Luxor is a true cradle of humanity’s cultural legacy, but it is also a city that must meet the requirements of its residents on a daily basis. The Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art had a difficulty in including the local population in the program of a site museum in one of the world’s most popular international tourist sites. The author is the museum’s general manager.
The Luxor Museum of Historic Egyptian Art is located in the ancient and world-famous town of Luxor, which is located roughly 670 kilometers south of Cairo, Egypt’s capital, and has a population of around 70,000 people. The museum is located on the Nile Corniche Boulevard, which runs along to the Nile River and faces the Ramesseum on the west bank, and links the Luxor and Karnak temples. The river divides the town center into two pieces as it runs through it.
The first segment is on the east bank, where the bigger and main part of the town is located, and where ancient Thebes was Egypt’s metropolis for almost three centuries during the New Kingdom’s 18th and 19th dynasties (1550–1196 B.C.). The ancient Egyptians constructed mortuary temples to the gods beside the dead Kings resting in their royal tombs on the west bank of the Nile.
Amun, his spouse, the goddess Mut, and their son Khonsu, who together comprised the Theban triad, was worshipped and honored in magnificent temples. The Luxor temple can be found in the southern section of town, while the Karnak temple may be found in the northern half.
Since ancient times, the town has been known by different names; the ancient Egyptians named it Weset, and under the Old Kingdom, it was known as Nu Amun or the town of Amon. Thebes was its Greek name. The Romans built a huge military garrison around the Luxor temple after their invasion of Egypt. The ruins of its forts were mistaken for palaces by Arab invaders, who gave them the name al-uqsur, which is the plural form of the word qasr (meaning “palace” or “castle”). The name was later corrupted by European languages to become Luxor, the city’s current name.
During the New Kingdom period, the Egyptian kingdom, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea in the north to the Third Cataract in the south, poured its wealth into Thebes, making it the world’s richest metropolis. The town’s riches were reflected in the many types of art and architecture. As a result, Luxor was brimming with pharaonic artifacts of unrivaled quantity and splendor anywhere else in the world, transforming the city into an open-air museum of human history and ancient civilizations.
The Egyptian Ministry of Culture devised a proposal to establish a museum in Luxor in 1962, based on the abundance of rare and expensive artifacts unearthed there, and commissioned a prominent Egyptian architect, engineer Mahmud Al-Hakim, to produce the appropriate engineering and architectural plans. After construction was completed in 1969, the museum was designated as a regional museum for the display of artifacts unearthed in Luxor. The exhibits were hand-picked from among the region’s treasures, and the museum was officially inaugurated on December 12, 1975, when the inside and outdoor displays were completed. When visitors exit the museum, they are treated to a spectacular panoramic vista of the West Bank.
The museum galleries are split onto two floors, with two ramps connecting them. The exhibits were displayed using the most up-to-date museum display methods in order to showcase their artistic splendor. These rely completely on artificial lighting, a dark grey background, and basic stands for the artifacts, resulting in displays that are neither tight nor crowded, allowing the eye to focus on the exhibits. As a result, visitors experience a calm sensation, which allows them to thoroughly immerse themselves in the study of each unique piece.
The Luxor temple cache (seen below) was discovered by chance in 1989 while normal soil samples were being collected from King Amenhotep III’s courtyard. The cache contains one-of-a-kind and rare statues of gods, goddesses, and monarchs that are very well maintained and beautiful and magnificent. When the find was made, it was determined that this precious item would be displayed in a separate chamber. As a result, a new room was created, as well as a novel way of displaying this one-of-a-kind collection.
In general, all of the museum exhibits were uncovered during the area’s excavations and taken out of storage there. They also contain items that have been restored to Luxor from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, where they were discovered among King Tutankhamen’s funereal adornments after his tomb was discovered in 1922.
Luxor Museum contributing to the community’s well-being:
The term “museum” no longer refers solely to a location where pieces of art from past civilizations are conserved, exhibited, and presented to the public in a manner that honors their artistic and historical significance. On the contrary, the term has come to indicate a significant cultural institution that has a significant impact on society’s education, illumination of human thinking, and increased knowledge of civilization, art, and history.
When the Luxor Museum first opened, the workers were confronted with a significant challenge. The museum today symbolizes a fresh tourist destination to which package and individual travelers rush to be surprised and dazzled since it is located in the town of Luxor, which has such a wealth of antiquities and is a center of international interest visited by tourists from all over the globe. Despite its elevated status, the museum is of no service to the residents of the town, who are daily witnesses to antiquity all around them in what resembles an open-air museum whose grounds they occupy.
As a result, the museum management was forced to devise an educational initiative in order to foster communication between the people of Luxor and the museum, which holds works of art left by their predecessors from ancient civilizations. This instructional project was built around a few important elements.
First and foremost, the townpeople is invited to regular monthly seminars and meetings with the goal of highlighting the most significant of the archaeological discoveries that emerge daily during the course of research and excavation work carried out by Egyptian and foreign archaeologists working on archaeological digs. The end goal is to raise public awareness of civilization and acquaint them with what is going on around them, as well as to develop a relationship between them and their history and civilization. A committee of prominent Egyptian and international experts organizes these seminars and gatherings.
