Small Isis Temple

By Jacqueline Engel

Small Isis Temple in the middle of Aswan City

Construction of the 19–metre-high temple started in during the reign of Pharaoh Ptolemy III. (690BC)

It was built a place for worshipping the goddess Isis.

The King offering to the goddess Isis who is breastfeeding Horus.

The temple was built of sandstone, and has two doors, of which the main one is crowned with an ornament topped by a winged sun disk.

It is through this door that visitors enter into a hall with three open rooms.

On the eastern wall of the middle room, also called the Sanctum, some scenes of offering sacrifices had been engraved.

The temple walls also feature scenes from Egyptian mythology, as Isis brings Osiris back to life, gives birth to Horus, and mummifies Osiris after his death.

The King offering to the goddess Isis.
Behind her is the goddess Hathor.

Its decorations date from the period of the later Ptolemies and of the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius (27 BCE-37 CE), but were never completed. The Roman emperor Hadrian (117-138 CE) added a gate west of the complex. Other small temples or shrines dedicated to Egyptian deities in the complex include a temple to Imhotep, one to Hathor, and chapels to Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys.

Towards the main hall’s back wall, one can admire the wonderful scenes depicting the King making offerings to the gods Satet, Anqet, and Khnum, known as the Aswan trinity.

This section contains three imposing granite altars in the hall, two of which are located on the northern corridor of the main hall. The other altar is situated on the southern corridor, in addition to another one inside the Chamber of the Holy of Holies.

The King offering to the goddess Isis.
Her sister, the goddess Nephtys behind her.

All of these altars contain inscriptions of the titles of the Pharaoh Ptolemy IV, along with some pictorial scenes on the southern pillar of the hall representing a group of saints.

The latter discovery confirms that the temple was used as a church in later periods.

In the middle of the temple’s façade is the majestic main gate, decorated with colourful scenes and texts, and above which one can find the winged sun disk featured in the middle.

The entrance leads to a transverse hall containing three rooms in the middle of the hall of the Holy of Holies.


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