About Medinet Madi Temple
Medinet Madi Temple is an ancient Egyptian temple in Egypt dedicated to the fierce crocodile deity, Sobek and his wife, Renenutet. At its peak, this temple would have been a place for breeding and nurturing sacred crocodiles in preparation for them to be mummified for sale to pilgrims.
First recorded in modern times by Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition, today the Medinet Madi Temple is open to the public. Visitors can see its rows of sphinxes and lions and crocodile pools as well as depictions of Sobek with his crocodile head and man’s body.
Medinet Madi Temple history
During the ancient Egyptian Middle Kingdom, Medinet Madi meaning ‘city of the past’ was built was known as Dja. Said by some to be the sole existing temple in Egypt from the times of the Middle Kingdom, the Medinet Madi Temple was the work of Amenemhat III and Amenemhat IV, both 12th Dynasty pharaohs from the mid to late 19th century BC.
The temple was made of dark sandstone and consisted of a small hall leading to a sanctuary of 3 chapels, each containing statues. In the central chapel was a large statue of the deity Renenutet, with the pharaohs on either side of him. The Medinet Madi Temple would later be added to in the 4th century BC during the Ptolemaic period.
During the 1930s, a large number of inscribed ostraca (shards of pottery) were found dating to the late 2nd century. The shards were written by the priests of Medinet Madi giving us a guide of their daily tasks and life. For example, the ostraca record personal horoscopes and school texts as well as corruption and disputes in the temple college.
Medinet Madi Temple today
Liekly the result of its secluded location in the Fayoum region, today the Medinet Madi Temple continues to stand in good condition. Behind the Italian excavator’s dig house, what remains is largely a processional route lined with sphinxes and lions, as well as the rest of the Greco-Roman settlement.
While the temple was principally dedicated to Sobek, the depictions of Renenutet and their son, Horus, the depictions of Renenutet at Medinet Madi Temple are incredibly rare and well-worth the trip. Try reading some of the hieroglyphs on the walls, too.
Getting to Medinet Madi Temple
Medinet Madi is located around 30 kilometres from the city of Fyoum, and is 100 kilometres south of Cairo. When driving, head for a small road that leads to the village of Abu Gandir – the closest approach to the temple site which is located 2 kilometres away on a small hill.
To reach the temple, you must walk across a short stretch of desert. A guide is recommended as there is no permanent marked path.