Ancient Egypt - The Temples at Abu Simbel


Ramesses II began construction of two temples at Abu Simbel, in Nubia. This project lasted 20 years and became his most famous construction. Carved out of a mountain, it was a great piece of architectural propaganda for the Nubians sailing north on the Nile, as its walls were shown depicting bound Nubian captives. The front of the great temple consisted of four colossal 60 foot high seated figures of the king that flanked the entrance in two pairs. One of the heads of the colossal 60 foot statues of Ramesses fell during his lifetime from an earthquake.


A wonder of ancient engineering, its orientation was so exact that the rising sun at the equinox on the 22nd of February and the 22nd of October flooded directly through the great entrance to illuminate 3 of the 4 gods carved seated in the sanctuary over 200 feet inside the mountain. These were the gods Ra- Horakhty, the deified King Ramesses II, and Amun-Ra. The fourth of the seated gods, Ptah, does not become illuminated because he is the god associated with the underworld.