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Elephantine Island

Opposite the corniche in Aswan lies the 2km long Elephantine Island. It is quite narrow, and the major feature nowadays is the Aswan Oberoi Hotel. The only thing nice about the Oberoi is -- as our guide told us with a laugh -- that you don't have to look at it if you stay there.

The nilometer (the modern cap house) on the island

The island is named for the black rocks off the southern end that, supposedly, look like elephants.

The island has been occupied since long before the city of Aswan was populated here, and legend has it that the god Hapy (got of the Nile) lived here. An enormous temple to Khnum once covered most of the island. The temple is being excavated by the Germans , and it is not open to visitors. THere are other temples here as well, some that have been here for over four millennia.

Just to the north is a Roman Nilometer, which has been used since antiquity to measure the level of the Nile flood. THere are pharaonic numerals and roman numerals in the shaft, and more recent inscriptions in French and Arabic.

women doing washing in the nile along the shore

Also on the island is the Aswan museum, which we did not visit. It was developed to show the artifacts that were lost to Lake Nasser with the building of the High Dam. It used to contain many of the Nubian artifacts that have since been moved to the Nubian Museum on the eastern shore.

amarna Previous Monument dome of winds

© 2003-2005 r. fingerson
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