21 RISING WATERS: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NUBIAN INTERVENTION In the 1960s when the lengthy process of build- ing the Sadd el-Ali – the Aswan High Dam – began, Egypt asked the world for assistance to safeguard the cultural heritage of Nubia. For many reasons, this was a remarkable step, both politically and cul- turally. The dam project was a larger version of the Aswan Dam, built between 1898 and 1902 by the British who limited its height to protect the ancient Egyptian temples of Philae. The need for electricity and water prompted two subsequent enlargements in 1907-1912 and 1929-1933. The building of the Aswan High Dam was initiated in 1960 by Pres- ident Gamal Abdel Nasser with Russian financial aid, a move aimed at balancing the influence of the competing superpowers in the Cold War. UNESCO was founded on November 16, 1945 in London by educational orga- nizations concerned about rebuilding the countries ravaged by the Second World War. After establishing its headquarters in Paris, UNESCO’s first major undertaking was the Nubian Campaign. This entailed salvaging the irreplaceable monuments in the Nile val- ley in the south of Egypt and the north of Sudan which risked being flooded and lost forever after the Aswan High Dam was finished. The images used for the campaign were the giant statues of Pharaoh Ramesses II at the temple of Abu Simbel. Why was this initiative so incredibly important? It was the first time that such a large number of countries had been involved in a huge, peaceful and constructive under- taking after a devastating and destructive war. Archaeologists, anthropologists, survey- ors and engineering companies worked together to safeguard as much as possible of the impressive ancient remains. This process stretched the boundaries of the methods and techniques of all the disciplines involved. In a race against the rising water levels, an enor- mous task had to be finished in record time, under difficult circumstances, requiring the mobilization of thousands of specialists and their support staff. The dam project caused the flooding of the landscape, the displacement of an entire population and the inevitable destruction of ruins that were considered less im- portant. This last point is a matter of debate: what was considered less significant in 1960, such as the settlements and the mudbrick structures, could have answered questions that RISING WATERS: THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NUBIAN INTERVENTION Aswan Dam and Lake Nasser.