Abdul Monaem Abdul Azim, Head of the Upper Egypt Heritage Center, told that the city of Esna is located 55 kilometers north of Luxor on the Nile’s West Bank. Some of the ancient names the city was given are Iunyt, Ta-senet and Latopolis which it acquired for the Nile perch or Lates niloticus, a type of fish that exists in abundance in this part of the river bank. He pointed out that at the heart of the ancient city, stands one of its most famous temples; the Ptolemaic Temple which was discovered and unearthed in 1843 towards the end of Mohamed Ali Pasha’s reign.
It is believed that the temple was built upon the ruins of another one that dates back to the eighteenth dynasty since some inscriptions with the name of King Thutmose have been found on its walls in 1468. It was during King Thutmose’s reign that the name “Esna” was used for the first time to refer to this city. Abdul Azim added that an archaeological research that is yet to be published reveals that the temple actually dates back to the Middle Kingdom in the twelfth dynasty. According to the research, the temple was demolished and rebuilt in the time of the sixteenth dynasty but most of it now lies beneath the modern houses of Esna. The temple that stands now was built under Ptolemy VI Philometor, a title he was given on account of his love for his mother, Cleopatra.
He pointed out that the temple which contains an alter and a hypostyle hall, was dedicated to the god Khnum and his two wives Netbu and Menhit. Khnum is depicted as a ram-headed man and was known as the Divine Potter, molding humans out of clay, and as Khnum-Ra, Lord of Esna.
He continued: “the Temple of Esna is composed of a rectangular hall whose ceiling is supported by 24 thirteen-meter columns decorated with protruding carvings of various plants especially at the crown. The temple’s façade has the architectural design characteristic of ancient Egyptian temples of the Greco-Roman era.” He added: “the temple also contains a zodiac circle similar to the circles that were looted from the temple of Dendera in addition to other temples in Bein El Gabalein, Komeir and in the regions of Esna’s old and new reservoirs. “