Egyptian Culture: Over 2,000 Tourists Witness Solar Illumination Of King Ramses II

Egyptian Culture: Over 2,000 Tourists Witness Solar Illumination Of King Ramses II

Egyptian Culture: Over 2,000 Tourists Witness Solar Illumination Of King Ramses II
Minister of Antiquities Khaled el-Anany visited early Monday, October 22 Abu Simbel Temple in Aswan to witness the marvellous phenomenon of the solar illumination of King Ramses II. 

Anany was accompanied by other Egyptian ministers, 26 foreign ambassadors and cultural advisors, as well as the heads of 16 foreign and Arab antiquities institutes. 

About 2,000 tourists gathered in Abu Simbel Temple to observe the sun rays falling on the temple’s statues. 

Anany, accompanied by the delegation, also visited Nefertari’s temple, and Ramses II’s temple and inspected the temple’s concrete dome. 

Ramses II solar alignment phenomenon occurs twice annually; on February 22 and October 22, where the sun rays fall on the temple and lighten a part of the inner walls. 

For most of the year, the inner sanctum of the main temple at Abu Simbel is almost completely dark. But only twice annually sunlight lightens the seated statues of the sun gods Re-Horakhte and Amon-Re, in addition to Ramses II’s statue. 

Among the Egyptian ministers that witnessed this great phenomenon were Social Solidarity Minister Ghada Wali, Culture Minister Inas Abdel-Dayem, and Tourism Minister Rania el-Mashat. 

The delegation also included the ambassadors of Jordan, the UAE, Belgium, Lithuania, Germany, Finland, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Hungary, and Bahrain; the cultural representatives of Spain and China; the heads of antiquities institutes in Italy, the US, and Holland; and the head of culture of UNESCO Egypt. 

It is worth mentioning that the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry is celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the restoration and relocation of Abu Simbel temples in September 1968. 

The Antiquities Ministry gave the attendees souvenirs to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Abu Simbel temples. The distributed souvenirs were cups, key chains, and shirts bearing a picture of King Ramses II with the logo of the ministry and the UNESCO. 

The temple complex of Abu Simbel is one of the most popular monumental buildings in Aswan, which is located at the second cataract of the Nile River. 

The temple, carved out of a sandstone cliff on the west bank of the Nile, was discovered twice. It was initially discovered in 1813 by Swiss researcher Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, and then rediscovered in 1817 by Egyptologist Govani Battista. 

At the entrance of Abu Simbel temple, there are two seated statues of the Pharaoh, showing the ruler with a short kilt, a beautiful headdress which is a double crown with a cobra and a false beard. Next to the statues’ legs, are smaller statues of the Pharaoh’s relatives. A row of 22 squatting baboon statues is placed at the top of the temple. The baboon’s cry was believed to welcome the rising sun. 

Inside the temple, there are images and hieroglyphics, describing Ramses II’s victory at the battle of Qadesh, in addition to empty store rooms. 

According to many scholars, this great temple was created to celebrate the victory of Ramses II over the Hittites at the Battle of Qadesh in 1274 BC. This means that the temple was situated on the border of the conquered lands of Nubia after many military campaigns were carried out by the Pharaoh against Nubia. 

Abu Simbel is made up of two temples. The smaller one was built for Queen Nefertari and has two statues of her and four pharaohs; each about 33 feet (10 meters) in height. 

Ramses II built this temple to impress Egypt’s southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of the Egyptian religion in the area. Abu Simbel was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the ruling period of Ramses II and its construction took 20 years from 1264 BC to 1244 BC.

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