Showing posts with label Abu Simbel Attractions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abu Simbel Attractions. Show all posts

Thursday, September 14, 2017

News, France: Egyptian Embassy in Paris Celebrates Bicentennial of Abu Simbel Temple Discovery

El-Enany Delivers His Speech at The Petite Palais
The ceremony was attended by French elites, the French minister of defence, and a number of foreign ambassadors. Written By / Nevine El-Aref.

In a gala ceremony held on Wednesday night at the Petite Palais in Paris, Egypt’s embassy in France celebrated the 200-year anniversary of the discovery of the Abu Simbel temples. The ceremony was attended by French elites, the French minister of defence, and a number of foreign ambassadors in Paris.

During the ceremony, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enany, delivered a speech relating the history of the temple salvage operation in collaboration with UNESCO, in 1962 during the building of the High Dam. He also highlighted the archaeological value of both temples and the efforts exerted by the Egyptian government to preserve the country's heritage and to speed up all archaeological projects put on hold in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.

At the end of his speech, El-Enany invited the attendees and all French citizens to visit Egypt and to explore and admire its unique heritage. A replica exhibition was held on the margins of the ceremony, where a replica of King Tutankhamun’s chariot and models of both Abu Simbel temples were displayed.

Also on display were bronze busts of three people who played a major role in the Nubia salvage operation: minister of culture during the salvage operation Tharwat Okasha, Egyptologist Selim Hassan, and French Egyptologist Christian Noblecourt. 
These busts were created by the antiquities ministry’s replica production unit and were borrowed by the foreign ministry for the celebration. The busts will be returned to their original displays at the Abu Simbel Visitor Centre after the exhibition is closed.

Tharwat Okasha (1921-2012) participated in many cultural heritage projects, especially rescuing the Abu Simbel temples. He played a pivotal role in the international campaign to save the monuments of Nubia. 

Selim Hassan (1893 -1961) was the head of the Egyptian mission which evaluated the impact of the construction of the High Dam on the monuments of Nubia. He published many reports and much research on the topic.

Christiane Desroches Noblecourt (1913-2011) was the first French woman to lead an archaeological excavation (in 1938). She was also known for making an appeal for international support to save the monuments of Nubia. She is the author of many publications on Egyptian civilisation.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Short Story: Crowds Descend on Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel was abuzz with Ramses fever this week as the sun’s rays penetrated through his temple to illuminate the pharaoh’s face 200 years after its discovery. Written By/ Nevine El-Aref.

A crowd of over 4,000 people descended on Abu Simbel 280km south of Aswan on Wednesday to witness a phenomenon that only takes place twice a year. On 22 February and 22 October every year, the sun’s rays travel through the Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel to illuminate the face of a statue of the pharaoh.

Despite the cold weather, visitors stayed awake all night waiting for the sunrise, entertained by a musical troupe performing Nubian folkloric songs and dances as well as other troupes from Indonesia, Greece and India.

The atmosphere was joyous, as hibiscus and tamarind drinks were sampled along with stuffed dates served on large, coloured bamboo plates. The sound of music filled the dry night air, as women, men, boys, and girls in colourful Nubian garb danced to the rhythm of the duf, a kind of tambourine, while other foreign dancers in traditional costumes danced to their music.

Archaeological chief inspector Hossam Aboud said the celebrations took place every year and that people from neighbouring villages often flocked to Abu Simbel to attend. According to Aboud, couples have even been known to plan their weddings on the day. One couple had chosen to have their wedding ceremony within the temple itself, he said.

Beit Fekry, the house of a Nubian citizen called Fekry, was also buzzing with people who had come to celebrate the sun’s alignment in their own way. They danced to Nubian music and moved in rows backwards and forwards.

At 3am, people began to reserve their seats at the foot of the monumental temple. At 6:25am, the sun struck the innermost wall of the temple’s sanctuary, illuminating images of the right arm of the god Re-Horakhti, the face of Ramses II, and the right shoulder of the god Amun-Re, leaving only the god Ptah in darkness. Twenty minutes later, the temple was dark again.

Afterwards, a Swiss tourist who had come to witness the festival and celebrate 200 years since Abu Simbel’s discovery told Al-Ahram Weekly that although the event was “great it was also difficult because people had to position themselves so as not to obstruct the sun’s rays and move quickly so that others could see.” He said he had been so wrapped up in being careful that he had almost not been able to see the event.

