Edfu is an Egyptian city, located on the west bank of the River Nile between Esna and Aswan, with a population of approximately sixty thousand people. For the ancient history of the city, see below. Edfu is the site of the Ptolemaic Temple of Horus and an ancient settlement, Tell Edfu. About 5 km (3 miles) north of Edfu are remains of ancient pyramids.

The town is known for the major Ptolemaic temple, built between 237 BCE to 57 BCE, into the reign of Cleopatra VII. Of all the temple remains in Egypt, the Temple of Horus at Edfu is the most completely preserved. Built from sandstone blocks, the huge Ptolemaic temple was constructed over the site of a smaller New Kingdom temple, oriented east to west, facing towards the river. The later structure faces north to south and leaves the ruined remains of the older temple pylon to be seen on the east side of the first court.

The remains of the ancient settlement of Edfu are situated about 50 m to the west of the Ptolemaic temple - To the left of the older temple Pylon. This settlement is known as Wetjeset-hor and the Latin name was Apollinopolis Magna. According to Notitia Dignitatum, part of Legio II Traiana Fortis was camped in Apollo superior, which was the Roman name for the town.

Although unassuming and unglamorous to the visiting tourists, Tell Edfu is a monument that contains evidence of more Egyptian history and is of more archaeological interest than the Ptolemaic temple. Although major parts of the settlement show severe signs of erosion, cut away or have been exposed during sebakh-digging, enough is preserved to gain information from as far back as the Predynastic Period. The remains of the settlement (Tell) provides an insight into the development of Edfu as a provincial town from the end of the Old Kingdom until the Byzantine period. The settlement at Edfu was the capital of the Second Upper Egypt nome, it flourished and doubled in size around 3400 BCE and played an important role within the region during the First Intermediate Period. Interestingly, it is one of few settlements in southen Egypt that flourished when the north, especially around the delta, was in economic decline.

Today, the Tell Edfu monument is preserved in some areas up to 20 m high and contains complete archaeological sequences of occupation dating to the Old Kingdom until the Graeco-Roman period. So far, only the top layers of the tell containing the Graeco-Roman settlement remains were published by a Franco-Polish mission in the late 1930s (by Kazimierz Michałowski and B. Bruyère and Bernard Mathieu). The three elaborate reports on the archaeology of Tell Edfu, were only partially published by the Franco-Polish mission. In 1954, a second Polish mission, headed by Maria Ludwika Bernhard, also explored Tell Edfu. Unfortunately, from the mid 1950s no new detailed discoveries or thorough research has been completed at the monument. The site had also been excavated by Henri Henne from the Institute for Egyptology in Lille from 1921 to 1924.

No larger remains dating earlier than the 5th Dynasty have been found at Edfu. Its most ancient cemetery comprised the mastabas of the Old Kingdom as well as later tombs, and covers the area southwest of the precinct of the great temple of Horus. Before the beginning of the New Kingdom, the necropolis was transferred to Hager Edfu, to the west, and then in the Late period to the south at Nag’ el-Hassaya. The entire area was called Behedet. The god Horus was herein worshipped as Horus Behedet.

One of these mastabas belonged to Isi, a local administrator, who, it was quoted was the "great chief of the Nome of Edfu" in the Sixth Dynasty. Isi lived during the reign of King Djedkare Isesi of the Fifth Dynasty and into the reign of Pepi I of the Sixth Dynasty. He was an administrator, judge, chief of the royal archives and a "Great One among the Tens of the South." Isi later became a living god and was so worshipped during the Middle Kingdom. As the Sixth Dynasty and the Old Kingdom drew to a close, local regional governors and administrative nobles took on a larger power in their areas, away from the royal central authority.


Journeys trips that include Edfu:

Ancient Wonders of Egypt

Egypt Desert Oases & the Nile Valley


Information based on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edfu