oedipus and the setting for many classic Greek tragedies. The building of its celebrated seven-gated wall is usually attributed to Amphion. It was a centre of Mycenaean power in the Bronze Age (с 1500–1200 BC). Hostility to Athens led it to side with the Persians in the Persian Wars and with Sparta in the Peloponnesian War. Thebes and Sparta subsequently clashed, and the victorious Spartans occupied it. It revolted с 380 BC and defeated Sparta at the battles of Tegyra (375 BC) and Leuctra (371 BC). For the next 10 years it was the chief military power in Greece. It joined Athens against Philip II of Macedon and shared the defeat at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC. It was sacked by Alexander the Great in 336 and eventually fell to Rome in the 1st century BC. Among the few ancient remains are remnants of the city walls, the Mycenaean palace (с 1450–1350 BC), and a temple of Apollo.
II

Ancient city, Egypt.

Its remains are located on the Banks of the Nile River. In early times it also included Karnak and Luxor; the Valley of the Kings is situated nearby. The earliest monuments in the city itself date from the 11th dynasty (с 21st century BC), when the rulers of Thebes united Egypt and made Thebes the capital of Upper Egypt. It remained the capital until the end of the Middle Kingdom (с 18th century BC). It was obscured for two centuries under the rule of various foreign invaders, after which the kings of Thebes restored Egyptian rule in the 16th century BC and again made it the capital. It flourished as Egypt's political and religious centre throughout the New Kingdom period and was well known for achievements in sculpture and architecture. It began to decline in the 12th century BC under Ramses III. It was sacked by Assyrians in the mid-7th century BC, by Persians in the 6th–4th centuries BC, and by Romans с 30 BC. Its ruins include great temples and tombs, including the Temple of Amon at Karnak (с 20th century BC), the tomb of Tutankhamen in the Valley of the Kings, and the great mortuary temples of Ramses II and Hatshepsut.
III
(as used in expressions)
Hito no michi
no till farming
No theatre
cha no yu

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Greece
Modern Greek  Thívai 

      major city of Boeotia nomós (department), northwest of Athens, Greece, and one of the chief cities and powers of ancient Greece. On the acropolis of the ancient city stands the present commercial and agricultural centre of Thebes. It is situated on a low ridge dividing the surrounding plain; the modern city is the seat of the Greek Orthodox bishop of Thebes and Levádhia. It has abundant springs of water, the most famous in antiquity being called Dirce, and the fertile plain in the vicinity is well irrigated.

      Thebes was the seat of the legendary king Oedipus and the locale of most of the ancient Greek tragedies—notably Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes and Sophocles' Oedipus the King and Antigone—and of other compilations about the fate of Oedipus, his wife-mother, and his children.

      Said to have been occupied originally by Ectenians under the leadership of Ogyges (Ogygus), Thebes is called Ogygion by some classical poets. Greek legend attributes the founding of the ancient citadel, Cadmea, to the brother of Europa, Cadmus, who was aided by the Spartoi (a race of warriors sprung from dragon's teeth that Cadmus had sown). The building of the celebrated seven-gated wall of Thebes is usually attributed to Amphion, who is said to have charmed the stones into moving by the playing of his lyre. Archaeological evidence indicates that the site was inhabited in both the early and late Bronze ages. The ruined 15th-century-BC Minoan-style palace at Cadmea was adorned with frescoes of Theban women in Minoan dress; some Cretan vases also suggest contacts between Thebes and Knossos in the period 1450–1400 BC. In 1970 clay tablets confirming Mycenaean-Minoan links were found, while the discovery of Mesopotamian cylinder seals in 1964 strengthened the theory that Cadmus introduced writing to Greece.

      Thebes rivaled Argolís as a centre of Mycenaean power until its palace and walls were destroyed shortly before the Trojan War (c. 1200 BC). According to tradition, the city was destroyed by the sons of the Seven about whom Aeschylus wrote. Knowledge of succeeding centuries is sparse. Immigration produced a Boeotian (Boeotian League) mixed stock, including the Aegeids, a Dorian clan, and an oligarchy of large estates was regulated by laws passed about 725. In the 6th century a league of Boeotian cities was formed; it was dominated by Thebes from the 5th century. Hostility to Athens over mutual interest in the Plataea district led in the 5th century to Theban collaboration with Persia and, later, with Sparta. A Theban suggestion at the end (404) of the Peloponnesian War that the Spartans annihilate the Athenians was rebuffed; the two powers clashed, and Sparta, winning, disbanded the Boeotian League (386) and occupied Cadmea (382).

