The capital and its sister (11.154.5) originate from the temple of Harendotes ("Horus the avenger"), which stood on Philae Island within the enclosure of the Isis Temple and near the northwest corner of that temple.
The temple was probable built under Emperor Claudius. The unusual square plan (14. 5 x 14.7 m) was probably dictated by the nearness of the island’s edge. A central staircase led up to the building, which stood on a platform. The front of the tetrastylos in antis faced east and consisted of four columns with papyrus/palmette capitals. The columns (including base, excluding abacus) would have been about 4.20 m high. The foundation shows that there was no second row of columns. The hall was covered with 4.5 m long architraves running east to west. A square sanctuary, surrounded by an ambulatory and four wing chambers, followed directly behind the pronaos.
The temple was taken down in Byzantine times to the foundation platform and the stones were used for building a small church (P) nearby. A photo in Lyon’s report still shows one of the capitals in the ruins of the Byzantine settlement. As part of the Nubian Salvage campaign, the platform of the Harendotes temple was transferred to the new Philae site together with the major stone buildings; the brick buildings were left behind and disappeared in the reservoir.
The two capitals and the cavetto block (11.154.3) were purchased together in 1911 by The Museum from the Egyptian government. Two photos show that the capitals were first attractively repaired and reconstructed in plaster and set on newly fabricated plaster columns. The restoration and the column shafts were removed for the present exhibition.
The object was a quatrefoil open papyrus capital with a 2-story palmette decoration. The four overhanging lips were cut off when the capital was reshaped as a building block. The abacus of both capitals is missing but was probably made from a separate block. The feathers of the palmettes were cut with a drill.
Dieter Arnold 2015