Thebes: The New KingdomFamed throughout the ancient world, Thebes (a Greek name derived from the ancient Egyptian name for Luxor) spread over six square miles 400 or so miles south of Giza. The distance in time is even greater than that, for what may be seen of ancient Egypt at Thebes is about 600 years and twelve dynasties later than the pyramids.
Sandwiched between the Old Kingdom, with its necropolis at Giza, and the New Kingdom, with its necropolis at Thebes (Valley of the Kings, Valley of the Queens), was the First Intermediate Period (2150-2040 BCE), the Middle Kingdom (2040-1640 BCE), and the Second Intermediate Period (1640-1550 BCE). During those 600 years pharoahs came and went, the union of the Two Lands disolved or became shaky, central government was restored in the Middle Kingdom and culture flourished, and then foreign peoples (Hyksos) seized power in the Delta, only to be ejected by the last pharaoh of the 17th Dynasty, Kamose, and his younger brother, the first king of the 18th dynasty, Ahmose. (The tour group saw nothing that dates from those periods and heard only passing references to them from the guide.)
Dynasties 18-20 (1550-1070 BCE) constitute the New Kingdom, during which the great temples of Karnak and Luxor on the east bank of the Nile reached the height of their splendor and most of the tombs in the Valley of the Kings, which are still being discovered today, were dug into the rocky desert on the west bank.