The Temple of Sothis

Tarot Card: the Star
God: Sothis/Isis
Symbol: A single bright star surrounded by seven smaller stars.
Animal: a phoenix
Thing: reeds


The Temple was built sometime during the third or fourth dynasty, serving as the official timekeepers and astronomers of Egypt. The priesthood of Sothis supported the Pattern the strongest, and was hence crushed by Set, using the priests of Ra in the fifth dynasty. So successful was the purge that practically nothing is today known about the priesthood of Sothis; its secrets were assimilated by the priests of Thoth. The Temple was abandoned, and soon covered with sand and silt. Within a century it vanished.

See the restoration of Sothis for the further adventures of the statue of the goddess.


During the digging of the Cairo subway (a truly apocalyptic project, as somebody put it) workers found ancient masonry and statues in an area corresponding to an old riverbank beneath central Cairo. More carefully digging revealed the remnants of the Temple of Sothis-Isis; goddess of the flooding.

To get to the temple a visitor will have to enter the subway-to-be through one of the construction sites in central Cairo. The tunnel is dimly lit by flickering fluorescent lamps, revealing big concrete braces holding it up. Transport is done using noisy trolleys along temporary rails. Around 400 meters in, the tunnel ends at the dig.

The dig is an irregular series of chambers, with walls and roof held up by makeshift pylons and lamps strung out randomly. The first chamber seems to correspond to the remains of a colonnade, with fallen pylons and one very well-preserved sphinx. This is fairly well studied, and the dig has continued to the second chamber, which corresponds to a small hypostyle hall and an antechamber. The walls and most pylons appear to have collapsed, but the inscriptions are quite readable (see finds below). The dig has currently reached the entrance to the sanctuary, a doorway filled with silt.

The Dig

Currently a team led by Professor Jonathan Ritter from Cornell University are trying to catalogue and save the ruins. He is an experienced archaeologist, used to dealing with Egyptian bureaucracy (even if the constant fight with the transport authority who want to continue building the tunnel is a new experience to him) and troublesome digs. He is well aware that the temple is an unique find, and will go to any length to understand it. Of course, given his sleeper perspective he is not likely to understand the real importance of the temple.

Beside the professor there are a number of his graduate students, several Egyptian archaeologists and some workers at the dig.

Mme Granboul-Ponty is quietly keeping an eye on the dig; she is not that worried by it (there are many much more active sites in Egypt), but it is best to be on the certain side.


The whole place is insufficiently stabilised, and cave-ins and mudflows are a constant danger. The ruins tend to be surrounded by a lot of silt, which must be digged or blown away. It is extremely moist and dark in the dig, with dripping water everywhere and pumps trying to remove it. To make matters even worse, there are irregular blackouts as the makeshift electrical system is short-circuited.


The prize find is both several walls with almost legible paintings and inscriptions telling the story of the year, delineating the feasts, the way Thoth won the five celebration-days from Khonsu and some myths about Isis, and the ruined remnants of a wall bearing an early map of the Nile.

Study of the ruins reveals signs that the temple was abandoned, probably at the end of the fifth dynasty. Archaeological studies imply that the duty of master timekeeping was in the hands of the priesthood of Ra and Thoth beyond this time. It is strange that so little is mentioned about the cult of Sothis, it may have been local.

The sanctum, which has not yet been dug out, is empty. On the throne where the statue of Sothis would have been there is nothing. No ceremonial objects remain, but the engravings in the wall give a long adoration to Sothis and her mastery over the Nile, and her role in protecting and nurturing the Horus child. The ceiling is painted with an elaborate sky map, with Sothis and the constellation Orion/Horus in clear view.

It bears the inscription "The Great Warrior Horus, King of the Land". Intriguingly, the stars are marked with cartouches containing their old names; if somebody compares this to old texts about the pyramids they will see that these star names are sometimes mentioned in connection with them, fitting the Pattern perfectly. In addition, there are two lines from the constellation linked to stars with names that can be shown to correspond to two landmarks - this reveals the correct angles of the Pattern.

Magickal Aspects

This place feels old, and strangely out of place. It should be up among the stars instead of beneath the ground. It may once have been a node, but now it is quiescent.

Trond will get an intense vision if he enters the temple, that will send him into a frenzy: How priests of Re, together with the soldiers of the king approach the temple and begin to loot it. The priests go into the sanctum and remove the holy papyri and the goddess! They claim they do it on the order of the king, to bring her to Heliopolis. For a while Trond will speak with the voice of Neberkerm, the priest of Sothis. An old, frightened and desperate man who pleads for the return of the treasures of the temple.

* Up to the Index Page