Trip to Aswan
Trip Start Jun 16, 2008
36Trip End Jul 20, 2008
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Ninety minutes into the trip we stopped at Edfu to visit the Temple of Horus. This temple had been buried for millenia under the sand so it was well perserved in its construction, inscribed pictures and even color. It was a complete Egyptian temple.
Dedicated to Horus, the falcon headed god, it was built during the reigns of six Ptolemies. It was begun in 237 BC by Ptolemy III Euergetes I and was finished in 57 BC. Most of the work continued throughout this period with a brief interlude of 20 years while there was unrest during the period of Ptolemy IV and Ptolemy V Epiphanes.
This is not only the best preserved ancient temple in Egypt, but the second largest after Karnak. It was believed that the temple was built on the site of the great battle between Horus and Seth. Hence, the current temple was but the last in a long series of temples built on this location. The pylons of the main Temple are about 118 feet high with typical scenes of the pharaoh in battle with his enemies. Within the pylons is the colonnaded courtyard with distinctive, pared columns, which leads into the great hypostyle hall. But on either side of the courtyard there are gates which lead to an area behind the temple and inside the bounding walls. Here, there are inscriptions recording donations of land which were probably transferred from demotic documents. There are also dramatic images depicting the defeat of Seth by Horus. There was an annual ritual called the known as the Triumph of Horus (10 harpoons) which ended in the slaying of a hippopotamus, the symbol of Seth.
After visiting this temple we got back in the van and drove another hour before stopping at the Temple of Sobek the Crocodile god. The temple at Kom Ombo is about 30 miles (48 km) north of Aswan and was built during the Graeco-Roman period (332 BC AD 395). There was an earlier structure from the 18th dynasty but little remains.
The temple is unique because it is in fact a double temple, dedicated to Sobek the crocodile god, and Horus the falcon-headed god. The layout combines two temples in one with each side having its own gateways and chapels.
Sobek is associated with the wicked god Seth, the enemy of Horus. In the Horus myth the allies of Seth made their escape by changing themselves into crocodiles.
Sobek's chief sanctuary was at Kom Ombo, where there were once huge numbers of crocodiles. Until recent times the Egyptian Nile was infested with these ferocious animals, who would lay on the riverbank and devour animals and humans alike. So it is not surprising that the local inhabitants went in fear.
They believed that as a totem animal, an object of worship, it would not attack them. Captive crocodiles were kept within the temple and many mummified crocodiles have been found in cemeteries and Diana and I even saw three of them in one room.
We then made our final one hour leg of the trip to arrive at Aswan. Around 4PM Diana and I took a boat ride on the Nile River. We stopped at a Nubian village. Here we were able to visit an actual Nubian home. Diana even had one lady do some Henna art work on her. Next we walked through the village to see the people. There seemed to be camels everywhere. We stopped at a School and also visited a mosque. After we took a 45 minute boat ride back, but we then transfered over to a feluca, a sailboat with no motor. We continued sailing on down the river.