This section is from the book "A Library Of Wonders And Curiosities Found In Nature And Art, Science And Literature", by I. Platt. Also available from Amazon: A library of wonders and curiosities.
Temple of Tentyra, in Egypt. - From Belzoni's Narrative.
"Little could be seen of the temple, till we came near to it, as it is surrounded by high mounds of rubbish of the old Tentyra. On our arriving before it, I was for some time at a loss to know where I should begin my examination; the numerous objects before me, all equally attractive, leaving me for a while in a state of suspense and astonishment. The en or mous masses of stone employed in the edifice, are so well disposed, that the eye discovers the most just proportion every where. The majestic appearance of its construction, the variety of its ornaments, and, above all, the singularity of its preservation, had such an effect on me, that I seated myself on the ground, and, for a considerable time, was lost in admiration. It is the first Egyptian temple the traveller sees on ascending the Nile, and it is certainly the most magnificent. It has an advantage over most others, from the good state of preservation it is in; and I should have no scruple in saying, that it is of a much later date than any other. The superiority of the workmanship gives us sufficient reason to believe it to be of the time of the first Ptolemy; and it is not improbable, that he who laid the foundation of the Alexandrian library, instituted the philosophical society of the museum, and studied to render himself beloved by his people, might erect such an edifice, to convince the Egyptians of his superiority of mind over the ancient kings of Egypt, even in religious devotion.
"This is the cabinet of the Egyptian arts, the product of study for many centuries, and it was here that Denon thought himself in the sanctuary of the arts and sciences. The front is adorned with a beautiful cornice, and a frieze covered with figures and hieroglyphics, over the centre of which the winged globe is predominant, and the two sides are embellished with compartments of sacrifices and offerings. The columns that form the portico are twenty-four in number, divided into four rows, including those in the front. On entering the gate, the scene changes, and requires more minute observation. The quadrangular form of the capitals first strikes the eye. At each side of the square there is a colossal head of the goddess Isis, with cow's ears. There is not one of these heads but is much mutilated, particularly those on the columns in the front of the temple, facing the outside: but, notwithstanding this disadvantage, and the flatness of their form, there is a simplicity in their countenance that approaches to a smile. The shafts of the columns are covered with hieroglyphics and figures, which are in basso relievo, as are all the figures in the front and lateral walls. The front of the door-way, which is in a straight line with the entrance, and the sanctuary, is richly adorned with figures of smaller size than the rest of the portico. The ceiling contains the zodiac, inclosed by two long female figures, which extend from one side to the other of it. The walls are divided into several square compartments, each containing figures representing deities, and priests in the act of offering or immolating victims. On all the walls, columns, ceiling, or architraves, there is nowhere a space of two feet that is not covered with som figures of human beings, animals, plants, emblems of agriculture, or of religious ceremony. Wherever the eyes turn, wherever the attention is fixed, every thing inspires respect and veneration, heightened by the solitary situation of this temple, which adds to the attraction of these splendid recesses. The inner apartments are much the same as the portico, all covered with figures in basso relievo.
"On the top of the temple the Arabs had built a village; I suppose, to be the more elevated, and exposed to the air: but it is all in ruins, as no one now lives there. From the top I descended into some apartments on the east side of the temple; there I saw the famous zodiac on the ceiling. The circular form of this zodiac led me to suppose, in some measure, that this temple was built at a later period than the rest, as nothing like it is seen any where else. In the front of the edifice there is a propylaeon, not inferior to the works in the temple, and, though partly fallen, it still shows its ancient grandeur. On the left, going from the portico, there is a small temple, surrounded by columns. In the inside is a figure of Isis sitting with Orus in her lap; and other female figures, each with a child in her arms, are observable. The capitals of the columns are adorned with the figures of Typhon. The gallery, or portico, that surrounds the temple, is filled up with rubbish, to a great height, and walls of unburnt bricks have been raised from one column to another.
"Farther on, in a right line with the propyleeon, are the remains of an hypaethral temple, which form a square of twelve columns, connected with each other by a wall, except at the door-way, which fronts the propylaeon. The eastern wall of the great temple is richly adorned with figures in intaglio relevato; they are perfectly finished; the female figures are about four feet high, disposed in different compartments.
"Behind the temple is a small Egyptian building, quite detached from the large edifice; and, from its construction, I would venture to say, that it was the habitation of the priests. At some distance from the great temple are the foundations of another, not so large as the first. The propy-laeon is still standing, in good preservation."