Monday, August 26, 2013

Gebel Silsil

Gebel Silsila

Gebel Silsila is the name given to a rocky gorge between Kom Ombo and Edfu where the Nile narrows and high sandstone cliffs come down to the waterfront. There was probably a series of rapids here in ancient times, dangerous to navigate, which naturally forms a border between the regions of Elephantine (Aswan) and Edfu. In pharaonic times the river here was known as Khennui, the "place of rowing. On the west side there is a large column of rock that has been dubbed "The Ratchet" because of a local legend that there was once a chain (Silsila in Arabic) which ran from east to west Banks. Arthur Weigall in his "Antiquities of Egypt" Silsila indicates that the name is a corruption of the Roman Egyptian original name for the city-Khol Khol, which means a barrier or border.
Gebel Silsila West
It is not surprising that by the eighteenth dynasty, the travelers had become accustomed to sculpt small shrines in the cliffs here, dedicating it to a variety of gods of the Nile and the river itself. Smaller shrines were cut by Tuthmose I, Hatshepsut and Tuthmose III, before Horemheb built his temple carved into the rock here, so much of the nineteenth dynasty or later kings left their mark in some way. Gebel Silsila became an important center of worship and every year at the beginning of the season offer flood and sacrifices were made to the gods associated with the Nile to ensure the well-being of the country for years to come.

Rock sanctuary Gebel Silsila
On both banks of the Nile, the massive sandstone quarries produced for the construction of monuments prolific eighteenth dynasty, first in small quantities and skills of workers increased, the stone has been widely exploited to build large monuments such that the colonnade of Amenhotep III in Luxor, Karnak temple of Amenhotep IV, the Ramesseum and Medinet Habu, to name a few. By Ptolemaic monuments built from Gebel Silsila sandstone most temples in Upper Egypt contained. Due to the holiness of the site, the sandstone was considered as having an additional holiness.

Gebel Silsila West Steep sandstone cliffs in the West Bank are crowded with graffiti, shrines and stelae, 33 chapels rock. Eighteenth dynasty saw the construction of shrines by Tuthmose I, Hatshepsut, III and Horemheb and Tuthmose Nineteenth Dynasty, Ramses II, Merenptah, Siptah, Seti II, Ramses III and Ramses V had developed steles engraved on the rocks. Seti I left a part hymn to the Nile and inaugurated two festivals, which have continued to be provided by Ramses II and Merenptah.

The stelae of Ramses III and Sheshonq
The most important deity depicted here seems to be Sobek the crocodile god, Lord Khennui "which with Haroeris (Horus the Elder) is one of the twin gods of Kom Ombo. As the Nile god Hapi also received a significant portion of the offer. The proximity of the site to Aswan meant that the triad of Elephantine Khnum, Satis and Anuket loved here. Tauret the hippopotamus goddess is also presented Gebel Silsila, especially in Speos of Horemheb.

Towards the southern end of the west bank of the river, three sanctuaries were built by Merenptah, Ramses II and Seti I (north to south), with a wharf in front of them, but the tomb of Seti and dock were destroyed by an earthquake. These shrines are now more easily accessible by boat. To the north faces, extracts steep rock quarries that look like blocks of cheese slices contain mason marks, designs and other craftsmen of old securities operation. A staircase carved into the rock leads hope one side of these cliffs, disappearing at the top, leaving you almost blocked. There is however a rough rocky path that leads past "Le Cabestan" and the royal tombs.

Royal Shrines at Gebel el-Silsila West
The first monument here is a large stone stele at right angle to the river, built by Ramses III, dated the sixth year of his reign. The first of the royal shine was built in the first year of Merenptah and as the two were deeply embedded in the rock behind two columns and a cornice. The king is considered worshiping a variety of gods and registration is a Hymn to the Nile. To the south is a small stele of Merenptah where the king offers a figure of Maat to Amun-Re. Behind him stands the vizier Panahesy and another official. Unfortunately, in June 2012, the lower part of the stele was severely damaged by thieves trying to remove the rock.

Amenhotep I (left) and Stele of Merneptah (right)
The second sanctuary belongs to the beginning of the reign of Ramses II and also shows the king worshiping many gods. Queen Nefertari is seen in front of a figure of the hippopotamus goddess Taweret is dressed in a very unusual dress. South of the sanctuary Ramses is another small stele of Merenptah on which the king was joined by the high priest of Amon, Roy. A small statue of King Amenhotep I is located next to the stele.

Queen Nefertari before the goddess Taweret
The third place of pilgrimage and the sooner the group was virtually destroyed by an earthquake. It was built for Seti I and seems to have been in a similar style to the other two royal shrines.

Rock Shrines
Further north, visitors can see most of the cave sanctuaries, some with complex chapels containing statues of their respective owners and with beautiful ornate ceilings. Many of these shrines have been damaged by quarrying or earthquakes and are now open to the elements, but they can be seen from the wide path along the river bank. Shrines belong to government officials, priests, nobles and royal scribes of the time. There is also a Dynasty XVIII tomb belonging to Sennefer a libation priest of Thebes who was buried with his wife Hatshepsut. The tomb is now open to the sky, and the remains of five sitting together with hieroglyphic inscriptions, statues can be seen near the waterfront.

