The Temple of Abu Simbel : The Process of Moving and Relocating to Save it from Sinking after The Construction of The High Dam in Aswan - Egypt ( 1964 - 1968 )

The Temple of Abu Simbel : The Process of Moving and Relocating  to Save it from Sinking after The Construction of The High Dam in Aswan - Egypt  ( 1964 - 1968 )


During his reign, Ramses II embarked on a large-scale building program throughout Egypt and Nubia, over which Egypt took control. Nubia was important to the Egyptians because it was a source of gold and many other valuable commercial goods. Therefore, Ramses built many major temples there in order to dazzle the Nubians with the power of Egypt and their Egyptianization. The most famous temples are carved into the rock near the modern village of Abu Simbel, at the second waterfall of the Nile, on the border between Lower Nubia and Upper Nubia. There are two temples, the Great Temple, dedicated to Ramses II himself, and the small temple dedicated to his chief wife, Queen Nefertari.

Construction of the temple complex began around 1264 BC and lasted about 20 years until 1244 BC. It was known as the "Temple of Ramses, Beloved by Amun."


With the passage of time, the temples deserted and thus became covered in sand. At that time, during the 6th century BC, the statues of the main temple were covered with sand to the knees. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when the Swiss orientalist JL Borchardt found the main temple promenade. Borchardt spoke of this discovery with his Italian counterpart, the explorer Giovanni Bellonzi, who together traveled to the site, but were unable to dig an entrance to the temple. Pelonzi returned in 1817, but this time succeeded in his attempt to enter the complex. And he took everything valuable that he could carry with him. Tour guides at the site associate the name with the legend of "Abu Simbel", which is that there was a young local boy who led explorers to the site again at an early age for the buried temple that he saw from time to time in the shifting sand. Ultimately, they named the temple Abu Simbel according to its name.

Transfer of the complex

A model shows the original table, and the current location of the temple (in relation to the water level).

An international campaign of donations began to save the monument from drowning in 1959: the ancient southern monuments of this human civilization were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile, which was about to result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam.

Saving Abu Simbel's temples began in 1964, and this operation cost $ 40 million. Between 1964 and 1968, the whole site was cut into large blocks (up to 30 tons, on average 20 tons), and they were dismantled and re-installed in a new site at a height of 65 meters and 200 meters above the level of the river, and it is considered by many to be one of the greatest works in archaeological engineering . Some structures were rescued from under the waters of Lake Nasser. Today, thousands of tourists visit the temples do every day. Convoys of buses and escorted cars depart twice a day from Aswan, the nearest city. Many visitors arrive by plane at the airport, which was built specifically for the temple complex.

Society consists of two temples. The largest is dedicated to three gods of Egypt at that time, namely Ra'-Harakhti, Ptah, and Amun, and features in the façade four large statues of Ramses II. The smaller temple is dedicated to the god Hathor, who was embodied by Nefertari, Ramesses' most beloved wife.

The great structure

Close to one of the colossal statues of Ramesses II, wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt

The construction of the Great Temple at Abu Simbel took nearly twenty years, and it was completed in about 24 years of the reign of Ramses the Great (which is equivalent to 1265 BC). It was dedicated to the god Amun, Ra-Harakhty, Ptah, and also to Ramses. It is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Ramses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

Four huge statues of the pharaoh, up to 20 m long, with a double crown of Atef on the sea and tribal sides to decorate the façade of the temple, which is 35 meters wide, and is crowned with a cornice in which there are 22 baboons, and the entrance is surrounded by sun worshipers. The huge statues were carved directly from the rocks in which the temple was located before it was moved. All the statues represent Ramses II, seated on the throne, wearing the double crown of the sea and tribal sides of Egypt. The statue to the left of the entrance was damaged in an earthquake, leaving only the lower part of the statue intact. He can see the head and the torso under the feet of the statue.

Beside the legs of the colossal statue, there are other statues no more than the knee height of the pharaoh. This depicts Nefertari, the chief wife of Ramses, the queen mother, Mutai, and he has two sons, Amun Har Khabshef, Ramses, and has six daughters, Bintanath, Bachmut, Nefertari, Meritamen, Nebtawi, and Astinofrt.

The entrance itself is crowned with a small inscription, which represents two images of the king worshiping the hawk with the head of a Harakhty shepherd, whose statue stands in a large niche. This god holds in his right hand a hieroglyph knot, the art of Egyptian pharaonic writing used and a quill, while in his left hand he holds Maat, the goddess of truth and justice, and this is no less than a plant of lacquerware, a plant of the giant Ramses II and the name of the throne used for Maat-Ray. At the top of the building's façade is crowned with a row of 22 baboons with their arms raised in the air, and they are supposed to worship the rising sun. Another notable feature of the building's façade is a plaque recording Ramses' marriage to the daughter of King Hatseli III, which led to peace between Egypt and the Hitites.

One of the eight columns in the main hall of the temple, Ramesses II shows Osiris

The interior of the temple has the same triangular design that most ancient Egyptian temples follow, with a decrease in the size of the rooms from the entrance to the temple. The temple is a very complex and unusual structure due to the many side rooms. The hypostyle hall (sometimes called Pronos) is 18 meters long and 16.7 meters wide and supported by eight huge Oserid columns depicting Ramses the Challenger associated with Osiris, the god of Hell, and refers to the eternal nature of the Pharaoh. Huge statues along the wall on the left side bear the white crown of Upper Egypt, while those on the opposite side wear the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt (pschent). CaribouIn the lower part of the walls of Prunaus, pictures of the battles waged by the ruler in military campaigns are shown. The statue is for the battle of Kadesh on the Orontes River, which is called on this day Syria, in which the king of Egypt fought against the Hittites king. The most famous inscription shows the king on a chariot shooting arrows against fleeing enemies who were taken captive. And other scenes show Egyptian victories in Libya and Nubia.

