Saturday, August 22, 2009

Day 76, Abu Simbel, Egypt(2)

Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples, which both date back to the reign of King Ramses II (1290-1223 BC), in southern Egypt along the Nile about 290 km southwest of Aswan.

It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of "Nubian Monuments" which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae.

Unfortunately these unique Temples suffered from the raising water of Lake Nasser while the High Dam was being built. Other countries, with the help of UNESCO, assisted Egypt to help save them. Thank goodness!

The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel consists of four seated colossal statues of Ramses II carved into the mountain, forming one of the boldest temple facades in the world. It is aligned so the sun's rays travel through the mountain and illuminate Ramses' sanctuary twice a year -- on October 22 and February 22.

There are two temples at Abu Simbel. The larger one, generally know n as the Temple of Ramses II, is dedicated to Ra-Harakhty, Ptah and Amun, Egypt's three state deities of the time. It features four large statues of Ramses II in the facade. The smaller temple, referred to as the Temple of Nefertari, is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified Ramesses's most beloved wife Nefertari ( the pharaoh had some 200 wives and concubines total).

This place is totally overwhelming!!!! Stupendous! Awesome!

A monument of untellable splendor!

I am speechless!

The Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Ramses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt. The facade is 33 meters high, and 38 meters broad, and guarded by four statues, each of which is 20 meters high. They were sculptured directly from the rock in which the temple was located before it was moved.

All statues represent Ramses II, seated on a throne and wearing the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The statue to the left of the entrance was damaged in an earthquake, leaving only the lower part of the statue still intact. The head and torso can still be seen at the statue's feet.

Several smaller figures are situated at the feet of the four statues, depicting members of the pharaoh's family. They include his mother Tuya, Nefertari, and some of his sons and daughters. Above the entrance there is a statue of a falcon-headed Ra-Harakhte, with the pharaoh shown worshipping on both sides of him. Below the statue there is an ancient rebus, showing the prenomen or throne name of Ramesses: Waser-ma'at.

The facade is topped by a row of 22 baboons, their arms raised in the air, supposedly worshipping the rising sun. Another notable feature of the facade is a stele which records the marriage of Ramesses with a daughter of King Hattusili III, which sealed the peace between Egypt and the Hittites.

The interior of the temple has the same triangular layout that most ancient Egyptian temples follow, with rooms decreasing in size from the entrance to the sanctuary. The first hall of the temple features eight statues of the deified Rameses II in the shape of Osiris, serving as pillars. The walls depict scenes of Egyptian victories in Libya, Syria and Nubia, including images from the Battle of Kadesh. The second hall depicts Ramesses and Nefertari with the sacred boats of Amun and Ra-Horakthy.

The sanctuary contains four seated statues of Ra-Horakhty, Ptah, Amun and Ramesses. The temple was constructed in such a way that the sun shines directly on all four statues during two days of the year, February 20 and October 20. These dates are allegedly the king's birthday and coronation day respectively, but there is no evidence to support this. Due to the displacement of the temple, it is widely believed that this event now occurs one day later than it did originally.

The Temple of Nefetari is located north of the Great Temple of Ramses II. It was carved in the rock by Ramses II and dedicated to Hathor, the goddess of love and beauty, and also to his favorite wife, Nefertari, for "whose sake the very sun doeth shine." The façade is adorned by six statues, four of Ramses II and two of Nefertari. Most unusually, the six are the same height, which indicates the esteem in which Nefertari was held.

Impressive, breathtaking, fabulous, fantastic, grand, magnificent, staggering, stunning .....I still cannot find the appropriate adjectives to describe this place!!

1 comment:

Sahil said...

Egypt has always been my dream place to visit especially Abu Salem because of its archeological rock temples.

Recommend to read the article Abu Simbel - A story told by time to know more about the place.