Tomb Sennefer
At the northern edge of careers There are three major rock-carved stelae of Ramses V, Shoshenq I and Ramses III (north to south). The stele of Ramses V, one of its greatest monuments known, contains an inscription dedicated to Amun-Re, Mut and Khonsu, Sobek-Re of Khennui. Shoshenq stela tells how King extracted here for its construction at Karnak in the 21 years of his reign. On the stele of Ramses III, the king offered a statue of Maat to Amun-Re, Mut and Khonsu.

The Speos of Horemheb
Horemheb was the last king of the eighteenth dynasty and he carved a large rock-chapel, or speos on the hill at the north end of the site. The chapel was dedicated to Amun-Re, and other deities who were connected to the Nile.
Speos of Horemheb

The monument consists of a front five separated by pillars of different widths, behind which is a long hallway with a cross-vaulted roof and a smaller oblong room, the sanctuary doors to rear. All the walls are covered with reliefs and inscriptions, some heavily damaged areas, but in others there are reliefs of very fine quality. Horemheb himself never completed speos, and later, the decoration was done by kings and nobles who carved their own stelae and inscriptions on the walls later.

Sanctuary and Vaulted Hall
The deities represented on the walls, in addition to Amun-Re, are Sobek as a crocodile, the ram-headed god Khnum of the First Cataract, Satet Elephantine, Anuket, goddess Sehel, Tauret as a hippo and Hapi, the god of the Nile. As well as those of Horemheb, cartouches of Ramesses II, Merenptah, Amenemesse, Seti II and Ramses III Siptah appear in relief.
Khnum, Tauret, Horemheb, Amun-Re & Sobek

On the south end wall, the benevolent goddess Taweret is rarely seen in human form, nursing the young King Horemheb. Behind her is a damaged figure of Khnum and left, Amun-Re and Sobek Kennui.
Horemheb's Victory over Nubia

The west wall is one of the most recognized reliefs of Horemheb, the triumphal procession "of the king after his victory in Nubia. Horemheb is shown seated on a lion-President laptop which is carried by twelve soldiers with plumes of feathers. At the front and rear of the king are his fan-bearers, the protection of Pharaoh sun. His entourage includes rows of priests, soldiers, a trumpeter and several groups of captured prisoners, all represented in a very natural style, almost echo of the Amarna period reliefs. The inscription above the king celebrates his victory over the people of Kush.
Stelae of Merenptah and Rameses II
Another important relief represents a list of four festivals Heb-sed of Ramses II in the 30th, 34th, 37th and 40th years of his reign, which were supervised by his eldest son, Prince Khaemwaset. The prince, known for his priestly wisdom and restoration works, appears in several places in the chapel, with his mother, the queen and the princess Asetnefert Bentanta and other privileged officials of the kingdom. Khaemwaset probably died before the 42nd anniversary of Ramses II was celebrated at Gebel Silsila as was done by the vizier Khay, which also has a presence in speos. Merenptah, the son and successor of Ramses II is represented on a stele with his wife and his vizier Asetnefert Panehesy worshiping Amun-Re and Mut. 
Figures in the Sanctuary

On the north end wall there is a niche with six figures carved in high relief, depicting (from west to east) the vizier Panehesy the goddess Maat, a relationship Amennakht male, a female singer related to "Hathor, "the god Ptah and finally Ra'y, female relationship with the title" Re singer. It is a rare relief where a private family is in the presence of the gods. Many other stelae and reliefs adorn the walls of the room, giving the names of the nineteenth dynasty of kings and their officials.

Figures Sanctuary
The sanctuary at the rear of the vaulted room contains seven severely damaged figures are supposed to represent Sobek Tauret, Mut, Amun-Re, Khons, Horemheb and Thoth. The side show a wide variety of gods and demigods walls, while the walls inside the door are reliefs of the Triad Elephantine Khnum, Satis and Anuket and Osiris and the scorpion goddess Selkhet. Tauret chairs a symbolic representation of the union of Upper and Lower Egypt.

Gebel Silsila East

Gebel Silsila East
The east bank of the Nile contains the most spectacular careers Gebel Silsila which were most used during the New Kingdom, particularly under Ramses II, which employs three thousand workers to cut stone for the construction of the Ramesseum on the west bank of Thebes. Many shrines and stelae were cut into the rock, too, and the names of the kings who worked in the quarries are certified by their officials who gave detailed accounts of their work....

  The inscription on a large stele of Amenhotep III records the transport of stone for the construction of a temple of Ptah. His son Amenhotep IV, who later became Akhenaten, also has a monument here on which he loves and that Amon extracted the stone obelisk to be erected in the Temple of the Sun at Karnak records. Stelae of Seti I and King Apries can also be seen. Among the caves and carved sandstone shelves, many remain unfinished Sphinx, both the RAM and the variety in human head, still anchored to the rock. At the foot of the hill, there are a number of small tombs carved into the rock. Ramses II built a temple at Gebel Silsila East, but it was destroyed.
Rock Stele at Gebel Silsila East

Unfortunately, bank career is now officially closed to visitors without special permission.

How to get there 
Gebel Silsila West can be reached by road from Edfu, following the river to the south for about 40km. A series of villages stroll through the green agricultural fields gradually giving way to desert. After the last village, the trail climbs steeply in the sandstone quarries. Alternatively, it may be possible to hire a felucca Edfu and Aswan can navigate the river and moorland to the bank for a visit to the monuments. A modern visitor center, but rather neglected was built Gebel Silsila West and tickets are sold for 25 LE. A guard will accompany visitors around the monuments.

No comments:

Post a Comment