I flew over the vast Arabian Desert on the way to the incredible Abu Simbel. My jaw-dropped as I gaped at this overwhelming structure while listening to the real story from my guide, Sherif. Construction of the temple lasted for about 20 years. The purpose was to impress Egypt’s southern neighbours, and also to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the area.
The legend is that “Abu Simbel” was a young local boy who guided discoverers to the site of the buried temple that he had seen from time to time in the shifting sands. Eventually, they named the temple after him.
In one of the greatest challenges of archaeological engineering in history, the entire site was carefully cut into large blocks and then dismantled, lifted and reassembled in a new location 65 metres higher and 200 metres back from the river.
Looking at this incredibly massive and detailed temple while imagining it having been relocated is unfathomable! The Egyptians could build anything!
How did they do it??!!
I explored the inside of Abu Simbel with Jackie from New York and Paul from Pittsburgh. I loved seeing all the hieroglyphics etched along the walls. As I walked by, I traced them with my fingertips. I recalled the time when I first became fascinated by Egyptian history, when I was in grade 5 and did a project on the pyramids. I since went on to collect National Geographic magazines that had anything to do with Egypt, absolutely marveling at the magnificence of what the Egyptians accomplished in a day with no cranes or power tools.
There were no photos allowed to be taken on the inside of the site. I was so sad to learn this information because it was incredibly intricate and interesting on the inside. There were guards roaming around, but when they were out of sight, I’ll admit I quickly took a few pictures here and there. Paul from Pittsburgh did as well. Unfortunately for Paul, a guard caught him taking a photo. The guard took his camera from him and deleted the photos. Oops.
As we were about to leave and head back outside, we took one last look at Nefertari painted on the walls near the entrance. Suddenly, after Paul had already left, another guard whispered to Jackie and me hurriedly, “Quickly, Quickly!” and motioned for us to take some photos. Shocked and confused, we didn’t know how to respond, but soon our reluctance faded and we took advantage of the free pass to violate whatever reason photos were banned.