Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

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Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by newcastle » Mon Aug 28, 2017 7:25 am

The sight of Abu Simbel being cut into pieces is not easy to watch.

Nevertheless, it had to be done. It was 1965, and the rising waters of Lake Nasser meant that Abu Simbel's rescue was a test of speed and accuracy. These hand saws were equipped with special teeth of hardened metal to ensure that each cut was clean and kept to a maximum width of 8 mm.

The plan to dissect and rebuild Abu Simbel was developed and managed by Swedish geological engineering firm Vattenbyggnadsbyran (VBB). Long after the Abu Simbel rescue, VBB merged with engineering consultancy company Sweco, who graciously dived into their photographic archives for the latest issue of Nile Magazine.

http://www.nilemagazine.co.uk

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by newcastle » Mon Aug 28, 2017 9:56 am

I suppose moving the temple facade was straightforward enough (...yeah right!) but I've often wondered how they moved the inner halls , chambers and statues. I found the following video of the project which answers my query :

phpBB [video]


Interesting....but maybe there are better ones someone could post.

The following 3 part series has some interesting graphics which clarify many aspects the project :

phpBB [video]


phpBB [video]


phpBB [video]

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Mon Aug 28, 2017 1:06 pm

Thanks for posting those videos Newcastle and they did answer a few questions I did have about the work they carried out. For anyone privileged enough to have visited Abu Simbel I think I can honestly say that if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know. It really is a tribute to all those involved and the planning and execution of this task cannot be underestimated. Although I was aware of how they cut the temple into pieces and reassembled it, I could never figure out how they had removed and reinstalled the inside as it looks so natural that it left you in awe of how it was done. Even those wedge shaped pieces on the back of the faces had always left me pondering why and how they had managed to cut such a complex shape to key them back into the rest of the head, now at last I know that they are in fact counter weights and were added on later, it all now makes sense, as does the reconstruction of the inner temple passageways and then covering them over again. I had always imagined that they had removed these inner walls in some way from the native rock and not that they had exposed it all from the top down. To see it today I would say that it must rate as a modern wonder of the world, an amazing sight and well worth the effort of saving for posterity.
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by newcastle » Mon Aug 28, 2017 2:26 pm

And all without the help of aliens...although people may wonder 3000 years hence :lol:

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Mon Aug 28, 2017 3:43 pm

And an even bigger mystery :ni: "why did the ancient Egyptians insert metal rods inside the head of Ramesses II?" and even more mysterious is that the metal they used was not known anywhere in the world until the 20th century! ............ the plot thickens. ;)
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Winged Isis » Mon Aug 28, 2017 10:40 pm

Thanks newcastle. :wi I remember my awe watching the relocation on the news as a child. Even then they were declaring it a modern wonder of the world, and tyranny it was.

My second favourite monument after the Giza pyramids. I was blessed on my first visit to walk in as a large tour group walked out to find only three other tourists, so could enjoy the space and ambience almost alone and in silence. Magic.
Carpe diem! :le:

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by FarleyFlavors » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:57 am

Horus wrote:For anyone privileged enough to have visited Abu Simbel I think I can honestly say that if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know.
I dunno about that. There are many places in the interior where it's quite clear where the blocks were cut. Not only are some of the gaps larger than the "maximum 8mm" width they claimed, the alignment of adjacent blocks is sometimes fairly poor.

It's still a magnificent achievement though.

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by carrie » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:33 pm

I'm with Farley Flavors here, I think the mountain behind the temple looks quite artificial.

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Tue Aug 29, 2017 12:34 pm

FarleyFlavors wrote:
Horus wrote:For anyone privileged enough to have visited Abu Simbel I think I can honestly say that if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know.
I dunno about that. There are many places in the interior where it's quite clear where the blocks were cut. Not only are some of the gaps larger than the "maximum 8mm" width they claimed, the alignment of adjacent blocks is sometimes fairly poor.

It's still a magnificent achievement though.
So what you are saying is that even if you had not known that the temple had been moved, that you would have spotted the variations in the gaps and block misalignment and thought to yourself “this temple has been cut up into thousands of blocks and then badly re-assembled” I don’t think so and as I said:
"if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know". Do try to keep up 8)
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Yildez » Tue Aug 29, 2017 1:57 pm

I've been following this thread, wondering whether or not to comment, but I will! Abu Simbel was on my bucket list, and I visited by private car from Aswan in February 2013. I wanted to stay overnight, but for various reasons allowed myself to be persuaded not to do so. Mistake!! Which will be rectified if I ever get chance to go again.

