Why Was Egypt’s Abu Simbal Temple Moved in the 1960s

Why Was Egypt’s Abu Simbal Temple Moved in the 1960s.

Abu Simbel: The Temples That Moved

The Abu Simbel temples sit on the west banking concern of the Nile River.

(Image credit: WitR
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The site of Abu Simbel is one of the nearly recognizable ancient sites in Egypt. For 3,000 years, it sat on the west bank of the Nile River, betwixt the outset and second cataracts of the Nile. Nevertheless, in a remarkable feat of applied science, the temple circuitous was dismantled and rebuilt on a higher hill to brand way for the Aswan Loftier Dam in the 1960s.

Built in 1244 B.C., Abu Simbel contains two temples, carved into a mountainside. The larger of the two temples contains four colossal statues of a seated pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 B.C.) at its entrance, each about 69 anxiety (21 meters) tall. The entranceway to the temple was built in such a manner that on two days of the yr, Oct 22 and February 22, sunlight shines into the inner sanctuary and lights up three statues seated on a demote, including one of the pharaoh. Historians think these dates mark his coronation and birth. Thousands of tourists typically flock to the temples to watch the miracle and participate in the celebrations.

In improver, Abu Simbel has a second, smaller, temple that may have been built for queen Nefertari. Its front includes two statues of the queen and iv of the pharaoh, each about 33 anxiety (ten meters) in height. Each is set up between buttresses carved with hieroglyphs.

While the site was built past an Egyptian ruler, and is located inside modernistic-day Egypt, in aboriginal times the place it was located in was considered part of Nubia, a territory that was at times independent of aboriginal Egypt.

“The waxing and waning of Arab republic of egypt’s strength can be traced through its relations with Nubia. When strong kings ruled a united land, Egyptian influence extended into Nubia; when Egypt was weak, its southern border stopped at Aswan,” writes Egyptologist Zahi Hawass in his volume “The Mysteries of Abu Simbel” (American Academy in Cairo Press, 2000).

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Moving the temple

Abu Simbel survived through ancient times, but to be threatened by modernistic progress. Considering the site would soon be flooded by the rising Nile, it was decided that the temples should be moved. “Following the determination to build a new Loftier Dam at Aswan in the early 1960s, the temples were dismantled and relocated in 1968 on the desert plateau 64 meters (almost 200 feet) in a higher place and 180 meters (600 anxiety) due west of their original site,” writes Robert Morkot in an article in the “Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt” (2001, Oxford University Press). The area where they were originally located is now flooded.

Hawass notes that moving the temples was a massive chore, i that involved cut it into pieces betwixt iii to xx tons in weight and re-assembling them precisely as they were. Information technology took almost five years, involved about 3,000 workers and cost (in the 1960s) nearly $42 million. He notes in his book that it was a great success, one reporter nowadays at its completion wrote that “everything looks just every bit it did before; information technology is enough to brand 1 doubt that the temples were moved at all.”

Ramesses Two

Ramesses II, sometimes chosen “the great,” was a warrior king who tried to aggrandize Egypt’s territory far into the Levant. He battled another empire called the Hittites at the Boxing of Qadesh (also spelled Kadesh) in Syria and likewise launched campaigns into Nubia.

He bragged about his accomplishments, embellishing Abu Simbel with scenes from the Boxing of Qadesh. One image carved in the peachy temple at Abu Simbel shows the king firing arrows from his war chariot and supposedly winning the boxing for the Egyptians. It was a blustery brandish for a battle that modern-mean solar day historians agree concluded in a draw. Later, Ramesses II would make a peace treaty with the Hittites and cement it by marrying a Hittite princess, an outcome marked in a stela at Abu Simbel.

“Ramesses II is the most famous of the pharaohs, and there is no doubt that he intended this to be and so,” writes University of Cambridge Egyptologist John Ray in a 2011 BBC article. “Ramesses Two, or at least the version of him which he chose to feature in his inscriptions, is the hieroglyphic equivalent of hot air.”

