Kom Ombo Temple has always fascinated historians because it is thought to be the only temple built during the Ptolemaic dynasty that was actually built to honor two sets of gods. In order to do this, two identical structures had to be built, and the precision with which this was done is well and truly remarkable.
Construction of the original temple of Kom Ombo took place between 180 BC and 145 BC, shortly after Ptolemy VI started reigning over Egypt. A number of other Ptolemys added to the original structure, although Ptolemy XIII made the biggest contribution between 51 BC and 47 BC when he added the two large hypostyle halls.
Because of its “double temple” purpose, the Kom Ombo Temple had to be built with two of everything, including halls; rooms; courts and sanctuaries. The temple has a double entrance since one side of the temple is devoted to Sobek, the god of fertility and a repairer of evil in the world. The other side of the temple is devoted to the falcon god Haroeris, otherwise called Horus the Elder. This side of the temple is perfectly symmetrical along the main axis.
Sadly, quite a bit of the Kom Ombo Temple has been destroyed by natural occurrences such as earthquakes which have occurred throughout the centuries. Workers have also used rocks and other parts of the temple for other building projects, while many of the original relics that once stood inside the temple were defaced by members of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria in an attempt to eradicate any signs of paganism so that they could use the structure for their own worship.
Visiting The Kom Ombo Temple Today
Today there are only a handful of artifacts that once belonged to the pharaohs, but visitors will get to see a number of crocodile mummies that were discovered in the vicinity. The temple also has some well preserved engraved images of various medical instruments used for surgery. Archeologists believe these are the oldest such images ever discovered.
In 1992 a major earthquake destroyed much of the temple’s structure and the artifacts within. Following the earthquake, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities closed down the site in order to carry out renovation work which was ongoing until 1995.
Today tourists can enjoy a very well restored Kom Ombo Temple, along with some accompanying museums and galleries that have been erected at the site in order to further enhance the experience for the countless tourists that arrive each day.
Kom Ombo Temple is believed by many to have been a shrine for an ancient “crocodile cult.” Although Sobek was perceived as an Egyptian God, worship of him only seemed to take place in parts of Egypt where crocodiles were common. All things considered, the Kom Ombo Temple is a fascinating piece of history, and certainly well worth visiting.
Several tour operators offer day excursions to the site from Aswan which is located 50 km to the south of Kom Ombo town. If you have booked or you intend booking one of our Nile cruise packages or one of our all-inclusive Egypt tour packages, you’re likely to find a visit to Kom Ombo Temple is already included in the tour itinerary.