Gebel al-Silsila is a mountainous region with sandstone quarries on both sides of the Nile. The sandstone quarries of Gebel al-Silsila have been used from the Middle Kingdom (c. 2034–1650 BC) until the 20th century. More than a hundred quarries were exploited to extract the sandstone blocks needed to construct many of ancient Egypt’s famous temples. The quarries have preserved tool marks and workers’ inscriptions that can be seen today.
Two temples existed on the west bank of Gebel al-Silsila, both dating to the reign of Horemheb (c. 1323–1295 BC), but only one has survived. This rock-cut temple is called the Speos of Horemheb and was dedicated to seven deities whose statues can be seen in its sanctuary.
South of it thirty-two rock-chapels cut into the cliff-face above the Nile for New Kingdom high officials, mostly contemporaries of Hatshepsut and Thutmose III (c. 1479–1425 BC).
South of these; are the rock-cut porch-like structures of Sety I (c. 1294–1279 BC), Rameses II (c. 1279–1213 BC), and Merenptah (c. 1213–1203 BC), and the large stela of Rameses III (c. 1184–1153 BC).
There are also many more shrines, stelae, and graffiti on both sides of the Nile, ranging in date from prehistory to even after the Roman Period.
Many deities associated with the Nile were worshipped in the Speos and surrounding shrines, such as the god of the inundation Hapy, the hippopotamus goddess Taweret, the ram-headed god Khnum, and Gebel al-Silsila’s local deity the crocodile god Sobek. Isis, Horus, Min, and the triad of Thebes (Amun, his wife Mut, and their son Khonsu) were also prominent here.