The Rescuing of the Abu Simbel





1968. Abu Simbel. Egypt. Workmen re-assembles the giant pieces of sculpture of the famous temples of Abu Simbel. The Mammouth pieces have been moved to a new site to save them from being swallowed up by the Nile River when the Aswan High Dam Project is completed. The Temples were dismantled two years before by hardening the porous sandstone with the injections of resin, and sawing them into blocks weighing twenty to thirty tons each. The 1000-plus pieces were then transported to the stone graveyard where they were again injected with epoxy resin to prevent the stone from crumbling. They were eventually lifted 65 meters and shifted 180 meters inland to prevent them from being flooded.

Aswan lies 280 km south of the first nile cataract at Egyptian-Sudanese border. At the time of this dedication, it was an important centre of trade. Ramses II built two temples there–a smaller one for his wife, Nefertari (which remains the only Ancient Egyptian temple dedicated to a wife of a pharaoh) and the Great Temple for the gods Amun-Re, Re-Harachte, Ptah and himself. The 38 meters wide facade was covered by four statutes of Ramses, each 20 meters tall, and the temple itself reaches 65 meters into the rock.

Every year on the equinoxes (March 21, September 23 when day and night are equally long), a beam of light shines directly into the long hallway of the temple and illuminates the four statues at the back wall of the sanctuary. The light reaches Re-Harachte (who is the combination of the god of sun, Re and the god of heaven, Horus), then shifts to Ramses, and finally to Amun-Re. Ptah, the god of darkness, remains in the shade.

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