The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Egypt's ancient temples rescued from the Nile 50 years ago
In this file photo taken on December 24, 1964 Egyptian workers are seen dismantling Ramses II statues to be moved to the new site of the twin temples of Abu Simbel (Aswan region, Egypt). Fifty years ago one of the world's biggest archeological rescue operations was successfully concluded after an ancient, massive Egyptian temple complex was dismantled and hoisted to higher ground to prevent its flooding by the damming of the Nile River. The groundbreaking UNESCO-led project to relocate around 20 gigantic monuments in Abu Simbel complex was officially concluded on September 22, 1968, after an eight-year international effort involving hundreds of workers. STRINGER / AFP.

by Antoinette Chalaby-Moualla


PARIS (AFP).- One of the world's biggest archaeological rescue operations was successfully concluded 50 years ago after a massive ancient Egyptian temple complex was dismantled and hoisted to higher ground to prevent its flooding by the damming of the Nile River.

The groundbreaking UNESCO-led project to relocate around 20 gigantic monuments in Abu Simbel complex was officially concluded on September 22, 1968, after an eight-year international effort involving hundreds of workers.

Here is a look back at the remarkable feat.

More than 2,500 years old
The two Abu Simbel temples -- named after their village location -- were carved out of cliffs overlooking the Nile in the time of Ramses II, the ruler of Egypt from 1298 to 1235 BC.

The larger has four colossal statues of a seated Ramses II at the entrance, through which there are succession of rooms and galleries stretching back 63 metres (207 feet).

The temples are among the jewels of the ancient Nubia region that extended down the Nile from Aswan in southern Egypt into present-day Sudan.

Threatened by Nile dam
In the 1950s, Egypt's president Gamal Abdel Nasser launched a project to dam the mighty Nile at Aswan in order to generate electricity for the region, increase cultivable land and reduce flooding.

The construction would create a huge artificial lake behind the dam wall, requiring the resettlement of tens of thousands of indigenous Nubians from villages in the area and also threatening monuments.

Pharaonic and Greco-Roman temples including those of Abu Simbel risked being submerged.

Technical feat
In 1960, UNESCO, the UN organisation dedicated to preservation of culture, launched an appeal to save the temples. Several projects were put on the table but, too costly, they were quickly put aside.

Eventually a Swedish-Egyptian proposal was selected.

Work was launched on April 1, 1964 with the construction of a temporary dam to protect the site and the excavation of the cliff around the two temples.

The Abu Simbel temples were cut into 1,035 blocks each weighing between 20 and 30 tonnes. The four seated statues of Ramses II and six others of the king standing up were sawn into pieces.

Jacks, cranes and powerful winches hoisted the enormous stone weights to the top of the cliff, 64 metres (210 feet) from their original location.

There the blocks were reassembled to reconstitute the two temples exactly as they were.

Artificial hills were then created around the site as a protective barrier against the river.

For four years about 800 labourers and 100 technicians worked in the desert under a red-hot sun to complete the project, which cost 36 millions dollars.

An international effort
At a ceremony on September 22, 1968 to mark the completion, UNESCO director general Rene Maheu said it was "the first time that we have seen international cooperation in action on such a scale in the sphere of culture."

It was an "unparallelled undertaking, in which over fifty countries... have combined their efforts to save the artistic and historical treasures of the temples of Abu Simbel."

The original site is today completely submerged by Lake Nasser.

Follow-up rescue
An operation -- also part of UNESCO's Nubia Campaign -- to save the temple complex on Philae island, around dozen kilometres upstream from Aswan, started in 1972.

Involving 40 archaeological missions from around the world, it ran for eight years and cost more than 30 million dollars.

About 20 temples, statues and monuments known as "the jewel of the Nile" were dismantled and transported, stone-by-stone, to the nearby Agilkia island, on higher ground.

UNESCO director general Amadou Mahtar M'Bow praised the "wealth of talent, energy, experience and capital" mobilised to save the Nubia monuments.

"Nowhere, perhaps, has the sacred art of Egypt defied time so majestically as in Nubia, part of which is vanishing before our eyes today," he said.


© Agence France-Presse





Today's News

September 21, 2018

Exhibition at Albertina Museum presents 100 paintings by Claude Monet

Anders Wahlstedt Fine Art opens exhibition of selected prints by Frank Stella from his Moby Dick series

Yellow Ball: Today's auction of Frank & Lorna Dunphy Collection brings £10.1 million

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, announces major cornerstone acquisitions for a new gallery of Medieval art

Exhibition features new paintings, drawings, and a 16mm film by Paul Sietsema

The Foundling Museum opens a landmark exhibition resetting the Foundling Hospital's 300-year story

John Singer Sargent, the Gardner Museum's first Artist-in-Residence, takes the spotlight this fall

International project showcases clothes in art outside the context of the fashion industry

Exhibition presents a comprehensive overview of the Bauhaus and its approach to design

Indiana Jones hat fetches over $500,000 at auction

San Jose Museum of Art opens the largest solo exhibition of Dinh Q. Lê's work in the US

In isolation & among friends: Modern African-American artists shine in October 4 Swann sale

Didier Aaron, Inc. presents a selection of paintings and drawings by Charles Lapicque

Christiane Baumgartner's first major solo museum exhibition in the U.S. opens at The Davis Museum

Converse Auctions to offer over 400 lots of American, European, African, Chinese and Asian items

John Christakos named President of the Board of Trustees at Walker Art Center

Baubles, purses & more: The final jewelry collection of Felicia Michalski goes up for bid

Belvedere opens exhibition devoted to the fundamental essence of freedom

Kunsthalle Wien opens the first solo show of Saâdane Afif's work in Austria

The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography opens Ezra Stoller's first exhibition in Russia

Bonhams introduces the Griffith J. Davis Photography and Archives

Gasworks presents a major new commission by James N. Kienitz Wilkins

Dylan to release lost recordings from classic album

Egypt's ancient temples rescued from the Nile 50 years ago

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Rare original Star Wars concept art unseen for 35 years may bring $100,000 at Heritage Auctions

2.- Is Robin Cunningham the Mysterious and Unknown Grafitti Artist Banksy?

3.- Banksy shocks art world by shredding £1 million work at auction

4.- Rare sign used on steps when JFK disembarked at Love Field go to auction Oct 13

5.- British curator uncovers rape confession -- 300 years on

6.- Unprecedented loans from the National Portrait Gallery, London, chronicle 500 years of the British monarchy

7.- Kunsthistorisches Museum opens once-in-a-lifetime Pieter Bruegel the Elder exhibition

8.- The tricky process of returning Nazi-looted art

9.- New auction record set for a living female artist

10.- US couple lose bid to win back WWII looted Pissarro painting



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez


Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org avemariasound.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful