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Philae: Temple of Isis portico (French Exped. 1799)
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Drawing of the portico at the Temple of Isis at Philae (Description de l'Egypte 1809).


In recording the monuments of ancient Egypt, the French army surveyors and artists went as far south as the Island of Philae, located just beyond Aswan and the first Nile cataract. Here, in 1799, they made the first detailed survey and drawings of this major temple site at the border of Egypt and Nubia, dominated by the Temple of Isis, rebuilt in the Roman period.

This drawing shows the interior of the entrance hall or portico of the Temple of Isis, devoted to this major goddess in the Egyptian pantheon, whose influence was great during the Ptolemaic era when the temple was built, in the 3rd century BC. The walls here and throughout the temple complex are covered with painted relief scenes and inscriptions depicting ceremonial events. In the center at top, above the lotus and papyrus capitals, is an eagle relief found in many temples of the period.


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