The island of Philae was the center for worship of the goddess Isis and attracted pilgrims from all over the ancient world. The original island is now completely submerged under the waters of Lake Nasser. But in a spectacular rescue operation, the great temples and monuments of Philae were pulled out of the water and re-erected on a nearby island, now renamed Philae. The earliest building on the island of Philae was a small temple to Isis built in about 370 BC by Napktnebef Kheperkare (Nectanebo I). This was later expanded into a great Temple of Isis by a number of rulers, most notably Ptolemy II Philadelphius (285-246 BC) and Diocletian (284-305 AD). Philae was one of the last outposts of Egyptian religion, surviving two centuries after the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. The sacred island attracted many Greek and Roman pilgrims, who came to pray for healing from the mysterious Egyptian goddess Isis. Even after their defeat by Emperor Marcian in 451 AD, Nubian priests were permitted to make offerings to Isis on Philae. The temples of Philae were finally closed in 535 AD by order of Emperor Justinian. Some of the chambers were converted for Christian worship and a Coptic community lived on the island until the coming of Islam. In the 18th and 19th centuries, Philae was renowned for its beauty and became a popular tourist destination for well-to-do Europeans. But with the building of the Aswan Dam, the island was submerged for most of the year and Philae began to lose its charm. The gray coloring of the lower part of the temples still shows the effect of their annual immersion during this period. When the High Dam project threatened to engulf Philae completely, the temples were saved by a great international rescue operation sponsored by UNESCO, which took place between 1972 and 1980. The island of Philae was surrounded by a coffer dam and drained, while a new site was prepared on the neighboring island of Agilka. The temples were broken up into sections and carefully numbered, then re-erected in the same relative positions on Agilka. Two Coptic churches, a Coptic monastery, the ruins of a Temple of Augustus, and a large Roman city gate were left where they stood on the submerged island of Philae and not transferred to Agilka. It is hoped to recover them at a later date.
The unfinished obelisk is the largest known ancient obelisk, located in the northern region of the stone quarries of ancient Egypt in Aswan (Assuan), Egypt. Archaeologists are unsure which pharaoh created this structure. It is nearly one third larger than any ancient Egyptian obelisk ever erected. If finished it would have measured around 42 m (approximately 137 feet) and would have weighed nearly 1,200 tons (1,066,621 kilograms). Archeologists speculate that it was intended to complement the so-called Lateran Obelisk which was originally at Karnak and is now outside the Lateran Palace in Rome. (Thutmose III obelisk in Lateran, Rome: 105 ft) Other archaeologists suggest that the pharaoh Hatshepsut ordered it to be built to celebrate her sixteenth year in power. The obelisk's creators began to carve it directly out of bedrock, but cracks appeared in the granite and the project was abandoned. Originally it was thought that the stone had an undetected flaw but it is also possible that the quarrying process allowed the cracking to develop by releasing the stress. The bottom side of the obelisk is still attached to the bedrock. The unfinished obelisk offers unusual insights into ancient Egyptian stone-working techniques, with marks from workers' tools still clearly visible as well as ocher-colored lines marking where they were working. Besides the unfinished obelisk, an unfinished partly worked obelisk base was discovered in 2005 at the quarries of Aswan. Also discovered were some rock carvings and remains that may correspond to the site where most of the famous obelisks were worked. All these quarries in Aswan and the unfinished objects are an open air museum and are officially protected by the Egyptian government as an archeological site.
The High Dam of Aswan is one of the most important achievements of the in the last century in Egypt, even for many years it was a symbol of the New Era of the Revolution of 1952. It provided Egypt with water and electricity and secured the country of the risk of the destructive inundation. The Aswan High Dam was a great project! In fact it was one of the most important achievements of the last century in Egypt, for many years symbolising the New Era after 1952. Today It provides Egypt with water and electricity, and secures the country from the risk of the destructive inundation of the River Nile. After the revolution of July 1952, President Nasser announced his proposal for building the High Dam, but was met with Western refusals to co-operate, so he turned to the Soviet Union for both technological and financial aid. The result was the present rock-filled structure. The work began on the 9th January 1960 and the completed dam was opened in the spring of 1971. This gigantic building is 111m tall, 3.5Km in length and about 1Km wide! It has a Hydro-electric plant, with 6 turbines, capable of producing 2.1 million kilowatts. As a result of its construction, a great lake was formed, Lake Nasser, which is about 10 km wide in some places, and 500km long. extending between Egypt and The Sudan – the worlds largest man-made lake! This lake also has an immense fish population, which is commercially exploited. Because raising the water caused the damage, and loss, of so many of the Nubian monuments, great efforts were made by the Egyptian Government, aided by UNESCO and other countries, to save the most important monuments of Nubia.
