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David Roberts Temple Island Philae

1838 painting with Bigeh island (foreground) and Philae with temple (background).

Bigeh Island (Egyptian: Senmut, Arabic: بجح) is an island situated along the Nile River in southern Egypt in the reservoir of the Old Aswan Dam since the dam's initial completion in 1902.[1][2]

In ancient times, Bigeh was an island in the First Cataract of the Nile River and its fortification controlled the access to ancient Upper Egypt and Nubia. It is a World Heritage Site, located close to the islands of Philae and Agilkia and their ancient archaeological sites in the reservoir.[3]

Bigeh Island was sacred to the ancient Egyptians.[4] They believed that the god Osiris was buried on the island.[5] A temple that stood on it was known in Greek as Abaton ("untrodden place"), because only priests were allowed to set foot on the island.[6]

The god Thoth bore the epithets of "Great and Splendid God in Bigeh" and "He that Pacifies the Nsr.t in Bigeh".[7] It is therefore thought that a temple dedicated to Thoth may have once stood on the island.


  1. Peel 1904, p. 76.
  2. Özden 2013, p. 196.
  3. Yale University Publications in Anthropology, Yale University 1936, p. 96.
  4. The Island of Bigeh,, date unknown, (accessed 17 February 2014 from
  5. Burton 1972, p. 95.
  6. Dijkstra 2008, p. 202.
  7. Boylan 1922, p. 169.


  • Boylan, P., 1922: Thoth, Or the Hermes of Egypt.
  • Burton, A., 1972: Diodorus Siculus. Brill.
  • Dijkstra, J.H.F., 2008: Philae and the End of Ancient Egyptian Religion. Peeters.
  • Özden, C., 2013: The Pontifex Minimus: William Willcocks and Engineering British Colonialism, Annals of Science.
  • Peel, S., 1904: The Binding of the Nile and the New Soudan.

Copyright Images[]

  • Painting of Philae and Bigeh islands: By David Roberts - scan by User: Manfred Heyde, Public Domain,