173 1,117 DAYS FOR 1,070 BLOCKS It all started with a cipher: GA1A01. It looks rather like a hi- eroglyph, but it was the cipher that would start the operation with scientific method and order. Great Temple, treatment A, zone 1, row A, block 1. The zone, row and block indicated the position of the piece while treatment A referred to the area of the sculpted façade. The block was neither carved nor decorated in bas-relief, and was therefore rather insig- nificant from the artistic and archaeological point of view, but fundamental to the success of the whole undertaking. It was the first of the 1,070 blocks to be worked, showing that the planned rescue procedure was technically feasible. 1,117 days for 1,070 blocks The trial run, conducted on May 21, 1965, confirmed that the method studied was safe, economic and quick to implement, marking the end of 5 years of uncertainty over the fate of the two huge rock-cut temples at Abu Simbel. It marked the start of over a thousand days of intense, intricate work to save the legacy of the temples for future generations.From the lifting of the first block, the dismantling operations went ahead rapidly, but work had begun much earlier. The engineers of the Aswan Dam predicted that in winter 1964-65 the waters would reach a height of 127.5 meters above sea level and 133 meters a.s.l. the following year, thus submerging the area of Abu Simbel (the base of the Small Temple stood 120.2 meters a.s.l.). The delays that occurred in the phase prior to the signing of the definitive project on November 16, 1963 made the immediate construction of a temporary protective reservoir essential, which could have been avoided if removal operations had begun two years earlier. This was a steep price to pay for the delay, because construction of the dam and the related drainage system cost a sixth of the whole budget. PAGES 174-175 Bulldozers and dumper trucks were used to move the sand and store it. Where the terrain was too rugged for machinery, the work was done by hand using shovels. !e metal tunnel before the entrance to the Great Temple. It provided access once the colossi were covered with sand as protection against falling debris during excavation of the hilltop above.