In ancient times the Egyptians worshiped those they loved and creatures they feared, that is why on the shores of the Nile you will find a temple dedicated to crocodile god Sobek and Haroeris a form of the falcon headed god Horus. This temple is unique in that it’s design was duplicated to accommodate a place of worship for both gods. It’s like it was a place where good and evil coexisted side by side to balance each other out, the right side dedicated to Sobek and the left to Haroeris. Damaged by earthquakes, Nile floods and time parts of it have been lost forever however strong columns, beautiful hieroglyphics and evidences of it’s innovative design still stand today.
This part of the Nile was known for a great place for crocodiles to hang out and sun themselves on the river banks while terrorizing locals at the same time. To foster good relationships with these fearsome creatures of river the temple of Kom Ombo was built in their honor during the reign of Ptolomey VI. Over 300 mummified crocodiles were found buried around the temple and some are on display at the museum next door. Just in case you are wondering there are no more crocodiles in this part of the Nile, they are all living happily behind the High Dam. This was one of my first questions I asked my very amused guide, same goes for the hippopotamus.
It would seem the temple priests were not the most honest and this temple is a fine example of how crafty they were. The design of the temple enabled the priests to be able to see clearly into the courtyard while they were nicely concealed in the shadows of the inner sanctuaries. When a wealthy noble was seen entering the temple he would be invited into the inner sanctuary where he could make a personal offering to the gods. Once inside this person would hear the voice of a god speak to him with promises of wonderful things, only one catch, it all depended on how abundant his offering was. Unknown to the wealthy noble was that a priest would be hidden in a secret chamber in the walls of the sanctuary, scamming him the whole time. This secret chamber also had a hidden passage that lead to the outer walls of the temple, a perfect escape route. By the time the noble emerged from the temple after his divine encounter the priest were well shot of the sanctuary, providing them a perfect alibi, they must have made a killing.
When exploring the walls of the temple my guide pointed out a section and asked me to guess what I thought the inscriptions represented, to my surprise I found myself looking at what seemed to be surgical tools. To his surprise also as not many people guess correctly. It was the forceps and blades that gave it away but on closer inspection I could also make out what looked like a drill. Is it possible that brain surgery was also attempted back in ancient times? It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest after all the Egyptians built the pyramids, great temples and had the mummification process down, so why not brain surgery.
This temple was one of the first stops on my Nile cruise, we left Aswan around lunchtime and arrived just before sunset. The Nile would have to be one of the best places in the world to watch the sun go down. While this temple is not as well preserved as others it is still worth a visit, especially at sunset. Stories of crooked priests, crocodiles and gods are all here amongst broken ruins bathed in golden sunlight on the banks of the Nile.