Kom Ombo Temple in Aswan Egypt | Facts Reasons for constructing the temple & History of the Pharaonic Temples, plan, architecture and reliefs.
Kom Ombo Temple
Kom Ombo temple Location
The temple of Kom Ombo is located on the east bank of the Nile River about 55km to the north of Aswan. The temple was built on a high hill on the eastern bank overlooking the Nile River.
What Does it mean Kom Ombo? | Kom Ombo Meaning
The development of the name started as
In Hieroglyphics: Nebyt means Gold
In Demotic: Imba
In Coptic: Nebo
In Greek: Ambos
In Latin Amboy
Later on, because the temple was built 15m higher than the Nile and it looked like a hill
So, in Arabic Kom means Hill and Ambos means gold
Finally, Kom Ombo means the Hill of Gold.
Kom Ombo Through the history
Kom Ombo is known since the prehistorical era and it has a very advanced civilization called Sabyl that dates back to the Neolithic (3800-5000) BC. In that village called Sabyl, archeologists discovered the first killed person in history till now with a knife in his back
Sabyl people were very advanced and they developed the flint industry
Kom Ombo started to flourish during the historical period especially after the Nile took that curve creating Al Mansoria Island
Kom Ombo on the eastern desert way to Marsa Alam
Ptolemaic Kings imported Indian Elephants as part of the Ptolemaic army
They became the trainer of the elephants
The city flourished
Roma emperors stop importing the elephants
People left the village and it became ruins
To Whom Kom Ombo Temple was Built?
Kom Ombo temple is a very unique temple in Egypt as it is the only surviving temple until now that was built for two gods. The temple was built for the God Sobek, the crocodile-headed god, and Horus the elder.
Facts About Kom Ombo Temple
- Kom Ombo temple on the east bank of the Nile River
- The only double temple means everything is duplicated along the main axis
- The temple of Kom Ombo took 385 years to be finished
- God Sobek temple is on the east side
- Horus temple on the West side
- The two temples never operate at the same time
- The first Pylon of the temple is now in the River Nile
- The temple is an Egyptian temple built in the Greco-Roman Era
- The nilometer is one of the temple features
- Two Holy of Holies separated by a secret chamber
- Like Dendera temple, Kom Ombo temple has Sanitarium
- First surgical instruments are portrayed on the back wall of the Kom Ombo temple
- Archeologists found around 300 mummified crocodiles in the temple of Kom Ombo
- The ceiling is decorated with astronomical scenes
- A list of all the Egyptian Nomes in the Ptolemaic Period is designed beside the surgical instruments
- Three crypts are found in the temple of Kom Ombo, one underground, one if a middle level, and the last one at a higher position.
- The majority of the Egyptian Pharaonic temples were built on much older temples. Kom Ombo follows the same traditions as it said it was a temple called Ber Sobek means the House of Sobek. Queen Hatshepsut from the 18th Dynasty, The New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt built the old temple, and Tuthmosis III was mentioned with her.
- King Ptolemy V started the temple between the years 180 and 205 BC
- Kings Ptolemy VI and Ptolemy VIII between 180-116 BC added parts to the temple
- During the Roman Era emperor Tiberius, 6. Emperor Domitian, emperors Caracalla, Geta, and Macrinus added decoration or restored the temple.
- In general, the Kom Ombo temple is a unique Pharaonic temple in Egypt that was built during the Ptolemaic Dynasty and decorated during the Roman era.
What Materials did they use for building the Kom Ombo temple?
They used sandstone from Gebel El Selsela near Kom Ombo city.
Kom Ombo Temple Layout | Kom Ombo temple plan
- First Pylon
- Gate of Ptolemy XII Kom Ombo Temple
- First Open Court of Augustus
- Hypostyle Hall of Ptolemy XII
- Second Hypostyle Hall
- Broad Halls
- Sobek Sanctuary
- Haroeris Sanctuary
- Inner enclosure wall
- Outer enclosure wall
- Mud-Brick enclosure wall
- Birth House of Ptolemy VIII
- Crocodile Museum
Why Kom Ombo Temple was built? Reasons for constructing the temple
Kom Ombo city was never an independent Nome but it was the southern border of the second Nome. The Capital of the second Nome was Edfu and Edfu had its own god Horus.
