- Abu Simbel
/ah"booh sim"bel, -beuhl/a former village in S Egypt, on the Nile: site of two temples of Ramses II; now inundated by Lake Nasser, created by the Aswan High Dam.Also, Abu Simbil /sim"bil/. Also called Ipsambul.
* * *Site of two temples built by Ramses II in the 13th century BC.The area, at the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, lies near Egypt's current border with The Sudan. The temples were unknown to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1813. The larger temple displays four 67-ft (20-m) seated figures of Ramses; the smaller was dedicated to Queen Nefertari. When the reservoir created by the building of Aswān High Dam threatened to submerge the site in the early 1960s, an international team disassembled both temples and reconstructed them 200 ft (60 m) above the riverbed.Sandstone figures of Ramses II in front of the main temple at Abu Simbel near Aswān, Egypt.By courtesy of Air France
* * *▪ archaeological site, Egyptsite of two temples built by the Egyptian king Ramses II (reigned 1279–13 BCE), now located in Aswān muḥāfaẓah (governorate), southern Egypt. In ancient times the area was at the southern frontier of pharaonic Egypt, facing Nubia. The four colossal statues of Ramses in front of the main temple are spectacular examples of ancient Egyptian art. By means of a complex engineering feat in the 1960s, the temples were salvaged from the rising waters of the Nile River caused by erection of the Aswan High Dam.Carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, south of Korosko (modern Kuruskū), the temples were unknown to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1813 by the Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt (Burckhardt, Johann Ludwig). They were first explored in 1817 by the early Egyptologist Giovanni Battista Belzoni (Belzoni, Giovanni Battista).The 66-foot (20-metre) seated figures of Ramses are set against the recessed face of the cliff, two on either side of the entrance to the main temple. Carved around their feet are small figures representing Ramses' children, his queen, Nefertari, and his mother, Muttuy (Mut-tuy, or Queen Ti). Graffiti inscribed on the southern pair by Greek mercenaries serving Egypt in the 6th century BCE have provided important evidence of the early history of the Greek alphabet. The temple itself, dedicated to the sun gods Amon-Re (Amon) and Re-Horakhte, consists of three consecutive halls extending 185 feet (56 metres) into the cliff, decorated with more Osiride statues of the king and with painted scenes of his purported victory at the Battle of Kadesh (Kadesh, Battle of). On two days of the year (about February 22 and October 22), the first rays of the morning sun penetrate the whole length of the temple and illuminate the shrine in its innermost sanctuary.Just to the north of the main temple is a smaller one, dedicated to Nefertari for the worship of the goddess Hathor and adorned with 35-foot (10.5-metre) statues of the king and queen.In the mid-20th century, when the reservoir that was created by the construction of the nearby Aswan High Dam threatened to submerge Abu Simbel, UNESCO and the Egyptian government sponsored a project (art conservation and restoration) to save the site. An informational and fund-raising campaign was initiated by UNESCO in 1959. Between 1963 and 1968 a workforce and an international team of engineers and scientists, supported by funds from more than 50 countries, dug away the top of the cliff and completely disassembled both temples, reconstructing them on high ground more than 200 feet (60 metres) above their previous site. In all, some 16,000 blocks were moved. In 1979 Abu Simbel, Philae, and other nearby monuments were collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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