Edfu Temple The Temple of Edfu is the second largest temple in Egypt. It is also known as the Temple of Horus (the falcon-headed God) and it is the most beautiful and well-preserved of all the Egyptian temples. Located between the Egyptian cities Luxor and Aswan, a French archaeologist by the name of Auguste Mariette uncovered it from its sand burial in the 1860s. Construction & Location
Ptolemy III – Eurergetes I began the construction of the temple in 237 BC and it wasn’t completed until about 57 BC. The ancient Egyptians believed that the temple was built on top of the location where the infamous battle of Horus and Seth took place. Situated north to south, the Temple of Edfu sits atop an earlier temple that was situated east to west. The temple is an excellent example of traditional Egyptian elements with Greek influences mixed in. This great temple lies at the center of the cult of a triad of Gods: Horus of Behdet, Hathor and their son, Hor-Sama-Tawy.
It took close to 180 years to complete the construction of the Temple of Horus.
The Temple of Edfu is comprised of the main entrance, a courtyard, and a chapel. To the West of the main entrance is the Birth House, also called the Mamisi. Here, the annual Festival of Coronation was held to honor the divine birth of Horus and the pharaoh.
Inside the Mamisi are several scenes that depict the story of Horus’ divine birth in the presence of Hathor and other birth-related deities. Perhaps the most striking features of the Temple of Horus are the gigantic pylons that stand at the entrance to the temple. At 118 feet high, they are decorated with battle scenes of King Ptolemy VIII defeating his enemies for Horus.
As the tallest of the surviving Egyptian temples, the pylons also contain four large grooves that would have been used to anchor flags. Through the main entrance and between the enormous pylons is an open courtyard. F
loral capitals grace the courtyard on three sides. Beyond the courtyard is a Hypostyle hall also known as the Court of Offerings. It is here where two black granite statues of Horus stand.
One statue no longer has legs and lies on the ground. The other statue stands ten feet tall and is a popular photo opportunity for tourists. A second, smaller Hypostyle hall lies beyond the first and was known as the Festival Hall.
The Festival Hall is the oldest part of the temple and during festivals, it would be decorated with flowers and scented incense. The Festival Hall leads into the Hall of Offerings where Horus’ image would be carried to the roof to be re-energized by the heat and light of the sun
. The Hall of Offerings leads to the Sanctuary. As the holiest region of the temple, the sanctuary contains a black granite shrine that was dedicated to Nectanebo II. Reliefs in the sanctuary depict Ptolemy IV – Philopator worshiping Horus and Hathor
The ancient city derived its principal reputation from two temples, which are considered second only to the Temple of Dendera as specimens of the sacred structures of Egypt. The larger temple is in good preservation, and is being excavated .
The smaller temple, sometimes, but improperly, called a Typhonium, is apparently an appendage of the former, and its sculptures represent the birth and education of the youthful deity, Horus, whose parents Noum, or Kneph and Athor, were worshipped in the larger edifice. The principal temple is dedicated to Noum, whose symbol is the disc of the sun, supported by two asps and the extended wings of a vulture.
Its sculptures represent (Rosellini, Monum. del Culto, p. 240, tav. xxxviii.) the progress of the Sun, Phre-Hor-Hat, Lord of Heaven, moving in his bark (Bari) through the circle of the Hours. The local name of the district round Apollinopolis was Hat, and Noum was styled Hor-hat-kah, or Horus, the tutelary genius of the land of Hat.
This deity forms also at Apollinopolis a triad with the goddess Athor and Hor-Senet. The members of the triad are youthful gods, pointing their finger towards their mouths, and before the decipherment of the hieroglyphics were regarded as figures of Harpocrates.