The ancient city of Thebes was so called by the Greeks after the important city of that name in Greece. To the Egyptians it was known as Waset, but was often simply called Niwet, or 'the city'. Its modern name is Luxor. Thebes was the principal city of Upper Egypt and was also the capital during parts of the Middle Kingdom (about 2040-1750 BC) and New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC), when the cult of its local god, Amun, rose to prominence.
The Nile divided Thebes into two parts: on the east side of the river were the principal settlement and the main temples of the Theban triad of Amun, Mut and Khonsu, and of Montu, another local deity. The most important complex of temples is known as Karnak. The necropolis of the city was located on the west bank where royalty and private individuals had separate cemeteries. The kings of the late Second Intermediate Period (about 1750-1650 BC) were buried here, as were those of the New Kingdom (about 1550-1070 BC) whose tombs were located in the Valley of the Kings. The kings also built their mortuary temples on the boundary between the cultivation and the desert. Members of the royal family were also buried here, from the Nineteenth Dynasty, in the so-called Valley of the Queens. The necropolis contained hundreds of tombs of New Kingdom officials; most tombs were reused many times for private burials in the period 1000 BC-100 AD. The workmen who made and decorated the tombs of the kings lived in a purpose-built village, called Deir el-Medina.