De Sir Gardner Wilkinson

Sir Gardner Wilkinson, plan inédit de 1843. Voir Christine Favard-Meeks, Behbeit, pl. XXVI. Publié avec l’autorisation de la Bodleian Library.

The temple, like many others in Egypt, stood in an extensive square about 1500 by 1000 feet, surrounded by a crude brick wall, doubtless with stone gateways. This was the temenos or sacred enclosure, and was planted with trees, as Herodotus informs us in describing that of Bubastis; and these are the groves denounced in the Bible, as an abomination to the God of Israel.

The temple itself was about 400 feet long, or 600 to the outer vestibule, by about 200 in breadth, and built of granite, some red, some grey, of a very beautiful quality, and covered with sculptures, in intaglio and in relief. Many of the blocks are of very great size; and though the temple has been entirely destroyed, and the broken stones forcibly torn from their places, and thrown in the greatest confusion one upon the other, it is easy to form an idea of its former magnificence. The whole is built of granite – walls, columns, roofs, and doorways; affording a striking instance of the use of this stone in the Delta; for though so large a building, no block of the ordinary kinds employed in Upper Egypt has here been admitted. The whole appears to have been erected by Ptolemy Philadelphus whose name occurs in all the dedications, and who alone is seen presenting offerings to the gods. The principal divinities are Isis;, the deity of the place, who has always the title « Lady of Hebai-t; » Osiris; who frequently accompanies her, and is generally called « Lord of Hebai-t; » Anubis, Savak, the crocodile-headed god, and some others whose legends are lost, and who may possibly be characters of Osiris.

Unfortunately it has been so completely destroyed that the plan cannot easily be recognised; and such is the mass of broken blocks, that one can go down amongst them to the depth of twelve and fifteen feet; below which are the numerous abodes of jackals, hares, and other animals, who alone rejoice in the ruinous state to which this building has been reduced. Nothing seems to be in its original position. The door-ways are seen, as well as parts of cornices, ceilings, architraves and walls; but all in confusion, and hurled from their places; and one is surprised at the force and labour that must have been used for the destruction of this once splendid building. The ceilings have been studded with the usual five pointed Egyptian stars. The cornices have the Egyptian triglyphs with the ovals of the king between them; but in some the name of « Isis, the beautiful mother-goddess » is substitued for the royal prenomen, and is accompanied by the nomen of Ptolemy.