• Oracle temple Siwa Oasis
  • Oracle temple Siwa Oasis
  • Oracle temple Siwa Oasis
  • Oracle temple Siwa Oasis
  • Oracle temple Siwa Oasis
  • Oracle temple Siwa Oasis

Oracle temple Siwa oasis information, tours, prices and online booking

Oracle temple Siwa Oasis located in the mostly abandoned village of Aghurmi. It known as Amun temple in fact. The new name is in fact because of Alexander’s visit when he conquered Egypt. It is actually one of two temples dedicated to Amun at Siwa, the other being Umm Ubayda. It sits atop a flat rock, and is a spectacular sight. Built during the 26th Dynasty (though the Oracle’s origin is reputed to be much, much older), this temple and its Oracle flourished well into the Greek and Roman periods. There are a number of myths about the founding of this temple. One of them tells of two black priestesses from the Temple of Amun at Thebes (modern Luxor) who banished to the desert.

In this tell, one of them founded the temple of Dodona in Greece, where she became the voice of the Oracle. The second, after a time in Libya, came to Siwa where she became the Oracle’s sibyl. Another tell maintains that the temple existed as early as 1385 BC. Moreover, it built in honor of Ham, the son of Noah, by Danaus the Egyptian. Another legend relates the founding of the temple to the Greek god Dionysus. While lost in the Western Desert, Dionysus was perishing of thirst when a man appeared and guided him to the spring at Aghurmi. In gratitude, Dionysus erected the temple. Oracles, manifestations of the gods, were very revered in the ancient world. Their existence in Egypt dates back for beyond the Temple of the Oracle at Siwa.

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Able to see into the future, they were consulted regularly prior to important decisions. Other important Oracles of the ancient world were located at Persia, Libya, Delphi, Cumae, Samos, Cimmeria, Erythrae, Tibur, Marpessa (on the Hellespont) and at Phrygia. Their abodes were typically close to a natural phenomenon. At Siwa, the temple located at the spectacular Spring of the Sun. Sibyls, priestesses who spoke the Oracle’s message, believed to be endowed with prophetic powers often called upon to intercede with the gods. Various ancient sources, including Quintus Curtius and Diodorus, report that the original form of the Oracle at Siwa was the bezel of a ring. Moreover, it embellished with gems including the elusive Siwan emeralds.

Later, the form became the head of a ram, a symbol of Amun. We are told that, unlike the great Karnak Complex, wealth was not important. In fact, the Oracle at Siwa strove to maintain its primitive simplicity. The Oracle at Siwa held in such high favor in Greece that an Athenian galley commissioned solely. It was to convey envoys to Marsa Matrouh, then called Ammonia. It is where they would begin their desert trek to the oasis. The Greeks probably learned of the Oracle after they invaded the northern coast and established Cyrene (now Libya) in 637 BC. Afterwards, the Oracle absorbed into Greek religion and associated with Zeus, who became associated with the Egyptian Amun. The Oracle reputed to have cursed Andromeda and she was tied to a rock to be devoured by a sea-serpent.

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Perseus is said to have stopped off to visit the Oracle prior to beheading Medusa. Moreover, Hercules is though to visited it before he fought Bursiris. Cambyses, who ruled Egypt between 525 and 522 BC, wanted to destroy the Oracle. But in fact he lost his army somewhere in the vast outreaches of the Western Desert. Pliny tells us that this was because the sacred stone at the temple touched by sacrilegious hand. So, it caused a dreaded sand storm to rage. There is a legend that Pindar wrote a poem about the Oracle that was kept under the alter for six centuries. In fact, Pindar is the famous Greek poet who lived between 522 and 443 BC. Prior to Alexander The Great, Cimon, the Athenian general, stood at Cyprus in 449 BC. In fact, he awaited word from the Oracle before attacking Egypt.

It said that when his emissaries reached the Temple, the Oracle spoke, “Cimon is already with me!”. When they returned to Cyprus, the discovered that Cimon died as they spoke to the Oracle. Eubotas, the famous Cyrene athlete also stopped by, perhaps sometime around the year 409 BC. Around the same time, Lysander, the Spartan general, came to Siwa twice to consult with the Oracle. We told that Alexander The Great, in 331 BC consulted the Oracle in order to seek confirmation that he was the son of Zeus (Amun). And therefore a legitimate ruler of both Egypt and other lands that he conquered. When he and his entourage arrived after capturing Egypt, a manifestation of the Oracle paraded. It was through the city accompanied by eighty priests.

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After his visit to the Oracle, whenever his image appeared on coins, Alexander shown with the horns of the ram, symbolic of the god Amun. Moreover, he consulted the Oracle at least once, and probably more than one time. After Alexander, Hannibal visited the Oracle and the Elians were so deeply influenced by the Oracle. They kept a list of all their questions and answers provided by the Oracle. Moreover, they engraved in stone upon a temple wall. Yet, by the time of the Romans, the Oracle began a decline. Cato asked about the freedom of Rome and according to one source the Oracle refused to answer. A second source maintains that Cato had come to challenge the Oracle and break its power. So it was Cato who refused to speak, thus lowering the esteem of the Oracle.

