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Island of Philae Cult Center of Isis/Aset

According to Plutharch´s late version of the myth this is the place where Aset found the heart of her husband Osiris when his body had been torn to pieces and spread out over the land by His brother Seth. It is also said that she buried him on the neighbouring island of Bigeh.

The temple on Philae was built in the Late Period to the Greek influenced and Romanized Isis, but it´s perhaps here that the importance of Aset can be traced most vividly, as the rulers during the Greek and Roman time period were eager to show their commitment to the ancient Egyptian religion, for political reasons. Through the magnificent display of this great cult center and the hieroglyphs which adorn the temple and pylon walls, the influence of Aset seems to come forward across the times to meet us.
On Philae she is shown as the wife of Wesir (Osiris), who mourned his death when he was murdered by his brother Seth, searched throughout the land for his body, restored him to life and gave birth to his son Heru (Horus).
Here she is is called the Lady of Abaton, which means Lady of the Tomb, referring to the tomb of Osiris at nearby Bigeh. She is also called Lady of Philae. Here Aset and Het-Hert (Hathor), for whom there is a small temple too, have merged into one deity.
Aset is also depicted as the Mother and Protector of the King. In the Birth House of the temple of Aset, rites were held at every new king´s ascendancy to the throne of Egypt, to manifest and secure his Divine birth. The hymns which are inscribed on the walls of the Birth House, which have been transcribed and translated by the Swedish egyptologist Per Linder 1997, are all dedicated to, and partly describes these rituals.
There are also hymns engraved on the walls of the sanctuary, some of them which are transcribed, translated and discussed by Louis V. Zabkar in his book 'Hymns to Isis in her Temple at Philae', London 1988. In these hymns Aset is placed as both Creator of All Life as well as Royal Spouse and Mother of God, thus making her the chief deity not only in her temple at Philae but over the whole land.

On the island of Bigeh next to Philae is the alleged tomb of Wesir (Osiris). Therefore, every tenth day (ten days is one week according to the ancient Egyptian calendar) a procession carrying the statue of the Great Lady of Philae travelled by boat over to Bigeh to make offerings by her husband´s tomb.


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