Saturday, October 29, 2016

Short Story: Sunshine for Ramses II in Aswan

Dignitaries, tourists and journalists watched the sun’s rays strike the face of Ramses II at the Abu Simbel Temples at Aswan, reports Nevine El-Aref.
The usually sedate Upper Egyptian town of Abu Simbel was abuzz with Ramses II fever for the second time this year, as visitors waited for the sun’s rays to penetrate through the Abu Simbel Temple’s inner sanctuary on Saturday to illuminate the pharaoh’s face and the statues of the gods Amun-Re and Re-Hur-Akhty, leaving the god of darkness Ptah in the shade because of his connection to the underworld.

This phenomenon takes place twice a year, on 22 February and 22 October, and it coincides with the birthday and coronation of the ancient Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II who built the Temples at Abu Simbel. Some believe the solar phenomenon was a way for the ancient Egyptians to identify the beginning of the summer and winter seasons and alert farmers of the start of cultivation and the harvest.

This year, the event marks the celebration of the golden jubilee of the safeguarding of the Abu Simbel Temples in the 1960s when they were threatened by the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The celebrations will last until October 2018 in order to mark the day when the Abu Simbel Temples were reconstructed at their new location on a 65-metre artificial hill above the High Dam to protect them from being submerged under the waters of Lake Nasser.

Under the slogan “Egypt is the country of safety and security,” the equinox celebration was organised by the Aswan governorate in collaboration with the Ministries of Antiquities and Tourism and the Egyptian Tourism Authority. A group of 1,100 tourists of different nationalities as well as Egyptians descended on the Abu Simbel Temples, 280km south of Aswan, on Friday night to witness the sun’s rays falling on the face of Ramses II.

The visitors then paid a visit to an exhibition of paintings at the steps of the Abu Simbel Temples entitled “Abu Simbel in the Eyes of Painters,” which displays paintings by Egyptian artists expressing their thoughts on the temples and the safeguarding operations as well as Nubian nature, houses, decorations, dances and traditions.

The paintings are the results of the second round of the Abu Simbel Symposium, which lasted for four days and was organised by the Abu Simbel Temples 50 Campaign.

The exhibition included four paintings by the late Egyptian artist Hussein Bikar, who was responsible, along with his team, for the documentation of the Abu Simbel Temples from 1963 to 1966 by drawing every inch of their structures, decorative elements and hieroglyphic texts.... READ MORE.

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