8 Interesting Facts about Kom Ombo Temple, Aswan, Egypt
Updated On: July 24, 2022
The Location of the Kom Ombo Temple
The little village of Kom Ombo is located on the east bank of the Nile, some 800 kilometres south of Cairo, the capital of Egypt, and 45 kilometres north of the city of Aswan. Kom Ombo, a charming agricultural village surrounded by sugarcane and maize fields, is now home to many Nubians who were uprooted when the Nasser Lake was built and the Nile swamped their hometowns. Overlooking the Nile immediately was Kom Ombo’s majestic Greco-Roman temple. For this reason, almost every Nile cruise that passes by the region makes a stop at this temple.
The Name Kom Ombo
The Arabic term “Kom” denotes a little hill, while the ancient Egyptian hieroglyph “Ombo” denotes “the gold.” The name Kom Ombo, therefore, means “the hill of the gold.” The Pharaonic word “Nbty,” an adjective derived from the word Nebo that signified “gold,” is where the word Ombo truly got its start. The name was slightly altered during the Coptic era to become Enbo, then when Arabic became widely used in Egypt, the word evolved to “Ombo.”
The Ancient Egyptian Mythologies
The god Seth, who is associated with evil and darkness in the myth of Horus and Osiris, somehow changed into a crocodile to flee. The right side building of the Kom Ombo temple is for Sobek (a form of Seth), his wife Hathor, and their son. The ancient Egyptians had very unique religious beliefs, and they had many gods and goddesses, each of whom indicated some morals that motivated the Egyptians to dedicate themselves to worshipping temples (khunso).
The Egyptians thought that by honouring and worshipping terrifying crocodiles as gods, they would be shielded from assaults. However, the temple’s left-hand structure is dedicated to Haroeris, a form of Horus, and his wife. The ancient Egyptians’ devotion to their gods was well known to the Roman emperors, who used the myths of Egypt to their advantage by portraying themselves as Egyptian deities to gain the respect and allegiance of the common Egyptians.
Along with 52 lengthy lines of hieroglyphic writing, you may locate the Roman emperor Domitian on the entry pylon, along with the gods Sobek, Hathor, and Khonsu. Emperor Tiberius is also shown on the temple’s columns, paying tribute and presenting sacrifices to the gods.
History of Kom Ombo
The region had been inhabited since the pre-dynastic period of Egyptian history, and several ancient burial sites were found in and around Kom Ombo, even though Kom Ombo is recognised today for having been built during the Greco-Roman era. Even though the town never fully prospered until the Ptolemies acquired control of Egypt, the name of the town, Kom Ombo (meaning the hill of the gold), indicates how significant it was to the ancient Egyptians economically.
Near the Red Sea, the Ptolemies built a large number of permanent military installations. This encouraged trade between Nile cities and these outposts, particularly Kom Ombo, which served as a hub for several commerce caravans. The Romans’ control over Egypt was when Kom Ombo was at its most illustrious. A sizable component of the Temple of Kom Ombo was built during this time, while several other sections were rebuilt and refurbished. Kom Ombo also became the province’s seat and administrative hub.
The Construction of the Temple
The remains of a much earlier temple named “Ber Sobek,” or the abode of the deity Sobek, were the foundation for the Temple of Kom Ombo. Two rulers of the 18th dynasty—King Tuthmosis III and Queen Hatshepsut, whose magnificent temple is still visible on the West Bank of Luxor—built this earlier temple. During the reign of King Ptolemy V, from 205 to 180 BC, the temple of Kom Ombo was constructed.
