Let’s visit Abu Simbel Temple

Abu Simbel Temple

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel, located in Nubia near the southern border of Egypt, is among the most magnificent monuments in Egypt. It was built by King Ramses II of the Nineteenth Dynasty and was completely cut into the mountain, around 1264 BC. The temple is famous for its four huge seated statues that adorn its facade, one of which collapsed due to an ancient earthquake and its remains remain on the ground.

In ancient times the area was at the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, facing Nubia. The four colossal statues of Ramses in front of the main temple are spectacular examples of ancient Egyptian art. By means of a complex engineering feat in the 1960s, the temples were salvaged from the rising waters of the Nile River caused by erection of the Aswan High Dam.

Huge statues of the king stand on either side of the main hall leading to the Holy of Holies, where four gods sit: Amun-Ra, Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, and Ramesses II as a deity. The temple was built with great precision so that the sun’s rays enter the temple two days a year, on February 22 and October 22. And cross the main hall, and the statues located in the depths of the temple are illuminated, except for the god Ptah.

Carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, south of Korosko (modern Kuruskū), the temples were unknown to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1813 by the Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. They were first explored in 1817 by the early Egyptologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni.

To the north lies another rock-cut temple known as the Small Temple, dedicated to the goddess Hathor and the great royal wife of Ramesses II, Queen Nefertari. On the facade of the Small Temple, her colossal statues stand the same size as those of her husband, in a very rare example.

The two temples were moved from their original location in 1968 after the construction of the Aswan High Dam, which threatened to flood them.In the mid-20th century, when the reservoir that was created by the construction of the nearby Aswan High Dam threatened to submerge Abu Simbel, UNESCO and the Egyptian government sponsored a project to save the site. An informational and fund-raising campaign was initiated by UNESCO in 1959. Between 1963 and 1968 a workforce and an international team of engineers and scientists, supported by funds from more than 50 countries, dug away the top of the cliff and completely disassembled both temples, reconstructing them on high ground more than 200 feet (60 metres) above their previous site. In all, some 16,000 blocks were moved. In 1979 Abu Simbel, Philae, and other nearby monuments were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Visiting the Abu Simbel Temple offers a glimpse into the rich history of ancient Egypt and the efforts made to preserve its cultural heritage in the face of modern development.


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