6 curiosities of Abu Simbel, a jewel of Ancient Egypt

The Abu Simbel complex consists of two temples carved out of large rocks: the temple of Ramses II and that of Nefertari. We are, therefore, before a site of great archaeological interest in Nubia, and of which we discover below some curiosities. Are you with us on this trip to Ancient Egypt?

1. Curiosities of Abu Simbel: the temples commemorate a victory

Abu Simbel - la_pet / Pixabay.com

After winning the battle of Kadesh in 1274 B.C., Ramses II had a temple built to commemorate the victory. He would be dedicated to his own cult, as well as that of the gods Ammon, Ra and Ptha. Under these giant figures there would be smaller ones that would represent the enemies conquered by Ramses: the Nubians, the Libyans and the Hittites.

While, the temple of Nefertari was adorned with six colossi on the main facade, three on each side of the entrance, which embody Ramses and Nefertari. The monument is dedicated to her, as she was Pharaoh's favorite wife, and Hathor, goddess of love and beauty. Next to the previous temple, he had the task of impressing the enemies and attesting to the greatness of the kingdom.

Abu Simbel - PDPhotos / Pixabay.com

In general, the women of the pharaohs were represented much smaller than their husbands. Instead, The figure of Nefertari has the same dimensions as that of Ramses II.

Likewise, the temple of Nefertari stands out for being the second to be dedicated by a ruler to his wife. The first was the one that Pharaoh Akhenaten built for Queen Nefertiti.

Interior of the temple - Ye Wang / Flickr.com

The temple sanctuary of Ramses II has a unique feature. And is that two days a year the sun's rays penetrate the room and illuminate the images of Amón, Ra and Ramsés. It occurs on February 21 and October 19 (dates believed to correspond to the birthday and the coronation of the pharaoh).

On the other hand, although the alignment of sacred structures with the sun was common in the ancient world, the temple of Ramses II has the peculiarity that The image of God Path remains in the gloom every day,despite being between two other figures. The reason? That Path must be in perpetual darkness when associated with the Egyptian underworld.

Decorative frieze - Trapuzarra / Pixabay.com

Long before the temples were built there, the place was already considered sacred. It was related to Hathor, goddess of love, joy and dance. Therefore, the decision of Ramses II was no accident.

In fact, the pharaoh sought to be recognized as a god among other gods, as we have seen before, and the site further strengthened that impression among the people of the time.  

Hipóstila Room - turizm-art / commons.wikimedia.org

The temples of Ramses II and Nefertari were partially hidden under the sand for more than 2,000 years. It was in 1813 when archaeologist Johann Ludwig Burckhardt discovered them and told the explorer Giovanni Belzoni.

Belzoni moved to Abu Simbel, but was unable to access the temple. On his second trip, in 1817, he finally succeeded, taking several valuables with him.

On the other hand, Some say that the complex is named after the boy who led Johann to the temples: Abu Simbel. It is also speculated that the one who was led by the boy and who decided to name him that way was not the archaeologist, but Giovanni Belzoni. Another mystery that remains today is the original name of the complex.

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Abu Simbel - ccarlstead / Flickr.com

As a result of the construction of the Aswan dam, some Nubian monuments were at risk of flooding. Therefore, the temples of Ramses II and Nefertari were carefully split into large blocks and relocated to a higher area and somewhat further from the river.

The new location is near the original, just 200 meters away. A multinational team of archaeologists and engineers took care of the work to ensure that the entire process was carried out without damage to the monument.

Video: Museo - YouTube Originals (April 2020).