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Samne Temple

Excerpt from: Travels in Nubia by John Lewis Burckhardt

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

CHAPTER X -- Samne Temple
March 19th, 1813.
Our path, on setting out, lay along a narrow passage between rocks of granite, quartz, and feldspar; the direction north. In three hours, we reached Wady Samne, near which is a cataract in the river: the stream forces its way through a narrow passage, not more than fifty paces in breadth, formed by two rocks, which project from the opposite sides. On the east side, upon a hill over the cataract, are some brick ruins; and, on the west side, are similar ruins, with an ancient temple on the top of the hill. It is built of sandstone, and differs in its shape from other Egyptian temples, though it somewhat resembles in its plan the small temple of Elephantine.

A small temple and rolling thunder-clouds.
Samne - from the book "Nubia and Abyssinia", published 1833.

The Temple consists of a principal building twelve paces in length, and three paces only in breadth. On each side, stood originally four small pillars, of which two remain on one side, and three on the other; one of the former has a polygonal shaft, the others are square; they are all covered with sculptures. The pillars are joined to the main building by blocks of stone, which serve as a roof to the vestibule. There are two small gates. The inner walls of the apartment are covered with hieroglyphics, and mystic representations of the divine worship. On both sides a long ship is sculptured, with Osiris in it; and the group of two figures resting their hands upon each others shoulders is every where repeated. The roof is painted blue, and there are some remains of colours upon several of the figures.

Near the posterior wall, opposite the main entrance, a statue lies on the floor, the head of which has been cut off; it is about five feet high; the arms are crossed upon the breast, and in one hand is the flail, and in the other the instrument usually called a crosier. On the exterior wall of the temple I distinguished several figures of Mendes, or the Egyptian Priapus. All the sculptures are of coarse execution; and several of the lines of the compartments wherein the hieroglyphics are cut, are not straight, as if they had been the work of young persons only learning their art. Some of the hieroglyphics on the pillars have evidently been left unfinished.

A part of the wall appears to be of a different date from the rest, as it is constructed of stones much larger, and better hewn. There seems to have been another similar building near this temple, for several capitals of columns are lying on the ground, and a large block of granite covered with hieroglyphics. All around are heaps of rubbish. The temple is surrounded by ruined brick buildings, which are certainly of high antiquity; they cover the top of the hill which overhangs the shore, and are enclosed by a double wall, or rather by a wall within a parapet; the former is of brick, from eight to twelve feet thick, and whereever entire, upwards of thirty feet in height; the parapet is constructed of stone, twenty feet in breadth, with sides sloping towards the declivity of the hill; the stones of the parapet are thrown irregularly upon each other, without cement, but those which form the sloping side are either cut, or dexterously arranged, so as to present a perfectly smooth surface, which, at the period when the work was taken care of, must have rendered it impossible for any one to climb over it. These works of defence indicate powerful enemies; but who they were, it is impossible to ascertain.

wings of the Sun.

Samne Temple
excerpt from: Travels in Nubia

by John Lewis Burckhardt, published in 1819

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