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el Seboua Temple


The temple at El Seboua (Sabua or Saboua) in Egyptian Nubia was built on order of Pharaoh Ramesses II to honor two gods: Amon Ra and Ra Harmakis (Re-Horakhty). Seboua means the Lion's Wady, so-called from the two lines of sphinxes with the bodies of lions, which stand before the Rameses temple.

The Seboua Temple built by Ramesses II was relocated to avoid the rising waters from the Aswan high dam and now is a favorite with tourists. There was a second temple at Seboua, an older building built during the reign of Pharaoh Amenophis III and dedicated to the Nubian Horus and later to Amun. The Amenophis temple was not rescued and now is at the bottom of Lake Nasser.


Two tall statues and two rows of sphinxes line the entrance to the Temple at Saboua.
Entrance to the Temple at Seboua,
by David Roberts, 1838


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.

El Seboua Temple


There is a short route over the mountain from Derr to Aswan; but I preferred following the banks of the river. In ten hours, we reached opposite Seboua (Saboua), where are fine ruins. They stand on the side of low hills, which a narrow plain separates from the river.

In front of the temple is a propylon (entrance pylon) similar to that of the temple of Gorne at Thebes. It is twenty-eight paces in length; and in the centre of its two pyramidal wings is a small gateway, leading into the court of the pronaos, two-thirds of which are buried in sand. The pronaos has five columns, without capitals, on each of its longest sides; in front of each column, and joined to it, is a colossal figure (like those at Gorne), about sixteen feet in height, having the arms crossed upon the breast, with the flail in one hand and the crosier in the other; all these figures are much mutilated.

the temple at Seboua was decorated with a series of images of the pharaoh making offerings to various gods.

the temple at Sebua / Saboua wall art. In each frame the king wears a different headress, showing his different titles and roles.
Wall art from the Temple at Seboua,
by François Chrétien Gau, 1819


The walls of the propylon, and of the pronaos, having been constructed of small blocks of very friable sandstone, are so much decayed, that little now remains of the sculptures with which they were originally covered. In front of the entrance, there lies on the ground a colossal human statue, the head and breast of which are buried in the sand; it probably stood on the side of the gate, like the colossi at Luxor; it is a male figure, and in the same attitude as the statues in front of the temple of Isis at Abu Simbel.

The sand has covered so much of the Temple at Saboua that the roof seems to be merely pavement on the ground.
The Temple of Seboua,
by David Roberts, 1838


In front of the propylon, and about thirty yards distant from it, are two statues ten feet in height, and seven paces from each other; their faces are towards the river, and they are attached by the back to a stone pillar of equal height; they are rudely executed, proportion being so little observed, that the ears are half the length of the head; they both wear the high bonnet, and represent unbearded male figures. An avenue of sphinxes leads from the river to the temple; but the greater part of them are now buried; four remain by the side of the two last mentioned statues, differing from each other in size and shape, but all representing the bodies of lions with the heads of young men, and the usual narrow beard under the chin. I observed a hole on the top of their flattened heads, intended, perhaps, to receive a small statue. Near the temple are some mounds of rubbish and broken pottery.

the temple at Sebua - Seboua.
Pharaoh offering papyrus blossoms to a boat shaped ark of a god,
by François Chrétien Gau, 1819


The whole fabric appears to be of the remotest antiquity; and to have been imitated by the more modern architects of Egypt; for the propylon, and the pronaos with its colossal statues, are found at Gorne, on a larger scale; the two statues in advance of the propylon, are the miniatures of those in front of the Memnonium; and the sphinxes are seen at Karnac. As it was long after sunset before I quitted this temple, we proceeded only half an hour farther, and alighted at the hut of an Aleykat (tribe) Arab.


wings of the Sun.

The Temple at Seboua
excerpt from: Travels in Nubia

by John Lewis Burckhardt, published in 1819



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The Temple at Saboua .
Floorplan of the Temple of Seboua,
by Ernst Weidenbach


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