Getting ready for another exciting tour!
Kom Ombo was situated at an important crossroads between the caravan route from Nubia and routes from the gold mines in the eastern desert. At one time, during the reign of Ptolemy VI (180-145 BC) it was a training depot for African war elephants.
Kom OmboToday Kom Ombo is the home of many Nubians who were displaced after the Aswan Dam flooded their lands. They now work in the tourism industry or the sugar cane fields on the river banks. There are also felucca-building yards at Edfu and many Nubians are helmsmen on the river boats.
On our way to Kom Ombo we passed by the Colossi of Memnon, two giant monoliths that stand by the road guarding the Theban Necropolis all that remains of a temple built by Amenophis II about 2400 years ago.
The Collosi of Thebes
We entered the temple complex through the remains of the monumental Gate of Neos Dionysos. Much of the temple has been washed away by Nile floods so only low walls and stumps of pillars in the forecourt remain. But in the beautiful Outer Hypostyle Hall there are fifteen sturdy columns still standing, with decorated cornices and carved winged sun disks. The papyrus is the symbol of the Nile Delta and the bases of these columns are carved with the heraldic lily of Upper Egypt and the papyrus.
Me at the Temple of Kom Ombo
Kom Ombo Temple is an usual double temple built during the Ptolemaic dynasty, with later additions by the Romans. It has courts, halls, sanctuaries and rooms duplicated for two sets of gods. The right side is dedicated to Sobek-Re (the crocodile god combined with the sun god Re) along with his wife and their son. Sobek is associated with Seth, the murderer of Osiris and enemy of Horus. In the myth, Seth changed himself into a crocodile to escape. The Egyptians believed if they honored the crocodile as a god they would be safe from attacks by the ferocious creatures.
The left side of the temple is dedicated to the falcon god Haroeris “The Good Doctor” (Horus the Elder) along with his consort Ta-Sent-Nefer,“the Good Sister” (another form of Hathor) and Panebtawy, Lord of the Two Lands.
Hanan explains the heiroglyphics to Linda
Our Egyptologist guide, Hanan, made the tour through the temples interesting by telling the stories etched in the hieroglyphs. There is a relief of Sobek in his snake form on one wall and another shows Ptolemy II making offerings to various gods. The scene on the face of the rear wall was interesting as it may have represented a set of surgical instruments.
In ancient times, this part of the Nile was known for the crocodiles that basked in the sun posing a threat to the locals. This is likely why one of the temples at Kom Ombo is dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile god.
After this interesting tour, we returned to the boat and lounged on the deck for a while before heading off for EDFU.
Linda, Yves and me relaxing on deck
Edfu is a small city located on the west bank of the Nile River north of Aswan. This time we were transported by horse and carriage which made it a unique and extra fun experience. We were swarmed by Nubian souvenier-sellers but politely declined their wares. One young boy caught my attention though. As charming as could be, he kept saying to me “You have a lovely smile, lady! Smile again!” Of course he wanted me to buy some trinkets, and eventually I just couldn’t resist his charm!
The Carriage Ride
The cute souvenier seller
The Edfu site has provided archaeologists with more information than many others, dating from as far back as the Predynastic Period right until the Byzantine era. Edfu was the capital of that area of Upper Egypt and one of the few settlements that thrived when others were in decline.
The Temple in Edfu is located on the west bank of the Nile which was known in Greco-Roman times as Apollonopolis Magna, after the chief god, Horus-Opollo. This is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt. It was built in the Ptolemaic period between 237 – 57 BC and dedicated to the falcon god Horus.
Because the temple is so well preserved it is a frequent stop for many of the river cruises and tour groups. The day we were there though there were few others, one of the significant examples of how the tourism in Egypt has suffered in the last two years.
The temple of Edfu is the largest temple dedicated to the gods Horus and Hathor and was the centre of sacred festivals to honour the gods’ sacred marriage. The ancient Egyptians believed that each year Hathor travelled south from her temple at Denderah to visit Horus at Edfu. It was an important festival and pilgrimage.
Me and Horus
What makes this temple unique are the inscriptions on the iwalls which provide important information on language, myth and religion during that period in ancient Egypt. The most unique thing is the inscribed building texts that provide details of the temple’s construction and information about the mythical interpretations.
Hanan pointed out the important scenes and inscription that told the age-old conflict between Horus and Seth. (Seth was the god who killed Horus’ father, his own brother Osiris).
It was such an intense and interesting day of touring that when we got back to the ship in the evening none of us had the energy to join in a “Gallabia Party”. I peeked in to see though. Everyone was dressed in Egyptian costumes and having a great time dancing to Egyptian music. I kind of wished I’d had the energy to attend as it looked like everyone was having a lot of fun. But we needed a good night’s sleep because the next day we were headed for Luxor and the Valley of the Kings!
The Egyptian Party
KOM OMBO info: http://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/komombotemple.html
EDFU TEMPLE info: http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/edfu.htm
NEXT: THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS AND THE AMAZING TEMPLE OF HATSHEPSUT