Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Short Story: An Ancient Egyptian Mystery Draws Tourists to King Ramses II statue

Ancient Egyptians were known for their scientific excellence and genius, especially in the fields of astronomy, sculpture and construction. 

For instance, the three pyramids are considered among the Seven Wonders of the World. Pharaonic arts and antiquities still hide secrets that no scientists have managed to explain or understand. Every year, a Pharaonic miracle has been happening for 33 centuries. At the main entrance of the Great Temple of Ramses II at Abu Simbel in Aswan governorate, a solar alignment is witnessed on the face of the King Ramses II statue twice a year, once on his birthday, Oct. 22, and again on his coronation day, Feb. 22.

Ramses II built his temple, which took 19 years to complete, in 1275 B.C. At the same time, the king inaugurated another temple for his wife, Queen Nefertari, who was said to be the most beautiful among Pharaonic queens. He ordered her shrine to be located near his own, on a mountain overlooking the Nile.

King Ramses II, of the ninth Pharaonic family, was born in 1315 B.C. He came to power in 1290 B.C. and gained wide popularity for several reasons. For one, he acceded to the throne when he was a young, ambitious and enthusiastic man and remained king for 67 years. He also inherited a strong and rich country from his father who taught him the arts of war, rule and politics.

Civilians and soldiers supported him, and he defeated the Hittites, the largest military power at the time. He was passionate about immortalizing his memory and honoring himself. For that purpose, he built more shrines, palaces, statues and obelisks than any other ruler before him. During his reign, Egypt built a new capital called Pi-Ramesses, which became one of the most important capitals of the ancient Near East.

When the sun shines, its rays creep into his deep shrine, which is about 60 meters (197 feet) from the entrance, to illuminate it. The aim is for the sun’s rays to fall on Ramses II’s face from the east from a narrow opening.

British explorer Amelia Edwards and her team detected this phenomenon in 1848, and she recorded it in her book “A Thousand Miles Up the Nile.” She wrote, “The statues of Abu Simbel Temple gain huge influence and are surrounded by an aura of praise and respect when the sunrays shine and set on them.”

Al-Monitor attended the Aswan governorate's celebration of the phenomenon. According to Aswan Gov. Magdy Hijazi, the governorate holds several artistic and cultural events for the occasion. “This year, the celebration was more organized, given the development of the work and performance to suit its grandiosity,” Hijazi told Al-Monitor. He noted that the event was made possible in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism, Antiquities and Culture in Aswan..... READ MORE.

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