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Kom Ombo

The Town of Kom Ombo is located about 40 miles south of  Edfu, and about 28 miles north of Aswan. Kom Ombo, is the ancient site of Ombos, which comes from the ancient Egyptian word nubt, which means City of Gold. In ancient times, the city was located on the caravan route that transported gold into Egypt from mines in Nubia. These days the local economy of Kom Ombo is primarily based on agriculture. Tourists usually access the site by taking a daytrip from Aswan.

Built on a high dune overlooking the Nile, Kom Ombo temple, dates back to the Ptolemies. The actual temple was started in the early second century BC.  Ptolemy XIII built the outer and inner hypostyle halls. The outer enclosure wall and part of the court were built by the Roman emperor Augustus sometime after 30 B.C. but very little of these remain. Only the foundations remains from the main entrance pylon. There once was a staircase in the court behind the pylon which lead to a roof terrace, but this has also been destroyed. However the court does contain a roman columned portico and the base of an altar. The reliefs on the columns show the Roman emperor Tiberius making offerings to the gods.

There is a double corridor that runs around the entire temple, there are underground tunnels and hidden chambers. Some of these rooms and the enclosure wall at the rear of the temple were decorated. The reliefs on this wall depict what is believed to be surgical instruments and supports the theory that  at some point the temple was used as a healing centre.

Kom Ombo LayoutThe temple of Kom Ombo is unique in respect that it is dedicated to two gods. The temple has two perfectly symmetrical sections. The sanctuary to the left is dedicated to the falcon headed sky god Horus, with the sanctuary to the left being dedicated to the crocodile god Sobek. Everything is duplicated along the main axis. There are two entrances, two courts, two colonnades, two hypostyle halls and two sanctuaries, it is also believed that there were probably two sets of priests. The left, or northern side is dedicated to the falcon headed sky god Horus, with the right dedicated to Sobek, the crocodile headed god.  The two gods are accompanied by their families. They include Horus's wife named Tesentnefert, meaning the good sister, and his son, Panebtawy.  Likewise Sobeck  is accompanied by his consort, Hathor and his son, Khonsu. To the south lies the Chapel of Hathor, where mummified crocodiles used to be stored. Four of these are still on display.

The temples reliefs show the usual mix of gods and rulers, with Sobek, Hathor and Horus sharing the space with Ptolemaic rulers such as Ptolemy XII and Roman emperors Tiberius and Domitian. The scant remains of the temple are largely due to the changing nature and shape of the Nile over the last 5,000 years, and later by builders who took the stones so they could reuse them on new buildings. A part of the temple was also lost into the Nile after an earthquake in 1992.

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