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The Abu Simbel Temples

Monuments to Pharaoh Ramesses II and Queen Nefertiti

History is full of great and powerful leaders who without, we would likely see the world in a very different way to the way we do today. People like Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi and Queen Victoria each made such a huge mark on their countries that we still associate each of them with said places today. All over the world we have people like this, though none perhaps more ancient than the Pharaohs, who existed thousands of years ago. Though we have very little ancient writings on these leaders we still know who many were and we even have a good idea of how successful their reign may or may not have been. It’s thanks to our archaeological discoveries that we’ve been able to distinguish so many details, and the Ancient Egyptians left so many iconic structures during their time in power. Constructions like the Pyramids of Giza, the Sphinx and the many tombs of the Valley of Kings each hold a place in common knowledge, but there are still so many more. One of the most noteworthy ruins outside of these is likely the Abu Simbel Temples, two great temples carved out of a mountainside in Nubia.

There are two temples, the first is the Great Temple of Ramesses II and the second is the Small Temple of Nefertiti, though don’t let that mislead you as both are humongous. These were initially constructed as a part of Ramesses II’s extensive building project, in which he built a series of impressive temples throughout Egypt and (in this case) Nubia in order to impress of the people the importance of Egypt. Nubia was under Egyptian control and it was integral to their kingdom that it remained so as it was here that they sourced their gold, as well as other precious goods for trade. The most impressive of the temples are the Abu Simbel temples, they sit on the border between Upper and Lower Nubia. Construction began around the year 1264 BCE and lasted for approximately 20 years, finishing around the year 1244 BCE.

On the outside of the temples there are many different incredible carvings, though you will first notice the four colossal statues of the Ramesses II standing 20 meters high. Next to the legs of these looming figures there are other statues of Nefertiti and other members of his family. None of these stands higher than the Pharaohs knees, illustrating his importance to the world. Inside the temple are yet more impressive carvings and though the rooms are laid out in a similar fashion to most Egyptian Temples the place has many separate chambers which is unusual. Inside the walls we also have a series of carvings that depict scenes from the Pharaohs military exploits, here we can see the Egyptians triumph over the Hittites at the battle of Kadesh along with their victories over Libya and even Nubia.

The temples really are a must-see sight for any fan of Egyptian or ancient history, these are a major find in a time that we know relatively little about. We can see examples of politics, religion, art and of course the craftsmanship of an archaic race that could easily have easily been lost to us forever.