      Revolting after 379, Thebes reorganized the league along democratic lines and defeated Sparta at Tegyra (375) and Leuctra (371). For the next 10 years Thebes was the first military power in Greece; its commander Epaminondas invaded the Peloponnese (370–362) and died at the Battle of Mantineia (362). A rapid decline followed, and in 346 civil strife forced Thebes to admit Philip II of Macedon. Still fickle, Thebes broke confidence with Philip and in 338 was defeated at Chaeronea; the Boeotian League was again dissolved, and Thebes was garrisoned by Macedonian troops. After a massacre and almost total destruction in a fruitless uprising (336) against Alexander the Great, Cassander rebuilt Thebes in 316. The city's fortunes wavered between independence and subjugation. From about 280 it was once more part of the revived Boeotian League, forming regional alliances as required. For its participation in the Achaean revolt, the city eventually fell under Rome and was stripped of half its territory in 86 by the Roman general Sulla.

      The historian Pausanias (2nd century AD) reported Cadmea still inhabited, but the town was overrun by a succession of conquerers and adventurers. In Byzantine and Frankish times it prospered as an administrative and commercial centre, particularly for silk weaving. It had a large Jewish colony in the 12th century. Throughout the Turkish occupation (1435–1829), it was only a poor village, and in the 19th century it was destroyed by an earthquake and rebuilt. Few artifacts of its earliest days survive.

      The present city is the chief market town of a rich agricultural plain, trading in wheat, olive oil, wine, tobacco, and cotton, as well as silk manufacture. It is linked by rail to Athens. Among the few ancient ruins are remnants of the city walls, the palace of Cadmus (c. 1450–1350 BC), and the Ismeneion, or temple of Apollo Ismenius. Pop. (1991 prelim.) 18,191.

▪ ancient city, Egypt
Introduction
ancient Egyptian  Wase , or  Wo'se , or (from c. 21st century BCE)  Nowe , or  Nuwe 
 
one of the famed cities of antiquity, the capital of the ancient Egyptian empire (Egypt, ancient) at its heyday. Thebes (World Heritage site) lay on either side of the Nile River at approximately latitude 26° N. The modern town of Luxor, or Al-Uqṣur, which occupies part of the site, is 419 miles (675 km) south of Cairo. Ancient Thebes covered an area of some 36 square miles (93 square km). The main part of the city was situated along the Nile's east bank; along the west bank was the necropolis, or “city of the dead”—an area containing the royal tombs and mortuary temples (mortuary temple), as well as the houses of those priests, soldiers, craftsmen, and labourers who were devoted to the service of the Egyptian rulers. The Thebes area—including Luxor, the Valley of the Kings (Kings, Valley of the), the Valley of the Queens (Queens, Valley of the), and Karnak—was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.

History
      The ancient name of Thebes was Wase, or Wo'se. The nome (province) of Wase, the fourth of Upper Egypt, is known to have existed from the 4th dynasty onward. The earliest monuments that have survived at Thebes proper date from the 11th dynasty (2081–1939 BCE), when the local nomarchs (governors) united Egypt under their rule. From this time Thebes frequently served as the royal capital of Egypt and was called Nowe, or Nuwe (“City of Amon”), named for its chief god. The Greek name Thebes (Thebai) may have been derived from Ta-ope, the ancient Egyptian name for Luxor.

      During the 12th dynasty (1938–1756), the royal residence was moved to the area of Memphis, but the kings of Egypt continued to honour Amon, their family god, and hence built temples at Thebes. After their invasion of Egypt and seizure of dynastic power about 1630, the Hyksos had little or no control over Thebes, and it was the lords of that city who finally drove the Hyksos out of Egypt (c. 1530–20). Then began the era of greatest prosperity for Thebes. The 18th-dynasty pharaohs (pharaoh) rebuilt it and made it their capital, embellishing its temples with the spoils of Asia and the tribute of Nubia. During the 15th century BCE great palaces, brightly painted and surrounded with gardens, rose on either bank of the river. Many noble families kept estates in the area, and in the crowded streets foreign traders and mercenaries mingled with the citizens. The pharaohs of the New Kingdom (Egypt, ancient) vied with each other in building great temples on the east bank and even larger mortuary temples on the west.

