Nilometer on Elephantine Island near the First
Cataract deep in southern Egypt always held supreme importance. It
was the first outpost where the floods exerted themselves and the
first to know when they were over, but the religious significance
might have overshadowed its strategic location. It was home of the
Khum, the ram-headed god of inundation. During
the Eleventh Dynasty a sanctuary was built on the island specifically
to celebrate inundations. A new Nilometer replaced a much older one
at the edge of Khum's Temple during the Twenty-Sixth Dynasty; And
somewhat later, in Dynasty Thirty, a riverside terrace Nilometer was
added to the nearby Temple of Satet, one of Khum's celestial consorts.
When Egypt fell to Rome, that did not mean an end to Nilometers on
Elephantine Island, for Khum's Nilometer received a new calibrated
staircase and a granite roof from the Romans.