Abu Simbel - The Great Temple of Ramesses II
Abu Simbel is a temple built by Ramesses II (c.1279-1213 B.C.E.) in ancient Nubia,
where he wished to demonstrate his power and his divine nature. Four colossal (65
feet/20 meters high) statues of him sit in pairs flanking the entrance. The head and
torso of the statue to the left of the entrance fell during ancient times, probably
the result of an earthquake. This temple faces the east, and Re-Horakhty, one manifestation
of the sun god, is shown inside the niche directly above the entrance. The alignment
of the temple is such that twice a year the sun's rays reach into the innermost sanctuary
to illuminate the seated statues of Ptah, Amun-Re, Ramesses II, and Re-Horakhty.
The temple was cut out of the sandstone cliffs above the Nile River in an area near
the Second Cataract. When the High Dam was being constructed in the early 1960s, international
cooperation assembled funds and technical expertise to move this temple to higher
ground so that it would not be inundated by the waters of Lake Nasser.