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Bedouin Castle: Hotel, Safari, Nile Tours © 2013


ELEPHANTINE is an island to the north of the first cataract and directly west of the southern part of the modern town, Aswan.  This island has been the location of many important temples and artifacts from the pre-dynastic period all the way to the Roman era.  A felucca sail to Elephantine and the other islands in the first cataract is a tranquil and fun way to spend your day as you will see many interesting artifacts and gardens.


The sanctuary to
Satet (Elephantine patroness) was founded in the 2nd dynasty (ca. 2700 BC) and enlarged many times over the course of thousands of years.  The most important restoration and additions to the Satet temple was done in the 18th dynasty by the female pharaoh, Hatshepsut.  Satet was a local deity and protectress of the cataracts.


The temple of
Khnum, Satat’s mate, the ram-headed god, Khnum was also associated with the first cataract of the Nile, as was the third member of their triad, Anuket.  The terrace of the Khnum temple is from the 30th dynasty and it appears that there is some type of “orientation” line drawn down the center of the temple.  The Khnum temple doorways are oriented southeast, towards the city of Aswan.


Nilometer.  This instrument is on the east side of the Island and somewhat beneath the Khnum temple; the Nilometer was used to measure the height of the annual flood.  This was important for several reasons, one of which was that the government could make estimates on how much the citizens would have to pay in taxes on any particular year. Measurements of the Nilometer were done in cubits, which is about the length of a human forearm.