After then, from 180 to 169 BC, the temple was still being built, with each monarch adding to the complex throughout that time. The hypostyle hall and a significant component of the Temple of Kom Ombo were built between the years 81 and 96 BC under the rule of Emperor Tiberius. During the reigns of Emperors Caracalla and Macrinus, which lasted until the middle of the third century AD, construction on the temple continued for more than 400 years
The Structure of the Temple
The temple of Kom Ombo is unique in that it is devoted to two deities, unlike many other temples in Egypt. Since the gods are revered independently of one another, the crocodile-headed deity Sobek, who was originally dedicated to the god of water and fertility before becoming the god of creation, may be found on the right, southeast side, away from the Nile. The falcon-headed deity Haroeris, the god of light, heaven, and war, was honoured on the temple’s left-hand, northwestern side. As a result, the temple was also known as “Falcon Castle” and “House of the Crocodile.” In Kom Ombo, Ta-senet-no fret, Pa-neb-tour, and Haroeris—a manifestation of the deity Horus, also known as “Horus the Great”—formed a trio of gods. But Sobek also made together a trio with Chons and Hathor.
The portion of the temple that is still visible today, according to archaeologists and Egyptologists, was constructed on top of earlier structures from the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom. The temple had an enclosure wall around it and was 51 metres wide and 96 metres long. Although construction on the temple’s embellishment continued into the third century after Christ, it was never finished. As a result, only prepared reliefs are visible in the chapel, which is in the temple’s back part.
Other areas of the temple were damaged by the Nile floods, including the western portion of the access pylon, the adjacent wall, and the Mammisi linked to it. 52-line hieroglyphic lettering honours Sobek, Hathor, and Chons in the southeast region of the temple, where the tower of the large pylon symbolising the Roman Emperor Domitian is situated. There used to be a courtyard with 16 columns on either side behind the two major entrances in the temple’s outside wall.
Only the base, or bottom column parts, are visible today. They are also lavishly ornamented with reliefs and hieroglyphics. There are pictures of Tiberius presenting gifts to the gods on the pillars. The ruins of an altar are located in the centre of the courtyard. The holy barge was positioned here during the processions. The “chamber of the offerings” is located inside the second columned hall. Pharaoh Ptolemy XI, Euergetes II, and his wife Cleopatra III are all shown here, together with Pharaoh Ptolemaios VIII. See Dionysus News.
Following this chamber are three front rooms that are transversely organised and were created by Pharaoh Ptolemy VI Philomentor, as seen in the reliefs. Two shrines behind it are devoted to the two gods. The sanctuaries, however, just have a sliver of ornamentation and a dedication inscription. Two passageways encircled the inside of the temple, and one of them opened up onto the courtyard with the 16 columns. The second one went straight to the temple’s heart.
The representations of gods and pharaohs in the middle chambers are incomplete in certain places. A relief that depicts medical equipment and is referred to be a particular feature may be seen in the interior corridor. One of the most significant examples of Ptolemaic architecture is Kom Ombo’s reliefs.
The Description of the Temple
The gate of the temple, a sizable building composed of stone blocks, is reached via a flight of stairs that rise from the ground. Beautiful wall sculptures on the Temple of Kom Ombo’s front show Ptolemaic rulers defeating foes and making sacrifices to the gods. The Roman-era hypostyle hall, which is accessible through the temple’s entrance but has mostly been destroyed and damaged by the passage of time.
The temple’s courtyard is a rectangular open area surrounded by sixteen columns in each of its three orientations. Sadly, only the bases of these columns remain standing today. Interestingly, some of the column tops include capitals. The first inner hall, built during Ptolemy XII’s rule, is located beyond the courtyard. Numerous portraits of the Ptolemies being cleaned by the gods Sobek and Horus can be found to the east of this hall, resembling scenes from other temples like the Edfu and Philae.
The inner hall of the Temple of Kom Ombo has a similar style to the outer hall, but the columns are much shorter and contain stone capitals shaped like lotuses, one of the most revered and significant plants in ancient Egypt. Two shrines to the temple’s two gods, Sobek and Horus, may be found in the Temple of Kom Ombo. They are regarded to be among the oldest parts of the temple because they were erected during Ptolemy VI’s reign and consist of two related rectangular rooms.
The South Eastern portion of the complex is where the Temple of Kom Ombo was created, and it was built under the reign of Ptolemy VII. This building is made up of an exterior courtyard, a front hypostyle hall, and two further rooms where the birth ceremonies for the gods’ son were performed.
