Edfu - City of Egypt

Edfu is referred to as the Greek city of Apollinopolis Magna and is termed as a commercial as well as religious center. It is located at an approximate distance of thiry three miles south of Isna and at a distance of 65 miles north of Aswan. In simple words, this is referred to as a friendly town that produces pottery and sugar. To be more specific, it is referred to as a hub of a road network. It is the capital of Horus of Upper Egypt. The chief attraction here is the Temple of Horus that is considered by most to be the well maintained cult temple in Egypt, however, there is a mound of rubble to the west of the Temple that is possibly the original city of Djeba. The town was referred to as Tbot by the ancient Egyptians. The town is located on the western back of the Nile River at a distance of sixty miles south of Luxor with Aswan further south. The town was formerly referred to as "The Place Where Horus is Extolled” or Wetjeset-Hrw. The town derived its name from the ancient Egyptian name “ Djeba” or Coptic name “ Etbo”.  Djeba implies “Retribution Town” as the enemies of the god was brought to justice there itself. The site of ancient Djeba was the conventional location of the mythological battle between the gods of Set and Horus. Djeba implied “Retribution Town”, as the enemies of the God were brought to justice there it self. In Graeco-Roman era Edfu was referred to as Apollinopolis Magna, the Egyptian god Horus by then being recognized with the Greek god Apollo.

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Edfu - Travel in Egypt

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As mentioned earlier, Edfu is referred to as the capital of the second nome of Upper Egypt, a significant regional center from the Old Kingdom, partly because if the large region of fertile land belonging to the city and partly because of the fact that Edfu was located close to the frontier between Nubia and Egypt, though not as close as was Philae. Edfu was possibly a starting point for desert routes leading to the Kharga Oasis in the west as well as to the mines of the Eastern Desert as well as the Red Sea coast in the east. It is true that there isn’t any unquestionable evidence about the early dynastic occupation at Edfu but then a variety of oval graves have been completely found plundered. Edfu comes with an attractive geographic location, eminent within the floodplain in Upper Egypt; hence, logically it would have allured settlers at that time. There is a custom that Imhotep, the architect and vizier who designed the Step Pyramid of Djoser at Saqqara, designed the first stone temple at this city. In recent times, not much detail is known about this temple in recent times. In fact, till date none of the remains have found, however, it was devoted to Horus, Hathor of Dendera as well as their son, Herumatawy.

 However, some of the remains that have been found at Edfu are the remains of the 5th dynasty. Its most ancient cemetery comprises of the mastabas of the old kingdom and later tombs. It covers the region southwest of the zone of the great temple of Horus. Prior to the beginning of the New Kingdom, the necropolis got transferred to Hager, whereas Edfu to the west and then in the late period towards the south at Nag’ el-Hassaya. The complete are was referred to as Behedet. Soon after this, the Horus god was worshipped as Horus Behedt. One amongst these mastabas belonged to a man called Isi. This man was a great chief of the Nome of Edfu in the sixth dynasty. To be more specific, Isi lived during the era when King Djedkare Isesi of the Fifth and Pepi I of the Sixth Dynasties were in power. It goes without saying that Isi was a chief, judge and administrator of the royal archives and a a "Great One among the Tens of the South. Isi later came to be known as a living god and people belonging to the Middle Kingdom also worshipped him. As the old kingdom and sixth dynasty drew to a close, administrative nobles and native regional governors took on a larger power in their regions, away from the royal central authority. During the tenth dynasty, in the first intermediate period, Thebans from the south fought with the rulers of the north i.e. the Herakleopolitans. A man called Ankhtify, who was the governor of the third nome of Upper Egypt as well as follower of the Herakleopolitan kings, held amongst other titles that of "Great Chief of the nomes of Edfu and Hierakonpolis." We also come to know from an autography that there was a feminine all through Upper Egypt. However, he refused to see anybody die of hunger in his province and hence decided to bring to life to the provinces of Hierakonpolis and Edfu, Elephantine, and Ombos!"


















Soon after this, Shabaka and Ramesses II and amongst other New Kingdom monarchs, constructed at Edfu. However, it most popular monumental structure, its remarkable temple to the god Horus was constructed during the Ptolemaic era. The temple that is located in Edfu turned out to be the first new temple that was commissioned by the Ptolemies. To be more specific, the ptolemies were remarkable builders in Egypt and were considered to be the descendants of one amongst the Macedonian Alexander’s generals. At Edfu, God Horus was worshipped as the falcon Horus of Behdet. The temple was referred to as Mesen. The chief building was the remarkable temple of Horus Behediti. It started on 23rd August, 237 BCE by Ptolemy III. However, the temple was officially dedicated in 142 BCE by Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II as well as by his wife Cleopatra II. Close to the eastern tower of the temple pylon, the remains of yet another pylon have been unearthed dating to the Ramesside period. This can have formed part of one of the predecessors of the existing temple. The temple zone comprised of the temple itself, within its personal enclosure wall, as well as other subsidiary temples, workshops, small chapels, storehouses, and dwellings.


