Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tell Edfu

Wednesday, November 25: On this day, we were the beneficiaries of a very special visit to Tell Edfu. Dr. Nadine Moeller, our scholarly escort and director of the Tell Edfu project, gave us a spectacularly unique tour of the site, including climbing up the settlement layers to the current excavation area and a visit to the roof of the temple proper. The site of Edfu contains a remarkable accumulation of settlement debris going back to the Old Kingdom. To the west of the temple, the ancient settlement can be scene in the area where Dr. Moeller is conducting excavations. However, further ancient settlement, and perhaps temple structures, extends far out under the modern town. Well preserved Ptolemaic Period houses can be seen on top of the settlement mound on the west side. These houses were contemporary to the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus, whose foundation must have required the excavation of settlement debris in antiquity. Construction on the naos ("sanctuary) of the temple began under Ptolemy III Euergetes, as we know from the famous building inscription which runs around the enclosure wall. The bark shrine houses a reused naos of Nectanebo II. Decoration on the inner section of the temple had been completed under Ptolemy IV Philopator. The temple was not fully dedicated until the reign of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Cleopatra II. However, Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II expanded the temple by adding a pronaos, and enclosure wall and a mammisi dedicated to Horus, Hathor and Harsomtus. Much of the decoration of these elements took place under Ptolemy IX Soter II. The construction of the court and pylon were completed and decorated by Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos. In the court in front of the pronaos and behind the pylon blocks from the New Kingdom Sed-festival gate, dating to Taharqa and reused by Psametichus II, were excavated.

Pylon Decoration

Group Portrait in front of Pylon

The Purification-Sanctuary (Wabet)

Inner Sanctuary


Myth of Horus from inside the western enclosure wall

Imhotep Inscription on inside of north east corner of the enclosure wall

Group Portrait before the Falcon Statue in front of the Pronaos

Settlement Area from Temple Roof

On the Archaeological Site


Le temple d'Edfou. 1-15. Cairo: IFAO, 1897-1985

Barbara Watterson. The House of Horus at Edfu: Ritual in an Ancient Egyptian Temple (Gloucestershire: Tempus, 1998)

Dieter Kurth. The Temple of Edfu A Guide by an Ancient Egyptian Priest. Translated by Anthony Alcock (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2004)

Dieter Kurth. Edfou VIII. Die Inschriften des Tempels von Edfu, Abteilung I: Übersetzungen, Band 1. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 1998

Katelijn Vandorpe and Willy Clarysse (eds.). Edfu, An Egyptian Provincial Capital in the Ptolemaic Period. Brussels, 3 September 2001 (Brussel: Koninklijke Vlaamse Academie van Belgue voor Wettenshappen en Kunsten, 2003)

H. W. Fairman. “The Myth of Horus at Edfu – 1.” Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 21 (1935), 26-36

A. M. Blackman and H. W. Fairman. "The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies: A Sacred Drama." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 28 (1942), 32-38

A. M. Blackman and H. W. Fairman. "The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies a Sacred Drama (Continued)." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 29 (1943), 2-36

A. M. Blackman and H. W. Fairman. "The Myth of Horus at Edfu: II. C. The Triumph of Horus over His Enemies a Sacred Drama (Concluded)." Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 30 (1944), 5-22

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Tuesday, November 24: After all the activity at El Kab, you might think that our group would be exhausted, but everyone was still ready to go on yet another non-itinerary addition to the trip - the temple of Esna. A few of us even walked into town from the boat the night before to get a view of the temple at night. While visitors can see only a small portion of this temple, it is not one to be missed. Only the pronaos remains intact, but additional remains may lie under the ancient and modern town debris, which rises as high as the roof the temple. The modern street is on the same level as the roof of the temple and one has to descend to visit the temple itself - a great visual to understand how archaeological layers build up over time. The temple of Esna was dedicated to the god Khnum, often depicted anthropomorphically with a ram-head. We have scene his creative powers before, as he was depicted in Luxor temple fashioning the body and ka of king Amenhotep III on his potter's wheel. Most of the decoration on the temple of Esna was complete by Roman emperors, but the interior of the rear wall was decorated by Ptolemy VI, Ptolemy VIII and Cleopatra II.

