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    مُساهمةموضوع: ELEPHANTINE ISLAND   الأربعاء سبتمبر 01, 2010 10:49 pm


    Elephantine Island is the largest of the Aswan area islands, and is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, with artifacts dating to predynastic periods. This is probably due to its location at the first Cataract of the Nile, which provided a natural boundary between Egypt and Nubia. As an island, it was also easily defensible. In fact, the ancient town located in the southern part of the island was also a fortress through much of it's history. At one time, there was a bridge from the mainland to the island.
    Elephantine is Greek for elephant. In ancient times, the Island, as well as the southern town, was called Abu, or Yabu, which also meant elephant. The town has also been referenced as Kom, after it's principle god of the island, Khnum (Khnemu). It is believed that the island received it's name because it was a major ivory trading center, though in fact, it was a major trading post of many commodities. There are large boulders in the river near the island which resembled bathing elephants, particularly from afar, and this too has been suggested as a reason for the island's name.

    The island is very beautiful, and while many of the artifacts there are in ruin, there is still considerable to see. One of it's main attractions is it's Nilometer, which is one of only three on the Nile, which was used to measure the water level of the Nile as late as the nineteenth century. There has been an ongoing excavation at the town for many years by the German Archaeological Institute, and some of the finds along with many other island artifacts, including a mummified ram of Khnum, are located in the Elephantine Museum. Another major attraction is the ruins of the Temple of Khnum. Elephantine Island was considered to be home of this important Egyptian god, and while this structure dates back to the Queen Hatshepsut of the 18th Dynasty, there are references to a Temple of Khnum on the island as early as the 3rd Dynasty. There are also ruins of a Temple of Satet, who was Khnum's female counterpart (the three local deities were foremost Khnum, but also Satet and a local Nubian goddess Anqet. These gods were worshipped here since the earliest dynasties), also build by Queen Hatshepsut, a shrine to Hekayib from the 6th Dynasty, a local governor who was deified after his death. His cult flourished during the middle kingdom, and some fine statues from the shrine are now in the museum. You will also find a 3rd Dynasty granite step pyramid which is now just visible, and to the north, the mud-brick vaults of the late period which housed the bodies of the royal rams. On the south end of the island is a small one room Ptolemaic temple which was constructed from materials removed from the Kalabsha Temple. Here, there are decorations attributed to the Nubian Pharaoh Arkamani from the 3rd century BC The building seems to have been finished by the Romans with reference to Caesar Augustus.

    Other artifacts and archaeological sites have been removed or destroyed. Prior to 1822, there were temples of Thutmose III and Amenhotep III, both of which were relatively intact, but they were destroyed in that year by the Turkish government. A rare calendar, known as the Elephantine Calendar, dating to the reign of Tuthmosis III, was found in fragments, and a Papyrus dating to the 13th dynasty and known as the Elephantine Papyrus was also discovered. It is unclear where these artifacts are currently located. A stela with inscriptions commemorating the repairs made on a 12th Dynasty fortress which honored Senwosret III was also found, and is now in the British Museum.
    Elephantine Island is a beautiful place to visit, with wonderful gardens and some truly significant artifacts. It is also a good place to spend some leisure time, wondering among the Nubian villages where the people are friendly and the houses are often very colorful. The houses often have paintings or carved with a crocodile at the bottom, a fish in the middle and a man on top, with a woman's hand made of brass as a door knocker between the fish and man. Others will have a sacred black cube of Mecca, with a painting depicting the means of the owner's pilgrimage to Mecca.


    On a 12-meter high granite rock standing out of the Nile River in the southern part of Aswan lies the lofty ancient town of Elephantine. Excavation of the site, which has been on stream for 30 years now, was finally crowned with success. Work is now in full swing under the supervision of Gaballah Ali Gaballah, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, so as to put the final touches before the town be opened for the public.
    Elephantine, which is a resounding architectural triumph, is the only historic town of its kind since the temples, housing and industrial estates built on its land illustrate the progress of the ancient Egyptian civilization as of prehistoric ages (3500 BC) to the Islamic era.

    Elephantine enjoys a very safe position at the top of a 12-meter rock - hence invulnerability to high subterranean water levels. It is because Elephantine has a relatively small area, extensive excavations throughout the town have been carried out. In Pharaonic times, Elephantine had a strategic position being the southern frontier town.

    The gate of the town lies south-west of the garden of Aswan Museum. It leads to the last temple built under the Ptolemic reign (2300 BC) for the worship of goddess Satit (Elephantine Mistress). Like other temples built during that period, Satit temple was later used as a quarry. It had an air of abandonment and neglect to such an extent that only the foundations remained after everything else has disappeared.
    Excavation has proved that Satit temple underwent frequent processes of restoration but it remained a small simple hut built of unbaked bricks nevertheless. A large amount of offerings to Satit made by royalty and the populace was also unearthed. About 1.3Km from the temple’s gate there is evidence of prehistoric settlements.

    In addition to Satit temple, Elephantine hosts Khnum temple, a stairway built by the Romans, the sacred harbour which Amenhotep III built in the 18th Dynasty and two other temples which date back to the Roman-Ptolemic era and of which nothing remained except for loose huge stones beyond number.
    The north side of the stairway bears inscriptions suggesting that the stairway was erected in 139 AD. The stairway was only used during festivals to link the harbor and the temples’ area.

    The island where Elephantine is located was thousands of years BC divided into two parts. East of Elephantine lie the tombs of the rulers of Elephantine in the Old Kingdom and Dynasty XII, the ruins of the monastery of ecclesiastic Samman and the mausoleum of Agha Khan which was erected in the 50’s in the 20th c. North of Elephantine lies a basilica dating back to the 6th c BC. To the north-east lie the temples of Satit and Khnum rebuilt under the reign of Mentuhotep II and Sesostris I.

    Little pieces of furniture were unearthed since furniture made of wood and straw was used to operate stoves. A treasure of coins dating back to the early Ptolemic era, a marriage contract concluded under the reign of Nectanebo II and some utensils made of metal such as stoves grinders and vessels were unearthed as well. All are exhibited alongside other antiquities unearthed by fresh excavations in the Excavation Museum.
    "A lot of concerted efforts exerted by the Egyptian Higher Institute of Antiquities together with the Swiss Archaeological and Architectural Research Institute has been put to render success this event," Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni said

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