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But while Ramesses II may have been full of “hot air,” he did build some magnificent monuments, launching a major building program. “Ramesses Ii consolidated his godly land past edifice numerous temples in which he was worshipped in the image of the dissimilar gods,” writes Hawass in his volume. And two of the finest temples he built were at Abu Simbel.

2 of the four seated statues at the entrance. All iv depict Ramesses II.

(Paradigm credit: ChameleonEye
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The Great Temple

Egyptologist Marco Zecchi writes in his book “Abu Simbel, Aswan and the Nubian Temples” (White Star Publishers, 2004) that the larger of the two Abu Simbel temples, the Dandy Temple, was known in ancient times as “the temple of Ramesses-Meryamun” which ways “Ramesses, beloved past Amun” (Amun beingness an important deity in Ramesses Ii’southward fourth dimension).

Zecchi notes that the iv seated statues of the pharaoh, at the entrance, show the ruler wearing a short kilt, nemes headdress, double crown with cobra and simulated bristles. “Adjacent to the legs of the 4 colossi are several smaller standing statues that represent the pharaoh’due south relatives,” he writes, these include his wife Nefertari, the pharaoh’s mother Mut-Tuy, and his sons and daughters. Zecchi notes that at the top of the temple facade is “a row of 22 squatting baboon statues. The baboon’s cry was believed to welcome the rising sunday.”

The interior of the temple stretches into the mountain for near 210 anxiety (64 meters). The first room is an atrium fabricated upward of eight pillars, four on each side, that Zecchi notes depicts Ramesses Ii in the guise of the god Osiris. The atrium expanse includes images and hieroglyphs describing Ramesses II’s supposed victory at the Boxing of Qadesh. The atrium also has at present empty storerooms on its sides.

Moving deeper into the temple in that location is a second atrium with 4 busy pillars that Zecchi said shows the male monarch “embracing diverse divinities equally a sign of his spiritual matrimony and predilection” and, at the very back, is a bench where a statue of Ramesses 2 is seated with three other gods, Ra-Harakhty, Amun and Ptah. Researchers have noted that on two days of the twelvemonth (October 22 and Feb 22) all these statues, except for Ptah (who is associated with the underworld), are bathed in sunlight.

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The Small Temple

Every bit mentioned earlier, the smaller temple at Abu Simbel has, outside its entrance, 4 statues of pharaoh and two of his bride, Nefertari. Each statue is about 33 feet (10 meters) tall, a buttress in betwixt each of them. Zecchi notes that the facade likewise contains smaller statues of the children, “oddly the statues of the princesses are taller than those of the princes,” a sign, maybe, that this temple pays tribute to Nefertari and the women of Ramesses II’due south household.

The interior of the temple is simpler than that of the bully temple. It contains vi pillars that show depictions of the goddess Hathor. Zecchi notes that on the “back wall of the room” are reliefs showing “Nefertari in the act of being crowned by the goddesses Hathor and Isis,” the queen wearing a head covering that shows “the solar disc with feathers betwixt cow horns” the same head covering the goddesses are wearing.


At some signal the temples were abandoned and, in the period afterwards, were covered with sand, the great colossi gradually disappearing into the desert. Hawass notes that Johann Ludwig Burckhardt noted the existence of the site in 1813. Then, in 1817, a circus strongman named Giovanni Belzoni uncovered the buried entrance to the great temple.

This entrance, which was precisely aligned with the sun so as to lite upwards three of the statues within for two days of the year, now saw light once again.

Boosted resources

  • Egypt Today: Saving Abu Simbel: l Years On
  • UNESCO World Heritage List: Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
  • Atlas Obscura: The Temple of Abu Simbel

Owen Jarus is a regular contributor to Alive Scientific discipline who writes near archaeology and humans’ past. He has also written for The Independent (Uk), The Canadian Press (CP) and The Associated Press (AP), amid others. Owen has a available of arts degree from the University of Toronto and a journalism caste from Ryerson University.

Why Was Egypt’s Abu Simbal Temple Moved in the 1960s

Source: https://www.livescience.com/37360-abu-simbel.html

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