Alexandria, Egypt, is home to a number of beautiful ancient sites, including Pompey’s Pillar, the Pharaos, and the Mouseion. There are also a number of temples, one of which is the Ras El Soda, that was originally located near Abou-Kir. The temple was discovered during an excavation that took place in 1936. It was buried underneath a hill of sand and unearthed to reveal Grecian columns flanking a staircase that leads to a main platform. The marble statues found inside the temple are of the Greco-Roman style depicting Egyptian deities including Greco-Egyptian deities, such as Serapis and Osiris Canopus. Serapis was depicted as having the head of Zeus and was a major god of the universe, while Osiris Canopus had the face of the Egyptian god positioned over a canopic jar.(1) The old religions permitted for the hybridization of deities so that new ones might be worshipped by those who were native to the region, and those who conquered the region. In the middle of a platform is a plaque with an inscription in Greek that mentions the name of the man who built the temple, Isidorus. A story mentions how he fell down and broke his foot but once he got better, he built the temple on that spot, giving thanks to the deities he prayed to so that he could get better. The temple has several smaller rooms, one which appears behind the platform, and two which are located on a second story, which probably served as the bedrooms of the priests.(2) These priests maintained the temples and the daily offerings to the gods the temple was dedicated to. Like other temples, there was an area near the temple where ablutions were performed by priests and kings before they could enter the temple past the courtyard.(3)
In the 1990’s the temple was moved to a new location and became open as a museum to the public. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Isis. The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) moved the old temple so it would be safer from the area where it was exposed to rising ground waters from the Nile.(4) The temple houses mosaics that were discovered in Alexandria that date back to the second century of our common era.(5)
Today, the Ras El Soda temple remains a popular tourist spot for those who might experience what Egypt was like under Greek and Roman rule two thousand years ago.
2. Guide to the Alexandrian Monuments, by Hneir Riad, Youssef Hanna Shehata, Youssef El-Gheriani. Cairo, Egypt. No date.