Elephantine Island Museum (Aswan Museum)/Ruins of Abu

Elephantine Island (Aswan Museum) ancient collection: Statue of Harwa

The Elephantine Museum is located on on the south-eastern side of the city's Elephantine Island in the River Nile, located just downstream of the First Cataract at the southern border of Ancient Egypt and has artifacts primarily related to that area in the midst of spectacular sub-tropical gardens. The building that houses the collection, which belonged to the architect of the Aswan Dam, Sir William Wilcocks, is worth a few minutes, however, and the new annex contains some interesting items dug up on the island itself.

The white clapboard house where the museum is located also has the distinction of being the former villa of Sr. William Willcocks, the designer of the first Aswan dam. Some the more notable exhibitions at the museum include a mummified Ram of Khnum, a golden bust of Khnum, statues of Amenhotep III with goddesses and prehistoric schist basins. Elephantine Island is the largest of the Aswan area islands, and is one of the most ancient sites in Egypt, with artifacts dating to predynastic periods. Both the Aswan Museum and the adjacent Ruins of Abu are well worth visiting.

In antiquity Abu was the centre of a cult dedicated to Khnum, the ram-headed god, creator of life on the potter’s wheel and guardian of the Nile. The best exhibits from the museum are now found in the Nubian Museum but the rooms are still worth wandering. The remains of ancient Abu are a travellers gem being partially reconstructed and consisting not only of the mudbrick walls but also the Temple of Khnum and a Nilometer, used to measure the flood. The ruins are littered with hieroglyphs, reliefs still with original paint intact and other inscriptions. The site is usually quiet with few other visitors.
Elephantine Island Museum (Aswan Museum)
The Elephantine Island or Aswan Island (Upper Egypt) is very beautiful, and while many of the artifacts there are in ruin, there is still considerable to see. One of it's main attractions is it's Nilometer, which is one of only three on the Nile, which was used to measure the water level of the Nile as late as the nineteenth century. There has been an ongoing excavation at the town for many years by the German Archaeological Institute, and some of the finds along with many other island artifacts, including a mummified ram of Khnum, are located in the Elephantine Museum.

In ancient times, the island was also an important stone quarry providing granite materials that would be transported widely within Egypt for monuments and buildings.

Ongoing excavations by the German Archaeological Institute at the town have uncovered many findings that are now on display in the museum located on the island, including a mummified ram of Khnum. Artifacts dating back to predynastic times have been found on Elephantine.

The oldest ruins still standing on the island are a granite step pyramid from the third dynasty and a small shrine, built for the local sixth-dynasty nomarch, Hekayib. There were forty-two such provinces created as regional governments that dated from the Old Kingdom through the Roman Period.

Elephantine Island Museum (Aswan Museum)/Ruins of Abu
Total Objects: 3328
Abtal at-Tahrir, Next to the Nilometer, Elephantine Island or Aswan Island (Upper Egypt), Aswan, Egypt
Tel. +20-97-322066, +20 097 231 3826, 097/2313628
Hours: Winter 8am-5pm; summer 8.30am-6pm

Last Updated on Sunday 16th January 2011