kom ombo

Charles Woods

Kom Ombo is one of Egypt’s oldest Neolithic sites with traces of civilization found going back in time almost as far as 16,000 bce.  Larger settlements began round about the period of the Old Kingdom and there are many old tombs on the outskirts of the town dating to around 2660 bce.    The town of Kom Ombo is located about 30 miles north of Aswan which is the capital of the region in nome number l in Upper Egypt.

The town of Kom Ombo is dedicated to the worship of the local god Sobek, known in his Greek name of Suchos.  There is also another important cult center for Sobek worship in the North, in the Fayoum area, nome number 21, at a place appropriately called Crocodilopolis (city of the Crocodile), and is now currently called Abu Seir El Malaq. 

Kom Ombo 19th centuryK0m OmboKom Ombo
The temple at Kom Ombo before and after preservation.

The main centre of Sobek worship may have developed in the Fayoum when Sobek was particularly favoured by the 12th and 13th dynasties, many kings and queens of that period incorporating Sobek into their names.   The 13th dynasty kings made a second residence in the south of Egypt at Kom Ombos, and this may have given rise to the Sobek cult becoming popular in the region.  Nevertheless, Sobek worship, and that of his mother Neith (Nuit) does go back right to the very Old Kingdom at least, and maybe even beyond that.

The temple is largely the work of Ptolemy VI, commonly known as Philometer.  He reigned for about 16 years from approximately 180-164 bce.  He was not able to complete the work, however, and there is little evidence of any further work being done on the temple until the time of Ptolemy XIII  115 years later.   These were troubled times for the Ptolemies, and Ptolemy XIII reigned at the same time as Cleopatra VII (Philopator).  He only seemed to survive a reign of 4 years from 51-47 bce, but managed during this time to oversee the construction of the outer and inner hypostyle halls at the temple.  

The temple work was finally completed some 15-20 years later by the Emperor Augustus, after the Roman conquest in 30 bce.    Augustus was a Roman Emperor who changed his name be decree of the Senate, but who was originally Gaius Octavius, or Octavian who defeated Mark Anthony and Cleopatra at the sea battle off the coast of Actium in Greece in 31 bce.   His name of Augustus is to be found carved on one of the pillars in Luxor Temple, when he later used it to garrison his troops there.

SobekSobek and hathor
Sobek - reliefs from the temple at Kom Ombo

The Temple at Kom Ombo received a somewhat unusual dual-dedication, to Sobek on the one hand, and Haroeis (Horus the Elder) on the other.  Haroeis has several other alternative variants, for example Hawer and Panebtawry, which is the local name by which he was known in Kom Ombo.  Tesentnefert was his mother and she was the wife of Horus the Younger (the usual Horus) who takes the form of Sobek in this connection and depicted in crocodile form with the head of a hawk (Horus) adorned with the double crown.    Sobek, within the context of Kom Ombo is connected to Hathor as his wife and they jointly become the parents of Khonsu with a cult center at Luxor (Thebes) where Tutankhamun can be seen depicted in a statue in the position of Khonsu with Sobek and Hathor.  Because of Sobek’s royal connection, he is sometime depicted wearing the Uraeus and often carries the Was Scepter, the royal scepter of Thebes. 

abu simbel
gebel silsila