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The Temple of Debod

Debod Temple (Debut, Debot, Debout, Dabod or Dabud) was built by Pharaoh Adikhalamani in the third century BC. The Temple was originally dedicated to the god Amun. Ptolemy VI, VIII, and XII enlarged and re-dedicated it.

Dabod Temple was only 6 miles south of Aswan and was disassembled as part of the international rescue efforts at the time of the building of the Aswan High Dam. The temple is now located in Madrid, Spain, a gift from Egypt to the Spanish people for their help with the rescue of Nubian monuments in the 1960's.

"Travels in Nubia" was written by one of the very first westerners in modern times to explore the Nile south of Aswan. It was a dangerous and secret journey, John Lewis Burckhardt did not reveal his identity or purpose even to his guide. His book is a record of the further reaches of the Egyptian empire, temples mostly from the later period when the culture had dimmed a bit, but still wonderous as Mr Burckhardt found them in the sands of the early nineteenth century.

Debod Temple
Photograph by Maxime DuCamp, 1852

The Temple of Debod

Edited excerpt from: Travels in Nubia by John Lewis Burckhardt
A Journey along the Banks of the Nile
Published in 1819. Adapted for, 2006.

March 30th, 1813.
After a ride of half an hour, over a well cultivated plain, we came to the temple of Debot, which stands upon the site of the ancient Parembole.

The temple at Debot.
The Temple of Debot,
by Francois Gau, 1819

The temple is approached through three high, insulated gateways, with projecting cornices, like that near Merowau. The distance between the first and second gateway is twenty paces, ten paces between the second and third, and fifteen paces between the third and the pronaos of the temple. In front of the pronaos are four columns, with a wall half their height.

Along the center of three of the interior walls of the pronaos is a compartment of sculpture, the other parts of the walls are quite bare; a peculiarity I saw nowhere else in Egypt. Adjoining the pronaos to the left is a square chamber, the walls of which project beyond the side of the temple, and destroy its symmetry. There are no sculptures of any kind on the walls of this apartment.

The cella is an oblong square, its walls are covered with hieroglyphics and sculptures. On one side of it is a dark apartment, opening into the pronaos, and on the other side is a staircase leading up to the top of the temple. Below the staircase are several small rooms.

The sanctuary of the temple at Debot.
Sanctuary, Temple of Debot,
by Francois Gau, 1819

The adytum, which is entered through a narrow chamber three paces wide, is ten feet in length by nine in width. In its rear wall are two fine monolith temples of granite, the largest of which is eight feet in height by three in width. The winged globe is sculptured over each of them. They appear to have been receptacles for some small sacred animals, perhaps (scarab) beetles. The places are yet visible where the hinges of the door turned, which shut up whatever was contained within. These monolith temples, are similar to those at Philae; but differ in their construction from that at Gaou (AntŠopolis), which is much larger. There are no hieroglyphics in the interior, whereas that at Gaou is covered on the inside with inscriptions and sculptures.

On each side of the adytum at Debot is a small room, communicating with the narrow chamber behind the cella; the walls of both are without sculptures, but contain some secret recesses, similar to those at Kalabshe, and which were destined, probably, for the same purposes. One of these rooms had an upper story, like the one at Kalabshe, but it is now ruined. The other parts of the temple are in good preservation. The sculptures on the inside walls are much defaced; but some faint remains of their coloring are yet visible.

The simple temple at Debot - Square with four tall columns at the front.
The Temple of Debot,
by David Roberts, 1838

There are no sculptures whatever on the exterior walls. A wall, now in ruins, had encompassed the whole of this temple, including the three gateways in front of it. I observed in the broken-up floor of the pronaos deep stone foundations, upon which the temple is built. I should not be surprised if subterran rooms were discovered here, as well as in other Egyptian temples. That would be quite in the spirit of the Egyptian hierarchy.
The Temple of Debot
Edited excerpt from: Travels in Nubia
by John Lewis Burckhardt, published in 1819

Plan of Debut Temple
by Francois Gau, 1822

by Prisse d'Avennes 1878

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