Kom Ombo (The Umbu, Learn Umbu)

Kom Ombo (The Umbu, Learn Umbu) lies 65 km south of Edfu i 165 km from Luxor and 45 km north of Aswan, in place of, where the rocky Jabal al-Sisila valley widens and turns into a fertile farmland, on which sugarcane and grain are grown. The villages of Kom Ombo and Daraw form the center of the valley cut by irrigation canals. The inhabitants of Lower Nubia were settled here, who had to leave their villages flooded by the waters of Lake Nasser. Today's Kom Ombo is primarily a sugar cane refinery and a shipyard, where felucki are built.

The cult district of Sobek and Haroeris

The sanctuary stands on a high bank just off the bend of the Nile. The location of the temple was her asset, and also a curse, because it was visible from a distance and it attracted pilgrims traveling along the Nile. The capricious river slowly washed the escarpment, until the pylon and the first courtyard collapsed. The abandoned building was covered with successive layers of sand, which filled the interior in late antiquity. This saved the monument from destruction by the hands of the first Christians and later Muslims.
At the time of its discovery, the temple was already devoid of a roof, a part, which slipped off the slope, protracted subsequent strokes. There are also no herds of sacred crocodiles on the sandy beach, which after their death were mummified and placed in the nearby necropolis.
Before part of the temple collapsed into the river, the entrance gate was a pylon with double gates, signifying the dual nature of the tabernacle. On the right there are fragments of the gate of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus, Cleopatra the Great's father. The Roman courtyard was once surrounded on three sides by columned porticoes. The western part of the portico was divided in half by large double doors. The northern and southern colonnades adjoined the hypostyle hall. In the center of the courtyard there was a double sacrificial altar with a granite pool, where both deities were libated, pouring out liquid sacrifices to the ground.
The courtyard is surrounded only by the lower fragments 16 great painted columns. They are decorated with reliefs with traces of the original colors.
They show Emperor Tiberius (next to the cartridges) making sacrifices in the temple.


Although the courtyard has not been preserved in its entirety, nevertheless, it is a good perspective to look at the facade of the temple built of local sandstone from the nearby quarries of Jabal al-Sisila during Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus. It was once decorated with five huge beam columns with composite heads. Only three are still standing today, carrying an imposing architrave decorated with two winged solar disks above the entrance. The curtain walls feature scenes of the purification of Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysus, which are performed by Haroeris, Thot and Sobek. Above them, beautifully preserved colorful cartouches with the names of the Ptolemaic ruler.
Outer hypostyle hall (narthex) it is a mighty forest of columns supporting the sky (two rows of five columns). Scenes with Sobek on the south side and Haroeris on the north side are repeated symmetrically throughout the temple. The decorations of the inner halls show Ptolemy VI Philometor with his sister and wife Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II with successive wives – Cleopatra II and Cleopatra III. Reliefs are concave and more elaborate. The ceiling is decorated with astronomical scenes and ornaments depicting a vulture and an attacking cobra – symbol of the goddesses Nekhbet and Wadget. You can also see ribbons of hieroglyphs interspersed with symbols of life – also, below which the pharaohs pay homage to the deities. On the inner wall of the first hypostyle room are magnificent, delicate bas-reliefs with Ptolemy XII standing in front of Sobek and Haroeris and the vulture goddess Nekhbet and a cobra woman, goddess Wadget.
On the other side, Pharaoh stands before Isis, Horus the Elder and the lion-headed goddess Mehit. From the first hypostyle hall runs an internal corridor between the temple proper and the inner wall of the complex. It leads to the inner part of the temple, and in the farthest part it contains a series of small rooms. Right behind the wall of this corridor there is another corridor - outside, behind which there is a side courtyard. Second hypostyle hall (inside) seems to repeat the first, but on a smaller scale. The entrance to it is decorated with two images of Sobek in the form of a crocodile. On the columns you can see Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II. Closer to the center of the sanctuary, there are reliefs with his brother Ptolemy VI Philometor. On the central pillar between the two doors to the transverse vestibule you can see lists of Egyptian holidays. The most magnificent reliefs have been preserved in the left corner of the room, where Ptolemy VIII receives chepesh from Haroeris (sword of victory). He is accompanied by his sister and wife Cleopatra II. In the corners of the room there were two staircases to the roof of the temple. The northern staircase was winding, and the south, serving to carry the statue of the deity in the procession - straight.
Behind the hypostyle hall, a sequence of three transverse atria begins - the floor of the next ones is slightly higher than the previous one. In the first transverse vestibule, dedicated to the foundation of the temple, the double axis of the processional routes to the inner sanctuaries is clearly visible. On the walls, reliefs show the goddess of Seshat, beginning the construction of the temple and checking its dimensions, and wine offerings to the god Sobek. Elsewhere, you can see the completion of the building by the king, disintegrating natron (salt used in the mummification process to drain the body) in the purification ceremony. The next vestibule could be a sacrifice hall, which only priests and rulers were allowed to enter after cleansing. Today the halls are so ruined, that you quickly lose orientation in the layout of the rooms. The inner wall is covered on the north side with sacrifices made to Haroeris, and to the south – for Sobek. Third vestibule, statue hall, led directly to the most holy place in the sanctuary – double sanctuary. Between the doors of the two sanctuaries there is a relief with Ptolemy and his sister-wife receiving a palm leaf with the Heb-sed mark, symbolizing long, 30-summer reign. Khonsu presides over the ceremony in a colorful relief, followed by Haroeris in blue robes and Sobek in green crocodiles. The sanctuary used to be dark. Today the sun's rays reach here, showing broken, but still recognizable black granite plinths for the sacred shoulders of two deities. The destruction of the inner sanctuary revealed one of the mysteries of this place. In one of the rooms behind the inner corridor there was a secret underground passage, from which the priests spoke for the gods. Most of the inner part of the temple is cut with secret underground crypts. The sanctuary is surrounded by asymmetrical chapels of worship of lesser gods. An internal corridor runs around the wall of the inner temple. There are six small rooms on the back wall – three on each side of the staircase leading to the roof, and the walls are covered with decorations that have been preserved to a different extent.