The museum also focuses on antiquities and historic problems that elicit strong reactions from the public and stir up debate. This is accomplished by organizing public seminars on a regular basis to throw light on a particular issue, clarify any controversies surrounding it, and clear up any ambiguity. The initiative to remove, rebuild, and reassemble the columns in the hall of Amenhotep III at the Luxor temple, which was variably praised and denounced by the press, dividing the townsfolk into two factions, for and against the project, is an example of the concerns addressed.
Opponents of the project observed the enormous columns steadily shrinking in size during the deconstruction process and highlighted the consequent ugliness of the temple courtyard as they came and went. When the columns faded completely in front of their eyes, they incorrectly assumed they had seen the last of them. To dispel this erroneous idea, the Luxor Museum took the initiative and arranged a scientific conference, which was attended by archaeologists, soil engineers, and restorers.
Invitations were sent to Luxor residents in general, as well as individuals working in tourism, antiquities, and the media in particular. The lecture discussed the scientific, archaeological, and environmental factors that necessitated the implementation of the initiative to save the Great Hall. It also addressed the scientific approach utilized to complete the task with the assistance of advanced technologies. The interaction between the audience and the experts was highly beneficial; audience members learned what was going on in their midst and eventually became supporters of the initiative.
By developing an educational program called “Museum Education,” the museum has taken on a significant teaching function in society. The primary goal of this activity is to target students at various levels of their schooling. A number of museum employees were given training on how to interact with people of all ages and react to their questions. The museum’s staff was also given descriptive pictures, color slides, and video films that told the tale of the exhibits and the town’s history, as well as the technology needed to show the slides and videos. During the academic year, a schedule was created for museum employees to visit schools and offer presentations, after which they would provide supervised tours to the museum. All of these steps were made in collaboration with the town’s educational department and school principals. The students’ vast understanding was evident in the questions they posed to their mentors. They filled a questionnaire at the end of their trip to record their views of the visit as well as ideas for improvement.
The program demonstrated the possibility for active and pleasant engagement between the museum and its target audience, which was a huge triumph. The ideas were used by the museum management to design and streamline the labeling format in order to provide quick yet complete information on the displayed items. The success of this essential component has prompted us to continue with this activity and expand it to social groups that serve as gathering places for young people and adults.
A permanently Growing Collection:
The Luxor Museum is an important archaeological site in Egypt, with two-thirds of the country’s artifacts housed there in the Luxor area. As a result, it was critical that its exhibit collection be large and diverse enough to cover all elements of Luxor’s history and art. As a result, the museum management recommended expanding the display rooms and extending the museum to accommodate purchases kept in the region and uncovered by excavation in subsequent seasons. The plan was approved by the Higher Council of Antiquities, and the enlargement process is already underway.
Luxor Museum Photo Gallery:
Excavations in the region frequently unearth one-of-a-kind items that should be displayed at the museum for everybody to see. Such artifacts may require immediate attention in the interests of restoration and preservation so that they can be appropriately displayed. The museum has a lot of challenges in this regard, as there is no workshop where restoration and preservation work can be done using the contemporary techniques and equipment required to repair the state of such objects. A request for the creation of an integrated workshop in the new wing has been filed. Despite the lack of a dedicated workshop, a handful of skilled restorers are trained to handle antiquities based on their raw material or condition. If local resources are insufficient to care for an object, professionals from Cairo’s central museum administration are consulted.
For it to be effective, the activity of communicating the museum’s educational and cultural message about the surrounding site must take place inside the museum, in a specifically designated hall, rather than in schools and clubs, as is now the case. As a result, a request for two halls was made, one for lectures and seminars and the other for kids to participate in museum-related art activities. These halls will be an essential element of the new wing of the museum.
The statue of King Tuthmosis III of the 18th dynasty (1490–36 B.C.) is one of the museum’s most important artifacts. This figure was discovered in 1904 in the Karnak temple cache north of the seventh pylon of this famous temple, made of green slate. Because the village lacked a museum, the statue was transferred to Cairo to be displayed among other cache finds at the Egyptian Museum. When the Luxor Museum opened, it was returned to its original location. This statue is considered one of the museum’s most important acquisitions, as the King’s noble facial features convey his confidence in himself as a ruler and god, and the Egyptian sculptor has masterfully succeeded in bringing out that particular expression, thus making this statue one of the most beautiful pieces of ancient Egyptian art.
During excavation work to clear a canal in the area of Suminu, now Dahamsha, southwest of Luxor, a statue of the god Sobek and King Amenhotep III of the 18th dynasty (1403– 1265 B.C.) was discovered inside a well made for it, along with a number of paintings and statues depicting the god as a crocodile. In this location, there was certainly a tiny temple dedicated to the deity, which was showered with votive offerings by his slaves and believers in his power.
By removing part of the back panel above the king’s head and putting his head level with the god’s head, crown included, the Egyptian sculptor was able to achieve a balance between the pharaoh’s and god’s physiques, despite their differences in size. Ramses II claimed ownership of the monument, erasing the former owner’s name and replaced it with his own. Fortunately, he did not damage the king’s distinguishing features, which remained intact, confirming the statue’s provenance.
