Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

World Heritage Site #58: Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae
Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae: My 58th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae:

This outstanding archaeological area contains such magnificent monuments as the Temples of Ramses II at Abu Simbel and the Sanctuary of Isis at Philae, which were saved from the rising waters of the Nile thanks to the International Campaign launched by UNESCO, in 1960 to 1980.

Both the Temple of Philae and Abu Simbel have the distinction of having been recovered from the waters of Lake Nasser by UNESCO. Both temples have been preserved so well, that if you didn’t know they were moved from another location, you probably would never have guessed (other than the pile of dirt covering the back of Abu Simbel). The two locations are over 100km apart and are some of the best-preserved temples in Egypt.

The above photo is of Philae Temple which is just above the Aswan High Dam.


Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to PhilaeThe Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae is located on the far south part of Egypt, along the shores of Lake Nasser. This site, which is included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Egypt, is composed of 11 separate sites that are located in Philae and Abu Simbel. Both of these sites and properties are remarkable in two reasons. First off, they date back to more than 3,000 years ago and is considered among one of the most important Pharaonic monuments in Egypt. Second, these structures were moved to new locations in order to prevent damage caused by the potential rising of the water in Lake Nasser.

This property was inscribed by UNESCO in 1979. It also reflects the architectural grandeur and state of the region during the New Kingdom of Egypt under the rule of King Ramesses II.

Philae Temples

Currently, Philae is an island within the reservoir of Aswan Low Dam. Its original location was within the expansive First Cataract of the Nile and the location of an Egyptian temple complex. Due to the threat of flooding in the original site, it was dismantled and transferred to its current location.

The standout feature in the island is its architectural wealth. Throughout its long history and various eras of pharaohs, there have been many principal structures that were built on Philae. The most ancient temple in Philae is Isis that was constructed I 380-362 BC. Meanwhile, there are several other ruins that date back to the Ptolemaic Kingdom.

Abu Simbel Temples

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

The Abu Simbel temples are two massive temples built within a rock formation in the village of Nubia. These temples were commissioned for by Ramesses II in 1264 BCE. These twin temples were carved out from a mountainside and serves as a lasting monument of Ramesses II’s reign. In addition to the mountainside temple, the external rock relief figures are an iconic symbol of the temples.

Like Philae Temples, this monument was also relocated in 1968 to the higher part of the Aswan High Dam reservoir on an artificial hill. This relocation was part of the conservation efforts to avoid the monuments being submerged.

About Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

Nubian Monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae

The Nubian monuments from Abu Simbel to Philae are an important archaeological zone in Egypt. It is home to many significant monuments that were preserved and saved from Lake Nasser. In fact, many consider these temples and monuments as an open-air museum due to the vast array of important cultural monuments and structures. These monuments also re-tell a long Egyptian Pharaonic history. The archaeological zone extends to Aswan and near the border of Sudan. Aswan was considered an important strategic point since the prehistoric era since this is where many victories were claimed that result in Nubia’s dominance.

Abu Simbel is one of the temples that were established during the rule of Ramesses II. It was built in ancient Nubia and was dedicated to himself. The Great Temple consists of four colossal statues that were carved out from rock and seemed fastened to the cliff wall (which is visible upon the entrance). Hence, this temple stands out as unique for its cultural value (by the time it was built) and the overall design approach.

In addition to the temples and other monuments in Abu Simbel and Philae, the property also consists of nine other monuments. These monuments are now located in four separate locations. However, only two of the Nubian monuments have stayed in their original location: granite quarries in Aswan and fortress of Qasr Ibrim.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Egypt.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 6:46 pm

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

Church of the Holy Seplechure Entrance
Church of the Holy Seplechure Entrance

I’m in Jerusalem now having spent three days near the Dead Sea. I was able to visit Masada and finally got my chance to float in the waters of the Dead Sea. Let me just say that a Dead Sea float is one of the most overrated things I’ve done on my trip.

You float. On your back. That’s it. That is all you really can do. You can’t swim in any normal sense of the word. You can’t splash around. If you have any sort of cut or sore on your body, it is going to really sting. I cut my toe nails a few days before and I could really feel it. I had to walk for three hours the previous day with all my gear and had some sore spots on my feet. The spots were the sandals were chafing on my skin hurt as well. To top it off, I picked up a hunk of salt from the bottom and accidentally dropped it back into the water. A drop of water hit my left eye and my vision was blurry for about five minutes.

