Some 320 km
outside of Aswan in Nubia lies what can only be described as the truly
remarkable Temple of Abu Simbel. It was carved directly out of the
sandstone cliffs along the Nile and built by Ramses II. Built under the
pretense of dedication to the gods Amon Ra, Harmakis, and Ptah… many would
say it was built for Ramses’ own glorification. On the face of the temple
are four huge statues of King Ramses II seated on his throne. Each
individual statue is 20 meters high, four meters from ear-to-ear, and one
meter across the mouth. Statues of Amon Ra, Harmakis, and Ptah once stood
at the heart of the mountain from which this temple was carved.
Twice a year the sun would penetrate the entrance of the temple, into the
mountain, and shine on Amon Ra and a statue of Ramses II. About 20 minutes
later it would then move to shine on Harmakis but, interestingly enough,
would fail to ever shine on Ptah, the God of Darkness. In the temple's
yard, there is a group of monuments, the most important of which is the
famous marital monument on which is registered the story of the marriage
of the Pharaoh and the daughter of the Hethean King; after signing the
first peace treaty in the world between Egypt and Khita.
In the hall of columns, there are eight huge pillars on which is sculpted
the statue of Ramses taking the figure Osiris, the God of the Dead. This
hall is also known for its northern wall on which is represented the
Battle of Kadesh. The southern wall depicts a dazzling scene of the King
and his sons attacking the Syrian citadel, and at the bottom we see a
shepherd trying to escape the victorious King. Just beside this scene, the
King is pictured again holding an enemy in one hand and stabbing him with
the other. This scene is somewhat remarkable as the enemy appears to be of
the same size as the King while in other scenes enemies were always
humiliated by being smaller than the King. The Temple of Abu Simbel
contains many other scenes of no less importance than the ones already
described – indeed it is worthy of at least one full day’s exploration.
Truly this is a temple not to be missed.