Hadrian's Gate (Philae Temple Complex)

By the Editors of the Madain Project

The Gateway of Emperor Hadrian, is actually a long corridor-like passage with decorated side walls and a now lost columned porch attached to its west exit. It is the latest cultic building on Philae with proper, though not fully completed temple reliefs, datable to between c. 117 and 180 CE.


Originally, the gate was located opposite the mooring chapel on Biga and served as a departure point for the bark procession of Isis to the tomb of Osiris on the abaton. Today, it is located north-west of the Philae Mammisi.

Architecture and Reliefs

circa 120 CE

Among other things, it bears the abaton decree with regulations concerning the cult of Osiris on Biga and a text recording the donation of a vineyard to the Temple of Isis. There are various scenes involving Osiris, as well as other gods and the Emperor Hadrian. In the vestibule that proceeds the gate there is an image of the Nile god entwined by a serpent and pouring water from two jars, symbolizing the birth of the Nile River. To the north of the gate are the remains of the Temple of Harendotes.

circa 120 CE

Flanking the approach are two walls from a bygone vestibule, decorated with notable reliefs. The right-hand wall depicts the origin of the Nile, whose twin streams are poured forth by Hapy the Nile-god from his cave beneath Biga Island, atop which perches a falcon. To the right of this, Isis, Nephthys and others adore the young falcon as he rises from a marsh.

circa 120 CE

Above the door in the opposite wall, Isis and Nephthys present the dual crowns to Horus, whose name is inscribed on a palm stalk by Sheshat and Thoth. Below, Isis watches a crocodile drag the corpse of Osiris to a rocky promontory (presumably Biga). Around the gate itself, Hadrian appears before the gods (above the lintel) and the door jambs bear the fetishes of Abydos and Osiris. At the top of the wall, Marcus Aurelius stands before Isis and Osiris; below he offers Isis grapes and flowers.


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