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Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo Temple: Explore the Historical Temple of Gods

Kom Ombo, situated along the Nile in Aswan, Egypt, is a remarkable city. Nestled on the riverbank lies an opulent temple with a rich history spanning over 2,000 years etched into its stones. The renowned Kom Ombo temple garners acclaim for its unique symmetrical design.

This temple has two entrances, two hypostyle halls with columns, and two sanctuaries. Its distinctive layout reflects its dedication to two gods: Horus, Haroeris, and Sobek. Despite its duality, the temple features numerous chambers for various practical purposes.

Its construction commenced in the 2nd century BC during the Ptolemaic dynasty, with subsequent additions made during Roman rule. Consequently, traces of Greco-Roman architectural styles are discernible throughout the temple. Bas-reliefs showing Roman emperors paying respect to Egyptian gods are displayed in the entrance pylon, which Emperor Augustus built.

Adorning the temple’s exterior is a notable relief portraying the god Imhotep alongside ancient medical tools and texts related to medical practices. The remarkable resemblance between the medical instruments of that era and those used today often surprises visitors.

Additionally, the Kom Ombo temple is one of the key sanctuaries dedicated to Sobek from the Pharaonic era. Sobek, characterized by the head of a crocodile, was revered as the deity of the Nile and, in certain myths, considered the world’s creator. Egyptian tradition holds that the Nile flows serenely by the temple complex, deemed to be Sobek’s sweat.

A short distance from the Kom Ombo temple, visitors can further explore the history surrounding this deity at the Crocodile Museum. This captivating museum exhibits archaeological artifacts associated with the Ancient Egyptian crocodile cult, particularly honoring Sobek. Notably, the museum displays mummified crocodiles discovered in the region, once revered as objects of worship, providing a fascinating glimpse into ancient practices.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo City

Situated on the western bank of the Nile River, approximately 40 kilometers north of Aswan, this small city in Egypt thrives amidst vast plains cultivating crops like sugar cane and corn.

Known as “Nobit” in ancient times, this location was a pivotal point along caravan routes leading to the historic gold mines in Nubia. Later, it became a significant site where the Roman army trained elephants.

With a rich historical tapestry, the city boasts numerous archaeological sites. One standout is the temple dedicated to the worship of Sobek and Haroeris. Offering a splendid view of the Nile, it sits atop a small hill overlooking Mansourieh Island.

The name “Kom Ombo” derives from its association with the gold mines, signifying “golden.” In Coptic, it was referred to as Anbu, while its Greek name was Ambos, meaning “hills,” a reflection of the region’s topography.

Who built the temple of Kom Ombo?

The temple was known as Pa-Sobek in ancient Egyptian, signifying “Sobek’s ownership.” Within Egyptian mythology, Kom Ombo represented the deity associated with water and the Nile’s annual inundations, recognized as the offspring of the goddess Neith. Revered in Crocodilopolis, present-day Faiyum, the hub of the 21st district of Upper Egypt, Kom Ombo was revered as the god of water and fertility.

What are the reasons for building the double temple of Kom Ombo?

The ancient Temple of Kom Ombo was a hospital and depicts ancient Pharaonic games such as “Fencing on the Fence.” The Ptolemies constructed this site to pay homage to two deities: Sobek, known as the “crocodile god,” and “Horus,” also known as the “hawk-headed” Haroeris. Consequently, the complex consists of two adjacent temples dedicated to these revered gods, embodying all the customary elements in traditional ancient Egyptian religious structures.

Stages of building a temple

The Kom Ombo Temple was erected on the remnants of an older “Pir Sobek” structure, translating to the “House of God Sobek.”

The temple’s construction occurred during various periods under different rulers:

  • King Ptolemy V oversaw the temple’s establishment from 180 BC to 205 BC.
  • Many of the temple’s edifices were built between 180 BC and 145 BC during the reign of King Ptolemy VI.
  • King Ptolemy VIII constructed the hall between 169 BC and 116 BC.
  • During the rule of Emperor Tiberius (14 BC to 37 BC), paintings and engravings adorned the walls of the columned halls.
  • Emperor Domitian inscribed his name on the temple between 81 and 96 AD.
  • Efforts to restore and expand the temple persisted until 218 AD when emperors Caracalla, Geta, and Macrinus held power.

