Nubian monuments

Ancient Nubia is one of the richest areas of Egypt in terms of ancient monuments. Nubia contains 16 temples, amongst the most important of which is the Great Temple of Abu Simbel, 280 kilometres south of Aswan. This temple was carved from the rock in the reign of Rameses II on a rocky hill overlooking the Nile. Four statues of the Pharoah carved from the living rock guard the temple. Nearby is the Lesser Temple of Abu Simbel, dedicated by Rameses II to the goddess Hathor, and also carved from the rock in honor of his wife Nefertari.
By the time the High Dam was completed in 1971 and the whole of Nubia was flooded by Lake Nasser, the great temples of the area had been saved. Some had even been transported, piece by piece, to countries like the United States and Sudan. The magnificent temples of Abu Simbel, Kalabsha, Philae, El-Sebua, Amada, Beit El-Wali, and the Kiosk of Kertassi .

Philae Temple Image  
The ancient temples at the north of Lake Nasser, specifically at philae And they are equally familiar with Abu Simbel far to the south. Far more obscure are the temples that lie in between, south of the High Dam and North of Abu Simbel along Lake Nasser. The land in between these monuments was once known a part of Nubia When the High Dam was being built, many of these temples were moved during the salvage operation between 1964 and 1968.
Kalabsha Temple Image  
Just south of the High Dam is New Kalabsha, Temple of Kalabsha . The temple was moved to New Kalabsha during the salvage operation, and is the largest freestanding Egyptian temple in Nubia. It was built by Agustus Ceasar (27 BC - 24 AD) and dedicated to Osiris, Isis and Mandulis.  The half finished column capitals, and fragments of relief decorations of the temple provide considerable insight about ancient Egyptian construction and carving techniques.  
The old Beit el-Wali Temple  Image
Connected by a path to the Roman era Kalabsha temple is The older Beit el- Wali (the House of the Holy Man) that was also moved to New Kalabsha. This small rock-cut temple was originally fronted by a mud-brick pylon which was not moved, and consisted of an entrance hall, a hypostyle hall and a sanctuary. It is a delightful temple with painted decorations in reds, blues and greens that retain most of their original brilliance. In the entrance to the temple scenes of Ramesses II show him smiting his enemies, often accompanied by his pet lion. In the sanctuary are seated statues of Ramesses II and deities such as Horus, Isis and Khnum.
The Temple of Kertassi Image       
The Temple of Kertassi ( Kiosk of Qertassi ) on the south side of Kalabsha, with two Hathor columns and four elaborate columns with capitals.
The remains of Gerf Hussein Image  
The remains of Gref Hussein are very fragmentary. It was built by Setau who was a viceroy of Kush during Ramesses II's reign. Originally a combination rock-cut and freestanding temple similar to Abu Simbel, it was dedicated to Ramesses II,Ptah and Ptah- Tatenen (a Nubian-Egyptian creator god). As at Abu Simbel, gods were carved out of the rock in the sanctuary.  
The Temple of Dakka Image  
The Temple of Dakka, a Ptolemaic temple originally situated forty miles north of its present location. Built using fragments of an older 18th Dynasty temple (possibly built by an Ethiopian king Arkamani), it was dedicated to Thoth of the Sycamore Fig. The axis of the temple runs parallel with what was once the river. 
 The Temple of Mahararqa Image   
 The temple of Mahararqa which once stood fifty miles to the north. It was dedicated to Isis and Serapis, but the decoration was never completed. The most important remains are those of the hypostyle hall.
The Temple of Wadi al-Sabua Image 
Just south of the Dakka Temple is Wadi al-Sabua (Wadi as-Sebua) where two temples are located. It is known as the Valley of the Lions because of the sphinxes that once lined the avenue leading to the first temple. It was constructed by Amenhotep III and added to by Ramesses II. Unfortunately, most of the decorations were defaced by early Christians. The front is free standing and the rear was rock-cut. This temple consists of a sanctuary, a court, a hall and pylons. It was originally dedicated to the Nubian version of Horus, but was later rededicated to Amun-Re.
The second temple of Ramesses II, Re-Harakhte (a sun god), and Amun-Re was moved about three kilometers (two miles) to the west from its original location. This temple was also also originally free standing and rock-cut.
