Skogafoss WaterfallJanuary 9, 2017
Abydos Temples: Sethi I & Ramses IIJanuary 9, 2017
In the heart of Nubia, only 20 km away from the Sudan border, stands the Abu Simbel Temples, especially the Big Temple dedicated to Rê, Amon, Ptah and Ramses II. Besides its religious symbolism, this temple was also an instrument of intimidation. Symbol of the power of Egypt, the Ramses II Temple inspired the fear of Nubians and merchants, making the commercial dealings easier for Egyptians. Indeed, the biggest gold mines of Egypt were located in this region.
Abu Simbel, Ramses II welcomes you to its Temple
The Great Abu Simbel Temple will welcome you by its impressive façade (33m high, 38m wide) facing the east and its 4 colossal representations of Ramses II directly sculpted in the mountain, looking to the direction of the rising son. The 4 statues wear a double crown (pschent), a royal veil (nemes) and the uraeus (a cobra ready to attack). They also have a toupee beard and a loin cloth. The lines of the face were drawn in a fashion to inspire calm, serenity and symbolize eternal youth. The 4 faces represented on the 4 statues incarnate 4 different times in his life. A humongous artistic biography. At his legs, stand Ramses’ family members: his mother Touy, his elder sons and daughters. His wives are also represented: Nefertari, his most important one (who also has her own temple at Abu Simbel) and his two Great Wives including Isis Nofret “the most beautiful one”. Legend has it that during his 60 year reign, Ramses had more than 200 children with all his differentes wives and mistresses… A bit too much, don’t you think ? ☺
By entering into the Temple, you will get into the first hypostyle room decorated by paintings showing some acts of war of the Pharaoh including the famous Battle of Qadesh or more cultural scenes, i.e. Ramses making a gift to God Amon. The second hypostyle room is smaller than the first one and you will be able to see there the royal couple praising Amon’s divine boat so he can give his life to the Pharaoh in return. Going deeper in the Temple will lead you to the vestibule dedicated to 4 divnities, waiting for you, sitting and directly graved in the stone. You will also be able to reach the room of treasures where you will contemplate some offering scenes from Ramses to the Gods.
Abu Simbel is moving off !
The two Abou Simbel Temples have known a very unlikely fate. Built in 12th century before JC, they were buried then rediscovered, almost by luck, in the 19th century by Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, swiss explorer. Few years later, some restoration and clearing works have been done.
But that’s not all ! In 1956, the egyptian government decided to build the infamous Aswan barrier which threatened to destroy everything standing on the Nubian side of the nil, including the Abu Simbel Temples because of the rising of Nasser Lake. The UNESCO started a campaign to maintain the site which led to the XXL relocation of the temples! The temples were dismantled into more than 5000 blocks, weighing between 25 and 30 tons each, and carried to their new site to be reassembled like a giant puzzle! Derricks, trucks, cranes, heavy artillery was used to proceed to this incredible task. An artificial landscape was then created, reminding the first location of the Abu Simbel Temples.
A mythical place, a great reward after waking up at 4 am for a 3 hour ride in the desert from Aswan. Precision, spirituality, gigantism, Abou Simbel is a real source of delight. For sure, we will enjoy getting you there during a future expedition!