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9 Epic Things to See at the Temple of Kom Ombo, Egypt
If you go Egypt, one of the things you have to do is visit the Temple of Kom Ombo.
Here is my list of most epic things to see at the Temple of Kom Ombo.
The Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Kom Ombo is a double temple dedicated to two triads of deities.
The eastern half of the temple is devoted to the first triad consisting of:
- the crocodile god Sobek – god of the Nile and creator of the world
- his wife Hathor
- and their son Khonsu
The western side of the temple is assigned to second group consisting of:
- the falcon god Haroeris (Horus the Elder) – god of the sky and protector of the king
- his wife Tasenetnofret
- and their child Panebtawy
Unfortunately, most of the temple’s structures are gone today. Majority were either destroyed by natural forces or by humans who used the temple’s materials for the construction of other buildings. And, just as almost in every temple, a lot of reliefs were defaced by Copts .
What is left and visible today, was constructed during the Ptolemaic Period – 108 to 47 BC.
However, in the more recent years, there has been some excavation around the site. It revealed remnants of the town dating back the New Kingdom.
Location of the Temple of Kom Ombo
The Temple of Kom Ombo Sobek is located on the bank of the Nile River between Edfu and Aswan at Kom Ombo.
Map of the Temple of Kom Ombo
1)Święty Świętych (sanktuarium Sobka) – The Sanctuary of Sobek
2)Mur otaczający kompleks – The Wall surrounding
3)Święty Świętych (sanktuarium Horusa Starszego) – The Sanctuary of Haroeris
4)Schody – The Staircase
5)Sala Hypostylowa – The Hypostyle hall
7)Kaplica Hathor – The Chapel of Hathor
8)Brama Ptolemeusza XII Auletesa– The Gate of Ptolemy XII Auletes
9)Studnia – The Well
11)Wielki Dziedziniec z ołtarzem – The Great Court with the Altar
12)Mammisi (Dom Urodzin Boga-Dziecka) – Mammisi (Birth House)
13)Sala Fundacji Świątyni – Hall of the Temple’s Fundation
14)Sala Ofiar – Hall of victims
15)Sala Posągów – Hall of statues
16)Kaplica Sobeka – The Chapel of Sobek
Image and Description Credit: Drawing by Gérard Ducher (french version) and Janmad (desciption for english and polish version) via Wikimedia Commons
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Courtyard of Augustus at the Temple of Kom Ombo
The temple’s courtyard used to be surrounded on north, west and south side by rows of colonnades.
There was a total of 16 columns.
Today, only the lower halves of the columns remain.
The relief carvings on some of the surviving columns of the colonnade along the courtyard’s sides are well preserved and many still maintain their original color.
Some of the columns have the images of the Roman Emperor Tiberius (42 BCE – 37 AD) carved on them.
In the center of the courtyard is a square altar base. At each side of the altar base are small basins to accept the offering made to each of the Gods.
The stone screens along the east and west side of the courtyard at the Temple of Kom Ombo are the most remarkable. The one on the east depicts falcon-headed Haroeris and ibis-headed Thoth with Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos.
Hypostyle Halls at the Temple of Kom Ombo
Across the courtyard is the first Hypostyle Hall, which leads on to a slightly smaller second Hypostyle Hall of a similar design. Both have two rows of five free standing columns.
Make sure to look up and check out the ceiling over the main two aisles, with its paintings of flying vultures.
The capitals of the columns are beautifully decorated. Also, notice the bans of hieroglyphs with the symbol of life (ankh).
There are beautiful reliefs throughout the Hypostyle Halls.
Check out the depiction of Horus and Thoth pouring consecration water over Ptolemy XII.
The Antechambers and the Sanctuary
After you pass through the two Hypostyle Halls, you will enter a series of three Antechambers. They will eventually lead you to the two inner Sanctuaries.
On the left is the sanctuary dedicated to Haroeris, while on the right is the sanctuary for Sobek.
The sanctuaries are surrounded by ten smaller cult chapels.
