Sehel Island is a small island located near Aswan in southern Egypt. It is famous for its ancient inscriptions, including several Nilometers, which were used to measure the Nile River's annual inundation. It is believed to have been an important site for ancient Egyptians as it was considered sacred and was used as a pilgrimage site.
The island contains several ancient inscriptions, rock art, and structures that date back to the pharaonic era. It is also believed to have been the location of the ancient city of Tisis, which was the capital of the third Nome of Upper Egypt during the Old Kingdom. Today, Sehel Island is a popular tourist destination and offers visitors a chance to explore its rich history and natural beauty.
How to explore Sehel Island?
- Over 250 inscriptions, many of which are devoted to the goddess Anukis and her companion Khnum and date from the Middle Kingdom to the Ptolemaic periods, can be found on the two hills that dominate the southern end of the island. Some of these inscriptions contain their supplications or prayers of thanks for assistance in navigating the perilous first Nile cataract safely. They also document activities and trips into Nubia made by officials on the king's business.
- The 'Famine Stela,' the most famous of Sehel Island's rock inscriptions, is located at the top of the eastern hill. The story dates back to Dynasty III during the rule of the Horus Netjerikhet, king Djoser, and is softly scratched onto a sizable granite boulder.
- An Anukis chapel was constructed during the reign of Amenemhet II on the island, but very little of it is still standing today. However, around the Nubian village, remnants of a small Khnum Ptolemaic temple have been discovered. Discover more about the Dynasty by visiting this chapel.
- The route up from the river passes by a hillier area to the east and a stretch to the west with some interesting inscriptions. Many well-preserved carvings with hieroglyphic inscriptions honoring Khnum, Anukis, and other deities may be seen here, along with several royal cartouches.
- - A breathtaking view of the cataract region may be seen to the south as you ascend the hill to its summit. The River Nile's narrow channels contain stony formations called cataracts that existed until about a century ago.
- Sehel Island may be reached by boat and is a wonderful morning or afternoon excursion. The islanders are warm and welcoming, serving copious amounts of tea in their Nubian houses.
- The neighborhood women will follow you around with baskets filled with handmade goods, sculpted dolls, and beaded jewelry. Buy these traditional crafts as souvenirs!