philae temple – Temple of Isis Aswan Egypt


Agilqiyyah Island (Philae).

The island of *Agilqiyyah, onto which the structures from the submerged island of Philae have been transferred, has been reshaped to resemble the conformation of Philae as closely as possible. With the building of the first Aswân Dam Philae was submerged for part of the year, and with the equalisation of the water flow produced by the High Darn it would have been permanently below water. Thus it was decided to move all the buildings and reconstruct them on this neighbouring island. This was a massive project taking over ten years. A great coffer dam was erected around Philae and the temples were dismantled and transferred. They were finally opened on their new site in 1980. The earliest remains on the original island were of Taharqa [25 Dyn.) but the foundations have been removed to the Southern Quarry area.

In 1962 President Nasser announced the construction of a dam which would give total control of the Nile. The result was the Aswan High Dam (see below).

Philae, which lay next to Bigah, the island of Osiris, was dedicated to Isis, and the largest and most important among the complex of temples and chapels is the Temple oi Isis which occupies about one quarter of the island.

At the SE end of the island is a Kiosk of Nectanebo I (30 Dyn.), beyond which is a long court bounded by two Roman colonnades, the West Colonnade and the First East Colonnade. At the S end of the latter is a small Temple of Arensnuphis (a Nubian deity), Ptolemaic and Roman in date, while halfway up is a Chapel of Manduljs (i.e. Marul, another Nubian deity) which is Roman. At the N end stands the Temple of Imhotep, the deified architect of Zozer, here worship- ped as a healing god. It was built by Ptolemy V Epiphanes. The colonnade court ends in front of the First Pylon of Ptolemy XIII Neos Dionysius. Two obelisks from here are now in Kingston Lacey, Dorset. On the E side is a Gate of Ptolemy II Philadelphus but the main entry is through the Gate of Nectanebo II (30 Dyn.). This leads into a large forecourt. On the W is the Mammisi built by Ptolemy VII Euergetes II and added to in Roman times. The opposite side of the court is occupied by the Second East Colonnade which is late Ptolemaic. This court leads to the Second Pylon built by Ptolemy XIII Neos Dionysius although the gateway is of Ptolemy VII Euergetes II.

(1—2) Above lintel, winged vultures and cartouches of Ptolemy Euergetes II. (3) Granite stele of year 24 of Ptolemy VI,.PhiIometer text. (4) Upper register, the king offers to the gods, Horus and Isis, Geb, Nut and Horus the Elder; base, procession of the king followed by offering bearers, Osiris, Isis and Horus. (5—6) Grooves for flagstaffs. (7) The king offers to Osiris, Isis and the young Horus. Beyond the gate is the Hypostyle Hall with ten columns, mainly the work of Ptolemy VII Euergetes II.

The forecourt of the Temple of Isis, Philae
The forecourt of the Temple of Isis, Philae

(8—9) Ptolemy and Cleopatra II offer vases to Khnum-ReC and Hathor. (10) Upper register, the king offers libations to Khephera, and Neb(t)hotep, incense to Khnum and Satet, and grape juice to Horus and Hathor. (11) The king offers

incense and libations to Osiris and Isis, wine to Horus and Nephthys, (12) The king offers wine to Atum and meat to Geb and Nut, four calves are offered to Osiris and victims to Isis, Sekhmet, and Horus the Elder. (13) The king offers green and white linen to Rec—Harakhte and Nut. (14—15) The king followed by Wadjet receives life from Tefnut, and runs with an oar, N of the hypostyle hall is a chamber with a small room to the W, from which stairs lead to the roof. This is followed by three chambers. (16—17) Isis seated before standards, the king offers myrrh and wine. (18) The king offers flowers to Isis. (19) The king offers collar to Isis, Osiris and Nephthys, and pectorals to Osiris, Isis and Hathor. (20) The king offers libations before a heap of offerings, (21—22) Double scene on outer lintel, the king offers wine to Osiris and Isis, menat to Hathor and bread to Isis. (23) The king before Isis. (24) Doorway to stairs, (2&26) Double scene, the king offers sistrum on left and wine on right to Isis and Harpocrates; on W jamb the king offers leaves to Min. a basket to Sekhmet and wine to Osiris Behind is the sacred bull and seven cows. The central room leads into a transverse room from which three rooms lead to the N.

(27) The king offers wine, necklaces and eye paint to Osiris, Isis, Hathor and Nephthys. (2&29) The king in three scenes offers cloth to Isis and Nut, box to Osiris and Isis suckling boy, and image of Ma’at to Isis and Nephthys. He also offers linen to Osiris and a winged Isis. (ЗО—31] Тор register, three scenes, the king before Isis and Nephthys, adores Amun-ReC and Mut, offers to Isis and Tefnut, including collar.

Round the base of the Sanctuary are fertility gods of the country. (32) Ptolemy II offers incense to Satet and ointment to Isis. (33) The king offers cloth and wine to Isis and Sekhmet. (34) The king before ram—headed Sheshmu (usually shown in lion form). (35—36) The king offers menat to Isis, incense to Nekhbet and wine to Nephthys. (37—38) The king offers mirror to Anuket, basket to Wadjet and wine to Isis.

The outside of the temple was decorated by Augustus. (39—40) Augustus followed by fertility gods and goddesses before Osiris, Isis and the young Horus. (41—42) Augustus offers Ma’at to Amun—ReC and Mut and makes libation to Isis and Nephthys, offers vase to Khnum and Hathor. The most important of the other chapels around the main complex is the unfinished Chapel of Hathor on the E side of the island. Built by Ptolemy VI Philometer and added to by Augustus, it has an interesting scene of musicians including the god Bes playing a harp. Just S of this is the Kiosk of Trajan with a charming façade on the river bank.

The Kiosk of Trajan

The Kiosk of Trajan

The larger island to the S is Bigah. This was held to have been the burial place of Osiris and was for long a cult-centre.


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