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Abu Simbel or Ipsambul


ABU SIMBEL or IPSAMBUL, the name of a group of temples of Rameses II. (c. 1250 B.c.) in Nubia, on the left bank of the Nile, 56m. by river south of Korosko. They are hewn in the sandstone cliffs at the riverside, and are three in number. The principal temple, begun by Seti and completed by his son, is probably the greatest and most imposing of all rock-hewn monu ments. It was discovered by Burckhardt in 1812 and opened by Belzoni in 1817 the front has been cleared several times, but the sand is always pressing forward from the north end. The hillside was recessed to form the façade, backed against which four im mense seated colossi of the king, in pairs on either side of the entrance, rise from a platform or forecourt reached from the river by a flight of steps. The colossi are 65ft. in height, of nobly placid design, and are accompanied by smaller figures of Rameses' queen and their sons and daughters; behind and over them is the cornice, with the dedication below a long row of apes, standing in adoration of the rising sun. The temple is dedicated primarily to the solar. gods Amenra of Thebes and Raharakht of Heliopolis, the true sun god; it is oriented to the east so that the rays of the sun in the early morning penetrate the whole length of two great halls to the innermost sanctuary and fall upon the central figures of Amenra and Rameses, which are there enthroned with Ptah of Memphis and Raharakht on either side. The interior of the temple consists of a series of halls, penetrating for 185ft. into the solid rock and decorated with coloured sculpture of fine workman ship and in good preservation; some of the scenes are of religious import (amongst them Rameses as king making offerings to him self as god), others illustrate war in Syria, Libya and Ethiopia: another series depicts the events of the famous battle with the Hittites and their allies at Kadesh, in which Rameses saved the Egyptian camp and army by his personal valour. Not the least im portant feature of the temple belongs to a later age when some Greek, Carian and Phoenician soldiers of one of the kings named Psammetichus (appar ently Psammetichus B.C.) inscribed their names upon the two southern colossi, doubt less the only ones then clear of sand. These graffiti are of the highest value for the early his tory of the alphabet, and as prov ing the presence of Greek mer cenaries in the Egyptian armies of the period. The upper part of the second colossus (from the south) has fallen; the third was repaired by Sethos II. not many years after the completion of the temple. A small temple, imme diately to the south of the first, is believed to have had a built antechamber : it is the earliest known example of a "birth chapel," such as was usually at tached to Ptolemaic temples for the accommodation of the divine mother-consort and her son. The third and northernmost temple, separated from the others by a ravine, is on a large scale ; the colossi of the facade are six in number and 33ft. high, represent ing Rameses and his queen Nefrere, who dedicated the temple to the goddess Hathor.

temple, rameses, colossi, south and sun