The Temple of Ramesses- beloved by Amun is a two ancient massive rock temples built during the reign of Ramses II in approximately 1264 BC and its construction lasted for about 20 years. Abu Simbel Temples are considered the second largest man-made tourist attraction in Egypt (30 metres high, 35 metres long) following the Great Pyramids of Giza.
Over time, the temples were covered in sand and even became forgotten until 1813 when the temple was first discovered by Swiss orientalist Jean-Louis Burckhardt, but all that was visible was the top frieze of the main temple. Then 4 years later, in 1817, the Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni returned to the site and succeeded to enter the temples. According to the temples’ guides, ‘Abu Simbel’ is named after the boy who led the exhibition to the site back in 1813.
The construction of such a great monument served many purposes. First, the Great Temples were built to memorise Ramses II victory at the battle of Kadesh. Second, the Temples were also dedicated to serve the gods Ra- Horakty and Ptah. While the Small Temple was constructed for the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari, Ramesses’ favourite wife. This is considered the second time in Egyptian history that a temple was dedicated to a queen.
Relocating the Temple was managed by the UNESCO back in 1964 and it is considered one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in History.
Originally, the temples were located 200 feet below its current location which is at the apex of the artificial cliff on Lake Nasser’s Western banks, but the temples had to be moved or they would’ve been drawn by the High Dam water.
The archaeological mystery in Abu Simbel temples is considered one of Ancient Egypt’s greatest phenomenons. The sun penetrates the Temples only twice a year celebrating cultivation and flooding seasons, which also reflect Ramses II birth and coronation respectively. Also, the location of the 4 statues was measured carefully so that Plah, god of darkness, would remain in the dark.