Kom Ombo, Aswan

Kom 05 The temple at Kom Ombo stands on the banks of the Nile, around 40 kilometres north of Aswan. It’s unique, in that it’s two temples dedicated to the God Sobec, the crocodile god, and Haroeris, the falcon-headed god. The two temples stand side by side on a hill overlooking the river – hence the two doors above – built over a period of 400 years between 200BC and 200AD. The first pylon was destroyed in an earthquake but the hypostyle hall remains. This is a Ptolemaic temple and many of the figures display advanced carving techniques, showing nails, jewellery and more realistic body form, including muscles. The figures still adopt the early conventions though, with feet and legs in profile, the male upper body facing forward and the head in profile. In part of the temple the calendar is depicted in hieroglyphs. The year had three seasons, and twelve months of 30 days each. To that they added five feast days, making 365 days. Every fourth year they added an extra day, to give 366 days, equivalent to our leap year.

Behind the temple’s sacred place is a wall showing the surgical instruments in use, together with birthing chairs. The sink allows them to mix alcohol and water to sterilise their instruments. Just as well really, as there was quite a bit of invasive surgery practised. Including brain surgery…

Outside the temple is a Nilometer, which measured the water’s rise and hence the likely crop yield [and therefore taxes…] and the crocodile museum. The museum is well designed and the exhibits simply and effectively displayed. When you go it to the black space you are greeted with a glass case containing mummified crocodiles – quite stunning. As with most of the places we visit, we are the only visitors. The ticket office, security screens and turnstiles are abandoned; the antiquities inspector’s office empty. Someone appears from the nearby café and takes our money; there are different prices for tourists and locals. Just as well, as we’ve paid the equivalent of a day’s pay to get in. We attract vendors of T-shirts. The price starts at 5 Egyptian pounds (less than 50p) and rapidly drops to 3 EP. Desperation. Temple of Kom Ombo on the Nile

Surgical instruments and birthing chairs...

Surgical instruments and birthing chairs…

Exquisite carving...

Exquisite carving…

Mummified crocodiles...

Mummified crocodiles in the museum

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