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Temple at Edfu

The Temple at Edfu dates from the Ptolemaic period and was built using sandstone blocks. It is the best preserved of all the Egyptian temples, and so it has become a popular destination for visiting tourists and is included in all the Nile cruise boat itineraries. The Temple at Edfu was built over a 180 year period. It was started in 237 B.C. by Ptolemy III and completed in 57 B.C. by Ptolemy XII. The temple is dedicated to the the falcon headed god Horus. The main building was uncovered by Mariette in the 1860s. The state of the temples high preservation is due in part, to the fact that it was almost completely covered with sand with only the top of the entry pylon still visible.

The impressive twin towered entrance pylon with two statues of the falcon headed god Horus guarding the main entrance. The walls are carved with reliefs depicting the Pharaoh smiting his enemies. The four grooves were for flag masts.

In one of the small rooms behind the sanctuary, there is a pedestal on which stands a reproduction of a ceremonial barge called the barque of Horus. The sanctuary itself which lies deep within the temple is the holy of holies, at the back is a granite shrine that would have originally housed a statue of Horus.

The temple is covered with an incredible amount of high quality relief carving on both internal and external walls. Unfortunately in some areas the carving has been vandalised, probably by Coptic Christians who found the images offensive.

Temple at Edfu 1

The temple was originally painted in bright colours like the cult temples of earlier times,. It is rectangular in shape, but where in the pass they are oriented east/west for ease of access to the Nile, Edfu Temple, is oriented north/south, with its main entrance to the south. The pylon gateway leads to a courtyard, open to the sky and surrounded on its south, east and west sides by colonnades.

Temple at Edfu Layout Temple at Edfu 3

As you enter through the Grand Pylon, the building right in front of you is the first hypostyle hall called the Court of  Offerings. On the left hand side to the entrance stands a large, grey granite statue of Horus. There are many myths about the origin of Horus, the most popular says that he was the son of the god Osiris and the goddess Isis. It is claimed that he avenged his fathers murder by defeating the demonic god Seth in a series of battles. Horus is often depicted as a falcon headed man. In another version of the myth, Horus had his left eye, which represented the moon, wounded in a battle with Seth, so explaining the phases of the moon. The eye was healed by the god Thoth and the restored eye became a symbol in the form of an amulet known as the udjat.

Temple at Edfu 4 Temple at Edfu 5 Temple at Edfu 6 Temple at Edfu 7 Temple at Edfu 8 Temple at Edfu 2

The external walls of the temple carved with figures of the Ptolemaic kings making offerings to various gods.