Egypt: Day 8 (30 Oct 2007)

Volume 10, Issue 128; 20 Nov 2007; last modified 08 Oct 2010

Abu Simbel and Kom Ombo Temple

Let's not mince words. The pharaoic empires of northern Egypt raided the Nubian kingdoms to the south to steal gold and take slaves. They asserted their dominance by building temples. But every few decades, the Nubians would rise up and tear down the temples. So one of Ramesses II's architects suggested something more permanent.

Abu Simbel was not constructed from massive blocks of stone. It was carved out of a mountain. It is, in its entirety, a single block of stone.

In fact, there are two, adjacent temples. The other is dedicated to one of his wives, Nefertari.

If its original construction from the heart of a mountain is an ancient engineering marvel, its salvation from Lake Nasser is a modern one. The entire top of two mountains were moved, piece by piece, and reassembled 80m higher than they used to be.

After the return flight to Aswan, we began cruising back towards Luxor.

In the evening, we stopped at Kom Ombo Temple. Kom Ombo Temple is unusual because it's a double temple: Sobek the crocodile god on one side and Horus on the other.

The raised reliefs at Kom Ombo are spectacular.