The external bypass, as in Edfu, is covered with various decorations from Roman times. Many of them (as well as in small chapels) it was never completed. Walking along the left arm of the corridor towards the rear wall, you can see as much known, what a controversial scene, where Emperor Trajan gives the deity several ritual or surgical instruments. Some tools were actually used in cult practices. It is also the office of the pre-Egyptian surgeon 2000 years -scalpels, bone saws and other surgical instruments. Despite the advancement of medicine, the tools have not changed that much. In many temples in the Greco-Roman period, so-called. sanatoriums, to which the sick came. It was judged, that disease states are caused by hostile demons. Apart from magic, the sick received purely medical help from priest-doctors. An interesting element of this part is the blind gate in the center of the back wall of the sanctuary, where is a shallow niche surrounded by the imaginations of the listening ears and the seeing eyes. Sobek is standing on the left, on the right and Haroeris. Between them is the text of the hymn of praise. Above the niche, the goddess Isis is kneeling, and beside it are the four winds represented by a lion, falcon, a bull and a multi-headed snake. On one of the reliefs, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, as an Egyptian pharaoh, hands the pectoral leg to the goddess Tesent-nefert, called Sennuphis in Greco-Roman times. The outer walls are covered with enormous reliefs from the time of Nero and Vespasian.
On the west side of the complex is a sacred well with holy Nile water.

Roman chapel of Hathor

The chapel lies on the eastern side of the courtyard and contains mummies of crocodiles found in clay sarcophagi in a nearby necropolis. The Hathor Chapel was built by a rich Roman matron during the reign of Emperor Domitian. Right next to it are clay sarcophagi and a headless statue of an unknown Roman carved in dark porphyry.


Daraw (Darrow) it lies on the eastern bank of the river, 5 km south of Kom Ombo i 40 km north of Aswan. The largest camel market in Egypt operates here, easily accessible by taxi from Kom Ombo (round trip 15-20 EGP), and even better from Aswan. Although the convoys stop rarely and not for long, enough time, to taste the exoticism of the African market.