Getting to the water is difficult because there is no real beach. The water line keeps dropping so you have to climb down to get to the water. The water is so salty, it has an oily feel to it. I could literally see swirls in the water like you would see if there was oil. I filled up an empty Diet Coke bottle full of Dead Sea water and it is noticeably heavier than a bottle of normal water.

The bus ride from Ein Gedi to Jerusalem took 2 hours even though it is only a 70km trip. We went through the West Bank and must have stopped at six Jewish settlements. Granted, I was in a bus in the dark, but the West Bank seemed like the rest of Israel. I saw no evidence of Palestinians at all.

Today is Palm Sunday. I woke up and walked around and found the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where is believed Christ died and was buried. The church is jointly controlled by the Latin Patriarch (Catholics, in particular the Franciscans), Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox. The Latin service was ending as I went in and the Armenian service was starting. I couldn’t have picked a better week to be in Jerusalem. It is Holy Week and Passover is in a few days. Lots of pilgrims are here.

There is a lot to see in Jerusalem. All the small streets and alleys have a feel like nothing I’ve experiences so far. You see Jews and Arabs and monks and orthodox priests all walking around. Somehow, it sort of works.

Once again, I’m stuck without cash because the Wells Fargo system is down for several hours. Any system which requires several hours of downtime a week, isn’t a very good system.

Also, the previous contest is closed. I’ll be picking a winner today and I hope to find something interesting in Jerusalem to give away. I’m taking suggestions on prizes.

No where to go but up

I am writing this near the shore of the Dead Sea at the Ein Gedi resort. I’m not staying at the Ein Gedi resort, but the bus dropped me off at the wrong stop and I had to walk about 4k to get here only to find out that the Ein Gedi hostel is 2k further up the road from the Ein Gedi resort. They have open wifi here and a bar, so I’m having a diet coke and abusing their open wifi before I put my bag back on and hit the road.

I have found something as simple as swimming in the Dead Sea to be more difficult than it should be. Masada overlooks the Dead Sea, but is not a Dead Sea resort. There are some hotels south of Masada, but they start at $200/night. I don’t even know if my reservation at the hostel is confirmed for tonight. At this point it might be easier to do a day trip from Jordan than it would be to try and find a place while carrying all my stuff around.

Walking along the shore of the Dead Sea you can see how much the shoreline has retreated in the last few decades. The sea keeps getting smaller and smaller. I wonder if it will exist at all in 100 years. It will be the new place people come to set land speed records. The Dead Sea has been dying for thousands of years. It was doomed from the moment it filled up with water. The diversion of the Jordan river only quicken the process (and probably was a good thing as all that fresh water would be wasted if it is dumped into the brine of the Dead Sea). In theory, they could refill the Dead Sea by diverting ocean water, but that is only going to add salt and I don’t think it is a long term solution, but it could raise the water level for resorts for several decades.

I don’t know much about the ecology of the area, but I don’t get the impression there is much other than some extremophile bacteria which depend on the hyper-saline water. No fish, no plants, no animals depend on the sea for life. The kibbutz I stopped to rest at (which has wifi) has a bunch of vegetation. I’m really curious to know how they do it, considering the nearest source of water for them is 35% salt.

Going Home. My Travels Are Over.

After a lot of soul searching, I’ve decided to call it quits on my journey. Two years is enough for anyone, and I think I’ve had my fill of the world. I’ve purchased a ticket back to the USA for tonight and this is going to be my last post on my blog.

The fact is, traveling hasn’t made me a more worldly person. If anything, I hate more types of people now more than ever. I have truly come to hate people of all races, creeds, and ethnicity. I hate their food, I hate their dress, I hate the way they don’t speak American, I hate their TV shows, I hate cricket, I hate rugby, and I really hate soccer. I hate squat toilets, I hate chopsticks, I hate the rainforest, and I hate the desert.

The thing that really pushed me over the top was something which happened last night. I met this guy by the name of Roy DeWitt.

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