Ancient Egypt Facts

The present village only contains a temple dedicated to the god Khnum which is a Ptolemaic restoration of a pre-existing XVIIIth dynasty temple. The hypostyle hall, which is 33 metres by 18 and contains twenty four columns 13.5 metres high, is more or less intact. The capitals of the columns are the most interesting feature thanks to the various sculpted floral motifs.

This is the tomb of the deified Elephantine nobleman, whose sanctuary was built on Elephantine, and who was honoured by no less than eight generations. His tomb is in poor condition, but his autobiographical text, recorded on each side of the entrance doorway, enables us to trace his activities.

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Harkhuf called himself caravan-leader and journeyed with pack-donkeys beyond the Second Cataract. His first journey took seven months. His second appears to have been even more adventurous and he was proud to record that never had any companion or caravan-leader . . . done it before. Each time he brought back precious products. Harkhuf had trouble on his third expedition. Some desert tribes were warring with one another, and Harkhuf became involved. He reduced the Temehu (a tribe related to the Libyans) to subjection and so impressed the Nubian chiefs that they offered him guides and cattle for his return journey.

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The main chamber is all that remains today of the tomb of Sennedjen, an official at the time of the XIX Dynasty and Servant in the Square of Truth. The paintings found here are, for their liveliness and freshness of colour, among the most beautiful of the entire valley. On one end wall is painted Sennedjen, who, accompanied by his bride, works in the Fields of Ialu (the Egyptian paradise), plowing, sowing and harvesting grain. On the other end wall (below) the husband and wife worship the gods in the After-life. At the head of all the other gods is Osiris who, with his green skin, symbolizes the renewal of life at springtime.

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On his fourth expedition Harkhuf brought back gold, ostrich feathers, animal skins, ivory, ebony, incense and gum. He also brought a dancing pygmy for his pharaoh, the young Pepi II, who came to the throne at the age of six. In his record, Harkhuf states that he sent his messengers ahead of his convoy to inform His Majesty of his gift, to which Pepi wrote back in his great enthusiasm that the pygmy should be guarded night and day so as not to fall overboard. Harkhuf was so proud of the letter that he had it engraved on the fa9ade of his tomb.

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Pepi-Nakht conducted several campaigns into Lower Nubia. On one occasion, he suppressed a rebellion and returned with captives, including the children of the chiefs as hostages. On another occasion, he brought back two Nubian chiefs themselves in order to talk matters over with the Egyptians and come to an amicable settlement. Pepi-Nakht also had a confrontation on the Red Sea coast when he and his troop force slew large numbers of sand- dwellers; this was in retaliation against the bedouin tribes that had killed a certain Enenkhet and his men, who were building a ship on the Red Sea coast with which to sail to Punt. Pepi-Nakht returned to the Nile valley with the body of the deceased nobleman.

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Representations on the walls and columns are poor. They show the deceased receiving various offerings. To the left of the entrance is a rural scene of ploughing and tilling of the land and donkeys laden with the harvest. The stele on the rear wall, opposite the entrance, is in a recess approached by steps.

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Harkhuf was an explorer, and his tomb contains lengthy descriptions of his pioneering expeditions; three were made in the reign of Merenre, and one in the reign of his successor, Pepi II.

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The fa9ade is carefully and finely sculpted. Sirenput is shown in seated position at the top of the staircase. Behind is a court with six pillars, all bearing representations of him. On the rear wall (left) is a large relief showing him followed by his sandal-bearer and two dogs, and hunting in the marsh (above). Cattle, including some angry bulls, are brought to him. To the right, he is seated in a colonnade with four women: his wife, mother and two daughters who bear him flowers.

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Sirenput was a prince of Elephantine in the reign of Senusert I, at the beginning of the Middle Kingdom. It was he who was encouraged by his sovereign to erect the sanctuary of Hekaib, and the royal artists he entrusted with the work on the sanctuary also decorated his own tomb.

In ancient times this was the capital of the Illrd nome or province of Upper Egypt. It was called Latopolis by the Greeks because of the worship of a sacred fish, Lato, which was the object of a special cult and of which numerous mummified examples have been found.

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This tomb, built by Sabni for his father, comprises a single chamber, crude in both construction and decoration. There are eighteen roughly hewn columns, in three rows. A stone table or shrine with three legs is situated between the two columns facing the entrance.

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