From the hypostyle hall we enter the second hall pillars which have four corners decorated with beautiful scenes of performances of the gods. There are pictures of Ramses and Nefertari with the sacred boats of Amun Ra-Harakhty. This hall gives access to a transverse atrium in the middle and from it is the entrance to the temple. Here, on a black wall, there are rock carvings of four seated statues: Ra-Horakhti, Ramses the deified King, and the deities Amun-Ra and Pah-Ra Horkharti, Amun-Ra, and so they were the main deities of that period, and the sect centers of Heliopolis, Thebes, and Memphis respectively .

And the axis of the temple was placed in its place by the ancient Egyptian engineer in such a way that twice a year on October 22 and February 21, sunlight penetrates the temple and sheds light on the statue and appears on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god was associated with hell, which was always in the dark. It is said that these dates are the occasion of the king's birthday and respectively the day of his coronation, but there is no evidence to support this, although it is completely logical to assume that some of these dates are related to a major event, such as the celebration of the jubilee of the thirtieth anniversary of the rule of the pharaoh. In fact, according to calculations made on the basis of the solar altitude of the star of Sirius (Sothis) and inscriptions found by archaeologists, the date should have been October 22. This image of the king has been augmented and energized by the solar energy of the star, and the deity Ramesses the Great can take his place next to Amun Ra Ra - Horakhti.

Due to the relocation of the temple, it is widely believed that this event now occurs one day later than it was originally.

Little temple

The Temple of Hathor and Nefertari, also known as the Little Temple, was built about a hundred meters to the northeast of the Temple of Ramses II and was dedicated to the goddess Hathor, Rameses II, and his wife Nefertari. In fact, this is the second time in ancient Egyptian history that a temple was dedicated to the queen. And the first time was when Akhenaten allocated a temple to his wife, the great Queen Nefertiti. The rock pieces in the front are decorated with two giants, separated by the large gate. The statues are a little more than ten meters high for the King and Queen. On the other side of the gate are two statues of the king, wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt (south colossus) and the double crown (north colossus); These statues are flanked by statues of the Queen and the King. What is really surprising is that for the first time in Egyptian art, statues of the king and queen are of equal size.

Traditionally, statues of queens were standing next to the pharaoh, but they were not taller than his knees. This exception to a rule from a long time ago attests to the special importance attached to Nefertari by Ramses, who went to Abu Simbel with his beloved wife in the 24th year of his reign. In the Great Temple of the King, there are also small statues of princes and princesses, along with their parents. In this case it is in a balanced position: on the south side (on the left when facing the gate), from left to right, and the princes Meri Atum and Merer, and Princesses Mert Amun and Hantawi, and the princes Rahirunmph, and Amun Har Khabishv, while they are on the north side But in reverse order. The small temple design is a simplified version of the big temple.

The gods group (left) and Horus (right) adore the small Ramesses in the Abu Simbel temple

The great temple is also dedicated to the king, the Hypostyle or Pronaws bubble is carried on six columns; In this case, it is not the Osirid pillars that show the king, but rather they are decorated with scenes of the queen playing the sinistrum (a sacred instrument of the goddess Hadhur), along with the gods of Horus, Khnum, Khonsu, and Thoth, and the goddess Hadhur, Isis, Maat, the death of Asher, Satis and tauert; In one scene, Ramses offering flowers or burning incense. And the main pillars bear the face of the goddess Hadhur; This type of column is known as a headroom. In the Hall of the Pillars, a projection shows the deification of the king, the destruction of his enemies in the north and the south (in these scenes the king is accompanied by his wife), and the queen's offerings to the goddess of Hadhur and death. The hypostyle hall is followed by a foyer, which gives access through three large doors. On the south and north walls of this room are two poetic projections - of the king and his entourage presenting papyrus and plants to Hather, who is described as a cow on a ship sailing in a bundle of papyrus. On the western wall, Ramses II and Nefertari make offerings to the god Horus and the deities Cataracts - Satis, Anubis, and Khnum.

The rock cut temple, the two adjacent chambers are connected to the transverse vestibule and are lined with the axis of the temple. The lower projection on the small side walls features scenes presenting documents to the various deities, whether presented by the pharaoh or the queen. On the back wall, which lies to the west along an axis of the temple, there is a niche for Hather as a sacred cow, apparently emerging from the mountain: the gods are described as the mistress of the temple dedicated to her and to Queen Nefertari, who is closely related to the goddess.

Each temple has its own priest who represents the king in the daily religious ceremonies. In theory, Pharaoh should be the only priest to perform daily religious rituals in various temples across Egypt. Indeed, it was the high priest who played this role. To reach this position, it was necessary to reach this position, to expand the education of art and science, just as Pharaoh was. Reading, writing, geometry, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and Space scales, time scales, it's all part of the learning process. For example, priests of Heliopolis became custodians of sacred knowledge and gained the reputation of the wise men.

By : Admin
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