Today we left our Cairo hotel at 5AM so that we could fly to see Abu Simbel. Here I am in front of one of the two temples. These temples are among the most magnificant of the 22 ancient monuments the international community came together to save by relocating them above the water level of the new lake that was created when they flooded the valley during the creation of the High Damn of the Aswan Damn. An incredible feat of archaelogical and engineering skill that began in 1960.
Below is a blow up of an historical photo on display at the Nubian museum in Aswan showing how they moved the temple 180 meters higher. There is a great story behind why the temple was built by Rames II. The larger temple that I am in front of is connected to what is believed to be the first peace treaty between two nation states in history. There was a treaty alright but each king retold the story of the battle to suit his own needs with his people. The carvings inside all celebrate Rames’ triumph over the Hitittes — a war that likely was a stalemate — hence the treaty.
Old graffiti is everywhere. Visitors from the early 19th century left their mark not just in the temple but on the large figures themselves.
Disturbing and sad, yet also now part of the history of the work.
Gratefully the temple is well protected and the current crop of graffiti artists are busy elsewhere.
Diorama from the Nubian Museum visualizingthe transformation of Abu Simbel.
You can have a lot of fun with ancient objects……but you have to be careful — yes this was done without touching the artifact.
An oasis steps from the temples of Abu Simbel. Right near the new lake.
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Nannette Maciejunes, CMA Executive Director