In the 1960s when Egypt decided to build the High Dam which would create Lake Nasser, flood huge areas of the Nile Valley and drown what was created thousands of year ago, UNESCO with the cooperation of several countries, amassed an international army of scientists, historians, photographers, archaeologists, engineers, geologists and other experts to move not only thousands of antiquities, but entire tombs and temples. In return for their efforts, several countries received enormous collections and even small temples. This feat is almost as extraordinary as the original design and construction of these magnificent sights.
By now, most of you should be familiar with our â€œcoolness scaleâ€ which is based on the number of hours we would be willing to sit on a bus in order to see a particular sight. Somehow we need to factor in the start-time. We rose at 3:00 a.m one morning to join an escorted (i.e. armed) convoy of several dozen other minivans, buses, cars and trucks for a 4-hour ride through the desert from Aswan to Abu Simbel, 40 km north of the Sudan border.
Ramses’ Temple and the Temple of Hathor were among those relocated as a result of the High Dam construction. Gigantic tombs… moved 210 meters from the original sight, 61 meters up a mountain… and way off the coolness scale.
Also relocated â€“ from one island to another â€“ is the Temple of Isis at Philae. Like present-day goddesses in our lives, it is intelligently designed, graceful, strong and beautiful. Writing this long after seeing it, I think it is the most beautiful, well proportioned and best located (a nod to our real estate goddess friends) of the temples we’ve seen.
Next up: Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’.