Isis Temple at Deir el Shelwit

Deir el Shewit 004 View through gateway

Michael and I finally went on a visit to the newly restored Isis temple. We had been waiting to see if the ticket was repriced in Egyptian pounds. Sadly it has not been, the reason behind making the ticket price in dollars and accepting no other currency completely escapes me. I would have thought that American tourists or people with dollars were the lowest numbers of likely tourists to visit. I do hope they change this soon. Our tickets were number 139 and 140 so presumably 140 have managed to get the dollars required and the $700 USD raised has made a huge difference to the Egyptian economy.

We had last gone there in 2005 when it was locked, overgrown and the hassle from the local children was impossible to believe. I only took one photo!
01 Isis Temple in 2005
The location is south of Medinet Habu, past Malkata, about a 15 minute car journey. When we got there we were astonished to see a massive car park, presumably for the hordes of tourists they expect to visit. There are even toilets (we didn’t check them out), solar powered lighting, a huge wall keep the kids out and the area has been landscaped with gravel. It looks very remote and desolate.

I have put up two galleries of photos one taken by me and the other by Michael who has a better camera.

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There are a number of story boards in English and Arabic which are very helpful. My trusty Baedeker has an entry but I suspect few travel guides will have much.

To the S, on the road to Armant (footpath from Medinet Habu, 50 minutes), is the well-preserved Temple of Isis of the Roman period, now known as the Deir el Shewit. It dates from the reigns of Hadrian and Antonious Pius, and the ruined pylon has inscriptions of Vespasian, Domitian and Otho. The cella is surrounded by a number of smaller chambers, in one of which (far left from the entrance) is a staircase leading to the roof.

The story boards didn’t mention Domitian but Galba you might find this article helpful

Michael did try the staircase as the bottom door was unlocked but the top door was locked. The reason was obvious as he found loads of dead bats and it is important to keep these out of monuments.

There was an area to the right of the temple which had a lot of vegetation and my suspicion is that it was a sacred lake or similar.

Inside one of the side chapels was open to the sky and I wondered if this was a chapel dedicated to the sun. There was also a hole, we wondered if it was a crypt.

It was very challenging identifying the goddesses as everyone had cow horns and a sun disk but occasionally you could see the throne of Isis or the house of Nephytys, Maat and Sekhmet were easy. There were a lot of depictions of Montu (falcon head, double feathers and sun disk) as well as Osiris and Amun. A young Horus sucking his thumb.

We spent about 40 minutes there which is plenty long enough and we were both glad we went. So if you want to make a visit make sure you have your 5 dollars per person, don’t expect any change and you get your tickets at the main ticket office.

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