Outbuildings and Supporting Structures
The Hathor Chapel: To the right of the southernmost courtyard corner is a modest chapel. Emperor Domitian once began construction on the chapel in honour of the goddess Hathor, but it was tragically never completed. Hathor was compared to the goddess Aphrodite, who was also the goddess of fertility, in Greek mythology from the eastern Mediterranean. This little chapel housed the crocodile mummies and sarcophagi, which may today be shown at the church’s diminutive museum. The mummies are proof of the previous worship centred on the deity Sobek, who had a crocodile head.
The Nilometer: In the northwest corner of the temple complex is a water level gauge called a nilometer. Other miles were in Edfu, Memphis, or Elephantine. The Kom Ombo Nilometer was constructed as a walk-through, circular well shaft. The marks on it allowed one to determine the Nile’s level. The outcomes were crucial to ancient Egypt since they determined the amount of taxes that would be paid by the populace. It mainly dealt with the demand for water in agriculture to irrigate the soil. The better the harvest and the higher the tax rate that Kom Ombo, Edfu, etc. residents could afford, the more water was accessible.
The Mammisi: Up until the 19th century, west of the forecourt. A birth home called the Mammisi is usually at a right angle to the main temple and is shaped like a miniature temple. The Mammisi may be seen in a lot of temples, including the one at Luxor. The Mammisi in Kom Ombo was wiped off by a Nile flood. Pharaoh Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II constructed it. A relief of the Pharaoh and two gods have been preserved in Kom Ombo.
The Growth of Kom Ombo Town
The small town of Kom Ombo, which is situated on the west bank of the Nile between Edfu and Aswan, was once covered in sand. Perhaps, for this reason, the Arabs gave it the name Kom, which means “small mountain,” as the area was once desert and had sandy hills before the excavations, and the town’s most notable landmark, the Kom Ombo Temple, is perched atop a hill overlooking the Nile.
Today, Komombo’s villages have developed into industrial hubs thanks to irrigation, agriculture, and sugar cane plantations that spanned nearly 12,000 hectares. Additionally, sugar refineries, hospitals, and schools have been set up all over, and sugar cane plantations, agriculture, and irrigation have helped the area become more productive. The Kom Ombo Temple’s stones are unique from those of other temples, but what sets it apart is the rich countryside in the backdrop, the clear view of the Nile, and the granite cliffs along the water’s edge.
When is the Best Time to Visit Kom Ombo Temple, Aswan?
Aswan, the sunniest city in southern Egypt, is well-known for its distinctly African vibe. Even though it is a little city, it is blessed with a stunning Nile environment. While Aswan doesn’t have as many impressive ancient monuments as Luxor, it does have some of the most picturesque ancient and modern monuments, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Egypt.
Some people claim that you haven’t truly experienced the great Egyptian Nile until you’ve been to Aswan. Even along the city’s banks, you may find hospitable individuals who are eager to introduce tourists from all over the world to the vibrant tapestry of history, tradition, and culture. From the breathtaking grandeur of Nubian culture to the alluring artefacts of ancient Egypt, Aswan has it all.
The key factor that draws people to Aswan is to spend their wonderful holiday while exploring the city’s magnificent sites and attractions in the city’s weather, which offers certain restorative & renewing benefits. Aswan is best visited in the winter because the summers in Upper Egypt are quite hot, although summer is still pleasant if you have a group of swimmers.
seasonal spring (From March to May)
With highs in Aswan city ranging between 41.6°C and 28.3°C in the spring, the later months have higher temperatures. The absence of rain in Aswan during the spring might be the primary factor in that season’s relatively low travel numbers. During that wonderful season, you may get the finest discount on vacation and leisure time.
Season of Summer (From June to August)
The hottest months of the year have zero per cent precipitation, which makes sense given that they also have the hottest heat. Aswan experiences the lowest levels of tourism from July through August, which lowers the cost of all types of accommodation compared to other times of the year.
