Temple of Gerf Hussein

Temple of Ptah

The temple of Gerf Hussein (in Ancient Egypt: Per Ptah, or ‘House of Ptah‘) was dedicated to pharaoh Ramesses II and built by the Setau, Viceroy of Nubia. It was dedicated to “Ptah, Ptah-Tatenen and Hathor, and associated with Ramesses, ‘the Great God.'”

Location of the Temple of Ptah

Temple of Gerf Hussein (Temple of Ptah) is situated on the Nile island of Kalabsha to the south of Temple of Kalabsha, some 90 km south of Aswan; it was partly free-standing and partly cut from the rock.

Gerf Hussein

Gerf Hussein, or more correctly, Per Ptah, the “House of Ptah”, so named by the ancient Egyptians, was the work of a high ranking official named Setaw (Setau) during the reign of Ramesses II. Other temples built in Nubia during the reign of Ramesses II include Beit el-Wali, el-Sabua, el-Derr, Aksha and, of course, Abu Simbel (and some minor additions to the Amada). Setaw was the viceroy of Nubia. He supervised the temple’s construction on the same plan as Ramesses II’s temple at Wadi al-Sabua (the Valley of the Lions), which was also rescued from the waters of Lake Nasser during the 1960s. The temple is also very similar to the more famous Temple of Abu Simbel, farther south.


An avenue of ram-headed sphinxes led from the Nile to the first pylon, which like the courtyard beyond, is also free-standing. The courtyard is surrounded by six columns and eight statue pillars. The entrance to a peristyle court “is decorated with colossal Osiris statues.” The rear portion of the building, which is 43 m in depth, was carved out of rock and followed the structure of Abu Simbel with a pillared hall featuring two rows of three statue pillars and, curiously, four statue recesses, each with divine triads along the sides. Beyond the hall lay the sanctuary and the barque chamber with four cult statues of Ptah, Ramesses, Ptah-Tatenen and Hathor carved out of the rock.

In the Nubia Museum at Aswan, the focal point of its central exhibition hall is a colossal statue of Ramesses II which hails from Gerf Hussein. It is unique in not having been fashioned by royal sculptors, but by the people of Nubia, in sandstone. It was too fragile to be transported to New Kalabsha along with the architectural elements of his salvaged temple and the other statues.

Relocation of the Temple of Ptah

During the building of the Aswan dam project in the 1960s, sections of the free-standing portion of this temple were dismantled, and they have now been reconstructed at the site of New Kalabsha. Most of the rock-cut temple was left in place and is now submerged beneath the waters of the Nile.