      The height of Theban prosperity was reached in the 14th century BCE in the reign of Amenhotep III (Amenophis III; reigned 1390–53), much of whose vast wealth from foreign tribute was poured into the temples of Amon. For a brief period in the reign of his son Akhenaton (1353–36), Thebes fell on evil times; the city was abandoned by the court, and the worship of Amon was proscribed. With its restoration by Tutankhamen (reigned 1333–23), however, Thebes soon regained its revenues and prestige, and it retained both through the reigns of Seti I (1290–79) and Ramses II (1279–13), who still resided for part of every year in Thebes. The city continued to be richly endowed; according to ancient sources, Ramses III (reigned 1187–56) donated 86,486 slaves and vast estates to Amon's temples.

      Under the later Ramessids, Thebes began to decline; the government fell, it seems, into grave economic difficulties. During the reign of Ramses IX (1126–08), about 1111 BCE, a series of investigations into the plundering of royal tombs in the necropolis of western Thebes uncovered proof of corruption in high places, following an accusation made by the mayor of the east bank against his colleague on the west. The plundered royal mummies (mummy) were moved from place to place and at last deposited by the priests of Amon in a tomb-shaft in Dayr al-Baḥrī and in the tomb of Amenhotep II. (The finding of these two hiding places in 1881 and 1898, respectively, was one of the great events of modern archaeological discovery.) Such maladministration in Thebes led to unrest. Control of local affairs tended to come more and more into the hands of the high priests of Amon, leading to a situation in which, after the death of the last Ramses (Ramses XI) in the 11th century, the government of Egypt was shared between the pharaoh in Tanis and the high pontiff at Thebes. Intermarriage and adoption strengthened the ties between them, daughters of the Tanite kings being installed as “God's Wife of Amon” at Thebes, where they wielded greater power.

      The Napatan (Nubian) pharaohs (pharaoh) made Thebes their capital in the 7th century BCE. Its fame among the early Greeks was such that Homer speaks of the wealth of “hundred-gated Thebes.” In 663, however, it was sacked by Ashurbanipal's Assyrians, and, although rebuilt by the Saite governors (vassals of the Assyrians), it never fully recovered. In Strabo's time (c. 63 BCE–c. 23 CE), the city had dwindled to a mere village visited by tourists who came to see the ancient temples.

Archaeology
      Four of the main complexes of ruins are discussed in separate articles. (See Karnak; Luxor; Valley of the Kings (Kings, Valley of the); Valley of the Queens (Queens, Valley of the).) Among the other chief sites of Thebes are the royal mortuary temples (mortuary temple), the palace of Amenhotep III, and the Tombs of the Nobles.

      In the New Kingdom, when the pharaohs hid their tombs (burial) in the secret Valley of the Kings (Kings, Valley of the) (in western Thebes), ostentation had to be concentrated in their mortuary temples (mortuary temple), which rivaled each other in size and magnificence. Although they were designed for the performance of rites connected with the mortuary cult (Egyptian religion) of the builder, they were all dedicated to Amon, the supreme god of Thebes, and had the character and essential form of a New Kingdom temple. They were built in a sequence generally corresponding to a topographic arrangement from north to south. Only traces of most of the earlier ones remain. The most important will be mentioned here.

 The temple of Hatshepsut (reigned 1472–58 BCE) at Dayr al-Baḥrī is the earliest large 18th-dynasty structure to survive and one of the most impressive. There in the bay of cliffs, next to the pyramid-temple of Mentuhotep II, the queen's architect Senenmut designed (c. 1473) a series of colonnades and courts on three levels. The approach from the valley led through an avenue of sphinxes (sphinx), and in the forecourt was a garden planted with trees and vines. On either side of the sloping ramp leading to the next level, against the terrace face, was a gallery whose roof was supported on a double row of columns; a similar gallery ran along the westward side of the court on the next level, with side chapels dedicated to Anubis and Hathor. The top terrace contained a hall of columns, with further chapels on either side and a sanctuary dug into the cliff behind. Many of the surviving series of reliefs in the colonnades and chapels are of great beauty and considerable interest: one depicts the transport of two obelisks (obelisk) by barge from Aswān to Karnak, another the divine marriage of Queen Ahmes with the god Amon and the resultant miraculous birth of Hatshepsut herself, and a third the maritime trading expedition sent by the queen to Punt, the land of incense on the Red Sea.