The Temple of Amada Image
The temple of Amada  the oldest of the temples, going back to the 18th dynast with restoration work from the 19th dynasty. Tuthmosis III, Amenhotep II, and Tuthmosis IV were all involved with its construction, and Seti I restored sections of it. The fine preservation of the temple is due to Christians plastering over the reliefs. The temple, dedicated to Amun-Re and Re-Harakhte, contains an inscription relating the crushing of a Libyan-backed rebellion by King Merneptah (1212-1202 BC). At the back of the temple inscriptions tell about the famous wars in Syria of Amenhotep II’s and how he bought back the bodies of rebel chieftains to hang on the walls of Thebes. One body was hung from the prow of his ship sailing through Nubia as a warning. This temple was moved about two kilometers (one mile) from its original site.
The Temple of Derr  Image  
The temple of Derr, built by Ramesses II and dedicated to himself, Amun-Re, Re-Harakhte and Ptah.. This rock-cut temple is well decorated with bright, visible colors and was moved from near the Amada temple in 1964. There is also the tomb of Pennut here that originally stood at Aniba. Pennut was an administrator in Nubia during the reign of Ramesses VI and is shown receiving honors from him in this rock-cut tomb. However, large sections of wall inscriptions have been cut away.
The Temple of Qasr Ibrim Image  
The last site before Abu Simbel is a large, mostly flooded island at Qasr Ibrim. It once housed as many as six temples and a Roman era fort, encompassing an expanse of historic periods including the pharaonic, Roman, Christian and Arab/Nubian eras.  
The Temple of Daboud Image
In the Parque de la Montaña, near the center of the city one finds the most surprising monuments of Madrid, the Templo de Deboud. This authentic Egyptian temple was built in the fourth century B.C. at the village of Deboud, near the sacred temple island of Philae. The Deboud Temple was dedicated to the gods Amon and Isis.
The temple was built approximately 2200 years ago to honor the gods Amon and Isis.Constructed in the Nubian town of Debod (thus its name) it was later enlarged and redecorated by the Ptolemanic pharaohs and the Roman emperors.
With the construction of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt between 1960 and 1970, many historical monuments were in danger of being flooded. Spanish engineers helped the Egyptian government to move these monuments to safe areas. In 1968 Egypt donated one of these monuments, the Templo de Deboud, to Spain in recognition of their support.
The temple was moved to Madrid and reconstructed in the Parque de la Montaña (an extension of the larger Parque del Oeste) at the site of a former army barracks, near the Plaza de España. The temple was officially opened in 1972. Inside an exhibition depicts the reconstruction of the temple in Madrid.
The Temple of Abu Simbel Image
The monuments at Abu Simbel were practically unknown in the Egyptological world until Johan Ludwig Burckhardt visited the site in 1813 when he saw the upper part of a temple facade almost covered by sand. Giovanni Battista Belzoni visited the site shortly afterwards in 1817 and discovered the entrance door. Since that time many adventurers have been struck by the awe-inspiring facade of the temple built by Rameses II around 3000 years ago with its giant colossal statues of the king sculpted from the mountain rock. In the 1960s the new High Dam was built at Aswan which resulted in a build-up of water which threatened to engulf the monuments along its Nubian shores. In a dramatic race against time UNESCO began a US$40 million rescue operation in 1964, the like of which had never been seen before. In the incredible salvage operation the temples were dismantled and cut up into manageable-sized blocks, then painstakingly reconstructed 65m higher than the original site, away from the dangers of the encroaching water. Inside a specially constructed mountain, two gigantic reinforced concrete domes protect the rebuilt temples .
