Around the World and Through the Lens

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Category: Middle East

Temple of Ramses

by 2cornucopias

One of the most unique monuments in the world are the two temples at Abu Simbel. In 1964 the three thousand years old temples were removed from their previous site to prevent them buried by the new dam being built at Aswan. The magnificent temple to Ramses and his wife, Nefertari, were dismantled in 20 ton blocks and reassembled on higher Returning to the sandstone cliffs from where they had been hewn, they are now in the exact position for the sun (Egyptian sun god Ra) to make its entry into Ramses statue within the temple and bathe it with light. Please note the size of the Arab guard in blue at the entrance of the temple to get a sense of proportion. Engineers and antiquity experts from all over the world participated in the massive project which attracted world wide attention. Ironically, it had been lost to the world for centuries until in 1813 J. Burckhardt accidentally got a glimpse of the sand covered temples. Since then to today, this site remains a must for all aficionados of Egyptian history and archeologists. Our time was limited because the temperature was up to 120 degrees. On the interior walls of the temple are depicted numerous battles in which Ramses is shown defeating his foes. Actually, these scenes are the product of his revisionist history typical of his constant taking credit for the actions of others, events in which he had little or no participation.

Aswan, Lower Egpt

by 2cornucopias

Right next to Ramses temple is the smaller of his chief wife, Nefertari. The temple also honored the goddess Hathor. Once before a king, namely Akhenaten had dedicated a temple to his great royal wife, Nefertiti. When I met Roger Moore in Monaco (see Monaco entry) we discussed the fact that this temple was used as the so-called field headquarters of MI6 in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, and that after seeing M in his office and getting equipped by Q in his laboratory, he exited in a city hundreds of miles away.

Re-assembled Temples

by 2cornucopias

This angled view shows the relationship between the two temples. The airplanes land directly in front of the temples. My husband was fortunate to have the prime view from the co-pilot’s seat where he was put because the airlines overbooked and the co-pilot did not show up. The security guard gave me his seat and placed his attaché case on my lap. I would have preferred it if he had not shown me its contents: and Uzi. It was hard on the nerves to have it on my lap. On the return trip, our flight took a while to land because war had just been declared between Egypt and one of its neighbors. Note: If these temples interest you, just Google Abu Simbel and you will find extensive materials in great detail.

Prone Ramses

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This enormous prone statute of Pharoah Ramses is now in a museum. Originally, it grace the entrance to a pharaonic building. It is made of smooth, deep cream colored marble. There are many statues all over Egypt bearing the cartouche identifying it as a statue of Ramses, however, you will note that they look quiet different. Simple answer: the reality is that Ramses ego was so great that he had his cartouche imprinted on statues of past pharaohs. This is the cartouche of Ramses.

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Stylized Pharoah

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This is an excellent example of stylized statue’s head of a pharaoh. Whoever he was, Ramses had his cartouche imprinted on it claiming it to be his image. Pale rose colored granite was often used in the creation of large statues and obelisks.

Ramses’ Offsprings

by 2cornucopias

Ramses’ favorite sons and daughters by his favorite wives are position between the legs of the statues of Ramses adoring his temple in Abu Simbel, but in comparatively smaller scale.

Reclining Sphinx

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Throughout Egypt there are many reclining sphinxes; body of a lion with the head of a pharaoh, implying power.

Temple Guardians

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The Colossai of Memnon marked the entrance to the no longer existent mortuary temple for Pharoah Amenhhop III. Both of these massive statues are of Pharoah Amenhopet and part of the necropolis of Thebes on the opposite side of the Nile Rivers from Luxor. The smaller figures are of his mother and wife.
Already considered ancient history in Classical times, it is mentioned in the writings of the Greek geographer Strabo and Roman Pliny.

Nile Dhows

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These graceful and light sail boats on the Nile River are typical of the shipping and transporting crafts used in Egypt for centuries. Its skippers are referred to a fellahin (peasant, laborer). English speaking militaries pronunciation of it gave us the slang term: “fella”. A very important warning: passengers are admonished not to put their hands into Nile waters because it has a parasite that can cause blindness, as sadly experienced by a National Geographic photographer who did not heed the warning. The Nile River is extremely polluted. Its people use the waters for drinking, cooking, washing and bathing although it is also used for excreting.

Blue Nile

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This is truly the rich blue color of the northern tributary of the Nile river known as the Blue Nile. The other tributary is referred to as the White Nile and has its origin in Central Africa. Along the banks of the Blue Nile are skeletons of temples, and minarets (towers where imams call the local Moslems to prayer). Most all the cultural and historical remnants of Pharaonic times are found along side the Blue Nile. This largest river in the world terminates in a rich delta which empties into the Mediterranean.