Monday, February 22, 2016

Abu Simbel


Very long day today. We are now traveling back to our Cairo hotel from the airport. And, yes, we are stuck in traffic. I think we will stop for dinner before checking in - so busy with flights today, we haven't eaten since breakfast.

We were met at 8:30 by a new guide to take us to the airport. It turned out that the later flight worked out much better. Not having to get up at dawn was a god send this morning. The flight barely had anyone on it and there was no one at the Temples.  If there were a dozen people, there was a lot. Apparently, there was a sand storm that prevented a lot of people from making this important journey. Plus, it was cloudy at sunrise, so those who were there did not get to see this amazing sight.
It is believed that the axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that on October 22 and February 22, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah, the god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark. People gather at Abu Simbel to witness this remarkable sight, on October 22 and February 22.
These dates are allegedly the king's birthday and coronation day respectively, but there is no evidence to support this, though it is quite logical to assume that these dates had some relation to a great event, such as the jubilee celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the pharaoh's rule.
Landed early and again another Sito representative was there with a bus. This bus was shared with the handful of folks who were on our flight. So we toured around with some of them. Actually met a mother and daughter traveling together from Franklin, TN - that's where Geoff's sister lives - small world. Since it was the day of the festival, we were greeted at the airport by some official shaking hands and giving out magnets.
Standing by these colossal structures is very humbling.  The story of these two temples is another amazing tale. Ramses II just couldn't get enough of himself!
Great temple of Ranses II
Small Temple of Neferarti

The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting monument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic.
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 to prevent their being 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. 
Tour guides at the site relate the legend that "Abu Simbel" was a young local boy who guided early re-discoverers to the site of the buried temple which he had seen from time to time in the shifting sands. Eventually, they named the complex after him.
Had time for a quick cup of coffee before heading back to the plane. Some high Aswan official was on our flight to Aswan so it was filled to the brim with security. We had a short wait at the airport but we soon boarded another plane to Cairo. It was good seeing Ash's face on returning.

Looking forward to dinner and a good sleep.

Next time... On the road to Alexandria


1 comment:

  1. I agree...Ramses couldn't get enough of himself. This is what Trump is going to do if he is president. Seems like you did get enough sunlight for the pictures. Quite a colosus. Alexandria,
    one of the greatest cities of the Hellenistic world — second only to Rome in the day, will be fun to visit. See you there.