Edfu

edfu_eg61Edfu, known in antiquity as Behdet is an Egyptian city, located on the west bank of the Nile River between Esna and Aswan. Edfu is the site of the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus and an ancient settlement, Tell Edfu. About 5 km (3.1 mi) north of Edfu are remains Temple of Edfu is a major Ptolemaic temple, built between 237 BC and 57 BC, into the reign of Cleopatra VII. Of all the temple remains in Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most completely preserved. Built from sandstone blocks, the huge Ptolemaic temple was constructed over the site of a smaller New Kingdom temple, oriented east to west, facing towards the river. The later structure faces north to south and leaves the ruined remains of the older temple pylon to be seen on the east side of the first court.

edfu_eg112The remains of the ancient settlement of Edfu are situated about 50 m to the west of the Ptolemaic temple – to the left of the older temple pylon. This settlement is known as Wetjeset-hor and the Latin name was Apollinopolis Magna. According to Notitia Dignitatum, part of Legio II Traiana Fortis was camped in Apollo superior, which was the Roman name for the town.

The settlement at Edfu was the capital of the Second Upper Egypt nome, and played an important role within the region. The oldest part of the town which can be dated to the late Old Kingdom lies on the eastern part of the tell, not far from the Ptolemaic temple. There is evidence that the town flourished during the First Intermediate Period when it expanded extensively to the west. Interestingly, it is one of few settlements in southern Egypt that throve when it seems that the north, especially around the delta, was in economic decline.

 

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David Roberts

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February 1983, Praktika XL, Konika C35, Agfa slides. Postcard at top.