The journey from Aswan was made in convoy, which meant that about 700 people all arrived more or less together. At that time, and maybe still, you walked from the parking area, round the back of the re-constructed mountain. I was hugely disappointed when I realised I was looking at a service door into the construction - it felt like I was in Disneyland rather than one of Egypts iconic sites. Arriving at the front of the temple it was heaving, with large groups listening to their guides who are not allowed inside. I rapidly decided to visit the Temple of Isis first, as there seemed to be no one in that area.

I stood alone, looking at Nefatari in the guise of the goddess, and it was SUBLIME! I forgot all the previous disappointment, especially as I was able to spend 35 minutes in the temple completely alone, not even a Guardian. By the time I was in front of the main temple, the crowds had thinned - most people seemed to spend a maximum 10 minutes inside, with very little apparent interest at all.

Again, during my time in front of the temple and inside, I forgot all about my earlier misgivings, and managed to get a feel for the atmosphere despite all the other visitors. I've since confirmed that my initial plan to visit overnight would have been better. Arriving on the second convoy I could have spent the late afternoon at the temples with very few other visitors; a further visit at dawn would be absolutely spectacular and again miss the hoardes of other tourists.

So, although I still think that it seems to be too "Disneyland in Egypt", I also think it's a superb and unmissable site. It's overwhelming, as it was supposed to be! Arrogant in its immense size, moving in its clear belief of eternal Egypt in majesty.

I felt ambivalent about it at the time, still do!

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:35 pm

I know what you mean about the rear view of the temple Yildez, I was lucky as on our visit we approached it from the front (well rather the side) and the initial visual impact was amazing. Like you I spent ages wandering about the less crowded areas and visiting the inside when the crush had gone, although we were lucky in that there were not really great hordes of people when we visited. Upon leaving we were directed around that long inclined path behind the temple and like you I was less than impressed with that part as it did seem like a Disney construction from that aspect. The façade itself is mega impressive and something that will stick in my memory forever and the enormity of the task undertaken and completed in such a short time must rival the efforts of the original builders. It is easy to criticise the flaws in the final construction, but I feel blessed that through their efforts I too was able to see this magnificent temple and it not being lost forever below the rising waters.
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by newcastle » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:43 pm

In the Lord of the Rings film trilogy - I can't remember which one - there's a scene where Tolkien's intrepid travelers encounter a river gateway surmounted by enormous statues :

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The Argonath, also known as The Gates of Argonath or The Pillars of Kings, is a monument comprising two enormous statues carved in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, standing upon either side of the River Anduin at the northern entrance to Nen Hithoel.

I can imagine any invaders from Nubia, encountering the massive edifice of Ramesses the Great, felt similarly awed.....and not a little apprehensive.

And of course that was Ramesses intention in setting his magnificent temple on the southernmost boundary of his empire.

"Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and Despair!"

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by carrie » Tue Aug 29, 2017 5:48 pm

Abu Simbel is magnificent, a fantastic job was done on moving it, I have been a couple of times and would love to go again during the equinox but I was and remain disappointed with that mountain, I am sure with all the money, time and trouble they took rescuing the temple from the floods a little more care could have been taken with the approach.

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by newcastle » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:00 pm

carrie wrote:Abu Simbel is magnificent, a fantastic job was done on moving it, I have been a couple of times and would love to go again during the equinox but I was and remain disappointed with that mountain, I am sure with all the money, time and trouble they took rescuing the temple from the floods a little more care could have been taken with the approach.
Indeed.

They could have made a decent mountain rather than a glorified molehill :mrgreen:

Was there a shortage of sand and rocks? :tk

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by FarleyFlavors » Wed Aug 30, 2017 1:52 pm

Horus wrote:
FarleyFlavors wrote:
Horus wrote:For anyone privileged enough to have visited Abu Simbel I think I can honestly say that if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know.
I dunno about that. There are many places in the interior where it's quite clear where the blocks were cut. Not only are some of the gaps larger than the "maximum 8mm" width they claimed, the alignment of adjacent blocks is sometimes fairly poor.

It's still a magnificent achievement though.
So what you are saying is that even if you had not known that the temple had been moved, that you would have spotted the variations in the gaps and block misalignment and thought to yourself “this temple has been cut up into thousands of blocks and then badly re-assembled” I don’t think so and as I said:
"if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved then you would never know". Do try to keep up 8)
Sorry if you misunderstood me. Allow me to rephrase.

Even if you were not told that this huge temple had been moved, it would immediately become obvious that it had, due to the clearly visible cuts and gaps in the interior reliefs and the frequent misalignment of the reconstructed blocks. What other explanation could account for these aberrations?

