Ancient Egyptian Nubian Temples

Nubia is the land of gold, the land of the ruins of those who came before us, a civilization that reached the horizons of the sky, not only expressing the Egyptian culture that dazzled the globe but also telling the tale of the Nubians and their contribution to it over thousands of years.

The most important temples and monuments in Nubia

1. The Kalabsha Temple

The Kalabsha Temple is the largest of the sandstone temples in Nubia and the most complete in its architectural aspects. On the walls are inscriptions from the eternal mythology that tell the story of Isis and Osiris. It is located 56 kilometers south of the Aswan Reservoir. The Kalabsha Temple was built during the reign of the Roman Emperor Octavius Augustus (30 BCE), and it still has its original shape. It is a temple dedicated to the worship of the goddess (Mandulis), the Nubian sun god.

2. Beit el Wali Temple

The governor’s residence temple, carved into the rock by Mesui, the ruler of Kush during King Ramses II’s reign. Ramses II ordered the construction of five more temples in Nubia. The temple lies 55 kilometers south of Aswan. It is King Ramses II’s oldest temple. During the construction of the high dam in 1960 AD, it was relocated. There is a courtyard and a hall for columns in the temple. Drawings, paintings, and religious depictions depicting Isis breastfeeding King Ramses II, as well as scenes of the king’s fights against Asians and Libyans, as well as his wars against the Nubians, can be found on the temple’s walls. The shrine was adorned with inscriptions depicting the king on the battlefield, as well as images of him presenting a cup to Horus, offering and burning incense to Amun-Ra, and a portrait of the goddess Anqat, the waterfall’s emblem, nursing King Ramses II.

3. Temples of Abu Simbel

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel is an archaeological site on the western shore of Lake Nasser that is one of Nubia’s ancient sites. During the reign of King Ramses II in the thirteenth century BCE, the temple was carved out of the mountains. The big temple was for King Ramses II, while the little temple was for his wife, Queen Nefertari, as a lasting tribute to them and their triumph in the Battle of Kadesh. The main temple of King Ramses II is made up of four massive pharaoh statues with a length of up to 25 meters with a double crown for Upper and Lower Egypt, and a breadth of 35 meters. The gate is guarded by 22 baboons who are sun worshipers. The massive figures were cut out of solid rock. All of the statues depicted Ramses II seated on the throne and wearing the double crown, and there are statues of his wives and daughters close to the huge statue’s legs. Queen Nefertari is depicted as the pharaoh’s principal wife and the queen mother, Mutai, who has two sons, in a statue that is no more than the pharaoh’s knees. The entrance is capped with a tiny inscription depicting two images of the king adoring a falcon and holding a hieroglyphic necklace in his right hand, and the goddess of truth and justice (Maat) in his left hand. The interior of the temple is designed in the same triangle pattern as all Egyptian temples.

4. Wadi el Sebua Temples

Wadi al-Sebua or Lions’ Valley (named because of the path of ram-headed lions in the entrance edifice of the temple) is the site of two modern Egyptian temples. The first temple was built by the Eighteenth Dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III and later restored by Ramses II. In its first phase, the temple consisted of a rock sanctuary (about 3 by 2 meters) in front of a brick edifice, an anti-chamber, and a hall partially painted with frescoes. The temple may have been dedicated to one of the local Nubian forms of Horus, but it was changed to Amun later. During the Amarna period, images of Amun were attacked and the decorations deteriorated. The second temple was built by the pharaoh of the nineteenth dynasty, Ramses II, in Lower Nubia, and he reconstructed and expanded the temple of Amenhotep III by building the structures in front of the edifice.

5. Philae Temple

The ruins of Philae include many buildings dating back to the Ptolemaic period (332-30 BC), the most prominent of which is the temple started by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (285 – 246 BC), which was dedicated to Isis, the mother of Horus, the king. A scene in the mammisi or birth room, where the birth of Horus was celebrated, shows Isis breastfeeding her son Horus in the bushes. The Temple of Isis is considered one of the most enduring ancient Egyptian temples; Where the temple continued to perform its role until the reign of the Byzantine King Justinian (527 – 565 AD.), who ordered the closure of all pagan temples, where a priest named Asmit-Akhum inscribed the last hieroglyphic text dating back to the fourth century AD (394 AD). The temple was converted into a Christian church and many temple reliefs were destroyed. Next to the Temple of Isis is a temple dedicated to Hathor, built by Ptolemy IV Philomotor (180 – 145 BC), and Augustus, the first emperor of Rome (30 BC – 14 AD). The kiosk of Trajan (98-117 AD) in front of the Temple of Philae is still standing, although its roof no longer exists, and the regular arrangement of its magnificent columns attracted the attention of travelers, who described and photographed it. Isis was the main deity of the region, and the emperor is depicted making offerings to her and her husband Osiris and their son Horus. All these antiquities were moved from the original island of Philae to the nearby island of Agilkia during the UNESCO Nuba campaign in the 1960s to save the sites that were flooded by the waters of the Nile in the process of building the Aswan High Dam.

6. Qasr Ibrim Fortress

Qasr Ibrim, positioned on a rock above the Nile, was once a stronghold and a great city. Qasr Ibrim is now situated on a rocky island in the middle of the Nile River, thanks to the dam’s construction. Tourists are unable to come due to the fact that it is not open to the public.

7. Temple of Dakka

Originally a tiny shrine dedicated to Thoth, the Temple of Dakka was extended and utilized as a stronghold along the Nile River during the Roman Empire.

8. Temple of Maharraqua

Maharraqua Temple is a modest, incomplete temple with no recorded history. Scholars have been stumped as to who and why this temple was created. It does have one distinctive feature, however: a spiral staircase leading to the roof. This is the only Nubian monument with this characteristic.

9. Temple of Amada

The Amada Temple is considered Nubia’s oldest structure. It was dedicated to Amun and Re-Horakhty by pharaoh Thutmose III in the 18th dynasty. Ramesses II was one of several pharaohs who contributed to the temple over time.

10. Temple of Derr

With six columns, it’s a little Roman Kiosk. While the edifice is still unfinished, what can be seen of it is stunning.

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