• Russell Roy

Abu Simbel Temples - Almost a Scuba Diving Destination

Updated: Mar 22, 2021

Abu Simbel is incredible. Perhaps more incredible is the fact that it was saved from being submerged beneath Lake Nasser when the Aswan Dam was built in the 1960s.

The temples are located in southern Egypt, only a few kilometres from Sudan. They are a five hour drive from Aswan that is largely uneventful except that is provides an opportunity to experience the Arabian Desert as the sun rises.

Having been built on the shores of the Nile River, The Great Temple of Ramses II (the temple with the four colossal statues of Ramses II) and nearby Temple of Hathor were both destined to be flooded. It took an internal effort to save the site from being a scuba diving destination. Both temples were cut into blocks, moved to higher ground and then reassembled in the exact configuration from which they were moved, only 65 metres higher.

So exact in the placement, than even the head of one of the statues that broke off in antiquity was returned to the same spot it landed once broken.

It was an impressive effort indeed. Both temples have large carved and painted interiors which were also saved. The rock façade is about 30 metres high and 35 metres wide, making the statues more than 20 metres (65ft) tall.

The nearby Temple of Hathor is very different and yet impressive unto its own right.

The last two photos give some perspective as to how the sight is laid out ominously close to the lake that almost submerged it forever.