Egypt January 2011: The Island of Philae

Near the spot where the northern tip of Lake Nasser, a reservoir, intersects with the southern tip of the River Nile is The Island of Philae, famous since the 4th century BCE as the center of the cults of the Egyptian gods, Isis and Osiris. The mid-twentieth century construction of Lake Nasser submerged Philae for at least half of the year, and when it became clear that the Aswan High Dam would submerge the island’s magnificent temples forever, the Egyptian government, in connection with UNESCO, relocated them to to the nearby Aglika Island–still called, nevertheless, Philae. Thus the temples, which would otherwise have been lost to modern tourists, remain accessible to them. Access to Philae is by motorboat, a fleet of them visible in the first photo below. Egypt is full of smokers, and you can see one of these gentlemen in the second photo below.

On the way to Philae
Smoking and thinking

The Egyptian cult of the goddess Isis extended across the Mediterranean during the Ptolemaic period, which lasted from 323 BCE to the death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE, and continued long after that. The sister of Osiris, Isis was an enchantress who briefly revived the dead Osiris and conceived a son by him named Horus, with whom the pharaohs identified themselves in opposition to the evil Seth. Isis was credited with instituting marriage and stood for the established order of things. She became the divine mother not just of Horus but of all the gods and the patron especially of women. The worship of Isis as a nurturing mother rivaled the devotion to the Virgin Mary in the early centuries of Christianity.

The Temple of Isis on the island of Philae
The Temple of Isis closer up
Isis herself, I think
A Nearby Cat photographed by Mary

Published by ronwendlingoutlookcom

My life has had three phases: one as a Jesuit seminarian, recorded in my 2015 memoir (Unsuitable Treasure: An Ex-Jesuit Makes Peace with the Past, Oak Tree Press); another as a college teacher and scholar of 19th century British Literature, best recorded in Coleridge's Progress to Christianity: Experience and Authority in Religious Faith (Associated University Presses, 1995); and finally my current phase as a retiree given to social media posts and photo commentary on my travels with my wife, Mary.

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