Pedia News

Abu Simbel


Abu Simbel
Egypt is no stranger to mind-blowing buildings and temples so it is a great compliment that the Abu Simbel rock temple at Nubia is one of the most visited sites in the country. Built during the reign of Ramesses II (circa 1279-1213 BCE), the construction of the two temples took 20 years to complete. The Great Temple is dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty and Ptah, but it is Ramesses II that takes centre stage. The entrance to the temple is flanked by four 20-metre (65-foot) tall statues of Ramesses II that tower over the much smaller statues that depict the Pharoah’s family as well as vanquished enemies such as the Nubians, Hittites and Libyans. Inside the Great Temple are statues of Ptah, Ra-Horakhty, Amun and Ramesses II as well as a number of reliefs that show Ramesses claiming great victories against his foes. A row of baboon statues line the fa├žade as they were revered as Sun worshippers. The Little Temple was built to honour the memory of Ramesses’ favourite wife Nefertari who later became known as the goddess of fertility and love. It is fronted by statues of Ramesses and Nefertari, while inside are reliefs that show the couple offering gifts to the gods. The location of Abu Simbel was very important as well. Nubia was already an important religious site and Abu Simbel, located at the Egyptian-Sudanese border, established it as definitively Egyptian.

Moving on up
In 1952 the Egyptian Government made the decision to build a dam after the flood waters of the Nile got too high for the current one. However, this would have flooded the Abu Simbel temple so the decision was made to move the entire construction to higher ground. Between 1963 and 1968 the temple was cut into 10,000 blocks, each weighing between three and 20 tons. They were then moved 65 metres (213 feet) higher up the mountain and 180 metres (600 feet) to the west to keep it out of the soon-to-be-flooded area. The blocks were precisely re-assembled in exactly the same position as before and secured in place with concrete. The move cost $42 million at the time, which is around $288 million (£183 million) today, but was essential in preserving a key part of Egyptian history.
Abu Simbel