Time for another virtual field trip with the Adventures of Scuba Jack as we journey to rediscover the history and heritage of ancient Egyptian culture.
Our planet has so many fascinating temples and monuments, ranging from the Parthenon in Greece to the Colosseum in Rome. These structures are awe inspiring for so many reasons. Not only are their designs impressive, but these structures tell us so much about how our ancestors lived and thought about the world.
Today, however, I want to talk about one particular structure located in Egypt. It is one of the most fascinating structures in the world. While you may not have heard of it yet, this structure tells many stories of some of the most important gods and goddesses in Egypt.
It is called the Temple of Isis.
The Temple of Isis is located on an island called Agilka in Egypt. However, until recently, it was located on another nearby island called Philae. Whether you are interested in Egyptian mythology, ancient Egyptian history, or even architecture, you’ll be fascinated when learning about this important temple in ancient Egypt.
Some Fascinating Facts About the Temple of Isis
The Temple of Isis traces its origins all the way back to 280 BC. The Temple was built during the reign of Ptolemy II, who was one of ancient Egypt’s most notable pharaohs. It was completed years later by Roman emperors.
One of the most notable things about the Temple of Isis is the fact that it was built on the island of Philae. Philae translates to “the end.” It was called this because Philae is defined as the southernmost limit of Egypt. As I’ll describe, however, the Temple of Isis had to be moved about 60 years ago. While you can still visit the Temple of Isis, you will need to travel to a nearby island called Agilka.
The Temple of Isis is dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Isis. But along with Isis, the temple was also dedicated to Osiris (the husband of Isis) and Horus (the son of Isis).
Let’s start with Isis herself. She is one of the most well-known goddesses in ancient Egyptian history. Isis means life. She was often represented as a beautiful woman who wore a sheath dress. She had either the hieroglyphic sign of the throne on her head or a solar disk and cow’s horn. At other times, Isis was represented as a bird, sow, cow, or scorpion.
Along with Isis, Osiris is one of the most important gods in ancient Egyptian history. When she lived, Isis was married to Osiris. He was an Egyptian King who transformed into the Egyptian Lord of the Underworld and the Judge of the Dead. Both Isis and Osiris are even constellations!
The story is quite tragic. Osiris’s brother Seth was jealous of his brother and created a plot to murder him. Eventually, Seth trapped Osiris in a wooden chest, which he later threw into the Nile River. Isis eventually found the wooden chest containing her husband, helping Osiris come back to life. Seth was still enraged and hacked his brother into pieces, but Isis was able to piece her husband together. Osiris wasn’t living or dead. Instead, Osiris became a mummy! Isis and Osiris were then able to have their son Horus (who we’ll discuss in a little bit). Osiris then retreated to the underworld, where he became the Judge of the Dead.
Ancient Egyptian history has plenty of stories like this. That said, the story of Isis and Osiris is one of the most famous in all of Egyptian history. The story doesn’t end there, however. After Osiris went to the underworld, Horus (Isis’s son) wanted to avenge his father. Isis stayed with Horus until he was fully grown. In the battle between Horus and Seth, Horus eventually won and was able to become king of Egypt.
You can almost feel all of these stories when visiting the Temple of Isis. On the temple walls, you can see several scenes from the stories that I just shared. For instance, you can see the scene of Isis bringing Osiris back to life. The temple walls also have the scenes of Isis giving birth to Horus and Isis mummifying Osiris.
If you were to visit the Temple of Isis, you would also see different types of temples and shrines. These temples and shrines are dedicated to other Egyptian gods and goddesses. Some of those gods and goddesses include Imhotep, Hathor, and Nephthys. These gods and goddesses are also important in ancient Egyptian mythology, but they don’t overshadow the roles of Isis, Osiris, and Horus in the temple.
At the Temple of Isis, there used to be several tall structures called obelisks. As a comparison, the Washington Monument is a good example of an obelisk. There used to be obelisks in front of the Temple of Isis, but they were removed in the year 1918. British Consul Henry Salt and his assistant Giovanni Belzoni removed the obelisks and took them to England. If you wanted to see these obelisks, you would need to travel to a garden in Dorset, England.
Finally, one of the most dangerous periods of the Temple of Isis’s history actually came in the 20th century. The Egyptian government created a large dam in the 1960s and 1970s, which flooded the area where the Temple of Isis is located. In response to this threat, the Egyptian Government and an agency called UNESCO worked to pump the area dry. But along with this, they decided to move the Temple of Isis to a nearby island called Agilka. To move the Temple, the Egyptian government and UNESCO needed to move 50,000 stones!
A Fascinating Monument in Egypt
Ultimately, the Temple of Isis is one of the most fascinating structures in Egypt. While it may not get as much attention as the Pyramids of the Sphinx, the Temple of Isis is an awe-inspiring structure that has a fascinating story. It involves gods and goddesses fighting over who would control ancient Egypt. What’s more exciting than that?
If you are interested in learning more about these gods, goddesses, or the temple itself, I encourage you to do so. I can’t wait to see what else you learn.