Philae in Greek or Pilak in ancient Egyptian, meaning "the end", defined the southern most limit of Egypt. It was started by Ptolemy II and completed by the Roman Emperors. Kiosk of Trajan Temple paintingThe oil was dedicated to the goddess Isis, wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. These three characters dominate ancient Egyptian culture and history has all the drama of a Shakespearean tragedy. The god Osiris was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. 


Research Isis fragments, collects together and with her magic powers brings Osiris back to life. They then conceive the god Horus. Osiris is the god of the under world and judge of the dead - who must answer to him for their actions on Earth. Meanwhile Isis gives birth to Horus and protects the young god. Later, when Horus is grown he avenges his father by defeating Seth in combat. Isis is a very important figure in the ancient world. 


The Temple of Isis

 The Temple of Isis

 It is associated with funeral rites but as the enchantress who resurrected Osiris and gave birth to Horus, she is also the author of life, a healer and protector of kings. She was known as "Mother of God" and was represented with a throne on her head. During the Roman period her cult spread throughout Greece and the Roman Empire. There was even a temple dedicated to her in London. 


The temple was primarily dedicated to Isis, but her husband Osiris and her son Horus were also worshiped there. Both Isis and Osiris are considered sovereign and deified and their names appear in a cartouche. The Temple of Isis is a current structure including Ptolemaic. The main body of the building was built by Ptolemy II (behind the old sanctuary of Amasis was subsequently destroyed).

North of the Kiosk of Nectanebo, there are two colonnades leading to the first pylon of the temple of Isis. The western colonnade is in better condition and still retains some of the original which is used to provide a view of the island of Biggeh. It is about 90 meters (100 feet long) and 31 of the original 32 columns remain. Though all capitals are floral, no two are identical. 


Most of the columns represent the Roman Emperor Tiberius making offerings to the gods, and there are two rows of bas-relief representations of Augustus and Tiberius in the rear wall. The remains of the decoration stars and the vultures are still visible on parts of the ceiling. At the northern end of the western colonnade, there is a break in the cliff Nilometer. The eastern colonnade was never completed. At the southern end it is attached to the small temple of Ary-hes-nefer (Arsenuphis or Anhur).

The Temple of Isis

The Temple of Isis

The Temple of Isis

Ptolemy's Gate

Gate of Ptolemy II Philadelphus is between the Temple of Imhotep and the first pylon of the temple of Isis. The door is decorated with images of Pharaoh being led forward by Isis.
In front of the main entrance of the first pylon stand two lions carved Roman style of pink granite. They have first been joined by two great obelisks of pink granite built by Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and Cleopatra III (his second wife). 

The basis of one of these obelisks contains an inscription in which the priests of Isis at Philae complain to Pharaoh they had to pay the costs of civil and military authorities incurred during their stay on the island! Unfortunately, the obelisks were "liberated" by the British consul Henry Salt and his colleague Giovanni Belzoni in 1918 and located in a garden in Dorset. The obelisks were used to help decipher the hieroglyphics along the famous Rosetta Stone

First Pylon

The bridge was built by Nectanebo and thus precedes the rest of the first pylon. Nectanebo made an appearance with a number of gods, but there are also post dynastic inscriptions on the bridge. Coptic Christians cut a number of crosses in stone, and a French registration records of the Mamluks in 1799. The first pylon is made up of two 60 foot tower with a door between them. There are grooves cut into each side of the mast for supporting masts. 

The construction of the tower was begun by Ptolemy II Philadelphus and completed by Ptolemy III Euergetes I, but the decorations were also added their successors. Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos is represented on the tower is now a number of enemies of Egypt by the hair while maintaining its mass above his head in the traditional "striking" pose. It is accompanied by Isis, Horus of Edfu and Hathor. There are two smaller scenes over this representation, to the left of the Pharaoh offering the crown of Upper and Lower Egypt Nephthys and Horus of Edfu, and on the right, he offers incense to the goddess Isis and Horus the child.

