In a gala ceremony held on Tuesday night at the Petite Palais in Paris, Egypt’s embassy in France celebrated the 200-year anniversary of the discovery of the Abu Simbel temples.
The ceremony was attended by French elites, the French minister of defence, and a number of foreign ambassadors in Paris.
During the ceremony, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities, Khaled El-Enany, delivered a speech relating the history of the temple salvage operation in collaboration with UNESCO, in 1962 during the building of the High Dam.
He also highlighted the archaeological value of both temples and the efforts exerted by the Egyptian government to preserve the country's heritage and to speed up all archaeological projects put on hold in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.
At the end of his speech, El-Enany invited the attendees and all French citizens to visit Egypt and to explore and admire its unique heritage.
A replica exhibition was held on the margins of the ceremony, where a replica of King Tutankhamun’s chariot and models of both Abu Simbel temples were displayed.
Also on display were bronze busts of three people who played a major role in the Nubia salvage operation: minister of culture during the salvage operation Tharwat Okasha, Egyptologist Selim Hassan, and French Egyptologist Christian Noblecourt.
These busts were created by the antiquities ministry’s replica production unit and were borrowed by the foreign ministry for the celebration.
The busts will be returned to their original displays at the Abu Simbel Visitor Centre after the exhibition is closed.
El-Enany delivers his speech at the petite palais
Tharwat Okasha (1921-2012) participated in many cultural heritage projects, especially rescuing the Abu Simbel temples.
He played a pivotal role in the international campaign to save the monuments of Nubia.
Selim Hassan (1893 -1961) was the head of the Egyptian mission which evaluated the impact of the construction of the High Dam on the monuments of Nubia.
He published many reports and much research on the topic.
Christiane Desroches Noblecourt (1913-2011) was the first French woman to lead an archaeological excavation (in 1938).
She was also known for making an appeal for international support to save the monuments of Nubia. She is the author of many publications on Egyptian civilisation.