Abu Simbel Temple - Ancient History Encyclopedia

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Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt on the western bank of Lake Nasser about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments", which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. The Abu Simbel Temple is one of the seven forgotten wonders of the medieval mind and one of the wonders of the world.

The twin tetnples were originally carved out of the mountainside during the reign of Pharaoh Ramesses II in the 13th century BC, as a lasting Inonument to himself and his queen Nefertari, to commemorate his alleged victory at the Battle of Kadesh. and to intimidate his Nubian neighbours. However, the complex was relocated in its entirety in the 1960s, on on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan dam reservoir.

Construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1244 BC and lasted for about 20 years, until 1224 BC. Known as the "Temple of Ramses, beloved by Amun", it was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the long reign of Ramses II. The Great Temple at Abu Simbel, which took about twenty wars to build, was completed around year 24 of the reign of Ramesses the Great. It was dedicated to the gods Amun Ra, Rahorakhty, and Ptah, as well as to the deified Ramesses himself. It is generally considered the grandest and most beautiful of the temples commissioned during the reign of Ramesses II, and one of the most beautiful in Egypt.

Four colossal 20 metre statues of the pharaoh with the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt decorate the facade of the temple which is 35 metres wide and is topped by a frieze with 22 baboons, worshippers of the sun and flank the entrance. The colossal statues were sculptured directly from the rock in which the temple was located before it was moved.

The inner part of the temple has the same triangular layout that most ancient Egyptian temples follow, with rooms decreasing in size from the entrance to the sanctuary. The temple is complex in structure and quite unusual because of its many side chambers.

The hypostyle hall (sometimes also called pronaos) is 18 metres long and 16.7 metres wide and is supported by eight huge Osirid pillars depicting the deified Ramesses linked to the god Osiris, the god of the Underworld, to indicate the everlasting nature of the pharaoh.

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