ICCROM Mora Samples Collection
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Abu Simbel, Ramesses II Temple: MRA-EGY-Sim002

Type Sample Item

Sample ID


Sample Material Type


Sample Sub-type


Geographic Location

Abu Simbel


Egypt (EGY)
Abu Simbel
Temple of Ramses II

Historical note about the site/monument

Abu Simbel is an ancient temple complex, originally cut into a solid rock cliff, located at the second cataract of the Nile River (southern Egypt). The two main temples which comprise the site were built during the reign of Ramses II (c. 1279 - c. 1213 BC). Based upon the extensive artwork throughout the interior of the Great Temple, it is believed that the structures were created to celebrate Ramses' victory over the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh (1274 BC) or after its Nubian Campaigns. The complex was built in twenty years and the two temples are dedicated to the gods Ra-Horakty, Ptah, and the deified Ramses II (The Great Temple) and the goddess Hathor and Queen Nefertari, Ramses' favorite wife (The Small Temple). In 1817 the Egyptologist Giovanni Belzoni uncovered and first excavated Abu Simbel.

In the 1960's, the Egyptian government planned to build the Aswan High Dam on the Nile which would have submerged both temples. Between 1964 and 1968, a massive undertaking was carried out in which both temples were dismantled and moved 213 feet (65 metres) up onto the plateau to the north-west of their original location. This initiative was spearheaded by UNESCO, with a multi-national team of archaeologists.

Further reading:
Bunson, M., Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt, Facts on File, 1991.
Oakes, L. and GAHLIN, L., Ancient Egypt, Hermes House Publishing, 2008.

Chronological period (sample)

13th century BC