Pharaoh is represented as "punishing enemies" of the west tower, in the presence of Isis, Horus of Edfu and Hathor. Above this scene, Pharaoh appears with Unnefer (or "Wennefer" a form of Osiris ) and also with Isis and Isis and Horus the child. These decorations were severely damaged by the early Coptic Christians. At the base of the first tower of a series of small figures Nile personified present offerings.

Outer Courtyard

The first pylon leads to a courtyard where the Mammissi Isis is (to the west). On the eastern side of the courtyard there is a colonnade, with access to a few small shops and in the north of the second pylon provides access to the main structure of the temple of Isis.

Colonnade and Warehouses

Behind the colonnade on the eastern wall of the courtyard, there are five places, each with two floors. Some rooms may have been used as warehouses and at least one appears to have been a library, while another was used for storing and mixing precious oils and incense used in the temple. However, it is also suggested that they were used for ritual purification rites.

Mammisi (birthplace)

Birth-house is surrounded on three sides by a colonnade of columns with flowers each crowned with a capital and Hathor-headed sistrum. The walls surrounding the columns represent the Pharaohs Ptolemy VI, VIII and X and the Roman Emperor Tiberius with a number of gods. The Mammisi (birthing) is a common feature of Ptolemaic temples of Philae and examplke is similar in layout and design examples to Dendera and Edfu. In the sanctuary of mammisi Isis, Horus is depicted as a falcon awearing the double crown and standing in a papyrus thicket. Below this scene, Isis Horus wears the newborn in her arms, under the protection of Thoth, Wadjet, Nekhbet and Amun-Re.

Second Pylon

The second tower is about 105 feet wide and 40 feet tall (exceptionally) is not set parallel to the first pylon. A series of small steps leading to the bridge between the two towers.
On the west tower, Ptolemy XII offers incense and animals in a number of deities, including Horus, Hathor. There are two scenes above which have unfortunately been severely damaged. Depicts a pharaoh with a garland of flowers to Horus and Nephthys, the other is the king offering incense and pour clean water on an altar in the presence of Osiris, Isis and Horus. 

A staircase in the west tower leads to the roof and the "Osirian Chambers." Tower Eastern decorations very similar, but is in much better condition. Both towers have grooves for masts as well as those on the first pylon. Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II and a number of gods make their appearance in the decorations on the transition between turns, but unfortunately the performance was poorly cleared. On the east side of the door there is an inscription later dedicated to the Christian Bishop Theodorus.

Near the base of the Tower, a piece of the granite foundation of the original island protruding from the ground (and was transferred to the new island). Ptolemy VI Philometor had this granite outcrop carved into a stone on which he appears with Queen Cleopatra II standing before Isis and Horus. The inscription refers to the granting of land to the temple that the priests of Philae placed on a position similar to those of Elephantine. The grant is known as the "Dodekaschoinoi" which is Greek for "twelve schoinoi" (in which a "schoinos" is a piece of land about seven miles along the river).


Gateway through the second pylon leads to a small open courtyard and hypostyle hall. It was originally a colonnade on the east and west sides of the court, but only ten columns remain. The pillars are beautifully painted and decorated to resemble a wide variety of plants and flowers. They are well represent the first plants that grew from the primeval mound. The ceiling of the hypostyle hall is decorated with the vulture goddess Nekhbet and Wadjet double (representing Upper and Lower Egypt), and the boats of the day and night.

A number of reliefs of the court have been deleted and replaced by Coptic Christian cross and a Christian altar was erected in the courtyard of the year 500. There was, in fact, several Christian churches here, including those dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Isis theft) and Saint-Etienne (usurp the position of Horus. There is also another inscription by Bishop Theodorus on the door of a room on the right of the room in which he takes credit for his "good work" to disfigure the ancient monument. A similar inscription records the "archaeological" expedition sent by Pope Gregory XVI in 1841 during which other ancient reliefs were probably destroyed.


There are three small rooms small antechambers trigger them, and then shall the sanctuary itself. The sanctuary is a small room with two small windows. It still contains the base installed by Ptolemy III Euergetes I and his wife Berenice who supported the image of Isis in his sacred boat. This statue of the goddess was carried in procession from the temple ceremony on his boat for the short crossing to the island of Bigeh to visit the grave of her husband, Osiris.


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