Sun illuminates Ramses II statute at Aswan’s Abu Simbel Temple

Ahram Online , MENA , Thursday 22 Feb 2024

The sun aligned on the statue of Ramses II in Aswan's Abu Simbel Temple on Thursday morning in a rare astronomical phenomenon that occurs biannually -- on 22 October and 22 February.

File Photo of Foreign tourists, Arab and Egyptian visitors gathering at King Ramses II temple in Abu Simbel in Aswan.


Abdel-Moneim Said, director of the Aswan Tourism and Antiquities Sector, noted that the phenomenon began at 6:22 am and lasted for 20 minutes.

Folklore troupes performed songs and dances wearing traditional costumes during a celebration that took place the night before and extended towards the sun rise of the solar alignment day.

On 22 October, the phenomenon occurs on the occasion of the anniversary of the birth of King Ramses II, and the second on 22 February to mark his coronation as king of Egypt, adding a royal and historical aspect to the event.


During the solar alignment, the sun’s rays enter the temple’s sanctum to light three of four statues which belong to King Ramses II and the deities Amun-Re and Re-Hur-Akhty, leaving the God of Darkness Ptah in shadow to symbolise his connection to the underworld.

The main temple at Abu Simbel, which Ramses ordered to be built near the border of Nubia and Upper Egypt, was dedicated to two sun gods, Amen-Re and Re-Horakhte. Standing 100 feet (33 metres) tall, the temple was carved into an already-standing sandstone mountain on the banks of the Nile.

Four colossal statues of Ramses, each 66 feet (22 metres) high, guard the entrance to the temple. Rising to the Pharaoh's knees are smaller statues of family members: his mother; favourite wife, Nefertari; and son, Prince Amonherkhepshef.

Inside the temple, three connected halls extend 185 feet (56 metres) into the mountain. Images of the king's life and many achievements adorn the walls. A second temple at Abu Simbel is dedicated to Nefartari, who appears to have been Ramses' favourite wife.

Abu Simbel Temples, including two awe-inspiring temples of King Ramses II and his wife Nefertari, are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Abu Simbel Temples do not sit in their original location. In the 1960s, both temples were relocated in a massive salvage operation before the High Dam was built and Lake Nasser flooded.

UNESCO orchestrated the massive construction project that moved the temple back 690 feet to its present site.

The current dates of the alignment are one day later than the original date before the relocation.


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