01.10.2010 - 01.10.2010 40 °C
We sailed further up the Nile towards Aswan in the south. In the late afternoon we arrived at the Temple of Kom Ombo, situated on a dune above the Nile.
The temple was also built by one of the Ptolemies in the 2nd century BC, and is unusual in that it consists of two temples, one of which is dedicated to Sobek the crocodile-headed god.
In ancient times, many sacred crocodiles basked on the river banks here, and many have been mummified. One does still see crocs around, so swimming is best done in the pool on deck!
The other temple is dedicated to Haroeris (sometimes called Horus the Elder) who was the falcon-headed sky god.
Much of the original structure of the temple had been destroyed by Coptic Christians, and builders needing stone for other projects. The Nile also played a role and here we see an example of a Nilometer, with which the priests could monitor the level of the river.
Foundations are all that remains of the main pylon; these dovetails were cut into the stones for drawing heavy stones tightly together, using wood and water.
While we were still exploring the temple the sun was setting over the Nile.
On the back wall of the temple there is a rare engraved image of what is thought to be the first representation of medical instruments for performing surgery, including scalpels, curettes, forceps, dilator, scissors and medicine bottles dating from the days of Roman Egypt. To the left are scenes depicting goddesses giving birth in birthing stools.
Another view of a Birthing
In the side chapel there is also a festival calendar, which would have been used by the ancient Egyptians to diarise all the religious events occuring throughout the year.
In this panel one sees the right Eye of Horus, which is commonly depicted on jewellery, on sarcophagi and in temples. The right eye was said to represent the sun, while the left eye represents the moon.
An ancient myth describes a battle between Horus and Set in which Horus´ right eye was torn out and Set lost his testicles! Thoth magically restored Horus´ eye, at which point it was given the name "Wadjet" (meaning "whole" or "healthy").
The Eye of Horus was believed to have healing and protective power, and it was used as a protective amulet. It was also used as a notation of measurement, particularly for measuring the ingredients in medicines and pigments. The symbol was divided into six parts, representing the shattering of Horus´ eye into six pieces. Each piece was associated with one of the six senses and a specific fraction.
It is interesting to note that if the pieces are added together the total is 63/64 not 1. Some suggest that the remaining 1/64 represents the magic used by Thoth to restore the eye, while others consider that the missing piece represented the fact that perfection was not possible. However, it is equally likely that they appreciated the simplicity of the system which allowed them to deal with common fractions quickly.
The symbol of Rx for a prescription is intriguing; in general, the accepted definition of Rx is an abbreviation of the Latin word recipe, take. However, Charles Rice writing in New Remedies 1877 'an American pharmaceutical journal', suggests Rx is a corruption of the alchemist sign 4 denoting Jupiter, the father of gods and men, whose blessing was to be evoked on the prescription.
Another researcher describes how the Egyptians weighed prescriptions carefully. She illustrates from hieroglyphs how fractions were expressed by dissecting the eye of the god Horus and suggests Rx designates the word 'prescription'. Perhaps Rx is a continuing cultural symbol from the eye of Horus once torn to fractions and miraculously restored.
In the ancient world Jupiter or Horus would both be powerful deities to enhance the efficacy of prescribing.
By now the sun had long set, although the air was still hot, and the crush caused by masses of other tourists was also dwindling.