National Geographic : 1966 May
"His Majesty commanded the making of a mansion in Nubia by cutting in the moun tain. Never was the like done before except by the son of Amun." So reads an inscription at Abu Simbel. These paintings illustrate how the army of artisans built the temples. Guided by the painted red line established by the rising sun's rays (preceding page), quarrymen first hacked off the rough sand stone and smoothed the surface. Draftsmen, projecting the red line onto the rock face, drew lines to help proportion the figures. Masons chipped away the background, and monolithic blocks emerged. Stairsteps rep resenting feet, lap, and crown developed into stylized forms resembling robots. From these, master sculptors softened harsh lines into muscular legs, chests, and arms. Others delicately molded curved lips more than three feet wide with dimples at the corners. Clambering over scaffolding, painters ap ply red ocher to the monarch's body. The god Re-Harakhti, who seems to stride out of the wall above the entrance, wears the same hue. A solar disk crowns the falcon-headed deity. Beneath his right hand, sculptors carved the jackal-headed staff, User; be neath his left (obscured by overseers), the figure of Maat, goddess of truth. The trium virate represents User-maat-re, Ramesses' coronation name. The Pharaoh in bas-relief on either side therefore presents offerings not only to the god, but to himself. Through the ages, sand and weather wore away the figures' vivid coloring, but arche ologists have found that Egypt's ancient monument builders followed standardized color schemes in painting their statues. 700 GEOGRAPHIC ART DIVISION L -) NAIINAL ILUI HAYhi UlII"