The temples of Ramses II at Abu simbel
Great temple of Ramses II
With the creation of his own temple, Ramses Il, who ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC, took the crucial step to occupying a position alongside the Egyptian gods. At the same time, his audacious temples symbolized his claim to power over prosperous Nubia, which had gold and copper deposits that were extremely important to the Egyptian kingdom. The great rock temple is dedicated to the main gods of Upper and Lower Egypt – Amun•Ra and Rae Horakhty – as well as the deified pharaoh.
The terrace has a decorative frieze depicting the representatives of various peoples worshipping the king. In front of the balustrade, which bears a dedication inscription along its entire length, falcon figures and small statues of the king altemate in a row. The figures on the south side of the balustrade were probably destroyed by the falling upper body of the second colossus.
Four 20m/66ft-high statues with the king’s face, which symbolize the various attributes of his stand in front of the temple facade. Above the entrance, the sun god Ra steps out of the facade head-on; Ramses Il considered himself the irrarnation of Ra.
Great Hypostyle Hall
The portal leads into the great hypostyle hall, which is divided by two rows of pillars. The nearly 10m/33ft-high figures of Osiris on the pillars are impressive. The figures in the right-hand row wear the double crown of the two Egypts, the southern figure that of Upper Egypt, Interesting reliefs on the walls depict religious motifs as well as vivid scenes of the campaign against the Hittites,
The side chambers adjacent to the great hypostyle hall were used as treasure chambers and for storage. Their decorations are far simpler than those of the main temple rooms. Some of the chambers have rows of stone tables along the walls.
Second pillared hall vestibule
A second hall with three aisles is adjacent to the west of the great hypostyle hall. Three doors lead on into a vestibule which depicts the king presenting sacrifices to the gods.
From the vestibule, three doors lead to three small chambers. Only the king was permitted to enter the centre chamber, the sanctuary. Largerthan-life figures of Ptah, Amun-Ra, the king himself, and Ra-Horakhty on the rear wall emphasize the fact that the king was on a completely equal footing with the gods.
A mighty steel-reinforced concrete dome with a width of 50m/164ft spans the temple. Rubble and rocks were piled on top, creating the impression that the sanctuary was built into solid rock
Temple of Hathor
From the temple courtyard, to the north, a side gate in the brick surrounding wall built by Ramses Il leads to the Temple of Hathor, which faces south-east. It was originally built into a rock on the Nile and separated from the Great Temple by a valley.
A courtyard was not part of the structure, which was also commissioned by Ramses Il. The temple was dedicated to the love goddess Hathor and also served the cult of the deified wife of the pharaoh.