KOM OMBO

Kom Ombo 5

The town of Kom-Ombo is found around about 65km south of Edfu and 40km north of Aswan. In ancient times the town was called Pa-Sobek(Land of Sobek) and was named after the crocodile god for the region. It is a fertile and green area full of sugar cane and corn fields. The Temple of Kom Ombo is built on a hill overlooking the Nile. The ruins of the old city are buried beneath the sand but the southern temples were excavated and restored in the late 19th century and are open to the public.

Kom Ombo 10

The temple complex of Kom Ombo is found about 3km south of the town of Kom Ombo. The temple was started by Ptolemy VI Philometor in the early 2nd century BC. Ptolemy XIII built the outer and inner hypostyle halls. The outer enclosure wall and part of the court were built by Augustus sometime after 30 BC and very little remains of this. Tombs from the Old Kingdom can be found around the village of Kom Ombo.

Kom Ombo 4

The temple is unique because it is a double temple dedicated to Sobek the crocodile god and Horus the falcon-headed god. The layout combines two temples in one with each side having its own entrances and it is perfectly symmetrical. There are two courts, two colonades, two hypostyle halls and two sanctuaries. There were probably even two sets of priests. The left side is dedicated to Horus who was the falcon-headed god and the right to Sobek who was the crocodile-headed god. The two gods are accompanied by their families including wives and sons.

Kom Ombo 7

Sobek was associated with the wicked god Seth who was the enemy of Horus and in the Horus myth the allies of Seth made their escape by changing themselves into crocodiles. Sobek’s chief sanctuary was at Kom Ombo because once huge numbers of crocodiles were found here. Captive crocodiles were kept within the temple and many mummified crocodiles have been found in cemeteries, some of which can be seen in the temple sanctuary today.

Kom Ombo Roof

Entry to the temple is through a gate built by Ptolemy X11 — there would have originally been two gates but the left one has gone. On the left hand side near the entrance is a deep well that supplied the temple with water and near to this is a small pool where crocodiles were raised. When you pass into the courtyard you will see a double altar in the centre for both gods and beyond this are the two shared hypostle halls, each with ten columns leading into antechambers and then to the double sanctuaries.

Kom Ombo Horus

Most of the reliefs on the walls and columns of the temple were done by Ptolemy X11 and they are very well preserved and just amazing. In the vestibule on some of the remaining columns are reliefs showing Tiberius sacrificing — the colours here are still bright. On the roof you can still see the flying vultures clearly with a lot of colour still showing. The wall reliefs here are really magnificent as well.

Kom Ombo Columns

In the hypostyle hall with its ten papyrus columns you will find a wall relief with Horus giving a sickle sword and the symbol of eternal life to Ptolemy V111 who has his sister, Cleopatra V11 and his wife standing behind him. On the inside of the left hand corner of the back wall of the temple is an interesting collection of surgical instruments.

Traveller's Tip

Close to the entrance of the temple near the temple wall is a shrine to Hathor which is now used to store a collection of mummified crocodiles. Be sure to visit this as some of the crocodiles are on display and they are very interesting.

Getting There
Most people visit Kom Ombo as part of a Nile Cruise but if you want to get there on your own your best option is probably by train to Kom Ombo and then a taxi to the temple for about 8 to 10LE return. There are buses as well but sometimes this is not a safe option so it is best to check at the tourist information in Aswan or Luxor before heading off.
To find out information about trains visit the following website: http://www.seat61.com/Egypt.htm#Cairo%20-%20Luxor%20-%20Aswan.