By the time that Strabo visited Siwa after the birth of Jesus Christ. In fact, he noted that the Oracle was no longer as powerful and was in decline. The ruins of the Oracle temple Siwa Oasis still exits, but for how long is questionable. The rock upon which it sits is cracking, and from time to time parts of it, sometimes large pieces, slide down. Fissures are seen on all side and we know that in ancient times, the rock was much larger. In fact, there is considerable evidence of treasure hunters at work in the temple area. Nevertheless, the temple remains fairly well-preserved, all considered. Furthermore, the temple reached by climbing a well-marked path up the side of the rock it surmounts.

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In fact, Oracle temple Siwa Oasis does not occupy the entire area. It sites within the village that was abandoned for the most part in 1926 after a heavy rainstorm. Until very recently, at least some families actually lived in the temple. Moreover, the entrance is through the village gate. The ruins of an old mosque stand over the gate, its minaret still dominating the skyline. In front of the mosque is the ancient well with several niches that may lead to storage areas or subterranean passages. The temple is in the northwest corner of this area. Its walls abut the cliff at the edge of the rock and are in danger of falling into the precipice below. The area in front of the temple cleared of its mud-brick houses by Ahmed Fakhry in 1970.

The court in which the processions of the god took place stretches in front of the temple proper. But only the foundations of its northern and eastern walls still exist. In fact, the court is only a small distance from the edge of the rock. Therefore, either this area of the rock at its edge filled in during ancient times, or the visitors had to climb a staircase if, as we might expect, the entrance of the court was in the axis of the temple. However, it is possible that the entrance to the court was on the east side. Moreover, it reached as it is today by climbing the slope. In fact, the façade of the temple easily distinguished. Moreover, it stands about eight meters high. Furthermore, the entrance has a cornice which measures 2.22 meters wide, with no inscriptions.

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Later builders, apparently during the Ptolemaic period, attempted to make it look like a Greek temple. They added a wall in front on which they build a half-column of the fluted Doric type to each side of the entrance. The façade leads to an interior of two large halls and a sanctuary. In fact, it is with an entrance on the main axis. The first hall measures 7.74 by 4.95 meters. Moreover, its entrance is not precisely in the middle of the wall. Furthermore, the western side is slightly longer. In fact, there are two niches in the southern wall, one in each of the two corners. At floor level in the west wall there is an entrance to a crypt. Moreover, the second court is almost the same size as the first, but built a little higher.

There are three entrances in the north wall of the second court, of which the middle and larger one leads to the sanctuary. In fact, the small entrance to the right of it, only 80 centimeters wide. Moreover, it leads to a narrow corridor which might used as an annex for storing the temple equipment. Maybe it used to assist in delivering the oracles. In the left wall of the corridor are three niches about 66 centimeters higher than the floor. Moreover, near the ceiling are two apertures for light. Fakhry wondered whether it was a secret area from which the priests could speak the words of the Oracle. In fact, only the sanctuary has walls that are inscribed. Moreover, the sanctuary measure 3.3 meters wide by 6.1 meters deep.

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Like the other rooms, it once roofed over. We even find near the top of the east and west walls tone projections on which the rafters rested. Unfortunately, the walls badly damaged by treasure hunters. The inscriptions are at the two sides of the entrance to this chamber. They continue on the side walls. Though it seems that the back wall never inscribed. To the right of the entrance is the figure of King Amasis. In fact, his reign the temple built and decorated, though his head and body chiseled out. The crown of the North upon his head in fact left intact. In fact, the king’s name written inside a cartouche in front of him. He offers rounded vases of wine to eight deities who stand facing him in a row.

In fact, they preceded by Amun, who represented on the east wall. Other gods on the wall include Amun’s consort, Amenre, Mut, Khonsu and Mahesa. The last deity is a female who wears the double crown, but her inscription completely destroyed. The accompanying text reads, “I give life to the Chief of the desert-dwellers, Sutekh-irdes”. To the left of the entrance of the sanctuary depicted a governor of Siwa. It completely destroyed except for the feather which stuck in his hair and denotes his Libyan origin. While under Egyptian control, Herodotus tells us that its governors called kings. It is perhaps because of its isolation. Hence, He represented on the opposite side of the chamber, in the same position as the king of Egypt.

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Moreover, he makes offerings to eight gods. The inscription tells us that this was Sutekh-irdes, who was “Chief of the Desert-dwellers”. Among the eight deities on this wall are Amenre, Mut, Dedun-Amun and the goddess Tefnut,. There are also Harsaphis, with a human body and ram’s head and Nut. Moreover, there are also Thoth depicted with the head of an ibis and Hebenu of the Two Lands. Furthermore, there is also Nehem’awa, the consort of Thoth. Behind the last deity, the wall is blank, because at one point a door here lead to the adjacent chamber. In fact, It walled up at a later date. Moreover, there was at least one chamber on the roof the temple. The staircase that led to the terrace roof was at the west side of the corner.

In fact, it fell down when this part of the rock slid off. Furthermore, there is a narrow corridor at the right (east side of the sanctuary) that leads around behind the back wall. Another large chamber is on the west side of the temple. The temple has apparently never excavated. Without such work, we cannot determine whether other parts of the temple still hidden under the surrounding debris. In fact, the remains of walls southwest of the court are visible. Moreover, we can distinguish the outlines of some chambers built of stone. Furthermore, there are also stone walls among the remains of the falling houses at the east side of the temple. But in fact, it is without proper study, we do not know if any of these constructs are a part of the temple proper.

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