The Luxor Temple

was built with sandstone from the Gebel el-Silsila area, which is located in South-Western Egypt. This sandstone is referred to as Nubian sandstone. It was used for the construction for monuments in Upper Egypt as well as in the course of past and current restoration works.

Like other Egyptian structures, a common technique used was symbolism, or illusionism. For example, to the Egyptian, a sanctuary shaped like an Anubis jackal was really Anubis.[5] At the Luxor Temple, the two obelisks (the smaller one closer to the west is now at the Place de la Concorde in Paris) flanking the entrance were not the same height, but they created the illusion that they were. With the layout of the temple they appear to be of equal height, but using illusionism, it enhances the relative distances hence making them look the same size to the wall behind it. Symbolically, it is a visual and spatial effect to emphasize the heights and distance from the wall, enhancing the already existing pathway.

Excavation

From the Middle Ages, the Muslim population of Luxor had settled in and around the temple, at the southward end of the mount.[1] Due to the Luxor’s past city population building on top of and around the Luxor temple, centuries of rubble had accumulated, to the point where there was an artificial hill some 14.5 to 15 metres (48 to 49 ft) in height.[1] The Luxor Temple had begun to be excavated by Professor Gaston Maspero after 1884, after he had been given permission to commence operations. The excavations were carried out sporadically until 1960. Over time, accumulated rubbish of the ages had buried three quarters of the temple which contained the courts and colonnades which formed the nucleus of the Arab half of the modern village. Maspero had taken an interest earlier, and he had taken over the post of Mariette Pasha to complete the job in 1881. Not only was there rubbish, but there were also barracks, stores, houses, huts, pigeon towers, which needed to be removed in order to excavate the site. (There still exists a working mosque within the temple which was never removed.) Maspero received from the Egyptian minister of public works the authorization needed to obtain funds in order to negotiate compensation for the pieces of land covered by the houses and dependencies.

Festivals

The Luxor Temple was built during the New Kingdom and dedicated to the Theban Triad consisted of Amun, his consort Mut, and their son Khonsu. The focus of the annual Opet Festival, in which a cult statue of Amun was paraded down the Nile from nearby Karnak Temple (ipet-sut) to stay there for a while with his consort Mut, was to promote the fertility of Amun-Re and the Pharaoh. However, other studies at the temple by the Epigraphic Survey team present a completely new interpretation of Luxor and its great annual festival (the Feast of Opet). They have concluded that Luxor is the temple dedicated to the divine Egyptian ruler or, more precisely, to the cult of the Royal Ka. Examples of the cult of the Royal Ka can be seen with the colossal seated figures of the deified Ramesses II before the Pylon and at the entrance to the Grand colonnade are clearly Ka-statues, cult statues of the king as embodiment of the royal Ka.

Avenue of Sphinxes and Shrine stations

The avenue (known as wi.t ntr “path of god” which went in a straight line for about 2,700 metres (8,900 ft)  between the Luxor Temple and the Karnak area was lined with human-headed sphinxes; in ancient times it is probable that these replaced earlier sphinxes which may have had different heads.[9] Six barque shrines, serving as way stations for the barques of the gods during festival processions, were set up on the avenue between the Karnak and Luxor Temple. Along the avenue the stations were set up for ceremonies such as the Feast of Opet which held significance to temple. Each station had a purpose, for example the fourth station was the station of Kamare, which cooled the oar of Amun. The Fifth station of Kamare was the station which received the beauty of Amun.Lastly the Sixth Station of Kamare was a shrine for Amun, Holy of Steps.

A small mudbrick shrine was built in the courtyard of Nectanebo I in early second century (126 CE) and was dedicated to Serapis and Isis; it was presented to Roman Emperor Hadrian on his birthday.

Abu Haggag Mosque

The active Abu Haggag Mosque is located within the temple, standing on the ancient columns themselves. That part of the Luxor Temple was converted to a church by the Romans in 395 AD, and then to a mosque in 640, which is more than 3,400 years of continuous religious worship.[11] Hence, the Luxor Temple is the oldest building in the world at least partially active for other than archeological or tourist purposes.