Nubiana

PART II 166 of the Aswan Dam. The project came with a price tag of $40 million at the time, but it was the engineering technique that made this enterprise unique while preserving the two temples for posterity. Set on a hill, far from the waters that would have submerged them, the temples re- tain their orientation with respect to the stars, thus allowing the miracle of the sun to continue to be renewed twice a year at the solstices. On these days the sun’s rays penetrate the temple at dawn and traverse it to its innermost chamber, illuminating the statues of the pharaoh and the gods Amun-Re and Re-Horakhty for some twenty minutes, while Ptah, god of darkness, remains in shadow. The incredible feat was the result of immense effort and a unique piece of engi- neering excellence never achieved before. For five years the men working on the Abu Simbel site did a meticulous job, in the midst of extraordinary technical difficulties that had to be solved quickly and required unusual, specific skills. Impregilo, the construction company known today as Salini Impregilo, took part in the initiative, and was given the task of dismantling the temples, which were divided into 1,070 blocks, and building an artificial hill, similar to the original, which would be their new home, thus preserving them for future generations to admire. “Praise to you, Amun-Re, Atum-Horakhty, Who speaks with his mouth and comes into existence. Men, gods, livestock and all the goats, and I keep silent what flies and rests. [...] How beautiful you are, how good! Amun is Horakhty, wonderful, who sails in the sky, who rules the secrets of the afterlife. The gods come before you, and exalt the transformations you have made. You appear again on the hands of the Nun, mysterious in the forms of Khepri, and reach the doors of Nut, being beautiful in your body. Your rays announce you to the eyes of the regions and the Hanebu [ regions north of Egypt, ed. ].” HYMN TO AMUN , FROM PAPYRUS CHESTER BEATTY IV

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