Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel.jpg

Region between the first and second cataracts, roughly 250 km south of Aswan, where two rock temples built by Ramesses II are located. The large temple is dedicated to Amun-Re, Re-Harakhty, Ptah and the deified Ramesses II. The façade consists of four statues of Ramesses II, each 22 metres high, and with their own names. They all have a representation of the Nine Bows under their feet and thrones, as a symbol of the victory of Ramesses over his enemies, in this particular case dominion over Nubia. Between the two pairs of statues, and above the entrance to the temple is a statue of the sun god, holding in his hands the hieroglyphs 'weser' and 'maat' and with a sun disk on his head ('re'). These elements identify the statue as a depiction of Ramesses II himself, whose throne name was Weser-Maat-Re, as an incarnation of the sun god. At the top of the façade is a frieze of baboons, raising their forepaws in worship before the sun god. At the back of the roughly 60 m deep interior are four cult statues of the gods to whom the temple is dedicated. Twice a year (on 20 February and 20 October) they are completely lit by in-coming sunlight. The smaller temple is dedicated to Hathor of Abshek and the deified queen Nefertari. The façade of this temple, too, consists of a number of colossal statues, in this instance of Ramesses II and Nefertari. In the sanctuary is a statue of Ramesses II, protected by the cow goddess Hathor. Within the framework of the UNESCO operation to save monuments that would otherwise have vanished beneath the waters of Lake Nasser after the construction of the Aswan Dam, both temples were moved to a higher location between 1964 and 1968.