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The Temple of el Dakka (Dakke)


The Temple at el Dakka (Dakke) was moved to avoid the waters of Lake Nasser created by the Aswan High Dam.


Excerpt from: Travels in Nubia by John Lewis Burckhardt

A Journey along the Banks of the Nile
Published in 1819. Adapted for AscendingPassage.com, 2006.


The Temple at el Dakke (Dakka)


March 27th, 1813.
After an hour's march, we came to the ruin of a temple, one of the finest remains of antiquity that is met with in the valley of the Nile. In the front stands a large propylon (pylon), thirty paces in length, in the center of which is a gate similar to that of the propylon at Edfu; before this gate lies a fragment of the body of a sphinx. There are neither hieroglyphics nor figures of any kind upon the outer wall of the propylon; in both the wings are staircases leading up to the top, exactly similar in their construction to those in the propylon at Philæ; the two wings communicate with each other by a terrace over the gate: there are numerous small chambers one above the other from the bottom to the top, in both wings. On the wall which fronts the gate of the temple, and on the sides of the gateway, are sculptures and hieroglyphics.

The temple at el Dakka (Dakke)- a giant pylon and a stone building.
The Temple at el Dakka (Dakke),
by David Roberts, 1838


Sixteen paces distant from the propylon is the entrance to the pronaos, between two columns, united to the wall, which is half their height; they have the same capitals as the columns of the open temple at Philæ, which are seen no where else in Egypt, and which are represented in the travels of Denon, who says that they approach the Grecian style by the elegance of their forms. Upon the columns of the temple of Dakke are various figures, among which, I particularly noticed one of a harper.

the temple at Dakke.
The Temple of Dakke,
by François Chrétien Gau, 1819


The pronaos is ten paces in length, and seven in breadth: its roof is formed of enormous blocks of stone, at least fifteen feet long. A door leads from the pronaos into a narrow apartment, only four paces in breadth, which communicates with the adytum, by another door richly ornamented. On one side of the adytum is a small dark chamber, in which is a deep sepulchre, with a large lion sculptured in the wall immediately over it; and, on the other side, behind the wall, is a passage, communicating with the pronaos, and containing a staircase which leads up to the top of the building.

the temple at Dakke.
View from inside the Temple of el Dakka (Dakke),
by François Chrétien Gau, 1819


The adytum is about six paces square; beyond it is another apartment, somewhat larger, communicating, by a small gate, with a narrow passage inclosed between the wall of the temple, and a thick stone wall which inclosed the building on three sides, but of which the foundations only are now remaining. A large block of granite lying on the floor of this apartment, is one of the few instances wherein granite is found in the temples of Nubia. Along the bottom of the walls are represented lotus plants in flower, to which offerings are presented.

There are no historical sculptures in any part of this temple, but the exterior walls, as well as all the apartments within, are thickly covered with figures representing religious subjects: on the former some of the figures are four feet in height; those on the latter are all beautifully executed, and equal, to the best specimens of the kind which travelers admire at Hermonthis and Philæ; indeed, I prefer the figures in the chamber behind the adytum, to any that are in the temples at those places: in no temple of Egypt have I seen such correctness of design or gracefulness of outline.

On each side of the narrow apartment behind the pronaos is a small gate, opening into the passage above mentioned; opposite to one of these gates is an avenue leading down to the river, and on the outside of the other are two long inscriptions; one of which is in hieroglyphics, and the other, immediately below it, and, apparently, by the same hand, in the common Egyptian character, like that on the rolls of papyrus. I conjecture the latter to be a translation of the former, and if so, it may prove to be of some interest.

the temple at Dakke - el Dakka.
The Temple of Dakke (el Dakka),
by Francis Frith, 1860 - 1870.


The propylon and the whole of the temple seem to have been encompassed by a brick enclosure, parts of which still remain, and traces of the rest may be discerned under the mounds of sand. The Greek Christians had appropriated this temple to their worship, several paintings of saints yet remaining on the walls.

I conjecture the temple of Dakke to have been built after the plan of Philæ; although upon a smaller scale, its execution appeared to me to be still more careful than that of Philæ: and it is extremely interesting from the high preservation of all its details. Dakke is probably the ancient Pselcis, and the small chapel at Kobban, on the eastern side of the river, Contra-Pselcis. The temple at Korty has retained its ancient name, Corti; and the portico of Meharraka must therefore stand upon the site of Hierosycaminon: the temples of Seboua, Hassaya, and Abu Simbel, with their cities, are consequently unknown to the itinerary of Antoninus.


wings of the Sun.

The Temple of el Dakka (Dakke)
excerpt from: Travels in Nubia

by John Lewis Burckhardt, published in 1819



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