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kom ombo

Kom Ombo Temples

Many of the famous temples in Ancient Egypt feature some unique characteristics. For the Kom Ombo Temples, they appear to be one singular shrine but actually they are a duo or twin temple. Read on to find out more about this unique ancient monument.

What are the Kom Ombo Temples?

The Kom Ombo Temples are devoted to two different gods: Sobek, the crocodile god and Horus, the mighty falcon headed god. It is a strange temple because it is the only one built in Ancient Egypt for the worship of two gods. The temples are perfectly symmetrical temples and are nearly mirrors of each other.  

When was the Kom Ombo Temple built?

It was built between 180 BC and 145 BC during the Ptolemaic period. It is a pretty recent temple compared to others that were built during the New and Old Kingdoms. However, there are traces on the site of a temple commissioned by Queen Hatsehpsut and Pharaoh Tutmeses III, called The House of Sobek.

During the Ptolemaic era the monument saw a number of new additions. For example, between 51 BC and 47 BC Ptolemy XIII introduced two large hypostyle halls—considered the largest contribution to the temples.

Although it was primarily for worship, the Kom Ombo Temple was also lauded as healing center and something of a place for wellness and treatment. This attracting swaths of pilgrims that came looking for cures for various ailments and illnesses.  

What is the legendary tale of the Temple of Kom Ombo?

There are a number of legends and several renditions of the Egyptian gods and their origin stories. According to the legend of Kom Ombo, the gods Sobek and Horus were actually brothers. Horus ruled over the land was known for being a righteous king. Sobek was jealous of him and decided to expel Horus, usurping his place as ruler.  

But things were not so simple and straightforward for Sobek. Given the population density was quite low, there were not enough hands to work the plantations and agricultural fields. Sobek took matters into his own hands and decided to make a deal with demons to work on the land. During harvest, , gold sprouted up instead of crops. The people starved and Sobek decided reconciling with Horus is a good solution to the situation. So, Horus returned took the throne again, this time sharing it with Sobek, and the region thrived once again.


What to see in the Kom Ombo Temples?

When visiting the temples, pass through the forecourt and stumble upon a duo twin altar in the heart. From there, walk towards the shared hypostyle halls consisting of ten columns each. The walls of both halls depict various Ptolemy era emperors in coronation scenes.

Following the hypostyle halls, you will find three antechambers, each one featuring two separate doors that lead into the sanctuaries of Horus and Sobek, uncovering a secret passageway where the priests used to answer the pilgrims' prayers.

On the northern side of the Kom Ombo's rear wall a series of surgical instruments are illustrated in the hieroglyphs. They were most likely during the daily rituals given the temple was a center for healing.

In the southeast corner of the temples you will find a tiny sanctuary devoted to the goddess of love Hathor. As you exit the temple, will encounter a small Crocodile Museum that exhibits an extensive collection of mummified crocodiles.

Is it worth visiting the Kom Ombo Temples?

The Kom Ombo Temples are among the most fascinating temples to visit when in Egypt. Although it does not feature many artifacts, but there is an impressive number of mummified crocodiles and hieroglyphics on the walls that act as unique records of Ancient Egypt’s surgical procedures and medical treatments.

Another notable feature of the temple is the "Nilometer" which connects to the Nile through a series of channels that measures the water level to predict the floods.

Unfortunately, the temples suffered great damaged from earthquakes and natural disasters over the years. This is alone with vandalism and the ramifications of religious persecution. Local residents also contributed to the deterioration temples by using the building material to construct houses. Following another earthquake in 1992, the temples were shut down for three years for restoration efforts. Today, visitors can enjoy the beautifully renovated temple— one of the main attractions between Luxor and Aswan.

What to see in the Kom Ombo Temples

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