This is the new Livius website. We are currently converting the old website, but this will take some time yet. Please report any errors.

Oracle of Ammon

Ammon: name of a Libyan deity and his oracle in the desert. It became famous after Alexander the Great made a detour to consult the god. The modern name is Siwa.

Siwa, entrance to the oracle
Siwa, entrance to the oracle
There are several ancient monuments in the oasis of Siwa. The main sanctuary, the oracle, can be found on a partly artificial mound of dried mud (a "shali") that is about 30 meters high and is called Arhumi.

In front of the oracle temple was a court of about 22x11 meters. The sanctuary itself consisted of three successive rooms, built in an almost Greek fashion.

The holiest of holies was decorated with a frieze, which is now badly damaged but can still be more or less understood. On the eastern wall, king Amasis, the builder of the sanctuary, was shown offering bread to the gods Amun, Mut, Chnum, Chonsu, and four others.

On the opposite site, the figure of the ruler of Siwa, a man named Sutekh-Irdes, is no longer visible, but his remarkable title is still legible: "king of Upper and Lower Egypt and chief of the lands in the desert". He offers bread to, again, Amun and Mut, to Onuris and Tefnut, Harsaphis and Nut, and finally Thoth and Nehmataway.

Bibliography