Hewn out of a massive cliff within the thirteenth century BC, the Great Temple of Abu Simbel and the smaller Temple of Hathor are sight, that takes your breath away. Though devoted to the patron deities of Egypt’s great cities (Amun of Thebes, Ptah of Memphis, and Ra-Harakhty of Heliopolis), the Temple was constructed to honor Ramses II. Facade is 108-ft (33-m) tall, with 4 colossal statues of Ramses II carrying the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. That was supposed to impress and frighten, whereas the inside revealed the union of gods and king.
FOUR GREAT STATUES
Their huge dimension is believed to signify Ramses’ divinity as a supreme god. At the bottom of the colossi stand figures of the pharaoh’s mother, his favourite wife, Queen Nefertari, and the royal children. Above the doorway to the Great Temple is the falcon-headed statue of the Sun god Ra-Harakhty. Hapi, the god of the Nile flood, who’s related to fertility, is featured holding lotus and papyrus, symbols of Upper and Lower Egypt respectively.
Graphic wall featurues and reliefs discovered within the Temple of Abu Simbel and the Temple of Hathor glorify Ramses II as a divine ruler. They inform of his victories and present him combating his enemies. Within the Temple of Hathor, Nefertari’s consecration as queen is illustrated. Surrounding reliefs are detailed rows of hieroglyphs. This pictorial script thought to have developed round 3200 BC, is the world’s oldest identified type of writing. The phrase “hieroglyph” means “sacred carved letter” and an impressive system of 6,000 symbols was used by the Egyptians to write down their names and show their relighious beliefs. Stones of the lives of Ramses and Nefertari have been engraved with this method on the wall s of Abu Simbel.
TEMPLE OF HATHOR
Devoted to the goddess Hathor, deity of love, pleasure, and beauty, the smaller temple at Abu Simbel was constructed by Ramses II to honor his favourite spouse, Nefertari. The temple’s hypostyle corridor has Hathor-headed pillars and is embellished with scenes or Ramses slaying Egypt’s enemies. The vestibule reveals the royal couple making offering to the gods.
In the late 1960s, the Lake Nasser threatened to engulf the temples, UNESCO removed them from the mountain and placed them to a man-made cliff above their authentic place.