While, Kom Ombo and because of the Nile River curve in the area, a small natural island was created on the western bank facing Kom Ombo. The Island became a perfect rest place for the Crocodiles, so, the crocodile was the od of the area.
The Ptolemaic kings paid much attention to the desert, especially Ptolemy II. Ptolemies Kings founded the major ports of the Red Sea to import Elephants from India. So, Kom Ombo became very important and they thought to build a temple for their god Sobek but Horus had his fans.
The decision was to build a temple for both gods Horus and Sobek and they shared everything in the temple.
The second reason, the temple had a sanitarium and seems that the Kom Ombo temple was used as a hospital.
Kom Ombo temple architecture and reliefs
The First Pylon of Kom Ombo temple is supposed to have two towers and a gate in between like all the Pharaonic temples but here we should expect two gates.
We can see only the foundation stones along with part of the wall. The scenes show the Roman Emperor Domitian in front of Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu. unfortunately, the south tower and its gate almost disappeared, and the north one we still have part of the tower.
The North Gate of Ptolemy XII Kom Ombo Temple
The lower part of the gate still can be seen to the right side of the visitor. We still can see some beautiful scenes here such as
Ptolemy XII in front of Horus, Ta sent Nefert (The beautiful sister, which could be Isis) and the son Pa N Neb Tawy, the lord of the two lands.
King Ptolemy XII in front of Horus, Isis, Geb, and Nut. Another scene is for the same king in front of ISIS, Osiris, Ptah Soker, and Goddess Sekhmet.
The South Gate of Ptolemy XII Kom Ombo Temple
Almost the same scenes as the North gate but in front of the other triad Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu Hor, the son.
The Open Courtyard of Sobek and Haroeris
This open court was built by Tiberius because of his cartouches and his offering scenes on the columns. Only 16 columns surrounded the open court from 3 sides and were mostly destroyed.
The scenes on the columns show a king with different crowns (Tiberius) burning incense or offering sacrifices to the north triad Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu Hor the som. While on the south columns in front of Horus, Ta sent Nefert and their son.
In the center of the open court, there is an altar base for the sacrifices or where the sacred barque would rest during festival processions.
Back of the Open Court of Tiberius (Forecourt)
Beautiful scenes for Ptolemy XII on both sides inside what we call a screen wall (A wall between two columns but for half distance). The screen walls separate who is inside from that outside and help to light the place inside. Same as the screen wall of the Dendera temple between the Hathoric Columns.
To the right and left, there are two beautiful scenes inside the screen walls and to the north side of each of them, there is a door and hieroglyphic text out of 52 lines.
Wonderfully preserved relief for Ptolemy XII between two gods purifying him with the key of life, God Thoth, and God Horus. The purification supposes to be in front of Horus the elder but the wall is broken.
Another wonderful scene is of Ptolemy XII standing in a long dress and sandals (he does not know Egyptian traditions). In front of him, the priest burning incense and the signs of the state on their standards.
The screen wall scene shows Ptolemy XII purified by God Horus and God Thoth but in the presence of Sobek.
There are two doorways together with their lentils have 182 hieroglyphic lines talking about Gods and every God has his name in a cartouche and from where he came.
Moreover, the hieroglyphic lines explain the victory of God Ra over his enemies
The entrances Lentils
The two entrances for the symmetrically two halves of the temple are decorated with the winged sun disc and the names of the Ptolemy XII
The Back walls of the Forecourt | Front side of the First Hypostyle Hall
The façade shows the purification of the king and here will be the coronation of the King. Goddess Wadjet and Goddess Nekhbet put the double crown above the head of Ptolemy XII in front of Sobek and Hathor.
