Temple of Kom Ombo

Just a short drive from Aswan, the Temple of Kom Ombo is decidated to Haroeris and Sobek — a strange, mirror-image temple that has two halls, two sanctuaries, and is dedicated to two different gods.

The banks of the Nile here were the basking place for crocodiles (although there are no longer crocodiles north of the High Dam). The crocodile-headed god Sobek was a logical choice for a temple here, and several mummified crocodiles were found in the temple precincts.

The temple was buried to the lintels in sand and silt, which protected the reliefs for centuries. It is roofless today, and was damaged in 1992 in an earthquake, but the small temple is very imposing. Even though the sand left behind by the Nile inundations covered the temple and protected it, the waters themselves washed away the foundations under the courtyard and forecourt.

The forecourt was added by Trajan, but all that remains are low walls and the bases of pillars. It is the facade of the temple that remains mostly intact. The outer hypostyle hall still retains most of its columns. The lily and papyrus symbols of UPper and Lower Egypt are engraved on their bases.

The inner hypostyle hall is slightly better preserved, with fine reliefs done by Ptolemy VII and showing him interacting with the gods Haroeriris. He is accompanied by his sister, Cleopatra.


The chambers leading to the sanctuary are each a little higher than the last, so the whole temple sort of rises to the sanctuary. Between the sanctuaries of the two temples is a secret passage, which the priests used to hide to speak for the gods. It was asccessible from under a crypt under the temple and it is likely that every temple had a simliiar chamber to fool the public. The reliefs on the innre walls were not finished, and show the many steps in creating the sculpture.

The outer corridor around the temple is covered in reliefs, and plenty of graffiti. ON one wall are representations of early medical instruments — although it is assumed that they are instruments for the process of mummification, not necessarily treatment.

The nearby mammisi is mostly crumbled, and has interesting reliefs of a series of Ptolemys. A small chapel on the grounds contains mummified crocodiles — the line to get inside can be a bit long. THey were found nearby, although our guide told us that they would indeed raise crocodiles here at the temple and mummify them after they died.

The temple is lit at night, although I would imagine that few boats spend the night here to allow people to see the temple. Nearly every visitor when we were there was from the road convoy.


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