Temple at Kom Ombo

We sailed from Edfu up the river to Kom Ombo where another temple from the Greco-Roman period of Egypt stood on the shore.  Despite the blistering heat — at 3pm we were at the worst time of day for this, with temperatures well over 100 F — we climbed out and went exploring.

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We didn’t linger for very long.  Mostly our guide pointed out the key things to see in this temple and then took us back on board for a longer explanation.

The first thing to know was that this temple is the only one that is dedicated to two separate gods: one is the hawk god Horus, the other the crocodile god Sobek.  There’s a relieve on the back of the temple that depicts the gods dividing the temple in two.

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According to mythology, the reason for the double-dedication is as follows:  Horus was the first pharaoh and taught the people to farm.  At this place in the Nile, the crocodiles were worshipped as a force of strength and protection, and as the Sobek became more powerful he demanded that he also be worshipped as the god of agriculture.  But of course he knew nothing about agriculture — he gave the people a pile of gold instead of seeds, which naturally could not grow and led to famine.  Sobek acknowledged that he needed Horus, so Horus returned and the people worshipped both side by side thereafter.  The city of Kom Ombo refers to this legend, as “Kom Ombo” means “pile of gold”.

Another key element of this temple is the depiction of sophisticated medical tools as an offering to the gods.  You can see scissors, various scalpels and surgical clamps, sponges for cleaning, as well as a portrayal of the best position for giving birth.

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The ancient Egyptians had quite advanced medical knowledge and this temple is believed to have served as a sort of medical school as well as place of worship.

Finally, the temple shows a coronation sequence that shows how pharaohs were crowned.

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