The New International Encyclopædia/Philæ

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PHI′LÆ (Lat., from Gk. φιλαί, Coptic Pilákĕh, the corner, extremity, i.e. of Egypt). A celebrated island in the Nile, just above the First Cataract, in latitude 24° 1′ N. It is a small granite rock, about 1000 feet long by 500 feet broad, and is covered with ancient buildings of great architectural beauty and interest. By the Arabs it is called Gezîret Anas el-Wogûd. '‘The island of Anas el-Wogûd,’ from the name of the hero of a tale in the Thousand and One Nights, the scene of which is laid here. Philæ is not mentioned in the Egyptian inscriptions before the time of Nectanebo II., who constructed the oldest of the buildings that now remain, though it is reasonably certain that a temple existed there in earlier times. The island was especially devoted to the worship of the goddess Isis, but Osiris, Hathor, Khnum, Satet, and other divinities were also worshiped there. In later times, when the cult of Isis had spread through the Greek and Roman world, many pilgrims of foreign nationality visited the shrine of the goddess at Philæ, and her worship was maintained there long after heathenism had been banished from other parts of Egypt. The great temple of Isis was built by Ptolemy Philadelphus and his successor, Euergetes I., but additions and embellishments were made by other Ptolemies and by several of the Roman emperors. The approach to the temple is formed by the dromos, a long open space, flanked on its eastern and western sides by colonnaded walks. At the southern end is the hall of Nectanebo II., built about B.C. 350, and near it to the right is the ruined temple of the Nubian deity Arnuphis (Ar-hes-nofer). Starting from this temple, the eastern colonnade runs northward to the small temple of Imhotep (Asklepios), and terminates near a gate built by Ptolemy Philadelphus and adorned with reliefs by that monarch and by the Emperor Tiberius. The western colonnade is pierced by a number of windows which give a fine view over the river. It runs along a fine stone quay of ancient construction. At the northern end of the dromos stands the great pylon of Nectanebo II., leading into the outer court, on the eastern side of which are a number of chambers, built for the use of the priests, while on the western side is the birth-house, commemorating the birth of Horus. Among the reliefs and inscriptions upon the walls of the latter building is a copy in hieroglyphic and demotic of the text of the Rosetta stone (q.v.). At the upper end of the outer court is a second pylon, which gives entrance to the inner court leading to a columned hall, and from this, through a succession of smaller halls and chambers, lies the way to the sanctuary of the goddess Isis and her son Harpocrates (q.v.), In an upper story is a room decorated with scenes from the myth of Osiris (q.v.). The temple is decorated throughout with sculptures and reliefs which are well preserved and are richly colored. West of the temple of Isis, near the river, are a gate built by the Emperor Hadrian and the temple of Harendotes (Egyptian Har-nez-yotf, ‘Horus the avenger of his father’). On the eastern side of the island is the small temple of Hathor built by Ptolemy Philometor and Euergetes II., and near it, close to the river bank, is a beautiful pavilion resting upon light and graceful columns and richly adorned with reliefs. On the northern end of the island, among the ruins of the ancient city of Philæ, are the remains of the old Roman city gate, of the temple of Augustus, and of a Coptic church. It was expected (1903) that the great dam at Assuan would so raise the level of the Nile at Philæ as to submerge the island. Consult: Description de l'Egypte (Paris, 1820-30); Lepsius, Reiseberichte aus Aegypten (Leipzig, 1855); Edwards, A Thousand Miles Up the Nile (London, 1877); Dümichen, Geschichte des alten Aegyptens (Berlin, 1878); Mariette, Monuments of Upper Egypt (London, 1877); id., Voyage dans la Haute-Egypte (Paris, 1893); Baedeker, Aegypten (4th ed., Leipzig, 1897). See Plate accompanying article Egyptian Art.