Sunlight Can Enter Only Two Days In This Temple


There is a huge temple named Abu Simbel in the mountains of Nubia in southern Egypt on the west bank of the Nile River. This is one of the most recognizable ancient sites in Egypt.

It contains two temples, carved into a mountainside, that were built by pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 B.C). After winning the Battle of Qadesh (also spelled Kadesh) in Syria, they constructed the memorial of themselves and their queen Nefertari by carving the mountains. They have always been working here to make this temple grand.

Abu Sambel
Statues of Ramses II at the main entrance to the Great Temple at Abu Simbel near Aswān, Egypt. (Source: Britannica)

The larger of the two temples contains four colossal statues of a seated Ramesses II at its entrance, each about 69 feet (21 meters) tall. The entranceway to the temple was built in such a way that on two days of the year, October 22 and February 22, the light would shine into the inner sanctuary and light up three statues seated on a bench, including one of the pharaoh. It’s been hypothesized that these dates may celebrate his coronation and birth.

In addition Abu Simbel has a second, smaller, temple that may have been built for queen Nefertari. Its front includes two statues of the queen and four of the pharaoh, each about 33 feet (10 meters) in height. Each is set between buttresses carved with hieroglyphs.

First Sunlight on the Statue

Only two days of the year in the interior of the temple can be sunlight on February 22 and October 22, which falls on the idol of Ramesses first. Thousands of tourists come to see the temple these two days of the year. It is said that Remesses was born on 22 October and coronation on 22 February.

This temple was built to show the status of religion in the area. Many historians believe that Ferro Ramesses was the second ambitious and they built this temple to show the glory. Whatever the reason, these temples are of great significance and the mysterious power of Ramesses can be judged by looking at it.

Abu Simbel today is no longer in the same location as it was in ancient times. “Following the decision to build a new High Dam at Aswan in the early 1960s, the temples were dismantled and relocated in 1968 on the desert plateau 64 meters (about 200 feet) above and 180 meters (600 feet) west of their original site,” writes Robert Morkot in an article in the “Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt”(2001, Oxford University Press). The area where they were originally located is now flooded.

Abu Simbel
The statue of Ramses the Great at the Great Temple of Abu Simbel is reassembled after having been moved in 1967 to save it from flooding. (Source: Wikipedia)

Hawass notes that moving the temples was a massive job, one that involved cutting it into pieces between 3 to 20 tons in weight and re-assembling them precisely as they were. It took almost five years, involved about 3,000 workers and cost (in the 1960s) about $42 million. He notes in his book that it was a great success, one reporter present at its completion wrote that “everything looks just as it did before; it is enough to make one doubt that the temples were moved at all.”

Source: Live Science