The Great Temple of Rameses II Image
The facade of the Temple of Rameses II is dominated by four colossal seated statues carved out of the cliff face, each 20m high and depicting the king, with Nubians carved in the base at his feet. The faces of the statues appear to show Rameses in different stages of his life, although it is thought that the temple was built quite early in his reign. The figures are immense when you are standing at their base looking up at them. Rameses the Great obviously did not want to be forgotten when he built this Nubian Temple . His mother Tuya, his Chief Wife Nefertari and some of his many children can be seen in smaller scale at his feet. The monument is dedicated to the gods Re-Horakhty, Amun and Ptah, as well as the divine Rameses himself. There are later inscriptions carved on the statues. A Greek inscription by the soldiers of Psamtek II of Dynasty XXVI is carved on the most ruined of the colossi . Above the entrance door the king worships the figure of the falcon-headed sun god Re-Horakhty who is also greeted by carved baboons on top of the wall. Inside, the temple is conventional in its design, with the floor level rising noticeably towards the sanctuary at the rear and in the first pillared hall there are eight Osiris pillars in two rows. On the left, the colossal statues depict Rameses wearing the white crown of Upper Egypt and on the right the king wears the double crown of the Two Lands. On the walls of this first hypostyle hall are scenes showing the king's victories over his enemies, usually Libyans and Nubians. The north wall is painted with scenes of the battle of Kadesh, Rameses' greatest victory, and on the other walls are various depictions of the king in single combat or being presented with prisoners from various lands. The goddess Nekhbet on the 'vulture ceiling' leads us inwards towards the Vestibule . Nubia . Beyond the Vestibule, 65m in from the entrance to the temple, we come to the most sacred place, the Holy of Holies or Sanctuary. Four seated statues of Re-Horakhty, the deified Rameses II, Amun-re and Ptah are carved from the rock of the back wall. A pedestal still remains in the sanctuary on which the sacred barque would have stood. The temple was aligned so that twice a year, on February 22 and October 22, the sun's rays penetrate the length of the temple and flood the sanctuary with light (which may or may not be significant!). The decoration of the Great Temple of Rameses II at Abu Simbel serves to glorify the divine pharaoh Rameses, who is seen adoring and making offerings to his deified image. Perhaps it was also a monument intended to keep the wayward Nubian population in line by showing them the might of their great Egyptian ruler.
The Major Temple:  It is the most consummate, beautiful and artistically rich of the temples built by Ramses II in Nubia. It has a splendid facade, 33m high and 38m wide. It was carved in the form of a colossal structure on top of which exist about 20 statues of monkeys standing on their hind legs raising their hands to salute the sun rise.In the middle of the facade above the entrance there stands a statue of a man with a falcons head; the god Ra Hur Akhti. During the reign of Ramses II and the great kings of the Modern Kingdom, this temple was built to glorify Ra Hur Akhti together with Amun Ra, the god of state
The Minor Temple:  Situated north of the major temple, it was carved into the rock in honour of the god of love and beauty Hathour and Ramses most beloved wife Nefertari. Although it looks small it has an outstanding artistic significance. On the facade, there are three niches on each side of the door. On the middle one there is a statue of the Queen Nefertari and on both sides a statue of the king. Each of the six statues in the entrance is more than 11 m-high. In the hall of the temple there are 6 pillars with cappings shaped like Hathours head. The three sides of each pillar show drawings of gods among which is Nefertari. Mural paintings portray the king or queen or both worshiping god. Moreover, on the western wall the head of a caw representing Hathur was carved together with a statue of the king.
The Temple of Dendur Image 
Temple of Dendur, Nubia, 15 B.C. Sandstone; From gate to rear of temple 82 ft .Given to the United States by Egypt in 1965, awarded to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1967, and installed in The Sackler Wing in 1978.
After a confrontation with a Nubian Candake, Augustus commissioned the construction of a temple at Dendur, Nubia. Ostensibly depicting Augustus worshipping the Nubian local deities, the relief decoration and accompanying inscriptions pay particular homage to brothers, Pahor and Pedese, who are believed to have been sons of a local Nubian elite ruler and who seem to have met their fate by drowning in the Nile River, apparently resulting in their being deified. The temple of Dendur celebrates these two brothers and contains within the thickness of its rear wall, which abutted the hillside into which the temple was constructed, a chamber serving as their cenotaph.
This temple appears to have replaced an earlier rock cut shrine, or speos, in which the cult of these two brothers was apparently celebrated. The rituals celebrated at Dendur in the name of Augustus on behalf of these two brothers were contemporary with other rituals performed at Sayala in the vicinity of Abu Simbel.
