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"Visit the temple of Philae." Egypt Things to Do Tip by margaretvn

Egypt Things to Do: 1,687 reviews and 2,532 photos


Its ancient Egyptian name was P-aaleq; the Coptic-derived name Pilak ('End,' or 'Remote Place') the conventional name (Philae) is Greek, but locally the site is known as Qasr Anas al-Wujud, for a hero of The Thousand and One Nights. Before its gradual submergence in the reservoir created by the old Aswan Dam after 1902, the alluvium-covered granite rock of Philae, 460 by 150 metres, had always been above the highest Nile flooding. Accordingly, it attracted many ancient temple and shrine builders. Philae, Abu Simbel, and other nearby ruins were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979.Bas-relief images and inscriptions adorning the walls and columns at Philae, Egypt. From early Egyptian times the island was sacred to the goddess Isis. The complex of structures of the Temple of Isis was finished by Ptolemy II (reigned 285-246 BC) and his successor, Ptolemy III (246-221 BC). Its decorations, dating from the period of the later Ptolemies and of the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius (30 BC-AD 37), were never completed. The Roman emperor Hadrian (D 117-138) added a gate west of the complex. Other small temples or shrines dedicated to Egyptian deities include a temple to Imhotep and one to Hathor, as well as chapels to Osiris, Horus, and Nephthys.The Temple of Isis continued to flourish during Roman times and was not closed until the reign of Justinian I (AD 527-565). Late in Justinian's reign the temple was converted into a church, and two other Coptic churches were built in the still-prosperous town. All these structures were completely explored and reinforced (1895-96) before being partially flooded behind the old Aswan Dam. In 1907 a careful inspection revealed that salts in the water were harming paints on the decorations. When the temples re-emerged after 1970 on the completion of the High Dam, it was found that considerable damage had been done to the shrines. A decision was then made to remove them to higher ground on the nearby island of Agilkia. The island was levelled to resemble the original Philae, and the temples were rebuilt and formal reopened in 1980.

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  • Updated Aug 24, 2002
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