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 Elephantine island 

Suggested tours

Elephantine is an island in the centre of the Nile at Aswan. This was the original ‘border town’ between Egypt and the Nubian lands to the south and in ancient times was an important strategic position both for the defence of the border and as a trading route. The island has been inhabited from the Early Dynastic Period through Roman times until the present day. Its ancient name was ‘abu’ or ‘yebu’, which means elephant and was probably derived from the shape of the smooth grey boulders which surround the island, looking like elephants in the water.


Over the centuries there has been a great deal of building activity on Elephantine, though most of the ancient structures have now vanished. Excavations and reconstructions have been carried out over the past 100 years by teams of German archaeologists and the largest surviving structure today is the Temple of the ram-headed creator-god Khnum, at the southern end of the island, dating from New Kingdom to Roman times. A granite gateway built by Alexander is the only large structure of the temple which remains intact and the ruins behind it are difficult to identify due to ongoing excavation. At the front of the temple, which is oriented east to west, a restored pavement surrounds fragmentary remains of columns built by Rameses II. This leads down to a Roman quay


There is little to be seen of the interior of the Temple of Khnum, but a large square granite gateway is one of the few surviving structures. During the past few excavation seasons the German-Swiss Mission to Elephantine, directed by C von Pilgrim, has been investigating the area around the New Kingdom remains of the Temple of Khnum. They have recently uncovered more of the plan of the temple – yielding details of the location of pylons, columned court and forecourt as well as a possible festival hall of Amenhotep II.

Further north, behind the museum building there is the site of a small restored Temple of Satis, the consort of Khnum, built in the time of Hatshepsut and Tuthmose III. The reconstruction by the German Archaeological Institute has been sensitively done, with the few reliefs supplemented by drawn elements. The temple was built over Middle Kingdom remains beneath different floor levels and also a Dynasty VI temple. The latest structure to emerge from the excavations at the Satis Temple is an Early Dynastic shrine which can be seen in a crypt-like area below the reconstructed temple, and this must be one of the earliest remaining temples in Egypt.

Philae temple

Day tour in Aswan , Philae temple, High dam, Obelisk


Sound and light show at Philae temple


Trip to abu simble by coach


Trip to Nubian village by boat


Trip to Kalabsha temple and Nubian museum


Trip to Kom ombo and Edfu temples from aswan


The Aswan Museum, in an old resthouse at the entrance to the island is still open and has recently been extended and refurbished. The displays include mummies, weapons, pottery, utensils, and statues. Outside, a garden leads into the ruins of Abu, the pharaonic settlement on the island. Labels are in Arabic and English. The exhibits include some very interesting items from Elephantine which date right back to Predynastic times.

The northern end of the island is dominated by the Oberoi Hotel inside an enclosure and there are three modern Nubian villages.

Ticket entrance fee : 70 Egyptian pound


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