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Ancient Edfu (Behdet)

Der Tempel von Edfu um 1865 -- Photographer: Zangaki (Universitat Hamburg)
Der Tempel von Edfu um 1865 -- Photographer: Zangaki (Universitat Hamburg)

Edfu (Behdet) A site 72 miles south of Thebes on the Nile, Edfu was the capital of the second nome of Upper Egypt and the Horus cultic site from early times. The city was called “the Exaltation of Horus” in some eras. Tombs dating to the Sixth Dynasty (2323-2150 B.C.E.) and erected by the local Nomarchs were discovered in the city’s necropolis as well as a step pyramid dating to the Third Dynasty (2649-2575 B.C.E.). Mastabas and reliefs were also discovered there. In the Ptolemaic Period (304-30 B.C.E.) a great temple was erected on the site. The city was always considered militarily strategic for the defense of the nation and was fortified against assaults by the Nubians (the modern Sudanese). During the Second Intermediate Period (1640-1550 B.C.E.) when the Asiatic Hyksos ruled the northern Delta territories, Edfu was fortified by the Theban dynasties (1).

The great temple of Horus, located at Edfu, was started by Ptolemy III Euergetes (reigned 246-221 B.C.E.) and was probably erected on an earlier established foundation. More than 451 feet long, the temple honored Horus of the Winged Disk, called Behdet by the Egyptians and revered as the consort of Hathor of Dendereh. Hathor’s effigy was brought to the temple on a boat annually for a ceremonial visit. Fronted by a Pylon, the temple opened onto a court with columns and elaborate wall reliefs. Granite falcons were built as well to serve as divine patrons of this area. The dedication ceremony took place there in 142 B.C.E. and the temple was completed in 57 B.C.E. (ibid).

(1) Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt by Margaret Bunson (2014)

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium