First Pylon (Philae)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

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The First Pylon of the Isis Temple at Philae/Agilkia Temple Complex, the tallest structure on the island of Philae (modern day Agilkia), presents the pharaoh Ptolemy VIII ready to deliver the final blow to the subjugated enemy. The monumental gateway to the ancient Egyptian temple of Isis consists of a pair of tower structures with battered walls flanking the entrance portal.


On the first pylon of the temple of Isis at Philae, the pharaoh is shown slaying his enemies while Isis, Horus and Hathor look on.

The gateway which is now part of the large pylon, was constructed by Nectanebo I (380-362 BCE), who was also responsible for the earliest visible remains of the temple complex on the island.

On the front of the east tower, a huge relief depicts Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos grasping a band of enemies by the hair and raising his club to smite them, with Isis, the falcon-headed Horus of Edfu, and Hathor on the left.

Above are two reliefs of Neos Dionysos presenting the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt to Horus and Nephthys (right) and offering incense to Isis and Harpocrates (left).


circa 1279 BCE


The first pylon of the Philae temple complex, allows access in to the first court of the Isis Temple. Supposed to represent the akhet (horizon) hieroglyph. Two tapering towers, each surmounted by a cornice, joined by a less elevated section which enclosed the entrance between them. In front of the main gateway to the first pylon stand two Roman style lions carved from pink granite. The entrance to the main temple is fronted by the first Great Pylon. It stands 150 feet broad and 60 feet high, consisting of two towers and a gate between them. there are deep grooves for flag poles cut on either side of the portal.

In front of the pylon there originally stood two granite obelisks erected by Euergetes II (Ptolemy VIII Physcon) and two granite lions.

circa 260 BCE

Philadelphus Gate
Adjoining the east tower, an elegant gateway has reliefs by Ptolemy II Philadelphus (on the lintel) and the Emperor Tiberius (on the jambs). The gateway, built by Philadelphus, originally stood in a brick wall.



Western Outer Facade
The facade of the western tower of the first pylon depicts carved depictions in two registers, with the upper one in smaller size and the lower one in large.

The presents enormous representations of the pharaoh Ptolemy XII Neos Dionysos (the father of the well-known Cleopatra, the VII, Thea Philopator) in the traditional pharaonic pose: standing and holding his kneeling enemies by their hair, ready to sacrifice them to the divinities of the temple, Isis, Horus and Hathor. These two public scenes of depict ritual massacre of the enemies on both towers (one in the west massif, other in the east massif).

the pharaoh displays the same regalia (shendyt, hemhem crown, bull tail, sharp mallet, fake beard, various uraei)



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