My guide told me that situated below the inner part of the temple are number of rooms. He said that some of them have three levels.
There are a number of hidden passages as well.
The Relief of the Ancient Egyptian Calendar
On the inner section of the outer enclosure wall you will find the relief of the ancient Egyptian calendar.
It represents a yearly schedule of events specifically related to the Temple of Kom Ombo. The calendar acted as an agenda for priests and priestesses at the temple. It helped to schedule and organize the services and rituals.
The relief is divided into three panels. And, it should be read from right to left. So, The first panel describes the date and the month, and the season. The second panel details the type of service presented. And, finally, the third panel, pertains to the local gods.
I am not an expert and I am referring to my notes and relating to what my guide told me.
The ancient Egyptian calendar consisted of:
- a year, which was divided into 3 seasons:
- flood, cultivation, and harvesting
- each season was divided into 4 months
- each month was divided into 3 weeks
- each week was divided into 10 days
This is really fascinating, and I want to show you how to read the first panel which is the description of days, months, and seasons.
So, to start with:
- the symbol of the sun disk means a new day
- next, inverted U represents number ten
- finally, symbol I represents number one
If you look at the picture right below, you can see sun disk, which means that it is a new day. Then, you have two symbols of an inverted U, and, each represents number ten, so in total, we have number twenty. Finally, we have eight symbols I and each stands for number one. So, it totals eight. All in all, we have a new day and it is the twenty eight of the month. I think this is so cool!
Next section: first of all, we have sun disk, which as you remember stands for a new day. Then, you can see two inverted U, which is twenty, right? Finally, there is a new symbol which looks like a sun disk with dash in the middle. It stands for number nine. So we know, that we have the twenty ninth of the month. Isn’t this awesome? You are reading hieroglyphs!
Next section: you see a character like an animal tail which stands for the 30th and the end of the month. As you remember, each month had 30 days.
Next section: the cycle starts again, reporting a new month. It is the 3rd month of the harvesting season (shows open flowers). And, the symbol of sun disk, which means a new day. And, the symbol I for number one, which is the first day of the third month of the new season.
Reliefs of Women Sitting on Birthing Chairs
Make your way towards the left end of outer passageway. You will not miss it. First of all, locate a part of the remaining relief of the Roman Emperor Trajan kneeling and making offerings.
Now, take a look at the wall next to it.
The scene shows two women using birthing chairs or stools to give birth. The chairs or stools were made of bricks and probably had a hole or cut-out in the seat through which the baby was delivered.
If you look closely at the relief of the lower woman, notice a throne-shaped object on her head. It is a hieroglyph for goddess Isis, the patron of fertility and motherhood.
Reliefs of Surgical or Ritual Instruments
Next to the the women on birthing stools is an engraving representing medical and surgical instruments, or possibly some ritualistic instruments as well. Nevertheless, it is thought to be the first representation of medically related instruments.
You can clearly see forceps, medicine bottles, prescriptions, curettes, weighing scale, cupping glasses, and many others.
It is possible that the Temple of Kom Ombo operated as a healing temple.
Haroeris (Horus the Elder), was revered as a healer, and therefore many pilgrims would come the temple in hopes of having any health problems cured.
The Kom Pmbo Temple’s Pylon
Originally, the Kom Ombo Temple’s Pylon had a double gateway. All that is left today is the lower part of the right hand section.
However, do not miss it. Check out the relief of the Roman Emperor Domitian making offerings to Sobek, Hathor and Khonsu. Also, take a look at a long text of 52 lines in hieroglyphics.
The Crocodile Museum
Next to the temple of Kom Ombo is the Crocodile Museum. It contains a large number of crocodile mummies ranging from an egg to an adult size. Honeslty, do not miss it! It is one of the coolest museums that I have visited in Egypt.
You will learn all about god Sobek, you will get to see a bunch of mummified crocodiles, plus you will get to see beautiful votives offered by pilgrims that came to worship Sobek. Make sure to read my post: Why You Must Visit Crocodile Mummy Museum in Kom Ombo.
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