Nubiana

116 PART I "e temple of Ellesiya before it was moved to the Museo Egizio of Turin. Mayam and the goddess Satet. The walls of the interior are covered with decoration in bas-relief with scenes depicting the ruler worshipping the deities and presenting them with offerings. The presence of numerous crosses superimposed on the decoration of the interior and exterior attests to the temple’s conversion into a church during the Christian period. As early as 1962, the Egyptian government, through its Service des Antiquités de l’Égypte and UNESCO, had suggested that Italy should try to rescue the monument by cutting it into blocks while, at the same time, they arranged for a possible donation. Over the following few years, without interrupting research into the region, feasibility studies were begun to salvage the temple, while seeking the necessary funding. In the early months of 1965 everything was ready and, after finalizing the terms of the successful donation, the project was begun, although it was to prove extraordinarily difficult. The City of Turin had endorsed the undertaking, as had numerous private institutions and companies. This ensured coverage of the expenses, including shipment of the monument to Turin. On April 22 of the same year, the Italian ambassador in Cairo signed the final agreement with Egypt, providing for the assignment of the work to the Service des An- tiquités, which, with Egyptian personnel, would carry out the project. On July 16 work began, taking advantage of the fall in the level of the Nile to its lowest point in the sum- mer, but it had to be completed rapidly, because the water level would soon rise again and the temple might be lost forever! The work was completed by the end of August, after just over a month of hectic effort, with four teams of laborers working around the clock using artificial lighting. The walls of the temple were cut into sixty-six sandstone blocks weighing over a ton. The ceiling and floor were abandoned owing to the tight deadline and because they lacked decoration. In the spring of 1967, after being officially handed over by the Egyptian Authorities, the blocks were able to leave the storage site at Wadi es-Sebua and were taken down the Nile by barges to the port of Alexandria. After reach- ing Genoa aboard the MV Esperia , they continued their journey to Turin by rail, where they arrived late on the morning of April 24. While the first part of the undertaking could be considered complete, it was now necessary to rebuild the temple within the walls of the museum in Turin. The work took over two years, with public and private funding. Finally, on September 4, 1970, the monument was officially opened to the public, just a few meters away from the statue of its builder, Thutmose III.

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