The Temple of Esna
Esna temple held a special place among the holiest temples of ancient Egypt, as it represents one of the main aspects of ancient Egyptian life. The temple is an absolutely beautiful piece of remarkable and enchanting architecture. The temple is dedicated to the ram deity Khnum the god of the source of the Nile, his wife Menhit and son Heka plus the goddess Neith.
Esna Temple Location
The temple of Esna is located 485 miles (776 Km) south of Cairo on the west bank of the Nile, 55 km south of Luxor, it lies in the ancient city of Latopolis “City of the Fish” as it held 52 species of fish.
Esna Temple History
Esna temple was firstly constructed by Tuthmosis III (1479 – 1425 BC) who laid the foundation of Esna but was completed by the Ptolemaic and Roman emperors between 40 AD to 250 AD. The temple was honored by the ancient Egyptians who complained with strict rules when it came to ritual purity as the inscriptions carved on the walls stated that the ones who enter the temple were expected to cut their fingernails and toenails, remove other body hair, wash their hands, dress in linen and have no sexual intercourse for several days.
Architecture & Design of Esna
The temple was built using red sandstone and contains a hall of columns with 24 pillars decorated lotus and palm capitals. The walls of the temple are carved with four rows of reliefs showing the names the Ptolemaic and Roman emperors and images of then dressed in Pharaoh Costumes offering sacrifices to the god Khnum. On both sides of the temple are chambers that were used by the priests and keepers of the temple as storerooms. On the edge of every entrance of each room, there are images of Emperor Trajan carrying a litter by six priests with hawk and jackal masks of the gods.
One of the most incredible scenes about Esna temple is the roof which is decorated with astronomical representations, on the gateway of the temple on the left side are the sky goddess Nut, Alpha Draconis a.k.a Thuban (the dragon star), the Dog Star, and Orion’s belt. On the western wall of the front of the temple are images of the god Horus and the god Khnum dragging a net full of fish from the Nile as well as some reliefs of birds, below this imagery is the last known hieroglyphic inscriptions ever recorded.