Aswan Temple of Isis

A small Ptolemaic Temple of Isis can be found on the the east bank of the Nile on the southern edge of Aswan town. Like Esna Temple it is now beneath the modern ground level and has the appearance of being built in a pit, towered over by local housing and restaurants. The temple is currently being restored by a Swiss-Egyptian Mission after being used as a storage magazine by the SCA for many years and is fenced off by tall metal railings.

The Temple of Isis
Built during the reigns of Ptolemy III and Ptolemy IV, the temple is quite well-preserved with most of its four walls still standing and supporting the granite slabs of the roof. The northern and eastern walls are roughly built of sandstone blocks and were never fully completed and the courtyard on the western side (facing the River Nile) which must once have fronted the temple has now disappeared below the houses. There are two entrances on this western side which still have beautiful carvings on the door-jambs and lintels, one in the centre of the wall and a smaller one to the south. On the outside of the southern wall there are lion-headed water-spouts similar to those seen in other Ptolemaic temples such as at Philae.

Inside the temple is dark and gloomy with little light. The rear wall of the central hall still shows scenes of the king offering to the local deities, Khnum, Satis and Anukis and to Isis, Horus and Osiris.

The precincts of the temple include brick remains of Roman and Islamic dwellings at different levels, showing the site’s constant re-use over the centuries. The archaeological team restoring the temple have found many Coptic graffiti at the site as well as a rare ancient architectural sketch outlining plans for the extension of the temple.

The Temple of Isis is only one of several small temples in Aswan town, including a Temple built by the Roman emperor Domitian, of which very little now remains and another nearby temple said to be built by Tuthmose during the New Kingdom.

How to get there

The Temple of Isis is at the southern end of Aswan on Sharia Abtal el-Tahrir, just around the corner from the Egyptair office and down the hill from the Nubian Museum. It is not currently open to the public though it may be possible to have a look around if anyone is there.

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~ by Su on February 1, 2009.