July 23, 2013

Elephantine Island

Elephantine Island
This island, which was once of such strategic importance and great renown, is of little touristic interest. The ruins near the quay are all that remain of two New Kingdom Temples that were destroyed by a ruler in 1821 who disliked tourists coming to see them!

Elephantine Island
 The Museum, which contains antiquities excavated from Aswan and its environs and from Nubia, was first built as a resting place for those engaged on building the original Aswan Dam. The exhibits include miscellaneous pre-dynastic objects recovered from Nubia before it was inundated, some Old and Middle Kingdom objects, especially from the Hekaib Sanctuary, various objects of the New Kingdom, and discoveries of the Graeco-Roman period; the latter include mummies of a priest and priestess of Philae found on the Island of Hesseh, and a mummy of the sacred ram.

Plans are under way to build a new museum at Aswan to house these and other selected pieces from Nubia that arc now in Cairo Museum. Meanwhile, many of the most important pieces are stored.

An ancient Nilometer faces Aswan. It consists of a stairway on the river’s bank constructed of regular-shaped stones; it was so designed that the water, rising and falling with the ebb and flow of the flood, could register maximum, minimum and average water levels. A text inscribed on a wall of the Temple of Edfu tells us that when the river rose to 24 cubits and 3^ hands at Elephantine, there was sufficient water to supply the needs of the whole country. Plutarch, the Greek writer, recorded that the Nile once rose at Elephantine to a height of 28 cubits (14.70 metres).
Elephantine Island
The Nilometer was repaired by the Khedive Ismail in 1870. He recorded his work in both French and Arabic. A new scale was established and the ancient construction, unused for centuries, came into use once more. On the walls of the staircase are records in Demotic (fluid hieroglyphic hand) and Greek, showing different water levels.

A second Nilometer, dating to the 26th Dynasty, was recently found by the German-Swiss Institutes of Archaeology, who have been excavating and reconstructing the ruins of the Old Town, at the southern tip of the island, for the last twelve years. Among the monuments there are a granite portal, which once formed the entrance to a large temple, and which is one of few structures in the Nile valley with reliefs of Alexander IV, the son of Alexander the Macedonian conqueror, by Roxane; and the foundations of a small temple built by Nektanebos II, the last native pharaoh, Julius Caesar and Trajan (98-117 AD), whose inscription survives on the single remaining stump of column. Blocks from the edifices of earlier temples with inscriptions of Thutmose III, Ramses III and other New Kingdom pharaohs, had been reused in this temple, and also in another temple of Satis.

Rock Tombs Of Kubbet El Hawa (Western Bank)
AH were broken into at an early date and are not easy of access to the average tourist.

The Kubbet el Hawa, or Dome of the Wind, takes its name from the tiny tomb of a sheikh that rises in lonely silhouette on the summit of the hill almost opposite the northern end of Elephantine. Beneath it, cut into the rock face of the cliff, are the tombs of the noblemen of Elephantine.

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