245 MARBLE HEROES Sweat and blind determination. Brute force and delicacy. The exceptional efforts of a team of men who were ready to take on a colossal challenge, putting their skills on the line for the sake of a momentous achievement. Tests carried out on the sandstone at Abu Simbel revealed it was extremely friable. Clearly neither explosives nor electric saws could be used for most of the work of segmenting the temples. There was much discussion about how to go about it, but in the end it was agreed that there was only one solution: the work would have to be done entirely by hand. This would entail extraordinary skills. The cuts in the blocks had to be practically unnoticeable once they were reassembled, especially the traces on the decorated surfaces both inside the temples and on the façade. The enterprise was arduous and delicate. Who could be entrusted to carry out this endeavor? In Northern Italy there were a handful of men with unrivalled expertise as stone- cutters: the quarry workers of Carrara. With centuries of experience in the marble quarries of Carrara behind them, they were renowned and sought-after worldwide, with a reputation for being skillful, tenacious, hardworking and shrewd. After several inspections of the site in Nubia and various consultations, the quar- ry workers declared they were ready to move Ramesses II to the dry ground. It would be a complex, fairly lengthy and intricate operation, but for these men, with their deeply engrained understanding of the mysterious language of stone and a lifetime spent hewing out stone from the mountains behind them, it would be a routine task. And this way would also prove to be much cheaper. LEFT “You wake in a hot, fierce light, in a simple and violent landscape. It is the landscape that in ten years will disappear under the Aswan Dam.” !ese were the final words of the second paragraph of the article !e fantastic Italian project to save Abu Simbel published on February 28, 1961 in the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera”. A"er a careful description of the temple complex, the author, Alberto Cavallari, recounted the Italian project put forward by the engineer Piero Gazzola, who proposed detaching the temple from the mountain as a single block, enclosing it in a concrete box and “raising it with a hundred jacks.” !e team during a coffee break in the worksite.