Egyptian Temples: Abu Simbel

Egyptian Temples

Egyptian temples have played a major part in ancient Egypt. Notably used as the house for the gods on earth, therefore having tremendous religious importance. An important and significant place in society and day to day life for locals, historians and as well as visitors. 

The Egyptian temples were dedicated to the Pharaohs. A variety of rituals such as offerings to the gods and festivals were performed at these temples.

These temples are extraordinary and form a part of a culture. When mentioning temples, the most famous ones known to most are The Pantheon, The Parthenon, Temple of Caesar to name a few.

One of many temples from Egypt is Abu Simbel.

 

Brief History

Deep in Southern Egypt, near the border of Sudan and on the banks of lake Nasser, there is the Abu Simbel temples. Two magnificent rock cut temples were constructed during the rule of Pharaoh Ramesses II. This was to honor him and queen Nefertari’s and to commemorate his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. 

These temples were arguably constructed approximately 1264 BCE. It is is part of UNESCO World Site and has been labelled as the Nubian Monuments.

These temples are a sight to behold and truly worth a visit by any historians or architecture and designer.

The four 20 meter tall The statues of Ramesses II that guard the main temple stand a magnificent 20 meters tall and shows the scale of the structures that were beings built in these times.

It is also a fact that the temples were moved piece by piece in the 1960’s in order to avoid it from being submerged by the rising waters of lake Nasser after the creation of the Aswan dam.

The Temples that make up Abu Simbel are the Temple of Nefertari and the Temple of Ramesses II.

 

The Temple of Nefertari 

“The Temple of Nefertari” also known as The Small Temple

The Temple of Nefertari is known as the small temple out of the two. Nefertari is one of the famous Egyptian queens and arguably a favorite of Remesses since one of the temples was dedicated to her. This temple is also dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The faced of the temple has 10 meter high statues of Ramessses II and Nefertari. Interesting fact, is that the female temple being built at the same scale as the male reveals its importance since it was very uncommon for female statues for be large in size to its male counterparts.

 

The Temple of Ramesses II

“The Temple of Ramesses II” also known as The Great Temple

The Temple of Ramesses II is known as the Great Temple of the two, for apparent reasons of course. The statue façade consist of 20 meters high statues of Ramesses II and his wife and children.

This temple is also dedicated to Ramesses as well as the gods Amun, Ra-Horakhty, and Ptah. It is safe to say that The Abu Simbel temples were built to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the region. Because of such scale in architecture, it is known that this was characteristics of dominance and the impressing of neighbouring areas.

 

Fun Fact: It is believed that the axis of the temple was positioned by the ancient Egyptian architects in such a way that on October 22 and February 22, the rays of the sun would penetrate the sanctuary and illuminate the sculptures on the back wall, except for the statue of Ptah,a god connected with the Underworld, who always remained in the dark. People gather at Abu Simbel to witness this remarkable sight, on October 21 and February 21.

 

 

Reference:

  • Berg, Lennart (1978). “The Salvage of the Abu Simbel Temples”(PDF). International Council on Monuments and Sites. Retrieved 7 March 2015. – Highly detailed article describing the process of saving and creating a new location for the temples.
  • Centre, UNESCO World Heritage. Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae”. unesco.org.
  • Lane E, “Descriptions of Egypt,” American University in Cairo Press. pp.493-502.

 

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