The Temple of Hathor Image
The second rock-cut temple at Abu Simbel lies close by to the north of the Great Temple and is similar in plan but on a smaller scale. It was built in honour of Rameses' Great Wife and most favoured of his consorts, Nefertari. This smaller monument is dedicated to the goddess Hathor. The facade of the temple shows Nefertari on each side of the entrance standing between two colossal 10m statues of Rameses, again with smaller images of royal children at their feet. Never before had a queen been depicted alongside her husband and on the same scale, on the facade of a temple. The temple interior is very simple and built on a much more human scale than the Great Temple . Scenes on the walls of the pillared hall depict Nefertari taking part in divine rituals with her husband before Hathor and Mut and in the same role as the king. They also show the consecration of Nefertari as divine queen. There are traditional scenes of the pharaoh Rameses II in his warrior role of slaying captives. Six square pillars set in two rows and crowned with Hathor heads give a very gentle and feminine feel to the monument. In the sanctuary at the rear of the temple a statue in high relief seems to grow out of the rock wall, showing Hathor as the sacred cow-goddess emerging from the Western Mountain . Chambers open to the north and south of the Vestibule with colourful scenes showing Hathor on her sacred barque. The side chambers have a cave-like feel, being carved from the mountain rock.
Nearby monuments
There are also other monuments to be seen at the Abu Simbel site. A number of carved stones documenting Nubian officials have been set into the base of the cliff. There is also the remains of a sun-court to be seen to the north of the Great Temple and nearby is the famous 'Marriage Stela' which tells of the marriage alliance between Rameses II and a daughter of a Hittite king.
The lost Temples of Nubia
Quban (Kuban)
Quban, know to the Egyptians as Baki and o the Greeks as Contra Pselchis, stood on the east bank of the Nile just across from Dakka. It was a fortress probably built at the beginning of the 12th Dynasty by Senusret I, but it may have had an Old Kingdom Precursor. Many of the most important sites lost to Egyptologists beneath the waters of Lake Nasser were Nubian fortresses, and were perhaps more important for this reason than for their small temples. Unfortunately, these fortress could probably have never been saved from Lake Nasser, for unlike the temples that were moved, they were mostly made of mudbrick. 
During the New Kingdom Quban was one of the more important Egyptian centers in Nubia controlling the gold mines of Wadi 'Allaqi. It contained several temple, of which little today is known. Apparently, a number of blocks from this temple were latter used at the nearby Temple of Dakka that was itself saved from the waters of Lake Nasser.
Faras (Pachoras)
Faras was an important center in Nubia. During the third century, it was an important town of the Meroe kingdom, and from the eight century it was the capital city of the Christian bishops in Nubia. In fact, this site is perhaps more famous as an early Christian center then for its pharaonic monuments. 
This site, which originally stood on the west bank of the Nile between Abu Simbel and the Wadi Halfa, had a destroyed 18th Dynasty temple of Tutankhamun and an early New Kingdom rock-cut chapel of Hathor of Ibshek (perhaps originally constructed by Tuthmosis III). The latter temple was enlarged in the reigns of Tutankhamun and Ramesses II. The temple built by Tutankhamun was designed on a symmetrical plan, consisting of a square courtyard bordered on either side by a portico (2 rows of columns). It also contained a hypostyle hall with 12 columns and a sanctuary with annexes. There were hundreds of Thmosid blocks discovered at this site that where probably removed from the temple at Buhen next tot he second cataract. 
In addition to the temples unearthed at Faras, there was also the ruins of an early Christian basilica dating to the seventh or eighth century, the ruins of a bishop's palace, an early monastery and other ruins. Over 120 Byzantine-Coptic style paintings in tempera on dry plaster were removed from these sites, many of which remain in Sudanese museums and the National Museum in Warsaw.
Mirgissa was located in the region of the Nile's second cataract on the west bank of the Nile about 15 kilometers south of Wadi Halfa. Here, a small New Kingdom temple of Hathor was built, perhaps replacing an earlier Middle Kingdom structure. However, like many of he sites lost beneath Lake Nasser, Mirgissa is again more familiar to us as a fortress then for its temples. 


Main Page