Originally known as Abu or Yebu, Elephantine Island was the home of the god Khnum, who guarded the waters from his cave that was situated below the island, though this role was changed, in later Pharaonic times, to that of a potter that created humans from clay if, and when, the gods required.
This island, which is 3,900 feet (1,200 metres) long, from north to south, and about 1,300 feet (400 metres) wide at its widest point, was considered the border between Egypt and Nubia during ancient times, when the city of Aswan, as we know it today, did not exist. The oldest inhabited site in the area, it was the perfect spot for regulating the traffic flow up and down the River Nile as well as being a strategic defensive site.
Many of the findings, from the island, can be seen in the Aswan Museum, including a mummified ram of Khnum. A calendar, called the “Elephantine Calendar of Things”, which dates back to the reign of Thutmose III was also found here, though in many fragments. Temples built by Thutmose III and Amenhotep III were once on the island, but they were ordered to be demolished by the Ottoman government in 1822. A 3rd Dynasty temple, dedicated to Thoth, which was rebuilt during the 30th Dynasty, is known about through records as well as the many ruins found throughout the southern tip of the island. Also found, amongst these ruins, was a 3rd Dynasty step pyramid, built from local granite, which is one of the many small pyramids accredited to Huni. There is also a 6th Dynasty shrine that was built for the nomarch Hekayib.