A message to the future from a dying culture. The Temple of Isis at Philae, at the south end of the Nile, is the last-known site where the ancient Egyptian religion as an institution was still alive.
Located near Hadrian’s gate is the hieroglyphic graffito (Philae 436) of Esmet-Akhom, one of the last ancient Egyptian priests at the Temple of Isis. It was written on the birthday of Osiris, “year 110 of Roman Emperor Diocletian” (August 24, 394 AD), as the ancient religion was dying out and being replaced by Christianity. It is the last known writing in hieroglyphs before all who understood them disappeared.
Although Theodosius was Emperor or Rome in 394 many celebrated the Feast of Diocletian, who ruled from 284 – 305; he stabilized the empire for the next 150 years and was the first Emperor to retire in old age, living out his life tending his garden at his palace on the Dalmatian coast, now the city of Split. More importantly to the priests of Isis, he was the last Emperor to persecute Christians. Theodosius would close all pagan temples in the empire in 395.
The people were coming
from the Red Sea hills
to pay homage to Osiris
in the year of Diocletian
Few visit anymore;
Pharaoh and Osiris are in their tomb
the armies of the new God
speak a new language
while the people of the temple,
now pagans, are ignorant of the word;
yet only the ancients can read
the writing on the temple wall
Do not forget us Osiris;
the ancient one tapped gently into stone
knowing not his words would be the last
carved in ancient form
“I, Esmot-Akhom, scribe of the House of Isis
performed work on this figure of Mandulis for everlasting
for he is kindly of face unto me;
on this day, the birth of Osiris, his festival, year 110″