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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Temple of Horus | Edfu Egypt Day 3


Sometime the night before, we arrived to Edfu. Edfu is located on the west bank of the Nile River between Esna and Aswan, with a population of approximately sixty thousand people.

After breakfast, we gathered outside the cruise ship. There were several horse carriages outside - we were going for a horse carriage ride! The only drawback was that stench of the horses. The horse carriage drivers had attached some sort of bucket to catch the horse dropping - I suppose that it is better than allowing the horse droppings to fall all over the streets. But I noticed that the buckets were not all empty. That probably contributed to the stench!

Two of my friends got themselves seated in the carriage - but there was no space for me, so the driver suggested I sit next to him. This was fine. Then he allowed he to actually ride the horse. The horse, I think a female horse, was strong and had a shiny coat. Initially when I took the reins, the horse proceeded on its own. I felt I was not doing much steering. Later when we approached slight bends in the street, the driver showed me how to pull one rein and slacken the other rein to make the horse move in the desired direction. Then I felt in control of the horse. Quite an exciting feeling, if you like myself, had never experienced it before.

Horse Carriage Ride - Edfu, Egypt

Here are some pictures of Edfu - what friends managed to capture while I was doing the horse riding!

Police Station, Edfu

Shop Making Fresh Bread

Morning Market, Edfu


Of all the temple remains in Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most completely preserved. Built from sandstone blocks, the huge Ptolemaic temple was constructed over the site of a smaller New Kingdom temple, oriented east to west, facing towards the river. The later structure faces north to south and leaves the ruined remains of the older temple pylon to be seen on the east side of the first court.

This is not only the best preserved ancient temple in Egypt, but the second largest after Karnak. It was believed that the temple was built on the site of the great battle between Horus and Seth. Hence, the current temple was but the last in a long series of temples build on this location. It is said that the original structure housing a statue of Horus was a grass hut built in prehistoric times. At any rate, there is an earlier and smaller pylon of Ramesses II which sits in a 90 degree angle to the current building.

The main building, which includes a great Hypostyle Hall, was uncovered by Mariette in the 1860s. There are numerous reliefs, including a depiction of the Feast of the Beautiful Meeting, the annual reunion between Horus and his wife Hathor. The reliefs are mostly situated on the inside of the first pylon, and spiritually connect this temple with Hathor’s Temple at the Dendera complex. During the third month of summer, the priests at the Dendera complex would place the statue of Hathor on her barque (a ceremonial barge) and would thus bring the statue to the Edfu Temple, where it was believed that Horus and Hathor shared a conjugal visit. Each night, the god and goddess would retire to the mamissi, or berthing house.

There is still an entrance colonnade to the mamissi, and reliefs with considerable remaining color just outside the main temple. These images portray the ritual of the birth of Harsomtus, son of Horus and Hathor.


Temple of Horus, Edfu








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