Egypt Gallery ~ Abu Simbel
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Sunrise Convoy
May 5, 2002

One of the ways the Egyptian government protects its most precious natural resource (tourists) is to lump them all together. Not to make a more tempting target for Islamic extremists, but to better guard us.
Abu Simbel lies some 250 km south of Aswan and each morning at 4am, gaggles of bleary eyed tourists pile into vans and buses to join the armed convoy - the only way anyone is going from Aswan to Abu Simbel legally. Not only does this afford us some security, it also guarantees that the place will be teaming with people for the two hours everyone is there. It was nice to see the sun poke up over the Saharan horizon though.


Gods and Kings and Me
May 5, 2002

The temple at Abu Simbel was built at the southern edge of the Pharaoh's influence and was meant as show of might to all who entered his kingdom. It was also meant to reinforce the divinity of Ramsis II who commissioned the structure. To a far less obvious degree (but probably posed as the primary reason originally) it is a temple dedicated to the god Amun. It's easy to get confused. I'm the one in the blue shirt.


Inside Ramsis' Temple
May 5, 2002

Ramsis II depicted as the god Osiris lines the first hall inside the temple.

Ramsis does what Ramsis does best
May 5, 2002

Ramsis II was a great general. Ramsis II was a helluva warrior. Ramsis II smote all comers. In case you did not gather this from the size of his statues or the carvings of trussed up enemies, the numerous depictions of the God-King in action can leave no doubt.


The key to eternal life
May 5, 2002

The key to the temple at Abu Simbel

Mr. Santoni, Take a bow!
May 5, 2002

The blood and sweat of thousands of men went into the building of this temple. It has withstood the ravages of time and looked out onto the swirling sands of the desert for thousands of years. A holy structure at the far reach of an ancient land, once revered, then buried, then visited by Mr. Santoni who saw fit to put his name alongside Ramsis' and Amun's so that all could bear witness to the fact that Mr. Santoni was here before us. Congratulations Mr. Santoni, you have been an ego-maniacal asshole since 1874 and it seems your name will live on in that light for many years to come.


That was his. This is hers.
May 5, 2002

Just a stone's push across rollers and pulleyed into place away from Ramsis', I mean Amun's temple, is that of the Pharaoh's beloved wife Nefertari. When the High Dam was built in the 60's, the encroaching waters of Lake Nasser threatened to submerge these structures forever (or at least until they take down the damn dam). An international team funded by the United Nations, the Egyptian government and the USA saved both of these temples by moving them stone by stone from a location just a few hundred meters away. As far as I can tell, only the Egyptian government is getting a return on this investment and I think that any government that helped save these ancient monuments should demand free entry for its citizens. I say that without any thought of personal gain of course.


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