Elephantine Island locates in Aswan. It is an island amid the Nile River in the south of Egypt.
Elephantine Island is characterized by its magical nature, as the pure water of Nile surrounded it and green nature amid the mountain area, so this island is considered one of the most attractive touristic places in Egypt.
When you visit Elephantine Island, you will find that this island is full of historical monuments from different ages, in addition to the hotels that overlook the Nile, and also the wonderful views and places.
Thousands of visitors from all over the world come to Elephantine Island annually to enjoy the beauty of the island. The area of the island is about 1500 m length and 500 m width.
Throughout the Pharaonic era, the island was known for “Abo”, which means the elephant or the ivory of elephant’s tooth, which has been translated in the Greek language to Elephantine Island, its current name.
It was given that name because it was considered the main port that received the African ivory, which was extracted from the teeth of elephants.
The island was already a focal point on commercial routes to the south of Egypt. It was also the headquarters of all the military campaigns, government and trade missions that were traveling to the south.
The geological formation of the island gave it a great importance, as the island was created above a grand-granite rock, therefore, Elephantine Island was the main source of black, grey, and red granite rocks that were used for construction works.
In the Pharaonic era, the main urban activity concentrated on the construction of temples and tombs in the southern part of the island.
The eastern part of Elephantine Island included only a small residential complex and a commercial center called “Sono”, a verb in the ancient Egyptian language means trading, “Sieni” in the Greek language, and it became Aswan in Arabic, the current name of the beautiful city.
The height of the archaeological hill in Elephantine Island is about 12 meters. The oldest monuments at the island date back to prehistoric times (the civilization of Naqada). At the same era, the temples of the goddess Satet, the Lady of Elephantine, were built.
In the Early Dynastic Periods, a castle was established on the island as a guard point; this castle had a garrison to protect the southern borders and control trade routes.
In the third dynasty, a small step pyramid was built in the western part of the Elephantine Island, which symbolized the central authority represented in the king himself.
An administrative building and a cemetery were built and they date back to the Old and Middle Kingdoms.
One of the most important monuments in the island is the ruins of the temple of the deity Khnum, the master of Elephantine.
The god Khnum is one of the most important gods of ancient Egypt. He married the goddess Satet, the lady of Elephantine, and then they gave birth to goddess Anuket, the lady of the Sehel Island.
This temple was built in the Middle Kingdom and it was rebuilt during the reign of King Thutmose III at the New Kingdom.
Several additions were made to the temple during the reign of King Nakhtenabu II in the 30th dynasty, while its archaeological gate was decorated at the end of Alexander IV.
The Ptolemaic and Roman emperors have made also some additions to temple. The final phase of the temple is about 123 meters long.
In 1908, French archaeologists found a cemetery for the holy rams of the god Khnum between the temples of Khnum and Satet. In 26th dynasty, a Nilometer was built on the island.
From 1969 onwards, an impressive team of German and Swiss institutes in Cairo has organized scientific excavations aimed at rediscovering the monuments at Elephantine Island and writing its rich history over more than 3,000 years.
The island has a museum, which includes a number of outstanding monuments, and it will be developed to be suitable for modern exhibits.
The museum has an annex, which displays the most important monuments that are being discovered.
Touristic activities in Elephantine Island
When you visit Elephantine Island, you can make many touristic activities, as you can go to the island in unforgotten trip in the Nile by a sailboat. During this trip, you can see the surrounding islands and monuments.
You can stay at one of the hotels, which overlook the Nile River, away from the noise of the outside world, as well as enjoy the view of sunrise and sunset amid the waters of the Nile. This view attracts thousands of professional photographers around the world.
When you visit Elephantine Island, you can also enjoy taking a tour to see the monuments of the pharaohs on the island.
Read also: Visit Siwa Oasis and enjoy an unforgotten trip.