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Kom Ombo: Temples of Horus and Sobek (French Exped. 1799)


Ruins of the main temple at Kom Ombo (Description de l'Egypte 1809).

Kom Ombo, located on the east bank of the Nile in Upper Egypt, 160 km south of Luxor and 50 km north of Aswan and the first Nile cataract, contained twin sanctuaries to the falcon god Horus, and the crocodile god Sobek. The temple complex dates from the mid-Ptolemaic period at about 150 BC. It was added to throughout the Roman period, from the time of Augustus and Tiberius (12 BC- AD 37) through the reign of Macrinus (AD 271).

Almost uniquely for Egpt, the two temples of Horus and Sobek were combined in a single main temple. Originally each of the two shrines had its own processional avenue (now destroyed). In 1799, when visited by the artists and army surveyors of the French expedition, the temples of Kom Ombo lay in ruins, with some structures buried up to their roofs by sand drifts. The drawing of the main temple shows a number of papyrus-shaped columns and capitals still in place, somewhat comparable to those at the better-preserved temples at Philae. 

The exterior of the temple of Horus contained unique reliefs of a pair of goddesses with surgical instruments related to childbirth. A niche within the temple held a sibyl or oracle who would answer questions from members of the temple congregation (Hobson 1987).


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