A god we really should be more familiar with.
1,250 B.C., King Ramesses II ordered a new temple to be built at
Heracleopolis, around 120 km south of modern Cairo. It was to be
dedicated to a ram-headed god named Herishef.
While many of us are
familiar with the likes of Amun-Ra, Osiris, Horus and Isis, Herishef is
a virtual unknown. Herishef was a creator god who was associated with
the sun-god Ra. His name means ‘He who is upon his lake’. The lake
probably refers to the primordial waters from which he rose, or perhaps
the sacred lake which was usually attached to each temple. It was
clearly important to Ramesses to demonstrate his devotion to this
Inside the temple were six pink granite columns
that contrasted with the rest of the building; because they belonged to
By Ramesses' time the columns were already 1,200
years old. He had the six hauled from the ruins of an Old Kingdom
pyramid temple at Saqqara or Abusir, near modern Cairo. Whilst Ramesses
II was clearly devout, he was also highly practical; why go to all the
effort of carving his own columns when there are some perfectly good
ones just lying about? Ramesses had the original owner's name scrubbed
out and his own image offering to various gods emblazoned across them.
two columns that flanked the doorway to the inner, most sacred part of
the temple show Ramesses II offering sweet-smelling incense to Herishef
himself. Pictured is one of them. Today it is in the South Australian
Museum in Adelaide, Australia. It's twin is in the Manchester Museum in
3,000 years after Ramesses II had the columns moved from
their original temple to his shiny new one, they were again on the move.
In 1891 the ruins of Ramesses' temple was discovered and the fine
granite columns were carted off to six museums around the world; in
London, Boston, Adelaide, Manchester, Bolton, and Philadelphia.
that the columns are one of the best-known examples of ancient Egyptian
columns displayed in museums all over the world, you would think more
people would have heard of our friend Herishef.