Another wonderful scene for the coronation of Ptolemy XII in front of ISIS is a woman with a lioness head and behind her stands the son Horus and behind Horus, the father Horus the elder.
The coronation in front of Nut and Djhuty, the god of writing. King Ptolemy XII and behind him Cleopatra VI in front of Horus the elder, Sobek, and Hathor.
Again, beautiful scenes in three registers and the bottom one is the most important one. The ritual of constructing the temple such as
The kings in front of Sobel, Hathor, and Khonsu then the king stretch the rope with Seshat Goddess of science and dedicated the temple to the gods.
The king is offering flowers to God Geb of earth and Goddess Nut of the Sky.
The Columns of the Forecourt
There are 10 columns, some of the columns are finished and some are not with reliefs for Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II with the gods.
A beautiful scene of the Goddess Nut carrying her sign and a man with two goose ears representing the sky.
The King Neos Dionysus in the presence of Haroeris is blessed by a lion-headed Isis
The ceiling over the main two aisles is decorated with the winged Nekhbet, the vulture.
The Second Hypostyle Hall
From the Vestibule to the second Hypostyle Hall with 10 papyrus columns boasting floral. The reliefs show Euergetes offering to different gods.
One of the most beautiful scenes in Kom Ombo temple is that of Ptolemy VIII with his sister-wife and co-ruler Cleopatra II. God Haroeris presents Ptolemy VIII Euergetes with a curved weapon, representing the sword of victory.
From the second Hypostyle Hall, there are three antechambers, each with double entrances, leading to the sanctuaries of Sobek and Haroeris. Small rooms on both sides were used like storage rooms in the past.
King Ptolemy VI in a normal offering scene to the two triads of the temple, once in front of Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu. While, he offers again in front of Horus the elder, Tasenet Nefert, and their son Horus Pa Neb Tawi.
Similar offering scenes to the first antechamber, King Ptolemy VI pray and offer sacrifices to Sobek and Horus.
Again, repeated scenes of king Ptolemy VI and his Queen Cleopatra II worshipping Sobek, Hathor, Khonsu, Horus the elder, Tasenet Nefert, and their son Horus Pa Neb Tawi.
Egyptian Calendar | Kom Ombo Calendar
The scene is divided into 3 registers, first is talking about the gods and goddesses sharing in everyday ceremonies of the temple.
While the second register talks about the holly flood and the third represent 3 female lioness-headed ladies. The ladies represent the the3 seasons of the ancient year Akht (Flood Season), Prt (growing the seeds), and Shemu (the harvest).
Then, there are the days on which they are supposed to offer sacrifices. finally, the funny thing is a sign called CRQ means the end of everything.
Kom Ombo temple as a double temple has two sanctuaries of Sobek and Horus the Elder. However, the only thing we can see there are the two black granite Pedestals for the sacred boats of Sobek and Horus the Elder.
Surprisingly, there is a secret corridor between the two sanctuaries that allows a priest acting as the “Oracle” to pronounce the god’s will.
7 Rooms behind the Sanctuary
There are 7 small rooms behind the Holy of Holies and they are party decorated mostly and were used as storage places. The 5 rooms from west to east are the treasures room, Horus chapel, Sobek Chapel, and God Ra chapel. Also, we can still see how they connected the stones together in a way called Filling stones.
It was supposed to be a place where they keep the divine animal of the temple but unfortunately, we never found these places in the Egyptian Pharaonic temples. Normally, the crocodile was offered a Cake with honey, Grilled goose, and ostrich eggs.
The Mammisi is a new feature that was added to the Pharaonic temples built in the Greco-Roman Period. Dendera temple, Edfu temple, Phaile temple together with Kom Ombo temple all have Mammisi or Birth Houses.
The Mammisi can be found in many temples, sometimes outside the temple like Karnak temple and sometimes Part of the temple like Edfu temple.