Abu Simbel is an archaeological site comprising two massive rock temples in southern Egypt along the Nile about 290 km southwest of Aswan. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of "Nubian Monuments" which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae. The Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel consists of four seated colossal statues of Ramses II carved into the mountain, forming one of the boldest temple facades in the world. It is aligned so the sun's rays travel through the mountain and illuminate Ramses' sanctuary twice a year -- on October 22 and February 22. Ramses II was a 19th dynasty pharaoh of Egypt. He ruled for 67 years during the 13th century BC, the apogee of Ancient Egypt's power and glory. This extraordinarily long reign, the wealth available in the state coffers, and, undeniably, the pharaoh's personal vanity meant that Ramses, of all the ancient rulers, left what is perhaps the most indelible mark on the country. His legacy can be seen most clearly in the archaeological record – in the many buildings that Ramses modified, usurped, or constructed from the ground up. Construction of the temple complex started in approximately 1284 BC and lasted for about 20 years. Known as the "Temple of Ramesses, beloved by Amun", it was one of six rock temples erected in Nubia during the long reign of Ramesses. Their purpose was to impress Egypt's southern neighbors, and also to reinforce the status of Egyptian religion in the region. With the passing of time, the temples were covered in sand. Already in the 6th century BC, the sand covered the statues of the main temple up to their knees. The temple was forgotten until 1813, when Swiss orientalist J.L. Burckhardt found the top frieze of the main temple. Burckhardt talked about his discovery with Italian explorer Giovanni Belzoni, who travelled to the site, unable to dig out an entry to the temple. Belzoni returned in 1817, this time succeeding in his attempt to enter the complex. He took everything valuable and portable with him. In 1959 an international donations campaign to save the monuments of Nubia began: the southernmost relics of this ancient human civilization were under threat from the rising waters of the Nile that were about to result from the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The salvage of the Abu Simbel temples began in 1964, and cost some USD $80 million. Between 1964 and 1968, the entire site was cut into large blocks, dismantled and reassembled in a new location – 65 m higher and 200 m back from the river, in what many consider one of the greatest feats of archaeological engineering. A similar project was undertaken at the island of Philae downriver. Today, thousands of tourists visit the temples daily. Guarded convoys of buses and cars depart twice a day from Aswan, the nearest city. Many visitors also arrive by plane, at an airfield that was specially constructed for the temple complex.
The Nubian Museum is located in Aswan on an area of 50,000 square meters, 7000 of which are excluded to building, while the rest designed to be the yard of the museum. The building has three floors for displaying and housing, in addition to a library and information center. The largest part of the museum is occupied by the monumental pieces, reflecting phases of the development of the Nubian culture and civilization. Three thousands pieces of antiquities, representing various ages; Geological, Pharaonic, Roman, Coptic and Islamic, were registered. The open-door exhibition includes 90 rare monumental pieces, while the internal halls contain 50 invaluable pieces dating back to the pre-history times, 503 pieces belong to Pharaonic time, 52 of Coptic era, 103 of Islamic age, 140 of Nubian time, in addition to 360 pieces having the tang of Aswan The museum was completed for an estimated construction cost of LE 75 million (approximately $22 million at the time), and was inaugurated on November 23, 1997
Kitchener's Island is one of two major islands on the Nile in vicinity of Aswan, the other one being Elephantine. Elephantine is much larger than Kitchener's Island and located between Kitchener's Island and the city of Aswan (east bank). Thus, it is hard to see the smaller Kitchener's Island from the city. The island was given to Lord Kitchener as a reward for his services in the Sudan Campaign (1896-1898). With the aid of the Ministry of Irrigation, Kitchener rapidly transformed the small 750 metres (2,460 ft) long island into a paradise of exotic trees and plants in carefully gardens with view walkways. It later passed into the property of the Egyptian government and was used as a research station for examining different food and cash crops.
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