Abu Simbel, Egypt

Posted On December 3, 2009 

Originally an archeological site, Abu Simbel is made up of the two huge rock temples. Abu Simbel is located at Nubia, which is placed on the western bank of Nasser Lake in Southern Eygpt. Abhu Simbel is located at a distance of 290 kms in the southern west direction from Aswan. Abu Simbel is a part of “Nubian Monuments” which starts from Abu Simbel and extents up to Philae which is located near Aswan. “Nubian Monuments” is declared as the World Heritage site by UNESCO.

In the early 13th century BC, it was the reign of Pharaoh Ramesse II. During this period the twin temples were carved. One of the mountainsides was used to carve the temples. This twin temple monument belonged to Pharaoh Ramesse II and his queen Nefertari. The temples were constructed to celebrate the king’s victory which he got in the Battle Kadesh and also to threaten the kings Nubian neighbors. In 1960 the complex was relocated. Above the Aswan High dam reservoir an artificial hill was constructed for this domed structure. It was expected that the temples mite get submerged during the construction of the Nasser Lake and thus it became necessary to relocate the temple. Lake Naseer is a huge artificial water body which was created after the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the River Nile. Abu Simbel is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Egypt.

Abu Simbel, Egypt

The creation of the temple monument started nearly around 1244 BC and it took almost 20 years to complete it. The construction of the temple was completed by 1224 BC. This temple was known as “Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun”. During the rule of Ramesses II nearly six rock temples were constructed in Nubia. One of the major reasons for the constructions of the temples was to amaze the southern neighbors of Egypt. Reinforcing the Egyptian religion in the region was also one of the reasons. It is stated by the Historians that the design and construction of  filled Ramses II with pride and ego.

The numbers of the tourists’ guides here relate the site and the legend of the young local boy named “Abu Simbel”. Abu Simbel used to guide the tours of the buried temple monuments in the early times. It is said that the place got its name from the boy “Abu Simbel”.

Eventually the temples were covered by the sand as the use of the monument was stopped with the passage of time. The statues of the main temple were covered by the sand up to the knees by the start of the 6th century BC. The temple was lost in sand by 1813 when a Swiss Orientalist JL Burckhardth found the upper fresco of the main temple. In 1817 Burckharth was successful in digging up the monument. He took all that was portable and valuable from the monument with him.

Various donation campaigns began in 1959 as to save the age-old monuments of Nubia. The monument was under the threat of the rising water level of the river Nile that was a result of the Aswan High Dam’s construction.

The complex now has two temples. The larger temple is devoted to Ptah and Amun and Ra-Harakhty who were the state god’s of that time. Outside the temple there are fource huge statues of Ramasses II which was placed on the front wall. The smaller temple is devoted to Hathor Goddess and has the statues of his most beloved wife Nefertari. The temple was later opened to the public for the visits.

The restoration of the Abu Simbel temples started in the year 1964, and the total cost of the restoration was around some USD $40 million. During the period from 1964 up to 1968, the completed site was sliced into huge blocks which weighted up to 30 tons and the average weight was 20 tons. The temples were first dismantled and them was reassembled in its new location which was 200 m back from the river and at a height of 65 m. Many archeologists states that many parts of the early monument are still beneath the waters of Nasser Lake.

Abu Simbel Nasser Lake

Today, nearly thousands of tourists daily visit these temples. Protected line of cars and buses leave two times a day from Aswan, which is the nearest city. The visitors can also arrive to the site by plane and land up at an airfield that is particularly constructed for the temple monument.

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