Elephantine

ELEPHANTINE

An island at the level of Aswan, and the most southerly town in Egypt. In the pharaonic period, it was the capital of the Elephant nome, but from Ptolemaic times, it was reduced to a temple town and the administration was transferred to Syene, today Aswan, on the eastern riverbank. The two main temples cover almost the whole of the former town area of Elephantine, and are dedicated to the god Satet (a place of worship on the same site can be traced back to the Thinite period; Kaiser, 1977, pp. 63ff.) and Khnum (Ricke, 1960).

After profanation of the temples in the period, the forecourt of the temple of Khnum was converted into the barracks of an infantry cohort in the second quarter of the fifth century (Grossmann, 1979). For reasons of chronology, however, this cohort cannot be identified with the Cohort I Felix Theodosiana mentioned in the Noticia Dignitatum Orientis 31.64. A church inserted into the pronaos of the same temple in the late sixth century was formed as a centrally oriented building with an ambulatory and four corner pillars.

Of a second church that once stood in the northwest part of the town and probably had the form of a basilica, only a few fallen column shafts, and their bases have survived. The apse appears to have been provided with an inner ring of columns. The building itself was destroyed by the sabbakhin (manure diggers).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Grossmann, P. Elephantine II, Kirche und spätantike Hausanlagen im Chnumtempelhof. Archäologische Veröffentlichungen 25. Mainz, 1980.
  • Kaiser, W., et al. “Stadt und Tempel von Elephantine.” Mitteilungen des deutschen archäologischen Instituts—Abteilung Kairo 26 (1970):87ff.; 27 (1971):181ff.; 28 (1972):157ff.; 30 (1974):65ff.; 31 (1975):39ff.; 32 (1976):67ff; (1977):63ff.
  • Ricke, H. Die Tempel Nektanebos’ II in Elephantine. Beiträge zur ägyptischen Bauforschung und 6. Cairo, 1960.

PETER GROSSMANN