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Philae Temple of Isis

Travel pictures from Egypt

by Dr. Günther Eichhorn


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The Isis Temple in Philae is another temple that was saved from inundation by the reservoir, the Aswan Low Dam in this case. It is a beautiful temple dedicated to the Goddess Isis. Like the Horus Temple in Edfu and the temple of Kom Ombo, the Isis Temple was built in Ptolemaic times. It closely follows the same lay-out. The oldest remains were built by Nectanebo I (380 - 362 BCE). Most of the rest was started by Ptolemaios II Philadelphus (285 - 246 BCE). New parts were added till the reign of Diocletian (CE 284 - 305). Isis was worshiped there as late as 550 CE, when the emperor Justinian closed the temple.

The early Christians transformed the main temple's hypostyle into a chapel, they built some churches, and defaced the old reliefs. Their inscriptions in turn were defaced by the early Muslims.

After landing from your boat trip, you come to the Outer Temple Court, with colonnades along both sides. The entrance to the main temple is through two huge 18 m (59 ft) high pylons. They are decorated with huge reliefs of Ptolemaios XII (Cleopatra's father), smashing his enemies.

In the Great Court is the mammisim (birth house), dedicated to Horus. Each Pharaoh would take part in the mammisi ritual to establish his legitimacy.

The second pylons lead to a 10 column hypostyle hall, and from there into the Inner Sanctuary of Isis, where the gold statue of the Goddess Isis used to stand.

I also visited the Isis Temple at night for a light show. It was very scenic to see the lighted temple at night.

view isis templeView of the Isis Temple Complex from the east side, with the Kiosk of Trajan in the foreground left. (413k) isis temple philaeIsis Temple of Philae. (462k) overall view isisOverall view of the Isis Temple, with the first and second pylons. (506k) view isis templeView of the Isis Temple complex from the right side. (338k) first pylon behindThe first pylon behind the column colonnade of the Outer Temple Court. (500k)
close-up right partClose-up of the right part of the first pylon, showing Horus and his mother Isis (left) and the Pharaoh Ptolemaios XII smashing his enemies. (502k) view left partView of the left part of the first pylon, showing Isis (right) and the Pharaoh smashing his enemies. The left part of the pylon was defaced by early Christians, but the right part was mostly intact. (452k) view entrance gateView through the entrance gate of the first pylon towards the second pylon. (666k) entrance gate secondEntrance gate in the second pylon. (613k) huge finely carvedHuge, finely carved relief of the Goddess Isis. (584k)
relief god horusRelief of the God Horus, the son of the Goddess Isis. (590k) view column colonnadeView of the column colonnade of the Outer Temple Court. (502k) column colonnade outerColumn colonnade in the Outer Temple Court. Notice that each capital is different. (526k) view columnsView of one of the columns. (514k) capital columnsCapital of one of the columns. (474k)
decorations columnsDecorations on one of the columns. (637k) decorations columnsDecorations on one of the columns. (656k) defaced relief pharaohThe defaced relief of a Pharaoh. (617k) hieroglyphics stone horusHieroglyphics stone with the Horus Sun Disk at the top. (773k) relief goddess isisRelief of the Goddess Isis, nursing her son Horus. (591k)
relief god thothRelief of the God Thoth. (558k) early christian decorationsEarly Christian decorations. (503k) early christian altarEarly Christian altar. (537k) inscriptions early explorersInscriptions of early explorers. (419k) defaced reliefs templeDefaced reliefs in the temple. (770k)
relief sacred bargeRelief of the sacred barge that was used to transport the golden statue of the Goddess Isis to festivities. (462k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (690k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (597k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (672k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (335k)
isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (360k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (384k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (307k) isis temple nightIsis Temple at night during the light show. (347k) first pylon nightThe first pylon at night during the light show. (510k)
second pylon nightThe second pylon at night during the light show. (1201k) hypostyle hall nightThe hypostyle hall at night. (1006k) kiosk trajan duringThe Kiosk of Trajan during the light show. (590k) kiosk trajanThe Kiosk of Trajan. (537k) kiosk trajanThe Kiosk of Trajan. (463k)


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