National Geographic : 1966 May
Reassembled for new dawns, the Great and Small Temples of Abu Simbel rest high and dry in this artist's reconstruction, which also shows the old site, now ghostly beneath the waters. On certain mornings of the year the sun will again strike the statue of Ramesses seated in the Sanctuary of the Great Temple. The fallen head of one colossus lies in its age-old tumbled position. Speedy hydrofoils like the Hatshepsutwill carry won dering visitors to see the reassembled temples. FINAL RESTORATION OF ABU SIMBEL MAY DEPEND ON YOUR HELP UNLESS an additional $7,000,000 is raised, work on Abu Simbel may stop short of complete restoration. Present funds do not cover all costs of the reassembly, which includes reconstruction of the adjacent cliffs to complete the setting. If you wish to help with this his toric project, send tax-deductible gifts to the American Committee to Preserve Abu Simbel, Box 3456, Grand Central Station, New York City, New York 10022. these, 750 make up the Great Temple. Maxi mum weight for ceiling or wall slabs is 20 tons; for facade slabs, 30 tons. By hollowing out some blocks from behind, a maximum surface can be obtained within weight limits. Derricks hoist the slabs, and low-bed trail ers move them to the main storage yard. There the gantry crane picks them up and carries each to its preassigned position. While in storage, interior slabs are covered with straw mats; the water archeologists fear can also come from the heavens, even in parched Abu Simbel. In 1962 a cloudburst struck the sur rounding villages and melted down many mud-brick houses. Just last September a severe rainstorm lashed the site, raising Nile waves that nibbled at the cofferdam. Each slab gets the red-carpet treatment. Cracks and fissures riddle Abu Simbel's ailing rock, and its grains of quartz are only feebly cemented together. Before the slightest cut is made in any decorated surface, workers apply a coating of synthetic resin, except on the saw line, to guard against crumbling (page 719). Deeply injected resin must not spread near a future line of cut since it would stop the saw blades. Once a block is cut, it may need fur ther strengthening. Rods Anchored in Stone Aid Lift Surveyors measure each slab and compute its center of gravity in order to place drilled holes for the lifting bars. Engineers fix the bars with epoxy resin. When the resin hardens, the engineers screw these anchoring bars to a yoke attached to the derrick hook. At first they lift the block only a finger's breadth, so that the load indicator in the derrick hook can register the weight. Then hydraulic pressure is put on the slab to create a 10- to 20-percent overload; if the slab shows signs of cracking, it will be strengthened or subdivided. When Joint Venture Abu Simbel signed its contract, none of the participating firms knew exactly how to make the quarter-inch cuts they had agreed to make or how to hold to gether the weak sandstone (sometimes more sand than stone) without arousing the arche ologists' ire. Though Hochtief had success fully removed and relocated the Temple of Kalabsha, near the Aswan High Dam, the project had yielded little pertinent experience, since Kalabsha was built of blocks in the open, not hewn from rock. VBB had supervised the removal of three small rock temples in Nubia. But these were mere finger exercises, for no block exceeded seven tons.