Thebes, Egypt was once the largest city in the world in about 1500 BC

Thebes, Egypt was once the largest city in the world in about 1500 BC

At the height of Ancient Egypt, its bustling capital was Thebes, 419 miles south of Cairo where the modern settlement of Luxor now stands.

Known to the Egyptians as Wase (‘City of the Sceptre’) or Nowe (‘City of Amon [an important god]’), Thebes was founded around 4,000 BC.

Long-associated with royalty, Thebes blossomed into a sprawling metropolis during the Eleventh Dynasty (2081-1938 BC), when its proximity to the Nile and the Red Sea was exploited for trade.

Book IX of The Iliad, from Ancient Greece, describes how ‘in Egyptian Thebes the heaps of precious ingots gleam, the hundred-gated Thebes.’

In about 1500 BC, Thebes had a population of 75, 000, making it the largest city in the world, a title it held for the next 600 years.

Although the Pharaohs moved their capital elsewhere on several occasions, Thebes remained an important city throughout the Ancient Egyptian period, and today it is best known for its stunning archaeological remains.

The Karnak Temple Complex of the ancient city of Thebes, now near the modern city of Luxor, begun c. 2150 to 1991 BC. Photo: Pinterest

The second-largest religious building in history, the Temple of Amun, was built there over the course of 2, 000 years, and Pharaohs, including Tutankhamun, were buried at the famous Valley of the Kings in spectacular tombs for over 500 years.

Thebes, Egypt | Pinterest