Dawn trip to Abu Simbel

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Flag of Egypt  ,
Sunday, July 20, 2008

This morning we woke up at the mad time of 2:30AM.  We met up with our guide at 3:30 and then left in a huge convoy of buses for a 3 hour journey south to Abu Simbel.  We slept most of the way, but it was a unique drive all through the Sahara Desert.  I even saw the sun rise in the distance as it crept slowly out from behind the sand.









At 6AM we arrived at Abu Simbel and explored the two temples there.  It was amazing how well preserved the inside of the temples were. The drawings were so clear and in many places still had color.







Ramesses II, called "the Great," built seven rock-cut temples in Nubia. The rock-cut temple of Ramesses II on the west bank of the Nile at Abu Simbel is the greatest of these. This temple was not seen by Europeans until J.J. Burckhardt discovered them in 1813.  The temple, called Hwt Ramesses Meryamun, the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved of Amun," was begun fairly early in Ramses' long reign in the 13th century BC, commissioned some time after his fifth regnal year, but not completed until his 35th regnal year. The massive facade of the main temple is dominated by the four seated colossal statues of Ramesses. These familiar representations are of Ramesses II himself. Each statue, 67 feet high, is seated on a throne and wears the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. Each is taller than the famed Memnon Colosud at Thebes, and all are sculpted directly from the rock face. The thrones are decorated on their sides with Nile gods symbolically uniting Egypt.












Not only are the two temples at Abu Simbel among the most magnificent monuments in the world but their removal and reconstruction was an historic event in itself. When the temples (280 km from Aswan) were threatened by submersion in Lake Nasser, due to the construction of the High Dam, the Egyptian Government secured the support of UNESCO and launched a world wide appeal. During the salvage operation which began in 1964 and continued until 1968, the two temples were dismantled and raised over 60 meters up the sandstone cliff where they had been built more than 3,000 years before. Here they were reassembled, in the exact same relationship to each other and the sun, and covered with an artificial mountain. Most of the joins in the stone have now been filled by antiquity experts, but inside the temples it is still possible to see where the blocks were cut.

Ramesses II (also known as Ramesses The Great) was the third Egyptian pharaoh of the Nineteenth dynasty. He is often regarded as Egypt's greatest and most powerful pharaoh.  Ancient Greek writers such as Herodotus attributed his accomplishments to the semi-mythical Sesostris. He is traditionally believed to have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus.  He was born around 1303 BC and at age fourteen, Ramesses was appointed Prince Regent by his father Seti I.  He is believed to have taken the throne in his early 20s and to have ruled Egypt from 1279 BC to 1213 BC for a total of 66 years and 2 months.


Diana and I arrived back in Aswan around 1PM.  We took a ferry boat across the Nile and enjoyed lunch at a hotel on the otherside.  The rest of the day was spent just relaxing.
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