Edfu which is situated between Esna and Aswan is a site with a long standing tradition, No ancient monument in the world can match it. Its name is derived from the ancient Edbo, it means the town of piercing and refers to the triumph of Horus over Set.
There is evidence of occupation in Edfu from pre-dynastic times through to the end of the roman period. The temple of Horus, however it’s entirely Ptolemaic. Texts on the outer face wall indicate that it was begun 237 BC and completed in 57 BC.
Ptolemy III, who started the building, claimed that he was constructing it on an original plan made by Impohtep, builder of Zoser’s step pyramid at Saqqara that was raised some two thousand five hundred years earlier. The ruins of the ancient town show that the site was an important province during the old kingdom and that it retained it’s importance in the Middle Kingdom.
When the festival journey between Horus of Edfu and Hathor of Dendara was instituted as a regular ceremony during the New Kingdom, Edfu gained great prestige and popularity. This good reunion took place in the second month of the Egyptian year, when Hathor came to visit her husband in his temple at Edfu. The statue of Horus was placed on the sacred boat that was placed on a Nile vessel to be born northwards to meet his mate. Hathor’s sacred statue was likewise traveling from Dendara to Edfu.
Great was the joy of the populace lining the banks of the river when the craft came together in mid-stream, husband and wife were united.
Amidst joy and celebration the tow boats would make their way to Edfu, where the entire population assembled to watch the priests enter the temple with the sacred statues.
Edfu temple contains some of the finest art and architecture of the Ptolemaic period. It is dedicated to Horus, Hathor and their son Horus the younger or the uniter of the tow lands.
It comprises a Great court, the Pronaos, Hypostyle hall, and tow anti-chambers leading to the sanctuary. Around the sanctuary is a corridor leading to the smaller chambers around the rear part of the temple runs an outer corridor that is accessible only from the outer court, or from the two hypostyle halls.
The entire temple, corridors, halls, anti-chambers, walls and inner chambers are embellished with wonderful reliefs. In fact there is no ancient monument in the world can match it.
A large granite statue of Horus the Hawk-one of tow was found outside the western tower stands in front of the entrance guarding the temple. On it’s head is the double crown or Upper and Lower Egypt.
The Entrance pylon is completely covered with inscriptions both inside and out. They mostly show Ptolemy XIII in the Egyptians tradition, e clasps enemies by their hair and raises his arm to smite them, in the presence of Horus and Hathor.
The great offering court has a great later, surrounded on three sides by a gallery supported by thirty two columns. The shafts are decorated with reliefs. The capitals are ornate flowers and palm-fronds.
The wall relied relates to the good reunion between Horus and Hathor, on the lower reaches of the right hand wall you will see the festival boats of Horus and Hathor. On arrival the priests carry the statues in their barges towards the temple there they make offerings and prayers.
To the rear of the court, Ptolemy IX makes offerings, he presents four libation jars to Horus, Sphinx to Hathor in the presence of Horus. Another scene offering electrum to Hathor. There is a superb granite hawk of Horus.
The central doorway leads to the Pranaos, the roof of which is supported by columns with various floral capitals, and the ceiling is decorated with asterogical scenes. The walls are covered with reliefes have lost much of their colors. Ptolemy XI breaks the ground with a hoe, before Horus and Hathor. Incense is cast on the broken ground to purify the area. The completed temple is then encircled and blessed by Horus.
Two tiny chambers have been built up against the walls to left and right of the entrance. The left one is the consecration chamber. The inscription over the doorway informs us that golden vessels used for purification ceremonies were stored here. These were used by the pharaoh when he came here to practice the great festival of hours. There is a niche in the wall where they were kept. The walls show actual purification ceremonies that were performed. After that the pharaoh is being led into the temple of Horus.
The chamber to the right was the library of the temple the rolls of papyrus were stored there. From the small size of the niches we can see that the library probably contained just those texts related to the feast. Over the doorway is a winged sun disc.
Crossing the Pronaos, on the rear doorway we can see representation of Ptolemy IX performing foundation ceremonies before Horus on either side. Above the doorway is a symbolic scene of the sun with winged beetle being guided over the horizon by 2 hawk headed figures. The gods, Thos, Niethe, Wepwawat and Hathor are shown to the left.
The hypostyle hall has 12 columns in 3 rows. They have decorative capitals. The scenes on the walls show that Ptolemaic king succeeded the throne of Egypt.
The new year festival is represented on the walls too. The pharaoh accompanied by the priests and behind him a long procession of priests of a lower order, chanting hymns, shake sistrums, burn incense and carry offerings.
Then two caskets are being carried having the statues of Horus and Hathor. Behind and before them are priests of a higher order burning incense. The king and the queen took around to ensure that all is well.
The king heads a procession and watches the sacred statue being placed on the roof, where they will remain until dawn. The decent from the roof is depicted on the walls of the western stairway, after the statues have been revitalized from the rays of the rising sun.
The second anti-chamber contains superb reliefes of Ptolemy IV and his wife, making offerings to Horus and Hathor. on the left hand wall they make offerings to the memory of their royal parents Ptolemy III and his wife. Over the doorway are seven Hathor beating tambourines.
Another chamber dedicated to Min, the god of fertility.
In the sanctuary the sacred barge of Horus stood on a low alter at the center and there is a great shrine of dark, highly polished granite in which the sacred statue stood.