The temple at Kom Ombo considered one of the most interesting in Egypt. Firstly, half of it dedicated to the god Sebek, who ruled the fertility and flood of the Nile, and in other temples popular with tourists, his sanctuaries rare. Secondly, this a double temple dedicated to two gods at the same time, the second god Horus, which we talked about in detail in the article about the temple in Edfu. Thirdly, there are crocodile mummies, which are the “calling card” of this attraction.
Just like the temple in the city of Edfu, this complex built already in the last period of the history of ancient Egypt, when the country ruled by the pharaohs of Greek origin, the descendants of the companion of Alexander the Great, Ptolemy. Their dynasty called that, and all the pharaohs bore the name of Ptolemy. We talked about them in detail in the article about the temple in Edfu.
Construction began under Ptolemy VI, and continued until the era of the Roman Empire. The last additions made under the Roman emperor Troyan, an outer courtyard and walls added to the temple.
As in Edfu, inscriptions and wall paintings are perfectly preserved here, which became invaluable sources of knowledge about ancient Egypt for Egyptologists, of course, after the Rosetta stone found and the opportunity to read ancient texts appeared. Many drawings retained different colors, which you will not see in other temples, recall that initially all drawings created in different colors, just in more ancient temples the colors disappeared over time.
The temple completely symmetrical, the southern part dedicated to the god Sebek, and the northern to the god Horus. Sebek a very interesting and colorful god, he portrayed as a man with the head of a crocodile, or simply in the form of a crocodile.
The Egyptians worshiping Sebek (or Sobek) since the time of the Old Kingdom, even in the “songs of the pyramids” it mentioned that the pharaohs the embodiment of Sobek and similar to him.
Sebek was the god of fertility and the flood of the Nile, which was the same for the ancient Egyptians. But at different times he had other functions. During the Middle Kingdom, he merged with the deity Horus in the image of the god Sebek-Horus, being the patron saint of the power of the pharaohs of Egypt. During the New Kingdom, in the image of Sebek-Ra, he gained the greatest popularity, personifying the Sun.
In addition, at different times he was considered the patron saint of military valor and military skill. And at all times in Egypt they believed that he controls crocodiles, and prayer protected him from the attacks of a predator.
In ancient times, there were much more crocodiles in the Nile than now, and attacks on people happened constantly. The Egyptians had only two defenses against this reptile, good attention and prayers to the gods.
It was this place, the bend of the river near the city of Kom Ombo, that was a favorite place for crocodiles, it is not surprising that the temple of Sebek is located in this place. In ancient times, the Nile Valley much richer in fauna than now, not only crocodiles, but also hippos found here. By the way, according to legend, the hippo ate a pharaoh named Menes. On the one hand, this complete nonsense, since hippos exclusively herbivores, but if you remember the ancient mythology, it becomes clear that this just a figurative expression, the hippopotamus the embodiment of the god Set, associated with evil forces.
Kom Ombo visited on a cruise sightseeing tour of the Nile, 60 kilometers upstream of the city of Edfu, and 50 kilometers downstream of Aswan. Most cruises provide for a visit to the temple in Edfu and Kom Ombo on the same day, and one of these temples visited in the evening, since both attractions are illuminated at night.
In the photo above you can see the main gate of the temple, which called the “Gate of Neos Deonis”, which nothing to do with the Greek god. Of course, the Greeks during the reign of Egypt promoted their culture and religion, but not enough to call something in the Egyptian temple after the Greek god. Neos Deonis is the name of Ptolemy XII, the ruler of the country who built them.
Pay attention to the absence of the traditional large gate, which also called a “pylon”, originally, they were, but now they are destroyed. The temple is not located in the most successful way, during the years of the highest flood of the Nile River, water reached here, and some parts of the temple did not survive under the influence of water.
After passing the gate, you will find yourself in the main columned hall, note that the tops of the columns made in the shape of a lily, which the symbol of Upper Egypt. There are 15 large columns here.
The temple divided into two symmetrical parts, and one dedicated to Sebek, the second to Horus, the drawings on the walls very similar, many depict the same scenes, but with the participation of these two gods. Horus portrayed with the head of a falcon, and Sebek with the head of a crocodile. The photo below depicts a scene involving Horus and his wife, the goddess Tasenetnofret. A very interesting name, we recommend it to announcers for training.
After the large and small columned halls, you will find yourself in several not very large rooms serving for religious rituals, you can see drawings, most often they depict different scenes with the participation of the pharaohs of the Ptolemaic dynasty, presenting gifts to the gods and asking them for blessings and help.
To the west of the large columned hall there is a room that had a very important function, but not all guides correctly explain its purpose.
Outwardly, it resembles a well, although in fact it is, but the main function was still different. It is a “nilometer”, a device for measuring the height of the flood of the Nile River. Each year, the priests recorded the height of the water.
For a long time, the priests worked to identify patterns in the height of the spill in order to be able to predict droughts and floods. Data collection work carried out in many temples, for example, in the Karnak temple there a special wall, where they also kept records of the height of the water.
Many guides tell tourists that crocodiles bred here, believing that this way it will be more interesting for tourists. And we can agree with them, because the “nilometer” is not of great interest to all visitors.
Crocodiles on the territory of the temple indeed bred, but they did it in a slightly different place. A small pond was located near the sanctuary of the goddess Hathor, who was the wife of the god Sebek. It is here that you can see the most interesting thing, crocodile mummies.
In total, there are three mummies that found by chance during the construction of the highway. There much more mummies, about 300 pieces, but now they sold to museums and private collections.
Mummies and well-preserved inscriptions the main “attractions” in the temple, the inscriptions not only well preserved, but also retained their color, of course, not as bright as it during the time of the pharaohs of the Ptolemaic dynasty. You can see photos of inscriptions and mummies in our gallery of photos about the temple in Kom Ombo.
If you are driving on your own, the ticket price is 140 Egyptian pounds. See the pound rate in our article “Money in Egypt”.
– If you want to see more crocodile mummies, then go to the nearby Crocodile Museum. There are 22 more mummies that found in Aswan. Museum entrance included in the main ticket price;
– The town of Kom Ombo famous for the fact that a lot of sugar cane grown here. In Egypt, a cane drink is popular, read about it in the article “Egyptian Cuisine”.
– Kom Ombo is a small provincial town. It will be problematic to find even an exchanger here. Change money in advance, read our article “Exchange of money in Egypt”.
– For tourists on excursions along the Nile, the next stop is the city of Aswan.