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The Greek-Roman temple in Kom Ombo

The temple of Kom Ombo is situated on the banks of the Nile. The fact that it was flooded every year during the flooding of the river is an important clue in solving the mystery of why crocodile mummies are located here.

Kom Ombo, is today a small agricultural settlement, but was an important city in ancient times on the route from Nubia to Egypt. Gold was imported from that land. In Kom Ombo, there were numerous workshops dealing with the processing of raw material. Hence the Egyptian name of the city - Nebit, meaning City of Gold. Currently, Nubians, who were displaced from the areas flooded by Lake Nasser, which was created as a result of the construction of the Great Aswan Dam, live in its vicinity.

The Kom Ombo temple was built during the reign of Ptolemy (4th-1st century BC). It is distinguished by the fact that it was dedicated to two divine triads. The first of them was Sobek, the god of harvest, often depicted as a crocodile (his presence is related to the closeness of water and its beneficial influence), together with his wife Hathor and son Chonsu. The second triad consisted of Haroeris (Horus the Elder, lord of the world) together with Tasanet-Nofret (one of the forms of the goddess Hathor) and the son of Panerai, identified with the pharaoh. 

This duality is reflected in the architecture of the temple, which is divided into two parts from the entrance. It has two separate gates and passages leading through subsequent rooms: the temple's vestibule (pronaos), the first column room with 15 columns, the second column room and the Sacrifice Room, up to two separate sanctuaries. Divine triads were worshiped in them. The division of the temple is also visible in the reliefs as those on the left are Haroeris and the right ones are Sobek. One of the wall decorations is puzzling because it shows instruments whose purpose is not entirely clear. It is believed that these may be surgical instruments such as a scalpel, scissors and pincers.

Near the temple there is a sacred lake where crocodiles were bred. They were cult animals of the god Sobek, therefore they were held in great veneration. Sobek who often appeared in the form of this fierce reptile, ensured the annual flooding of the Nile, and thus brought fruit to the whole country. When the crocodile finished its life, its body was embalmed and wrapped in bandages. The mummy was then placed in a temple or in special tombs. In 1970, hundreds of crocodile mummies were discovered in the Hathor Chapel near the entrance to the temple during archaeological excavations. Some of them can now be seen in the Crocodile Museum, which is located at the temple. The mummies of crocodiles and other items devoted to Sobek are an attraction for visitors.