The island of Elephantine is one of major Aswan attractions floating on the Nile. The island in 12000 meters situated in the center of the Nile. It had an important strategic position of protecting the southern borders of Ancient Egypt, and during the 6th dynasty which meant more than 3000 B.C, ancient Egyptian kings constructed a fortress on the island. In addition it was the cult center of god Khnum and the dwelling of his temple.
The island is full of archaeological sites and ancient monumental ruins ready to be discovered. The German team of the archaeological institutes has already shed the light on some of the ancient surviving structures during some excavations. Granite gateway of a temple built by Alexander the great were found intact but the rest of the temple ruins were hard to identify during the excavations expedition. Also, two columns built by king Ramses the second were found.
Origin of the name
Aswan island or Elephantine island. We have heard a lot about ancient places weird exotic names, but every name has an origin and some facts behind it. Elephantine is one of the sites that anyone can wonder about the name that the island gained. it is actually means both words of "Elephants" and "ivory", because Aswan city once including the island were the center of ivory and granite trading. Others said that the rocks surrounding the island are in the shape of elephant tusk. However, the island takes place just by the downstream of the first cataract that cuts through Egypt and Sudan in the southern borders. elephantine had an important rule during the intermediate period of Ancient Egypt history, it stood as a fort protecting the southern borders and was a departure point for the military expeditions toward Nubia and Africa. According to ancient Egyptian believes, elephantine was the residence of god Khnum who was one of the original deities served and worshiped in ancient Egypt. Priests believed the god Khnum.
Ancient sites on elephantine
Elephantine island includes many of the ancient ruins that worth to be investigated for. The temple of Khnum is completely destroyed and all you can see from it is some stones and damaged columns, but you can still see a well preserved square granite gate way of the temple that was discovered by German Swiss excavation team who have been searching for the new kingdom remains in the island. On the north of the island, there is a restored temple known as Satis temple. The temple was built during the new kingdom in the time of Queen Hatshepsut and king Tuthmose III, on top of middle kingdom ruins.
Aswan museum is located in the island and very interested highlight. It was first founded in 1912 displaying Nubian artifacts and objects were found on the island itself that date from the predynastic to the Roman byzantine period such as mummies and statues. In front of the museum, there is the Nilometer, which is considered to be one of the oldest Nilometers used by the ancient Egyptians to measure the Nile floods. Another remarkable features that distinguish the island, are the bold rocks on the banks with cravings of the kings and governors who ruled the island through history.
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