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Abu Simbel


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Abu Simbel is the site of two rock-cut temples of Ramesses II (1279 - 1213 BCE), located about 230 km south-east of Aswan near the border of Egypt with Sudan. These two temples (The Greater & Smaller) attracted world-wide attention when they were threatened by inundation by the rising waters of Lake Nasser resulting from the construction of the Aswan High Dam. In response to an appeal by the Arab Republic of Egypt, UNESCO, an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia was initiated in 1959. The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1963 and cost some 36 million dollars.


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Greater Abu Simbel TempleThe Greater Abu Simbel Temple dedicated to the sun god, Ra-Harakhte, Amun-Re, Ptah, and the deified Ramesses II. This is the grandest and most beautiful of temples. The facade is 33 meters high , 38 meters wide, and guarded by four statues of Ramesses II wearing the double crown and the nemes head cloth, each of which is 20 meters high. High on the facade there is a carved row of baboons, smiling at the sunrise.
Ramesses StatuesOn the doorway of the temple there is a beautiful inscription of the pharaoh's name, Ser-Ma'at-Ra, and between the legs of the colossal statues on the facade, there are smaller statues of Ramesses II's family: his mother, Queen Tuya, his wife, Nefertari, and his sons and daughters. There are also a number of dedications, important amongst is Ramesses II's marriage to the daughter of the King of Hittites.
Great Hall of PillarsInside the main temple at Abu Simbel is the Great Hall of Pillars, with eight pillars bearing the deified Ramesses II in the shape of Osiris. The walls of this hall bear inscriptions recording the Battle of Kadesh waged by Ramesses II against the Hittites. The Great Hall leads to the smaller hall of the nobles, containing four square pillars followed by a vestibule and a sanctuary.
The SanctuaryThe Sanctuary contains four seated statues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramesses II and Ra-Harakhte. This temple is unique because the rising sun illuminates the sanctuary and the seated statues of the gods at the rearmost point of the temple two days a year: February 21, Ramesses' birthday, and October 22, his coronation date.
Nefertari and Hathor's TempleLocated a little to the north of the Greater Temple, lies a smaller rock-cut temple dedicated to the goddess of Love and Beauty, Hathor, and also to Ramesses' favorite wife, Nefertari. The Facade is adorned by six statues, four of Ramesses II and two of Nefertari. The statues of Nefertari are the same height as those of Ramesses, which is unusual.  Like at Ramesses II's temple, there are children depicted around their feet.
Hall of Six Pillars in the Smaller TempleInside Nefertari's temple there is a hall containing six pillars bearing the head of the goddess Hathor.
Hathor pillarOne of the six pillars bearing the head of the goddess Hathor.
Inside Nefertari's TempleBeyond the hall with the six Hathor pillars is a vestibule and finally a sanctuary where a statue of Hathor protects Ramesses II.

Ramesses smiting enemiesThe eastern wall of the smaller temple bears inscriptions depicting Ramesses II striking the enemy before Ra-Harakhte and Amun-Re.

Ramesses making an offering to Ra-HarakhteOther wall scenes show Ramesses II and Nefertari offering incense to the gods.
Hathor, Nefertari & IsisHathor & Isis blessing Nefertari inside the smaller Abu Simbel temple
Isis, Ramesses and MinIsis, Ramesses(?) and Min, the fertility God, on a panel inside Nefertari's Temple
Aerial view of Abu SimbelThe Abu Simbel temples as seen from the air. The man-made structures upon which the temples were reconstructed when they were moved to higher ground can be seen.

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All pictures are Copyright 1998 - 2001 Grisel Gonzalez

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