, Ptol. 4.5.73
; Steph. B. sub voce
It. Anton. p. 165; Ombos, Juv. 15.35
; Ambo, Not. Imp. sect. 20: Eth. Ὀμβίτης;
comp. Aelian, Hist. An. 10.21), was a town in the Thebaid, the capital of the. Nomos Ombites, about 30, miles N. of Syene, and situated upon the E. bank of the Nile; lat. 24° 6′ N. Ombi was a garrison town under every dynasty of Aegypt, Pharaonic, Macedonian, and Roman; and was celebrated for the magnificence of its temples and its hereditary feud with the people of Tentyra.
Ombi was the first city below Syene at which any remarkable remains of antiquity occur. The Nile, indeed, at this portion of its course, is ill-suited to a dense population.
It runs between steep and narrow banks of sandstone, and deposits but little of its fertilising slime upon the dreary and barren shores.
There are two temples at Ombi, constructed of the stone obtained from the neighbouring quarries [p. 2.482]
The more magnificent of two stands upon the top of a sandy hill, and appears to have been a species of Pantheon, since, according to extant inscriptions, it was dedicated to Aroeres (Apollo) and the other deities of the Ombite nome by the soldiers quartered there.
The smaller temple to the NW. was sacred to Isis. Both, indeed, are of ah imposing architecture, and still retain the brilliant colours with which their builders adorned them. They are, however, of the Ptolemaic age, with the exception of a doorway of sandstone, built into a wall of brick.
This was part of a temple built by Thothmes III. in honour of the crocodile-headed god Sevak.
The monarch is represented on tress. the door-jambs, holding the measuring reed and chisel, the emblems of construction, and in the act of dedicating the temple. The Ptolenaic portions of the larger temple present an exception to an almost universal rule in Aegyptian architecture.
It has no propylon or dromos in front of it, and the portico has an uneven number of columns, in all fifteen, arranged in a triple row. Of these columns thirteen are still erect.
As there are two principal entrances, the temple would seem to be two united in one, strengthening the supposition that it was the Pantheon of the Ombite nome. On a cornice above the doorway of one of the adyta is a Greek inscription, recording the erection, or perhaps the restoration of the sekos by Ptolemy Philometor and his sister-wife Cleopatra, B.C. 180--145.
The hill on which the Ombite temples stand has been considerably excavated at its base by the river, which here strongly inclines to the Arabian bank.
The crocodile was held in especial honour by the people of Ombi; and in the adjacent catacombs are occasionally found mummies of the sacred animal. Juvenal, in his 15th satire, has given a lively description of a fight, of which he was an eye-witness, between the Ombitae and the inhabitants of Tentyra, who were hunters of the crocodile. On this occasion the men of Ombi had the worst of it; and one of their number, having stumbled in his flight, was caught and eaten by the Tentyrites.
The satirist, however, has represented Ombi as nearer to Tentyra than it actually is, these towns, in fact, being nearly 100 miles from each other. The Roman coins of the Ombite nome exhibit the crocodile and the effigy of the crocodile-headed god Sevak.
The modern hamlet of Koum-Ombos,
or the hill of Ombos, covers part of the site of the ancient Ombi.
The ruins have excited the attention of many distinguished modern travellers. Descriptions of them will be found in the following works:--Pococke, Travels,
vol. iv. p. 186; Hamilton, Aegyptiaca,
p. 34 ; Champollion, l'Egypte,
vol. i. p. 167; Denon, Description de l'Egypte,
vol.i. ch. 4, p. 1, foll.; Burckhardt, Nubia,
4to. p. 106; Belzoni, Travels,
vol. ii. p. 314. On the opposite side of the Nile was a suburb of Ombi, called Contra-Ombos.