Often referred to as the second highlight of Egypt, and for some the top site, Abu Simbel is a temple dedicated to Rames the Great (Rames II) at the very southern point of Egypt.
Located on the man-made Lake Nasser, this temple was also affected by the construction of the dam and it was moved in the 1960s. This relocation project was much more complicated than the Philae Temple I visited yesterday, since it was actually carved into the bedrock of the mountain. It was not something they could dissemble and put back together somewhere else. They actually had to hand-carved each and every piece off from the original bedrock, and then reattach it to a mountain at a higher elevation. It was a time consuming process and took 7 years to move it and reconstruct it.
But it now stands as a beautiful symbol to the power of mankind, both 4000 years ago and today. There are two temples on the site, one for Rames II, and the other for his favorite wife, Queen Nefratiti. The facade of the Rames’ temple is massive, featuring 4 huge identical statues of the pharaoh. Rames, in addition to his long rule, as famous for his military prowess and strong warrior reputation.
On the inside of the temple, you will see one of the most complicated hieroglyphic drawings in all of Egypt, as it contains 100,000 characters in a single scene. It depicts a famous battle Rames fought against his enemies in Turkey. Again, no photos inside, but the scene was spectacular. You can see him speaking with his advisers, the plans leading up to battle, betrayal by a pair of spies, and then the battle itself. It takes up an entire wall, over 10 meters high! Archaeologists believe this temple was built as a warning to invaders from the south, which is why it was so massive and speaks of Rames’ battle strengths.
As with the other temples, there is also an offerings room for the king. But what is particularly impressive about this offering room, is the engineering and astronomy that went into it. There are four statues in the offering room, 2 good gods, 1 god of darkness, and 1 of Rames. The Egyptians built the temple so preciously that 2 days a year, the king’s birthday and coronation day, the sun comes all the way through the temple to light up 3 of the statues, leaving the god of darkness, in darkness. When modern archaeologists moved the temple, they couldn’t replicate this phenomenon on the same…. This is amazing to me. The ancient Egyptians could do something then that we can’t even do now. Just shows how truly advanced they were.
The temple to Nefratiti was smaller than Rames, for obvious reasons, but was still impressive. The facade contains more figures and on the inside, there are many offering scenes and carvings. The paint on these walls stayed a little bit better and you can see the natural dyes that they used on the walls. The ceiling too! I really enjoyed this site, and it so beautiful located on Lake Nasser. You can really feel the history and energy of this place.