Temple of Esna

Temple of Esna (compare level of modern town)

Temple of Esna at Night (compare level of modern town)

Esna 67: The so-called "Baptism of Pharaoh" Scene (Claudius 41-54 AD)
Location Esna Inscription 67

Esna 70: Claudius with Nekhbet and Wadyt, tutelary deities of Upper and Lower Egypt(Claudius 41-54 AD)
Location of Esna Inscription 70

Esna 206: The Theology of Neith of Sais
This column contains a very important text concerning the creation of the world. In this text, the main creative deity is Neith, local deity from the city of Sais in the Nile Delta. The text begins: "Ritual performed in this temple of Neith, great one, mother of the god, lady of Upper and Lower Egypt, (and) performed in the temple of Neith, great one, mother of the god, lady of Esna, on Epiphi 13. Father of fathers, mother of mothers, the goddess who came into being at the beginning when she was in the midst of Nun, having come forth from her limbs while the land was still in darkness, the day having united with the night. Land had not come forth. No plants existed ..." One important section of this text describes the creation of Apophis from the umbilical of the sun god: "Now, she disposed of the umbilical cord of her son, whom she made, in the midst of Nun. It turned into a snake of 120 cubits who is called Apophis. His heart created the rebellion against Re with his conferderates who came forth from his eye."

Esna Temple Ceiling

Esna Temple Ceiling

Esna Temple Columns

Esna Temple Columns

Esna 95: Hymn

Esna 95: Copy
Esna 95: Transcription

Esna 103: Cryptographic Ram Text - a hymn written mainly with variations of the ram hieroglyph

Esna 126: Cryptographic Crocodile Text - a hymn written mostly with variants of the crocodile hieroglyph

Pharaoh doing what Pharaoh does - smiting enemies!

Mosque in the town of Esna

Leitz, Christian. "Die beiden kryptographischen Inschriften aus Esna mit den Widdern und Krokodilen." Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 29 (2001), 251-276
Quack, Joachim Friedrich. "Apopis, Nabelschnur des Re." Studien zur Altägyptischen Kultur 34 (2006), 377-379
Sauneron, Serge. Esna II: Le Temple d'Esna. Cairo: IFAO, 1963

Tombs of El Kab

Tuesday, November 24: After visiting the ancient city of El Kab, we crossed over into the desert to see tombs of the nobles of the late Second Intermediate Period and Early New Kingdom (as well as others). The most famous of these tombs is that of Ahmose, son of Ibana, whose biographical text details his role in the battles with the Hyksos under Ahmose as well as his career under Amenhotep I and Tuthmosis I. A nice website about several of these tombs can be found here.

Tomb 3: Paheri
Paheri is shown standing before scenes of agricultural work. The text before him states: "Watching the river in harvest season (and) the river in growing season, all the preparations made in the field by the governor ..."

Tomb 7: Renni
The tomb of Renni contains a series of very important scenes concerning the mummification of the body and the accompanying funerary rituals. Here we see the final preparation of the mummy on the lion-headed funeral bed. Above, the text reads "Making the purification of the scribe Renni, justified." To the left, we see the opening of the mouth ritual, identified by the text between the figures: "Opening of the mouth."

Tomb 5: Ahmose, son of Ibana
Here we see Ahmose standing before his biographical text. The hieroglyphs face towards the right, but you read the text beginning with the column on the left. The text starts: "As for the overseer of the boat crew, Ahmose, son of Ibana, justified, he says: 'Let me speak to you, everyone! Let me inform you about the favors which came to me ..."

Monday, December 14, 2009

El Kab

Tuesday, November 24: In the morning, we made our way from our boat towards El Kab, a site on the east bank of the Nile between Luxor and Aswan. A special surprise had been arranged for us by Dr. Moeller, who knew the Belgian archaeologists working at the site. They graciously agreed to give us a tour of their latest excavations as well as the remains inside the great enclosure wall. It is safe to say that our group really enjoyed the unique and off the beaten track experience!

Evidence for human habitation at the site extends far into the past. A well evidenced lithic industry, known as the Elkabian, has been dated to the 7th millennium. Early Dynastic remains (dynasties 1-2) are represented by a cemetery as well as a unique mastaba tomb constructed on the top of the cliffs towards the east. However, most of the standing architecture inside the city dates to much later periods. Remains of the Late Period temple of Nekhbet and the temple of Sobek and Thoth are poorly preserved, with mostly just the foundations remaining, but there are still fragments of inscriptions to be found, including the cartouche of Darius. There are remains of a sacred lake and what was probably a mammisi ("birth house"). A partially exposed settlement from the Ptolemaic Period in the south east area of the enclosure wall. Stay tuned for the next post about our visit to the tombs of the Second Intermediate Period/New Kingdom in the desert cliffs outside of the city of El Kab!

El Kab greeter

Dr. Moeller atop the massive, mud-brick enclosure wall

Straddling the enclosure wall (Photo by Judy)

Inside enclosure wall where Early Dynastic tombs were discovered (Photo by Judy)

Stefano tries to get an artistic photo across the sand! (Photo by Judy)

Temple Foundations

Cartouche of Darius (Photo by Judy)

Nadine with the magnetometrist (Photo by Jeff)

Our group leaving El Kab

El Kab Landscape

View towards the east

Friday, December 11, 2009

More Balloon Ride Slide Show

Photos: Jeff and Jamie

Photos: Steve and Judy