Al-Ahram Weekly Online   3 - 9 April 2008
Issue No. 891
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Snap shots

By Mohamed El-Hebeishy

ABU SIMBEL, Philae and Kalabsha are temples which come to mind whenever Nubian monuments are mentioned, but is that all the High Dam threatened to flood? Mohamed El Hebeishy finds out.

Once the campaign to rescue the monuments in Nubia kick-started, 22 missions from all four corners of the globe relentlessly began excavating the area. It was a feverish race against a foe you can't beat -- time. By all standards breakthrough results were achieved in record time. Some temples were moved a few kilometres from their original sites while others went overseas. The Temple of Debod is currently located in the Mountains Park, Madrid, while the Temple of Dendur can be visited while touring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The Temple of Al-Lessiya has found itself a new home at Museo Egizio in Turn, Italy, while the gateway of the Temple of Kalabsha is in the Agyptisches Museum in Berlin. Finally, the Taffa Temple settled at Rijks Museum van Oudheden in Leiden, The Netherlands. But the man-made lake didn't flood Egyptian territory alone. Part of Lake Nasser lies within Sudanese territory where it is called Lake Nubia. Our Nile Valley neighbours were also impacted, and several sites were at risk; the temples of Semna, Kumma, Aksha and Buhen, as well as the Nubian Christian frescos of Faras, have all been relocated to the National Museum of Sudan in Khartoum.

The featured photograph captures one of the salvaged walls of the Temple of Buhen. Dedicated to Horus, this temple was completed during the reign of Queen Hatshepsut. It was built inside the walls of the fortress of Buhen, one of a series known as the Second Cataract Fortresses which were built by the Pharaohs of the Middle Kingdom. Located on the western bank of the Nile, around 50 kilometres south of Aksha, the fortress of Buhen served as an important strategic point ensuring control over this part of the river.

photo: Mohamed El-Hebeishy

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