Temple of Kom Ombo Architecture

The Kom Ombo Temple, constructed in the traditional style, boasts a distinct division down its center. It features two separate entrances leading to sanctuaries dedicated to Horus and Sobek, honoring each deity. Positioned 45 km north of Aswan, this temple is a favored destination for tourists.

Within its confines is a small pool named “Not Cleopatra’s Bath,” once utilized for crocodile breeding. Noteworthy are two trios of statues housed within the temple: one consists of Sobek, Hathor, and Khons, while the other comprises Horus the Great (Harweris), Ta-Sint-Nofret, and Ba-Nep-Tawi.

Encircled by a substantial wall, the temple encompasses the Sobek Chapel, accessed through two entrances, and the Horus Chapel, accessed through one entrance. The temple’s expansive courtyard, bordered by 16 columns on three sides, bears remnants of eroded columns, retaining only their lower portions due to weathering.

Emperor Tiberius’s palace exhibits Pharaonic script, depicting offerings made by him to the gods. In the courtyard’s center, vestiges of the altar stand, once the resting place of the sacred boat during processions, symbolizing Egypt’s unity as one nation.

Portraits of Emperor Augustus grace Aswan’s temples alongside extensive hieroglyphic inscriptions depicting deities presenting offerings to the emperor. Surrounding the temple courtyard, two large and two small stone doors enclosed by exterior columns adorned with snake carvings holding sun disks create an impressive spectacle.

The hall’s ceiling is adorned with paintings portraying astronomical scenes and eagles. Symbolic representations of the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt manifest as an eagle-headed figure donning the Upper Egypt crown and a snake-headed figure representing Lower Egypt.

Primarily crafted from limestone in a rectangular configuration, the Kom Ombo Temple’s architectural blueprint mirrors that of numerous Roman-era temples like Dendera and Philae in Upper Egypt. These monuments captivate countless tourists annually.

The temple’s layout commences with a forecourt leading to a hypostyle hall, succeeded by three inner halls, culminating in separate structures devoted to Sobek and Horus.

Kom Ombo Temple

Kom Ombo Temple Fantaistic Facts

The Kom Ombo Temple offers significant insights into the ancient Egyptian priests’ reverence for the natural world and its cyclical patterns. Particularly, it highlights the veneration of Nile crocodiles, believed to hold sanctity due to their congregation at river bends.

Upon visiting the temple, visitors encounter mummified crocodiles displayed within the three halls leading to the dual sanctuary devoted to Horus and Sobek. Intricate clay sarcophagi and stunning wall reliefs adorn the temple, while a nearby museum showcases some of the 300 crocodile mummies found in the vicinity.

Tragic events such as floods and earthquakes led to the destruction of many temples, subsequently repurposed as quarries by later builders. During its transformation into a Coptic Orthodox church, alterations to inscriptions within the temple were made.

Originally named Pa-Sobek in ancient Egyptian, signifying “Sobek’s possession,” the temple honored Kom Ombo, the deity associated with water and the Nile’s annual floods. According to Egyptian mythology, Kom Ombo was the offspring of the goddess Neith and was revered as the god of water and fertility. The deity was worshipped in Crocodilopolis, known today as Faiyum, as the capital of Upper Egypt’s 21st district.

Ptolemy VI initiated the temple construction during the outset of his reign, with subsequent rulers contributing expansions. Ptolemy XIII notably added the temple complex’s outer and inner colonnaded halls.

Temple of Kom Ombo Location

The Kom Ombo temple is situated within the village bearing the same name, located in Upper Egypt’s southern region. Originating from the era of the Ptolemaic dynasty, this revered sanctuary was constructed during that period.

Arriving at the temple site via a cruise along the Nile River offers a stunning view as the temple stands proudly on the Nile’s bank, providing a picturesque docking point for ships. A striking figure graces the promontory of Kom Ombo (Tel Ombos), overseeing the river’s modest basin and creating a captivating sight for visitors.

These trips along the beautiful Nile River offer a luxury way for tourists to experience the country’s rich past and stunning scenery of Nile river tourist attractions. The Nile is the world’s longest river, and it has been very important to the growth of Egyptian culture. An Egypt Nile cruise along its waters is like going back in time.