 The mortuary temple of Amenhotep III (reigned 1390–53 BCE) must have been the largest and most splendid of all the Theban temples. It was, however, almost completely demolished by later pharaohs, and all that is left today are a few foundations, a huge stela 33 feet (10 metres) high, and the two great statues (colossus) known as the Colossi of Memnon, which once flanked the gateway in front of the temple pylon but now sit like lonely sentinels in the middle of a field. The statues represent Amenhotep III but the name Memnon is of (later) Greek origin; with their crowns the statues were about 70 feet (21 metres) high, each hewn from a single block of stone. The northern one, after cracking in an earthquake, was the “singing Memnon” celebrated in classical times because on certain days, shortly after sunrise, it emitted a curious high note; numerous Roman tourists, including the emperor Hadrian (reigned 117–138 BCE) and his wife Sabina, came to Thebes to hear this marvel, but in the reign of the Roman emperor Septimius Severus (Severus, Septimius) (193–211) the statue was patched with masonry and never “sang” again.

      The temple of Seti I (reigned 1290–79 BCE) at Al-Qurnah survives only in part, the forecourt and pylons having disappeared. It was dedicated in part to Ramses I, the father of Seti, and was completed by Seti's son Ramses II (reigned 1279–13), who figures in the reliefs. The walls are decorated with scenes of purely religious content in which the pharaohs make offerings to various gods or are favoured by them.

      The Ramesseum, or mortuary temple of Ramses II the Great, though much ruined, retains some of its ancient grandeur. The wide outer pylon is decorated with vigorous scenes of the king's wars against the Hittites (Anatolia) in Syria, and the inner pylon has episodes from the Battle of Kadesh (Kadesh, Battle of) (1275) and scenes from the festival of the harvest god, Min. Tall figures of the king in the guise of Osiris decorate the pillars of the inner court. In the first court stood a seated colossus of Ramses II; only fragments of it are left, but enough to show that it was of enormous size. It must have been more than 55 feet (17 metres) high and weighed about 1,000 tons. The hypostyle hall beyond the second court is similar in design to that of the Great Temple of Amon at Karnak; beyond were further pillared halls and a sanctuary that has now disappeared. Around the temple, within the high brick enclosure wall, are very extensive remains of vaulted buildings that must have been magazines (storehouses), stables, workshops, and houses belonging to the temple staff. The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (fl. 1st century BCE) described the Ramesseum under the name of “the Tomb of Ozymandias.”

      The temple of Ramses III (reigned 1187–56) at Madīnat Habu is the latest and most southerly of the great New Kingdom mortuary temples. The general plan was modeled on that of the Ramesseum: a wide front pylon, outer and inner peristyle courts separated by a second pylon, a large pillared hall and two smaller vestibules, and the sanctuary surrounded by smaller rooms. The hypostyle hall is partly ruined, the pillars having been dismantled to the level of the first or second drums, but the temple is otherwise well preserved. Scenes carved on the walls of the inner halls show the king performing acts of worship before the gods. There are also scenes of battle in which the king in his chariot mows down the Libyans, attacks an Amorite city, and leads Libyans, Asians, and sea raiders as prisoners before Amon and Mut. On the external wall of the temple, a great sea battle between Egyptians and the Peleset (Philistines (Philistine)) and other Sea Peoples (Sea People) is depicted with much lively detail. Another outstanding relief is that on the outer face of the great pylon, which shows the pharaoh hunting wild cattle in a reed-covered, marshy landscape. Adjoining the temple are the remains of a palace. The high gate in the eastern side of the perimeter wall of the temple area is battlemented like a fortress. Within the precinct are other, smaller temples: one dates from the reign during the 15th century BCE of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III but was altered and added to in various reigns and during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. There are also several mortuary chapels, a sacred lake, a well, and remains, as in the Ramesseum, of houses and vaulted magazines built of mud brick.

      South of the temple of Madīnat Habu stand the ruins of what must have been one of the finest buildings in western Thebes: the palace of King Amenhotep III and Queen Tiy at Malkata. It is in fact four palaces, one of which was occupied by Tiy. There was also a vast artificial lake, still traceable by a line of mounds to the southeast of Malkata, which may have been a harbour for shipping connected with the Nile.

