Egypt Picture - Dawn at Abu Simbel

Dawn at Abu Simbel

Dawn at Abu Simbel


Roger Wood


Dawn at Abu Simbel


Aloof, serene, the most southerly of the four figures of Ramesses the Great, king and god, gazes out over the Nile. The mounting sunrise glow on his face, his body is still in the shadow.

The native Nubians who lived nearby, or passed these giant figures, 65 feet high, on their journeys by water, must have held them in superstitious awe. The statues were in fact designed at least partly for that purpose, for there had been frequent rebellions among the turbulent tribes of the region. Many who later visited the temple, from the Greek mercenaries of the sixth century BC onwards, have carved their names upon the faces and limbs; such vandalism has its value, for ancient scribbles, dignified by the name of graffiti, nowadays take their place as historical documents. Yet for centuries it was buried in sand; no classical writer mentions it, and it was not rediscovered until 1812 when a Swiss traveler named Josepth Burckhardt, visiting the Queen's temple, noticed the top of the head of a colossus protruding from a sand hill nearby. Belzoni cleared the figures five years later, but it was not until 1910 that the temple was completely freed from the sand which choked it.

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