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Ptolemic Temple and Crocodile Museum

This post is part of the collection from Classic Egypt – a trip up the Nile

At Kom Ombo, situated right against the river, is the Ptolemic Temple of Kom Ombo and the Crocodile Museum.

Ptolemic Temple of Kom Ombo

The temple at Kom Ombo was built during the Ptolemaic period, just as the Temple of Horus at Edfu was.

Gate, Ptolemic Temple, Kom Ombo

However, rather than worshipping a god, the temple at Kom Ombo was worshipping a living deity – the Nile crocodile, one of the most fierce and dangerous predators out there.

When the temple was built, there was no dam to keep the crocodiles at bay. For whatever reason, perhaps because Kom Ombo was particularly protected from the elements, the crocodiles liked to gather there.

Crocodile hieroglyph, Ptolemic Temple, Kom Ombo

The ancient Egyptians thought that by worshipping these crocodiles, the way they do with other gods, it would reduce the number of crocodile attacks. At least that’s the story according to my guide.

He is not without proof – the temple is populated with hieroglyphs of crocodiles, including icons depicting their worship.

As I mentioned earlier, the temple is in very close proximity to the river, making it perfect for photographs from the cruise ship. It’s also lit up at night, so if you’re there at sunset, it becomes a whole different world.

Crocodile Museum

On the way out of the Kom Ombo Temple site, you’ll pass the Crocodile Museum. Entry is included in the tickets so it’s definitely worth popping your head in.

Mummified crocodile, Crocodile Museum, Kom Ombo

There are no living crocodiles at the Crocodile Museum but there are plenty of examples of mummified remains. They range from partially hatched eggs to full-sized beasts. And they are in surprisingly good condition given their age.

After the Aswan dams were built, the Egyptian part of the Nile has been, for the most part, free of crocodiles so the museum makes a good stop to see the reptiles and learn about them in a historical context.

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