The Great Temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt

The Great Temple of Abu Simbel in Egypt

Great Temple of Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel (Arabic: أبو سنبل or أبو سمبل) is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km southwest of Aswan, near its original location . The temples are part of the Open Air Museum of Nubia and Aswan, which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979 under the name Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel and Philae.

Abu Simbel mountain means pure. The temples, excavated in the rock, was built by order of Ramses II. The largest of these is one of the best preserved of all Egypt.

Construction was planned so that 2 times a year when the sun rose over the horizon, its rays penetrated through the door and after project into the great room eight columns, the second, the lobby and sanctuary impinged on the 4 statues the niche of the back that lit entirely.

The temple is dedicated to the worship of propioRamsés (the pharaohs were considered gods) and the major deities of ancient Egypt, Amun Ra and Ptah. These three gods had their capitals and throughout the history of Ancient Egypt were highly revered. Ra was the head of the Ennead of Heliopolis, Amon head of the Triad of Thebes and the great god Ptah of Memphis craftsman. Beside the three is represented Ramses as the fourth great god of Egypt.

The nineteenth dynasty tried to regain Egypt’s influence abroad, lost after the riots and religious turmoil (supported the detrimental Aten cult of Amun) and policies during the reign of Akhenaten (Akhenaton) of the eighteenth dynasty.

Ramses II, son of Seti I fought the enemies of the North and South. But his most important battle of Kadesh was in Canaan against Asians Hittites. This battle ended with a peace treaty between the two forces, although Rameses boasted of having won the battle on the walls of Abu Simbel and other temples of Egypt, so did the king of the Hittites in the temples of his country.

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The construction of the temple began in 1284 approximately. C. and lasted for about twenty years, until 1264. C. It is one of six temples built or excavated in the rock that were built in Nubia during the long reign of Ramses II. The temple’s purpose was to impress southern neighbors and strengthen the influence of Egyptian religion in the region.

Over time the temple, abandoned, began to fill with sand. Near the sixth century. C., sand covered the statues of the main temple to their knees. Abu Simbel was forgotten until in 1813 the Swiss J. L. Burckhardt visited.

Burckhardt said their discovery the Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who traveled to the scene but was unable to dig out an entry to allow access to the temple. Belzoni returned in 1817, this time successful, got in, and took all the valuables they could carry.

Due to the construction of the Aswan Dam to create Lake Nasser and the consequent increase in the level of the Nile was necessary to relocate several temples, including those that were at the river’s edge. A major international team handled from large blocks and reassemble in a safe place around the temple, as if it were a giant puzzle.

In 1959 he started an international campaign to collect funds to save the monuments of Nubia as some of them were in danger of disappearing under water as a result of the construction of the Aswan Dam. Participating countries were rewarded with some small temples Nubians

The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964 and cost the sum of $ 36 million. Between 1964 and 1968, the temples were dismantled to be rebuilt again in a nearby area, 65 meters higher and about two hundred meters away.

Yet this project, the temple is deteriodandose given the erosion caused by seepage waters of Lake Nasser.

The complex consists of two temples. The largest, dedicated to Ra, Ptah and Amun. On the rock of the facade were carved four colossal statues presenting the Pharaoh Ramses II. The smaller temple is dedicated to the goddess Hathor, personified by Nefertari, favorite wife of Ramses.

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The temple of Abu Simbel is considered one of the most beautiful of all built during the reign of Ramses II and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

The facade of the temple is 33 meters high and 38 meters in width and is guarded by four seated statues, each of which measured about twenty feet high, carved directly on the rock. All statues represent Ramesses II, seated on a throne with the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. The statue on the left of the entrance was damaged by an earthquake, splitting. With the relocation of the temple was discussed on whether to rebuild or not, deciding finally leave it as it was.

You can see also many smaller statues at the foot of the four main statues, representing various family members of the king as his mother, his wife and some of his descendants.
The inside of the temple has a layout similar to most temples of ancient Egypt, with smaller rooms as we approach the sanctuary.

The first room contains eight statues of Ramses elevated to God, taking the form of Osiris. These statues are attached to the columns. On the walls you can see prints depicting scenes of Egyptian victories in Libya, Syria and Nubia.

The shrine contains three statues of the gods Ra, Ptah, Amun and Ramses, all in a sitting position. The temple is constructed so that during the day February 20 and October 20, the sun’s rays penetrate into the sanctuary, located at the back of the temple, and illuminate the faces of Amon Ra, and Ramesses, leaving only the face of god Ptah in shadow, it was considered the god of darkness. It is believed that these dates correspond to the days of King’s birthday and his coronation, although no corroborating data. After the displacement of the temple, the solar phenomenon occurs two days later than the original date.

The smaller temple of Abu Simbel is located north of the elderly. It also cut into the rock and dedicated to Hathor, goddess of love and beauty, as well as his favorite wife, Nefertari. The facade is decorated with six statues, four of Ramses II and two of Nefertari. The six are of equal size, something unusual as the statues of the pharaoh used to be larger. The entrance leads to a hall with six central columns, sculpted capitals decorated with the head of the goddess Hathor.

This room contains some scenes showing Ramses and his wife offering sacrifices to the gods. After this room is another showing similar scenes. At the bottom of the temple is the shrine containing a statue of the goddess Hathor.

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