      The limestone foothills that lie parallel to the river and about 3 miles (5 km) away from it are honeycombed for a distance of more than 2 miles (3 km) with the Tombs of the Nobles, mainly of the 18th, 19th, and 20th dynasties. The usual plan of these tombs included a forecourt, a transverse chamber, a long, corridor-like room, and, at the end, a chapel containing statues of the deceased and his family, in the floor of which a shaft or passage ran down to the burial chamber. After the funeral the shaft was filled in, but the chapel and anterooms were kept open and visited by the family of the tomb owner. Near the villages of Dira ʿAbū al-Negaʾ al-Asasif, Al-Khū khah Shaykh ʿAbd al-Qurnah, Dayr al-Madīnah, and Qurnat Muraʾi, several hundred tomb-chapels are still open to view. The walls are decorated with mural paintings, many of them wonderfully fresh and full of vivid interest, depicting the daily occupations of the ancient Egyptians. The dead are shown, in the outer rooms of these tombs, inspecting the workmen on their estates or in their hours of leisure hunting birds in the marshes or game in the desert, listening to music, or playing checkers with their wives. In the infinite variety of these homely scenes, the whole cycle of the farmer's year, from plowing to harvest, is depicted; sculptors, metalworkers, weavers, and brickmakers ply their trades; and butchers, brewers, and cooks prepare food for the deceased's table. The treasurer goes on his rounds of inspection, and the vizier receives foreign envoys to the pharaoh's court. The merry patterns on the roofs derive from those in houses of the period. In the inner chapels fewer secular scenes are found. The funeral ritual is usually depicted: the cortège crossing the Nile, the ceremony of “Opening the Mouth” (reanimation rite) by the tomb door, the funerary feast; while in the innermost chamber there are representations of the deceased man and his wife in the company of Osiris and other gods undergoing the ordeal of judgment known as the “weighing of the heart” or being given nourishment by the goddess in the sacred sycamore. In the tombs of the late New Kingdom, purely religious scenes predominate.

      In ancient Egypt there were other great cities, but none that has left so great a legacy to posterity. The great temples of Thebes with their historical scenes and inscriptions, the tombs with their wealth of illustration of daily life and religious belief, and the countless antiquities that now fill the museums and private collections of the world, are all aspects of that legacy. Few other sites have contributed more to the store of knowledge about early civilizations than that of ancient Thebes.

Additional Reading
A good general description of the antiquities of Thebes may be found in Jean Capart and Marcelle Werbrouck, Thebes: The Glory of a Great Past (1926; originally published in French, 1925). A later work, embodying research carried out after World War II, is the lavishly illustrated book by Charles F. Nims, Thebes of the Pharaohs: Pattern for Every City (1965). Nigel Strudwick and Helen Strudwick, Thebes in Egypt (1989), provide a guide to the Theban monuments. References which, although dated, remain important include W.M. Flinders Petrie, Six Temples at Thebes (1897); H.E. Winlock, Excavations at Deir el Bahri, 1911–1931 (1942); Edouard Naville, The Temple of Deir el Bahari, 2 vol. in 7 (1894–1908), and The XIth Dynasty Temple at Deir el-Bahari, 3 vol. (1907–13); and Harold Hayden Nelson et al., Medinet Habu, 8 vol. (1930–70). Extensive references may be found in the detailed and invaluable volumes of Bertha Porter and Rosalind L.B. Moss, Topographical Bibliography of Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Texts, Reliefs, and Paintings, vol. 1 in 2 parts; and Bertha Porter, The Theban Necropolis, 2nd ed., rev. and augmented, 2 vol. (1960–72). The cult of Amon at Thebes is the subject of Eberhard Otto and Max Hirmer, Egyptian Art and the Cults of Osiris and Amon (1967; originally published in German, 1966). Lise Manniche, Lost Tombs: A Study of Certain Eighteenth Dynasty Monuments in the Theban Necropolis (1988), uses descriptions left by early travelers to Egypt to reconstruct tombs that are now lost, and her City of the Dead: Thebes in Egypt (1987), covers the 5,000-year history of Thebes.Peter F. Dorman

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Universalium. 2010.

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