Elephantine Island


Currency in Aswan


The Elephantine Island In Aswan

The Elephantine Island 

The Island of Elephantine is located right in the middle of the Nile River in the city of Aswan. Elephantine Island used to be the border town that separated the Nubian area and Egypt from one another.

During the Ancient Egyptian era, Elephantine Island was utilized as a trading route and as a strategic defensive position against enemy forces. There have been people inhabiting the island since the Early Dynastic Period. The ancient name of Elephantine Island was “Abu,” which translates to the English word “Elephant.” People probably called it that because of the grey boulders around the island which resemble elephants.

Archaeological sites

There has been a lot of building development taking place on Elephantine Island throughout the centuries. Most of the structures that were built during ancient times are no longer there, though. For more than a century, German archaeologists have conducted excavation projects on the island as well as reconstruction projects. The biggest structure on the island which has been preserved is Khnum Temple, which is named after a god with the head of a ram. It was built sometime between the New Kingdom era and the Roman era.

When you go to the temple, you’ll see a large granite gateway structure in which Alexander built. It is the only big structure left standing, while the rest of the ruins cannot be identified. There are also fragments of columns at the front side of the temple which were constructed by Rameses II. If you take the path through this area from east to west, you will end up in the Roman quay.

The granite gateway is the only structure that remains intact when you go inside Khnum Temple. Most of the other structures have not survived over the years. Archaeologists from Germany and Switzerland conducted a couple of joint excavations of the temple, which were managed by C von Pilgrim. They discovered some details of the temple plans, such as the location of the forecourt, pylons, festival hall, and columned court. 

If you go to the back of the museum structure to the north, you’ll find the site of Satis Temple. It was constructed at some point between the eras of Tuthmose III and Hatshepsut. The German Archaeological Institute has performed a little bit of restoration and reconstruction work on it so far. Remains of the Middle Kingdom are below the temple. As the excavations continued at the site of the temple, the archaeologists discovered an Early Dynastic shrine. It was found in a cryptic location underneath the recently reconstructed temple. This is one of the oldest Egyptian temples to still remain intact.

The nilometer is a fascinating structure found on the museum’s frontside. It was one of the first nilometers to exist in Ancient Egypt. The purpose of the structure was to measure the height of the floodwater that came from the Nile River. When you enter the nilometer, there are approximately 90 steps that take you down to the river. At the Elephantine banks, you can find numerous boulder inscriptions of the various governors and kings from over the years on the island.

Updated on April 30, 2020