Fall Season (From September to November)
Fall weather is warmer than is comfortable, with daily highs between 40.5°C and 28.6°C. Due to the pleasant weather, fall is the second-busiest time of year for tourists. This has an impact on the expenses of lodging and excursions, which might result in increased rates.
Season of Winter (From December to February)
Winter in Aswan is the ideal time to take the most fantastical trip since the city is chilly and the weather is pleasant for all visitors. Between the two seasons, the average high temperature ranges from 28.5°C to 22.6°C. It is the busiest and best time of year for tourists in Aswan, and you may witness a little rain during that time.
Activites to Do in Kom Ombo
Night Nile Felucca from Aswan to Kom Ombo Temple and Edfu: Adventures abound on a felucca voyage. The crew will make Nubian feasts in front of you while you explore historical places along the banks of the Nile, meet locals, and enjoy singing and dancing around campfires. If you’re looking to unwind, you’ll have plenty of time to lean back on your mattress, observe life along the banks of the Nile, read a book, or simply listen to the birds and breeze. The entire felucca will be available for your personal use. No other passengers present. A bizarre tour.
The Best Hotels for Accommodation in Kom Ombo
Hapi Hotel: The Hapi Hotel in Aswan has air-conditioned rooms and a communal lounge, and is 24 kilometres from the Aga Khan Mausoleum. This property’s amenities include a restaurant, a front desk open around-the-clock, room service, and complimentary WiFi. The lodging provides its visitors with a concierge service and a place to store their bags. Rooms options are single, double and triple. Every room at the hotel has a TV, a closet, a private bathroom, bed linens, and towels. A minibar will be available in every accommodation. The Hapi Hotel serves a continental breakfast each morning.
Pyramisa Island Hotel: an exotic resort on an island in Aswan’s centre, amid the Nile. 28 acres of beautifully planted gardens offer stunning views of Aswan city, the mountains, and the Nile. The Agha Khan Mausoleum and the central retail district are just a short sail from Pyramisa Resort. Each of the 450 guestrooms and suites offers breathtaking panoramas of the Nile, the highlands, tropical gardens, and swimming pools. Our rooms are large and comfortable, and they are tastefully decorated with modern amenities. There are 3 restaurants in Pyramisa Island Hotel Aswan which are Nefertari, Italian and Ramses. The Pyramisa Island Hotel Aswan offers the following types of rooms which are Single, Double, Triple, Chalet and Suite.
Kato Dool Nubian Resort: The Kato Dool Nubian Resort offers lodging with a restaurant, free private parking, a communal lounge, and a garden in Aswan, which is 18 miles from the Aga Khan Mausoleum. This 3-star hotel has free WiFi and a tour desk. The hotel supplies visitors with a 24-hour front desk, room service, and currency exchange. Every room in the hotel has a closet. All of the accommodations at Kato Dool Nubian Resort come with a private bathroom, and air conditioning and some even have a sitting space. Each room at the hotel is equipped with towels and bed linens.
The Kato Dool Nubian Resort offers the following types of rooms Double, Triple and Suite. The following services and activities are provided by Kato Dool Nubian Resort (fees may apply) which are Massage, hiking, Evening activities, a local cultural tour or class, dinners with a theme, and touring by foot, Live performance or music and Yoga sessions.
Basma Hotel: Hotel Basma provides distinctive views of the River Nile from its vantage point on Aswan’s tallest hill. It has a pool deck and a tiered garden. It is just across the street from the Nubian Museum. In public spaces, there is free WiFi. Each of the air-conditioned rooms has a private bathroom and is tastefully decorated. All of the rooms include a television and a minibar, and some have views of the Nile. The hotel offers the following types of rooms which are Single, Double, Triple, and Suite. The hotel serves breakfast buffets every day.
On Basma’s rooftop patio, visitors may sip freshly squeezed fruit juices while taking in stunning views of the Nile Valley. A sort of dish is available at the restaurant. The Aswan High Dam is 15 minutes away by car from the Basma Hotel Aswan. Only 2 kilometres separate the hotel from Aswan’s main Nile riverfront street.