The harpist and female dancers is a quartzite construction slab dating from the New Kingdom’s 18th dynasty (1475–68 B.C.). The slab was part of Queen Hatshepsut’s obelisk at the Karnak temple, which was later known as the Rose Obelisk due to the color of the stone. It depicts a group of dancers and singers accompanied by a harpist performing during one of Thebes’ religious festivals during its splendor. The representation of the elegant figures exemplifies characteristics of the 18th dynasty’s art.
The Luxor Temple Cache is a significant find:
Luxor’s ruins are still revealing their mysteries. The Luxor temple cache, a collection of unique sculptures discovered in the hypostyle hall of Amenhotep III, the architect, and creator king of the Luxor temple (1403–1365 B.C. ), was the most recent and important find of the final decade of the twentieth century.
On January 22, 1989, the first cache was discovered, yielding twenty-four sculptures of gods, goddesses, and kings, the majority of which were in outstanding condition. The last piece was discovered at a depth of 4.5 meters below ground level on April 20, the same year. The sacred beard of Amun, whose statue had been found on March 28th, was this portion. Sixteen of the sculptures were chosen for display in the Luxor Museum, where they were given their own chamber in the first basement, which was particularly built to allow visitors to view the antiquities from all angles while employing focused lighting to bring attention to the exhibits’ aesthetic qualities. The chosen sculptures were placed on a high platform accessed by steps rather than on stands, which has the effect of imbuing the works with a heavenly and awe-inspiring aspect befitting goddesses who were regarded holy in ancient times and kings exalted to the rank of gods. The following are the most well-known and odd statues in the collection.
From the 18th dynasty (1338–08 B.C. ), a composite statue of the deity Atum and King Horemheb was made out of two diorite sculptures
The statue is housed in a hollow cut onto a separate foundation, which was the cache’s first discovery. This one-of-a-kind combination of the three components (the two sculptures and the base) is a one-of-a-kind discovery. It depicts King Horemheb bowing in devotion and giving two spherical-shaped vessels to the deity Atum. He’s dressed with a headdress with a holy cobra on the front and a standeth, a short tunic. The deity in front of him sits on his throne, which is adorned on both sides with two Nile gods, a sign of the Two Kingdoms’ union intertwined with papyrus plants on the right and lotus plants on the left, the north and south emblems, respectively.
King Amenhotep III’s red quartzite statue from the 18th dynasty (1405-1365 B.C.)
This massive statue, at 239 cm tall, is considered the most remarkable of the cache’s findings. It depicts King Amenhotep III in his prime, marching forward and stomping on Egypt’s traditional adversaries, which are depicted by the nine arches he walks across without flinching. Despite the statue’s solid stone, the Egyptian artist has succeeded in depicting the king’s body in remarkable symmetry, as well as the details of the short tunic he is wearing, which bears the name of King Nb Maet Ra in the bottom center inside a cylinder called a cartouche, encircled by four sacred cobras with the sun above. When the statue was removed from the earth, remnants of gilding could be seen on the crown, the broad collar, and the king’s bracelets.
It’s impossible to comprehend how much time and effort went into etching the numerous delicate and magnificent features on the king’s garment, especially at the rear. Visitors must examine these intricacies for themselves to understand the Egyptian sculptor’s extraordinary talent and mastery of his instruments.
King Amenhotep III’s Goddess Hathor Statue
The Egyptian goddess Hathor is revered as one of the most powerful gods. She was venerated as a cow or as a feminine figure wearing a crown of cow horns with the sun stuck between them, as the sky goddess and protector of life and love. This statue portrays her as a lady seated on her unadorned throne, wearing her characteristic crown over a wig, and carrying the staff of life in her left hand. King Amenhotep, who is depicted as Hathor’s lover, is named on both sides of the throne.
The goddess Ayunet is shown on a grey granite statue
Although this goddess had been worshipped in the Thebes area since the Middle Kingdom’s 11th dynasty (about 2061–1991 B.C. ), only one statue of this size and in such good condition has been discovered. She was the consort of the deity Montu, who was at the time a warlord and the ruler of Thebes. The statue depicts her as an elegant lady with a lovely grin on her face, making it one of the most appealing sculptures in ancient Egyptian art.
The museum is clearly obliged to the town, which has a rich history, for the acquisition of its collection. I am certain that many more works will be unearthed in the future that is as beautiful as those previously uncovered in the region. Many of these artifacts are still protected by Luxor’s soil, which takes better care of them than most human beings.
Luxor Tours and Excursions
Begin your experience with an East bank tour of Karnak Temple and Luxor Temple, followed by a West bank tour of the Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut Temple, and the Colossi of Memnon, and a morning hot air balloon ride. Take a Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan, stopping at Kom Ombo, Edfu, and Esna along the way, or spend a day in Cairo seeing the Pyramids of Cheops, Chefren, Mykreinus, the Sphinx, the Egyptian Museum, and Old Cairo before shopping in Khan El Khalili, or travel to Aswan and see the Philae Temple, Unfinished Obelisk, High Dam, and Abu Simple Temples.