TEMPLE OF COM OMBO
The mighty River Nile played a crucial role in the development of the Ancient Egyptian civilization that became a cornerstone in the history of human civilization. Nile served as a vital source of sustenance and livelihood for its people. It’s annual flooding cycle brought nutrient-rich silt to the surrounding areas, creating fertile soil that allowed for the cultivation of crops like wheat, flax, and papyrus. The Ancient Egyptians were skilled farmers who adapted to the river’s seasonal patterns, developing irrigation systems to maximize their yields. Additionally, their calendar was based on the three cycles of the river, known as Akhet (flood), Peret (growth), and Shemu (harvest or low water).
In addition to agriculture, the Ancient Egyptians also relied heavily on trade for their economic stability. The Nile served as a vital transportation route, allowing them to trade goods with neighboring regions and establish diplomatic relationships with foreign powers. Their strategic location at the crossroads of Africa, Asia, and Europe made them a major center of commerce and culture in the ancient world. All of these factors contributed to the enduring legacy of the Nile Valley as a cradle of civilization and a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of humanity.
In ancient Egyptian culture, the Nile played a crucial role not only in the physical sense but also in the spiritual realm. The annual flooding of the river was seen as a gift from the god Hapi, who was believed to control the waters. The Nile was also seen as a pathway from life to the afterlife, with the eastern bank symbolizing birth and growth and the western bank representing death. This belief system is evident in the way that their cities were situated. For example, the city of Thebes, which was one of the most important centers of ancient Egyptian civilization, was located on the eastern bank of the Nile, while its necropolis was situated on the western bank.
Embarking on a Nile River cruise offers an exceptional and unforgettable opportunity to appreciate the significance of this historic waterway. As the boat glides along the river, visitors can marvel at the stunning landscapes and lush vegetation that owe their existence to the Nile’s fertile banks. Along the way, travelers can catch glimpses of local villagers going about their daily lives. Furthermore, Nile also serves as a gateway to some of the world’s most significant archaeological sites, including the ancient city of Thebes with its vast necropolis, the Temple of Kom Ombo, and Aswan.
TEMPLE OF KOM OMBO
The Temple of Kom Ombo is a unique double temple that was constructed during the Ptolemaic period (323-30 BC) and served both as a temple and a healing center. Dedicated to two Egyptian gods, the crocodile god Sobek (god of the Nile and creator of the world) and the falcon god Horus (god of the sky and protector of the king), this temple is an exceptional example of ancient Egyptian Architecture. The existing Ptolemaic temple has a sandstone doorway, which is built into a brick wall and was originally part of an earlier temple built by the 18th-dynasty pharaoh Thutmose III (1481-1425 BC).
The layout of the Temple of Kom Ombo reflects its double dedication: it is symmetrical along the main axis and has two entrances, connected hypostyle halls with reliefs of the two gods on either side of a column, twin sanctuaries, and twin chambers. The eastern half of the temple was devoted to Sobek, his wife Hathor, and their son Khonsu, while the western half was dedicated to Horus, his wife Tasenetnofret, and their son Panebtawy. It is probable that two separate priesthoods tended to the deities as well.
Although much of the temple has been destroyed by natural forces and builders who repurposed its materials for other projects, as well as some of the reliefs were damaged by Copts who used the temple as their church, the surviving elements of the Temple of Kom Ombo still bear witness to its magnificent history. The walls and columns are adorned with finely executed reliefs of both gods, and some surfaces even retain their original colors.
In order to give ‘voice’ to the gods, the sanctuary features a false door that is decorated with a relief depicting Sobek and Horus holding their respective cult scepters. Sobek’s sign of power is a lion-headed wand, while Horus’s is a peculiar knife with legs. Positioned in the center of the false door is an oracle niche that has ‘hearing ears’ and ‘sacred eyes’ through which the priests would communicate answers to the requests of pilgrims. Above them is the winged goddess Ma’at, who is holding up the sky.
One of the most intriguing features of the temple is a relief that displays medical instruments used for performing surgery is. This relief can be found in the rear of the building, in the passageway surrounding the main area. The depicted surgical instruments include scalpels, curettes, forceps, dilators, scissors, medicine bottles and prescriptions. Two goddesses are also portrayed sitting on birthing chairs. It is worth noting that at the time this relief was carved, Egyptian medical science was likely the most advanced in the world.
At the rear of the forecourt of the temple, there is a Crocodile Museum that houses remains of mummified crocodiles.