THE principal remains are those of a double Temple dedicated to two deities, to whom equal honours were paid. It is Ptolemaic, and a Greek inscription over the entrance of one of the adyta, informs us that part of it was erected by the soldiery stationed in the Ombite nome during the reigns of Ptolemy and Cleopatra, “gods Philometores” ( the sixth Ptolemy and his wife and sister).

    Sevek, or rather Sevek-ra, and Aroëris are the gods of the Temple, and it is curious to observe, both in the hieroglyphics and arrangement of the building, how carefully their equality was preserved, so that no preference should be given either to one or the other. In the Greek inscription I have just mentioned, the latter is called “Aroëris, the great god Apollo.” “He was brother of Osiris and son of the Sun,” says Plutarch, who is confirmed by the hieroglyphics. He appears, in fact, to be a deification of the sun’s rays; and as the hawk typified that luminary as the emblem of light and spirit, so Aroëris is symbolically represented by the hawk.

Sevek-ra was another deified attribute of the Sun, represented by a crocodile, whose scales were supposed to have some agreement therewith. Sevek is here called (and also at Thebes) the father of all the gods, and, therefore, has some claim to be considered as Saturn. In the interior of the Temple he is mentioned as “Sevek, who struck Apoph the serpent in the presence of the Boat of the Sun.” Both these deities are called “Lords of Ombos,” but Sevek appears to have been the more ancient, and, as deity of the Ombite nome, his figure was struck upon the Roman coins.

    The portico has consisted of fifteen columns, of which thirteen remain standing. It is a magnificent structure even in the ruins. On the architrave the winged globe is twice sculptured, the odd number of columns in front compelling or being the result of this double arrangement. From the portico are two doorways leading to an area, supported by columns; but, though these parts of the Temple are double, there is no absolute division until we come to the adyta, which alone were separated.

    A lofty brick wall of circuit has enclosed the sacred precincts; and built into the south-east side of this is an old gateway of the time of Tothmes III., from the hieroglyphics of which we  learn that a Temple of Sevek then existed. In a line with this, on the side of the river, is a portion of a large pylon of the Ptolemaic era, that seems to have stood opposite to the smaller Temple (called the Typhonium, and consecrated to the third member of the Triad), of which the  fragments cover the banks of the river, having fallen from being undermined by the current. Some fragments of columns shew that they were surmounted by the head of Athor, as at Dendera. Some stones shew it to have been built from the materials of a previous one of Thothmes. A small basalt altar lies near. We all read of the enmity of the Tentyrites and Ombites, but it strikes me, from the distance of the belligerent parties, their quarrels could not have been either very frequent or very bloody, notwithstanding all tales to the contrary. To prevent the ill-feeling and hatred that would otherwise have arisen between the different neighbouring provinces, and to maintain peace, the wily priests generally introduced the gods of the adjoining nomes as contemplars; so that, from one end of Egypt to the other was a connected chain of worship – the religious adoration of each nome dovetailed into those adjoining, from the sea to Meroe.

    The sculpture of the Egyptians offers portraits, more especially that of their kings, varied according to the age of the monarch and consequent change in his personal appearance. The gods, however, do not appear (when represented with human heads) to have had any distinction of feature, but are, in nearly every instance, represented with the face of the reigning monarch – a species of flattery somewhat Oriental. Thus the figures of Osiris in the great rock-cut Temple of Aboo-simbel, and all other temples erected or sculptured in his reign, bear the noble features of the great Remeses (the Sesostris of Herodotus).



                   Notes by J.S. Perring, Esq.