Explore the Ancient Temple of Edfu
Edfu is located 60km north of Aswan. It was the 2nd Nome of Upper Egypt and the center of the cult of a gods triad, consisting of Horus of Behdet, Hathor, and their son, Hor-Sama-Tawy. Edfu was known as "Apollopolis Magna" in the old Greek documents because the Greeks identified Horus with their god Apollo.
Edfu flourished in ancient times. Today, the most important monument in Edfu is the Temple of Horus, one of Egypt's most beautiful and preserved Temples. Its origins likely date back to the Second Intermediate Period, but the Temple only dates back to Ptolemaic times. The construction work began during the reign of Ptolemy III (about 237 BC) and was finished during the reign of Ptolemy IV. Other Ptolemaic Kings and the Roman Emperor Augustus made some other additions. The Temple's construction, in addition to its additions, inscriptions, and relief, took about 180 years! Can you imagine?
The Edfu Temple consists of traditional elements of Egyptian Temples of the New Kingdom and a few Greek elements, such as the mamis (house of divine birth), situated to the west of the Temple's main entrance. It consists of a hall, a court, and a chapel. The walls of the mamis are decorated with scenes showing the story of the divine birth of Horus, the child, in the presence of the goddess Hathor, the god Khenoum, and other deities concerned with pregnancy and childbirth.
This temple has one of the best-surviving pylons among temples in Egypt today. It is 37m high and decorated with battle scenes, representing King Ptolemy VIII smiting his enemies before the god Horus.
Next, an open courtyard contains columns with floral capitals on three sides. This court was open to the public and was known as the court of offerings, the place where people could give their offerings to the statue of the god.
Hypostyle Hall is rectangular, with 12 columns to support its roof. On both sides of the entrance stands a falcon-shaped statue of Horus of Behdet. This hall is also known as the Outer Hypostyle Hall.
An entrance beyond the 1st Hypostyle Hall accesses the Inner Hypostyle Hall. Twelve columns to the proper support its roof, and on the left are two rooms; one was used as a library that once contained many manuscripts. The other was used as a storeroom for the Temple's utensils and tools.
There are two consecutive vestibules; the outer one, the "hall of the offerings," features walls decorated with various scenes of the deities and offering scenes of the different Ptolemaic kings. The inner vestibule was called the "rest house of the Gods."
At the end of the Temple is the sanctuary, which includes a niche of grey granite where a statue of the god once stood. In front of the dais is a resting pedestal for the divine boat. The sanctuary is surrounded, on the outside, by 12 rooms, where many religious scenes are depicted on their walls. Some rooms were storerooms, while others were dedicated to various religious purposes.
One of the most remarkable elements of the temple is the existence of a nilometer (a pillar used to indicate the height of the Nile River) and a chapel dedicated to the goddess Nut.
On various temple walls are many battle scenes, including the famous scene of the ritual of the Temple foundation.
The northern wall of the court shows the divine marriage of Hathor and Horus of Behdet, which was celebrated twice every year, once at the Dendera Temple and the second time at the Edfu Temple. The Journey of Hathor, from Dendera to Edfu and vice versa, can also be seen on this wall.
Another scene, on the inside of the outer corridor of the temple's western side, depicts the legend of the conflict between Horus and Seth, the victory of Horus over his uncle, and his coronation to rule the world.