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Elephantine Island, Egypt

September 11th, 2008 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places
 
 

Elephantine is an island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt. Confusing to some, this region is referred to as Upper Egypt because the ancient Egyptians oriented themselves toward the direction from which the river flowed. It may have received its name because it was a trading place for Ivory.

The island measures some 1,200 metres (3,900 ft) from north to south and is about 400 metres (1,300 ft) across at its widest point. It is a part of the modern Egyptian city of Aswan.

Known to the Ancient Egyptians as Abu or Yebu, the island of Elephantine stands at the border between Egypt and Nubia. It was an excellent defensive site for a city and its location made it a natural cargo transfer point for river trade. This border is near the Tropic of Cancer, the most northerly latitude at which the sun can appear directly overhead at noon and from which it appears to reverse direction or "turn back" at the solstices.

Elephantine was a fort that stood just before the first cataract of the Nile. During the Second Intermediate Period (1650 - 1550 BCE), the fort marked the southern border of Egypt.

According to Egyptian mythology, here was the dwelling place of Khnum, the ram-headed god of the cataracts, who guarded and controlled the waters of the Nile from caves beneath the island. He was worshipped here as part of a late triad among the Egyptian pantheon of deities. The Elephantine Triad included Satis and Anuket. Satis was worshipped from very early times as a war goddess and protector of this strategic region of Egypt. When seen as a fertility goddess, she personified the bountiful annual flooding of the Nile, which was identified as her daughter, Anuket. The cult of Satis originated in the ancient city of Swenet. Later, when the triad was formed, Chnum became identified as her consort and, thereby, was thought of as the father of Anuket. His role in myths changed later and another deity was assigned his duties with the river. At that time his role as a potter enabled him to be assigned a duty in the creation of human bodies.

[Source: Wikipedia]

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