September 08, 2004

South to Abu Simbel

With a 4AM (!!) departure time (gotta love Africa), we left the boat to bus it to Abu Simbel, a small village 280km south of Aswan and home to the Great Temple of Ramses II and the Temple of Hathor.

The Great Temple of Ramses II is extraordinary. Like all the temples in Egypt it is COLOSSAL! Built in 1274 BC it is dedicated to the gods Ra-Harakhty, Amun and Ptah. And, of course, Ramses II - 4 statues of whom decorate the facade of the temple. The temple was built right on Nile as a show of strength to anyone cruising down the Nile and into Ramses's territory.

See where these people are? That used to be river.....

Unfortunately for the temple, the Nile has a mind of its own and when the river and the desert sands shifted over time, the temple was buried and lost until it was rediscovered by chance in 1813. In the 1970's a UNESCO-sponsored project actually moved the temple, reconstructing it block by block, to a location off the shore to keep it out of the way of the Nile :)

Jim and Ramses II likeness

I swear I had NOTHING to do with that missing head!

Adjacent to the Great Temple of Ramses II is the Temple of Hathor, the only temple in Egypt dedicated to a wife - Queen Nefertari (not to be confused with Nefertiti). It's a smaller version of the Great Temple with 6 statues on the facade - 4 of Ramses II and 2 of Nefertari (typical man). Interestingly, the Queen is pictured the same height as the King instead of coming up to his knees as is typical - or as would be close to accurate when Jim builds me my temple ;)

L->R: Ramses II, Nefertari, Ramses II, Ramses II, Nefertari, Ramses II

We headed straight back to Aswan for our overnight train ride back to Cairo.
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