My World Tour -  Abu Simbel, Egypt

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In November, 1997, 58 foreign tourists were massacred in Luxor at the Temple of Hatshepsut by Islamic extremists.  In the aftermath of  the massacre at Luxor and numerous other assaults on tourists in the 1990's, the government of Egypt has taken extreme measures for our protection.  Independent travel is not recommended and most times, not allowed along the Nile Valley.  Travelers must be in groups that form a convoy escorted by armed guards with constant checkpoint stops along the Nile Valley..  Some people feel more secure when surrounded by a phalanx of policemen pointing machine guns at the general populace, others don't (after all, the police are the target of Islamic violence more often than tourists).  Fortunately, since escorted convoys have been in force, no incidents have occurred along this route.

The convoy from Aswan to Abu Simbel leaves at 4:30am so we left our hotel bright eyed and bushy tailed (yeah, right) at 4:00am for the 3 hour drive to Abu Simbel.  It was a beautiful sight seeing the sun rising over the desert in the east and the moon setting to the west.  It was clear, however, to see how an attack could easily occur unannounced in the hilly desert terrain.


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Abu Simbel

Carved out of the mountain on the west bank of the Nile between 1290 and 1224 BC, the temple was dedicated to the gods Ra-Harakhty, Aun and Ptah and, of course, to the deified pharaoh himself, Ramses II.  But mostly, with its colossal statues of Ramses II addressing the river, it was designed as a show of strength, an awesome great quartered sentinel watching over any boats sailing into the pharaoh’s lands from the south.

However, over centuries both the Nile and the desert sands imperceptibly shifted until the temple was 1st to human memory.  It was rediscovered by chance in 1823 by the Swiss explorer John Lewis Burkhardt – only one of the heads was completely showing above the sand, the next head was broken off, and of the remaining two, only the crowns could be seen. 



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Temple of Hathor

The other temple at the Abu Simbel complex is the rock-cut Temple of Hathor, which is fronted by six massive standing statues, about 10m high.  Four of them represent Ramses, the other two represent his beloved wife Queen Nefertari and they are all flanked by the smaller figures of the Remised prince and princesses. 

The six pillars of the hypostle hall are crowned with Hathor capitals and its walls are adorned with scenes depicting:  Nefertari before Hathor and Mut; the queen honoring her husband; and Ramses, yet again, being valiant and victorious.   In the vestibule and adjoining chambers there are colorful scenes of the goddess and her sacred barque.  In the sanctuary there is a weathered state of a cow, the sacred symbol of Hathor emerging from the rock.


         Bruce and Julia, World Travelers and Adventure Seekers Extraordinaire.
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Revised: 05 Feb 2007 20:21:25 -0600 .