Mahmoud Afifi, head of the Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, said people sometimes wrongly confused the event with Ramses II’s coronation or birth, while it was actually the way the ancient Egyptians identified the beginning of summer and winter in order to alert farmers to the start of the cultivation season or harvest.

The two Abu Simbel Temples were built by Ramses II (1279-1213 BCE) to demonstrate his political clout and divine backing to the ancient Nubians. On each side of the main temple, carved into a sandstone cliff overlooking the Nile’s second cataract, sits a pair of colossal statues of the pharaoh.

Though the statues have been damaged in earthquakes since their construction, they remain an awe-inspiring, tremendous sight. The temple is aligned to face the east, and above the entrance sits a niche with a representation of Re-Horakhti, an aspect of the sun god.

In the early 1960s the temple was moved to higher ground, a task requiring considerable international resources, when the building of the Aswan High Dam caused Lake Nasser to fill and inundate the area. For this reason, the sun now strikes a day later than originally planned, though the event itself is no less stunning.

This year, the event also marks the celebration of 200 years since the discovery of the Abu Simbel Temples by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, who died shortly after his discovery, and his colleague Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni.

To highlight this in advance of the gala ceremony to be held in October, the ministry organised a photographic exhibition in the area’s visitor centre that related the history of the temples since their discovery in 1817. The exhibition was inaugurated by ministers of culture Helmi Al-Namnam and of antiquities Khaled El-Enany.

Hisham Al-Leithi, head of the Antiquities Registration Centre, told the Weekly that the exhibition put on show a collection of 50 vintage photographs showing the temples covered with sand, while others showed their excavation. Other photographs showed the salvage operation of the temples in the 1960s and their relocation and reconstruction at their current location in the desert on a 65-metre artificial hill above the High Dam to protect them from the waters of Lake Nasser.... READ MORE.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Short Story: An Ancient Egyptian Mystery Draws Tourists to King Ramses II statue

Ancient Egyptians were known for their scientific excellence and genius, especially in the fields of astronomy, sculpture and construction. 

For instance, the three pyramids are considered among the Seven Wonders of the World. Pharaonic arts and antiquities still hide secrets that no scientists have managed to explain or understand. Every year, a Pharaonic miracle has been happening for 33 centuries. At the main entrance of the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Aswan governorate, a solar alignment is witnessed on the face of the King Ramses II statue twice a year, once on his birthday, Oct. 22, and again on his coronation day, Feb. 22.

Ramses II built his temple, which took 19 years to complete, in 1275 B.C. At the same time, the king inaugurated another temple for his wife, Queen Nefertari, who was said to be the most beautiful among Pharaonic queens. He ordered her shrine to be located near his own, on a mountain overlooking the Nile.

King Ramses II, of the ninth Pharaonic family, was born in 1315 B.C. He came to power in 1290 B.C. and gained wide popularity for several reasons. For one, he acceded to the throne when he was a young, ambitious and enthusiastic man and remained king for 67 years. He also inherited a strong and rich country from his father who taught him the arts of war, rule and politics.

Civilians and soldiers supported him, and he defeated the Hittites, the largest military power at the time. He was passionate about immortalizing his memory and honoring himself. For that purpose, he built more shrines, palaces, statues and obelisks than any other ruler before him. During his reign, Egypt built a new capital called Pi-Ramesses, which became one of the most important capitals of the ancient Near East.

When the sun shines, its rays creep into his deep shrine, which is about 60 meters (197 feet) from the entrance, to illuminate it. The aim is for the sun’s rays to fall on Ramses II’s face from the east from a narrow opening.

British explorer Amelia Edwards and her team detected this phenomenon in 1848, and she recorded it in her book “A Thousand Miles Up the Nile.” She wrote, “The statues of Abu Simbel Temple gain huge influence and are surrounded by an aura of praise and respect when the sunrays shine and set on them.”

Al-Monitor attended the Aswan governorate's celebration of the phenomenon. According to Aswan Gov. Magdy Hijazi, the governorate holds several artistic and cultural events for the occasion. “This year, the celebration was more organized, given the development of the work and performance to suit its grandiosity,” Hijazi told Al-Monitor. He noted that the event was made possible in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Culture in Aswan..... READ MORE.

New discovery, Sakkara: Hawass Announces New Archaeological Discovery in Saqarra

The Egyptian Mission working in the Saqqara antiquities area next to the pyramid of King Teti, the first king of the Sixth Dynasty of the ...