DATA RE ABU SIMBEL IN EGYPT - PAGE 1
On an earlier page on this total site, I featured a 'Lake Image' of Mt. Rushmore. And on that page I said that Mt. Rushmore with its giant images of U.S. Presidents reminded me of the splendours of Abu Simbel in Egypt.
Hopefully, I will, in due course, assemble some more extensive descriptive material for you about Abu Simbel, indeed Pages 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6 are now on site. On this first page, I offer some images of Abu Simbel, gleaned from a variety of sources. Of interest, I learn that 'Abu' means means holy man or saint. I haven't read yet what 'Simbel' definitively signifies, but I think it relates to the name of the nearby village.
This page will then expand as I introduce additional data that interests me & may well interest you also. But a reminder as always. This page & the pages to which the above links take you, are designed for a 1024 x 768 screen setting.
First, the following fine copyrighted image of Abu Simbel, courtesy of Martin Taylor of the U.K. Do visit his site 'www.mptaylor.demon.co.uk/egypt/abu-r.htm' for more images of the temple. BUT... as this site must move in Sep. 2009, that link is no longer operative & so far I have not been able to find a good replacement link.
I am sure that most visitors are aware that the temple of Abu Simbel (ca. 1270 B.C.), used to be located on the banks of the River Nile south of Aswan. With the building of the Aswan Dam, in the early 1960s, Abu Simbel, along with many other ancient temple sites, was threatened by the rising waters of Lake Nasser. But the temple was saved ~ by being literally cut up into small pieces & re-erected on higher ground. The new site is entirely man made & is 200 feet above the original location. Brilliantly reassembled, it today overlooks Lake Nasser. Now I have tried to locate information on that most amazing of building moving projects. I have so far had some success but have found few worthy images. Here I present a composite image of Abu Simbel as it was, in its original location, on the edge of the River Nile.
The main & very beautiful painting is the work of David Roberts, R.A. (1796-1864), a Scottish painter of truly world renown. He travelled to Egypt & the Holy Land in 1838 & produced a 6 volume set of hand coloured lithographs, 248 images in all. This particular painting is available in many places on the WWW, but the image on this page was to me, the most pleasing of the images. That is David Roberts at bottom left. The image at bottom right shows how the temple looked before the 'move'. The statues are over 65 feet in height! There are, in fact, two temples at Abu Simbel, the main temple created by Ramesses II to his own glory & to the glory of Egypt, & the second dedicated to his wife Queen Nefertari. (Actually Seti 1, Ramesses II's father, was the pharaoh who commenced building the Great Temple ~ but it was Ramesses II who completed it.) I think that the photograph must have been taken from the top of the mountain in which was cut Queen Nefertari's temple as was the black & white image at top right - a Keystone View Company stereo image published early in the 20th century. The final image ~ of the head of Ramesses II ~ was taken on an expedition conducted in the early 1900s by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. Check the link for the entire photograph.
The temple was visited in the last two centuries by many famous people.
The following words, written by Amelia B. (Blandford) Edwards, (1831-1892), & published in 1877 in 'A Thousand Miles up the Nile', are particularly interesting. The cover of an 1890 edition of her book, is at left.
"Stupendous as they are, nothing is more difficult than to see the colossi properly. Standing between the rock and the river, one is too near; stationed on the island opposite, one is too far off; while from the sand-slope only a side-view is obtainable. Hence, for want of a fitting standpoint, many travellers have seen nothing but deformity in the most perfect face handed down to us by Egyptian art.
The artists who wrought the original statues were, however, embarrassed by no difficulties of focus, daunted by no difficulties of scale. Giants themselves, they summoned these giants from out of the solid rock, and endowed them with superhuman strength and beauty. They sought no quarried blocks of syenite or granite for their work. They fashioned no models of clay. They took a mountain, and fell upon it like Titans, and hollowed and carved it as though it were a cherry-stone, and left it for the feebler men of after-ages to marvel at for ever. One great hall and fifteen spacious chambers they hewed out from the heart of it; then smoothed the rugged precipice towards the river, and cut four huge statues with their faces to the sunrise, two to the right and two to the left of the doorway, there to keep watch to the end of time."
And next another composite image constructed around another fine painting by David Roberts, R.A. (1796-1864). As I see the painting, I can quite understand the words of Amelia Edwards when she talked above of the sand-slope. That is Amelia, incidentally, at bottom left. The other images? The type of ancient Egyptian vessel that probably tied up at water's edge 3,200 years ago & a part of an old engraving of Queen Nefertari's temple. The portrait at top right is of Giovanni Belzoni, an interesting fellow indeed! It was Giovanni Belzoni (1778-1823) who seems to have been the first Westerner to have actually entered the Ramesses II temple when he did so on Aug. 1st 1817 after having 30 feet of encroaching sand cleared away. He died young, in Nigeria in 1823 at the age of 45, while he was en route to fabled Timbuktu. I'll do some research on Sig. Belzoni & hopefully present it in these pages in the future.