This is part 4 of 7 in a series of posts on my trip to Egypt at the end of 2010.
Day 3: The south of Egypt | Day 2: Egypt and its earliest pyramids | Day 1: Sinai: Wandering in a land between
Day 4, Tuesday, December 7
Today I’ll be visiting four temples on the bus ride from Aswan to Luxor. The first is Kom Ombo.
Kom Ombo — The Place of Gold
This temple is actually two symmetrical temples, each built for a different god. The gods of these two temples were Sobek, the crocodile god, and Horus, the falcon god. The temples were constructed by the Ptolemaic dynasty around 280BCE.
This was a major center of medicinal healing during the time when these temples were used. This is known from the heiroglyphs throughout the temples which display all sorts of medical instruments given as offerings to these temples. One of the students from JUC who had done a bit of research on Egyptian medicine told me that these ancient doctors had all sorts of interesting remedies, including using crocodile dung as a contraceptive!
Between the holy of holies of these side-by-side temples was a hidden chamber. Supposedly, a temple priest would hide in the chamber whenever a pharaoh came to ask for the blessing of the god. The priest would respond to the pharaoh’s request by pretending to be the voice of the god. The pharaoh, not knowing it was just a priest hiding behind the wall, thought the god was speaking to him. So, when the pharaoh was told to bring this much gold and that much food to the temple so that he might be blessed on his venture, he did it. If that’s true, it’s no wonder the priests were wealthy and controlled so much property.
Note: If you click on the pictures you will find that they contain captions which often provide interesting information on the contents of the picture.
Edfu was once the capital of Upper Egypt. It was probably from here that the pharaoh, Narmer, set off to conquer Lower Egypt and unify the two lands for the first time in all history. Like the Philae and Kom Ombo temples, this temple was also not built until the Ptolemaic period. It is dedicated to Horus.
This vast temple complex is the largest religious complex in the world. It was begun in the 18th Dynasty and every pharaoh of that dynasty added something to this complex. Mernepthah inscribed the story of his conquering of the Sea Peoples (Philistines) on one wall. Thutmose III and Shishak both inscribed lists of the cities they conquered on conquests through the Land Between and further north. These lists have been very useful as a sort of map giving the order in which the cities lay, moving from south to north through the Land Between.