About This Print
It’s been so long since I visited the Egyptian ruins on the Island of “Philae” that I’m honestly not sure if I knew then that they had connections to ancient Rome or not? I put Philae in quotes because the real sacred island of Philae rests beneath the waters of Lake Aswan today. When the first dam on the Nile was built, the island was submerged periodically. When the high dam was built in the 1960s, Philae was completely submerged, but not before the temples on the island, like Trajan’s Kisok seen here, were taken down and re-assembled on the island of Agilkia
Whether I knew about the connection with Rome or not, an at least subconscious connection would explain why the architecture of this particular temple on Modern Philae attracted my attention. There was just something about those columns, a mix of Roman and Egyptian architecture that spoke to me. This temple is known as Trajan’s Kiosk. For good or bad, the Romans were ultimately a consummate multicultural society. Traditionally they didn’t eradicate other cultures but attempted to subsume them. When they conquered a people, there was an attempt to meld their religions and customs. In that vein, Trajan’s Kiosk has a relief inside showing Emperor Trajan making an offering to the Egyptian gods Osiris, Isis and Horus.
Perhaps had I visited Trajan’s Kiosk on the original Philae, I would have a different feeling, but to me the reconstructed Philae felt quite genuine. I was thrilled to see the ruins of Abu Simbel, but there was ultimately a sensation that they weren’t where they belonged. I believe I would have felt that way even if I hadn’t heard the story of the Nubian monuments being moved in the 1960’s. But standing before the temples on Philae, it felt perfectly natural. I guess it is, after all, easier to move a building than a whole mountain!
Have you visited the island of Philae and seen Trajan’s Kiosk as well? Or perhaps you’re a student of history who simply loves the cross-pollination of cultures seen in this ancient architecture? I hope you might take a second to share what attracts you to this particular Egypt print?
Note: Philae is a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site