The word Mammisi or Mamisi is derived from two ancient Egyptian words Ma Miss means the place of Birth. The Kom Ombo temple Mammisi was built by Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and the scenes show the birth of the King as Horus on earth.
Kom Ombo surgical instruments
On the outer wall, there is a relief of the medical and surgical instruments which is one of the oldest of its type till now.
There is a scene for an unknown king as his name is not there offers this Surgical Instrument to the temple. There are two gods, a female ISIS and another male God from his beard setting on small chairs.
We can see then the surgical instruments including scalpels, curettes, forceps, forceps, medicine bottles, scissors, and prescriptions.
The Nile River Flood Level
Right after the surgical instruments, there are hieroglyphic inscriptions describing such places as Aswan, Edfu, Unknown place, and Memphis, and mentioning the Nile Flood Level. In that scene, there is a stand and a copper jar with water from everywhere in Egypt.
The Division of Kom Ombo temple
The relief is not as it seems, it is the place where the high priests were set to follow the temple work. We can see Maat, Goddess of Justice spread her wings. There are 4 figures representing the 4 directions east, west, north, and south.
Horus’s eyes and ears are portrayed there with the enemies and slaves.
Kom Ombo Nilometer is located in the northwest part of the temple complex and it is a very deep whole connected to the Nile River. Here, the Kom Ombo Nilometer was built in the form of a round well shaft with stairs. The function of the Nilometer is to measure the Nile Flood during the flood season.
That was the way how the ancient Egyptian Government calculated the taxes in the past. When the flood is very high and destroyed everything, were no taxes. Meanwhile, if the flood was so low, means they won’t be able to grow crops, no taxes. If the flood in the right level, farmers should pay taxes as crops or working days for the government.
Chapel of Hathor in Kom Ombo Temple
A small room 5*3 meters in the south corner of the temple is not decorated from the inside but there are some reliefs on the façade. For example, the goddess Hathor and the king offer offerings to the goddess Ta Senet Nefert and God Bes, the god of music.
Emperor Domitian built the chapel in honor of the Goddess Hathor, the equivalent of the goddess Aphrodite for the Greeks. In the past, the chapel housed the mummies of the crocodile till they inaugurated the Crocodile Museum.
Crocodile Museum in Kom Ombo
On Tuesday, Jan 2012 Egypt inaugurated the first museum devoted exclusively to crocodiles. The Museum is located by the exit of Kom Ombo temple and displays 22 mummified crocodiles of various sizes.
The Museum of the Crocodiles displays also crocodile coffins, wooden sarcophagi, and Crocodile eggs.
Kom Ombo temple is open daily from 09.00 am to 17.00 pm.
You can purchase an Entrance ticket for Kom Ombo Temple from the Ticket window which is next to the entrance of the Nubian Café Shop
Adult: EGP 180 (9.3 $)
Students with valid cards: EGP 90(4.6 $)
Children aged 6-12 years: EGP 90 (4.6 $)
Children under 6 years: FREE
Tips for visiting Luxor temple
If you can visit the Kom Ombo temple with an archaeologist guide. You will never find everything in one book and the guides will give you more details about ancient Egyptian History and ancient Egyptian Religion.
Read before you go and make up your questions list to ask your guide and know more about Pharaonic temples and the Pharaonic Religion.
Take extra water with you and some snacks, especially in the summer months, and drink at least 5 small bottles of mineral water to not hydrate.
Small change for the WC
Do not forget to take your hat, sunglasses, and suncream with you
Cotton dress during summer
There is a beautiful café shop in front of the temple, you can relax and have a drink whenever you like.
Kom Ombo temple operated as a healing temple and Haroeris (Horus the Elder), was mentioned as a healer
All the missing parts of the temple date back to Khedive Said Pacha who gave the order to take the temple blocks to build a sugar cane factory.
The reliefs covering the Kom Ombo temple are 400 scenes, Dendera 1200 scenes, and Edfu 1912 scenes.