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Wed Aug 30, 2017 2:34 pm

What other explanation could account for these aberrations?
The same as with most other Egyptian temples, earthquakes and the passage of time? Have you never seen the misalignment of temple columns as the separate drums slide off each other, did you make the assumption that the columns had been sawn into pieces and badly aligned again? or for the steps in the blocks of temple pylons and walls? What about the majority of temple floors, were they all taken up and badly relaid with varying gaps between the slabs? No doubt you have similar criticism with regards the Temple of Isis at Philae and immediately noted it had been moved from elsewhere. I suggest that you were looking for these faults simply because you knew the history and you are grasping at straws if you are saying that a person with no prior knowledge of the Abu Simbel site would imagine even in their wildest dreams that it had been cut up and moved from elsewhere just by observing a few visible saw-cuts that could easily be dismissed as cracks or a few misaligned block edges in what to all intents and purposes resembles a rock cut tomb. Most people even if they did observe the saw cuts would no doubt ascribe them to the ancient building methods during construction.
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by FarleyFlavors » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:30 am

Horus wrote:
What other explanation could account for these aberrations?
The same as with most other Egyptian temples, earthquakes and the passage of time? Have you never seen the misalignment of temple columns as the separate drums slide off each other, did you make the assumption that the columns had been sawn into pieces and badly aligned again? or for the steps in the blocks of temple pylons and walls? What about the majority of temple floors, were they all taken up and badly relaid with varying gaps between the slabs? No doubt you have similar criticism with regards the Temple of Isis at Philae and immediately noted it had been moved from elsewhere. I suggest that you were looking for these faults simply because you knew the history and you are grasping at straws if you are saying that a person with no prior knowledge of the Abu Simbel site would imagine even in their wildest dreams that it had been cut up and moved from elsewhere just by observing a few visible saw-cuts that could easily be dismissed as cracks or a few misaligned block edges in what to all intents and purposes resembles a rock cut tomb. Most people even if they did observe the saw cuts would no doubt ascribe them to the ancient building methods during construction.
You might want to visit Abu Simbel again, Horus. Your memory is probably clouded by the bling of the exterior colossi.

Have a look at this photo.

Are you seriously suggesting that anyone faced with those obvious horizontal cuts would think they were caused by either (a) an earthquake, (b) the passage of time or (c) that they were due to "ancient building methods during construction"?

Image

No one is going to argue that the relocation of Abu Simbel wasn't an absolutely extraordinary achievement.

But it wasn't perfect.

And to claim that "with no prior knowledge, you'd never know it had been moved" is hogwash.

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Horus » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:10 am

Hogwash seems to be your forte, even in your image the so called ‘horizontal’ cuts hardly hit you in the face, but grasping at straws springs to mind. We will have to leave it there I suppose with myself in awe of such an excellent project and you who with no prior knowledge of the work that was carried out would immediately deduce that this temple had been moved 70 metres from the water below where you were standing and reassembled in its present location, I suggest that you are in a tiny minority on that score and I reiterate “Anyone not knowing the history of this monument would not know it had been relocated” apart from you that is. 8)
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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by FarleyFlavors » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:30 am

Horus wrote:even in your image the so called ‘horizontal’ cuts hardly hit you in the face
Really?

Maybe put your glasses on and have another gander ;)
Horus wrote:grasping at straws springs to mind.
Indeed it does.

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Re: Rescue of Abu Simbel remembered

Post by Mad Dilys » Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:26 am

When I visited in early 1989 with a Veterinary conference group the place was almost deserted. We approached by road and walked along a track bearing left to the front of the statues. No one else was there.

Having explored this side our guide asked if we would like to see inside "the mountain" which surprised us as though the pile of rocks wasn't very impressive it hadn't occurred to any of us that there was an "inside" to the mountain. It made a huge impression on us, I think because we were so few in number.

There were a few scattered buildings including a recently opened restaurant which was operating although obviously not completely installed (probably still the same). We were the only customers and the menu comprised of Macaroni Béchamel or Steak and chips.

The Macaroni came sliced into robust cubes, at least one also decorated with a cockroach.
The steak was also uneatable and some of the chaps started to throw it out of the window to the circling birds riding on the upwind of the cliff. They obviously expected to be fed and caught the meat very expertly, vying for the best position to catch their "treat".

When the waiting staff saw they were very alarmed, insisting the windows should be shut and the activity stop At Once! They were frightened of the birds coming into the restaurant. So we gathered round the window and watched the birds in flight close up, which was quite thrilling.

I'm glad I saw it in a fairly embryo state but 1989 was quite a long time after the removal was finished surely? So I wonder when tourists first were allowed to visit the interior of the mountain?
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