Philae is mentioned by numerous ancient writers, including Ptolemy and Seneca. It was, as the plural name indicates, the appellation of two small islands situated in latitude 24° north, just above the First Cataract near Aswan. Since Philae was said to be one of the burying-places of Osiris, it was held in high reverence both by the Egyptians to the north and the Nubians.
The Magnificent Ancient Egyptian Island Temple Complex
Despite being the smaller island, Philae proper was, from the numerous and picturesque ruins formerly there, the more interesting of the two. Prior to the inundation, it was not more than 380 metres (1,250 ft) long and about 120 metres (390 ft) broad. It is composed of syenite: its sides are steep and on their summits a lofty wall was built encompassing the island.
Philae was said to be one of the burying-places of Osiris
The most conspicuous feature of both islands was their architectural wealth. Monuments of various eras, extending from the Pharaohs to the Caesars, occupy nearly their whole area. The principal structures, however, lay at the south end of the smaller island.
Often mentioned as the last refuge of the Egyptian religion, the island temple complex of Philae now only exists in artwork and recreations as to how it used to look. Building upon the islands mythological significance the later Egyptians, Greeks (Ptolemaic dynasty) and even Romans furnished their fair share of architectural features upon it – which became the magnificent ancient Egyptian island temple complex of Philae.
The Video Reconstruction
Now brought back to life the island complex is viewable from this 3d model that has been lovingly recreated in its ancient splendor. I recommend you go to the video page to ‘like’ the video and add a quick comment, work like this always amazes me as its not a simple process to construct.
It should be noted that the Philae ruins and complex are not situated in the original location, with the local areas being flooded by the Aswan Low Dam in 1902. Fortunately, by virtue of the ambitious 9-year long UNESCO Nubia Campaign project in 1970, the temple complex was dismantled stone-by-stone and reassembled precisely in its current location – the nearby Agilkia Island that most resembles its ancient counterpart. However, going down the history lane, in the following animation, the resourceful folks over at Altair4 Multimedia have reconstructed the sheer scale and size of the original Philae, along with the vibrant recreation of the interior of the main Temple of Isis.