 Most of these together with the slaughter house and sacred lake have now been destroyed or lay under the houses of the present city. Towards the south of the temple you will find the ruins of the mammisi. To be more specific, this is the same temple where the birth of God Harsomntus was celebrated. The insufficient architectural remains that is found on the east possibly belong to the temple of the sacred falcon. You will also find the twin towers of the superb entrance pylon of the temple. This was planned so as to come out as the perfect mirror images against each other. You will also get to find two statues of Horus as a falcon flank the entrance gate as well as behind the pylon at the end of the walls.  on either side of the entrance you will be find scenes showing the feast of the beautiful meeting where Horus was united with Hathor of Dendera. The outer hypostyle hall comprises of twelve columns inside and is considered to be the highest of the whole temple. In the eastern side, you will find a library in a small chamber as well as two catalogs inscribed on the walls. These catalogs indicate the number of books held therein. Some of the scroll books those are included include "The book for performing the ritual for the protection of the city, of the houses, of the White Crown, of the year," the roll book of temple guards, and Information about the regular appearance of the sun and moon and the periodical return of the other stars. The small chamber in the western area of the façade was devoted to the consecration of the priest who executed the religious rites on behalf of the king. The chief entrance of the pronaos opens to a large court, encompassed on three sides using a covered colonnade of thirty two columns. Towards the south, the court is restricted by the mighty pylon, the towers of which are above 130 feet in height. One of the most sacred section of the temple as well as its nucleus is the granite shrine or naos that sheltered the main statue. The sanctuary was encompassed by seventeen chambers as well as store rooms as well as eight pillared hall, two smaller halls as well as two staircases that leads to the roof. A chapel at the extreme rear of the sanctuary contained the barque of the god. Eight chapels open off the corridor which leads around the sanctuary, each possibly devoted to the major deities like Osiris, Isis, Min, Khonsu, Ra etc.


Towards the front of the sanctuary was an antechamber, and towards the east you will find a small sacrificial court giving access to the wabt or more commonly the pure place where the statues were dressed and anointed or more commonly a place where they received amulets as well as crowns, prior to leaving the interior as well as accessing the roof.  Towards the west of the antechamber you will find a small room de voted to the god Min. The next chief chamber is close to the exit. Next, you will find the inner hypostyle hall, the roof of which is well supported by twelve columns together with rich floral capitals. The next-door side chambers to the east served as access to the inner passage round the temple as well as treasury for precious stones and metals. The adjacent chambers that are located towards the west are the labs for making sacred oils as well as ointments with instructions on the walls for making the same as well as the Nile chamber where the sacred water was poured into a basin after it had been brought from the nilometer located outside the girdle wall. Starting from the Pylon gateway and moving towards the North enclosure wall, you will find that the temple is only over 150 feet long as well as covers an area of nearly 8400 feet. While the temple is perfectly intact, the auxiliary buildings such as the storehouses, kitchens, administrative office, and slaughterhouses even the grove of falcons, the sacred lake as well as the quay all lie buried under the modern town. You will also get to see the lengthy inscription on the outer face of the girdle wall nearly 300 meters in length, provides details on the functions and names of the variety halls as well as chambers of the temple, an account of the complete building as well as the history of its construction. Reliefs on the enclosure, the pylon as well as the interior walls also related the stories of the ritual journey as well as the reunion of Hathor of Dendera with Horus, reflect representations of the forty two administrative nomes of Egypt of the conventional "Smiting of Enemies" create common throughout Egypt’s history, the Conflict between Horus as well as Set, The Triumph of Horus, the Procession of the Divine Falcon, and different ritual offering-scenes, also conventional in the religious practices of ancient Egypt. When Auguste Mariette first started the clearance of Edfu Temple in 1860 CE, the temple had turned out to be a village filled with stables as well as storehouses, the roof of the Sanctuary region covered in mud-brick houses, as well as the inner chambers filled with rubbish almost to the ceiling. The best part is that scholars as well as tourists may visit Edfu’s remarkable temple and the other remarkable tempes like Karnak. However, when you visit make sure that you have familiarized with the historical heritage.


 The ancient city derived its major reputation from two temples that are considered second only to the Temple of Dendera as specimens of the sacred structures of Egypt. So, if you haven’t yet started making any plans to visit Edfu make sure you that at the earliest.