This morning we set sail for Aswan which was the southern frontier of ancient Egypt and provided a gateway to Africa. It is here that granite quarries are found and supplied the rest of Egypt in the building of temples and pyramids. The Ptolemies ruled here from 323-30 BC and built the remarkable Philae Temple dedicated to the goddess Isis. Isis was the goddess of fertility and motherhood. She was the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. Her name literally means Queen of the Throne and she was often depicted with a headdress that was an empty throne chair belonging to her husband Osiris. In ancient Egypt, the pharaoh was often portrayed as her child and sat on the throne she provided. Philae Temple was built during the reign of Ptolemy II and continued by Ptolemy IV, V, VI, VII, and XI. The temple was submerged after the first Aswan dam was built in 1906 and was later saved and moved by UNESCO to Agilika Island after the building of the Aswan High Dam in 1971. Agilika Island was modelled after Philae Island and the temple was moved stone by stone and took 9 years to complete!
The first 18-meter pylon of Philae Temple has two towers and an open forecourt leading to the second pylon. The mamisi or birth house here has scenes depicting the birth of Horus by Isis and Horus as a falcon in the swamps of the Delta. The second pylon leads to the hypostyle hall where you can find Coptic crosses carved into the walls when the temple became a Christian place of worship during the early Byzantine times. From here the three vestibules lead into the inner sanctuary where a golden statue of Isis and her barque used to stand. On the west is a door leading to the Gate of Hadrian with reliefs depicting Hadrian making offerings to Osiris, Isis, etc. as well as Marcus Aurelius making offerings of grapes and flowers to Isis.
From Philae Temple, we were taken for a ride on a traditional Egyptian sail boat called a felucca. We went around Lord Kitchener’s Island and Elephantine Island. We returned to our cruise for a relaxing lunch before we took a speed boat to visit a Nubian Village about 45 mins away.
Our 4 nights on the Nile cruise quickly came to an end We saw a lot but there is so much more to see. Next post will be on Abu Simbel, my favorite temple visited on this Egyptian adventure. Stay tuned!
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