Elephantine is the largest island in the Aswan archipelago with many traces of its ancient history. It’s located
150 meters opposite the corniche. The island may have received its name because it
was a trading place for Ivory.
In ancient Egypt, the island contained a fort that stood just
before the first cataract of the Nile at Egypt’s southern border
with Nubia. It was an excellent defensive site for a city and
its location made it a natural cargo transfer point for river
According to Egyptian mythology, here was the dwelling place of
Khnum, god of the Aswan nome, who guarded and
controlled the waters of the Nile from caves beneath the island.
In ancient times, the island was also an important stone quarry
providing granite materials that would be transported widely
within Egypt for monuments and buildings.
Ongoing excavations by the German Archaeological Institute at
the city have uncovered many findings that are now on display in
the museum located on the island, including a mummified ram of
Chnum. Artifacts dating back to predynastic times have been
found on Elephantine.
The oldest ruins still standing on the island are a granite step
pyramid from the third dynasty and a small shrine, built for the
local sixth-dynasty monarch, Hekayib.
A rare calendar, known as the Elephantine Calendar, dating to
the reign of Thutmose III, was found in fragments. Also on the
island is one of the oldest nilometers in Egypt, last
reconstructed in Roman times and still in use as late as the
In addition to the archaeological site, the island today is a
part of the modern Egyptian city of Aswan and it houses the
Aswan Museum at the southern extreme of the island, a sizable
population of Nubians in three villages in the middle, and a
large, dominating luxury hotel at the downstream, northern end.
ENTRANCE FEES (as from July 2013):
- Entrance to the island is free
- Aswan Museum on the island
Adult: LE 35
Child: LE 15
HOW TO REACH THE ISLAND
- By public ferry (opposite Egypt Air offices - every 15 min).
- By private felucca or motorboat.