Celebrating the greatest discovery and saving in history

Added on Dec 24, 2017

In 1813, Swiss orientalist Jean-Louis Burckhardt found the top frieze of a gigantic temple. Burckhardt talked about his discovery with Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who travelled to the site, but was unable to dig out an entry to the temple. Belzoni returned in 1817, this time succeeding in his attempt to enter the temple complex, which was known later to the whole world as the great Abu Simbel Temple Complex

The temple complex is situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, 230 km southwest of Aswan. The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments” which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. The two temples were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th dynasty reign of the King Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument of the king and the great love he held for his queen Nefertari, and commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh.

The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary or they would have been submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River.

Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks averaging 20 tons each, dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 meters higher and 200 meters back from the river, in one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history.

The temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that on October 22 and February 22, the sun rays will reach the inner sanctuary. These dates are supposedly the king's birthday and coronation day, respectively. Due to the displacement of the temple each of these two events has moved one day closer to the Solstice, so they would be occurring on October 21 and February 21.

2017 witnessed the grand celebrations of the Belzoni discovery of the temple, as Egypt remembered the men who shed light on its great history, and saved it from harms.